A new year and a new set of campaign battles to play through for Age of Sigmar! We were a little slow getting started on this as, instead of painting up the Beastmen we needed for the first battle, I got a little distracted by Seraphon. Still, everything is ready now and we are ready to embark on the Quest for Ghal-Maraz hardback!
We are going to be kicking off with the fight for the Realm of Life, before returning to the Realm of Metal and trying to get Sigmar his hammer back…
The Story So Far
When we left the Realm of Life before Christmas, the Stormcasts had won… sort of.
The Gates of Dawn, a strategically important Realmgate, had been captured but it turned out to have been utterly corrupted by Nurgle. A pitched battle outside the gate saw it destroyed by the Stormcasts but only at the cost of Lord-Celestant Gardus who leapt into the gate, the Great Unclean One Bolathrax hot on his heels.
Still, even after having lost a great hero, Sigmar’s soldiers still had work to do, namely locate Alarielle, Lady of Life, and bring her into an alliance against Chaos. And they still did not know where she was hiding.
Nurgle’s forces had not been idle either. Gutrot Spume and his Blightkings had moved into the area and commandeered the forces of Beastlord Gluhak, also known as the Crusted Blade, who had guardianship of an ancient artefact called the Dirgehorn. Gluhak had deployed his forces at the Hag Tree on Profane Tor, and the blasts of the Dirgehorn were now rolling over the Realm of Life, sowing discord and bleakness wherever it was heard. Such was the power of this artefact, all nearby Sylvaneth were crippled in agony and even Stormcasts were doing everything they could to get away from horn.
Before the Stormcasts could proceed in their search for Alarielle, the Dirgehorn would have to be silenced…
The Stormcasts will be facing a brand new force for us this time, the Beastmen! We are going to be using the normal Time of War sheet for the Realm of Life, but the Beastmen themselves have limited access to the good stuff – they may worship Grandfather Nurgle but they do not get all the nice benefits. Gutrot Spume, of course, is favoured of Nurgle and gets all the goodies (can summon daemons, be saved by Nurgle if he should fall to an enemy, and so on).
Beastmen of the Crusted Blade
Blightkings x 10
Wargor with Standard
Bray Shamans x 2
Ungors x 28 (eighteen with spears, ten with shields)
Gors x 40 (three units, some with two weapons, others with shields)
Bestigors x 10 (with Great Axes)
Minotaurs x 6 (with Great Axes)
Chaos Warhounds x 10
A nice, fluffy force for Beastmen with nothing immensely special, but the Bestigors and Minotaurs ensure they have it where it counts – those two units are capable of dishing out a lot of damage. We don’t have any monster models for the Bray Shaman to summon (maybe next time, I have just won a Jabberslythe on eBay!), so they will be supporting their herds with arcane bolts and mystic shields. However, Gutrot Spume and his Blightkings provide some seriously heavy crunch.
Liberators x 20 (four units of 5)
Retributors x 10 (two units of 5)
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)
Prosecutors x 9 (three units of 3)
The Stormcasts also have a nice, solid force, with nothing too awesome. The Prosecutors, led by the Knight-Azyros, should be able to lead the Ungors a merry dance, while the Retributors… well, the Retributors are always good if they can get to where they are needed, and they’ll be making a beeline for the Dirgehorn. They’ll just need to avoid the attentions of the Minotaurs.
For this battle, players alternate units on deployment, leading to a sort of cat-and-mouse strategy. In the end though, the Beastman line looked fairly daunting, stretching from one side of the battlefield to the other. The Stormcasts looked… well, outnumbered! However, the Retributors and Liberators were near the centre, hoping to break through, while the Prosecutors took station on the flanks, looking to slip past any weak units.
Battle Round One
The Stormcasts halted their initial advance, allowing the Beastmen to come to them. However, under the watchful eyes (and lash) of Gutrot Spume, they refused to budge, holding the line. The Bray-Shamans muttered curses and boons under their breaths, but the rest of the Beastmen waited patiently for the Stormcasts to make their move.
Sensing the right moment to attack was upon them, the Stormcasts advanced across their entire line, while the Judicators and Prosecutors pelted key targets with missile fire. The cheers of the Judicators could be heard across the forest when their arrows brought down a Minotaur, while the Chaos Warhounds suffered badly from the tridents and hammers of the Prosecutors.
Battle Round Two
The Stormcasts’ swift advanced left the Beastmen on the backfoot, and they were slow to react to the assault. The Prosecutors managed to slay a Blightking with a trident, while the Judicators brought down yet another Minotaur.
The Knight-Azyros swept forward, sensing his Prosecutors might become vulnerable to a sudden rush from the nearby Chaos Warhounds and Ungors.
Then, with a harsh cry from Gutrot Spume, the Chaos line surged forward to meet Sigmar’s warriors.
The Chaos Warhounds charged the Knight-Azyros, wounding him slightly but the bigger clash was in the centre as two herds of Gors and a group of Minotaurs smashed into the Liberator line. The Liberators managed to slay one Gor before they were trampled under foot, the Liberator-Prime deciding his best option was retreat. Unfortunately, this left the Judicators, Lord-Castellant and Lord-Relictor wide open.
On the right flank, the Blightkings could not motivate themselves to charge the approaching Retributors, though their noxious gasses did force the Bestigors to take the long way around a wood to reach the Stormcasts.
Despite the battle developing quickly, the leaders of the Beastman horde stayed close to the Dirgehorn, watching for their own turn to strike while lesser beasts died first.
Battle Round Three
On the right flank, both units of Retributors, joined by Liberators, charged into the Blightkings, hoping to knock this strong unit out quickly before the Bestigors could make it into combat.
The two heavyweights, Retributors and Blightkings, faced off against one another, with casualties on both sides but both lines held form.
However, the battle was rapidly splitting up into a series of running battles across the forest. The Retributors continued to fight on the right flank, Prosecutors were pushing through on the left, while the Stormcast leadership and a unit of Judicators were doing their best to hold the centre. The Lord-Relictor called upon Sigmar’s power to deliver a lightning bolt to the Minotaurs and while none were slain, crackling lightning started to distract them from the business of fighting.
The Lord-Castellant’s Gryph-hound saw an opportunity and left his master, bounding past the Beastman line to directly threaten the Bray-Shamans and the Dirgehorn. The faithful mutt would have difficulty against the guardians of the Dirgehorn, but it would certainly give them something to think about!
On the far left, the Judicators managed to down the last Minotaur on the flank, giving the Prosecutors an almost clear run to the Dirgehorn. They in turn charged the Ungors before them, and ran the Beastmen down while the Knight-Azyros calmly dispatched the last of the Chaos Warhounds.
The Minotaurs in the centre decided they might like to run down the Gryph-hound but were quickly distracted by the nearby Liberators helping out the Retributors. Fortunately for the Stormcasts, the Lord-Relictor’s lightning was still playing about the Minotaur’s horns, and they failed to land a single solid blow on hound or Liberator alike!
However, this distraction was all the Bestigors needed and, led by the Beastlord, they rounded a thick set of woods and charged into the back of the Retributors.
Sigmar’s elite warriors proved to be well-trained. Sensing the Bestigor ambush, they turned round and unleashed savage blasts of lightning from their hammers, leaving only the Beastlord standing (there were a lot of 6s in that roll!). Despite this, Gutrot Spume had now entered this clash and the Retributors were under serious pressure.
Battle Round Four
By now, the battlefield was looking a lot emptier than it had at the start of the fight!
A flight of Prosecutors fled from a group of Gors who had managed to charge them, using their wings to gain distance and move much closer to the Dirgehorn – the tartget was in sight! The Knight-Azyros charged the Gors in an effort to give his Prosecutors enough room to manoeuvre.
In the centre, both sides were starting to feel the strain as the last Judicator there fell, leaving just the Lord-Relictor and the Lord-Castellant facing the remaining Gors.
Then tragedy struck – the Blightkings and Beastlord finally managed to bring down the last of the Retributors, leaving the entire right flank free and open. The Minotaurs stomped back to the centre, charging the Lord-Castellant and the few Prosecutors who had escaped the carnage on the right.
The Gryph-hound raced forward to tear the throat out of one of the Bray=Shaman but was torn apart by a nasty blast from the Dirgehorn.
Battle Round Five
With both sides rapidly weakening, the Bray-Shaman summoned their worst magicks and unleashed a hail of Arcane Bolts upon the Prosecutors closing in on them.
This was the last straw for the Stormcasts and, seeing they could not reach the Dirgehorn, were forced to retreat in ignominy.
A Major Victory for the forces of Chaos!
Well, this was our first try with the Beastmen – and they certainly have it where it counts. The Ungors were predictably weak, and best used as speed bumps when not present in number (a unit of 30 or 40 could be interesting). The Gors were solid, though we never got to find out how nasty the Bestigors were after the Retributors gave them a good smacking – eight Bestigors charged in (the other two falling to Nurgle’s Rot whioch, as they do not have the Nurgle keyword, actually affects them too!), and the Retributors rolled four 6s on their attack, dishing out eight mortal wounds before the Beastmen could get going. Nicely done, but it meant those attacks did not go onto the Blightkings which, a turn later, gave Chaos that entire flank.
As for Minotaurs… yeah, you don’t want to mess with them!
At the end of the day, both sides ground each other into the dust, but the Stormcasts needed to reach the Dirgehorn and they were just robbed of momentum. They could have called upon Sigmar to send more reinforcements, but it would not have done any good from turn three onwards (no sense on calling for them any earlier, as you may well get nothing).
Still, this was a good, stand up fight, and a brilliant start to this year’s campaign!
The Story Continues…
Though the Dirgehorn is still active, the Stormcasts cannot dally as they must find Alarielle as soon as they can or the entire War of Life may be lost. So, Sigmar’s warriors push on further into the Jade Kingdoms, leaving the Beastmen to rule this region.
This will not make the Sylvaneth happy, as they have a simple choice now – suffer in agony, or leave their home.
We can only hope that a certain Verminlord does not take advantage of their pitiful situation…