So, the search for the Eldritch Fortress and the hammer Ghal Maraz continues. The Bleak Horde have been kicked out of the ruined city of Elixia, but the Stormcasts are really no closer to their goal and have to move on. However, they now have some help…
The Story So Far
After the battle in Elixia, the Stormcasts managed to placate Celemnis, the Silver Maiden turned Banshee, and for eight days she stayed with them, leading their army out of the ruined city to the Argent Falls, a massive waterfall that ran with liquid silver, dropping down from the Great Crucible, a massive floating island/country/continent in the sky of Chamon. Here, they found a shattered hamlet, in the centre of which was a Dragonfate Dais.
Celemnis pointed at the dais meaningfully, then disappeared, leaving the Stormcasts to stand around scratching their heads, figuring out what they should do next.
Unfortunately for them, their progress had been monitored, and the daemonic Lord of Change Kairos Fateweaver saw that Sigmar’s soldiers were getting a bit too close to his ultimate plans for Ghal Maraz. The greater daemon therefore made a deal with a Skaven Warlord who had a reasonable force at his disposal but was a little down on his luck. If the Warlord stopped the Stormcasts, Kairos would make him leader of all Skaven in the territory.
So, as the Stormcasts started to investigate the dais, they noted that rips in reality were opening up all around them, disgorging a veritable horde of rats…
This battle sees the first appearance in the Realmgate Wars campaign of the Skaven from Clans Verminus and Skryre. And, it has to be said, they are not messing about…
Stormfiends x 6 (two units of 3)
Jezzails x 5
Clanrats x 40 (two units of 20)
Stormvermin x 20
As an army, Skaven do not have a great survival rate and, all else being equal, the Clanrats and Stormvermin would be having a seriously bad time on the battlefield. However, this force has some heavy support that will likely cause the Stormcasts all sorts of nightmares. The Jezzails are long-ranged and just plain nasty and the Doomwheel is a potent war machine in and of itself, but it is likely the actions of the Stormfiends that will dictate the course of the battle…
Lord-Celestant on Dracoth (Vandus Hammerhand)
Lord-Celestant (Thostos Bladestorm)
Lord-Relictor (Ionus Cryptborn)
Retributors x 5
Decimators x 5
Liberators x 20 (four units of 5)
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)
Prosecutors x 6 (two units of 3)
The Stormcasts have pretty much the same force as in the Cursed City battle, reflecting this is pretty much the same force that has been travelling through Chamon. They have been reinforced a little, to counter some of the really nasty stuff the Skaven are fielding here!
This battle is a straight fight to the death (wiping out the enemy army), but it has some twists. Thostos Bladestrom has a touch of destiny about him, and should prove tough to kill, while the Skaven are literally appearing out of nowhere, and will very much have the initiative at the start.
The Stormcasts approached the dais warily, and turned to rapidly create a battle formation as reality split around them and the Skaven force began to appear.
The leaders of the force clustered around the Dragonfate Dais, flanked by Liberators and Judicators to form a front line. The Prosecutors, Retributors and Decimators, led by Vandus Hammerhand, kept back to form floating reserve that could move to plug any gap.
Celemnis had granted Thostos Bladestorm a Quicksilver Potion, and he downed it now, feeling his reflex increase to more than super-human levels.
Battle Round One
As the Skaven poured out of the warp-ground holes in reality, they came out fighting. A crescent Alchemist’s Moon hung above the battlefield, sharpening everyone’s senses (granting a +1 bonus to all hit rolls).
The first to appear was a Warlock Engineer. As he took up station within the Ophidian Archway, he chittered to himself as he fired up his Warp Lightning Condenser as he prepared to unleash a hideous spell at the Stormcast commanders. However, he misjudged the power needed and a small mushroom cloud rose up out of the archway as the condenser exploded, killing the Engineer immediately.
Some of the Skaven seemed reluctant to dive straight into battle, notably the Warlord himself, who hung back. However, two units of Clanrats and one unit of Stormfiends provided a healthy enemy for the Stormcasts to face.
The Stormfiends opened up at the first things they saw, their Gatling Gun killing one Judicator while the Poison Wind Mortar killed a nearby Liberator.
Meanwhile, in the centre, the Clanrats charged the line of Liberators, losing four of their number (with a fifth running for home) but at a cost of one Liberator.
Having heard tales of the Skaven and their armour-cracking weaponry, the Lord-Castellant shone his lantern upon Thostos Bladestorm (something he would do throughout the battle, paranoid as he was that the Lord-Celestant could be taken out by a single volley from Jezzails…). Across the battlefield, Liberators marched to engage the Skaven while everyone else held their ground.
On the right flank, the crossbow-armed Judicators peppered the Stormfiends for little effect, but the javelin-carrying Prosecutors behind them hurled their weapons to bring down the Stormfiend with the mortar.
Under covering fire from the Judicators within the Numinous Occulum, a unit of Liberators charged forward to hit the second unit of Clanrats. Two Liberators fall and another was forced to retreat, but the Clanrats were utterly smashed, with the few survivors racing to find cover deeper within the ruins.
The news was not so good in the centre, with the other unit of Clanrats surging forward to bring down all but one of the Liberators they faced – the Liberator-Prime now faced a veritable horde of rats by himself!
A lot of units were less than confident in this battle, with many Battleshock tests being failed. The biggest surprise came from the Stormfiends, with the Warpfire throwing rat turning and fleeing from the fight, leaving just one Stormfiend on the right flank.
Battle Round Two
The Alchemist’s Moon continued to turn in the sky, becoming half full – however, this only affected spellcasters and after the Warlock Engineer had detonated himself, there were none left on the battlefield.
However, the Skaven now arrived in force, with more Stormfiends, a Doomwheel, the Warlord and the dreaded Stormvermin turning up – in fact, only the Jezzails had not appeared.
The Doomwheel had managed to materialise in a completely unexpected quarter, right behind the Stormcast lines. However, this new wave of Skaven seemed a bit disorientated by their rapid appearance in the ruins and none were able to charge the Stormcasts.
This was of little comfort to the lone Liberator-Prime in the centre whgo was now fighting for his life as Clanrats swarmed round him. Despite being wounded, he fought on, felling two rats and convincing another to flee.
Seeing the Liberator-Prime’s plight, the Lord-Relictor called upon the power of the God-king, and a lightning bolt descended from the skies to fry three more of the Clanrats, even as the Decimators moved forward to also lend aid to the Liberator-Prime.
Meanwhile, Vandus Hammerhand coaxed his Dracoth through the ruins to counter the Doomwheel. The Dracoth breathed a bolt of lightning at it, then charged. Vandus’ hammer was on fine form, and the war machine was quickly reduced to splinters.
As the Retributors moved to counter the newly appeared Stormfiends toolled up for close combat, the Decimators started their plodding charge to bring the Stormvermin into range. Along the way, they dove into the remaining Clanrats fighting the Liberator-Prime, and finished them off, to a rat.
Battle Round Three
The Stormvermin advanced towards the Dragonfate Dais at the behest of their Warlord, though they were a little cautious about so many Stormcast commanders being concentrated in one place.
The Stormfiends had few such issues and they charged the Judicators within the Numinous Occulum, tearing one apart and forcing the others to keep their heads down in the ruin.
Not to be outdone, the remaining Stormfiend on the right flank also charged, this time targeting the other unit of Judicators.
Seeing the Judicators were completely outmatched, the Retributors advanced.
However, while their armour shrugged off the worst attacks the Stormfiends could dish out, the ruins seemed to hamper their hammers, and did little more than annoy the huge rats.
Battle Round Four
The Skaven Warlord screamed at his Storvermin to find a backbone (probably while wondering where the supporting fire from the Jezzails was, as they had still not turned up), and they charged both the Decimators and the two Liberators who had taken up defensive positions in front of Lord-Celestant Bladestorm.
The battle was short but brutal. The Decimators started to heft their axes but the Stormvermin were far too fast, and both the Paladins and the Liberators were torn apart in seconds.
Meanwhile, in the ruins of the Numinous Occulum, the Retributors managed to bring down the Warpgrinder-armed Strormfiend, but the one with the Doomflayer Gauntlets went berserk, killing every Retributor it could reach.
The Stormcasts had just lost three units in very rapid succession, and the Skaven looked to be seizing the initiative.
The battle had suddenly become about containment for the Stormcasts, as while the single remaining Stormfiend could potentially be brought down with some effort, the Stormvermin were at full strength and had just proved they could take on Stormcast elites… and win.
With this in mind, the Lord-Relictor called upon Sigmar once more and a lightning bolt blasted two Stormvermin into pieces, while the Prosecutors hurled javelins and hammers into them. A few Stormvermin fell and a few more ran, but they were still a potent threat.
However, the Judicators in the Numinous Occulum, at least, managed to finish off the last Stormfiend with their Skybolt arrows, freeing Vandus Hammerhand to engage a more worthwhile enemy.
Battle Round Five
The battlefield turned a little darker for just a moment, as the Alchemist’s Moon went through its new phase. The armour of everyone on the battlefield momentarily became stronger and glittered with magical energies.
The Skaven Warlord sniffed cautiously around the Ophidian Archway, and noted the spirits present that seemed to accept his mastery – he directed them to attack the Gryph-hound that was trying to creep around behind him. With a shriek, the spirits descended, scaring the hound to death.
Though their numbers had been whittled down, the Stormvermin knew how to stay mobile, and they flowed around the Prosecutors to attack the Judicators who had moved up to bring the rats into range of their crossbows.
They tore the wings off one Prosecutor, while the Warlord himself had spotted a vulnerable target – seeing the lone Liberator-Prime, he charged, taking the Stormcast’s head with one sweep of his halberd.
Battle Round Six
The Alchemist’s Moon continued to wax into a crescent, just as the Jezzails turned up! Setting up their weapons in ruins just across from the Dragonfate Dais, they immediately put their sights on Thostos Bladestorm, quickly wounding him.
Seeing the Skaven Warlord was now free to rampage as he wished, the Lord-Castellant descended from the dais to charge the rat.
A few blows were exchanged, and it became clear that Lord-Castellant and Skaven Warlord were both well-matched.
The Judicators in the Numinous Occulum began to put down withering fire upon the Jezzails, killing the crew of one, while the Prosecutors threw their hammers and javelins at the Warlord, felling him as he concentrated on the Lord-Castellant.
Battle Round Seven
The Jezzails were the only Skaven unit left on the battlefield, but they were dug in deep within the ruins.
The Stormcasts raced to finish them off, led by Vandus Hammerhand. However, despite hammers, javelins and arrows raining down on them, the Skaven hunkered down behind their shields and weathered the attacks and lined their weapons up on Vandus.
Their shots rang out, striking the Dracoth and sending it sprawling into the dust.
Battle Round Eight
Finally able to concentrate their firepower, the Stormcasts rained Sigmar’s own wrath down upon the ruins. When the lightning and smoke cleared, not a single Skaven was left moving…
Now that was a good fight!
This was our first time using Skaven that were not Pestilens and, well… wow!
They had their issues, to be sure – their reinforcements came in rather piecemeal (they should really have expected to see another unit or two in the first turn, which would have allowed them to put a lot more pressure on the Stormcasts), and the Jezzails may as well not have bothered – it should be noted that those Jezzails took even Vandus down in a single salvo and if they had appeared earlier, they could have wreaked havoc on the Stormcasts.
The Stormfiends had their share of bad luck (they should really never be failing a Battleshock test), but just one round of good luck with just one Stormfiend wiped out an entire unit of Retributors in the blink of an eye.
However, full kudos has to go to the Stormfiends. With a Warlord close by, they are chucking out three attacks a piece – with the unit we were using, that is a total of 60 attacks, hitting on 3+, wounding on 3+, with Rend -1 to boot (and with long halberds, they are going to get most of those attacks each round). That is enough to crush any Stormcast unit you would care to name.
The Clanrats ran but, with Bravery 4, that is just what they will do. However, while they hang around, they are solid enough and you really cannot knock them.
The Doomwheel did not distinguish itself, true enough, but that is what happens when you pop up right next to Vandus Hammerhand!
Anyway, the Stormcasts were fairly cut down to size in this battle, but managed to pull out a win. However, with a little difference in reinforcements (and perhaps a little more accuracy from the Stormfiends), this would have looked a lot different.
So, fans of all things Ratkind… you have a sweet force in Age of Sigmar!
The Story Continues…
With the Dragonfate Dais in their hands, Vandus Hammerhand was able to use his Dracoth to call upon Dracothion, the Great Drake of the stars, who told the Stormcasts they should hike on up to the floating Great Crucible where they would find the Eldritch Fortress and Ghal Maraz. However, the Tzeentch forces laying in wait knew well the Stormcasts were coming, and had prepared their defences in depth…