The Realm of Life campaign is in full swing now, and the Stormcasts have arrived in force to give the Rotbringers a right shoeing and begin their search for the Lady of Life, Alarielle.
The Story So Far
During their assault on the Realm of Life, the Hallowed Knights have located the Gates of Dawn, a Realmgate that will form part of their strategic plan to create a network of pathways between the Mortal Realms, enabling them to drive back the forces of Chaos and liberate all free peoples. With this Realmgate in the hands of the Stormcasts, the Nurgle forces will find it harder to reinforce their armies, giving the Stormcasts the time they need to find Alarielle.
Quite what will happen when they finally reach her is still something of a mystery, but they are presuming she will be of good heart and throw in with Sigmar against Chaos.
What could possibly go wrong?
And that is presuming, of course, that Nurgle does not have a trick or two up his own sleeves…
This is a relatively small battle (don’t worry, some very large fights are coming up in this campaign!), with a small force of Stormcasts trying to get past Rotbringer defenders to capture the Gates of Dawn.
Harbinger of Decay
Putrid Blightkings x 10 (two units of 5, with Icon Bearer and Sonorous Tocsin)
Chaos Warriors x 36 (three units of 12)
A nice, uncomplicated force for the Rotbringers. Some hard Chaos Warriors, backed up by some even harder Blightkings, and led by a really hard Harbinger of Decay! As they won a major victory in the last battle, the Harbinger of Decay has been gifted with the Jade Scroll for this battle, allowing him to cast Shield of Thorns as if he were a wizard.
Liberators x 10 (two units of 5)
Retributors x 5
Judicators x 5
Prosecutors x 6 (armed with Javelins and a Trident)
This battle is going to be all about speed – and those Retributors are slow. However, the Prosecutors and Knight-Azyros provide the mobility so hopefully the Stormcasts will be able to smash through whatever forces are immediately in front of them and drive forward before the rest of the Rotbringers can pile in. To gain a major victory, the Stormcasts would have to get 10 models off the table, while getting 8 off would result in a minor victory. Anything else would lead to victories for the Rotbringers.
The Stormcasts got to deploy first and they spread their forces, ready to take advantage of any holes that appeared in the Rotbringers line. The Prosecutors were deployed near the flanks, where they could use their speed, while the leadership were placed in the centre behind both units of Liberators where they could advance to either flank as needed. The Judicators were placed with the Retributors on the right flank, where they would form a powerful block that could bull its way through any opposition.
The Rotbringers deployment was random, reflecting the surprise the Stormcasts had gained. Just a single unit of Chaos Warriors were placed in front of the Retributor/Judicator block, while the centre had only a unit of Chaos Warriors and the Harbinger. However, the Prosecutors on the far left would be facing two units of Blightkings and a unit of Chaos Warriors – things did not look so good for them…
Battle Round One
The Stormcasts had choice of who went first, and they handed the initiative to the Rotbringers. While this would allow the Rotbringers to begin closing the gaps, there would be relatively little to gain in going first, and this meant the Stormcasts had the chance for the lovely two-turns-in-a-row ploy when the armies advanced and met.
The Rotbringers repositioned their forces a little and the Harbinger used his ability to reinforce the nearby Chaos Warriors (effectively giving them an additional 5+ save against any wounds).
For their part, the Stormcasts ran with Lord-Celestant Gardus using the Battleplan’s command ability to encourage his men to go faster! The Liberators split, with one unit heading towards the Chaos Warriors in the centre while the others nervously advanced towards the (very nasty) Blightkings.
Battle Round Two
The Stormcasts did indeed get the first turn in this round, giving them their two turns in a row. The Lord Castellant shone his lantern upon the Retributors who had advanced towards the Blightkings and they dove into woods, vowing not to be moved – with the combination of the lantern and the trees, they now had a 2+ save, and their shields were allowing them to re-roll 1s. Let the Blightkings come, they thought!
The Prosecutors and Judicators pelted the Chaos Warriors on the right flank with a little missile fire, though casualties were light. However, any jubilation the Chaos Warriors were feeling quickly disappeared as the Retributors came crashing through the trees and hit like a lightning bolt. When the smoke cleared, only three Chaos Warriors had survived to prop up the flank and, other than that, the path was clear for the Stormcasts to pile through!
The Harbinger used his powers to reinforce the Chaos Warriors in the centre and then, seeing Liberators approach, used the Jade Scroll to cast Shield of Thorns on them as well. Meanwhile, all around, the pestilent filth of the surrounding forests was taking its toll on the Stormcasts (Time of War rules, there is a chance for terrain to hurt the Stormcasts and heal the Rotbringers…). However, he could not linger, as the weakened flank was apparent to everyone on the battlefield, and the Harbinger ordered his mount to carry him quickly to the breach, a unit of Chaos Warriors close behind.
One unit of Blightkings charged the Liberators who had taken up position in the woods and, thanks to the terrain and the Lord-Castellant’s lantern, they did not suffer a single wound from the attack! However, the nearby Prosecutors fared less well as the other unit of Blightkings charged them, and the flying Stormcasts were quickly wiped out. The left flank now belonged to the Rotbringers and all the Liberators could do was try to hold the Blightkings up while their brothers punched through on the opposite flank.
Across the battlefield, the Retributors continued their vengeance against the few Chaos Warriors in front of them, but a single Chaos Warriors managed to survive their onslaught, though he was badly wounded. However, it was enough to begin delaying the Stormcasts. In the centre, the Chaos Warriors who had hidden in woods themselves finished off the Liberators who had charegd them, and now only Lord-Celestant Gardus was around to keep them pinned and away from the breakthrough point on the right.
Battle Round Three
Seeing that time was getting very short, Lord-Celestant Gardus twirled his cloak and sent a hail of glowing hammers into the nearby Blightkings who were bringing pressure against the last unit of Liberators, and one fell to the magical attack. However, with the Lord-Castellant now moving towards the Retributors on the other side of the battlefield, the Liberators were beginning to suffer and one fell to the foul weapons of the Blightkings.
The lone Chaos Warrior on the right flank finally fell to a well placed shot from the Judicators, freeing the Retributors to charge the Harbinger of Decay who had come just a little too close in a n effort to help hold the line. The unit of Chaos Warriors that he had brought with him were too far away to help, and with a crackling of lightning, the Harbinger was slain – he tried to call upon Grandfather Nurgle for aid at his end, but was completely ignored!
Though the Harbinger was now dead, the Shield of Thorns he had cast on the Chaos Warriors in the centre was still active, and Lord-Celestant Gardus was badly wounded by it – the pestilence of the forest he was close to then reached out, and he fainted from the rot, falling to the ground. The Chaos Warriors were finally free to act and began their long march to the right flank were things were beginning to get critical for the Rotbringers.
They managed to get close enough to charge the Retributors but were punished for their eagerness. Without proper support, the Retributors lived up to their name, and only three Chaos Warriors survived the assault.
Battle Round Four
Time was now getting very tight for the Stormcasts, and it was clear they had not made sufficient progress – they needed to push ahead immediately, and do so convincingly. The fast moving Prosecutors, Knight-Azyros and Gryph-hound leapt past the Chaos Warriors before they had managed to form a solid line and were off the battlefield, racing to surround the Gates of Dawn. The Stormcasts were halfway to a major victory but the second half was obviously going to be a lot harder.
The Retributors could not afford to get pinned down by the few remaining Chaos Warriors they were engaged with so, leaving them to the Lord-Castellant, they fled from combat, trying to get as close to the Gates of Dawn as possible.
On the other side of the battlefield, the Blightkings engaged with the Liberators also fled from combat to try to stop the Stormcast breakthrough. The Liberators did not have time to breathe a sigh of relief before the second Blightkings unit smashed into their rear and wiped them out in a single round of combat.
The last fully intact unit of Chaos Warriors knew they had a lot of work to and strung themselves out in a very thin line, before charging both the Judicators and Retributors.
One of the Judicators was wounded in this assault but the Retributors, in cover (with a 3+ save!), were not hurt at all. Four Chaos Warriors paid the price for this ragged attack.
The Lord-Castellant, meanwhile, dealt with the last Chaos Warrior behind the Stormcast line in a duel that will surely become legend!
Battle Round Five
Nurgle’s Rot continued to plague the battlefield, and this time it caught the Lord-Castellant, leaving him on a single wound (Nurgle was obviously displeased that he had killed a favoured servant the round before). The Chaos Warriors saw they were outmatched and retreated to reform their line (just far enough to stop the Judicators running to victory…). Meanwhile, the Blightkings had finally slogged their way across the entire battlefield and were close enough to join the fight, this time charging the Retributors. The fight was short but savage, with two men falling on each side.
For their part, the Judicators downed a Chaos Warriors with their Skybows but failed to kill any on the charge, while the Blightkings turned their attention to the wounded Lord-Castellant, knocking him to the ground.
Battle Round Six
Despite feeling guilty for leaving the Judicators to their fate, the Retributors bypassed the now much reduced line of Chaos Warriors and headed towards the Gates of Dawn. With just three models left in their unit, this gave the Stormcasts a minor victory. The Gates of Dawn were theirs, but the cost had been high.
Another battle that went down to the wire – we are getting good at this!
I think both sides made the best of what they had. The Stormcasts had some setbacks with the Liberators getting mired in battle and one unit of Prosecutors getting wiped out, but the Rotbringers had to contend with their heavy units (the Blightkings) being on the wrong flank. They managed to reposition themselves later in the battle but, by that time, the Stormcasts were not interested in a fair fight, and managed to get just enough of their models off the table to claim a minor victory.
The Harbinger of Decay is deceptively hard and though it looks like he went down quickly, you have to consider most things do when Retributors make an appearance! If the Rotbringers had had time to properly organise their forces, the Harbinger would have had a much more powerful effect, but the Breakthrough Battleplan does not give time to either force – you have to take what you are given a just go for it!
Overall, this is a nice, simple battle that, by its nature, leads to fast and furious game play.
The Story Continues…
Though Lord-Celestant Gardus had been fairly battered in his fight with the Chaos Warriors, he managed to pull himself out of the muck and help the Stormcasts take the Gates of Dawn – another Realmgate is added to Sigmar’s network, and the war against Chaos can continue!
However, the Gates of Dawn have started making some very funny noises, and it looks like something is about to step through…
We have just three battles to go and then we will have completed everything in the first Age of Sigmar hardback! Which one is next depends very much on me painting up a Verminlord – if I manage it this week, we will be going back to the Gates of Dawn for a very high-powered battle. If not we will be taking a trip to the Realm of Metal and seeing what the Stormcasts have been getting up to there.