Background – Ahkalaz

Part of what I love in wargaming is the ability to add background to pad out the armies. Backstories for characters and units take the pieces of plastic from toys to pieces of tales told on the tabletop.

Now with my Chaos Dwarfs/Infernal Dwarfs/Abyssal Dwarfs army I thought I would start with the head honcho himself, and then build up from there.

Lord Ahkalaz the Inextinguishable

To the east of Volksgrad lies the Wastelands. Here untold numbers of warbands and armies try and stake their claim to lands in the names of many Gods and leaders. From this harsh existence come stronger creatures, forever sharpened against the whetstone of hardship.

Ahkalaz began in the ranks of Infernal Dwarf Lord Izekhar the Oppressor. Driving forward vast hordes of slaves into battle, Ahkalaz learned warfare through the bloodshed of lesser races. His ascent was built on a staircase of blood and bone, toil and sweat. Hundreds of miles driving forward orcs, humans and enslaved Western Dwarves to further his craft and prove his loyalty to Lord Izekhar. His cunning nature shone on these raids, Izekhar’s forces swelling with hundreds of Orcs after an Ahkalaz led ambush attack on the Warboss’s retinue.

Ahkalaz’s troops attacked a trade caravan in northern Sagarika. Amongst the jewels, gold and trinkets lay a small obsidian orb. A spiral seemed to move within the orb, with faint voices calling out to Ahkalaz. They told promises of glory, riches and power. Ahkalaz had the orb attached to his helmet like a cyclopean eye in the middle. Better to hear their whispered promises.

Over the next 30 moons Ahkalaz led his forces back to Izekhar, all the while listening to the mysterious speaker. As his confidence grew so did his arrogance. He refused to kneel to Izekhar, attacking him with ferocity usually found from his berserker cousins. The rest of the forces knelt or were enslaved, with Ahkalaz adding the loyal to his bodyguard.

Staking his claim to the trade routes near the Ashen Desert, Ahkalaz decked himself with assorted gawdy trinkets and jewels. Over time he began to believe that the orb had chosen him and the voices were from a God and moved the orb from a helmet to a crown. His temper became erratic, casting out to the desert those that dared look at the orb or him in the eyes.

However the news of a crown wearing upstart caught the attention of many other Infernal Dwarf Lords, as they are a race prone to jealousy and pride. Ahkalaz was called to a council of the Infernal Dwarf Lord Ishbaknul . Believing this to be a unification of forces to invade Vetia he marched his entire forces to the meeting, akin to a grand parade. The voices grew stronger as he got closer. They warned of betrayal. But Ahkalaz was to fall victim to his hubris, he believed himself above the other Dwarfs, and was there to prove such.

As he entered Ishbaknul’s grand tent he was set upon by numerous Dwarfs. Calling out for his bodyguard, he turned to find them stood with sheathed weapons. Unbeknown to Ahkalaz they had been turned.

Turned with promises of glory.

Of riches.

Of power.

With his body almost broken from the assault the voice from the orb cried out to be released. Weakly Ahkalaz removed the symbol of his rule and threw it to the ground. Flames erupted from the orb and engulfed Ahkalaz. The voices inside came from a djinn, granting him the wishes he had of power. In a tornado of fire the almighty djinn engulfed Ahkalaz’s army, leaving both him and army as ashes on the wind.

Whether gift or curse, Ahkalaz was reborn with an internal fire. The djinn granted destiny that Ahkalaz seeks causes him to never die, immortal until the day he conquers the Eastern world and unites all the Infernal Dwarfs under his rule. Yet the curse racks him with nightmares of living in a world of eternal fire, mental scars from the djinn’s power. In these dreams he leads an army of ash warriors while his skin burns in excruciating fire.

If Ahkalaz falls in battle a grand pyre is erected with his body placed on top. One thousand captors and slaves are chained to posts around the fire before it is set aflame. Incantations from the sorcerers are performed as the flames lick Ahkalaz’s body. As the captors and slaves wail, spirits emerge from the fire, reinvigorating his body with power from the dark Gods. As the last spirit enters the flames disappear, leaving only ashes and bone around Ahkalaz. Then with one final incantation he rises from his resting place and once again tops his gilded throne. All this serves no purpose but to stoke Ahkalaz’s ego. With each reincarnation Ahkalaz becomes more focused on his goal. But for victory, or for death, no one can know for sure.

On the Tabletop

To use the character in different systems I added the nightmare part. Having this as an “out” lets me use him as special characters in Kings of War, Warhammer Fantasy or Age of Sigmar, while using him as a generic Lord of Fire in The Ninth Age.

I am using The Ninth Age as my default setting as I think this is the system with the most room for manoeuvre in lore writing, not burdened with the 30+ years of Games Workshop background.

Model wise for Ahkalaz I am still looking. Steering towards the Khurin model from Lost Kingdom Miniatures. Basing will be Ash Desert themed, with ash warpaint on Berzerkers and Centaurs. Armour will be a burnished steel with flame emblems on shields and banners.

As I have implied that Ahkalaz started as a slave raider I am looking at using them heavily in the force. Especially a Slave Giant for use with Goblin “allies” in Kings of War.

Visit Element Games here (Use the code DAN2300 at Checkout for double points)

For Kings of War, Listen to Direct Misfire here

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Swiss Army Approach to Army Collecting

One Size Fits All

The spark for this article came from a tweet I posted the other day, which in itself came from seeing a Warhammer Fantasy game being played at the NWGC.

Seeing the Skaven swarm taking on the Vampire Counts gave me an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. But it also made me realise that I had an unassembled Abyssal Dwarf Immortal Guard box in my hobby corner.

But what would a Kings of War unit have to do with Warhammer Fantasy?

Or even nostalgia?

My idea is to create a One Fits All approach to my army!

Some armies (Stormcast in AoS for example) would be tough to fit in more than one. But by choosing an army based on a typical fantasy race, in my case Evil Dwarfs, I can use it in a multitude of game systems.

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Perhaps I could find a hat to wear?

With 9th Age and Kings of War both beginning as derivatives of the Warhammer Fantasy game, there are a lot of crossover units. Chaos, Dwarfs, Undead, Beastmen and Elves are also armies that benefit from the generic nature of their backgrounds.

The plan is to magnetise the models so they can be used on different sized bases.

As I tweeted:

But that is without including various skirmish systems etc

The reasons for this are simple:

Wargaming is expensive

It might not be as expensive as airsoft, kit cars or even ballroom dancing, but it isn’t a cheap hobby. With 5 children I don’t have the bankroll I had when I was a Teen. More money, less to spend, as is the curse of adulthood. By having a smaller, set approach to my purchases I can alleviate the cost problems. While hopefully steering clear of impulse buys.

Less painting

More kids also means less time for painting. With 90 minutes or so a day being the window of opportunity for child free artistic endeavours. Buying a unit and then finishing it before purchasing another will obviously be the aim here. But my aim can be lacking.

More scope for gaming

Another child related issue is a lack of gaming time. At the moment I can manage one night a week, stretching to once a fortnight depending on afterschool clubs etc. With three children in swimming clubs, all at different times, this narrows my time immensely.

But by having an army that can be used in multiple systems I can always grab a pick up game or even enter a one day event, with permission from the better half.

I will never be, and never have been, a Top 10 Tournament player, so this would be ideal.

Now some tournaments would be restrictive when it comes to models used, Games Workshop hosted events being strict on their own models being used, which is completely reasonable

 

Building an All Rounder Army

Undergoing something like this obviously takes a bit of planning.

I am basing this starter army around the Abyssal Dwarf Army box, one box of Gargoyles, one box of Decimators, an additional box of Immortal Guard and an Iron-Caster.

Also, these are only if one buys all Mantic models. The Ninth Age website contains a great gallery with links to different companies and their models for various forces.

This is also great for some Chaos Dwarf alternatives

http://lostkingdomminiatures.com/en/magmhorin-dwarves/26-magmhorin-sorcerer.html

This could be a fantastic Iron-Caster and may be on my shopping list eventually.

Not sticking to one manufacturer will also keep costs down, with shopping around a lot easier, especially when it comes to the big price disparities in war machines.

 

Logo-Kings-of-war-2

It is best to pick a game system as a primary one to build a starter list for.

In my case it will be a 1000pts Kings of War army list:

  • Iron-caster – 120
    • Surge
  • 2 x Immortal Guard Regiments – 320 (2 x 160)
    • Two-Handed Weapons
    • Throwing Mastiffs
  • Decimators Troop – 120
  • Slave Orcs Regiment – 90
  • Gargoyles Troop – 80
  • 2 x Lesser Obsidian Golem Regiments – 270 (2 x 135)

1000 points on the nose. The Overmaster is taken out of this list as points wouldn’t allow it. Also this has no artifacts. I would like to add faster troops in the future and war machines but it hits the points limit so that will do for now.

But will it work in other systems?

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The Infernal Dwarfs list for The 9th Age 1st Edition:

  • Prophet – 340
    • General, Pyromancy, Lv 1 Wizard Apprentice
  • 10 Infernal Warriors with Blunderbuss – 170
  • 20 Orc Slaves – 160
    • Shields
  • 2 x 20 Immortals – 1000 (2 x 500)
    • Great Weapons, Full Command
  • 3 Kadim Incarnates – 330

2000 points on the dot. The 9th Age uses a points system with 4000 points being a relatively normal sized game. This would be a good start, with Infernal Dwarves being artillery heavy in this system.

Not much for the points here. Direct equivalents for the Orcs and Dwarfs. The 3 Golems take the place of the Incarnates here. Fly rule may seem strange, but the fire based rules fit well.

No room for Gargoyles though with no equivalent in the Army Book. I shall look at Allies to see if anything works that way.

aos-logo

The Legion of Azgorh list:

  • Daemonsmith – 100
    • Pyre Rune Staff
  • Infernal Guard Castellan – 120
    • General
  • 10 Infernal Guard Fireglaives – 100
  • 3x 10 Infernal Guard Ironsworn – 270 (3 x 90)
  • 2 x 3 K’daai Fireborn – 280 (2 x 140)
  • Allied: 2x 5 Harpies – 120 ( 2 x 60)

990 points here with no room for the Orcs. Golems are now masquerading as Fireborn, which could work.

Unfortunately the Legion of Azhor works better as allies to other Chaos forces. But that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t work!

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For an 8th edition The Legion of Azgorh army I came into trouble as I would only have one core troop. But by running my Immortal Guard as standard Infernal Guard for now I have:

  • Daemonsmith Sorcerer – 130
    • Level 2 Wizard, Lore of Fire
  • Infernal Castellan – 115
    • BRB
    • Shrieking Blade
  • 10 Infernal Guard – 180
    • Hailshot Blunderbuss
  • 2 x 20 Infernal Guard – 744 (2 x 372)
    • Full Command, Fireglaves
  • 2 x 3 K’daai Fireborn – 330 (2 x 165)

Well you don’t get much for your points!

Would need a lot of artillery to make the army work in this system, but 1500 points without the Orcs and Gargoyles is impressive.

The Slaver from the Slave Orc set would be the BSB here. Whipping the army forward.

 

As a bit of a bonus, a quick flip through the 4/5th edition Chaos Dwarf book puts this list as at least 1000 points, before playing with magic. With models also potentially available for a Mordheim warband.

Overall

Obviously it isn’t yet perfect, and the army as it is wouldn’t be winning any tournaments in any system. What it does do is show an example of having an army that can be used in different systems with little changing.

It also doesn’t take into account any rules for allies within the game systems.

The change to the round Age Of Sigmar bases is the only major change. Although Kings of War can use Unit basing, it isn’t compulsory. Also KoW, 9th Age and Warhammer Fantasy all use the 20mm squares for Dwarfs and 25mm for Orcs. So with a little magnetising, I believe the switch to rounds will be easy enough.

But it is a start. With any help to get more gaming and hobby opportunities greatly appreciated.

Now to start learning rules again. Blood Bowl is a cakewalk compared to these!

 

Visit Element Games here (Use the code DAN2300 at Checkout for double points)

For Kings of War, Listen to Direct Misfire here