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.
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…
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.
Lord of Plagues
Putrid Blightkings x 10 (with Icon Bearer and Sonorous Tocsin)
Chaos Warriors x 24 (two units of 12)
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.