Total War: Warhammer – RIP Hack Legbiter, aka Hack da Cunning

I’m an orcy kinda person. I’ve always liked playing the big hulking muscular brutes / monsters in MMOs, regardless of whether they fulfill the stupid and dumb stereotype or have a set of brains behind the brawn, a la Beast from X-Men or Winston from Overwatch.

I’m a lot more particular about the smaller races.

Sturdy stout ones like dwarves, quick skittering clever things like skinks or skritt, smart arrogant bastards like asura are fine.

Cutesy ones *dead eye stare at gnomes* make me shudder.

Hobbits are completely neutral, caught between soft rounded cutesiness, yet with the weight of Tolkien epicness and the fondness of feasting  and relaxing at all hours of the day on the other side of the scales.

I have never really given GOBLINS any time of day.

Sure, they’re ugly gits, but they’re also scrawny, smarmy, generally unlikeable anklebiters who cower, run away, get et, and try to stab people in the back when they’re not looking.

The only thing going for them is that they come in a huge throng, and that there’s always more gobbos to replace those that get used up and thrown away.

Or so I thought.


I started a second Greenskins campaign, y’see.

This time, Azhag the Slaughterer – a by far cleverer orc than Grimgor Ironhide – went straight south and west for the Top Knotz’ throats, while rounding up and intimidating all the other weaker orc tribes along the way into confederacy with him.

Gotta get your own house in order first, y’know. The rest of the world can come later.

Confederating handed me a second army really early on, which was thankfully supported by the vast Badlands regions I was also swallowing up.

Just one teeny little itty bitty problem. The lord of that second army was a goblin wizard named Hack Legbiter.

Something I would never ever choose if given an alternative, any alternative. Wot do I do with dis? Ain’t an orc. Can’t fight. Just casts spells, assuming the Winds of Magic are favorable and his head doesn’t explode? Can he even be inspiring, given that he’s not going to go charging into battle and go mano o orco with the most powerful infantry/general on the other team?

Oh, whatever. Goblins are throwaway, right? It’s a second army when I wasn’t planning on having one. It can be a whole throwaway army.

So I recruited some 8-9 cheap Sword Ork Boyz to form the infantry core, hired a whole bunch of even cheaper goblin archers, and let Hack take them along with his small retinue (two goblin spearmen and one set of goblin wolfrider cavalry) adventuring.

He did the usual second army things. Sometimes he came up to support Azhag’s stack as reinforcements, sometimes he was delegated off to take out a minor settlement while Azhag and his now Waargh-in-attendance took out the main province capital.

He did his share of leveling up and raiding and sacking/occupying settlements.

Then it came to pass that Azhag was extended deep into Savage Orc territory, aka far southwest into the boondocks of the world, trying to exterminate the Top Knotz and bring the rest of the Savage Orcs under his banner.

Hack had been ordered up west to wrest Gronti Mingol out of Top Knotz hands, and from there on, northeast to Ekrund to cow the Orcs of the Bloody Hand into confederacy.

Then the dwarves began boiling out of the mountains and rolling down the slopes to the original barely defended starting settlements.

Thorgrim Grudgebearer of the Dwarfs smashed into Iron Rock (where the initial Red Fangz rival tribe holes up, often the second settlement taken after Black Crag) and it was lost.

Kazador Dragonslayer of Karak Azul ripped through Karak Eight Peaks and sacked it, cleaning out my coffers of 5418 gold.

I can only imagine the greedy dwarves gave up the thought of occupying that ancient dwarf fortress (cleaning out mountainous piles of orc poo must have been a lot less enticing) in favor of running back home with armfuls of treasure.

Hack was thus a lot -nearer- to respond when Thorgrim Grudgebearer started sniffing around hungrily at Valaya’s Sorrow (the other settlement nearest to the Orc capital of Black Crag.)

Azhag, of course, had turned around immediately once he’d finished with the Top Knotz and was racing northwards through the tunnels with no regard for any possibility of interception whatsoever. “Anyfing what gets in my way is goin’ ta be sorry.”

He was, unfortunately, just too far away.

So was Hack too, for that matter.

Normal marching would not reach either the dwarf army or Valaya’s Sorrow to reinforce it.

Forced marching would extend the reach of the army, but leave them tired out and exhausted and unable to initiate combat. They couldn’t reach Valaya’s Sorrow even with forced marching, but they -could- get in threatening range of the dwarves.

The dwarves took the bait.

They attacked a tired out, worn down force of 17 orc and gobbo units, led by a scrawny goblin, with a full 20-stack of dwarf warriors and quarrellers.


It was a day of slaughter. For both sides.

Convinced they were going to die anyway, Hack prepared to sell his army dearly and take as many dwarves with him as possible. The less dwarves that remained on the battlefield, the more the Valaya’s Sorrow garrison would have a fighting chance to hold off, until Azhag got there.

The battle ebbed and flowed and there was a great routing of orcs and goblins in many directions. Incredibly, the scattered remnants kept pulling themselves back together.

One side would flee, but then seeing the fighting going on elsewhere, recover long enough to ordered back to fight and flank the dwarves who had started out fresh but were by now, just as bone-weary and exhausted as the greenskins had been in the very beginning.

Running away would just get them cut down by the dwarven quarrellers anyway. Their only chance was to smash into the missile infantry and overwhelm them, and crush the hardy dwarven warriors with the weight of their bodies and corpses.


Thorgrim had been busy smashing holes in the Orc Sword Boyz ranks, even as the rest of his army had started crumbling around him from goblin arrows and orc sword casualties.

Hack valiantly tried to hold him off in single combat for a while, but knew he was going to get overwhelmed. A frickin’ Dwarf King versus a gobbo wizard, fer Gork’s sake.

The loyalty and ferocity of his gobbo archers was amazing to see, though. Many of them, having run out of ammunition, pulled out wicked-looking stabbas and swarmed Thorgrim. They died in droves, but there were a hundred of them and one of Thorgrim, and he was locked into this battle for good.

Hack kept buying time, waiting for the Winds of Magic to recharge, wherein he would let off Magic Missiles straight into Thorgrim’s face, probably blowing up several goblins in its path, but at least wounding him a little more. That throned bastard wasn’t likely to break or die anytime soon though.


All across the battlefield, scenes like this were happening. “Deyz gonna kill us anywayz. Dere’s more of us than dem. Lez make sure dere’s a few less dwarves in da world before we go to da big WAAARGH in the sky.”


Success was starting with 5 dwarves (six if ya count the dead one), and now there were three.

Eventually, Thorgrim wounded Hack and forced him off the battlefield. With their leader gone, that was it, the green tide that had been making the dwarves fight for every inch of ground up and evaporated.


The game called it a Close Defeat.

I look at the ranks of dwarf units reduced to one or two dwarves apiece, and I call it a fucking victory for a goblin.

Would you believe it, Thorgrim was NOT satisfied with this and pursued the bedraggled remnants of Hack’s army with his bedraggled remnants a second time, hoping to wipe them out for good?


“Well, boyz, let’s do it all over again. But dis time, dey’s as beat up as we wuz. We’s da onez dat are left. Wez da tuffest, fightiest, cunningest gits dere iz on dis side of the hill.

Oh yes, did I ferget ta say? We’s here fer a reason. Dere’s a hill here. We goin’ up it and lettin’ da dwarves run dere stunty lil legs out comin’ ta us.”

The second battlefield had blessed high ground.

There was a lot of shooting. A lot of soon-to-be-dead orcs and dwarves going at each other. Plenty of greenskin flanking the severely outnumbered dwarf warriors climbing up the hill. An immense hail of crossbow bolts from the quarrellers at the bottom of the hill as the remaining orcs screamed a defiant WAAARGH and charged down at them.

The dwarf melee frontline crumbled, the quarrellers lost heart and retreated all the way back to the zone boundary.


The downslope victory celebration charge.

Thorgrim was on the back foot.

Hack managed to slip into Valaya’s Sorrow, in part to reinforce the garrison from potential siege (there was one more smaller dwarf army of 6-8 units in the neigborhood, apart from Thorgrim), and mostly to lick his wounds. He was down to some 4-5 accompanying units now.

The problem was fightiness.

The lost battle and the immense casualties meant that his army’s fightiness had taken a very bad hit. It was 47 (aka not great to begin with), going down 23 (near catastrophic), that sort of thing.

He could not sit in the garrison for long. His army would tear itself apart. What remained of it. Which was barely an army and more a warband, maybe.

It was going to be impossible to knock heads together to quell animosities, it’s not like the ragtag gathering needed any -more- casualties.

He managed to wait one more turn, whereupon Azhag finally came running up to the vicinity of Valaya’s Sorrow bellowing at the temerity of the dwarves, but out of breath to actually catch either the retreating Thorgrim (down to 4 units) or the second dwarf warband which was busily raiding in Valaya’s Sorrow territory.

There was no more chance to stay passive one more turn. It would be the end as his unhappy orcs turned and ate his gobbos or the other way around, if the goblins accused the orcs of being less fighty than the vicious archer gobbos.

There was one more chance out of this mess. Winning battles and getting revenge on the dwarves.

Hack tore out of Valaya’s Sorrow with his ragtag band, having rested enough the prior turn to recover their movement capacity, and leapt on the second army of dwarven raiders – knowing full well that Azhag was in the vicinity to reinforce.

Sure enough, the battle was a foregone conclusion, and I was only too happy to auto-resolve that. Dwarf raiders. Wiped out to a man. Er, dwarf. Whatever.

Rank Gained. Hack Legbiter was now Hack da Cunning and gained a Monster Tracker trait.

With a sudden surge of morale, Hack decided to use the remainder of his movement to chase down the fleeing Thorgrim and -his- ragtag band of dwarf survivors.

Unfortunately, there was a miscalculation in reinforcement capability and Azhag did -not- show up as reinforcements to this second battle.

I was left staring at a battlefield screen that showed the odds at half yellow and half red, and out of laziness and a willingness to gamble being tired not quite being in the right frame of mind, I hit the auto-resolve without thinking.

Decisive Defeat.

What. The…

With a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, I read the cold words “Killed in Battle. Hack da Cunning.”

That bastard dwarf had wiped out the valiant warband. That “throwaway army.”

My goblin wizard that had pretty much felled 800 dwarves with a group of greenskins that latched on like bulldogs and refused to run away.

And I didn’t even give him the chance to go out in a blaze of battlefield glory.

I saved the game. That was it for tonight.

Tomorrow, there would be time for Azhag the Slaughterer to take his vengeance on the impudent dwarves and take all the dwarven strongholds in the process.

Tonight, well, tonight there was only a sinking feeling in my gut, made up of guilt and a little bit of mourning.

I admit it, I was wrong about gobbos.

Rest in peace, Hack, ya plucky git. I’ll miss ya.


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