We are due to dive back into the Realmgate Wars storyline proper very soon now, delving into the Balance of Power campaign book and the Battleplans it contains. However, before we do that, we are going to take a quick peek into the Realm of Fire and the less ground-shaking events occurring there with a Battleplan I have been wanting to play ever since it was published last summer…
The Story So Far
The Bloodbrass Bridge connects the Realms of Metal and Fire via a Realmgate in its centre. Being a vital link between the realms, the forces of Chaos constructed large Dreadholds at either side, securing the Realmgate firmly between them. When the Stormcasts arrived with their crusade, this was a strategic target that had to be attacked.
The Stormcasts attacked quickly from the Realm of Fire, taking the Khorne Bloodbound holding Skullbrass Keep on that side of the Realmgate completely by surprise. The battle was bloody but quick, and it left the Stormcasts in command of the Dreadhold. However, to claim the Realmgate on the Bloodbrass Bridge, they had to take the fortress in the Realm of Metal, the Bloodspire Citadel.
However, the Bleak Horde held the Bloodspire Citadel, and its lord, Heldrath, saw an opportunity to not only defeat the Stormcasts, but also to gain possession of the Skullbrass Keep, too long held by his Bloodbound rivals. Casualties would be high among the units first moving through the Realmgate but the cost was one Lord Heldrath was more than willing to pay.
We have two bruisers of armies here, both capable of holding an enemy and grinding away. Any deadlock will likely be broken either by magic and daemons within the Bleak Horde, or the specialised troops (Paladins and Prosecutors) of the Stormcasts.
The Bleak Horde
Walls x 6
Chaos Lord on Gorebeast Chariot
Chaos Sorcerer of Tzeentch on Disc
Chaos Warriors x 36 (three units of 12)
Chaos Knights x 10 (two units of 5)
This is a nice, solid list for the Bleak Horde. While the Chaos Warriors may not have truly exciting rules, they are extremely solid and their Runeshields have a habit of turning aside mortal wounds just when you need them to. However, with that Tzeentch sorcerer lurking around on his disc, daemons are likely to feature very heavily during the battle.
Walls x 6
Retributors x 5
Decimators x 5
Liberators x 25 (five units of 5)
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)
Prosecutors x 6 (two units of 3)
The Stormcasts have a good, solid force here, made up primarily of Liberators to match the Chaos Warriors of the Bleak Horde. They will be hoping that their Paladins will tip the balance between the forces, allowing the Judicators and Prosecutors to support the Liberators as they make the long march to the walls of the Chaos Dreadhold they hope to sieze.
This Battleplan appears in Battletome: Chaos Dreadholds and is, frankly, a great idea for a game. Two fortresses are separated not just by a bridge, but by a Realmgate – this is a fight that will literally take place across the realms, with one castle in the Realm of Fire and the other in the Realm of Metal. The appropriate Time of War sheets will be used for each table.
The Battleplan suggests laying out battle boards to represent the two different realms, but we figured we could do better and used two different tables!
The Stormcasts prepared their assault forces, layering retinues into three waves that could be launched into the Realm of Metal. liberators would lead and take the brunt of the assault, supported by Paladins and Prosecutors.
The Bleak Horde took a much more direct approach, preparing themselves to receive the Stormcast attack, aiming to contain anything that came through the Realmgate.
Battle Round One
The battle began slowly, with the Stormcasts moving up to the Realmgate in preparation for their attack.
Meanwhile, the Tzeentch sorcerer summoned a unit of Pink Horrors to support his defence, who promptly brought more Pink Horrors along.
The whole Chaos force then pulled back from the Realmgate in order to give its now more numerous units room to move.
Battle Round Two
The first wave of Stormcast retinues charged through the gate, ready to engage whatever lay beyond!
The Prosecutors and Judicators opened up first, laying withering fire upon the closest Chaos Knights, killing one and badly wounding another. Behind them, the rest of the Stormcast force prepared to exploit the beach head that was being created.
Seeing the battle had begun in earnest, the Tzeentch Sorcerer summoned a Herald upon a Disc, while one unit of Pink Horrors summoned Flamers and threw an Arcane Bolt at a Liberator. The other Pink Horrors summoned another Herald who in turn summoned more Flamers.
Suitably bolstered, the Chaos force advanced to meet the Stormcasts. The Judicators were immolated by a single blast from one unit of Flamers, while the others destroyed a unit of Liberators. A unit of Chaos Warriors, led by their Lord on the back of his Gorebeast Chariot, charged another retinue of Liberators and smashed them apart.
To the right, Chaos Knights ploughed into the final Liberators, inflicting heavy losses.
The Stormcast assault had been stymied before it had properly begun.
Battle Round Three
The Sorcerer brought Screamers to the battlefield while the Heralds and Pink Horrors threw bolt after bolt into the rapidly thinning Stormcast ranks. A last blast from the Flamers wiped out the last Stormcast who had set foot within the Realm of Metal.
Realising the attack had stalled, the Lord-Celestant reacted quickly, ordering his remaining forces to back away from the Realmgate in Aqshy, and prepare to receive the Chaos counterattack.
Battle Round Four
They did not have to wait long. After receiving a Mystic Shield from one of the Heralds, the Chaos Knights were the first through the Realmgate.
They were quickly followed by Screamers, a Herald and more Knights, all of whom had been granted Mystic Shields. The Flamers and Herald threw magical flames at the Stormcast defence, but the Sigmarite armour proved up tot he task and none fell.
The Knights targeted the Liberators holding the line directly in front of them, slaying all except the single Stormcast who carried the Grandblade. Meanwhile, the Flamers and Screamers had the misfortune to happen upon a retinue of Retributors, with two Screamers falling immediately.
The Tzeentch attack had already claimed almost all the Liberators in the field and there was a lot more to come. The Lord-Celestant petitioned his God-King for aid, and Sigmar responded admirably, sending the one Stormcast who had a chance of stopping the Chaos assault in its tracks.
Ably assisted by retinues of Protectors and Judicators, the Celestant-Prime landed on the battlefield within a bolt of lightning.
As Prosecutors and Judicators destroyed a Herald, the Celestant-Prime led a retinue of Retributors against the Chaos Knights, smashing every horsemen apart within seconds in flashes of bright lightning.
Sigmar’s wrath was meted out across the battlefield, with the other Retributor retinue finishing off the Screamers and Flamers. Not one Chaos worshipper or daemon had survived the initial assault.
The tide had turned in favour of the Stormcasts.
Battle Round Five
Back in the Realm of Metal, the Tzeentch spellcasters furiously summoned more reinforcements, knowing that whatever momentum they still possessed had to be maintained if victory was to be grasped.
The Screamers were the first through the Realmgate, scything through Retributors as they went. They were quickly followed by Pink Horrors, the Lord on Gorebeast Chariot and the Burning Chariot.
Back in the Realm of Metal, the third wave of daemons and Chaos Warriors were already waiting their turn to travel through the Realmgate.
The Stormcasts , led by the Celestant-Prime, were eager for the fight now and set about the task of wiping out the Chaos forces as they appeared.
The Celestant-Prime directed a comet down onto the battlefield with a flourish of his sceptre, and it smashed into the Realmgate, Chaos Warriors and both chariots. Then, he charged, tearing into the Gorebeast Chariot and slaying the enemy general with ease.
The Judicators concentrated their fire upon the Pink Horrors, causing many to pop out of existence, though not before they claimed the Liberator with Grandblade.
Battle Round Six
Within the Realm of Metal, Tzeentchian magic threw up Mystic Shields over many units, who then marched into the Realm of Fire.
The forces of Chaos were now pouring through the Realmgate, but the Stormcasts were confident the Celestant-Prime was up to the task of beating them back.
Screamers roamed the battlefield, their sharp spines slashing across any Stormcast they could reach, sending two Retributors back to Sigmar. The Flamers and Burning Chariot all concentrated their flames upon the Celestant-Prime, wreathing him in magical fire – he emerged not just unhurt by the flames, but actually healed of the minor scratches suffered up to now!
Thinking that cold steel would triumph where magic had obviously failed, a unit of Chaos Warriors charged the Celestant-Prime, but Ghal Maraz made them pay or their temerity. They were smashed apart almost instantly, with only two surviving Sigmar’s anger.
In some desperation, the Flamers charged into the Retributors acting as the Celestant-Prime’s bodyguard, and soon came to regret going up against the massive hammers.
The Celestant-Prime called down another comet onto the Chaos forces massing at the Realmgate, to great effect, while the Boltstorm Crossbow-armed Judicators on the walls of the fortress unleashed lightning into the Burning Chariot, destroying it even as a retinue of Prosecutors moved to intercept it.
Meanwhile the Protectors charged into two groups of Pink Horrors, all but finishing them off.
The Celestant-Prime dispatched the last of the Chaos Warriors who had dared to face him, and then assessed the efforts of the Stormcasts. He saw a golden opportunity for victory…
Battle Round Seven
If the Stormcasts could just push forward with enough strength, they could destroy every Tzeentch spellcaster in the Realm of Fire (just two Heralds and two Pink Horrors). This would leave the Chaos force broken and crippled, ripe for destruction with one more push into the Realm of Metal where the last Sorcerer could be killed – and, with the Celestant-Prime leading the attack this time, the few remaining Chaos units would be quickly crushed!
Seeing all of this in a few brief seconds, the Celestant-Prime waved his sceptre forward to urge the Stormcasts onwards, before charging the Chaos Warriors at the foot of the Realmgate.
All across the battlefield, spellcasters were hunted.
The Protectors dispatched the last two Pink Horrors with ease, while Retributors ended the existence in this Realm of one of the Heralds. However, the Prosecutors could not land a telling blow on the last Herald, leaving just one Tzeentch spellcaster alive in the Realm of Fire…
Though wounded, the last Herald was no fool. It summoned another Herald to join it, who brought along yet more Pink Horrors.
The Stormcasts had been knocked onto the back foot once more, and the battle was again turning against them.
The Herald, fearing for its life at the hands of a vengeful Celestant-Prime, fled through the Realmgate back to the Chamon, while more Chaos Warriors poured into Aqshy.
They ran straight into the waiting Ghal Maraz, and were soon being sent back to Tzeentch bereft of their mortal bodies.
Battle Round Eight
The Celestant-Prime was doing well – too well for the liking of the new Herald, and he directed the Pink Horrors to hurl bolt after Arcane Bolt into the Stormcast. Not even Sigmar-s chosen champion could withstand the continued assault and, in a massive flash of lightning, the Celestant-Prime was sent back to Azyr, leaving the other Stormcasts in a precarious position.
As Screamers hunted down the last of the bow-armed Judicators, the Prosecutors desperately tried to disengage from the duelling the remaining Chaos Warriors, knowing their Javelins were best used at range.
The Lord-Celestant left the fortress to tie down the Screamers, dispatching two in short order, while the two surviving Retributors charged into one unit of Pink Horrors, killing seven, and giving hope that Tzeentch wizards could be put back onto the endangered list.
Battle Round Nine
The remaining Pink Horrors and Herald combined their powers to finish the Retributors off with Arcane Bolts, while simultaneously summoning Flamers and Screamers into battle.
Chaos Warriors rushed the Protectors, determined to finish off the last Paladins on the field.
The Judicators atop the fortress walls laid down a withering hail of fire upon the Pink Horrors, dissolving many with lightning, but reality chose that moment to blink and five Pink Horrors were returned, much to the dismay of the Stormcasts!
Battle Round Ten
The Protectors and Lord-Celestant were now alone outside the fortress, the rest of the Stormcasts having retreated to the protection of its walls.
A mixture of Arcane Bolts and magical flames had dealt a terrible blow to the Stormcasts and more daemons were appearing by the second. The end was now close and it was just left for each Stormcast to sell his life as dearly as possible.
Battle Round Eleven
As one, the Liberators and Judicators leapt down from the walls, taunted by Pink Horrors who had started to dance just out of range of their crossbows.
The Herald threw blue fire at the Lord-Celestant, immolating the Stormcast, while Arcane Bolts from Pink Horrors and magical blasts from the Flamers tore the Judicators and Liberators apart.
Only a single Prosecutor now held the field for the Stormcasts, and the daemon forces of Tzeentch were approaching quickly.
Battle Round Twelve
With a casual gesture, a Pink Horror sent an Arcane Bolt into the heart of the Prosecutor, causing the Stormcast to disappear in a bolt of lightning that rocketed skywards back to Azyr.
Both fortresses were now in the hands of Tzeentch, though only six Chaos Warriors from the original army had survived the battle,
Well, that was a battle and a half! It was also the longest Age of Sigmar battle we have ever played, taking about four hours and extending over 12 turns!
It also serves as a great example of how a battle can swing one way and then the other throughout the course of the game; the Stormcasts suffered badly as they launched their initial assault, but managed to pull things back and were ‘this’ close to breaking the back of the Tzeentch army. Unfortunately, a single Herald survived at a critical point (those Prosecutors are going to have some explaining to do in front of Sigmar), and that was enough for the Chaos army to perform a break out and get things moving again. The Stormcasts might still have been able to force things back to their way but multiple Arcane Bolts finished off the Celestant-Prime, against which he had no defence.
A tough battle, but an enjoyable one!
Still, I cannot help thinking what it would be like if the Tzeentch force was greatly increased in size, and Nagash was on the other side of the Realmgate… That might be a battle that would last all weekend!
The Story Continues…
So, we have seen what has been happening elsewhere in the Realms, and we will now be returning to the main storyline with the Balance of Power hardback. Specifically, we will be travelling to the Realm of Life to see what Alarielle has been up to since she was forced to flee the Hidden Glade…