After Vandus Hammerhand picked himself up and dusted himself down (after getting ridden over by a horde of angry Bloodcrushers – see the last Battle Report), he looked about and saw the Stormcasts had completely taken control of the area around the Realmgate and made a secure beach head. Now the next stage could begin, the drive North to smash the power of the Goretide and root Lord Khul out of his stronghold.
The only trouble was, Lord-Celestant Goldenmane had got too excited and had already departed. From the top of a ridge, Vandus watched Goldenmane’s forces get surrounded by a much larger Goretide force – he would have to act quickly if Goldenmane was to survive!
This was the first Battleplan in the Age of Sigmar hardback, Hold or Die. A small force is fending off a more powerful enemy, trying to hold out long enough to be rescued. Realistically, the Goretide is going to get crushed – the question is whether they can destroy Goldenmane’s small force before that happens, and thus earn a Major Victory.
We plonked a bunch of models on the table and set off! The Goretide had two units of Bloodreavers, two units of Blood Warriors, and a Khorgorath, all led by an Exalted Deathbringer.
Trapped in the centre, Lord-Celestant Goldenmane was attended by his Lord-Castellant (with Gryph-hound!), a unit of Liberators, a very small unit of Retributors and a unit of Judicators armed with Boltstorm Crossbows.
I would be taking the Stormcasts, Alan commanded Khorne’s Goretide.
It was my choice whether to go first or second, and I let Alan take the first turn. This was a) to hopefully get his Bloodreavers into range of my Judicators without moving, thus delivering a real hail of fire and b) for that magic possibility of effectively getting two turns in a row.
Alan’s first turn was the same as it always is for a Khorne force – everything ran forwards.
This did mean that the Goretide looked like it was really close before I could do anything, but you have to stick to the plan.
The Lord-Celestant Goldenmane shouted to his fellow Stormcasts and told them to mark their targets (giving them +1 to hit rolls), while the Lord-Castellant shone his light on the largest unit of Blood Warriors, incinerating one. Not really wanting to face the strongest part of the Goretide, and conscious that at least one of these models had to survive to deny a Khorne victory, I held the Judicators in place, while the Retributors, Liberators and Lord-Celestant headed in the opposite direction to engage the lone Bloodreaver unit.
The Judicators let rip with their crossbows on the the Bloodreavers in front of them, and gave them a real hammering, with more fleeing after the lightning had cleared.
The Gryph-hound managed to dive between the two units of Blood Warriors and then lap round to charge the Exalted Deathbringer, with the Lord-Castellant just behind.
It did not work out for the doggie. It dove in, missed the Deathbringer, and then failed to leap back far enough to a void getting splatted by the Ruinous Axe.
Meanwhile, the Retributors and Liberators charged into the Bloodreavers (as it turned out, the Lord-Celestant just did not fancy it), and hammered them, leaving only two alive and fighting.
Sigmar smiled on the Stormcasts, for they managed to get their two turns in a row!
The Judicators were in real trouble as they faced pretty much the entire weight of the Goretide. Nevertheless, they stood their ground and attacked the Khorgorath, hoping to at least wound it before it got close. They succeeded, and cheered all the harder when a great storm swept the battlefield, its thunder announcing the arrival of Vandus and his friends.
Now the pressure would be on the Goretide to get their killing done quickly (not that Khorne really cares who dies, just so long as someone does…).
The Lord-Castellant followed his Gryp-hound’s idea, no doubt to get some revenge, and locked weapons with the Exalted Deathbringer. Both were wounded quickly and were resolved to fight to the death. Meanwhile, now that Vandus had appeared, Lord-Celestant Goldenmane started marching back to the Judicators. He was fearing he might have to take on much of the Goretide by himself, but bow-armed Judicators arrived just in time to kill the last of the Bloodreavers at range.
Now just the tough stuff was left…
In Khorne’s turn, the Blood Warriors and Khorgorath both charged into the Judicators, killing all but one, while the Lord-Castellant was cruelly dispatched by the Exalted Deathbringer. The Deathbringer shouted at his Blood Warriors to fight harder – from now on they would get a bonus to hit (hitting on 2+, re-rolling 1’s for the unit armed with two Goreaxes!), though their armour would be far less effective.
I rolled a 2 to see who got the next turn, and knew I was in trouble – but then Alan rolled a 1, meaning the Stormcasts got to act first!
Vandus charged into the Blood Warriors assaulting the lone Judicator, and Goldenmane moved up to support him. However, Vandus’ charge was so good, he was able to bypass the Blood Warriors in the centre and hit the larger group head on, no doubt trying to reach the Deathbringer skulking behind them.
Vandus hit them like a train and seriously reduced their numbers, though they held under the assault. Meanwhile, the Blood Warriors in the centre were neatly finished off by the charging Retributors, their hammers causing the Khorne warriors to literally explode.
In their turn, the Goretide rallied somewhat. The Exalted Deathbringer left his Blood Warriors to pull Vandus down to the ground (I was reall yvery bad with his armour saves), and charged the last Judicator, hoping to get the Lord-Celestant into the bargain. The Lord-Celestant attacked first, but got a Skullgouger in the face for his efforts. When the Exalted Deathbringer attacked, he did just enough to bring Goldenmane down.
Grabbing the first turn, the remaining Blood Warriors of the Goretide marched across the table in the hope of finishing off the last Liberator – if they could just do that, the Exalted Deathbringer needed only kill three Retributors (not an easy task in itself…) to claim a Major Victory!
Unfortunately, newly arrived Prosecutors were close enough to support the Liberators and the Blood Warriors were quickly dispatched. In the centre, the hammers of the Retributors proved telling as they blasted the Deathbringer apart.
Though the price had been heavy, the Stormcasts stood alone on the battlefield.
With about 50-ish models on each side, this was a fairly quick game, and it went to just four turns with plenty of action and bloodshed along the way!
As always, I was way, way too daring with my heroes, and they paid the price. Leaders in Age of Sigmar can be good, but they can be brought down easily enough by plenty of attacks and a good number of failed saves, the latter of which I can always conjure up.
The Blood Warriors could possibly have run across the table to reach the Liberators a turn earlier than they did – maybe that would have done some good, maybe not (they would have met Vandus a turn earlier but then, he was not a huge issue for them). The Bloodreavers placed behind the Stormcasts ended up being just a distraction, but their deployment meant the Stormcasts had a very good excuse to back away from the rest of the Goretide – if the Khorgorath had gone with them (or maybe even the Deathbringer – he is rather nasty), things might have been more difficult for the Stormcasts.
It would be interesting to see how this battle would play out with the forces reversed and the Goretide in the centre of the table. The Stormcasts have the mobility to get to the starting units even if they scatter, so I fancy their chances. It would be a balancing act though. As the attacker in this Battleplan, you cannot afford to stick around. The enemy reinforcements are enough to crush you, so you have to make sure the damage is done before they arrive.
Anyway, looking forward to the next installment of the campaign which will involve a tower and an awful lot of daemons!