We are continuing our tour of the Mortal Realms before diving back into the storyline proper with Balance of Power, and it is time to answer the question: What are the Fyreslayers up to?
The Story So Far
Deep in the Realm of Fire, the hordes of Lord Bruul descended on the Cynder Peaks, determined to root out the Fyreslayer lodge within the central Furios Peak. The Duardin had faced many Chaos armies in the past, but Lord Bruul’s force was large enough to push them back to the very gates of their stronghold.
As the Bloodbound approached, Runefather Bael-Grimnir ordered the magmaducts open, and a sheet of liquid rock crashed down onto the battlefield. A few of the Bloodbound chanced their luck and were incinerated.
Angered, Lord Bruul forced his vanguard onwards, determined to break the last line of Duardin resistance and gain entry to their stronghold, no matter the cost.
This is quite a compact little Battleplan (though it could easily scale up to massive armies), suiting a small force of Fyreslayers against a larger Khornate horde.
Lord of Khorne on Juggernaut (Lord Bruul)
Mighty Skullscrushers x 3
Blood Warriors x 10
Bloodreavers x 20
This looks like a very small force for the Bloodbound (and it is!), perhaps representing just the lead elements that Lord Bruul is commanding in the initial assault of the stronghold. It is limited primarily by the number of Fyreslayers facing them (as we have only a small force of those) but still greatly outnumbers them in terms of Wounds, which is always the initial spot check for reasonably balanced forces in Age of Sigmar. However, the Bloodbound lack any monsters, and the battlefield itself will be somewhat against them.
The Bloodbound were actually owed a Triumph in the Realm of Fire (from way back when we played The Ritual!), but it turned out to be a book of spells that, at best, will be used by Lord Bruul for toilet paper…
Runefather on Magmadroth (Bael-Grimnir)
Hearthguard Berzerkers x 5
Auric Hearthguard x 5
Vulkite Berzerkers x 20 (two units of 10)
This is our first battle using the Fyreslayers and, as they have a fair few special rules between them, we are only using a few units. All the basic infantry are in (the Berzerkers and Hearthguard), but we have trimmed down the possible characters. The Runefather on his Magmadroth is mentioned in the text of this Battleplan, so he is included as the leader of the force. A Battlesmith has been added too, to help prop up the line for what is likely to be a very nasty battle.
The Battleplan starts with the Fyreslayers not really knowing what they face (the Bloodbound have a hidden set up/movement rule), but there is a sheet of lava pouring across the battlefield that will seriously burn anything that tries to cross it – only a small tunnel allows safe crossing.
The Bloodbound are trying to get past the Fyreslayers and gain entry to the fortress, where they will start hacking apart all the women and children – the amount of innocents they slay (!) inside will determine the level of victory.
The Fyreslayers deployed outside their massive stronghold with the Vulkite Berzerkers to the fore, the Heroes and Hearthguard Berzerkers behind them, and the Auric Hearthguard taking position in the single watchtower.
The forces of the Bloodbound were wreathed in smoke, with the Fyreslayers only able to tell that something was moving out there…
Battle Round One
The Battlesmith and Runefather both shouted orders to their nearby retinues, steadying any frayed nerves and ensuring all Duardin were fighting fit. The Hearthguard Berzerkers started to march towards the Numinous Occulum, thinking its thick walls would aid them in resisting the attentions of the Bloodbound.
Meanwhile, behind the sheets of falling magma, something was approaching very fast and blood-curdling cries could be heard.
Battle Round Two
The Hearthguard Berzerkers realised their short legs were not going to carry them to the Occulum before the Bloodbound hit their lines, and so they retreated back to defend the Runefather, the Vulkite Berzerkers moving to cover the gap that had appeared in their line.
Just at that point, Lord Bruul appeared across the smoke-choked battlefield, shouting at his minions to encourage much blood-letting. The lead elements of the Blood Bound charged through the small gap in the magma fall, revealing Bloodreavers ahead of a Khorgorath and Skullcrushers.
Battle Round Three
Lord Bruul, eager to get to grips with the Fyreslayers, shouted a mixture of encouragement and dire threats to his lead units, just as the Bloodstoker appeared at his side.
With a single cry, the Bloodbound charged.
The Bloodreavers hurled themselves at one of the Vulkite Berzerker retinues, though the solid shield wall meant there were few casualties on either side. However, the other Vulkite Berzerkers fared less well, with fully half their number succumbing to the Khorgorath, Skullcrushers, and their Juggernauts.
As the combatants fought and manoeuvred about one another, the final Bloodbound unit came into view, revealing a large force of Blood Warriors.
Seeing their target, the Hearthguard Berzerkers moved to engage the Khorgorath, wounding it badly, but it seemed to be too late for the Vulkite Berzerkers, who were suffering terribly against the Skullcrushers.
The Runefather was determined to hit the Bloodbound hard and quickly, aiming to demoralise them early in the battle, and he led his Magmadroth towards the largest concentration of Chaos worshippers, the Bloodreavers. Looming over his Vulkite Berzerkers, the Runefather bade his beast breath magma upon his enemies, immolating four reavers immediately. More fell to his great Latchkey Axe, and the Berzerkers finished them off.
One Chaos assault had been stopped but, on the other flank, the last of the other Vulkite Berzerker retinue fell to the Skullcrushers.
Battle Round Four
With Lord Bruul still bellowing orders, the Bloodstoker started to whip the Skullcrushers into a frenzy, and they started to flank the watchtower and the Auric Hearthguard within. A solid charge collapsed one of the tower’s walls and the Duardin inside quickly fell to the ensorcelled blades of the Skullcrusher riders.
Meanwhile, the Blood Warriors charged in the Vulkite Berzerkers who had seen off the Bloodreavers, but the attack was chaotically disorganised and the Fyreslayers were quick to take advantage of that. The Runefather decapitated three of them with a single swing of his axe and his Vulkite Berzerkers did their part too, leaving the Blood Warrior unit a shattered ruin within seconds.
By this time, the Berzerker Hearthguard were facing Lord Bruul, the Bloodstoker and the Khorgorath, and despite ignoring all but their most grievous wounds, this attack was starting to wear down the elite Fyreslayers.
The Magmadroth unleashed its breath once again, this time on the remaining Blood Warriors, but they had seen what had happened to the reavers, and were ready to dodge this attack. However, they were less adept at avoiding the Runefather’s axe, which claimed all but one of them.
Seeing that the Hearthguard Berzerkers were in real trouble, the Battlesmith charged the Bloodstoker, landing several telling blows upon the Chaos Hero.while the Khorgorath itself was left limping badly after a series of axes blows had been landed by the Hearthguard. However, their attention perhaps should have been on Lord Bruul, who ordered his Juggernaut to trample the last of them.
Battle Round Five
The Bloodstoker whipped the Khorgorath into a frenzy, then ran for the stronghold, thinking he would have better sport with unarmed Duardin children rather than a battle-hardened Hero. The Skullcrushers were already ahead of them in this regard and had already gained entry to the stronghold, though the children had taken cover behind some particularly sturdy stone chairs and few fell.
This left the Battlesmith to face the wounded Khorgorath alone.
Despite its injuries, the Khorgorath was still fighting fit, and the Battlesmith soon fell to the ground, badly wounded or dead.
Lord Bruul himself found himself tied up with the last of the Vulkite Berzerkers, and raged as their shields turned aside every one of his blows. He roared in ever greater anger as one of their axes found its mark and wounded him.
Seeing the Bloodstoker make his run for the stronghold, the Runefather turned his massive Magmadroth around to intercept him, but the Hero dodged the stream of magma that roared from the mouth of the beast.
Gathering speed, the Magmadroth charged, and swallowed the Bloodstoker whole.
Battle Round Six
Lord Bruul was pleased his Skullcrushers had broken into the stronghold, but he also knew he needed to get more of his forces inside – forces that were rapidly dwindling. He was especially leery of the Runefather padding around outside the gates on the back of the Magmadroth.
The Khorgorath lumbered forwards and managed to wound the Magmadroth with its bone tentacles, but it strayed too close tot he beast and was also eaten in short order.
Trying to ignore the cries of the innocents getting butchered inside his stronghold, the Runefather lined up his Magmadroth on Lord Bruul, the last of the Bloodbound still standing outside.
The Magmadroth pummelled the Chaos Lord, knocking him senseless. Lord Bruul never saw the Latchkey Axe rush towards his neck…
This was another very close one! Neither force managed to wipe out the other and so victory all came down to the number of casualties the Bloodbound managed to inflict upon the innocents inside the stronghold. They needed to kill at least 18 to force a draw (by leaving the Runefather and a single Vulkite Berzerker alive outside, actual victory was beyond them). They had accrued a total of 11 kills and, in the last turn, had dealt another 7 – it was only those sturdy stone chairs that saved the day!
So, ‘this’ close to a draw on the casualties within the stronghold, and just two models outside standing between the Bloodbound and a major victory!
As it was, the Fyreslayers earned themselves a minor victory – they had won and protected their stronghold, but at a heavy cost.
This was our first time with the Fyreslayers, so how did we find them?
Well, they have an awful lot of attacks that need 4+ to hit, and that begins to tell (though the re-rolling of all misses on two-axe Vulkites is nice). They are also quite fragile given the small units we used. The Hearthguard in particular (both flavours) could certainly use units of ten, and you should always expect heavy casualties on the Vulkites, unless they have shields (which are noticeably effective).
What is clear is that Fyreslayers benefit from the abilities of their Heroes a lot, and I would expect them to get noticeably more effective when more Heroes take to the field.
However, that will be a in a few battles to come!
The Story Continues…
The start of Balance of Power is getting very close now, but first we are going to take a quick trip back to the Realm of Metal for a Battleplan I have been wanting to try out ever since it was first published…