This weekend I took another trip up to GW HQ in Nottingham for another event, this time Throne of Skulls: Rotwater Blight, for Age of Sigmar once again.
Short Version: I would rate this as the best event for Age of Sigmar thus far. The people there were all great gamers and GW are really hitting their stride with Sigmar events.
For the long version, grab a coffee and settle in for a little read…
We have (finally) managed to figure out how long it takes to drive to Nottingham, and arrived just a few minutes before they opened the doors to Warhammer World. Myself and the gentleman I had travelled with (James, the opponent you read about in our ongoing Age of Sigmar campaigns) were the first to register. For the first time at a Sigmar event, instead of a couple of loose sheets explaining what was going on during the weekend, we had a proper printed pack.
The basic premise of the weekend was that the Rotwater Blight Time of War sheet would be used throughout, with a variety of scenarios drawn from the two campaign hardbacks. Now, anyone familiar with the Time of War sheet will know that hordes of Dryads can potentially appear – assuming that no one would bring that many, GW instead changed the rule to bring on Blighted Treelords, whose models they provided (there were a lot of Treelords in that cabinet!).
While most of us dove straight into the first game, we did have the option of breakfast at Bugman’s Bar.
And at the front of the stage, a reminder of what we were playing for – the frankly massive Throne of Skulls trophy.
There were a number of awards being given out over the weekend for painting (which I always disregard, people with actual talent always show up), which are all done on a player vote basis – so, it is not GW who decide who the winners will be, but the players taking part. The same applies to the Throne of Skulls trophy – at the end of the weekend, players vote for their favourite opponents, and he who gains the most votes wins the event. So, winning at all costs is out – your gaming score is only taken into account in the event of a tie on votes.
The first game was the Hold Or Die Battleplan, where one small force starts on the table and is mobbed by the enemy, until the rest of their forces finally show up. I had brought my new Seraphon force, primarily because it had the most models that I thought would be resilient to breakage! You will note I did not bring any Terradon riders, specifically because I guessed their flying bases would not survive the weekend!
I was paired up with a young chap called Johnny. I really don’t do kids at all, but I would guess he was perhaps 11 or 12 – however, at no point did I think this would be an easy win…
You see, about 20-odd years ago, I was playing at a 40k team tournament, again at Warhammer World. In my first match, I was paired up against a 12 year old, and I smugly turned round to my team mates and informed them that I had this one ‘in the bag’. Yeah, you guessed it – the kid handed my rear end to me. I should have guessed what was going on, because as I was moving and attacking with units, I was explaining exactly what they did and why… and the kid was finishing my sentences off for me. He did not need any help – he knew the rules inside out, and I really should have twigged; he was exactly like I was when I was 12!
So, I always give maximum respect to young players, and Johnny was no exception – he knew most of the stats of his Bloodbound off by heart.
We rolled off for positions, and it was decided I would be the ambushee, so I set up a Sunblood, some Skinks, Kroxigors and a Bastiladon in a hilltop outpost and awaited the coming hordes. He had a unit of 30-odd Bloodletters and when they rush in with extra attacks doing mortal wounds on a 5+, they hurt!
This was a fun game, with the Bloodletters being very wary of the Bastiladon’s solar engine, and in the end being deployed against my reinforcements who came onto the table behind the two Skull Cannon that had been deployed to bombard the outpost. Valkia the Bloody led an assault on the oupost and wiped out the Skinks and the Sunblood just by blinking at them, but she finally fell to the massive hammers of the Kroxigors.
The game ended with a toe-to-toe fight between the Bastiladon and the Khorne Warshrine, a deadlock that was finally broken by the Kroxigors. The Seraphon had been utterly savaged with just a handful of them left alive, but no Khorne worshippers had survived the encounter. A major victory for the Seraphon!
The next battle was going to be a hard one, I knew, as it was The Ritual and I was the attacker – always a big ask. I was facing a combined Stormcast and Sylvaneth force (run by a very friendly bloke called Rupert) who were trying to enact a ritual at one end of the table. My Seraphon would have to slog it across the battlefield and get their general into contact with the ritual’s focus, and then destroy it before the ritual was completed.
As I said, a big ask.
Not many of the enemy force started on the table – the Sylvaneth were hiding in the trees while the Stormcast were preparing to arrive by lightning bolt. In the first turn, pretty much an entire army arrived on my back line. I took one look at it and thought ‘nope’. Leaving just my Carnosaur and Bastiladon to hold them up, the rest of my army sprinted forward, my Slann Starmaster trying to egg his chair on as quickly as it could go!
The battle consisted mainly of a series of running skirmishes on my back line, until my main unit of Saurus Warriors (35 of them!) crashed into the Stormcasts defending their shrine. The Seraphon had the distinct advantage on this part of the battlefield, but the ritual progressed too quickly and, in the end, the lizards just ran out of time.
So, this one was a loss for the Seraphon, but I thought they had given it their best. I also saw the comedy of ten Skinks (possibly the most useless unit in the game!) trying to defend the Slann Starmaster from a bunch of Prosecutors and Dryads, realising that they formed no barrier as their enemies could literally reach over them to strike the Slann!
The final game for Saturday was Breakthrough, a Battleplan I know well and like. I was to be the defender, trying to stop a wave of Nurgle daemons from leaving my table edge. This chap was called James (a different James to the one I had travelled up with) and, again, was a Proper Chap – up to now, every player I had faced had been first class and I was beginning to feel everyone at this event was just there to enjoy themselves, win or lose, which is not always the case in a tournament!
Deployment was random for my force, and a series of weird dice rolls left my centre completely uncovered. On the left, the Kroxigors and Blightkings pretty much took each other apart (just one wounded Kroxigor walked away from that fight), while the Oldblood on the Carnosaur munched his way through a unit of Plaguebearers before getting mired for pretty much the entire battle by a group of Nurglings.
The main Nurgle attack was on the right, where Plaguebearers advanced alongside a Giant Chaos Spawn and Great Unclean One, with just my Saurus Warrior line and Bastiladon to hold them. The Saurus Warriors held at first, but summoned Plaguebearer reinforcements began to wear them down and when the Great Unclean One waded it, it looked like the battle was lost.
However, the Bastiladon charged up its solar engine (which loves to be fired at Chaos Daemons!) and pretty much nuked it, leaving the greater daemnon in just one wound. James gave a sigh of relief (Great Unclean Ones are tough to kill because they automatically regain wounds every turn) until he saw a Skink crewman on the back of the Bastiladon heft a javelin. The throw was true, and the Great Unclean One finally went down (to a Skink!).
Without the possibility of more reinforcements, the Nurgle force started to wilt after that and despite a valiant push to the table edge by one large unit of Plaguebearers, attrition finally took its toll. Another major victory to the Seraphon, and a good end to the first day!
After breakfast at the Farmhouse (a restaurant next to the Travelodge we were staying at), it was back to GW HQ and the final two games of the event. My first match was against a force of Orcs, and army I had yet to mess around with in Age of Sigmar, so I was looking forward to this battle.
This Battleplan was Kill the Beast, where one player has a monster that must, well, be killed, and the other player is trying to do the killing. My opponent (apologies, I forget his name, but he was a great sport) nominated me to be the beastmaster, so I chose my Bastiladon to be the creature he was hunting. I duly deployed my Saurus Warriors in a ring around it, though right from the start I had my doubts about their ability to fend off even basic Orcs, let alone Black Orcs.
There was an additional problem in that there was a ‘sky’ table in this battle where flying creatures would duel and having control of the sky was part of the victory conditions. The trouble here was that the Orcs had a Warboss on a Wyvern, whereas I had… a Skink Priest in a feathered cloak. A fair match up that was not!
As things went, the law of averages suddenly swung in my favour. My Bastiladon had been rolling fairly low throughout the event for its solar engine (it gets 2D6 attacks every time, and I had only once rolled more than 7), but in this battle it could do no wrong! When the Wyvern landed on the battlefield to deal with my Carnosaur, the Bastiladon completely immolated it with a single blast (thus giving my Skink Priest control of the skies!), then toasted a bunch of Trolls. With the Carnosaur munching its way through Orc Boyz and the Chameleon Skinks taking care of the Doom Divers and Rock Lobber on his base line, the battle seemed to be going well.
And then the Black Orcs hit my line.
Between them and Grimgor, my Carnosaur had already been torn apart, and they ripped apart the Saurus Warrior line in a single turn. I had already seen what was coming and both my Bastiladon and Slann Starmaster were trying to get away from the oncoming horde (the latter desperately trying to summon more Kroxigors and Saurus Warriors as he floated) but neither are particularly fast.
The battle ended with the Black Orcs hammering away at the shell of the Bastiladon before, finally, three newly summon ed Kroxigors proved enough to whittle them down and break the deadlock.
Another major victory for the Seraphon!
Then something a bit odd happened in the event as a whole.
The GW chaps running the event had been roaming the tables, looking out for nicely painted armies. These would then be put in the cabinets between games on the Sunday and all the players would vote for their favourite – basically, the nicest painted army, as decided by the players themselves, would win the Best Army trophy. Above was Rupert’s combined Stormcast and Sylvaneth force that I had faced during The Ritual.
A very nicely painted army of Seraphon by a chap called Dan. Note the use of older metal models.
A potent Bloodbound force by Sam.
A pure Sylvaneth force by Steve Foote, who went on to win the Best Army trophy along with the award for Best Monster (his converted Forest Dragon at the back was seriously impressive, and he got my vote).
The odd thing was this…
I only had my blinking Seraphon nominated!
Now, I was never in the running (as I said before, people with proper talent turn up to these events!) but, honestly, if a painting lackwit like me can get an army in those cabinets then, really, anyone can!
Anyway, having my Seraphon in there was nice, and I got a certificate out of it at the end of the event!
The final battle was against a Dark Elf army run by a young chap called Josh – I had seen his army across the tables earlier in the day and James had already played him and said he was a good egg. So, I was looking forward to this one.
The Battleplan was War of Storms, one I have played twice at these events but never won, so my hopes weren’t high. Basically, you have a line running between the two armies which shifts back and forth during the battle due to chance, prayers from Priests and wounding or killing the enemy general.
I was very lucky in my rolls for this (aided by the fact that I had priests and Josh did not), and a solid hit by the Bastiladon forced the Dark Elf general to retreat right to his backfield early on. My Saurus Warriors got munched by his Black Guard, while the Hydra and Bastiladon more or less neutralised one another for the entire battle – he could not crack the Bastiladon’s armour, while I could not do enough damage to beat his regeneration!
However, the ‘storm front’ eventually rolled over the Dark Elf’s table edge, giving the Seraphon their fourth major victory of the weekend!
With all games done, and with a group of tired but happy gamers, the event came to a close. I had really enjoyed the games I had played, and would happily welcome any of the players I was matched against into my regular group. Guys, if you are ever near Swindon, give me a shout!
All that was left was the award ceremony, where I picked up my nomination certificate, and Steve Foote picked up his Best Army trophy. Then there was, finally, the Throne of Skulls trophy. And, umm, I won it…
Could not quite believe it when they called out my name, but there you go!
To be fair, two other chaps received as many votes as I did (including Steve, the gentleman who won Best Army). I only clinched it because of the Battle Points earned during the games (41 points out of a possible 50).
So, that was… odd!
Anyway, I really enjoyed this weekend and we are currently debating whether to go to the next couple – a doubles event in February and then a strongly scenario-led one in March…