Well, the Seraphon well and truly arrived in the last battle! As it turns out, they have not finished messing around with the plans of the Chaos gods, and this week they are turning their attentions to the combined machinations of the Great Horned Rat and Nurgle within the Realm of Life.
The Story So Far
The Slann Starmaster Zectoka (the same Slann who mucked up the Bloodbound in the last battle) turned his attention to the Runnel Pits within the Scar Citadel, deep in Clan Pestilens territory within the Forest of Claws. The Skaven had been using the Runnel Pits to make their unholy offerings of disease to the Great Horned Rat. The citadel was once the nexus of a great power but though it was a ruin now, the Seraphon knew how to unlock it.
The Seraphon attack came as a complete surprise to the Pestilens Skaven, but their numbers were uncountable and, slowly, they began to rally. Nurgle also sent his aid, and plague daemons began to pull themselves out of the Runnel Pits to stall the Seraphon’s advance before it purged the citadel of all filth.
This is more of a ‘stand up’ fight than the battle last week, with the forces more evenly matched. However, both sides can summon reinforcements, and Nurgle daemons can continuously emerge from the Runnel Pits – at least, until the Seraphon can close them down.
Clan Pestilens and Nurgle Daemons
Plaguebearers x 16 (two units of 8)
Plague Censer Bearers x 5
Plague Monks x 40 (two units of 20)
Nurgle daemons are notoriously hard to kill and, in this battle, can be constantly recycled. The Pestilens Skaven are really just the icing on the cake, though the Plagueclaw Catapult could seriously alter the outcome of some clashes. These are also just starting forces, and there are a fair few Nurgle daemons just itching to climb out of the Runnel Pits!
Slann Starmaster Zectoka
Oldblood on Carnosaur
Saurus Astrolith Bearer
Saurus Guard x 15
Saurus Warriors x 30 (one unit of 20, one unit of 10)
Skinks (one unit of 20, one unit of 10)
Terradons x 3
The Seraphon have a good solid force here though, on the face of it, a little weak compared to their combined enemies. However, they do have some tricks up their sleeves, beyond the constant summoning the Slann can perform. They have two monsters (the Carnosaur and Stegadon) on their side, whereas the Nurgle forces have none, and they start with their full force on the battlefield while the Pestilens Skaven have to summon most of their Nurgle allies.
Starmaster Zectoka won a triumph in his last battle (against the Bloodbound), and has bestowed the Breath of Elemental Fire to the Oldblood on the Carnosaur – a nasty little weapon against the enemies of the Seraphon but as it deals mortal wounds to its bearer, it might well prove fatal…
A unit of Plague Monks were deployed as far forward as possible, pushing at least part of the Seraphon line backwards. In response, the Seraphon placed their most durable unit in the centre (the Saurus Guard, backed up by the Starmaster and Eternity Warden), with Saurus Warriors and Skinks on the flanks. The Oldblood on Carnosaur, Stegadon and Terradons were dotted in-between.
For their part, the Pestilens seemed ready to cede two of the Runnel Pits to the Seraphon and deployed defensively against the others. The Censer Bearers and Plague Priest took up position on and around the Numinous Occulum (which the Seraphon would be able to harness if they could get close), and Plaguebearers had already started to pour out of two pits.
High above the battlefield, the stars showed the constellation of the Sage’s Staff to be ascendant, which would grant the Slann Starmaster a bonus to his casting.
Battle Round One
Seeing their enemy approaching, the Pestilens Skaven could not help but throw themselves forward in a fanatical charge. Behind them, the Plague Priest directed his powers to the Runnel Pits, and was rewarded as more Plaguebearers and a veritable horde of Plague Drones poured forth.
As the Plague Monks raced to engage the Seraphon, the Plagueclaw hurled its filth high above their heads to land squarely among the largest unit of Saurus Warriors, killing half their number instantly. One unit of Plague Drones buzzed around the Stegadon, losing one of their number while inflicting infected wounds on the beast, and Plaguebearers met the largest unit of Skinks head on, though neither side seemed willing to fight (only one loss for each side).
The Plague Monks were a little bit more ambitious. One unit crashed into the Saurus Guard, which was akin to running into a brick wall. Three Saurus Guard burst into starlight and disappeared but the Plague Monks themselves were completely wiped out.
Their fellow monks, however, had sighted an even greater target, and threw themselves at the Oldblood on his Carnosaur.
The Carnosaur suffered some horrendous wounds from the weapons of the Plague Monks and later from the infections they caused, but the combination of the Oldblood’s elemental breath, plus his spear, plus the Carnosaur itself, tore the Plague Monks apart. The few that survived ran quickly for their warrens.
Seeing the battle unfold as he had foreseen, the Starmaster Zectoka hurled an Arcane Bolt at a nearby Plague Drone and summoned more Saurus Guard to plug the hole in his own personal defences. He ordered the advance of his Seraphion but noted the Stegadon was already getting bogged down by the Plague Drones.
The Saurus Warrior units charged two of the Runnel Pits, while the Saurus Guard and Carnosaur charged another. Their attacks were spirited and caused some damage, but it quickly became apparent that the Runnel Pits would require a concerted effort to destroy – and there were five of them in total.
The large unit of Skinks decided they did not really want to tangle with the Plaguebearers, and flowed past the daemons like water (this is a really fun ability of the Skinks, being able to leave combat instead of actually fighting).
Battle Round Two
Daemons started erupting everywhere across the battlefield, led by a Herald of Nurgle as they clambered out of the pits. The Plague Priest unleashed his pestilent breath upon the Carnosaur, weakening it greatly, while the Plagueclaw once again hurled filth at the Saurus Warriors. This time, however, not enough had been loaded into the catapult and it failed to cause any damage.
A new unit of Plague Drones buzzed towards the Carnosaur and hurled their diseased skulls at it, leaving the huge dinosaur limping. However, these attacks had distracted them too much, and they were unable to finish the beast off with a charge.
Meanwhile, the Skinks who had slipped past the Plaguebearers were somewhat dismayed to see another unit of the daemons climb out of the pit in front of them – they were now trapped between two units of Plaguebearers!
However, the Skinks proved slippery as always, and managed to race past both groups of Plaguebearers!
The Plague Censer Bearers charged into the Saurus Guard who reached the Runnel Pit in the centre of the battlefield. A single Saurus Guard turned to hold them off while the rest, with the Carnosaur, hammered the Runnel Pit, causing it to creak and start to fall in upon itself.
Starmaster Zectoka raised his eyes to the heavens and attempted to change the constellations above, but became distracted by the great complexities of the cosmos – the Seraphon would have no spell support until he recovered from his contemplations.
However, the Terradon riders took up the slack and, diving down, dropped their rock payload on the heads of the Censer Bearers, killing the last of them. Freed from distraction, the Saurus Guard kicked the last supports away from the central Runnel Pit and collapsed it – the first pit to be destroyed!
Battle Round Three
Starmaster Zectoka finally solved the riddle of the cosmos, and the stars above the battlefield rotated over the heads of all, until the constellation of the Great Drake appeared. Satisfied, the Slann turned his attention back to the Skaven and daemons (the Great Drake allows all Seraphon to re-roll hit rolls of 1), and summoned more Saurus Guard to replace the losses they had suffered thus far.
As badly wounded as his mount was, the Oldblood forced his Carnosaur forward through a gap that had appeared in the enemy lines, and charged the Plague Priest who, standing on the Numinous Occulum, was at just the right height for the Oldblood’s lance!
As it turned out, the Plague Priest had positioned himself just a little too perfectly, and he was instantly spitted by the Oldblood.
With the enemy general dead, Starmaster Zectoka felt confident enough to move up, his ever-watchful Saurus bodyguard keeping an eye out for threats. However, the Herald of Nurgle launched an opportunistic attack on the Slann, which may have put the Seraphon attack in jeopardy had not the Eternity Warden placed himself between the Starmaster and Herald.
The Runnel Pits seemed to be running dry, but they still produced another unit of Plague Drones, as the Plagueclaw lined up on the Slann Starmaster himself. Luckily for Zectoka, the catapult missed.
Plague Drones took advantage of the Slann getting bogged down by the Herald, and moved in to engage both him and the Eternity Warden. Once again, the Warden was all that stood between the Slann and death, but the big Seraphon was now seriously wounded and close to death.
The Saurus Guard had now become split across the battlefield, with one unit now aiding Saurus Warriros to break another Runnel Pit as they were assaulted by Nurglings and Plaguebearers.
The small unit of Skinks, who had managed to reach the furthest most pit on the Pestilens back line were finally cornered and wiped out by Nurglings and Plague Drones, but their comrades on the other flank managed to evade Plaguebearers yet again, and had even caused some small damage to the Plagueclaw.
Meanwhile, a vicious fight to the death had erupted in front of the Numinous Occulum as the daemons of Nurgle saw their chance to bring the leader of the Seraphon down.
The Herald of Nurgle was blasted apart by the Slann’s azure lightning, while the Oldblood turned his Carnosaur around and ripped a Plague Drone in two. However, the Eternity Warden paid the price and was finally destroyed, leaving Starmaster Zectoka vulnerable.
The Slann started taking wounds, and his continued survival began to look doubtful.
Battle Round Four
Another Herald of Nurgle clawed its way out of a pit as the Plague Drones continued to hammer at the Starmaster’s defences. Meanwhile, Plaguebearers rushed forward to save another pit from collapsing under the constant battering from Saurus Warriors but they did not factor the Terradon Riders into their plans, who destroyed the last supports in the pit, causing it to cave in on itself.
Two pits down, just another three to go!
The Stegadon finally crushed the last of the Plague Drones that had engaged it right at the start of the battles and, badly wounded, it lumbered towards the nearest unit of Plaguebearers.
However, moments of greater import were taking place. Starmaster Zectoka found he could harness the power of the Numinous Occulum and he used the ancient force to unleash three brilliant beams of pure energy that struck all three of the remaining Runnel Pits, destroying one immediately.
All too aware of the danger he was in, the Slann then summoned the Eternity Warden back to life on the other side of the Numinous Occulum and threw a Mystic Shield over himself while the Skink Starpriest caused the light of the heavens to shine upon his master (making the Slann harder to hit).
Battle Round Five
Once again, Starmaster Zectoka called upon the power of the Numinous Occulum but it seemed as though the ancient force was all but expended, and only one Runnel Pit was struck by its beams. However, that was enough to collapse it utterly.
Only one pit was left now and as the Slann moved to oversee its destruction, he hurled an Arcane Bolt at the Plagueclaw, causing it to shudder violently before the Eternity Warden rushed in to smash it to splinters.
By now every available Seraphon in this part of the battlefield was hammering away at the last pit, but it was the Saurus Guard who claimed the honours – the last pit collapsed into its own filth, leaving the Pestilens pining for their potent place of power.
The forces of Chaos had been set back, for at least a time.
This battle was, as they say, ‘solid’ with a great deal happening pretty much every turn. The daemons of Nurgle proved as resilient as always, forcing the Seraphon to either bypass them or risk getting bogged down, while the Pestilens Skaven were… aggressive. The Plague Monks and Censer Bearers are the archetypal glass hammers, their lack of armour meaning they can get swept away in droves, but by Sigmar, they hit hard! Just one round of combat with Plague Monks left the Carnosaur all but crippled.
Mind you, fair play to the Oldblood on its back. Despite spending most of the battle on a single wound, he still managed to charge forward to lance the Plague Priest in a really iconic confrontation!
In the end, it was probably the Slann Starmaster getting close enough to the Numinous Occulum to unleash its power that won this battle for the Seraphon. Those beams did the pits a great deal of damage and while the Seraphon had managed to collapse a couple on their own, it was tough work and I am not sure they could have done all five without help.
However, this meant the Starmaster had to expose himself to the enemy and pretty much get right to their back line, which is not really a favoured place for a big frog. It was only with a fair bit of luck (and a really battered Eternity Warden) that he managed to survive at all, but it could so easily have gone very differently for the Seraphon.
The Story Continues…
I think we have made it clear that the Seraphon have well and truly arrived within the Mortal Realms. Now it is time to return to the main storyline in the Quest for Ghal Maraz. The Stormcasts briefly located Sigmar’s hammer in an earlier battle but the forces of Tzeentch have already spirited it away, hiding it somewhere else within Chamon, the Realm of Metal. Sigmar’s boys have an idea of where to start looking, but must make their way through a ruined and haunted city first…