After a brief excursion around the Mortal Realms, it is back to the Realm of Life to pick up the story of Alarielle and her retreat from the Rotbringers. Yes, at last, we have started the campaign battles featured in Balance of Power!
The Story So Far
Accompanied by the Hallowed Knights and the Sylvaneth, Allarielle had been ousted from her Hidden Glade and was fleeing as fast as she could from a massive force of Nurgle Rotbringers. Alarielle’s power had been drained by the Battle of the Athelwyrd, and the Lady of Vines rallied her bodyguard to form a tight defence as Allarielle led them all down the Cascading Path, a magical slipstream that allowed the small army to traverse thousands of miles in mere days.
With the Rotbringers, Torglug the Despised had been turned into Chaos Spawn some time ago, due to his temerity for calling upon Grandfather Nurgle a little too often. However, Nurgle could not stay mad at his favoured son for long, and Torglug was duly returned to his old form, though a little tubbier and more diseased than before, to lead the attack that would destroy the last Sylvaneth resistance and capture Alarielle. And Torglug knew all about the Cascading Path…
Upon leaving the Cascading Path, the Hallowed Knights saw that Rotbringer forces were already close by, having used Skaven Gnawholes to keep pace with the refugees. Worse, using the Cascading Path had drained the last of Alarielle’s power and she reduced herself to a glowing seed pod, kept safe by the Lady of Vines, ready to be planted and reborn into a more war-like aspect.
The Lady of Vines, knowing exactly where Alarielle needed to be taken, led the way to the Sea of Serpents with the Rotbringers close at their backs. The Hallowed Knights thought they had been led to a dead-end where the forces of Nurgle would simply over run them, but the Lady of Vines called upon a Jotunberg, a massive giant as large as a mountain. It crashed into the sea, instantly freezing it and forming a bridge to the Kingdom of Blackstone beyond.
Torglug, seeing his prey being given an avenue of escape, urged his forces on to trap the Hallowed Knights and Alarielle upon the thin ice.
This is the first clash in Balance of Power, and with two strong forces battling one another, it looks to be a good one. However, they will find the battlefield itself can be as much an enemy (and weapon!) as their units…
Lord of Plagues (Torglug the Despised)
Gors x 40 (divided into three units)
Ungors x 18
Chaos Warriors x 24 (two units of 12)
Blightkings x 5
Warhounds x 10
Dragon Ogors x 3
These represent Torglug’s vanguard, the units that could get to the refugees the quickest – so, he has proportionally fewer Blightkings than he might otherwise, but the likes of Warhounds are present. We are also going to be using Dragon Ogres and the Slaughterbrute for the first time! In addition, we are giving Torglug himself the Filled to Bursting rule from the Foulblessed battalion (even though this force does not have the units to actually create the battalion) which will make him suitably hard.
Lord-Castellant (Lorrus Grymn)
Liberators x 10 (two units of 5)
Retributors x 10 (two units of 5)
Judicators x 5
Prosecutors x 3
Branchwraith (Lady of Vines)
Tree Lord Ancient
Tree Lords x 2
Treekin x 4
Dryads x 30 (three units of 10)
Once again, the Hallowed Knights and Sylvaneth are fighting side-by-side, and this time they are being bolstered by forming two battalions. Alarielle’s Heartwood Guard boosts the Bravery of all Sylvaneth, heals models (which can be Stormcast too!), and re-rolls hit rolls of 1 for any Sylvaneth that remain close to the Lady of Vines. The healing, in particular, will be very useful on the Tree Lords once they engage the Rotbringers.
For their part, the Stormcasts will be forming Grymn’s Brotherhood, and this will make them incredibly tough to kill – as well as re-rolling Battleshock tests, everyone who sticks close to Grymn gains a +1 bonus to their save rolls. When combined with his lantern, this will make the Stormcasts all but immovable against any unit that lacks Rend.
The battlefield is divided into sections that can crack and disappear, sending any units on top tumbling into the freezing waters below! The Jotunberg is also stirring, causing more disruptions, as well as granting wizards various ice-related spells. This battle is a straight up fight, though if the Stormcasts/Sylvaneth manage to crack the ice sufficiently, they will be able to retreat in temporary safety as the Rotbringers are forced to find a way round the chasm.
Grymn’s Brotherhood deployed on one flank while the Heartwood Guard covered the other. Across the ice field, Torglug’s forces arrayed themselves, the Chaos Warriors keen to let the Beastmen take the brunt of the initial clashes.
Both forces were acutely aware that constant tremors were running through the ice as the Jotunberg stirred uneasily…
Battle Round One
Eager to get to grips with the Lady of Vines and the valuable cargo she carried, Torglug signalled his forces to advance. However, the Jotunberg mists descended and when they parted, his Blightking bodyguard had vanished…
Even as Gors led the rush forward, the ice started to splinter and crack beneath their pounding feet. Wary of early attempts to destroy his beloved beast, the Blightmage spun a Mystic Shield around the Slaughterbute.
The Jotunberg mists descended, briefly, once more and when they evaporated, the Blightkings had reappeared behind the Sylvaneth, perilously close to the Lady of Vines.
As Lord-Castellant Grymn shone his lantern upon the Retributors in front of him, the Lord-Relictor called upon Sigmar’s aid and a bolt of lightning snaked down from the sky to blast into the ice field, substantially weakening it.
As one, the Stormcasts and Sylvaneth advanced slowly onto the shaky ice, as the Tree Lords and Retributor brought their roots and hammers to bear in an attempt to sink the Chaos force as it approached.
A group of Dryads smashed into a unit of Gors, causing any who survived to run, while the Lady of Vines slipped out of the reach of the Blightkings, covered by a cordon of more Dryads and the Judicators.
Battle Round Two
The two forces were very close to one another now and, all along the Chaos line, the charge was sounded.
Even as the Jotunberg mists spirited away the Dragon Ogors, the Slaughterbrute sensed prey and rushed forward, Chaos Warhounds snapping at its heels.
Seeing the ice was fast becoming treacherous, the Blightmage directed an ice bridge to form under the Slaughterbrute, even as the Blightkings tried to bypass the defensive line the Dryads had created so they could attack the Lady of Vines directly.
The Dryads proved too fast though, and the Blightklings resigned themselves to dealing with the Branchwraith’s bodyguards before they could reach her.
Other Dryads found they had extended themselves too far, and were caught by Chaos Warriors and Warhounds, the Lady of Vines too distant for her song to bolster their efforts. Nevertheless, while they caused few casualties, the Dryads managed to soak up the charge and remain relatively intact.
The Slaughterbrute unleashed an immense roar as it smashed into retinues of Retributors and Liberators, but the combination of Grymn’s training and his celestial lantern kept the Retributors safe, with the Slaughterbrute causing no more than a few light injuries.
All across the centre of the battlefield, Stormcast and Dryad held the line against waves of Beastmen and though the fighting was vicious, there were few casualties on either side.
However, it was clear the battle had truly begun in earnest.
Just as Lord-Castellant Grymn was about to order his Judicators to unleash a volley at the Blightkings, a blizzard descended across the entire battlefield, cutting visibility down to almost nothing.
As the Lord-Relictor called upon Sigmar once more, this time to heal the Retributor who had been hurt by the Slaughterbrute, the Tree Lord Ancient took advantage of the distraction caused by the blizzard to turn himself into a frost spirit and travel swiftly across the battlefield. His target was clear – the enemy Blightmage.
However, despite throwing the Blightmage to the ground with a massive stomp, the Tree Lord Ancient did little more than scratch the wizard, who had already been greatly enhanced by the magicks he had cast earlier.
One of the other Tree Lords charged into a unit of Gors, easily wiping them out, though the Treekin, moving to help the Dryads fighting the Blightkings, did little against the diseased armour.
As Liberators finished off the nearby Chaos Warhounds, the Retributors behind them continued to pound at the ice with their hammers. A massive crack resounded across the battlefield as something gave way…
Battle Round Three
Cries echoed across the ice as a massive section of the battlefield upended, and then slid into the churning sea below. Casualties on both sides were huge as Chaos Warriors, Liberators and Retributors all sank beneath the waves.
Only the Slaughterbrute, suspended by the ice bridge created by the Blightmage, survived but the wizard was now distracted by the Tree Lord Ancient and too far away to help the monster.
The Dragon Ogors descended from the mists swirling around the battlefield, appearing right next to the Lady of Vines and a Tree Lord. The Lady of Vines knew the seed pod of Alarielle she carried was too important to risk, and she fled quickly to leave the Tree Lord to deal with the new arrivals. Though it managed to fell one Dragon Ogor, the others savaged the Tree Lord brutally.
The Tree Lord Ancient was all too aware that Torglug was close and getting ready to charge, so it cast a spell of freezing which locked the Lord of Plagues in place, allowing it to pull the Blightmage apart at its leisure.
Elsewhere, the Treekin steadily wore down the Blightkings while a group of Dryads finally drove off the Ungors.
Just as the last Blightking was looking set to be slaughtered by the Treekin, an icy layer completely encased its body, holding the Blightking in hibernation while protecting it from harm – another unintended gift of the Jotunberg.
As the ice bridge beneath the Slaughterbrute evaporated into mist, sending the beast screaming into the deep sea, Torglug shook off the spell that had frozen him in place – far too quickly for the liking of the Tree Lord Ancient. The Lord of Plagues shouted with joy as he charged the Tree Lord, his axe cutting huge gouges into its bark.
Meanwhile, one of the Tree Lords had charged across a very shaky area of the ice field to engage a unit of Chaos Warriors, causing massive damage with its sweeping blows.
Its brother, still fighting the Dragon Ogors, managed to impale another.
Battle Round Four
Another section of the battlefield sank into the sea, though it took no one from either army with it. As the Blightking blinked sleepily as the Jotunberg’s hibernation dissipated, a blizzard descended once more.
The Tree Lord Ancient prepared to stomp down upon Torglug, but it looked down at the wounds his opponent had caused earlier – Torglug’s axe was loaded with virulent diseases, and they raced through the Ancient’s trunk, rotting it from within. With barely a whimper, the Tree Lord Ancient collapsed at the feet of the triumphant Torglug.
As the blizzard continued to rage, the Treeking finally finished off the last of the Blightkings.
Battle Round Five
With another gigantic crack, another section of the ice field broke up, sending a Tree Lord tumbling into the sea.
Despite that tragic loss, a huge rent had now appeared in the ice field, blocking off any direct approach to the Lady of Vines and what remained of her bodyguard. The Sylvaneth and Stormcasts were now able to retreat across the ice, leaving Torglug fuming impotently while the bulk of his forces were still far away.
Now, this Battleplan is a fun one! The ice field is divided into sections and you just know that they will be disappearing during the battle – but while you can aid them (with high damage attacks only), you can never be sure exactly which section is going to go next! You might think you are safe in one part of the battlefield, where the section has only taken a couple of points of damage, only to find it on the verge of sinking with a few bad dice rolls!
It should also be mentioned that, theoretically, it is possible for the entire battlefield to sink in a single turn, though that would take some interesting dice rolls!
The two forces tore each other apart, and the shaky ice field claimed a large number on both sides too. So, casualty rates were about normal for most of our battles…
The two battalions used by the forces of Order (Grymn’s Brotherhood and the Heartwood Guard) are very, very good – not so much for slaughtering the enemy, but they keep their own people alive for longer than might otherwise be expected. I have a feeling that will become increasingly important as the campaign progresses.
For his part, Torglug becomes extremely nasty with his new Foulblessed rules. It is going to be interesting to see what he achieves in future battles too!
The Story Continues…
During this battle, the trailing forces of the Rotbringers were moving across the ice fields of the Sea of Serpents, in an effort to cut off the Lady of Vines and the valuable seed pod she carried. Another battle on the ice is in the offing, and the Lady of Vines will have to flee from the Rotbringers with all speed if she is to get to a suitable place where she can plant Alarielle.