I played two Age of Sigmar games yesterday, both connected to the campaign set in the Realm of Fire. The first, Lightning Strikes, was from Battletome: Stormcast Eternals and basically combines most of the scenarios in the starter set into one big Battleplan. The Stormcasts have just arrived in the Realm of Fire and must take and hold the Realmgate so more of them can pour through to continue the fight.
The victory conditions mean either side can win if they wipe out all the models on the other side that are present in the first turn, or the Stormcasts can win if they are near the Realmgate at the end of the fourth round. However, we added another victory condition, based on the one in the last scenario in the starter set – if either general could defeat the other general in combat, then it would be an instant win for them. This nicely set up the Vandus vs. Khul feud of the stories (and meant the game could end relatively quickly, as I wanted to get onto the next battle!).
The Stormcasts arrive in drips and drabs, while the Khorne Bloodbound not only all start on the table, but can actually bring slain units back from any table edge, representing more reinforcements appearing! For the forces we basically used the same models as in the starter set, but the Bloodbound got boosted with ten Blood Warriors and another twenty Bloodreavers, while the Stormcasts had another unit of Prosecutors, Judicators and a group of Decimators.
Predictably, while the Prosecutors skirmished on the flanks, the action was all at the Realmgate! Important lesson learned here: If you can persuade Bloodreavers to charge your Decimators, you can utterly destroy them, potentially in one round. Second Lesson: Decimators suck against a Khorgorath and Lord Khul!
Forty Bloodreavers smashed into the Stromcasts around the Realmgate, and while they disappeared under the axes of the Decimators, they took their toll and provided enough protection to get Lord Khul and the Khorgorath in. There was a feeling here that both Khul and Vandus were trying to reach one another but had to hack through Bloodreaver lackeys to get there!
In the end though, fleeing Bloodreavers allowed Vandus to get behind the Bloodbound line and, from their, the speed of his Dracoth meant he could reach Lord Khul.
In one nerve-wracking combat round (I am well aware of what Khul’s Reality-splitting Axe is capable of!), Vandus bowled the Chaos Lord over onto his back but, as he was about to deliver the killing blow, a veritable horde of Bloodbound appeared over the horizon and swept him away from his opponent. Which led us neatly onto the Reclaim the Fallen!
In this battle, from the Battletome: Khorne Bloodbound book, the Chaos forces were under the temporary leadership of their Bloodsecrator, who was smart enough to know he needed Lord Khul to keep the whole warband together. So, they were looking for Khul’s unconscious form. He would be within Stormcast territory, close to one of three objectives – bit no one knew which.
For this battle, we wanted a sense that the great and the powerful of the Bloodbound were not present, but that the base troops had all been rallied to the cause. So, the Khorgorath came out (and Lord Khul would not be there, obviously), and another unit of Blood Warriors went in – this meant there would be a total of 40 Bloodreavers, 25 Blood Warriors, and a Bloodstoker, all led by Threx the Bloodsecrator.
The Stormcasts were more or less the same as the last battle, but some Prosecutors came out (Blood Warriors had pulled their wings off in the last fight), and some Skybolt Bow-armed Judicators were added.
One possible resting place for Lord Khul was right in-between our two forces, another was on the far right flank, while the third was sitting comfortably behind my entire line of Stormcasts. Confidence was high!
It so did not work out as intended.
The very first move of the Chaos force was to run a huge block of Bloodreavers forward. Whipped by the Bloodstoker, boosted by their hornblower, and aided with an amazing Run roll, they pelted forward and managed to reach the first objective immediately. Dice were rolled to see if Lord Khul was actually there – and he was! The rest of the Chaos force advanced at full tilt, eager to cluster around Lord Khul and bring some Stormcasts down.
So, Vandus and his friends could no longer wait for the Bloodbound to reach them (the original plan). They actually had to do some work.
The Prosecutors and Judicators let loose with what, in my head, was a withering salvo of firepower. The overall effect was a couple of dead Bloodreavers, hardly battle-winning. Meanwhile, Vandus and the Decimators advanced, aiming to be the spearhead that would send the Bloodbound reeling.
Again, it really did not work out that way…
Crucially, the Stormcasts grabbed the first turn of this round, and this was important because it meant that instead of getting mobbed by every axe-wielding maniac around, Vandus and the Decimators would have a chance to pick their targets. It also meant the Chaos forces would not simply sweep over Lord Khul’s position, meaning it was still accessible to the Stormcasts.
The Prosecutors and Judicators continued their shooting, but the effects were (again) minor. The problem here was a) Skybolt-armed Judicators are good at hitting monsters and heroes, but against hordes their one-shot-at-a-time weapons are not going to cut it. I had a unit of Stormbolt Crossbow-armed Judicators standing in front of them who are good at anti-horde work – but with 12″ of range and only getting a bonus attack if they stand still, they were just not close enough. We had been expecting Lord Khul to be at another objective, and the Judicators had been set up with the Bloodbound having to advance in mind. And they could not be redeployed at this stage fo the battle, as a group of Blood Warriors (later recalled to the centre) were making their way around the flank to nobble them.
In close combat, the Decimators did their usual thing – they completely wiped out one unit of Bloodreavers in a single round (those axes are really nasty). Vandus again used the speed of his Dracoth to bypass the front of the Chaos line, and ended up charging the Bloodstoker. The Dracoth hit once, the Bloodstoker failed to save, and a 6 was rolled for the Dracoth’s damage – it had eaten the Bloodstoker!
Now Vandus and the Decimators had problems. Their initial fights had gone well, but they were now right in the centre of the Chaos horde, without support of any real description. Vandus quickly found himself surrounded by two units of Blood Warriors, and Threx the Bloodsecrator thought his boys might look up to him in a new light if he could claim the skull of the Lord-Celestant. The Decimators found themselves mobbed by Blood Warriors and Bloodreavers.
The Decimators quickly lost a man to the Blood Warriors, who proved to be much harder opponent than the lowly Bloodreavers. Their armour meant a lot of blows were getting turned aside, and two Wounds a piece meant they were going down slowly. Meanwhile, their Spiteful rule meant that every time one did go down, he got to attack again which caused yet more damage to the Stormcasts.
Vandus was not doing much better either, and quickly lost a total of four Wounds (he only starts with 7!) to the Blood Warriors. However, he soundly put the Bloosdsecrator in his place, and caved in the man’s skull with a few quick blows from his hammer!
Now the Bloodbound had no heroes.
The centre of the battlefield had simply turned into a mincing machine – win or lose, the god of the Bloodbound would be calling today a Big Win. Vandus was, by now, in serious trouble, and in the next round of combat he was reduced to a single Wound. The Stormcasts did have their Lord-Relictor on the battlefield, but Vandus had gone charging off and any hope of healing was miles away. The Decimators continued to take their toll on the Bloodbound, but Khorne’s horde was many and the Decimators but few – another went down, his spirit shooting up to be reforged in Azyr.
Both sides committed more forces to the swirling melee around Khul’s body, the Stormcasts throwing in their Liberators while the last of the Blood Warriors charged in, shouting praises to Khorne.
This was too much for Vandus to handle and though he bore the brunt of the new surge from the Chaos forces, he was finally dragged off the back of his Dracoth and ground into the dirt.
By now, the Judicators realised they would have to move closer if they were to support their comrades. However, with the forces both sides had thrown into the main battle around Lord Khul, it was the Bloodbound who had come off worse, and the arrival of three Retributors pushed the fight over the edge. The remaining Blood Warriors managed to cut down another Decimator and Liberators were starting to fall (though their shields worked well enough in this battle, it has to be said!), but they had no answer to the massive hammers of the Retributors.
After a couple of combat turns of blasts of lightning and Khorne worshippers being hurled through the air by the terrible impacts, silence finally reigned over the battlefield. The Stormcasts had won, though they could find no sign of whatever it was the Bloodbound had been looking for.
Later that day, Lord Khul regained consciousness and dragged himself back to the Bloodbound camp. Someone was going to be donating their skull to Khorne for their failure today…
This battle had the potential to be very, very close. The Stormcasts had the initial advantage by snatching the first turn of the second round – just as both forces were beginning to close upon one another. This meant the Decimators (and Vandus) could more or less pick their targets, and Decimators versus Bloodreavers is never going to end well. Blood Warriors or, better, heroes are a better match but the Bloodbound did not get the choice in this battle.
The other sticking point for Chaos was Vandus. He survived perhaps a whole round longer than he should have done, which delayed a large number of Blood Warriors from entering the main fray around Lord Khul. If Vandus had gone down earlier, they would have been free to give the Decimators a right smacking, perhaps freeing up the last of the Bloodreavers to begin pulling the wings of Prosecutors and maybe even charging the Liberators on the far flank who ended up being able to charge them instead.
It is also possible, with a huge dollop of hindsight, to suggest that the Bloodsecrator general should not have charged Vandus. That is a tough one, as the Bloodsecrator is as durable as Lord Khul himself (Save 3+), and there is absolutely nothing wrong with his axe attacks. He could well have tipped the balance against Vandus, who ended up concentrating on him for a round rather than the Blood Warriors who ended up being the real threat. On the other hand, if he had stayed out of it and planted his banner, there were an awful lot of axe-wielding maniacs who could have taken advantage of it.
A lot of ifs there!Anyway, these were two good battles with a strong narrative behind them, and the fight for the Brimstone Peninsula is well and truly on!