The soldiers of Sigmar have been fighting long and hard, but the sacred hammer Ghal Maraz is almost in their reach. They have clawed their way up to the floating Great Crucible and now just have to plough their way through the many layered defences of the Tzeentch-following Bleak Horde to find their way into the Eldritch Fortress, the centre of Chaos power in the region.
The Story So Far
Harnessing the help of Dracothion, the Stormcasts had persuaded the Great Drake to engage in battle with Argentine, the other massive dragon (and they really are massive, as in filling the sky massive) residing in Chamon, whose breath melted the silver that ran from the Great Crucible down into the rest of the Realm of Metal. With Argentine’s breath currently employed against Dracothion, the running silver froze solid, giving the Stormcasts a path to the Great Crucible.
The climb up the Argent Falls to the Great Crucible took days, but the Stormcasts finally made it. They found themselves at the head of a great plain of silver, at the end of which lay the defences and tower network of the Bleak Horde that would have to be breached in order to reach the Eldritch Fortress and their final prize.
However, Argentine had managed to drive off Dracothion, and his warpfires were alight once more, bringing heat to the silver plain. Slowly, it was beginning to melt, threatening to trap and consume the Stormcasts if they did not start moving quickly.
This time, the Bleak Horde was led by the chariot-riding King Thrond, who rode at the head of his Chaos Knights. The Stormcasts would have the best him and take the lead towers of the fortifications, before the silver plain melted too much and trapped them.
Being on a flat plain of silver, there is little terrain in this battle aside from the two towers that mark the outer limits of the Tzeentch defence network. However, the Stormcasts cannot hang about, as the silver is melting and they need to reach the defences and overwhelm the defenders before movement becomes impossible.
The Bleak Horde
Skull Keep x 2
Chaos Lord on Gorebeast Chariot (King Thrond)
Chaos Warriors x 36 (three units of 12)
Chaos Knights x 10 (two units of 5)
Once again, there is much in this force that will be familiar to those of you who have been watching the course of the war in Chamon, mostly because Tzeentch has not yet been blessed with the sheer variety of forces available to Khorne and Nurgle! However, Chaos Warriors and Knights are solid enough, and this time they not only have a couple of Skull Keeps to garrison, but they have a bright shiny new Lord on a Gorebeast Chariot to lead them!
Lord-Celestant on Dracoth (Vandus Hammerhand)
Lord-Celestant (Thostos Bladestorm)
Retributors x 10 (two units of 5)
Decimators x 5
Liberators x 10 (two units of 5)
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)
Prosecutors x 3
Once again, the Stormcasts will be enjoying the dual leadership of Hammerhand and Bladestorm, and they have brought along more Retributors to help them crack those Skull Keeps. However, Paladins do not move quickly, and losses are to be expected from the melting silver plain.
The Stormcasts earned a Triumph from the last battle’s major victory, and Vandus Hammerhand had the Gildenbane, an enchanted gem that can turn the armour of enemy heroes into lead.
Either army will win by wiping out the other. However, if that proves impossible, the Stormcasts will claim victory if they can just get near one of the Skull Keeps and hold their position.
The Stormcasts deployed in line abreast, ready to assault either Skull Keep.
The Bleak Horde was cautious, knowing the silver plain would soon be melting. Chaos Warriors occupied the Skull Keeps, with King Thrond, his Knights and a retinue of Chaos Warriors deployed around them.
Battle Round One
The Stormcasts were eager to get to grips with the Bleak Horde, knowing that the only safe ground on this battlefield was within the Skull Keeps themselves. Thostos shouted to his men to race forward, and the whole Stormcast line advanced.
The Chaos Warriors of the Bleak Horde refused to take the bait as they saw the silver line sweep towards them, but one unit of Chaos Knights could not resist some early kills and they charged forward.
King Thrond, realising the silver plain was getting rather soft, retired to one of the Skull Keeps, unhitching his chariot and keeping his Gorebeast close.
Battle Round Two
The Stormcasts on the left flank continued to run towards the target Skull Keep, while those on the right slowed to engage the Knights.
The crossbow-armed Judicators opened up, felling one Knight, while those in the centre armed with bows managed to drop a Chaos Warrior. Then, the Retributors charged.
Despite getting the first strike, the Retributors only brought down on Chaos KNight between them, but suffered no losses in return.
King Thrond shouted at the Knights closest to him, threatening dire consequences if they even thought about fleeing, then called upon the power of the Skull Keep’s gargoyles. A Ruby Ray of Ruin lanced out to strike Thostos, badly wounding him (reducing him to a single wound immediately!).
Thrond then emerged from the Skull Keep, ready to lead his forces against the Stormcasts and, hopefully, kill their general (Thostos) before they could react. However, the Chaos Warriors on one side of him and the Knights on the other spoilt his charge, leaving the Chaos Lord fuming at their incompetence!
Thostos took advantage of this confusion to pile into the Chaos Warriors, only to find it was a trap – they had baited him, and now turned their weapons upon the wounded Lord-Celestant. Fortunately, his Sigmarite armour proved strong and he survived their flurry of blows.
On the other flank, the Retributors continued to hammer away at the Knights, leaving only one standing. Then, the ground started to give way.
Two Chaos Knights, three of the crossbow-armed Judicators and all of the bow-armed Judicators (after failing their Battleshock test as well) sank beneath the melting silver.
The Stormcasts had just lost much of their missile support and both generals now realised just how dangerous the melting silver was going to be – and it would only get worse from now on.
Battle Round Three
King Thrond warned the Chaos Warriors who had blocked him up that they had better kill the Stormcast general or face his wrath – retreat was not an option. So saying, he retreated back into his Skull Keep to await the next wave of Stormcasts. Unfortunately for him, Thostos’ armour once again saved the Lord-Celestant as he dispatched another couple of Chaos Warriors.
On the other flank, the Retributors smashed the last Knight apart in a flash of lightning. The way to the closest Skull Keep was now open!
Seeing the danger his Lord-Celestant was in, the Lord-Castellant shone his lantern upon the general, strengthening his armour. So bolstered, Thostos twirled his cloak and sent celestial hammers pounding into the Chaos Warriors surrounding him, killing another.
Vandus Hammerhand gave a great cry and urged his Dracoth on, leading the Retributors against the Chaos Warriors in the Skull Keep. Two fell instantly to his assault, but the rest managed to kill two Retributors before they could start swinging their massive hammers.
Thostos managed to dispatch another Chaos Warrior while under the protection of his bolstered armour, but the Liberators near him were beginning to suffer. They had been fighting against both the Chaos Warriors and the Chaos Knights, and had been slowly ground away. Now, only the Liberator-Prime was left.
However, the silver plain was quickly turning molten, taking most of the Chaos Knights into its depths – now, just a single Chaos Knight faced the lone Liberator-Prime!
Unfortunately for the Stormcasts, this is where the good news ended, as in turn they had lost three Liberators from another retinue, the last Judicators and a single Retributor.
Battle Round Four
The Gryph-hound left the side of his Lord-Castellant master and raced for the Skull Keep to join Vandus.
Thostos was finally brought down by the Chaos Warriors, but the Lord-Castellant howled a challenge and killed one in revenge.
Now all but unopposed, Vandus Hammerhand and the two surviving Retributors of his retinue continued to pound away at the Chaos Warriors in the Skull Keep, but the Tzeentch-worshippers held their nerve and kept fighting. Meanwhile, the other retinue of Retributors, leading a group of Decimators, skirted round the duel between Chaos Knight and Liberator-Prime, to directly threaten the Skull Keep and King Thrond himself!
King Thrond could see the Stormcasts were about to take the other Skull Keep, and he sent another ruby ray into Vandus, wounding the Lord-Celestant. The Chaos Lord knew this would not be enough, and he ordered the Chaos Warriors garrisoning the Skull Keep he was in out, in an attempt to save the other.
They charged into Vandus but succeeded only in killing the Gryph-hound close to him. He continued to pound away at the Chaos Warriors in the Skull Keep, aided by the Retributors. However, the Chaos Warriors, though now low in numberm still refused to give up the stronghold, perhaps bouyed by the arrival of reinforcements sent by King Thrond.
Having dispatched Thostos, Chaos Warriors now mobbed the Lord-Castellant, but he proved a tough warrior to crack, easily fending off their blows.
The silver plain was now noticeably molten and two Chaos Warriors, a Liberator and a Retributor all disappeared beneath its surface.
Battle Round Five
With their goal now close, the combined force of Retributors and Decimators on the left flank raced towards their Skull Keep and charged.
Having sent his Chaos Warriors away to reinforce the other keep, only King Thrond, his chariot driver and Gorebeast were left to defend it. Though they fought hard, the Retributors pummelled them, leaving King Thrond himself to be finished off by the Starsoul Mace of the Decimators. The Chaos general had been killed, and one Skull Keep was now in the hands of the Stormcasts!
However, the other Skull Keep was still in contention and though the last Retributor and Vandus managed to dispatch the last of the Chaos Warriors inside, the retinue outside was pinning them down, stopping them from claiming their prize.
Seeing their chance, the Chaos Warriors surged forward to pummel Vandus and the Retributor, battering the Lord-Celestant.
The silver plain was practically liquid by this time, and everyone but the Retributors suffered, losing men beneath the churning metal. Tragically, the Chaos Knight and Liberator-Prime who had been locked in a ferocious duel for much of the battle both sank out of sight, their hands locked around each other’s throats.
Battle Round Six
The Retributors took possession of the Skull Keep they had fought so hard for, while the Decimators started to march towards the other.
Vandus was finally knocked unconscious by the Chaos Warriors as the Prosecutors swept in to relieve him.
By this time, the silver plain was more like a silver lake and, aside from the Prosecutors who hovered above it and a single Chaos Warrior, everyone outside the Skull Keeps sank without a trace.
The Tzeentch defences had been breached, but the cost had been high. The Stormcasts would have to regroup their forces, but the way to the Eldritch Fortress was now open…
Well… that was close! The last photo shows just how few models were left on the table after that battle!
The melting ground is utterly lethal. In the second turn, you roll a dice for each unit and, on a 6, it loses D3 models. Models, not mortal wounds. Now, a unit of 12 Chaos Warriors can sustain that, but five Stormcasts can’t.
The problem is that the number rolled to suffer from the melt goes down by one in each turn so, at the end of turn 6, you are rolling 2+ to lose D3 models.
The Bleak Horde has the option to keep two units in the Skull Keeps, of course, but the Chaos general had a nasty decision to make mid-game, He could see the Skull Keep on the right was about to fall, but the only reinforcements he had were the Chaos Warriors in the other Skull Keep. He sent them out (meaning they would now suffer from the melting silver), but there was no way King Thrond was going to survive the attentions of Retributors for too long.
Still, at least it saved the Chaos Warriors from the Decimators. Read the rules for the Decimators’ axes, then read the rules for how you measure ranges for models within a Skull Keep. Do you see it? Nasty… It makes Decimators a prime siege unit.
This was a fun Battleplan, and most recommended. However, if you are the attacker, move quickly and expect to lose most of your force! If you are the defender, get units in the Skull Keeps and keep them there!
The Story Continues…
With the Stormcasts now within the Tzeentch network of towers, they could forge ahead to the Eldritch Fortress – there would be many tough fights before they could reach their goal, but momentum was on their side. However, the Chaos Lord Ephryx was already trying to reenact another great spell that would move the fortress once more, so time was running out.
The Retributors among the Stormcasts took their great hammers and attacked the foundations of King Thrond’s own citadel. When the castle fell, it slumped into the melting silver plain, causing a great wave to wash forward over the lower parts of the Eldritch Fortress – quickly freezing, it held the fortress fast so Ephyrx could not move it.
The Stormcasts were now ready to begin their final assault and reclaim Ghal Maraz…