The lads came over during the evening and while Andy and Alan played an 8e game (both trying new armies, Pestilens-themed Skaven versus Bretonnians), I grabbed James for Age of Sigmar. We are currently prepping for the GW event later this month so followed similar guidelines for forces – up to 100 models of whatever we wanted. In the end, he took 80-odd, I had 70-ish (and, before anyone asks, yes, it worked out just fine).
I was giving my Khorne Goretide a whirl, while James would be battling with his Wood Aelves. I was going to suggest we play The Ritual scenario from the first hardback but in the end went with The Trap, an ambush-based scenario. Seemed appropriate for the forces involved – Lord Khul would be leading his warband deep into Aelven territory until they launched their assault. We played with the Realm of Life Time of War rules, so the terrain was rotting, wizards had access to Shield of Thorns and the blooming life force meant that Battleshock tests did nice things on the roll of a 1.
The Khorne warband set up first in their territory, with the Aelven forces surrounding them. I went with two big blocks of Bloodreavers, spearheaded by a small unit of Bloodcrushers and Blood Warriors. Bloodletters were positioned on the flanks (as much to stop errant missile fire hitting Lord Khul early on as anything else), with a Khorgorath, Bloodsecrator and Bloodstoker in the centre.
James had two big (30-strong) blocks of Glade Guard, along with Dryads, a Treelord, Treekin, Waywatchers and a smattering of characters (Glade Lord, Waywatcher Lord and a Spellweaver).
The first turn was savage. The ambushers automatically get the first turn and no one is allowed to move in the Movement Phase on either side, due to the suddenness of the ambush. I had thought the Glade Guard archers would be an issue, but a combined 60 of them is just brutal – the Blood Reavers on the left flank went down after just two salvoes of firing, leaving just the leader (he rolled 1 for Battleshock which, with the Realm of Life rules, meant he actually stayed put, but was feeling very lonely!).
When it came to my turn, I realised that the bulk of my forces would be staying put, giving every chance to the aelves to have another free round of firing next turn. Fortunately, Lord Khul shouted at his minions (Command Ability) which galvanised the front ranks into successful charges (movement is not allowed, but charges are). The Bloodcrushers and remaining Bloodreavers (the ones with two-handed axes, only just painted up!) surged forward, completely without support, into the Dryads, Treelord and Treekin – if it had wood, they went for it.
The results were less than spectacular. The Bloodreavers, deprived of the presence of the Bloodsecrator (now left far behind) and unable to use their full weight of numbers, had little impact. However, the Bloodcrushers went in like a train and started hammering the Dryads with no loss in return.
As I feared, the aelves grabbed the first round of the second turn. The Spellweaver, hiding behind the Treelord, was desperately trying to unleash Arcane Bolts, but failed time and again. Meanwhile, the rest of the aelves shuffled forward as they tightened the noose, bringing more Khorne units (still stationary) into range of their lethal bows. This time their arrow fire annihilated the Bloodletters on the left flank and brought down some Blood Warriors.
Meanwhile, the Treekin started pounded the Bloodreavers, leaving just two alive, as the Treelord reached forward and used his roots to strangle a Bloodcrusher. The Dryads brought down another.
It was looking dark for the Khorne warband but at least the Blood God would be happy with the carnage on the right flank. Now it was time to visit some retribution on the other aelves because, at last, the Khorne units were free to move and engage their ambushers.
Lord Khul called upon Khorne to lend him aid. I had made sure both a Chaos Spawn and Bloodthirster (!) were sitting nearby to cover the possibilities of doing really well or really badly on this roll but as it happened, the Bloodletters who had been wiped out returned – which was fine by me! I set them up in the nearby woods to a) provide cover from the next round of arrow fire and b) be set to charge next turn.
The Khorgorath, Bloodstoker and Lord Khul moved up to join the Bloodletters as they scampered through the woods.
On the other side of the battlefield, the remaining Bloodcrusher was reduced to a single wound by the Dryads, but the treefolk were beginning to pay, from both its Hellblade and their own miserable Battleshock rolls.
Finally, Khorne smiled and gave me the first round of this turn. Oh yes, now there would be some pain!
The Glade Guard, Waywatchers, and they respective lords must have gulped a little as the some very, very angry Khornate daemons, monsters and men emerged from the woods. Lord Khul gave the order to charge and they raced forward, the Bloodletters hitting both lords and the Waywatchers, the Khorgorath and Bloodstoker hitting the Glade Guard. Lord Khul had already decided the Glade Lord’s skull would be a fine addition to his collection but I was wary of the Glade Guard pulling a fast one and getting him in sight of their bows, so he flanked left and hit the Waywatchers in the side.
It did not go well for the aelves. A handful of Bloodletters succumbed to the two Lords but the Waywatchers evaporated under the assault and the Glade Guard found themselves hard pressed very quickly as the combined might of the Khorgorath and Bloodstoker started tearing up their ranks.
Meanwhile, across the battlefield, the other unit of Bloodletters had engaged the Treekin, and both blood and bark started flying up into the air as the scrap got steadily larger. Meanwhile, the Bloodsecrator had leapt into the Dryads alongside the last Bloodcrusher – this also brought his Portal of Chaos well into the range of the Spellweaver, and magical dissonance filled the air around the aelf.
In the aelves’ turn, another round of fighting did not serve the Glade Guard too well and despite getting some close ranged fire off into the Khorgorath, they proved almost useless in close combat. The entire aelven flank was now in danger of not just collapsing but being completely wiped out, a real problem as this was where the Glade Lord general was fighting for his life!
Between the Glade Lord and Waywatcher Lord, the Bloodletters were finally finished off, but this just meant that three very angry models (Lord Khul, the Bloodstoker and Khorgorath) were now right next to the aelven leadership (accompanied by the last remaining Glade Guard on that flank).
I should mention at this point that in the centre, the Blood Warriors had crashed into the other Glade Guard unit and been reduced to a single model. However, James was extremely reluctant to kill this one, as a unit being wiped out would give the Khorne forces extra Attacks (due to their Battalion Warscroll rules). I was quite happy to risk this last model as Blood Warriors get to perform all of their attacks when killed, before the model is removed. As it happened, the Blood Warrior would eventually fall, but a third of the Glade Guard unit would fall beneath his axe before that happened…
The aelves grabbed the first round of this turn and, for the first time during the entire battle, it looked like the Spellweaver would get a spell off, an Arcane Bolt aimed at the Bloodsecreator. Unfortunately, the Bloodsecrator’s presence completely fouled the casting (forcing James to re-roll) and the spell fizzled out. Meanwhile, the Treelord used the nearby Sylvaneth Woods to teleport right across the battlefield in an effort to prop up the aelves battered flank and rescue the Glade Lord. Upon appearing out of the woods on the far left, the Treelord shot forward with his roots and strangled the Bloodstoker, reducing him to one wound. The Waywatcher Lord finished him off.
The Treelord appearing on that side of the battlefield was a problem, and one that would require Lord Khul himself to ignore the Glade Lord for a turn and deal with. Lord Khul rounded the woods at a brisk pace and smashed into the Treelord. One roll from his Reality Splitting Axe (love that name!), and the Treelord was sent on his way to the great forest in the sky, much to the dismay of James!
On the other side of the battlefield, the Bloodsecrator (finally) finished off the last Dryad and cast around for a new victim – the Spellweaver had been trying to sneak past, hoping to get to safety while the Dryads tied the Khorne lord up. Now he was in open ground and well within charge range!
By this time, both James and I realised there were really not many models left on the table as the two sides had really taken each other apart.
First round went to Khorne, and the Bloodsecrator charged, badly wounding the Spellweaver and leaving the aelf on on his last legs.
The Khorgorath ate the Glade Lord and the remaining Glade Guard (regaining a wound as it did so, very helpful!) while the Waywatcher Lord, realising he was now in overall command, started to put some distance between himself and the Khorgorath, firing the occasional shot as he went.
The Spellweaver finally figured out how to get past the spell disruption of the Bloodsecrator, and blasted his foe with an Arcane Bolt, turning the Bloodsecrator into ash.
The Khorne forces got the first round again in this turn, but their momentum was pretty much spent. The aelves were really not much better off, but they still had a reasonably solid block of Glade Guard, whom Lord Khul promptly charged. If he could just break the back of the archers, the day might still be his (albeit his alone, as it would be likely that no other models would be left on the table)!
The Khorgorath easily caught up with the Waywatcher Lord and a series of savage attacks reduced the aelf to one wound – however, the Khorgorath itself was beginning to limp, having only a couple of wounds left itself by this point.
Lord Khul’s charge into the side of the Glade Guard initially through them into disarray as many aelves were sent to the Throne of Skulls but, in their turn, they reorganised themselves and with disciplined accuracy, wound Lord Khul, leaving the Spellweaver to finish him off with another Arcane Bolt (his Collar of Khorne proving absolutely useless against James’ casting roll of a 12). The Khorgorath quickly followed him.
The aelves held the battlefield, but must surely have been hoping another Khorne warband was not in the immediate vicinity.
Summary and Thoughts
This was a brilliant game, and it really showcased what Age of Sigmar has to offer – lightning fast play, sweeping movement, great heroics and unplanned surprises.
The Trap is a brutal scenario for the invader, especially when fighting aelven archers. On the other hand, just 10 (or 20!) more Blood Warriors would, I think, have turned the tide. Five of them is just not enough and, in number, I think they would command great respect.
Similar thoughts go to the Bloodcrushers as well. Nice models, really nice rules, but three just does not make an impact (so to speak). A unit of 6 or maybe 9 would be about right.
Both of those ideas are food for thought as I plan the force to take to the event later this month!
James and I did forget the odd scenery rule (such as the rotting woods and I could have called upon the Ophidian Archway with Lord Khul to help with the Glade Guard towards the end), but that is just a matter of getting used to the rules and armies. I think we are getting the right balance of scenery in our games now though, with a handful of ‘special’ terrain pieces and the rest merely ‘standard’ cover. Enough to be interesting, not enough to overwhelm.
I was also quite pleased with the Legions of Chaos table. Coming from 8e, you might be a bit suspect about a table that could very easily bring on a Bloodthirster for ‘free’ and there are other good rolls, such as D3 daemon units (say, Bloodletters, Bloodcrushers and a Herald all appearing at once). As it was, I just received one unit of Bloodletters, and they probably kept me in the game for another turn or two. However, even if I had rolled a Bloodthirster, I cannot say it would have seriously unbalanced things.
Don’t get me wrong, James may well have soiled himself if that beast had appeared, and it would have caused the aelves great issues but would it have broken the game? No. Not even a little. It would have just made things a bit more exciting!
Anyway, full kudos to James as an opponent – we had no rules issues at all throughout the game (a contrast to the arguments going on over the 8e table while we played!) and, win or lose, the game was an absolute delight to play.
Got to get prepped for the next one!