In our continuing Age of Sigmar campaign, we have a really big battle coming up on the Brimstone Peninsula but, first, we have a battle at one of Lord Khul’s towers to deal with.
The Story So Far
The Stormcasts have hit the Realm of Fire like, well, a hammer and have created a beach head around the Realmgate. The Goretide has been repulsed and more Stormcasts are arriving. However, the Goretide are regrouping and the Stormcasts need to target their main stronghold.
Now, the Bloodbound have their own issues. Bloodsecrator Threx Skullbrand led a force to recover Lord Khul when he fell to Vandus Hammerhand but failed. Lord Khul eventually recovered and marched back to his stronghold, very angry. Threx was too old and too wise to go back there himself, and so decided to take command of one of the eight Skull Keeps surrounding Lord Khul’s centre of power. Unbeknownst to him, this was to be the Stormcasts very next target.
However, when Lord Khul got back to his headquarters, he started killing everyone. Heads were literally rolling, but there was a method in his madness. At the centre of his stronghold, and powered by the eight Skull Keeps round it, was another Realmgate, the Gate of Wrath, that led directly to Khorne’s own kingdom in the Realm of Chaos. Lord Khul’s blood-shedding allowed him to enact a ritual that allowed hordes of daemons to pour through the gate. Now the fight could be taken to the Stormcasts in a huge blood-letting that would surely gain the notice of Khorne.
The Stormcasts were beginning to have issues of their own. They had been instructed by Sigmar to hit the Skull Keeps deep in the Goretide’s domain. However, Lord-Celestant Vandus Hammerhand had started having visions of another Realmgate that was spewing out daemons (correct, as it happens, but he did not know that). Vandus felt it was his duty to strike directly at the Gate of Wrath lest the gains of the Stormcasts be lost. His mate, the Lord-Relictor Cryptborn disagreed strongly and suggested it might be altogether better if they stuck to Sigmar’s plan. Vandus instead managed to convince himself that the vision probably came from Sigmar (the Stormcast do not have communicators) and that he would lead a major attack on the Gate of Wrath and delegate the nearest Skull Keep to his Lord-Relictor (other Stormhosts would already be going after the other towers). What he does not know is that all the daemons Lord Khul is summoning are about to hit the Stormcast lines.
And so that is where we are for this battle – Cyrptborn is leading an attack on a Skull Keep and is about to run smack into his counterpart, Bloodsecrator Threx…
This is a fairly small battle, but a hell of a fight is expected.
Bloodreavers x 20
Bloodcrushers x 6
Bloodletters x 30 (three units of 10)
Herald of Khorne
Lord-Castellant with Gryph-hound
Liberators x 5 (hammers and shields)
Liberators x 5 (dual warblades and Greatblade)
Retributors x 3
Protectors x 5
Prosecutors x 3 (javelins and trident)
Judicators x 5 (bows and Skybolt)
The Stormcasts have more units, but the Goretide have many more models and start in possession of the Skull Keep. As the battle may only last three turns, however, both forces are going to have to move quickly to take or secure it – this will be fast and bloody!
The battlefield is fairly standard. We are using the Warscroll for the Skull Keep, there is a Numinous Occulum present (no wizards on either side, so will have no effect) and an Ophidian Archway. There are also some lava pits, for which we will be using the rules for Geysers of Blood in the Time of War sheet for the Brimstone Peninsula.
For once, this was fairly simple! The Bloodreavers and Bloodsecrator were both set up in the Skull Keep to await the arrival of the Stormcasts. The Stormcasts were then all deployed within 12″ of their baseline. The Liberators were placed front and centre to take and hold the Skull Keep alongside the Lords-Relictor and -Castellant, with the Paladins kept on the right flank to lend a hand to the assault and fend off the coming daemonic hordes (I figured they would mostly avoid the left flank because of the lava pits). The Judicators and Prosecutors were kept on the left to rain fire down on the Skull Keep.
The Bloodreavers would be hard to shift, as the Bloodsecrator would keep them steady and for this battle the Skull Keep would add additional bonuses to their Bravery. They would have to be rooted out, hopefully before the daemons could reach them – then the tables would be turned and the Khorne forces would have to root out the Stormcasts. If this went wrong, the Stormcasts would have an uphill battle that they might be unable to win…
Battle Round One
The Stormcasts were given the first turn (it was the choice of Chaos as to who went first), and the Eternals surged forward, knowing they did not have a lot of time. Seven Bloodreavers toppled from the battlements of the Skull Keep as the Judicators and Prosecutors started their bombardment, and then the rest charged in – both units of Liberators, the Lords-Relictor and -Castellant, his Gryph-hound, and even the Retributors managed to get a look in, though the surface area of the stronghold greatly limited which Stormcasts could get in across all units.
The Retributors and Lord-Relictor both targeted the Bloodsecrator, wounding him, but the Chaos counter-attack saw the Lord-Relictor mobbed by Bloodreavers, leaving him seriously hurt. However, the Bloodreavers paid for their temerity as the rest of the Stormcasts mauled them. Just a handful of Chaos defenders were left after the first turn of combat.
In their turn, the Bloodsecrator planted his banner and the power of Khorne flooded the keep as the gargoyles outside unleashed a terrifying scream – the Stormcasts held firm against this, determined not to disgrace themselves while doing the God-King’s work. Just then, a wave of daemons appeared on the horizon, and the Stormcasts resolved to fight harder to clear the keep before they arrived.
The Bloodreavers were finally wiped out by the Liberators but not before they had managed to bring down the Lord-Relictor. At least he took the Bloodsecrator with him.
At the end of the first battle round, the Skull Keep was empty and ready to accept new Stormcast tenants, but the generals on both sides had been laid low!
Now the fighting would start to get serious.
Battle Round Two
As they rode past the lava pits, the Bloodcrushers got splashed by molten rock but ignored the pain as they raced forward ahead of the rest of the daemons who ran, trying to keep pace.
Using the full weight of their mounts, the Bloodcrushers charged one of the Liberator units, immediately killing two (a combination of the mortal wounds caused by the charge and their attacks afterwards).
The dual-Warblade armed Liberators fought bravely against the Bloodcrushers but things only really started to go their way when the Retributors raced round the front of the Skull Keep and charged the daemonic beasts, bringing down two of them. Unfortunately, reality blinked, and the slain Bloodcrushers reappeared, meaning the Stormcasts would have to start all over again!
Meanwhile, the Prosecutors skirted the lava pits to gain a line of sight to the oncoming Bloodletters, dropping two with their javelins. The Gryph-hound, on the other hand, was caught completely out of position by the Bloodletters and while it bravely charged one of the units, the result was predictable.
The Lord-Castellant had led the shield-equipped Liberators into the Skull Keep, claiming it in the name of Sigmar! He bemoaned the loss of pet (it happened right in front of him!), but as his lantern shone down on the Liberators next to him, he knew the Stormcasts would be next to impossible to shift.
On the far flank, the Protectors knew they were needed to battle the Bloodcrushers but would be forced to wade through a horde of Bloodletters first.
Battle Round Three
In their eagerness to head off the Bloodletters, the Prosecutors found they had veered too close tot he lava pits and one of them was immolated by molten rock. The Bloodletters continued their advance and two units, led by their Herald, were able to charge the Liberators in the Skull Keep, while the remaining unit raced towards the Protectors.
Though the Protectors lost one of their number to the Bloodletters and though their weapons were better suited to facing large monsters, they acquitted themselves well, accounting for half of the daemons immediately, and soon finishing the others.
At the Skull Keep, the battle was not going quite as well for the Stormcasts. The Herald charged the Lord-Castellant, badly wounding him, and the Stormcasts’ last leader was brought down by the wave of Bloodletters that followed it. The Liberators, protected by shield, tower, and the the Lord-Castellant’s holy light, faired much better but, without the lantern’s light to protect them, they started to take losses. Soon, only two Liberators remained in the Skull Keep…
The Bloodcrushers remained a threat, and the remaining Warblade Liberators refused to go down, while the massive hammers of the Retributors continued to erode the great daemonic beasts. The Judicators continued their rain of fire on the Chaos hordes, but could not get a good line of sight to the Bloodletters, and so concentrated on the Bloodcrushers who proved somewhat more resilient to their arrows.
Meanwhile, round the back of the Skull Keep, the Prosecutors threw caution to the wind. Knowing that every body now counted in defence of the tower, they charged the Bloodletters, though their effect was minimal.
Battle Round Four
The Bloodletters and Herald combined to assault the Skull Keep, and finally managed to wipe out the last of the Liberators. Once again, the Skull Keep was empty and ready to receive new owners!
The last of the Warblade-armed Liberators finally fell beneath the brass-shod hooves of the remaining Bloodcrusher, but the Retributors pulled back from finishing it off, knowing they were needed in the Skull Keep itself. Bloodletters pulled down another Prosecutor but the Prosecutior-Prime spread his wings and boosted himself up onto the battlements – the Skull Keep was in the hands of the Stormcast again!
However, there was no way a lone Prosecutor could hold the tower by himself and though the Protectors raced across the battlefield to support him, smashing into the back of one of the Bloodletter units, the Herald of Khorne grabbed the winged Stormcast and cast him down to the ground. The Skull Keep was vacant once more!
By this time, both armies had suffered enough and withdrew from the fight. The Stormcasts had made a convincing attempt to take the Skull Keep but while its defenders had been annihilated, the territory remained in the hands of the Goretide.
No one occupied the Skull Keep but the forces of Chaos had just a few more models near it – the Goretide therefore claimed a minor victory!
Well, we thought this battle would be fast and bloody before we started p and we were right! The casualties piled up on both sides, and neither general managed to make it past the first round!
The fight for the Skull Keep was desperate, and three units ended up occupying it at one time or another – quite a turnover for a battle that only lasted four rounds!
We can only hope that the Stormcast forces tasked with attacking the other Skull Keeps around Lord Khul’s stronghold were successful. We shall find out, likely next week, as Vandus Hammerhand leads a major attack on the Gate of Wrath in the culmination of the campaign (thus far) in the Brimstone Peninsula…