This weekend we rocked up to GW’s HQ in Nottingham, for the first Age of Sigmar Doubles Event, The War at Life’s End. And a rain-swept scene greeted us upon arrival…
I had teamed up with the freakishly tall James, his Sylvaneth and my Stormcasts making for a nice fluffy force that would fit in well with the story behind the event – an assault on the Realm of Life by the Nurgle Lord Lugubrious Blisterphlegm. Would the sacred glades be corrupted, or would the Nurgle Lord face Sigmar’s wrath? We would decide that over the weekend!
The event was noticeably better organised than the last, and we had faction briefings at the start of every round. The first game would see the forces of Chaos massing for attack and the armies of Life would have to try to stop them getting past – this would use the Breakthrough Battleplan from the main hardback but with the roles reversed, Chaos being the forces that had to break through the line and get off their opponent’s table edge.
The faction leader did stress that as every team likely had around 100 models (James and I had 80-something) and only two and a half hours to play, we should chat with our opponents and sort out what models would be used. This was, I think, promptly ignored by everyone and every army deployed pretty much everything it had – when most games only got through 2 or 3 turns in this round, we all modified our thinking and armies were reduced later on…
Anyway, for our first game, we met two delightful chaps whose names were easy to remember – they were Matt and James! They had a combined Chaos force that featured loads of Chaos Warriors and Knights, the Glottkin, a Maggoth Lord, a whopping great dragon and a Chaos War Mammoth!
There were no ‘tricks’ on their side, so this would be a stand up fight and the two forces soon crashed together. On the right flank, I managed to convince James to feed his Treekin to the Chaos Dragon where they formed a nbice shield for my Protectors and their monster-killing glaives. A large number of 6’s on their wound rolls meant the dragon was butchered in short order and became the first large model to fall.
In the centre, Chaos Knights gave my Liberators a right pounding and, had the game gone on longer, might have seen off my little command squad as well (most Stormcast characters had clustered together). Things fared better on the left flank where James’ Dryads and Tree Lords mixed it up with Plaguebearers, the Maggoth Lord and, towards the end, the Glottkin.
A great deal of carnage ensued but, in the end the line held and we had our first victory! We even managed to stall the War Mammoth, though that was a dubious proposition at best…
After lunch, we had another briefing and were told the forces of Life had done well across the board, and that a new Battleplan would appear next, The Hidden Threat. This battle would be decided on how many wounds were caused by both sides – not models slain, as is often the case in Age of Sigmar, but wounds. So, it might be worth going after the big stuff.
We were to face a combined Nurgle and Khorne force, and agreed to limit our forces to 30 models per player (so, about 60 per side). I dropped my Skyborne Slayers formation but, having spied a few big nasties on the other team, kept the Celestant-Prime to one side. You know, just in case.
This battle was interesting to say the least! James and I raced to kill the Great Unclean One, but while we managed it, it diverted a lot of resources and allowed the Plague Drones and Toads to pound our other forces while a valuable Lord-Celestant and Tree Lord were showboating with the greater daemon. Aside from some Dryads, the left flank was more or less mine to hold and, initially, things went well, with Bloodletters being hammered quickly and Chaos Warriors getting whittled down.
The man of the match for me here (and possibly the man of the event) was the humble Heraldor. Looking over his stats, he does not seen all that – sure, he can cause terrain to quake and dish out D3 mortal wounds to anyone within D6 inches of the scenery… but D3 wounds is not a great deal. Maybe a couple of wounds off a Hero or the odd Bloodletter getting crushed.
However… when you can keep blowing it, those 5 wound Heroes start looking quite fragile and even the Khornate War Altar was beginning to feel its effects. Plus, because the Battleplan was based on wounds and there were several Khorne units close to the woods the Heraldor was affecting, we were starting to seriously rack up the points. The Khorne player soon decided he had had enough, and that the Heraldor had to die! This was a reaction that would be repeated throughout the weekend.
The moral of the story: if you are a Stormcast player, get yourself a Heraldor. You will not regret it.
The other issue we had was Epidemus, sitting in a temple at the far end of the table. We ignored him to begin with but soon realised that the tally of deaths he was keeping was buffing a lot of Nurgle forces. Enter the Celestant-Prime!
Unfortunately, the Celestant-Prime had not brought his A game and, in four rounds of combat, had managed to only reduce Epidemus to his final wound when, really, he should have completely trashed the Chaos Lord in a single round. In his last attack of the game, he managed to miss with every swing of his hammer…
The final result was close but, in the end, we managed to win by about nine wounds. I think we can put that down to the Heraldor!
So, we were fairly jubilant, but as we had our last faction briefing of the day, we discovered that all had not gone so well for the forces of Life. In fact many other armies had been crushed and Chaos had won that round. With the campaign hanging in the balance, we were told the last round of the day would have no Battleplan and would use the 4 page rules sheet as written…
Up to this point, every team we had met had absolutely great players, the kind of guys you would be happy to play at any time. In fact we had not even heard of any ‘dick’ players attending. In the final round, I thought we had finally found them – as it turned out though, I was wrong.
We were facing a combined Chaos and Undead force, and the chaps we faced said they had played some slow games and would we mind limiting out forces to 20-odd models each? No problem at all, we said, though I had noticed Skarbrand sitting in their pile and figured he would show up. When models started going down onto the table, one of the other players promptly walked over to a display cabinet that had been set aside to showcase well-painted models, took out his Nagash and plonked him on the table.
Nagash and Skarbrand both on the table in a small 20 model game? I had a feeling we were being played here. This was reinforced when the summoning began, and I started to think what was the point of limiting the number of models if you were just going to double the size of your force in the first turn? This could be construed as a dick move, intentionally making sure your opponent sets up a weak force and then hitting him with everything you have got.
As it turned out, these guys were new at Age of Sigmar – for one of them, this was only their fourth game, the first being played in the small hours of that morning!
Once I realised that they were not trying to pull one over us, I started getting into the game.
Once the summoning began, James and I pulled our forces backwards, trying to buy ourselves as much time as possible. With the amount of summoning going on, the Chaos/Undead team would have to wipe us out to get a victory as summoned models count as calculates at the end of a battle, and they had brought in so many zombies on a single summoning that we were way ahead on kills. And we had no intention of being wiped out.
James did his teleporting Tree Lord trick to bounce models to the other side of the table, while the Undead tried to stop the Celestant-Prime from coming down by setting up a conga-line of zombies. They did not quite block off all areas of the table but right in the last minutes, Nagash charged the Celestant-Prime who was utterly unable to stop any of the wounds coming in and fell.
I think the Celestant-Prime is related to my Lord-Relictor, another model that never performs well. The Heraldor should be promoted to run the entire Stormhost…
At the end of the battle, we had just killed enough models to claim victory but, factoring in the summoning as well, it was not even close. Another victory for Life!
After that, we hung around a bit waiting for other teams to finish their games and then it was off to the restaurant for dinner, then the hotel for bed.
Come Sunday morning (after a really big breakfast), we had our first faction briefing of the day – and it turned out that the other teams had let us down. We had drawn with Chaos in the last round! The whole campaign teetered on a knife edge and the next battle would be telling. This one would be War of Storms, another Battleplan from the books, that saw the ‘line of battle’ being pushed one way or another to claim territory, with the death of an enemy general being a big boost.
So, kill the enemy general while protecting out own. Simples!
We faced a combined Tzeentch and Khorne force and, again, we agreed to limit our forces somewhat. The two forces started by lining up but we spotted the enemy general (a Lord of Change) had deployed just a little too far forward. Judicators and the Knight-Azyos (not to mention a Branchwraith on top of a summoned Balewind Vortex) punished the daemon for that, and he retreated quickly to his back line, with just a single wound left.
On the right flank and in the centre, Tzeentch daemons marched forward to engage the Sylvaneth while I had to cope with a bunch of Skullcrushers which, using their battalion rules, were dishing out 3 automatic mortal wounds every time they charged. Ouch.
I managed to whittle them down and bring and end to the lord leading them, but the Stormcasts had paid the price for that. Our general (Lord-Celestant) had been fairly battered by the attack and a sneaky Tzeentch Herald finished him off with an Arcane Bolt.
We might have lost right there but the Celestant-Prime had appeared on their back line, dropped a meteor on the head of the Lord of Change (killing him and bringing us back into contention), and then failing to kill a daemon prince – when he was rolling 8 dice for attacks, I ask you!
At the end of the battle, however, the line of territory being claimed was just a little too far into our half, so we had to acknowledge our first loss. Still a brilliant game though.
At this point, some judging was going on for the best painted armies, and I took a few snaps of them…
So, it was on to the last battle of the event! At our faction briefing, we were informed that we had done sufficiently well to ensure that the forces of Chaos could not win – but would we be able to ensnare the Chaos Lord who started this all before he escaped?
The next battle used the Ritual Battleplan, a notoriously hard one for the attackers – and we would be the attackers!
We chatted to the guys we faced (fielding a combined Khorne and Wood Aelf force – no, don’t ask me!), and quickly agreed to use pretty much everything but if they left Skarbrand behgind, we would not bring on the Celestant-Prime. Easy.
I was using my Skyborne Slayers Battalion, which could drop very close to the enemy and start attacking the objective, while James had placed a bunch of trees close to it as well, ready for a Tree Lord to come striding out of them. Our opponents were very wise to this, and set up in tight formations that would block any surprise attacks. It looked like we would have to do this the hard way…
Once again, the Heraldor parped his horn and promptly marked himself for death, while the Knight-Venator quickly assassinated a Slaughterpriest (the only time in the entire event where his special Skyfate arrow actually worked!). The Knight-Azyros led a group of Liberators in an attack on the Wood Aelf archer line, in an effort to create enough room for the rest of the Stormcasts to come down, while the Sylvaneth and some Stormcast heroes tried to do the same on the right flank. On the left, I just kinda milled about and did not really get stuck in!
This game ended in a titanic fight around the ritual objective. The Aelf archers held on to the last but were nearly annihilated in the process, while the Knight-Azyros endured sustained attacks from a Tree Lord and a War Altar. Treekin were sent to reinforce him but were matched by a group of Wrathmongers. Whatever was tried, neither side could break the deadlock anywhere along the line.
The battle ended in a draw – Chaos could not complete the ritual in time, and we could not bring down the Skyborne Slayers in any area of the table that would do the least bit of good.
The chaps we were playing were brilliant, and it was the perfect game to end the weekend on.
During the awards ceremony, we learned that the Forces of Life had clinched a victory (just!) but that Lord Blisterphlegm had managed to escape.
Really enjoyed this event, more so than the last one, and am looking forward to the next, likely early in the New Year!