In Now Playing articles PC Gamer writers talk about the game currently dominating their spare time. Today Matt battles the one enemy he can never forgive in TW: Warhammer.
Much like how there’s no British word for fistbump, there’s famously no Dwarfen word for forgiveness. They have words for carrying rocks, cooking trolls and a piece of old cheese kept under your hat in case of emergencies, but forgiveness? Nope. They’d never use it.
Total War: Warhammer embraces this ethnological predisposition towards intolerance and makes it part of the game. Every orc, vampire and manling who wrongs me gets an entry in the Great Book of Grudges, the Dammaz Kron. It’s fun at first. Orc leaders sack my settlements, their names go in the book and I defeat them in battle a few turns later. I’d say “everybody’s happy”, but there’s probably no word for “happy” and hundreds died. I’ll settle for “not grumbling”.
The war progresses. As well as sending massive armies to fight me, sneaky goblin ‘heroes’ start murdering my lords and impeding my forces. The trouble is, the Dammaz Kron demands retribution befitting the slight. If a faction assassinates a hero, I must respond in kind. Firstly, that doesn’t feel very Dwarfy. Sneaking is for goblins and rat-men. Secondly, Dwarfs are about as stealthy as a filled dishwasher falling down stairs. I eat my emergency hat-cheese and think of a plan B.
Plan B is genocide. If I wipe out the entire faction, there’ll be nobody left to assassinate. I start razing cities and executing captives, just like a conquering champion. The smell of burnt Orc fills the Badlands.
The Orcs are crushed, Chaos routed and I reclaim my lost Dwarf holds, expecting the game to end. Alas, I still have grudges against the rubbish factions of Varg and Skealing. I hoped returning the Dwarf empire to its former glory would be enough, but it’s useless, like trying to convince my dad the EU isn’t forcing us to eat straight bananas. The grudges must be answered.
Here’s where it gets complicated. Wiping them off the map isn’t an option because they’re miles away, so it has to be assassination. Unfortunately, I only have one Thane up to the task, and his name is Grunni the Mad. Not Grunni the Lethal; Not Grunni the Cunning; Grunni the fucking Mad. Grunni the Mad is different, in the same way that going to Waterstones wearing a raw chicken on each foot and screaming “glory to the Lizard King!” is different. As you might expect, his affliction damages his ability to successfully carry out hero actions.
I could have him carry out multiple missions and get better at murder, but it’ll take ages and there’s a chance he’ll get injured. I try save scumming, reloading the game after every failed attempt, but it feels like a sour end to a 20-hour campaign.
My solution falls somewhere in between. I send an army with Grunni to soften up the enemy forces. It’s a long journey to the bitter north, but eventually I find and corner a Varg general. He can’t run any further, and Grunni approaches, probably muttering something about anvils made of gravy. He strikes, and the malefactor dies.
So it ends. Not with a cheer, but a whisper. Not with High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer smashing Archaon, Everchosen of Chaos, at the gates of Karaz-a-Karak, but with my unhinged Thane quietly smothering a general on the bleak edges of the world. Dwarfs probably have a word for that, too.