Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Council of the Three Hammers

     The sounds of knocking on me door brought me instantly awake this early morning, reaching, reflexively for me weapon. Remembering where I was, safe in the deep stone embrace of me hut in me beloved Khaz Modan, I took a breath, sat up, and wiped a hand over my brow. The dreams still haunt me from me from time to time...I suppose they always will, as do me dreams from the Third War, and me dreams from the  'peace' inbetween all the wars. This one against Arthas was different. The dreams aren't fading as fast this go about. They don't tend to when ye are forced to kill your friends over and over, and have to hear their screams in your sleep.

     The knocking again, insistently on my door.
    "Commander Thogrum!"
     Knocking again, louder.
     As I was not well rested, I growled a response, threw me cloak on, and headed for the door.
 A young captain was outside, with another soldier in dark colored,  vaguely familiar armor. Another soldier stood outside, in the snow, holding the rams. The dwarven captain saluted respectfully. The dwarf in the dark armor stared straight into my eyes, unflinching and unsmiling.
     "Commmander Thogrum, the Council of the Three Hammers respectfully request your presence in the Hall of the Kings as soon as possible."
He offered a sealed envelope with the seal of Ironforge on it in.
     I stared at the young dwarf. Council of the Three Hammers? What in six blue hells was going on?  What was the Council of the Three Hammers? This was clearly an official delegation, and this was official correspondence, but what was this all about? And who was this in the dark armor who was staring at me so inpertiantly?
     "Laddie, What's this all about?"
     "It's all in the letter, Sir. We must get moving. We have many other letters to deliver to all the senior leadership of the Ironforge Armed Forces. Mauradin's orders. We got to you a bit late Sir, because of how far out of the city you are living these days. "
      The dwarf  in dark armor leaned towards me and spoke in a low, thickly accented voice, his words dripping with sarcasm.
      " And, if ye please, 'Commander', make yer journey in haste. The Queen doesn't like to be kept waiting, and ye'd be wise not to cross her...'Commander'"
      The dwarven captain spun to him in a fury.
     " As you were, Roderick! Do you know not to whom you speak?  This is a champion of Ironforge, one of Magni's own! He has defended the Anvil and the Throne since ye were playing with toy hammers in yer infested pit of a city!"
The dark dwarf grinned and held his hands up.
   " I meant no offense, Captain Stonehammer"
   He smirked, and turned walked down to the yard, where the soldier with the rams waited.
   The young captain turned to me again.
   " Commander, I apologize for my companion's lack of respect. But, respectfully, sir, hurry to the Council. Things have changed greatly in your weeks away, and we need all of our people home. We need you. Ironforge needs you."
   He glanced at the yard, where the two dwarves now mounted, waited. He quickly and subtly pulled an envelope out of his cloak, and swiftly passed it to me, and whispered.
   " From Mauradin himself. It will explain it all. Please hurry, Sir. Time draws short."
With that, I watched the lad turn, decend the steps,  mounted his rams, and in a thunder of hooves, the three dwarves moved out at a gallop, leaving behind a trail of hoof prints in the snow.

     As I watched the dwarves move out into the distance, I glanced down at the two envelopes in my hand.
I had a uneasy feeling about this letter, and about the strange interactions of the soldiers. I remember this feeling as me fleet set out for Northrend. I remember the feeling as I approached the Dark Portal. I remember the feeling from a countless battles in countless places. The feeling means trouble, no matter the time, or place.
 Well, time to get to work. I broke the seals and began to read.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lectures from the Academy: A Treatise on Seaborne Infantry Combat

     Now, Lads and Lassies, as ye all know, ye have taken the Oath to defend our kingdom and it's interests, both at home and abroad.
     Ye weren't the ones that chose the' path o' th' Light, nor th' path or arcane nor of the, err...less honorable forms of combat. Ye chose to take up the blade and the hammer, the shield and mace to defend yer homes and yer races. Ye chose the path of the warrior.
       Yet, as ye all know by this point, sheer enthusiasm isn' enough. Ye need training. Ye need skill. Ye need leadership. Ye need to know every bloody dirty soldiering trick in the book to get yer self and yer lads home in one piece.
     This is why ye have come here. This is why we, the faculty at the War College have chosen ye. Ye are the best and the brightest Ironforge has to offer. Ye are our future Captains, Colonels and Generals. You are the future leaders of the mighty Army of Ironforge. It has been thousands of years and many generations of dwarven warriors that proceeded ye, and Ironforge has never fallen. Nor will it ever, not while we, the Army of Ironforge draw breath.

Now, on to today's lecture: Seaborne Infantry Tactics.

       While in the service of Magni, Ye will find yer self in many challenging and dangerous places. Sometimes fighting in close, cramped quarters in the stone halls of an orcish fortress, perhaps in the dark tunnels of the fallen Nerubian Empire, or on the hellish frozen plains of Northrend's Icecrown Glacier. Of all of these however, very few environments are more challenging for the dwarven soldier than seaborne, ship to ship combat. I have unfortunately have had to fight in many ship to ship engagements. From defending the harbor during our assault on the Sunwell, to fighting pirates in the South Seas of Stranglethorne, to fighting the Vykrul and the Sunreavers in the cold waters of Northrend, I've learned a few things about it.

      This lecture is not intended to teach ye all about it, that ye will receive when ye get to your field commands. This will be a general overview of how to prepare and survive combat on a ship.

Now, a great deal of the tactics will depend on yer adversaries. I will divide them based off of the different racial fighting styles and tactics, as we have classified many of their styles into distinct racial/cultural styles in the past.

       First and foremost, as a dwarf, and as a soldier, I don' recommend getting into a ship to ship fight in the first place. Dwarves don't belong on the oceans. Leave it to the humans and the elves. If ye have to though, here are some general tips on preparation.
         Regarding yer arms and armament: Clean and oil yer weapons daily. The salt air plays hell with even the finest armor and will dull the sharpest blades without close attention.  Consider getting a set of spiked straps for yer boot bottoms, as the tossing seas and the salt water on the deck will make it mighty slippery, and when the fighting starts and there be blood on the deck it gets even worst, and when in a hand to hand combat situation, the last thing ye want is to fall on yer bum. Also consider wearing a flotation bladder and put quick release straps on your armor, in case ye get tossed overboard. Also, wearing a water breathing potion in a vial around yer neck can be a lifesaver too.
       Fighting the different races at sea can change yer tactics considerably. I will highlight a few of the considerations now.
     Blood Elves: These buggers are dangerous at sea, almost more so than on land. They be fast, nimble and natural sailors. Their balance in rough seas is uncanny, and they have a tendency when pressed to climb into the rigging and pelt ye with magic and arrows. I recommend standing off at a distance and giving them a bit o' the old Ironforges's finest cannonades and destroying the ship from afar. Do not engage ship to ship unless there is no other choice. If ye can't avoid it, engage them below decks and remove their mobility advantage. Also, ensure that you have plenty of riflemen in the rigging of yer vessel to harass their magi. It's hard to cast a fireball spell when ye got a dwarven sharpshooter aiming for ye.
    Orcs/Trolls: We all know the orcs. Most of us have crossed blades with them in the past. We have a pretty good understanding of their infantry tactics on the ground, and they don't change much at sea. They don't like seaborne engagements either, so will almost always choose to disengage and fight on land when possible. Although, Light knows those buggers could use a dip in the water once in a while. What is it about orcs and baths anyway? Regardless, caution is advised, but fighting them at sea is like fighting them on the land. They generally are straightforward. Aggressive, tough and well experienced, but honorable.
     Forsaken/Undead: This presents a bit of a problem, as fighting the undead always does. They tend to not be too nimble, but are clever as the day is long. We once boarded a Forsaken vessel that was attempting to shell Valiance Keep. After vicious fighting on the main deck, the Forsaken started to leap overboard. We pressed our advantage and reinforced with some gnomish troopers. The gnomes swept the lower decks and the holds and found that the Forsaken had packed the holds with gunpowder, light the fuses and ran, leaving us to blow sky high! Fortunately, the gnomes quickly disarmed it, but the lesson stuck. Forsaken are clever, well disciplined, and aggressive. Use extreme caution whenever you engage them.

These are tidbits ye can take with ye as ye lead our troopers out into the world.  Keep yer wits about ye, be prepared to think on th' fly and ye will be fine.