After the recent titanic battles, it is time to have a look at what else is happening in the Mortal Realms, away from the front line of war and the actions of the movers and shakers.
As it turns out, there is some activity going on in the Realm of Life…
The Story So Far
With Alarielle now on the run, the combined forces of Nurgle Rotbringers and the Skaven Clans Pestilens are taking advantage of the weakness apparent in the forces of Order, and are striking out on all fronts.
A warband of Rotbringers, under the command of Gruptious Brelch, had teamed up with Clan Feesik to drive the Sylvaneth from the Mossgleam Glade. Unfortunately for him, Plague Priest Skrapefang had grown bored of taking orders and thought he could do a much better job. Instead of attacking Mossgleam alongside the Rotbringers, he held his monks back until the Nurgle followers had been all but wiped out by the combined Sylvaneth and Stormcast defenders.
Only then did Skrapefang order his own attack, hoping to strike at weakened defenders and claim an easy victory.
Skrapefang was confident in his success, for his Plague Furnace was belching out noxious green fumes that withered the vegetation and turned it black. Even if Clan Feesik was beaten back, Mossgleam might never recover.
With the Rotbringers neatly taken care of, this is a strasight up fight between the rats of Clan Feesik and a small Sylvaneth and Stormcast force.
Plague Furnace (Skrapefang)
Plague Monks x 40 (two units of 20)
Plague Censer Bearers x 5
Rat Swarms x 4
Clan Feesik has come ready for trouble with not just the plague Furnace but the catapult as well. The Plague Monks are glass hammers, but they are devastating for all that, and the Rat Swarms are going to take a determined effort to stamp out completely. Together, many of the Pestilens Skaven in this force formed the Congregation of Filth Battalion.
Liberators x 5
Retributors x 5
Judicators x 5
Dryads x 16
By comparison, the forces of Order are quite heavily outnumbered, fielding less models in total than Clan Feesik has Plague Monks alone! They do have some things in their favour; a Treelord is always a mighty opponent, the Branchwraith can potentially call more Dryads to the fight, the Lord-Celestant is a good Hero, and the Retributors are good for all battles. However, together they have a distinct inability to sustain damage and if the Skaven can exploit that, Skrapefang may well have his victory. Oh, and after the forces of Order gained a major victory last time they were in the Realm of Life (albeit with Seraphon), the Lord-Celestant has managed to acquire the Essence of Ghyran, which allows him to fully heal once in the battle.
This Battleplan is from the recently released Battletome: Skaven Pestilens, a features Clan Feesik invading a glade defended by a combined Stormcast and Sylvaneth force. The twist here is that while the Skaven will suffer mortal wounds if they enter the glade, their Heroes can contaminate the ground so that it becomes hostile to their enemies. This gives the Skaven a choice; run forward and wipe out their enemies before the battle ends, or try to contaminate the entire glade which will also give them victory.
The Pestilens Skaven massed around their Plague Furnace, though the Stormcasts noted that they had cunningly manoeuvred a Plagueclaw catapult into the edge of the treeline. Rat swarms raced up the other flank.
For their part, the Stormcasts placed their Liberators within the Sylvaneth Woods to take advantage of the combination of shields and cover, supported by the Dryads. Meanwhile, the Treelord held a flank on his own and the Lord-Celestant, Retributors and Judicators took position in the centre.
Battle Round One
Plague Priest Skrapefang screeched at his nearby Plague Monks, promising them a painful end if they even thought about fleeing (Inspiring Presence), and then the Plague Furnace rolled forward, aided by the Skaven around it.
The Plagueclaw catapult targeted the massed Dryads near the Sylvaneth Woods, and filth splattered amongst them, killing three and forcing another three to run. However, as they had rushed into the uncorrupted part of the Mossgleam Glade, a few Skaven succumbed to the healthy waves of life that washed over them.
The Lord-Celestant shouted encouragement to the nearby Stormcasts as the Branchwraith threw up a Mystic Shield around the Liberators guarding her. Together, the Liberators and Dryads ran forward, determined to stop the Pestilens advance before it could corrupt much more of the glade, while the Treelord advanced more slowly.
The Judicators targeted the Plague Furnace but did little more than knock the odd bell of its mounting.
Battle Round Two
Plague Priest Skrapefang blessed the Plagueclaw with filth, but to no avail as its filth merely splashed over the thick bark skin of the Dryads. The lesser plague Priest advanced towards another set of woods as the Plague Furnace rumbled forward, both preparing to corrupt the surrounding land.
With a screech from Skrapefang, those Pestilens Skaven close enough charged. The Rat Swarms went in first, trying their best against the massive Treelord, but half their number got stomped into oblivion within seconds.
However, the Skaven had more luck on the other flank as the Plague Monks, Censer Bearers and Plague Furnace all crashed into the Sylvaneth Woods. Between them, the Dryads were wiped out, the few survivors running for safety deeper within the glade, while a Liberator fell beneath the wheels of the Plague Furnace. In return, a mere three Plague Monks lost their lives.
The Branchwraith, feeling that the Pestilens were getting too close, summoned more Dryads to her side, but only four answered the call. The Judicators began to pull back, firing at approaching Plague Monks as they wait, then watching as the Lord-Celestant and his Retributors passed them. With a cry, the Lord-Celestant charged forward but the Retributors were taken by surprise and failed to follow him.
The Lord-Celestant had charged into the marauding Plague Monks on his own! However, he fought hard and while the Plague Monks managed to wound him, he slew several and drove the rest off, claiming the centre of the glade for the forces of Order.
Battle Round Three
The Plague Priests chanted prayers to the Great Corruptor and were answered as fully half of the Mossgleam Glade shriveled and turned black. The speed at which the Pestilens had managed this surprised the Stormcasts and they resolved to redouble their efforts.
Poison fumes bellowed out from the Plague Furnace and a Liberator succumbed to them, while the Plague Monks finished off the Dryads and the few Liberators who had survived thus far. The entire flank had fallen to the Pestilens Skaven and things were beginning to look very dicey for the Stormcasts.
Further tragedy was visited upon them as the Plague Priest unleashed a Pestilent Wind upon the wounded Lord-Celestant, killing him before he could consume the Essence of Ghyran he had been carrying.
The Plagueclaw tried to rip the heart out of the Stormcasts but the Retributors resisted the attack.
The Stormcasts and Sylvaneth now had to act quickly if the entire battle line was not to fall apart and the Pestilens could rampage through the glade unhindered.
The Branchwraith hurled an Arcane Bolt at the Plague Furnace, then turned and ran for the next line of trees, knowing the Plague Monks were about to overwhelm her, while the Judicators concentrated their fire upon the war engine, this time weakening it greatly.
The Treelord strode forward to consume the lone Plague priest with its strangleroots, the strategy the Skaven had taken of trying to hide behind a fallen log clearly not working.
It was left to the Retributors to act. Desperate to avenge their fallen lord-Celestant, they charged into the side of the Plague Furnacem smashing it to splinters. The last thing Plague Priest Skrapefang saw was the head of a massive lightning hammer being swung towards his head.
The Pestilens Skaven no longer had any Plague Priests with which to finish their corruption of Mossgleam and were forced to retreat, but half the glade had fallen under their foul spell. It was a victory for the forces of Order, but a minor one.
Well, that battle was more proof of the glass hammer nature of Pestilens, made more difficult for them by the mortal wounds they were automatically taking every turn when in uncorrupted sections of the battlefield. However, the Plague Monks on the flank fairly managed to destroy the Dryads and Liberators with only a little support from the Plague Furnace and Censer Bearers, and while the monks in the centre fell to the Lord-Celestant, they did just enough damage to ensure the Plague Priest could finish him off.
The Pestilens managed to corrupt fully half of the table, and if they had managed to push forward just another 12″, it would have been them that claimed a minor victory, not the forces of Order.
If I were to play this again, I think I would look at doubling the number of Censer Bearers (the automatic mortal wounds hurt them the most), and add another Plague Priest and unit of Plague Monks to the Pestilens. For the forces of Order, I would add just one more unit of Liberators. This would, I think, make for a slightly more tense game and give the Pestilens more options, rather than having to risk two models capable of corrupting the battlefield on the front line. The extra unit of Liberators would by no means equal to those additions and so the Stormcasts would have to fight harder… but it would have increased the fun in the battle!
The Story Continues…
Next week, we are going to be hopping back to the Realm of Metal as Sigmar has woken up the Celestant-Prime, and we are all wanting to see what effect Ghal Maraz has on the forces of Chaos…