The Ballad of Red Nosed Rodney – The Madcap Shaman who Stole my Heart

A few weeks ago I attended Rum and Rumble in the Realms, hosted by the Honest Wargamer crew in their TSports arena. It was a great event, but and out of 5 games there is one moment in particular which has stuck in my head. It is the story of a Madcap Shaman named Red Nosed Rodney, and the impossible challenge he took upon himself to deny me a single advantage and win the game.

The Grot who would be legend.

My opponent, the wonderful Filip Nica playing Gloomspite Gitz, needed to complete his battle tactic to win the game. He chose “Bring it Down!” meaning Morbidex Twiceborn, my extremely tanky monster, had to die this turn no matter what. If you’re familiar with Morbidex you know that taking him down from full health in a single turn (as a gitz player) is pretty difficult. He has 12 wounds, a 3+ save and Nurgle’s standard 5+ ward save. Worse, if you don’t manage to kill him by the battleshock phase he will rudely heal half of the wounds currently allocated to him! The cheek…

Filip was particularly concerned about me using all-out-defence to buff his 3+ Save even higher. He would be able to prevent this of course if he had a monster within range at the end of the charge phase to Roar at Morbidex, denying him to ability to use Command Abilities. The only problem was that his list had no monsters, and thus could not use any monstrous actions. In true Gitz fashion however, Filip concocted a plan that was so convoluted, so sneaky and so unlikely to succeed that it was practically doomed to fail.

So just kill this? Easy, right?

First of all he cast Metamorphosis on Rodney, which temporarily gave him the Monster keyword. An odd choice, I thought at the time, since the Madcap Shaman is a 4 wound hero with a 6+ Save who had already taken a wound from disease points earlier in the game and was blocked from engaging with any enemy units or contesting an objective by a dense scrum of his own Rockgut Troggoths. Regardless, I tried to unbind it and failed. I tried again, with my singular reroll for the phase, and failed again. Thus, the wheels of his evil engine were put into motion…

Next Filip cast Levitate. This would allow Rodney to leap over his own unit of Troggs and put him within striking distance of Morbidex. Now I began to see the true shape of my opponent’s dark design. Again, I attempted to unbind but failed. I should point out here that Filip hadn’t been rolling particularly well on his casts, but I had rolled worse. Despite this statistical improbability however success was still far from a certainty. Rodney would still need to roll a successful charge over the 2-model deep formation of Troggs and land in a tiny gap between Morbidex and my Plaguebearers. Following a slight change in positioning in the movement phase, the Shaman was ready, but measuring revealed he needed to roll at least an 8 with no bonuses. Disaster struck! His roll failed by only a couple of inches leaving him out of position for the final and most important step in the plan. Luckily, Filip was sitting on a seemingly endless supply of command points (seriously, he couldn’t seem to spend them fast enough) and rerolled that failed roll into a respectable 9.

Rodney’s new view of the action (recreated).

As the 25mm Shaman slipped snugly into a tiny gap next to the 100mm Morbidex’s left shin we were both grinning. This brave little grot, only 80 points, was about to accomplish the un-accomplishable and let loose a roar of such terrifying ferocity that the half-daemon Morbidex who was fully three times the size of the Shaman (even without taking into account his giant Maggoth Beast mount) would completely bottle it, leaving himself vulnerable to a killing blow!

Then my opponent failed his roar by rolling a 2.

It didn’t matter of course. It never did. My opponent’s Rockguts pounded Morbidex into a sticky paste, completed their battle tactic, claimed the objective and handily won the whole game. I did manage to kill Rodney but it was more of an afterthought by that point since he had failed to serve his (ultimately meaningless) purpose and was no longer necessary.

But weeks later I’m still thinking of that green little man. That legend of the Gitz. That wonderful fool who underwent a full body transformation into a monstrous (but still pint sized) form, flew across the battlefield on mystical currents, dared to land by the wretched heel of a 15 foot tall feral predator emitting a constant miasma of death and decay and bravely squeak out an unimpressive “grahhh…”

Probability is the backbone of wargaming. Almost nothing in a wargame is guaranteed and an unfortunate dice roll can transform the greatest of heroes into blundering jesters. Was my opponent’s play a good one? Statistically: definitely not. There were so many opportunities to fail, and he did. But this man clearly loves the game, loves his army and we both agreed – it was the right play for the Gitz. It was sneaky, cunnin’ and most importantly it was practically destined to fail. What could be more true to the spirit of the Gloomspite than that?

I salute you, or at least what remains of you, flattened smear that used to be Red Nosed Rodney – the Madcap Shaman. King of my heart. Battlefield tactician extraordinaire. Beautiful fool.

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