So, we finally come to the last battle of the Brimstone Peninsula campaign, and the last chapter in the Stormcasts’ attempt to create a secure beachhead in the Realm of Fire. This will be a major battle, taking place in the heart of the Goretide’s domain, centred around the Gate of Wrath; the gateway between the Realm of Fire and Khorne’s own kingdom in the Realm of Chaos.
As it turned out, this was a truly epic battle in every sense, so grab yourself a coffee and settle down for a read. This is going to be a good one!
The Story So Far
The Stormcasts have managed to create and extend their beachhead into the Brimstone Peninsula, giving them a good foothold in the Realm of Fire. However, Lord Khul’s Goretide still has their centre of power in operation and the Khorne-worshippers are now bringing in daemonic support by the legion. The Stormcasts have started to attack the Skull Keeps that are helping to power the Gate of Wrath (no thanks to Lord-Relictor Cryptborn – see last battle for his miserable failure), but need to deliver the final hammer blow to smash all Khornate resistance in the Peninsula.
It is not, however, going to be that easy…
Lord Khul, you see, has a dream. He has been building a massive pyramid from the skulls of his enemies, and just needs one more right at the top to finish it off. If he can make that a very special skull, he is pretty sure Khorne will reward him, and make him a daemon prince. Enter the Stormcast leadership – if he can just sneak the head off one of the Stormcast heroes, he will have a skull worthy of Khorne and can ascend to daemonhood.
So, we are set up for a truly great battle in the campaign. On the one hand, Lord Khul needs to grab a decent skull and complete a ritual to become a daemon prince. If he manages that, he will reappear later in the campaign with a brand new model and seriously cool Warscroll.
However, the Stormcast are eager to stop him. Momentum is on their side and the Brimstone Peninsula is probably theirs already. That said, it is very much in their interests to stop a daemon prince being created, and if Lord Khul gets the skull he is after there will be no reforging for the Stormcast concerned – Sigmar will lose one of his great champions permanently!
This Battleplan has a reputation for being a bit of a sod for the attackers, so the Stormcast will have an uphill struggle!
This is the biggest battle we have had in the campaign up to now, and the two armies reflect this…
Lord Khul (Mighty Lord of Khorne)
Herald of Khorne
Skullreapers x 5
Bloodreavers x 40 (two units of 20)
Blood Warriors x 25 (two units of 10, one unit of 5)
Bloodletters x 30 (three units of 10)
With these units, the Goretide would also be able to use the Red Headsman battalions. This allows the Blood Warriors, Aspiring Champion and Skullgrinder to pick three ‘worthy foes’ from the Stormcast Heroes. They get extra attacks against them, but the Heroes get to re-roll missed attacks making them harder!
Lord-Celestant Vandus Hammerhand (on Dracoth)
Lord-Castellant with Gryph-hound
Liberators x 20 (four units of 5)
Retributors x 3
Protectors x 5
Decimators x 5
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5, with both bows and crossbows)
Prosecutors x 9 (three units of 3)
The Stormcasts would be able to use the Vanguard Wing, Lords of the Storm and Thunderhead Brotherhood Battalions. Looks good on paper but, in this battle, only the Lords of the Storm was likely to get a look in, allowing some of the Stormcast Heroes to push out a wave of energy that forces enemies who survive to retreat.
In addition, the Goretide would be able to appeal to Khorne for daemonic aid (no Bloodthirsters or named daemons allowed!), while the Stormcasts would be able to petition Sigmar for reinforcements (no Celestant-Prime!). Geysers of Blood would be blasting from the battlefield, missile weapons would be igniting from the heat, and generally every optional rule for the Realm of Fire would be in effect.
So, the ‘royalty’ of both sides would be taking to the field, backed up by a great many of their troops. The Stormcasts were outnumbered in a big way, and had to travel a long way across the battlefield, but they had brought their very best to complete the job!
The aim for the Goretide was to delay the Stormcasts long enough for Lord Khul’s ritual to be completed – every turn, a dice would be rolled (add 1 if there was a Khorne Priest nearby – and there was…), and the results totalled. Once the ‘Ritual Score’ reached 20, Lord Khul would become a Daemon Prince and the battle would be won! All the Stormcasts had to do was cross the battlefield, reach the artefact being used for the ritual (the Gate of Wrath) with their general, and destroy it.
The Stormcasts were deployed as far forward as they could get, as there was every chance the battle would last a mere four turns (in theory, it could end in three with the Slaughterpriest present) and they had a lot of ground to cover. The only concession was the placement of the Prosecutors and a unit of Liberators – I knew the KLhorne forces would present a strong front line that would have to be smashed through – the Prosecutors could provide another option by leaping over them and then, using the Vanguard Wing battalion rules, pull a Liberator unit with them.
The Goretide set up to match, with a strong line that saw a mix of units up from, with characters close by to support them.
Battle Round One
I was going to let the Khorne forces go first (to get the possible ‘two turn trick’), but the closeness of the enemy combined with the fact that I wanted to put off the Ritual roll for as long as possible saw me launch a quick assault.
However, first things were first – the blood geysers went off, right in the middle of the Stormcast line. A Judicator fell, while most of the Stormcast leadership were wounded. Not a good start.
The Judicators on both flanks, along with the Prosecutors unleashed fire at Bloodreavers and Blood Warriors alike, the former getting seriously hammered by the attacks. The Knight-Vexillor called down a comet on top of the Bloodreavers, causing more casualties. Lord-Celestant Vandus Hammerhand called for the Stormcasts to advance, but his orders seemed to have got lost somewhere along the line, and only the Knight-Azyros and a single unit of Liberators managed to engage the enemy, both ploughing into different units of Bloodreavers.
These combined attacks broke the Bloodreaver unit in the centre, suddenly making the Goretide line look very weak, but the others held, neatly supported by Blood Warriors as Bloodletters lurked nearby.
Lord Khul’s ritual got off to a very bad start, with a one being rolled (bumped up to two because of the presence of the Slaughterpriest), and then a geyser erupted right next to Lord Khul, wounding him. However, this was quickly forgotten as the Chaos line surged forward to get to grips with the Stormcasts.
The Bloodreavers still fighting the Knight-Azyros decided to retreat (very unKhorne-like!), opening the way for Blood Warriors and Bloodletters both. The Knight-Azyros managed to get one Bloodletter with his sword, but he quickly had his wings pulled off. Meanwhile, in the centre, the Liberators who had triumphed earlier were struck hard by Blood Warriors and Bloodletters, finally breaking and running, while on the far left flank more Blood Warriors hit two units of Liberators as the Judicators behind them continued to rain down fire from their Skybows. This quickly turned into a particularly vicious fight with four Liberators quickly falling to the attacks for the cost of only three Blood Warriors.
Battle Round Two
Chaos snagged the first turn of round two, and the Ritual Score rose to a heady 5 – the Stormcasts still had time on their side. However, Khorne was clearly happy at the blood that had flowed in the last round, as the blood geyser within the Stormcast lines erupted again. This time, a Retributor, Protector, Lord-Celestant and the Lord-Relictor all succumbed to the wave of hot blood.
The heart had just been torn out of the Stormcast line, and now the Goretide were truly upon them. In fact, it looked as though the Stormcasts were being pushed backwards…
The Skullgrinder, having obviously heard tales of just how annoying a Knight-Heraldor can be, pushed his way to the front and engaged the Stormcast. However, he tripped over his own chain, and the Heraldor was able to wound him instead!
By now, the Khorbne forces were well and truly engaged, only the Bloodletters on the far left flank holding back in front of the Decimators, not wanting to test the sharpness of the Stormcast axes just yet.
In the centre, Blood Warriors, led by the Skullgrinder and the Exalted Deathbringer, had rushed forward to engage the crossbow-armed Judicators, while the Blood Warriors on the left flank had been joined by Bloodletters and a Herald of Khorne, and made short work of one of the Liberator units.
The Stormcast line was not just beginning to buckle, it was clearly on the verge of collapsing.
Led by the Knight-Venator (who managed to miss the Slaughterpriest with his Skyfate Arrow), the Prosecutors launched their dash past the Khorne line, looking to form a cordon around the Gate of Wrath. Both Stormcasts and Khorne-worshippers were now falling by the score, but while the Goretide was truly beginning to get the upper hand, the Stormcasts had their own successes – on the right the Protectors were putting up a good fight against the Skullreapers while on the left the Decimators charged a unit of Bloodletters and completely wiped them out with just a few swings of their axes.
Then the Stormcasts faced another set back…
Battle Round Three
The Goretide received the first turn of this round as well, the last thing Vandus needed. The Ritual Score went up to 11 (past the halfway mark), while Lord Khul called upon Khorne for aid and received a unit of Bloodletters, neatly replacing those the Decimators had just destroyed. Seeing the Knight-Venator and Prosecutors beginning to make headway towards the Gate of Wrath, the daemons were placed near by.
Blood Warriors, led by Lord Khul himself, charged into the Decimators, but it was the Lord-Castellant they were aiming for. In the ensuing fight, the Lord-Castellant’s armour proved solid and though he was badly wounded, his halberd struck down Lord Khul! The Blood Warriors surged forward and the Lord-Castellant lost sight of his enemy but he was sure the Khorne Lord would no longer be part of this battle.
In the centre, there was some cheering (not to mention relief) as the Knight-Heraldor dispatched the Skullgrinder but both he and the Knight-Vexillor were being hard-pushed by Blood Warriors led by the Exalted Deathbringer.
Meanwhile, on the right flank, the fighting dragged on with both sides battling each other to a stand still. There were few Blood Warriors and Bloodletters left but the number of Stormcasts to face them could now be counted on one hand.
Elsewhere, there was some light to give hope to the Stormcasts.
The left flank more or less belonged to Sigmar, and Prosecutors now had free reign over the battlefield in what was ostensibly Khorne-held territory. The Vanguard Wing called upon the power of their God-King, and a unit of Liberators were carried by lightning across the battlefield, where they quickly fanned out to form a line between the Prosecutors and two units of marauding Bloodletters.
Everything had become just a lot more mobile in this battle, with much of the focus now being taken away from the clash of the two lines (or what was left of them), and units were now scattered all across the table.
Vandus called upon Sigmar for aid, and he was answered by a Lord-Relictor (who promptly healed the Lord-Celestant) and a unit of crossbow-armed Judicators, who proceeded to annihilate the third Bloodletter unit, swinging the right flank (barely) in the favour of the Stormcasts.
Both sides had petitioned their lords and masters for aid, and it had been granted – now they were on their own…
Battle Round Four
It was about this time that we realised just how few models were left, on both sides!
The Stormcasts grabbed the first turn for this round, but the Knight-Venator immediately got a blood geyser in the face, reducing him to his last wound (he was still smarting from the Hellblades of Bloodletters he had dodged earlier). He guided his Prosecutors to assassinate the Slaughterpriest (no more bonuses on the ritual rolls!), and then they started work on the Bloodletters close by.
The ritual slowed right down with the loss of the Slaughterpriest, and Khorne was obviously displeased that a favoured servant had been killed by cowardly javelins – the Ritual Score rose to a mere 12.
However, there were still those within the Goretide hoping to catch their god’s eye, and both the Knights-Heraldor and -Vexillor were laid low by the Exalted Deathbringer and his Blood Warriors.
Then, disaster for the Stormcasts! The Knight-Venator, the only Hero close to the Gate of Wrath, flew too close to a blood geyser and was immolated by its eruption! Lord Vandus realised a lot now depended on him and he raced passed the few remaining Blood Warriors that were troubling him, urging his Dracoth onto the gate. However, he was intercepted by Bloodletters and was just too badly wounded to fend them off. Vandus was sent back to Azyr by their blades and command now passed to the only remaining Hero of the Stormcast army – the Lord-Relictor who was skulking behind a rocky outcrop at the far end of the battlefield.
Realistically, there was no way he was going to get to the Gate of Wrath before the ritual was completed, so the only way the Stormcasts were going to claim victory was by wiping the Goretide off the face of the Brimstone Peninsula. The process of genocide began…
Battle Round Five
The Ritual Score rose to 15, putting the Goretide within spitting distance of claiming victory, but by now both sides had lost a serious amount of momentum.
Though heavily depleted, the Stormcasts could claim the battlefield as more or less their own, but territory was not the aim of this fight – the ritual was still under way!
A Prosecutor and two Decimators (one was wounded) fell to a blood geyser eruption and the last unit of Bloodletters were trounced as they tried to charge the last remnants of the Protector unit. This left two Blood Warriors and a (wounded) Exalted Deathbringer – but they were not going down without a fight, and they pushed forwards to the Lord-Relictor.
Battle Round Six
The Ritual Score rose to 19, just one shy of victory, which caused much teeth-gnashing on the part of the Goretide!
Meanwhile, the Lord-Relictor saw his chance to snatch victory in what had been a very, very tough battle, and he called upon Sigmar’s power – a lightning bolt promptly struck down from the heavens, slaying the Exalted Deathbringer. Aided by the Judicators who had arrived with him, the Lord-Relictor charged the last two Blood Warriors, the only Goretide left active on the field, slaying one and wounding the other.
Battle Round Seven
The Goretide grabbed the first turn, and the Ritual Score clicked past 20. With an exultant cry that was heard across the entire peninsula, Lord Khul ascended to daemonhood!
While the Goretide itself was crippled, the Gate of Wrath destroyed, and the Brimstone Peninsula was now in the hands of Sigmar’s forces, the Stormcasts knew this was no victory and that there would be a price to pay later for the creation of a new daemon prince…
Well, it does not get any closer than that! At the end of the sixth round, the Goretide was just one point away from completing the Ritual, and the Stormcasts had just one enemy left who had just one wound!
Right up to the end, this battle could have gone either way, and it does showcase something Age of Sigmar does very well – to begin with, it seemed like the Goretide were going to rampage all over the Stormcasts, but they managed to pull it back, and then it all went right down to the wire until the very end. This was a first class game, and a brilliant end to the campaign in the Realm of Fire (though we will be returning soon enough!).
Thoughts on the game itself? Well, the geysers of blood were utterly lethal! They caused the Goretide some small inconvenience, but had a habit of going off next to a Stormcast right when it mattered the most! Having two characters killed by one right at the start of the game certainly did not help…
The Stormcasts, despite the presence of the heavy-hitting Paladins, were not getting the best of the clash of the front lines, and it was only when the Prosecutors broke through that things began to even up (much good it did the winged warriors). There were no great tactical blunders on either side, and both armies were very well-matched. We both had our share of good fortune and failed charges, and you really cannot beat a game that is this close. Would thoroughly recommend this Battleplan though, as noted earlier, add a unit or two extra for the attackers, over and above what you would normally field – they have a tough fight ahead of them.
Oh, and while it might not be clear under the harsh lights of the office, there were lots of LEDs lighting up the scenery in this battle – as this photo with the lights turned off shows;
Into the Realm of Life
With the Brimstone Peninsula safely in the hands of the Stormcasts, we will be leaving the Realm of Fire for a while now as we pursue the storyline into the Realm of Life. As with the Brimstone Peninsula, the Stormcasts will be creating their beachhead and then forging ahead, but Nurgle’s Rotbringers have a very, very tight grip on the forests of this Realm and may prove to be a more terrible foe than the Bloodbound. However, there are mysterious stirrings among the trees, and if the Stormcasts can track down the Lady of Life herself, Alarielle, they will gain a powerful ally in their war against Chaos.
If she does not simply kill them for invading her home, of course…