Battle Report – The Dreadhold

The forces of Chaos guarding the Mawgate may have made a bit of a faux pas, as they have provoked the Ironjawz in the area – and Orruks are always up for a bash.

 

The Story So Far

The Stormcasts arrived in force around the Deffgorge, ready to begin their assault upon the Mawgate and wrest it from the Chaos hordes defending it. Mighty battles between the forces of Chaos and Sigmar erupted around the Crawlerforts surrounding the Mawgate as the fate of the Mortal Realms continued to be decided.

But the Ironjawz did not care.

The Orruks had been driven into the shadow of the gigadroth skeleton that lay nearby but now the Stormcasts arrived, the Lords of Chaos concentrated their attacks upon Sigmar’s followers – the Ironjawz were now free to resume their assault upon the Crawlerforts. They struck the forces of Khorne first, and the madness of the Blood God seeped into their tiny brains, driving them to ever greater levels of frenzy.

The Bloodtoof warclan gave Doggrok’s Choppas a good shoeing for running away earlier, the Fists of Drakka tried to ‘sort out’ who their new Megaboss was going to be, while the Ironsunz simply duffed up anyone who looked like could use a good beating.

The Stormcast attack on the Crawlerforts had ground to a halt as the forces of Chaos strengthened and then repelled them. However, the storm of Sigmar that had raged over the Mawgate and heralded the coming of the Stormcasts began to change. Great, green, leering faces appeared in the clouds, while thunderheads the shape of massive fists rolled overhead. Neither Chaos Lord nor Stormcast knew what this meant.

But the Ironjawz were sure. As one, and with bellows of Waaagh!, the Ironjawz surged forward to the Crawlerforts. The first one in their path was the Flayed Fort, commanded by the Slaaneshi Daemon Prince Synlesha, who had mustered a combined force of Slaaneshi and Khorne followers, along with a Tzeentchian Sorcerer.

The Ironjawz struck the walls of the Flayed Fort like a hammer…

 

The Forces

This is an interesting battle, as it sees a rare combination of Khorne and Slaaneshi followers. These two normally hate one another with a passion, but when you have a bunch of Ironjawz coming your way the finer points of a religious dispute give way to a common goal!

Bloodbound
Aspiring Deathbringer
Magister
Skull Cannon
Blood Warriors x 10
Bloodreavers x 40 (two units of 20)

Slaaneshi Host
Daemon Prince of Slaanesh (Synlesha)
Sorcerer Lord of Slaanesh
Chaos Familiar
Daemonettes of Slaanesh x 10
Chaos Warriors x 20 (two units of 10)

The defenders have mostly mortal units, but there is the odd daemon present, from the Daemonettes and Skull Cannon, to the Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. The Ironjawz may be a little surprised by the Chaos army actually having a shooting attack (the Skull Cannon), but it remains to be seen whether this will slow them down any.

Ironjawz
Megaboss on Maw-Krusha
Weirdnob Shaman
Warchanter
Gore-Gruntas x 6 (two units of 3)
Brutes x 15 (three units of 5)
Ardboyz x 40 (two units of 20)

Aside from the Maw-Krusha, the main strength of this Ironjawz force may be, funnily enough, the Ardboyz. There are quite a few of them in this army though thick walls are always a troublesome obstacle…

 

The Battleplan

This is a straight assault upon a fortress (actually a Magebane Wall, which will be disconcerting for the Weirdnob Shaman). To win, the Ironjawz must wipe out the defenders, though the battle will end if the forces of Chaos can wipe out two thirds of the Orruks before that happens.

The Ironjawz have a choice – either attack immediately (meaning the battle will last for five rounds), or conduct a special siege phase first (which will result in the battle lasting four rounds). If they choose to conduct the siege, they must choose whether they want to Starev the defenders, Batter the walls, or Undermine. The Chaos defenders in turn choose to Gather Supplies, Rebuild the fortress, or Counter-Mine.

These choices are then cross-referenced on a special matrix to determine the results – this could lead to the Ironjawz popping up in the courtyard, breaching the walls, or suffering mortal wounds before the battle starts!

 

Deployment

The forces of Chaos were busy inside the Flayed Fort, shoring up the walls and making certain their defences were strong as the Sorcerers of Slaanesh and Tzeentch double checked the wards that ran along the length of the Dreadhold. However, the Ironjawz were content to wait the defenders out, and instead harried the few units delegated to forage for supplies from nearby forts. This caused a great deal of hardship within the Flayed Fort as the Slaaneshi and Khorne warriors began to prey upon one another.

However, as soon as the Ironjawz warband appeared, the combined Slaaneshi and Khorne forces rallied to the walls, desperate to put forward a strong appearance to stall the Orruk advance.

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The Megaboss’ plan was simple. The Ardboys would run straight at the two gates, using their overwhelming weight to force them open, allowing the Brutes and Gore-Gruntas to rampage inside.

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Battle Round One

Bellowing at the top of his lungs, the Megaboss urged his Orruks forward, and they broke into a run to reach the Dreadhold as quickly as possible.

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The walls were steep though, and only the Gore-hacka armed Gore-Gruntas had the reach to skewer the defenders high up on the ramparts.

As the Ironjawz approached, the gargoyles either side of the gates screamed terrible curses, but the Brutes and Ardboys were completely unphased by the empty threats.

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Standing atop the centre wall section, the Magister made a Defiant Proclamation, infuriating the gore-Gruntas but the Orruks could not reach the Tzeentch wizard just yet.

High up in his Skull Keep, the Daemon Prince of Slaanesh invoked the power of the Dreadhold, and a Ruby Ray of Death lanced out of the tower to strike the Maw-Krusha. The Sorcerer Lord of Slaanesh joined in the attack with an Arcane Bolt, but the Megaboss brushed both aside, and ducked as the Skull Cannon blasted a bloody projectile at him.

Close by, one of the Gore-Gruntas managed to impale a Blood Warrior and hooked him over the wall so he crashed onto the ground. Before he could stand, one of the Gore-Gruntas’ mounts started feasting on him.

 

Battle Round Two

The Ironjawz ring around the Dreadhold was growing ever tighter as they continued to run as fast as their bulky armour would allow.

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On both sides of the Dreadhold, Ardboys reached the gates, and a loud metallic thump resounded across the battlefield as they put their shoulders into pushing the gates wide open.

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On the other side of both, Bloodreavers desperately pushed back to keep the gates closed.

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Incensed at the threats the Magister had made at his prized Gore-Gruntas, the Megaboss made his Maw-Krusha rear up and deliver a deafening bellow. Waves of sound pounded the Magister, blasting him off the walls to fall into the courtyard, breaking his neck as he hit the ground.

Seeing the fate of his Tzeentchian colleague, the Sorcerer Lord of Slaanesh tried to keep a low profile as he gathered his arcane energies to blanket the Blood Warriors with an Mystic Shield. Immediately, he felt the presence of another wizard, and he caught sight of the Weirdnob Shaman outside the Dreadhold, dancing as it gathered its own energy to unbind the spell. The Sorcerer Lord called his Familiar to his side, and the creature’s affinity wit the arcane allowed the spell to slip through unmolested.

In the Skull Keep, the Daemon Prince once again attempted to harness the magical power of the Dreadhold, but this time the Blood God was watching and asserted his command over the Chaos forces. The Daemon Prince felt the touch of Khorne as his form twisted inside out to leave a Chaos Spawn in his place.

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Battle Round Three

Once again the Sorcerer Lord engaged in a magical duel with the Weirdnob Shaman and, once again, his Familiar was enough to give him the edge as another Mystic Shield was layered over the Blood Warriors.

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Dodging another blast from the Skull Cannon, the Megaboss took a deep breath and unleashed an almighty Waaagh! that energised every Ironjaw close to him. As the Warchanter started up a percussive rhythm that galvanised the Gore-Gruntas, the Weirdnob Shaman felt this was his moment, and he summoned an irresistible Arcane Blast that would force the closest gate open.

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However, the Sorcerer Lord inside had been waiting for the Weirdnob to do just this and, once more using his Familiar, unbound the spell so it became nothing more than a light breeze. The Ardboys continued to strain at the gates but, without the Weirdnob’s spell, they could not shift them an inch.

Seeing the effect the Sorcerer Lord was having on his Weirdnob, the Megaboss directed his Maw-Krusha’s bellow at the wizard, and in an instant the Slaaneshi Sorcerer had joined the dead Magister in the courtyard.

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All along the walls, powerful wards discharged, catching an Ardboy in their blast.

 

Battle Round Four

Within the Dreadhold, the combined forces of Chaos took their losses lightly and hunkered down behind their defences. With a roar, the Skull Cannon hurled a blast at the Megaboss, but the skulls it fired simply bounced off the hide of the Maw-Krusha.

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Feeling the momentum of the assault beginning to flag, the Megaboss unleashed another mighty Waaagh! Taking this as his cue, the Weirdnob Shaman flung another Arcane Blast, but still the huge metal gates held firm.

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The Ardboys on the other side of the Dreadhold were faring no better, as Bloodreavers were holding their gate closed as well.

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Battle Round Five

As more wards placed around the walls blasted a Brute and an Ardboy, the Megaboss shouted at his Weirdnob Shaman, going into some detail as to what he would do if the gates remained closed. Concentrating hard, the Weirdnob closed his eyes as green sparks flew out of his ears. He felt the weight of a new Arcane Blast and hurled it forwards…

…and this time the gates flew open with a massive clang, crushing a dozen Bloodreavers and a few Chaos Warriors who had been straining to hold them closed.

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Bellowing at the top of their voices, the Ardboys flooded into the courtyard, eagerly searching for someone to duff up as Brutes and Gore-Gruntas assembled behind them to form a second wave assault.

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They did not have to look far for a target, and with yells of unrestrained joy, they rushed forward to attack the Skull Keep and the Chaos Spawn inside. The Spawn lashed about in confusion as it was surrounded by bloodthirsty Orruks, but could not defend itself against so many. The few remaining Bloodreavers around the open gate ran in terror as they tried to escape the fury of the Ironjawz.

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Now inside the Dreadhold, the Ardboys could not hear the Maw-Krushas roar of pain as the Skull Cannon finally found its mark, hammering the beast and critically wounding it.

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However, the other gate still held, keeping the other half of the Ironjawz warband out of the Dreadhold.

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Battle Round Six

Inside the Dreadhold, panic started to set in. The Ironjawz were in the courtyard, and the Daemon Prince general was dead, along with all the wizards.

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Feeling his moment had come, the Aspiring Deathbringer stood forward to lead the defence, directing the Chaos Warriors of Slaanesh to block the advance of the Ardboys. With no leaders of their own, the Chaos Warriors accepted the orders, and two units of them caught the Ardboys in a pincer outside the Skull Keep.

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However, they could not be supported, as the Aspiring Deathbringer dared not pull his Bloodreavers away from the last gate or the battle would be over quickly. The Chaos Warriors and Ardboys threw themselves at one another, but their thick armour and the tight pathway around the Skull Keep meant few solid blows could be landed and casualties were light on both sides.

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The wards along the walls continued to blast Ironjawz still on the outside but now the Brutes were beginning to enter the Dreadhold. One of their Bosses scrambled up the wall to slay the last Blood Warrior, but the Skull Cannon rattled away out of his reach.

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The Megaboss looked on approvingly as he heard the slaughter coming from within the Dreadhold, ignoring the whimpering of his badly wounded Maw-Krusha.

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Battle Round Seven

Feeling they could not count on the dubious accuracy of the Khornate Skull Cannon, the Daemonettes of Slaanesh leapt off the wall, sallying out to attack the Megaboss.

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With blinding speed, the Daemonettes surrounded the Maw-Krusha before the Megaboss could react, their razor-sharp pincers outstretched.

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The wounded Maw-Krusha could not turn round in time as the Daemonettes leapt over its clumsy swings, and they savaged the brute, the Alluress leading them slicing through the throat of the Megaboss as he tumbled off his dying mount.

If the Daemonettes were hoping for a cry of victory from the walls, they were badly mistaken as the rest of the defenders had other things on their mind. The Ardboys in the courtyard had, with help from the Brutes and Gore-Gruntas, finished off one unit of Chaos Warriors and were now starting to gather their forces to finish off the others, even as the Brute Boss grabbed the Skull Cannon in his Klaw and smashed it apart.

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The lack of defenders on the walls was now beginning to tell, and Brutes prowled the defences on either side of the remaining closed gate, seeking for a weakness. However, the Bloodreavers were still present to ward them off.

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The Gore-Gruntas, seeing the courtyard was too closely packed with Ardboys to properly ride their mounts, spied an easier target outside the Dreadhold – the Daemonettes were still finishing off the mortally wounded Maw-Krusha. A unit of Brutes saw them as well, and the two Ironjawz units were on the Daemonettes before they fully realised they were under attack.

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The Daemonettes proved they had lightning reflexes though, neatly snipping through the armour of two Brutes, but it was to no avail. The charging Gore-Gruntas rode half of them down, while the last Brute finished off the rest.

Inside, more Brutes had gained the central wall, and they ran across it without meeting any resistance. Plunging into the Bloodreavers still holding the gate against the Ardboys outside, utter carnage broke out as the two sides threw themselves into battle.

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Nearly a dozen Bloodreavers were slaughtered in the first few seconds, despite the Aspiring Deathbringer piling in to aid them. Seven more ran, desperate to escape the fury of the Ironjawz.

 

 

Battle Round Eight

The result of this was inevitable. With just two Bloodreavers holding the gate now, the Ardboyz pushed the gates aside, crushing the last Bloodreavers and the Aspiring Deathbringer as they streamed into the courtyard.

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A great green, spectral foot appeared in the sky above the Dreadhold as the Weirdnob Shaman summoned the Foot of Gork. He giggled insanely as he brought it down first upon the Familiar on the walls, and then on a Chaos Warrior in the courtyard.

The Ardboys now had the last Chaos Warriors in a pincer of their own, and the fight lasted for just a few seconds.

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The Ironjawz had succeeded in taking the Flayed Fort.

 

Conclusion

A decisive victory for the Ironjawz, and a battle that started slow but ended up truly exciting, with heroes and villains popping up all over the place!

Also, note that the Ironjawz managed to (finally) get two gates open, making this just the second and third time we have achieved this since Age of Sigmar came out! Make no mistake, a buttoned up Dreadhold is a very, very tough nut to crack, especially when you ave only one wizard (the Weirdnob Shaman) and one ranged attack (the bellow of the Maw-Krusha). In fact, if the Chaos wizards had not been killed, allowing the Weirdnob to use the Arcane Blast to force open the first gate, the Ironjawz might still be outside the Dreadhold, trying to get in!

Once again, I have to implore you, gentle reader to get yourself a Dreadhold. The rules are dead simple but do everything they need – and these games really are a lot of fun…

 

The Story Continues…

Well, the Ironjawz have made good account of themselves so far, but now a new face will be appearing in the war – Gordrakk, the Fist of Gork himself, is arriving, and he wants a word with both Chaos and Stormcast…

Review – Warhammer Quest: Shadows Over Hammerhal

A nice hefty box has just landed on my desk – the new Warhammer Quest, Shadows Over Hammerhal!

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Fans of the old Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay may get a twinge of nostalgia at this point, as the title is (I am guessing deliberately) very close to one of the Enemy Within campaign adventures, Shadows Over Bogenhafen.

So, is it any good?

The original Warhammer Quest (pre-Silver Tower) had something of a reputation for bursting at the seams with all the miniatures they stuffed into the box. This time round, it is a healthy amount of miniatures – not as many, but they are all much, much better than the plastics of yesteryear.

Overall, you get:

Lord-Castellant
Gryph-hound
Cogsmith
Black Ark Fleetmaster
Loremaster
Chaos Sorcerer Lord
Putrid Blightkings
Kairic Acolytes
10 Bloodreavers

I have most of these models painted up already (so I’ll be able to dive right into this game – looking on that as a plus!), but it also means my Nurgle, Tzeentch and Bloodbound forces will be getting some reinforcements I might have otherwise skipped, so Hammerhal does a fairly nice job of supporting my Age of Sigmar games too.

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They also did this, for the first time I can remember in a GW boxed game – place a card insert between miniatures and books so all the spikey things do not skewer the rest of the components!

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It is two-sided, with the box cover art on the other side.

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There are three large cardstock punch-out sheets, that provide counters and floor plans. Nicely done, thick card, very durable. These will survive many games, I think.

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Then you get a deck of cards, divided into several categories.

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The Skills and Treasures cards will be instantly familiar ti anyone who has played Silver Tower. That torch card signifies the Torchbearer, who kind of acts as the leader of the adventurers, similar (but not the same – the Torchbearer controls Companions, such as the Gryph-Hound, for example) to the Fate token in Silver Tower.

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Artefact cards are dished out by the Gamesmaster, and can be thought of as Treasures Plus. The Achievements and Red Yugol cards are also in the GM’s control (the latter are used when the players visit Cinderfall between adventures).

You also get dice with the game.

The last components are the Character Cards, covering the four Heroes included in the set, the Gryph-Hound, and the Fate Board.

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By the looks of the Lord-Castellant, these are the same guys as appear in Silver Tower which, of course, means all the characters in Silver Tower (and the expansion and apps) are useable in Hammerhal – so, there are a lot of Heroes playable in this game already. Just add miniatures!

Then we get onto the meat of the game – the books!

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There is a short Getting Started sheet, along with an Assembly Guide. You’ll use these once and then move on.

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You are told to read the Guidebook first, and the first surprise is that the first half-ish of the book is a short story, setting out Hammerhal and the adventures to come.

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All nicely illustrated – there is an Old World feel here, but with a dollop of Mortal Realms on top. I think this is going to ring true for a lot of Age of Sigmar fans.

Then we get the game rules…

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… and I think I would describe them as Silver Tower with a few bells and whistles.

The Destiny Phase is still in there, though there are no Familiars to slow your adventurers down. However, Unexpected Events can still be triggered to keep the players on their toes, and Destiny Dice still become locked as they are used.

Hero Dice are used in the same way, though players can now choose to delay their actions to then go after other players – something we have needed more than once in Silver Tower. Roll them, then take your actions. Kill an adversary, get Renown, go right round the track and get a Skill.

So far, so Silver Tower. From now on, I am going to zero in on the differences.

The big difference, of course, is the presence of the Gamesmaster. He controls the monsters (they have Behaviour Tables still, but it is optional to roll on them – I won’t be doing that myself – but they do sometimes give monsters special abilities, like summoning, that is not in their standard ability list), and there is always the possibility of ambushes now. Wandering monsters by another name.

Adversaries can now also call for reinforcements, standing by a nearby door and yelling for help. This should keep the game moving along and force the players not to dawdle.

The GM is basically fulfilling the same role as he does in a ‘standard’ RPG, presenting the players with an adventure, reading descriptions to them and creating an atmosphere, and then controlling all the monsters. The advantage, of course, is that now the monsters will be acting a bit more intelligently. A side benefit is that players will now truly work together instead of trying to stuff one another over with the monsters (yeah, that might have just been our group…).

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The Further Rules section expands your games. You can add Heroes from Silver Tower of course (in fact, just consider them Warhammer Quest characters – the same applies to monsters too, so if they are in one game, they can be used in Hammerhal).

Companions are used to pad a party out so there are always four Heroes, regardless of the number of players, adding more characters who are controlled by the Torchbearer (and Archimaine the Gryph-Hound, naturally).

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The campaign rules are, I think, what is going to make Hammerhal fly. You sort of got them with Silver Tower, but it looks like Warhammer Quest is serious about it now.

Characters get their skills and treasures as before, but there are now rules for revisiting dungeons, in creasing difficulty levels (Heroic, Legendary and Hardcore – the latter of which was pretty much how we played Silver Tower!) and, of course you can now visit Cinderfall between adventures, which we will come back to in a minute…

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This book ends with a Painting Guide, which takes a fair few pages but, for those of us who claim to be Disciples of the Duncan, it is a heaven sent addition.

So, now we come to the Adventure Book, for the GM only…

Eight dungeons are featured here, but don’t let that fool you – once a GM has played through them, he will be ready to create his own, giving Hammerhal true RPG-style infinite playability.

One cool thing I like is that each dungeon is covered on a two page spread, giving everything you need at a glance, like so:

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You have the layout of the dungeon tiles, a specific Ambush table, Unexpected Events, and a Stairwells chart – once reached, these allow players to go back to Cinderfall or descend deeper into the dungeon (going down a level, we used to call it). There is not necessarily a linear progression to this, as the very first dungeon has different stairs that lead to the second and third!

Each location follows the same format, giving a description of the place to read out, any adversaries, and any special rules. The latter could be anything from how a trap is activated to the workings of a Realmgate that has been discovered.

Some locations also have a Secret. This is discovered by a successful Search (a new standard action available to players), and can uncover secret doors, treasures, or clues about what lies ahead.

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This is a very, very nice set up for the GM. Everything you need is in one place, it all comes in bite-size chunks so you can start playing immediately without having to ‘prep’ an evening’s game, and it will be incredibly easy to replicate for GM’s wanting to create their own adventures.

Two observations here – first off, I think we will see a lot of fan-created dungeons, as they are very easy to put together (though a PC-based app to handle the floorplans would be nice, GW), and two, GW needs to put a shed load of these dungeons out. In White Dwarf, to download, in an expansion. If GW can give us a ton of variety in this game, it will have great longevity.

I mentioned Cinderfall earlier – this is the district in the city of Hammerhal where the heroes are based and, in-between adventures, you can visit it!

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This will, again, seem very familiar to veterans of the original Warhammer Quest. As well as random events, there are places for heroes to visit, such as gambling dens, chapels, a market, a pit fighting cellar, and more.

Of course, an inventive GM is going to create his own locations too…

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Finally, the adversaries have all their stats laid out, in the same format as Silver Tower.

However, GW have not just given us the monsters from the box set – they have also slipped in Wrathmongers, Tzaangors, Tzaangor Skyfires, and Plaguebearers.

 

Conclusion

This is going to be a bit of an odd conclusion.

First off, let me say this: This is not just a good game, this is an awesome game. It has taken the idea of the original Warhammer Quest and married it to what made Silver Tower a hit. If you liked either, go and buy Hammerhal now. You will not be regretting it.

The only real downside, and it is a strange one… I already want more. I want access to more adventures as well as, and this is the big thing, more monsters. The original Warhammer Quest made a good attempt at getting every available Warhammer Fantasy model into the game – and that is what Hammerhal needs. If you could use any Age of Sigmar model in this game, you will have (maybe with the odd dungeon floorplan expansion) a campaign system that could run for a long, long time as you explore different heroes in different dungeons, fighting different adversaries.

So, get onto it GW. I don’t want a few pages in White Dwarf introducing the odd monster here and there, I want them all. Do that, and I think you will have nailed this game.

Battle Report – Beast Run

The forces of Sigmar and Chaos have claimed one All-Gate each in the campaign so far – now we turn our attention to the Realm of Beasts, but a new rising power looks set to complicate matters greatly.

 

The Story So Far

The fight for the All-Gates spanned all the Mortal Realms, though there was yet to be any news on how the Stormcasts fared in the Realms of Light and Shadow. Within the Realm of Beasts, however, the war had flared to dangerous proportions.

The Mawgate was protected by a fortress, as was every All-Gate. This one, however, was within a living fortress, a megalithic burrowing world-worm known as Fangathrak. It had been subjugated by the forces of Chaos and chained in place by six Crawlerforts, each garrisoned by immense armies of each of the Ruinous Powers. Though it could move, the Mawgate was currently located beside the Deffgorge – the site of covergence of the territory of several Ironjawz warclans.

As Megabosses fought one another over who should have the first crack at attacking Fangathrak, the lords of the Crawlerforts launched their own premptive assault upon the Orruks. Ironjawz mobs were torn apart by the combined weight of Chaos.

Not so Megaboss Dakkbad, who lured the Bloodbound of Lord Hakadron, ruler of the Bane Crawlerfort, into the Deffgorge.

The Deffgorge had always been a rite of passage for the Ironjawz. An Orruk who wanted to prove how ded ‘ard he was would travel to the Deffgorge and, with other Ironjawz watching from the edge, run the Deff-blitz – a gauntlet that involved running from one end of the gorge to the other, avoiding the attentions of the hungry Gargants who lived there.

Megaboss Dakkbad was now planning to do the same thing with the Bloodbound…

 

The Forces

The Ironjawz have managed to ‘encourage’ a relatovely small force of Bloodbound to follow them into the Deffgorge. Both armies are relatively small, but they have brought some of their finest units – however, both will have to contend with the Aleguzzler Gargants who live there. The Ironjawz are a little weaker than the Bloodbound, so they will want to take advantage of the Gargants as much as possible before turning around to fight.

Bloodbound
Lord of Khorne on Juggernaut
Slaughterpriest
Chaos Warriors x 12
Skullcrushers x 6
Bloodreavers x 40 (two units of 20)

The Bloodbound have brought a fair bit of chaff with them in the form of Bloodreavers, which may work out very well for them in this battle. If they can keep the bulk of their force intact through the Deffgorge, they may just have enough to defeat the Ironjawz at its end.

Ironjawz
Megaboss on Maw-Krusha
Gore-Gruntas x 6 (two units of 3)
Brutes x 5
Ardboys x 20 (two units of 10)

Like the Bloodbound, the Ironjawz have a healthy buffer of weaker units – however, ‘weaker’ for the Ironjawz means Ardboys, who are potent enough on their own!

Aleguzzlers
Gargants x 3

The three Gargants who live in the Deffgorge are on no one’s side – really, they are just hungry and are happy to snatch any morsel that tries to run past them!

 

The Battleplan

On the face of it, this is a simple Battleplan – the winner is the army that annihilates its enemy. Of course, when the Ironjawz are involved, it is unlikely to be that easy.

Throughout the battle, the Gargants will appear, under the control of one player or the other (though they can – and likely will – switch allegiance repeatedly throughout the fight!). The only safe place is on the plains at the far and of the Deffgorge (the Gargants don’t like the bright light).

So, being at a slight disadvantage, the Ironjawz will be aiming to run through the Deffgorge as quickly as possible, hoping the Gargants will cause the Bloodbound a fair amount of stress (and casualties). Once they make it to the plains, they will hope they are in a position to outmatch the Bloodbound and deliver a telling defeat.

 

Deployment

The Ironjawz were already running at great speed when the Bloodbound entered the Deffgorge. The Megaboss turned round on his Maw-Krusha and bellowed an order to the Ardboys, telling them to block the advance of the Bloodbound,. The Ardboys did not mind – they were well up for a ruck.

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Incensed at the fleeing Orruks, the Bloodbound were in swift pursuit, the quicker moving Skullcrushers on one flank to sweep round the Ardboys.

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Battle Round One

All the noise generated by the Ironjawz started to awaken the Gargants, and the first appeared at the head of the Deffgorge, just outside the flat plains beyond.

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The Ironjawz paid it no mind, and ran at full tilt to the plains, shouting insults over their shoulders as they went. The Ardboys backed up slightly, getting ready to receive the first charges.

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Another Gargant appeared, this time from the other side of the Deffgorge, but they were now in a position to block the Ironjawz retreat,> The Megaboss realised he would have to do something about at least one of them.

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Seeing the Ardboys begin to shuffle backwards, the Slaughterpriest enacted a terrible Blood Bind rite. This enraged the Orruks, forcing them to run forward in an attempt to get to grips with Khorne’s warriors.

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With a bloodthirsty howl, the Bloodbound surged forward, each eager to be the first to slay an enemy.

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The Ardboys quickly had a real fight on their hands – and they were loving every second of it. Chaos Warriors, Skullcrushers and Bloodreavers all rushed towards them, and casualties from both sides fell to the ground. However, the Ardboys held firm, arresting the advance of nearly the entire Bloodbound horde.

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Battle Round Two

Unfortunately for the Bloodbound, this served to awaken yet another Gargant, and this one came from a crevice in the side of the Deffgorge that was right behind the Bloodbound.

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Waving his Gore-hacka, the Megaboss directed both his Maw-Krusha and the closest Gore-Gruntas towards the closest Gargant blocking their path. The Maw-Krusha unleashed a mighty below as it lumbered forward, the titanic sound wave staggering the Gargant as it tried to lope towards the Ironjawz.

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The massive bulk of the Maw-Krusha barrelled into the Gargant, sending it flying. By the time the Gore-Gruntas and Megaboss had finished bashing the fallen Gargant with their Gore-hackas, there was only enough left to feed the Gruntas and Maw-Krusha.

Meanwhile, the Ardboys had started to suffer as the Skullcrushers were able to bring their full weight to bear. Some Ardboys fell to their glaives while others turned to flee from the carnage, but the Bloodreavers also suffered terribly in the clash.

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Yet another Gargant appeared, this time from within a Sylvaneth Wood right next to another group of Bloodreavers. Even the craziest of them baulked at the sight of the monstrosity now thundering towards them.

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No one else within the Bloodbound warband gave the fate of the Bloodreavers a second thought as the Skullcrushers had managed to work themselves free of the Ardboys and set off in pursuit of the other Ironjawz. The Chaos Warriors, too, disengaged from the Ardboys and ran after their mounted allies, leaving a pitifully few Bloodreavers to finish the Orruks off.

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The Skullcrushers soon caught up with the Brutes, who had been lagging behind in the run towards the plains, their Juggernauts running one down before any weapons were raised. The glaives of the Skullcrushers skewered one more, but then the Brutes turned round and gave the Juggernauts a good bashing, felling two of them in quick succession.

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The last Gargant near the plains bellowed as it lumbered forward, crashing in the side of a group of Gore-Gruntas. One of the Gruntas was badly hurt by a swing of a massive club, but the Gargant was savaged in return.

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Meanwhile, the Chieftain of the Bloodreavers issued a challenge to his followers, promising the Blood God’s eye would be on them if they could fell the mighty Gargant that had dared cross their path. Suitably incensed, the Bloodreavers bravely charged with a howling warcry.

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Utter carnage ensued, with the axes of the Bloodreavers chopping the Gargants legs and opening up hideous wounds. Roaring in pain, the Gargant lashed out with club and foot, slaughtering many of the Bloodreavers that milled around below it. The Sylvaneth Wyldwood began to flow with blood.

 

Battle Round Three

Though the Ironjawz had not yet reached the plain, and Gargants were now roaming the Deffgorge, the Megaboss realised the Skullcrushers had run too far ahead of the rest of their force. Grinning to himself, he wheeled his Maw-Krusha round to face them, his Gore-Gruntas following his lead.

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One Gargant stomped forward past the ruins to grab a Bloodreaver, who he stuffed into his trousers as a snack for later. The other Bloodreavers looked up in horror as its club swept through their ranks, smashing the life out of five of them. The Lord of Khorne began to swing his Juggernaut around to drive the Gargant off, but instead was kicked by a huge foot that broke bones and sent him reeling back in his saddle.

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Close the the pass, one unit of Gore-Gruntas cackled with delight as their mounts ate a Gargant, while the other skewered a Skullcrusher as they charged in.

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Battle Round Four

Yet another Gargant appeared from the sides of the Deffgorge, once again appearing behind the Bloodbound. Sniffing the air, it peered around and then started marching towards the Skullcrushers on the other side of a Sylvaneth Wyldwood.

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Seeing no profit in fooling around with a Gargant, the Lord of Khorne broke from battle to continue the chase of the Ironjawz. Before joining him, the Slaughterpriest showed the merest pity to the Bloodreavers engaged in battle with the other Gargant, boiling its blood before racing after his Lord. However, it was of little avail, as the critically wounded Gargant was still more than a match for the Bloodreavers. The last of them fled in abject terror as the slower ones were ground into the rock.

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Seeing their Lord approaching, the Skullcrushers disengaged from the Ironjawz they had run down, and reassembled themselves for a final charge.

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Now finished with the Bloodreavers, the Gargants began to lumber after the Bloodbound, trapping them against the Ironjawz who had now turned back round to fight.

Gore-Gruntas charged in at full speed, using the weight of their mounts to break the line of Chaos Warriors long enough for the Maw-Krusha to dive in and crush the last of them.

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Things were going no better to the Bloodbound’s rear as the first of the Gargants finally caught up to them. The Lord of Khorne spied another Gargant had entered the Deffgorge and it appeared to be heading towards the Orruks, but this was little comfort as the closest Gargant seized the Lord from his saddle and delivered a powerful head butt that knocked him insensible for a few crucial seconds, even as the last of the Skullcrushers were mauled by Gore-Gruntas.

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Battle Round Five

By now, the noose was well and truly tightening around the last of the Bloodbound, and only the Lord of Khorne and his Slaughterpriest were still fighting.

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The Slaughterpriest, his axe now red with Orruk blood, channelled the power of the Khorne and enacted the Blood Boil rite upon one of the Gargants, cooking it in its own skin. However, despite one massive beast falling to the ground, the odds were still against him.

The Maw-Krusha clumsily took to the air and landed heavily to one side of the fight, the Megaboss’ eyes lighting up as he saw both the Slaughterpriest in front of him. Urging his mount forward, the Megaboss bayed with glee as his Maw-Krusha flattened the Slaughterpriest under its great bulk, and could barely stand up straight for laughing so much as he watched the Khorne Lord get battered to the ground by its great fists.

Seeing more Gargants approaching, the Megaboss raised his Gore-hacka and directed his Ironjawz out to the plains. He had one great victory under his belt but was now looking for more…

 

Conclusion

Now, that was about as textbook as it gets for the Ironjawz. Though slightly outmatched at the start of the battle, the sacrifice of the Ardboys gave the rest of the Ironjawz time to deal with Gargants blocking their way without being distracted by the Bloodbound. As the Bloodbound advanced, it became increasingly likely that Gargants would appear next to or behind them, and they were sufficient to cut the Bloodbound to a manageable size.

A well-timed charge from the Gore-Gruntas and Megaboss against the toughest unit in the Bloodbound force (the Skullcrushers, though they had already had a bit of a battering from their engagement with the Ardboys) broke the back of the army, leaving just the Heroes to fight from within a Ironjawz and Gargant sandwich!

This was a fun Battleplan overall, fast-paced and with a tough rogue element (the Gargants) guaranteed to stuff things up for one player or the other!

 

The Story Continues…

Well, the Ironjawz have well and truly arrived in the Realmgate Wars, and they will be sticking around for a bit longer. After all, what self-respecting Megaboss would simply stand aside and watch a huge battle between Chaos and the Stormcasts? Of course he will want to get stuck in!

In the next battle, the Ironjawz will be launching an attack on one of the Crawlerforts that hold the Mawgate in place…

A Clutch for Chaos

Of late, I have just been doing the odd few models here and there, clearing some of the models I have been wanting to do, as opposed to those ‘required’ for the campaign games. This weekend, it was the turn of Chaos to get some love.

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The Rat Ogres were the bulk of this little group, and I always figured they would be easy to paint (basically following Duncan’s directions on Warhammer TV for a Clanrat).

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I figured eight would be good to start with and, when added to the Packmasters, Giant Rats, Rat Swarms and a couple of Abominations, the Clans Moulder is beginning to look fairly fleshed out. Will always need more Giant Rats and Rat Swarms though.

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I already have a couple of Chaos Spawn, but always thought it would be fun to make them power-specific. This time round, bearing in mind what is going to be on the painting table next, I thought a Tzeentch-themed spawn would be appropriate.

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Finally, this guy. He was going to end up on a Warshrine of Tzeentch to characterise thew model but after putting together the unaligned one, I realised this eBay purchase was actually the chap who was normally on the Warshrine (albeit with an added sword). I wanted to do something a bit different for Tzeentch, so what to do with him?

The two weapon outfit screamed Exalted Hero, but what hero would have very little armour?

Had to be Slaanesh!

So, my Slaaneshi Host has a new commander, ready for use once the god returns to the campaign!

On the painting table right now is a half-done Human Blood Bowl team (with the Mighty Zug!), that I hope to have more or less done this week. The next big task (already put together and undercoated) are forty Kairic Acolytes, to be followed by thirty Tzaangors, with the odd Tzeentchian hero thrown in for good measure.

Battle Report – Across the Deadly Span

The forces of Order managed to gain entry to the Ironholds in the last battle, and they are now in position to take the Mercurial Gate. Will the forces of Chaos be able to rally to its defence in time?

 

The Story So Far

The combined forces of Stormcast Eternals and Fyreslayers were now just one long march away from the Mercurial Gate. Fortunately, the moving parts of the Ironholds had configured themselves so a single bridge could carry them the rest of the way, a span of metal so wide a thousand men could march side-by-side. To add to their luck, the bulk of the defenders were still fighting at the outer walls, against the Stormcasts and Fyreslayers Sigmar had sent as a distraction.

Maintaining a great pace, they finally reached the Citadel of the Ironholds in the centre of the Molten Sea, home to the Mercurial Gate. However, as they approached, its gates opened to reveal Archaon himself, at the head of an army of Chaos Warriors and the Varanguard.

Archaon had discovered Sigmar’s plans to take the All-Gates and resolved to halt the Stormcasts at the All-Gate. As he rode forward at the head of his army, the Stormcasts and Fyreslayers prayed they could at least slow the Everchosen down so just a few might reach the Mercurial Gate.

 

The Forces

This is another battle that is crucial to the campaign but in fact only uses small forces – there is not much room for error for either side!

Stormcast Eternals
Lord-Celestant
Retributors x 10 (two units of 5)
Liberators x 10 (two units of 5)

Fyreslayers
Runefather on Magmadroth
Hearthguard Berzerkers x 10

The combined forces of Stormcast Eternals and Fyreslayers have suffered losses just getting into the Ironholds, and their numbers are few. However, they stiull have their hardhitting units, such as the Magmadroth, Lord-Celestant and Retributors.

The Everchosen
Archaon, Grand Marshal of the Apocalypse
Gaunt Summoner
Varanguard x 3
Chaos Warriors x 24 (two units of 12)
Ironskull Bastion
Overlord Bastion
Skull Keep

This is a solid Everchosen force, backed up by the Overlords of Chaos Battalion, which not only allows Archaon to mark an enemy unit for destruction by the Varanguard (re-rolling all hits and wounds), it also means Archaon will know who goes first in each round, meaning he cannot be caught out by the dreaded double turn!

 

The Battleplan

The aim for the forces of Order in this battle is to breach the main gate of the Citadel of the Ironholds within six rounds or, at least, deal significant damage to it. However, while they can run or retreat and still charge in this battle, the Everchosen can recycle destroyed units and their fortress whispers fear and doubt into the minds of the attackers, lowering their Bravery.

In addition, the Mercurial Gate Time of War sheet is also being used, meaning towers can turn in place to crush unfortunate units and Chaos Wizards can hamper enemies with the Whisphered Words spell.

 

Deployment

The Stormcasts formed a solid formation as they approached the Mercurial Gate, Liberators leading while Retributors followed close behind, all under the watchful eyes of the Lord-Celestant. The Fyreslayers, fewer in number spread out far to the left flank, hoping to slip past the forces of the Everchosen.

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Archaon was eager to meet the forces of Order and scatter them to the furthest reaches of the realm. At the fore of his army, he led the Varanguard and Chaos Warriors onto the bridge to meet the Stormcasts.

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Battle Round One

Taking advantage of the slow approach of the Stormcasts, the Chaos Warriors garrisoned the Ironskull Bastion and Skull Keep.

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From here they watched the advance of their enemies in positions they knew to be highly defensible.

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Archaon had nothing defensive in mind, however. He soared ahead, the Varanguard and Gaunt Summoner racing to keep up. As his disc propelled him forward, the Gaunt Summoner enacted several arcane rituals. As a Mystic Shield enveloped the Everchosen, dark, Chaotic whispers ran threw the heads of the Stormcasts and Fyreslayers, causing them to doubt the righteousness of their cause.

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The Lord-Celestant was the first to shake off his doubts and in a loud, clear voice, he ordered his forces forward at full tilt. As the Runefather’s Magmadroth spat a high arcing glob of lava that smeared itself across the armour of one of the Varanguard, the Stormcasts caused the bridge to tremor under their feet as they pounded forward. With a cry of ‘Only the Faithful!’ the Retributors and one retinue of Liberators charged into the Everchosen and his Varanguard.

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The Varanguard had been waiting for this reckless attack and they countercharged, skewering all five of the Retributors who had ran into them upon their glaives before a single hammer could be swung. Archaon, meanwhile, had been surrounded by ten Stormcasts but he casually hacked down at them with the Slayer of Kings while ignoring the few injuries Dorghar sustained in return. Two Retributors were quickly killed, one swallowed by the Nurglesque head of Dorghar, who promptly vomited the corrupted remains back at another. This broke the nerve of one Retributor who, for the first time during the entirety of the Realmgate Wars, turned and ran.

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Battle Round Two

With a grinding of gears, the Ironskull Bastion turned in place, catching the Liberators off guard and crushing one in its powerful mechanism, and narrowly missing Archaon.

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The Lord-Celestant and Runefather both saw the danger in the centre of the bridge as the slaying of the Retributors had now left the Varanguard free to roam the battlefield, and they moved to counter the threat. The Hearthguard Berzerkers, meanwhile, ran past the Skull Keep, trusting the nearby retinue of Liberators to tie up the Chaos Warriors within.

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Lumbering towards the Varanguard, the Magmadroth spat another stream of lava at them before it crashed into their ranks.

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The Runefather’s Latchkey Axe snaked out and took the head off one, while the Magmadroth’s horns speared another from his mount. Turning clumsily, the Magmadroth swung its horned tail and crushed the life from the third. By the time the Lord-Celestant arrived, there was precious little for him to do.

However, just a few yards away, Archaon dispatched the last Retributor and two Liberators, causing the survivors to flee the battlefield.

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Feeling the thrill of battle, Archaon quickly threw a Mystic Shield over himself and Dorghar, while the Gaunt Summoner concentrated his arcane powers upon the Runefather. He unleashed a Fractal Mindstorm, which pounded the consciousness of both Duardin and Magmadroth, then hurled an Arcane Bolt, leaving the Runefather reeling and critically wounded.

Before the Runefather could recover, Archaon had urged Dorghar into the air, and the great beast landed heavily behind the two Heroes of Order.

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As the Gaunt Summoner floated to the side of the Everchosen, Chaos Warriors left the Ironskull Bastion. At an order from Archaon, they charged into the side of the Lord-Celestant and Runefather, before Dorghar’s shadow enveloped them all.

Utterly trapped, the Lord-Celestant and Runefather were quickly killed by Archaon and his warriors.

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Battle Round Three

While the forces of Order had taken punishing losses, the last Liberators had trapped the Chaos Warriors in the Skull Keep, giving the Hearthguard Berzerkers a free run. Wit the Mercurial Gate in sight, they began to pick up the pace.

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However, unbeknownst to them, the Chaos Warriors had dispatched the last of the Liberators. They did see a new wave of Varanguard approaching the battlefield, and knew they had to move quickly if they were to complete their mission.

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Alas, the Fyreslayers did not move quickly enough, for Chaos Warriors and Archaon swept round both sides of the Skull Keep, neatly boxing the Hearthguard in.

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Dorghar surged forward, and Archaon grinned savagely as he hacked through the Fyreslayers in mere seconds.

The Mercurial Gate remained in the hands of the Everchosen…

 

Conclusion

That was fast – and bloody!

The forces of Order could have fought somewhat harder than they did, and it may well have made all the difference. Between the Retributors and Heroes, Archaon lost more than half of his wounds, and the Hearthguard managed to get to within spitting distance of the gate. If the Retributors had not taken such hideous casualties in the first round, they would have been able to pin the Chaos Warriors in place, and maybe even drive Archaon from the battlefield.

However as it turned out, they just could not recover from those initial hits (especially from the Varanguard!) and while the Heroes and Liberators managed to lock Chaos units in place for a couple of rounds, they lost their steam too quickly, allowing the Hearthguard to be caught.

 

The Story Continues…

A tragedy for Sigmar, and his first real loss in the All-Gates campaign – the Mercurial Gate will remain in the hands of Chaos! However, this is far from the end of the campaign, and there are five other All-Gates to be fought for. Next time, we will travel to the Realm of Beasts to watch the battle for the All-Gate that lies there – however, a new force will be appearing to muck up the plans of both Archaon and Sigmar…

So… This Happened

Over the past few weeks, we have been playing a D&D campaign on Tuesday nights (running through the Drow War campaign) and yesterday… well, the train did not come off the tracks, but it certainly leaned over onto just one set of wheels.

Towards the end of the night, I had to read this description out to one of the players who was the last to enter a room (just a bedroom in a derelict shop):

“Okay, you step into the room, ignoring the flames building up behind you. The floor is covered with many fine gowns that have been thrown carelessly aside. There is a nest of red and purple cloth in the corner where James is lying – he is very, very pale and not moving. A ten year old boy is in one corner, his distraught cries muffled by the octopus wrapped around his head. Amy is in pitched battle with a ten year old girl who has blood running down from her mouth. Meanwhile, Andy is behind Amy and looks like he is about to slice her in half with his sword. Ed has rats scampering up his robes. Oh, and there is another octopus on the floor, gasping for breath.”

The problem was, the party had split itself up.

Three of them had got hammered the night before and woke up late, so the other two went off into the city to go shopping and attend to errands. The hung over guys woke up at different times and so when the tavern’s owner asked them to sort out his rat problem, only two of them felt up to the task.

They delved around the cellars and found two ten year old children – who were actually vampires. It took the kids all of ten seconds to completely dominate both of them, and so the feeding commenced (constant CON loss).

The others were really slow in getting back to the tavern (or waking up, for that matter), and it took them longer to figure out where the other two had gone – when they found them, one of the dominated adventurers managed to hold them up even longer as he tried to get rid of them (under the direction of the little girl).

A fight finally broke out, though one of the adventurers had been completely drained of blood (and it will be fun to see what happens to him next session), and the others realised that even ten year olds are really hard when they are also vampires – they twigged they might have to adjust their tactics when the little girl caught the Barbarian’s greatsword with her hand.

The Druid and Bard came to the rescue, distracting one of the vampires by summoning an octopus over his head and watching it grapple him (the other octopus missed the girl as it fell).

A tough battle over all, and ‘this’ close to a TPK.

Next week, they will be dealing with a Green Hag in a city grove, before we can get back to the main part of the campaign…

 

Review – Battletome: Stormcast Eternals (the new one!)

The winds of change have been sweeping through Age of Sigmar, and it is the turn of the Stormcast Eternals to feel their effect. A brand new Battletome is about to be released for them, and I managed to snaggle an early copy.

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So, is it any good?

Well, first off… the cover seems a little less detailed, a little less inspiring to my completely untrained eye than the first edition. Not really here or there and, it has to be said, entirely unrepresentative of the glorious art inside, but still… not completely awesome for what is a very important book in the Age of Sigmar line.

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This Battletome follows the same format revealed first in Disciples of Tzeentch (so it has a lot more rules content, for example), and begins with the general background of the Stormcasts. However, don’t be tempted to skip past this bit of you have been following Sigmar’s soldiers from the start – there is new stuff in here.

The first thing that becomes apparent is that, again like Disciples of Tzeentch, the timeline has moved on from the Realmgate Wars (about fifty-odd years, I think). Sigmar is not just seeding the Mortal Realms with permanent outposts – whole cities are beginning to appear.

Second, there is a sidebar in this chapter that does a great deal to emphasise the reforging process Stormcasts go through, and its effects, with particular focus on how it affects certain Stormcasts in certain ways, which gives rise to different characters between Stormhosts. This will be important a little later on when we get to the rules section…

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The different types of Chamber are covered in broad strokes at first, including the recently opened Vanguard Auxiliary Chambers – these are the guys who, in modern terms, act as recon and fast strike forces. So, finding the big barbarian horde then constantly hitting its flanks until the Warrior Chambers gather would be how they act in the field. They spend most of their time in the wilderness and rarely return home to Azyr.

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We have four pages of the ‘timeline’ pieces, that often drop little hints as to what is coming next. The first couple of pages sum up the events of the Realmgate Wars, highlighting some specific battles for those of us who have played through the storyline. There are some hints that the Stormcasts are not always the great and noble heroes (the word ‘purge’ is used in one extract), and the new units (such as the Vanguard and Gryph-Hounds) make an appearance.

And then we get something people have been pining for since Age of Sigmar came out…

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Proper maps!

These show areas of the Realms of Life and Fire, the realms straddled by Hammerhal, the first of Sigmar’s cities (and one that will be becoming more relevant next week, as it is the location of the new Warhammer Quest – I’ll see if I can do a review on that too!).

Plenty to get your teeth into on these maps, as both features not only locations but entire wars that we have not even heard of before!

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I thought this spread was nicely done – we have seen the organisation of a Stormhost before, but never done this well. And yes, the eagle-eyed among you will have seen that new chambers have started to appear. Just what is a Logister Chamber, eh?

The next few pages break this spread down further, explaining the Warrior, Extremis and Vanguard Auxiliary Chambers.

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Following that, we get into the real nitty-gritty, as we explore in some detail each of the units that are currently available for the Stormcasts.

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And that includes the Vanguard Auxiliaries…

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This section is going to be the meat of things for some of you, as it explores areas that have only been lightly touched upon up to now. For example, when the Lord-Veritant appeared, you could only really think ‘umm, okay, anti-magic guy’. Now, however, there is a healthy amount of background laid out for him (they have a real dislike of corruption and spend a lot of their time rooting out cults – again, the word ‘purge’ springs to mind…). The same applies to the Knights-Questor and Errants-Questor, both of whom are now set properly in the ranks of the Stormcasts.

Once you get past all the different units, the next chapter takes a look at the heraldry of the Stormcasts – basically a lit of ideas for painting up your armies.

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Some of this we have already seen, such as how the tabards and buckles mark out specific retinues, but there is plenty of new stuff. Check this out…

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As well as pages covering the Stormhosts we have all come to love (such as my own Hallowed Knights), Stormhosts from the Later Strikings are also featured. A few of these have appeared in the fiction before now, but others haven’t.

Beyond that, we are into the ‘hobby’ section, with lots of glorious miniatures, including the new Vanguards and Aetherwings.

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So, that concludes the background sections, and I suspect more than a few of you have skimmed through everything to reach this point – the rules!

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These begin with the Allegiance Abilities, something people have been crying out for with the Stormcasts.

Their Battle Trait is Scions of the Storm, which basically gives the whole army deepstrike, though you no longer have control over when they appear (and you are still going to be 9″ away from the enemy).

Command Traits follow, and they are a nice simple list that will nevertheless not have you pining for the generic Order table.

The Artefacts of Power are divided into Blessed Weapons, Enchanted Armour and Magical Artefacts. However, Totem Heroes also get access to the Treasured Standards list, while Lord-Castellants, -Veritants and Knight-Azyros can choose from Mystic Lights. There does not look to be anything desperately powerful among these choices (though tournament games may refine this somewhat), but the spread is a nice one that gives a lot of character to the army.

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What is really new though are the Prayers of the Stormhosts. Every Priest in a Stormcast army gets one of these (in addition to their usual abilities), which makes me think that Lord-Relictors may become a thing quite soon. The prayers allows the Priest to pick from one of six choices, ranging from blessing weapons of a nearby unit (hit roll of 6 grants another attack – could be interesting on Retributors) to a Lightning Chariot that effectively teleports units across the battlefield.

Not enough for you Stormcast diehards? Well then, let me introduce you to the Steeds of the Celestial Realm tables. These allow you to pick one Dracoth, Stardrake or Gryph-Charger (from the new Vanguard Auxiliaries) and give the actual mount a trait. A Dracoth can become Keen-Clawed, for example (giving it Rend -3 on wound rolls of a 6), while a Stardrake can become a Thunderlord, extending the range of its Roiling Thunderhead.

I have a feeling some players are going to be spending a long, long time working out tricksey combinations on all these traits!

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As with Disciples of Tzeentch, there are two new Battleplans for the Stormcasts and, as with Disciples of Tzeentch, no addition to the storyline to go with them. Come on, GW, some of us play Age of Sigmar specifically for this!

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The Stormcasts also get some revised Path to Glory tables, which are all well and good, and can now focus on specific chambers. So, if you want to lose all your friends, you can now have a ‘pure’ Extremis Chamber in a campaign!

Finally, we come to the Warscrolls.

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There are some old favourites in here, such as the Warrior, Harbinger and Exemplar Chambers, but there are also some notable by their absence – the Skyborne Slayers have disappeared (some might say ‘good riddance’).

On the flip side, there are also some new additions, in particular focussing on the new models, with three different flavours of Vanguard Battalions (the two Conclaves, with some added leadership, go to make up the Vanguard Auxiliary Chamber).

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Some of the new Battalions are quite evocative – once you hear there is a Storm Vortex Garrison, don’t you just want to know what that is, eh?

However, I think the big thing for many players will be the Warscroll Battalions that cover specific Stormhosts, and this is where we begin to see the flavours of the different Stormhosts appear.

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My own Hallowed Knights, for example, can ignore spell effects, run and charge a bit further, and can still give the enemy a smacking before they finally succumb to their wounds.

Other Stormhosts get similar coverage, including the Hammers of Sigmar, Celestial Vindicators, Anvils of the Heldenhammer, Knights Excelsior, Celestial Warbringers, Tempest Lords, and Astral Templars.

Yup, there is enough there to keep you going!

Unit Warscrolls for all the Stormcast units follow, but don’t simply skip these, as there have been changes – I have already noticed that the Knight-Azyros no longer acts as a beacon for Stormcasts coming down on lightning…

The four page rules set is at the back and, on the very last page, an updated Pitched Battle Profiles list.

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Conclusion

If you are a Stormcast player, you and I both know you are going to be picking this up. However, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that this is a near-perfect Battletome. The art is good, there is a veritable tonne of background material, and the rules bunnies are going to be kept busy working out all sorts of different combinations of units, traits and Battalions, in a way that Age of Sigmar has not really had up to now. In short, ‘proper’ list building is going to start happening.

The only thing that would stop me giving this book a 10/10 is the lack of storyline to the Battleplans which would serve to place them within the overall storyline. Come on, GW, just give me a page or two for each, and I will declare one of your books to be a Perfect Work!

 

Warscroll Cards

The Battletome is not all the Stormcast players are getting. At long last, after countless requests on forums for them, Warscroll cards are now a thing.

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At long last, surely, we have an easy-to-read reference right on the battlefield.

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I don’t think so!

This card is entirely representative of the rest in this set. Nice big cards, with the smallest font known to graphic design to spell out the rules.

Now, I can see why they did it – a standard format that would cover every unit in the game, no matter how many abilities it has (gives hope for more cards for different armies). But even the likes of the Stardrake fill up less than half the surface area of these cards.

Honestly, I cannot really get across to you just how small the text is. I have decent eyesight (for my age), and I don’t automatically focus onto them.

This, it has to be said, is a bit of a Fail.

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However, you do get these counters, which I think some players will find useful – and they have been printed on the thickest cardstock I think I have ever seen for counters like these. Gives them a nice feeling of quality.

But at some point, you are going to go back to the Warscrolls. Why have text so small?

Yeah, that just confuses me.

In summary, big thumbs up to the Battletome, but what the hell was someone thinking with those Warscroll cards.