Leaders of the Bleak Horde

I have been doing bits and pieces for the Tzeentch-based Bleak Horde in preparation of the forthcoming Realm of Metal campaign, and while models have been tackled in a ‘here and there’ kind of way I have just about competed everything I need. Well, sort of… the odd character is still needed and a bunch of daemons, but nothing that will take too long.

Anyway, regular readers will have already seen the Chaos Warriors and Knights that form the core of the Bleak Horde – and now they have some commanders to lead them into battle!

IMG_2881

A little trio is all I really need for this force (though I want to add another Lord riding on he back of a Gorebeast Chariot at some point – but they tend to go for a pretty penny on eBay).

IMG_2882

Speaking of eBay, I was quite pleased when I found this chap, a Chaos Lord on the back of a Manticore. They normally go for £20-30 on eBay, but I stuck to my guns and (eventually) snagged this guy for about a tenner – a bargain, however you look at it.

IMG_2883

He took the paint very well too. The rider was done in the same fashion as the Chaos Warriors and Knights, with the armour being a base of Ironbreaker topped with two coats of Guilliman Blue – that is really all there is to it, no talent required!

IMG_2885

After that, just details and, again, everything mirrors the Chaos Warriors, from the gold detailing to the bright red cloak. The chains streaming from his back worked well too, and were just a simple Leadbelcher/Nuln Oil/Runefang Steel deal.

IMG_2884

For the Manticore itself, I kinda chickened out. I was basing it on a Chimera that appeared in White Dwarf, that was a deep purple but had bright blue highlights to suggest a magical nature. In the end, I went with the purple, but only did a very light drybrush of blue – I figured my talent would quickly run out if I went further…

IMG_2889

This wizard is the current Chaos Sorcerer and, well, it worked out well enough though it is nothing spectacular. The model is plastic and has very sharp details but, again, my limit of talent was not able to take full advantage of that. Looks good enough for the tabletop, though nothing to be proud of.

IMG_2886

The last wizard is going to be an underling and that, combined with the age of the model (and the fact that it already had paint on it when I started) gives me a suitable excuse for it not being to the normal standard.

IMG_2888

Having three Chaos forces at my disposal now, I have started looking on eBay for some of the really old Chaos Champions and while some look a bit ropey compared to models of today, others are perfectly serviceable, and they make for a nice variation now and again.

It looks like my next big project is going to be (finally) a Beastman force, though a Verminlord is already on my painting desk and will be tackled along the way…

Battle Report – Raze to the Ground

Today, we started the Realm of Life campaign, following the storyline laid out in the Age of Sigmar hardbacks. This kicked off with The Trap Battleplan but, as I have featured that scenario on these pages before, we’ll go straight onto the second, Raze to the Ground.

 

The Story So Far

While some Stormcasts were battling hard in the Realm of Fire, others were launching attacks into the other Mortal Realms. The Realm of Life had been almost completely subjugated by the forces of Nurgle, so all the forests are stinking, diseased-ridden places where the forces of light fear to tread. Alarielle, who in Age of Sigmar is basically a living god, has been forced to retreat from this corruption and has sealed herself away in a secret glade that Nurgle’s forces have been unable to find.

Then the Stormcasts arrive, bringing their crusade of liberation to the Realm of Life. However, they have another plan too – as well as creating a beachhead (as they did in the Realm of Fire), they are seeking Alarielle, hoping to bring her onto their side in a great alliance that will kick the forces of Chaos back to their own realm where they can finally be defeated.

Simple in theory.

To begin with, the Rotbringers (Nurgle’s mortal followers in the Realm of Life) don’t pay much attention to the arrival of the Stormcasts – most have heard stories or rumours of silver giants suddenly popping up and giving a rival lord a kicking, but they just dismiss them as excuses made by incompetent leaders. After all, who would believe in some mythical silver giants popping out of a storm?

There were also some kingdoms in the Realm of Life that had, up to now, survived Nurgle’s attentions but the Rotbringers were now bringing war to them as well. The Greenglades were one such kingdom and while they had suffered waves of plague and disease, they had not yet fallen. That was about to change as a force of Rotbringers marched forward but the Sylvaneth were ready.

The trees around the Rotbringers started stirring and it seems the Sylvaneth are taking advantage of the confusion the Stormcasts have caused to launch a new wave of attacks. Shouldn’t be a problem though. The Rotbringers have given the Dryads a kicking before, this time won’t be any different.

Surely.

There were small skirmishes to begin with, starting with an ambush using The Trap, but things quickly ramped up. A Lord of Plagues known as Torglug the Despised was commanding the Fangs of Decay, a ring of towers built around the Lifewell, a spring where Alarielle’s pure waters gushed forward – the Fangs were magically charged to corrupt the waters, but the Sylvaneth saw their chance and launched an attack on the fortresses…

The first battles of this campaign represent the Sylvaneth uprising, starting with an ambush in The Trap, and then with a direct attack on one of Nurgle’s fortresses in Raze to the Ground.

As mentioned above, we played The Trap to begin with, which ended in a major victory for the Sylvaneth. The Blightmage leading the Nurgle forces was an adept summoner and his Chaos Warriors proved stalwart fighters but a flanking Treelord Ancient managed to spear the wizard with a tendril staff and it quickly fell apart for Chaos after that. Now, the Sylvaneth were going for a fortress near the Lifewell…

IMG_2840

The Forces

We used very similar forces for this battle as appeared in The Trap – in fact, the Sylvaneth had exactly the same force (one tree has to be pretty much like another, after all, and my collection of them is limited), while the Rotbringers had a few less models but got to mess around with both a Skull Keep and a Bastion.

Rotbringers
Lord of Plagues
Putrid Blightkings x 10 (with Icon Bearer and Sonorous Tocsin)
Chaos Warriors x 24 (two units of 12)
Skull Keep
Bastion

A small garrison, but the Time of War sheet for the Greenglades in the Realm of Life have a stack of special rules that benefit Nurgle forces, even the most minor models (the Chaos Warriors) are to be respected and, on top of all that, they start in a fortress. Plus, the Lord of Plagues and Blightkings are just plain nasty.

Sylvaneth
Branchwraith
Treelord Ancient
Treelord x 2
Dryads x 32 (two units of 16)

This is basically all the models from the Sylvaneth Warhost box set that GW released a little while back, and it makes for a nice, compact force. The Branchwraith has the ability to summon Dryads back into the fight and the three Treelords are going to cause the Rotbringers serious problems. However, any forests are going to be hostile to the Sylvaneth, which will remove a lot of their benefits, and if the Rotbringers can just hold out long enough, they have access to enough ways of dishing out mortal wounds to bring down even the Treelord Ancient.

Due to gaining a major victory in The Trap beforehand, the Treelord Ancient had been granted the Essence of Ghyran, a magical ‘top up’ that would allow him to heal all wounds once per battle.

Technically the Sylvaneth fulfil the requirements of the Guardians of the Deepwood battalion, but it is going to have little or no effect. The Sylvaneth know where the Rotbringers are and the Chaos force is unlikely to move far from its fortress, meaning any ambush opportunities are going to be limited. Plus, all scenery is corrupted (see below) and not a healthy place to be anyway.

The Greenglades Time of War sheet brings a number of special rules to this game.

  • All spellcasters gain access to the Shield of Thorns spell.
  • Nurgle spellcasters gain access to the Miasma of Pestilence spell – not relevant in this battle, but they had the spell in The Trap and will retain it throughout the campaign.
  • All scenery is corrupted. This heals Nurgle units (which will be nice for them as they sit inside their fortress…) but, over the course of a battle, can do a lot of damage to everyone else.
  • Nurgle Heroes, when they die, can call upon Papa Nurgle for aid. They roll a dice and on a 5-6, they are returned to the battle, fully healed. 3-4 means they are ignored, while a 1-2 means they are turned into a Chaos Spawn. Considering they were dying anyway, there really is no downside here – even the Chaos Spawn is a plus (though it could be interesting for named characters in a campaign…).
  • If a 1 is rolled for a Battleshock test, then not only does the unit not lose any models, but any wounded ones will be healed.

Added to all this, as a Chaos force, the general will be able to call upon Nurgle for daemonic aid once per battle…

 

Deployment

The Rotbringers started holed up in their fortress, with one set of Chaos Warriors in the Skull Keep and everyone else within the Bastion (which can hold two units and a Hero).

The Sylvaneth decided to go for the Skull Keep first, hoping to get a quick foothold by going for the weaker target. The Treelords all set up as close as they could to it with the Dryads fanning out between them, while the Branchwraith took position towards the rear of the force.

 

Battle Round One

The Sylvaneth had the first turn and the Treelords started lumbering forward to the Skull Keep. While the Branchwraith placed a mystic shield on one of the Treelords (2+ save!), the Treelord Ancient hurled an arcane bolt into the Skull Keep. This was followed up by all the Treelords using their ranged attacks (tendril staff and strangleroots) to continue pummelling the building, before they rushed forward to oull it apart. After this assault, the Skull Keep had been reduced from 10 wounds to 6 – not a bad start by any means.

IMG_2841

Torglug used his own powers to grant the Chaos Warriors within the Skull Keep a dose of Nurgle’s Rot, which promptly infected one of the Treelords, whom they then hammered in close combat. The Treelords themselves tried their best to ignore the little warriors and concentrated on the Skull Keep itself. While it proved resilient in the main, the sustained attack was beginning to tell and, at the end of the first round, the Skull Keep was left on a single wound.

 

Battle Round Two

The Rotbringers grabbed the first turn of the second round, and the Chaos Warriors within the Skull Keep, seeing the walls literally shake around them, decided to evacuate quickly. They were joined by the Chaos Warriors from the Bastion who decided to support their diseased brethren.

IMG_2843

The Chaos Warriors dove into the heart of the Sylvaneth horde, aiming to bring the first Treelord down, but he proved as hard as oak, thanks in no small part to the mystic shield that still surrounded him. However, the attack caught the Treelord off guard and no Chaos Warriors fell to his attacks though nearby Dryads managed to pull one to the ground.

In his own turn, the Treelord Ancient aimed an arcane bolt at the Skull Keep and it collapsed in a great billowing dust cloud. That was the easy part of the plan completed, and the Treelords rushed into the Chaos Warriors, aiming to dispatch them in order to be able to advance upon the Bastion in relative peace.

IMG_2844

This attack proved too much for the first unit of Chaos Warriors to withstand and they were quickly trampled under the wooden feet of Treelord and Dryad alike.

 

Battle Round Three

The pestilence of Nurgle that pervaded the entire Realm of Life took its toll on the Branchwraith who had been hiding near the woods. However, it was not all going the way of the Rotbringers for while Torglug the Despised ordered his Blightkings to sally forth and launch their counterattack, the Bastion itself worked against them, sealing its walls from any entry or exit.

IMG_2847

Seeing that they were, for the moment at least, on their own, the Chaos Warriors retreated from battle with the Dryads, saving themselves to buy time for a a better supported attack.

IMG_2851

The Sylvaneth took advantage of this lull and while the Dryads formed a barrier between the Chaos Warriors and the Treelord the rest of the force marched upon the Bastion. An arcane bolt from the Treelord Ancient knocked 3 points of damage off the Bastion (reducing it to 12), but the rest of their attacks literally bounced off.

The Sylvaneth realised they might be forced to take the Bastion by force rather than destroy it, a much harder proposition. To prepare for this, the Branchwraith roused the nearby woods to wrath, and a small unit of Dryads emerged, ready to do battle.

 

Battle Round Four

Seeing the Sylvaneth regroup and renew their assault, Torglug the Despised was determined not to be outdone on the summoning stakes, and he called upon Nurgle for aid. His god responded admirably, sending a unit of Plaguebearers, Nurglings, Plague Drones and a Herald to lead them – now the Sylvaneth were seriously outnumbered and outclassed. They would have to move quickly, but the Rotbringers were not yet finished with their dirty tricks.

Feeling Nurgle’s boon, Torglug then called upon the power of the Bastion itself, but this constant ‘I want’ attitude quickly tired his god who rewarded him appropriately. Torgulg the Despised was turned into a Chaos Spawn (which will have certain implications in the continuing storyline!).

IMG_2852

Now having lost their general, due to his own greed (technically, the Herald was now in charge), the Blightkings finally sallied forth, supported on the flank by the Plague Drones and the returning Chaos Warriors. They hit the Treelords hard, seriously hurting both the Treelord and the Ancient for the loss of only a single Blightking.

Meanwhile the Nurglings rushed forward to halt the third Treelord but they proved to be little more than a speed bump.

IMG_2854

The Treelord Ancient consumed the Essence of Ghyran, bringing him back to full health, as he used another arcane bolt on the Bastion, bringing it down to 10 wounds (just in case the Dryad assault failed, he was hedging his bets). One Treelord smashed into the Plaguebearers, sweeping them left and right, but reality blinked and they soon returned, thanks to the icon they carried.

IMG_2856

Meanwhile, the Dryads following him assaulted the Bastion and managed to wound the Chaos Spawn. More importantly, however, they were now close enough to start climbing the walls and, using the special command ability for this Battleplan, get onto the battlements. If they could just do that and kill the Chaos Spawn, the Bastion would be theirs, as would victory!

 

Battle Round Five

Seeing the danger, the Herald of Nurgle rushed into the Bastion to support the Chaos Spawn, while the Blightkings spewed filth all over the Treelord they were fighting. Between that and their regular attacks, they managed to fell both the Treelord and the Treelord Ancient in a single round of combat, while the Dryads who were fighting at their side were torn apart soon after by the Chaos Warriors and Plague Drones.

IMG_2858

The Dryads knew they did not have a lot of time, as their entire flank had fallen and any moment now, a horde of Blightkings, Plague Drones and Chaos Warriors would hit them, and hit them hard. If they could not take the Bastion quickly, they had nothing – no answer at all for the Rotbringers.

Seeing the battle teeter on the edge of failure, the Branchwraith rushed forward, throwing an arcane bolt at the Chaos Spawn, which killed it (not a great end for Torglug, it has to be said!), then assaulting the Herald within the Bastion.

However, the Herald of Nurgle proved unusually resilient and, at the end of the fifth Battle Round, the Bastion was still in the hands of the Rotbringers who still had a powerful army on the battlefield.

The Sylvaneth did not…

 

Battle Round Six

The Sylvaneth finally managed to catch a break and snagged the first turn of this round. The Branchwraith used an arcane bolt to dispatch the Herald, but her grim smile of satisfaction turned to dismay as the Herald called upon Nurgle for aid – and was returned as a Chaos Spawn!

IMG_2861

A tense battle unfolded upon the battlements, which was only ended by the impaling spike of the Treelord outside which neatly skewered the Chaos Spawn.

Against all odds, the Sylvaneth had taken the Bastion and, after sealing its walls from the Blightkings outside, set to work removing Nurgle’s influence on the Lifewell.

The Sylvaneth had proved themselves masters of their Realm but could the momentum they had started be sustained by the coming Stormcast Eternals? The next battle would reveal all…

 

Conclusion

This was another close one, almost as tight as The Ritual we played a couple of weeks ago – again, it came down to a single model on the last turn, and featured a pitched battle on top of an evil fortress to boot!

Fighting Nurgle in the corrupted areas of the Realm of Life is no picnic, and those Blightkings are hard. In a single turn, they brought down both a Treelord and a Treelord Ancient, which completely gutted the Sylvaneth force.

The Dryad rush to the Bastion was actually planned somewhere in round three, but it took until round six to actually pull off, mainly due to Nurgle’s dirty, dirty tricks! The four units of daemons popping up was bad enough, but having the Herald return as a Spawn could have ruined everything for the Sylvaneth.

That said, Nurgle is nothing if not capricious, and the Rotbringers did suffer under his attention; the Rotbringers were kept penned inside the Bastion for a turn longer than they had wished, and Torglug turning into a Chaos Spawn just as the Sylvaneth began their assault on his Bastion was not very good timing to say the least!

Still, this was another great battle and, despite really just being a little skirmish with 30-40-odd models on each side, there was a great deal happening in every turn.

Brilliant!

 

The Story Continues…

The Chaos Dreadhold is getting a serious work out in the first stages of the Realm of Life campaign. This battle saw the Skull Keep and Bastion appear while the next, Man the Gates, uses (obviously) the Malefic Gate. Fortunately, I managed to get all these components painted in time, so we are set for some epic fights! We have seen the beginnings of the Sylvaneth uprising, now we will see what the Stormcasts make of the filthy Nurgle occupiers.

IMG_2839

 

Plague on Wings

Just in time for the start of the campaign in the Realm of Life, I managed to finish off the Plague Drones, another daemon-type for Nurgle forces.

IMG_2829

It has to be said, these were a royal pain to put together. Nothing amazingly complicated, it is just that six long legs and four long wings on each drone can lead to a lot of frustration – stick one on, move to another, the first begins to sag and drop off…

I would recommend that anyone else does just three of these guys at a time. Eight is probably too many.

IMG_2833

The painting itself was not too bad. I hummed and harred about their colour schemes for a bit, but settled for doing the Plaguebearer riders in the same way as their on-foot counterparts, while the body of the drones themselves was copied from the Maggoth Lord I did a short while back – this provides a link between them and thus unifies the army as a whole.

IMG_2838

The hard carapace is a Rhino Hide base, and mirrors the saddle of the Maggoth Lord, though this was less of a concious decision.

IMG_2837

The wings are a base of Caliban Green which, again, mirrors usage in the rest of the army, specifically armour (when I do not start with a base of Castellan Green, anyway). This related/limited palette helps relate everything together but avoids everything being exactly the same which is something to avoid in forces as hodge-podge as Chaos.

IMG_2835

The Technical paint Nurgle’s Rot popped up again, as both dripping poison/gunk and leakage from the open sores of the drones’ abdomens.

IMG_2836

These guys should be getting their first (albeit limited) use in the first battles tomorrow, so we will see how they do!

The Overlord Bastion

I have been keeping busy of late but between work and a broken computer (the latter being really annoying), I haven’t actually managed to get a great deal finished. On the other hand, I have managed to put together and/or re-base a huge amount of models (Skaven, Seraphon and Beastmen, among many, many others) in preparation for my Christmas break project – so, expect a rash of posts in early January if all goes to plan.

All that said, I have managed to get one model finished this week, and a blinking big one it is too. I present… the Overlord Bastion!

IMG_2828

This is the biggest component available for the Chaos Dreadhold and, it has to be said, I am not eager to paint another! However, I am happy now it is finished, as it is a very fine centrepiece for any table and, when surrounded by walls and towers, will make for an awe-inspiring castle.

IMG_2825

The paint scheme is exactly the same as for the Skull Keep, gate and walls I have already polished off, all derived form the painting guide that was published in White Dwarf.

The most notable factor of the Bastion has to be its size, I think. If anyone is under the illusion that the Skull Keep can be described as big (and it can), then they have not seen the Bastion which fairly towers above it.

IMG_2826

As you can see, I went ahead and put red LED lights in this model, just as I did with the Skull Keep – and I think it looks great! Gives the model just the right amount of menace.

I did not drill this model (as I did with the Skull Keep) to get the wires through the floors. Instead, and this was a little bit lazy I admit, the battery pack for each light is hidden within each individual level. This is a bit clumsy and incredibly fiddly to install through those small doors (frankly, it would have been easier to drill), and I may go back to this model at a later date and simply install all battery packs within the cavernous ground floor.

IMG_2827

However, the lights are certainly a worthwhile addition, as I hope you agree.

The Bastion should be getting its first work out this weekend in a series of planned games set in the Realm of Life – come back next week for the battle reports and more piccies!

March of the Bleak Horde

Sitrep on the Glottkin: Still not finished. As it turns out, while the main body of the Glottkin may seem fairly uniform and easy (it isn’t, on both counts) there are a lot of little details elsewhere and I keep finding new things to do. Almost complete though, hoping to get it done over the weekend.

My delay over the Glottkin may have something to do with these guys, of course, which I kinda just ‘slipped in’ the painting queue. Regular readers will remember the Tzeentch Chaos Knights I did for the Bleak Horde in the Realm of Metal – now they have foot troops!

image004

These guys were done in the same scheme as the Knights (Ironbreaker with two coats of Guilliman Blue), but I took a leaf out of the Age of Sigmar books and gave them bright red cloaks.

image008

These guys will form the core of the Bleak Horde when we move onto the Realm of Metal campaign and, with the Knights done too, I really just need a few characters (wizards already half done) and some Tzeentch daemons.

image011

I am somewhat lacking in the number of unit leaders and standard bearers (at least, compared to the Chaos Warriors of the Rotbringers), but I figure a typical Tzeentch force will have access to more than enough spellcasting to balance things up. And not every army need be the same.

So, would this unit of 12 be enough for the campaign? Of course not – which is why I did another 24 friends for them at the same time…

image012

I really wasn’t going to paint 36 models at once, as my days of the big batches really are over (for now, at least). However, I had based all 36 together and figured that, being Chaos Warriors, the initial stages of painting could be done quickly – I would just do the base colour and blue washes, you know, get them all up to a certain point before splitting out a dozen of them at a time for finishing.

The trouble was, after the base coating and washes, I figured the cloaks would be really quick too. And I might as well do the weapons, because that would be a quick job.

By the time I got to the intricate work (the gold detailing), it was pretty much the last thing to do – so I found myself thinking I might as well get it all over with at once!

Anyway, these guys are what principally caused the delay of the Glottkin but, plus point, I now have all the core troops done for the Bleak Horde.

Oh, and I also got the extra unit of Retributors I have been promising myself completed as well.

image002

These models are also very quick to do, and five take a laughably short space of time. It also means I now have a ‘full’ unit of five Retributors who can seriously bring the hurt to the enemies of Sigmar. The problem now is that, with two units, I am just one short of the battalion that can actually destroy terrain pieces. Now, if this were Warhammer or 40k, I would probably get another unit pronto. However, Age of Sigmar does not really work that way. But destroying terrain is cool.

Ahhh!

Battle Report – The Ritual

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.

Simples!

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!

 

The Forces

This is the biggest battle we have had in the campaign up to now, and the two armies reflect this…

The Goretide
Lord Khul (Mighty Lord of Khorne)
Exalted Deathbringer
Aspiring Deathbringer
Slaughterpriest
Skullgrinder
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!

Stormcast Eternals
Lord-Celestant Vandus Hammerhand (on Dracoth)
Lord-Celestant Goldenmane
Lord-Castellant with Gryph-hound
Knight-Heraldor
Knight-Vexillor
Knight-Azyros
Knight-Venator
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.

 

Deployment

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.

image001

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.

image002

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…

image003

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.

image004

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.

image006

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.

image007

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.

image008

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.

image009

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.

image010

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.

image011

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.

image013

 

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…

 

Conclusion

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;

image001

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…

 

 

 

The Light Malevolent

Age of Sigmar has encouraged me to change (and better!) the way I paint, and I have started looking at other ways of improving my models. So, as I was working on new additions to the Chaos Dreadhold, I went back to the Skull Keep I had done earlier and added… lights!

image010

This is the sort of thing that is really simple in practice and, once you have motivated yourself to actually do something about the idea, is very cheap (less than a tenner with postage) and takes all of twenty minutes to set up, if that.

And, as you can see, looks all kinds of awesome!

image011

I did have this mad idea to actually fit threes sets of lights inside; red, green and blue, so I could switch the Skull Keep’s allegiance to Khorne, Nurgle and Tzeentch respectively, but I think you can go too far (though, as I think about it, it would be really cool if you could switch the lights mid-game to actually show who owns it!).

image003

It also looks spectacular in the dark, though that will bring a new set of problems to actually playing in these conditions…

image001

I didn’t want to plonk around with separate LEDs and my soldering iron is currently AWOL, so I just ran to eBay and found a complete lighting set, all wired up – it even comes with the required 9V PP3 battery!

The Skull Keep has two levels, so I put two lighting kits inside it, with the battery boxes for both sitting in its base, lashed to the interior wall with insulation tape. This was a bit lazy, and the tiniest bit of re-wiring could have put both sets of LEDs on the same battery box, but after painting the walls and gate I was not in a mood to mess around and justified it by telling myself the batteries would last twice as long this way!

Anyway, you cannot argue with the results and I will be grabbing more lighting kits for my upcoming Bastion.

Actually, I might be getting the LED-lighting fever, as I am already eyeing up some 40k vehicles and thinking what they really need are some lights!