After a brief diversion to see what happened when the Seraphon hit the Mortal Realms, it is back onto the Quest for Ghal Maraz! We are on the home straight for this book now, just four battles to go to the end, all set in Chamon, the Realm of Metal.
The Story So Far
When we left Chamon before Christmas, the Stormcasts had discovered the hiding place of Sigmar’s own hammer, Ghal Maraz, as they assaulted the Eldritch Fortress. However, the Tzeentch sorcerer Ephryx cast a powerful spell at the end of the battle that repelled the Stormcasts. They tried to gather their forces for another assault but when they returned to the Eldritch Fortress, it had disappeared. Gone! The whole castle!
They knew the sacred hammer must be close but they had to find the Eldritch Fortress again before the powers of Tzeentch could spirit it away forever or, worse, use the power of Ghal Maraz to enact true evil (which was exactly Ephryx’s plan, as we will later see…). Lord-Relictor Cryptborn had an idea of where to start looking, but first the Stormcasts had to cross Elixia, the Shattered City.
Moving through Elixia, the Stormcasts found themselves confined by the narrow streets and bottlenecks, and it was when they were at their most vulnerable that the Bleak Horde surged from their hiding places to attack.
However, Stormcasts and Chaos Warriors were not the only presence in the Shattered City. The carnage between them summoned angry ghosts, led by the Silver Maiden – Celemnis, Swordmaiden of the Argent Sisterhood. The daughter of a Ninemage, Celemnis was a master weaponsmith who was boiled alive in a cauldron of molten silver when the forces of Chaos first invaded her city.
Would she tear apart both armies, or could she be persuaded to focus her attacks on one of them?
This is a medium-sized battle, but one fought in the streets of a ruined city. The forces are well-matched, but the Stormcasts can attempt to call upon Celemnis to aid them during the fight. Both forces need to hammer the other quickly to gain victory.
The Bleak Horde
Chaos Lord on Manticore (Maerac)
Chaos Warriors x 36 (three units of 12)
Chaos Knights x 10 (two units of 5)
There is nothing particularly outlandish in this force (that is coming later for the Tzeentch-worshippers), but every unit is extremely solid and a match for their Stormcast counterparts.
Lord-Celestant on Dracoth (Vandus Hammerhand)
Lord-Celestant (Thostos Bladestorm)
Lord-Relictor (Ionus Cryptborn)
Retributors x 10 (two units of 5)
Decimators x 5
Protectors x 5
Liberators x 5
Judicators x 5
Prosecutors x 3
The Stormcasts are outnumbered and facing a monster-riding enemy general, but they have more Heroes overall. They may also, if they act quickly, petition Celemnis to aid then against the Bleak Horde. However, if they fail, she will turn her wrath on them as much as Chaos…
The Stormcasts deployed first, pushing the Retributors and Liberators to the fore to suffer the assault of Chaos Warriors and Knights, while holding the Protectors back in reserve to lie in wait for the Manticore. The Judicators took up residence in the Ophidian Archway, while the Lord-Relictor prepared to make his run to Celemnis’ monument, but just far back enough to avoid getting entangled in the initial assault.
The Bleak Horde ringed the Stormcasts easily, with Lord Maerac on the back of his Manticore, ready to blast through the Stormcast line, supported by his legion of Knights and Warriors.
Celemnis appeared on top of her monument, curiously wondering who she would direct the spirits of the city to tear apart first…
Battle Round One
Springing their ambush, the Bleak Horde rushed in, with every unit charging the hastily formed Stormcast line.
The Decimators, right at the front of the line, suffered heavily as Lord Maerac led his Chaos Knights against them. Four Decimators were swiftly sent back to Sigmar, but not before the Starsoul Mace landed in the Manticore’s chest, wounding it.
While the Decimators were all but wiped out the rest of the Stormcast line held, even as the spirits of the city prowled the ruins, snatching a Retributor and a Chaos Knight from each force.
The Lord-Relictor found his way to Celemnis blocked, but called upon Sigmar’s aid to send a lightning bolt blasting into Lord Maerac. Meanwhile, the Judicators aimed their fire at the Chaos Knights, bringing down two of the riders.
With a cry to the God-King, the Protectors launched their trap, driving their glaives into Lord Maerac’s Manticore, killing it instantly, and finishing off the Chaos Lord in an ignominious manner.
The Lord-Castellant shone his light on a unit of Retributors who had holed themselves up in ruins as they were assaulted by a large band of Chaos Warriors, then rushed off to the opposite flank to aid the Prosecutors who had been put under pressure by more Chaos Knights. With the Lord-Castellant’s blessing, the Retributors held firm.
The spirits of the city claimed a single Chaos Warrior…
Battle Round Two
Despite the loss of Lord Maerac, the Bleak Horde fought on, with every unit fully locked in close combat with the Stormcasts.
The Lord-Castellant howled as Chaos Knights skewered his Gryph-hound, but served vengeance upon them with his halberd. Meanwhile, the Retributors duelled with the Chaos Warriors, though the Tzeentch-worshippers remained resilient behind their Runeshields (seriously, the Retributors kicked out ten mortal wounds in this turn, and only one Chaos Warrior fell to their hammers…).
Meanwhile, a tough battle had erupted in an otherwise deserted street, with a unit of Liberators trying to break through a line of Chaos Warriors, to allow the Lord-Relictor to reach the monument of Celemnis.
Despite Lord-Celestant Thostos Bladestorm aiding them, the Liberators could just not break through.
However, Vandus Hammerhand had dispatched the last of the Chaos Knights who had followed Lord Maerac into battle, clearing a somewhat circuitous path for the Lord-Relictor, who promptly started trying to placate the spirit of Celemnis.
Vandus then turned his Dracoth around and ploughed into the street where the Liberators had been bravely fighting. A single charge was all it took, shattering both the bodies and the will of the Chaos Warriors who had up to then proved immovable.
And with that, the battle was done. The few surviving members of the Bleak Horde fled the battle, leaving the Stormcasts to regroup as the Lord-Relictor placated Celemnis and the angry spirits of the ruined city…
That battle was short but sweet. However, it did highlight something to us – if you play two turns in 40k, the engagement will only have just started, whereas in Fantasy Battle, almost nothing will have happened (except, perhaps, the odd wizard self-immolating from miscasts…).
However, just two turns in Age of Sigmar tends to be a packed game. From the very start, Lord Maerac was in the thick of things with the Bleak Horde, and if the Protectors had not been so nicely placed, he could have done the Stormcasts a lot of damage…
As it was, the Lord-Relictor managed to reach Celemnis, but not before Vandus Hammerhand broke the back of the Bleak Horde – with his dice rolls, he could literally do no wrong in this battle.
Speaking of dice rolls, a word should be made for the Bleak Horde, who had some horrendous rolling to wound and hit – however, seemed to have no problem making saves against mortal wounds. The example detailed in the battle report was just one of many, frankly freaky, uses of the Runeshields!
The Story Continues…
The city of Elixia is now safely in the hands of the Stormcasts, but that brings them no closer to their goal of finding the Eldritch Fortress. However, a Dragonfate Dais lies up ahead, and surely Dracothian will have a message worth hearing…