The Stormcasts have arrived at the Vostarg Lodge and made a deal with the Fyreslayers there. In return for replenishing the ur-gold the Fyreslayers lost during a recent attack by Skaven, the Stormcasts had a little job for the Duardin…
The Story So Far
The Fyreslayers of Vostarg Lodge were in no real position to negotiate, for they desperately needed to replenish their stores of ur-gold. So, when the Stormcasts proposed the Fyreslayers lead them to the Bloodkeep, one of the most notorious strongholds within the Realm of Fire, and help them get inside, they had little choice.
Few questions were asked of either side, as the Fyreslayers were still smarting from the recent Skaven attack and, frankly, had little interest in why the Stormcasts wanted to assault a huge fortress from which only death ever emerged – for them, it was all about the ur-gold.
Together, the combined force marched from the Vostarg Lodge, across the Blackiron Bridge, to the Zhulghar Mountains in which the Bloodkeep had been built. It was within these mountains, at Runestruck Pass, that they were ambushed. On the one side, a patrol of Bloodbound from the keep and, on the other, the forces of Clan Rictus, eager to finish off the Fyreslayers of Vostarg Lodge.
This is a four way battle, with the Stormcasts and Fyreslayers caught between both Skaven and Bloodbound.
Blood Warriors x 20 (two units of 10)
Wrathmongers x 5
Stormfiends x 3
Clanrats x 40 (two units of 20)
Jezzail Teams x 3
Poison Wind Mortar
The Skaven are bringing the numbers, while the Bloodbound provide the hard-hitting power. The Blood Warriors will serve as a suitable anchor for the Bloodbound, while the Wrathmongers after capable of doing serious damage, even to a Magmadroth – this is a somewhat different force than we normally see with the Bloodbound, as they have left the Bloodreaver ‘chaff’ behind in the Bloodkeep!
For their part, Clan Rictus have brought along allies from Clan Skryre, so their Clanrats will be suitably supported by various weapon teams and a small unit of angry Stormfiends.
Runefather on Magmadroth (Bael-Grimnir)
Hearthguard Berzerkers x 5
Auric Hearthguard x 5
Vulkite Berzerkers x 20 (two units of 10)
Lord-Celestant on Dracoth
Liberators x 15 (three units of 5)
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)
Prosecutors x 3
These are another two forces who, while sharing hard-hitting commanders riding great beasts, otherwise have very different characteristics. The Stormcasts have left their Paladins marching behind, and so they will not be present during the ambush, leaving the Liberators and Judicators to create a solid anvil upon which the Skaven and Bloodbound will (hopefully) dash themselves. The Fyreslayers lack that kind of durability but if they can avoid sustaining too many casualties early on, they should be able to gouge large chunks out of the ambushing forces.
The Battleplan puts the forces of Order in the centre of the battlefield, while the combined Chaos forces attack from either side in a traditional ambush. While the usual Chaos commander (James) took control of the Bloodbound, another friend, Andy, had turned up and James gave him control of the Skaven (“here are some rats – try not to get them killed”).
The forces of Order got wind that something was up an instant before the ambush was launched, and deployed with the Fyreslayers on one side and the Stormcasts on the other. Both kept their elite units and commanders well to the centre, and both put one unit forward to absorb the ambush, Vulkite Berzerkers for the Fyreslayers and Liberators for the Stormcasts.
The Bloodbound deployed opposite the Stormcasts with the Blood Warriors to the fore and the Wrathmongers and Aspiring Deathbringer making up a second wave.
The Skaven, callously, put their Clanrats up front, supported by the Stormfiends. The weapon teams were behind these rats, the Jezzails taking full advantage of their immense range.
Battle Round One
Both the Skaven Warlord and Aspiring Deathbringer urged their forces forward, the Blood Warriors racing ahead as fast as they could.
On the other side of the battlefield, the Skaven opened up on the closest Vulkite Berzerkers. Starting with the Warlock Engineer’s Warp Lightning, and followed by the weapon teams and Stormfiends, green-tinged smoke engulfed the Berzerkers and, when it cleared, they were all dead.
With an easy victory apparently in reach, the Clanrats dove into the breach and launched an assault on the next line of Vulkite Berzerkers.
However, they soon found they had bitten off way more than they could chew and while they managed to kill a single Vulkite, they had not reckoned on the Grimwrath Berzerker being so close. He piled into the Clanrats, killing ten immediately with great swings of his axe – and then he piled in again, killing another six. This was too much for the few remaining Clanrats, and they instantly broke and ran.
Things were not going so well against the Bloodbound. The Blood Warriors reached the Liberator line and, fuelled with madness from the Wrathmongers, tore the Stormcasts apart, sending each pf them back to Sigmar.
With the ambush already well under way, the forces of Order assessed the situation and made plans to strike back.
For the Stormcasts, it was all about containment – delay the Bloodbound for as long as possible, giving the Judicators and Prosecutors time to whittle them down, and perhaps even long enough for the Fyreslayers to deal with the Skaven and then lend their own weight against Khorne’s followers.
The remaining Liberator retinues formed up to block the Bloodbound advance while giving the Judsicators a clear field of fire. The initial volley brought two Blood Warriors to the ground, but the Judicators were already re-loading.
The Fyreslayers displayed no such caution and, led by the Runefather on his Magmadroth, they surged forward to the Skaven, eager to enact their revenge on the rats. The Auric Hearthguard cracked off shots with their Firepikes, dropping two Clanrats – then the Fyreslayers charged.
The Hearthguard Berzerkers charged the remaining Clanrats, killing three and allowing more to run, but the greater numbers of the Clanrats allowed them to hold the charge. Meanwhile, the Skaven Warlord started to duel the Grimwrath Berzerker but, after failing to wound the Duardin, quickly leapt back to leave the Warlock Engineer to deal with the angry Fyreslayer. However, before the Grimwrath Berzerker could react, the Magmadroth piled in and swallowed the Engineer whole!
The Vulkite Berzerkers had also entered the fray by this point and, despite losing one of their number, managed to slay one of the mighty Stormfiends.
The Skaven had been hammered and the Bloodbound were, at least, contained. Despite their losses, the forces of Order had blunted the ambush.
Battle Round Two
Thrown onto the backfoot by the response of the forces of Order, the Chaos armies were slow to react. This gave the Judicators all the time they needed to deliver a withering salvo of bolts and arrows, almost wiping out one of the Blood Warrior units.
On the other side of the battlefield, the Runefather exploited the gap that had been created in the Skaven line and raced forward to the weapon teams.
The huge beast crashed into the Jezzail teams and tore them apart in seconds.
The Skaven Warlord and Aspiring Deathbringer both urged their forces on, though with different degrees of enthusiasm.
Though they had taken some losses, the Bloodbound barely noticed their own wounded as they trampled the dying Blood Warriors into the dirt. The Bloodbound still had enough weight to break the Stormcast line and they fully intended to use it.
Splitting their advance, the Wrathmongers crashed into one retinue of Liberators, while the Blood Warriors attacked the other, using their numbers to begin lapping round into the first line of Judicators.
The Liberators killed two Wrathmongers but found their minds clouded with thoughts of rage and bloodshed. In their madness, the Liberator-Prime and Greatsword-wielding Liberator turned round and murdered their own retinue. Distracted, they were easy prey for the remaining Wrathmongers who quickly finished them off.
The Blood Warriors were similarly victorious, killing all but one of the Liberators they faced.
Things were not going quite as well for the Skaven Warlord, but he still had some tricks up his sleeve. To begin with, he directed the remaining weapon teams to concentrate their fire upon the Runefather and Magmadroth.
While the Poison Wind Mortar completely missed its target, the Skaven manning the Ratling Gun cranked their weapon up to full power and unleashed a hail of bullets that badly wounded the Magmadroth. The Skaven Warlord then leapt into the back of the Magmadroth, dug his halberd into its side, and then jumped back down before the Runefather could react.
The Grimwrath Berzerker was bathed in warpfire from the Stormfiends, but simply shrugged off the effects of the hideous weapon. He then dispatched one of the Stormfiends, but not before it killed the last of the Vulkite Berzerkers. However, the Hearthguard Berzerkers had finally dealt with the last of the Clanrats and they were now free to pursue other, more valuable targets.
Battle Round Three
Calling out to Sigmar, the Lord-Relictor brought lightning down from the sky, frying a marauding Blood Warrior, before the Lord-Celestant bade his Dracoth to charge forward into the Bloodbound, slaying five Blood Warriors with just a few swings of his Celestial Hammer!
The Runefather was beginning to get very annoyed with the Skaven Warlord who refused to stand still and fight and, urging his Magmadroth on, he crashed into the rocks the warlord was now hiding within.
Once again, the Skaven Warlord scurried away before the Runefather could catch him, but the Magmadroth contented itself by munching on the Ratling Gun team who had strayed too close.
A short distance away, the Grimwrath Berzerker slew the last Stormfiend. There were now very few rats left alive.
The back of the Bloodbound had been broken with the charge of the Lord-Celestant, but the Stormcasts had taken too many losses themselves to guarantee victory. Seeing a chance to end the battle himself, the Aspiring Deathbringer led his Wrathmongers into the heart of the Stormcast formation.
The charge of the Wrathmongers wiped out the entire first line of Judicators, the fight lasting little more than a few seconds. The Lord-Celestant was close by, but he had seen the effects their blood rage had on Stormcasts, and was unwilling to be fiorced to fight his own men.
The Blood Warriors had fared less well, soaking up the brunt of the Stormcasts’ attacks, but this was exactly what the Aspiring Deathbringer had intended for them. The last Blood Warrior fought a brutal duel with the last Liberator, Goreglaive versus Grandhammer. Both traded blows and while the Liberator was wounded, it was the Blood Warrior who crashed to the ground, his helmet caved.
The Skaven Warlord, too, still had a lot of fight left in him, though he was beginning to get very worried for his own safety. Spying the Grimwrath Berzerker on his own (and with his back turned), the warlord pounced and drove his halberd right through the Duardin’s body.
Battle Round Four
By this time, all forces had been hammered, but the forces of Order were beginning to pull out ahead.
While few in number, the Bloodbound still had their most powerful unit and general in the fight, while the Skaven were left with their Warlord and a Poison Wind Mortar team alone. The Stormcasts had two full retinues left but, aside fom the Lord-Celestant, no one who could match the Bloodbound in hand-to-hand. Meanwhile, the Fyreslayers had been reduced to just four Hearthguard Berzerkers and the Runefather.
The Wrathmongers closed in on the last line of Judicators, though their chains had lost some momentum during the battle, and only one Stormcast fell to their attack. Another Wrathmonger fell, but this caused the Prosecutor-Prime to go mad, and he smashed in the skull of one of his own retinue.
Seeing the Magmadroth limping, the Skaven Warlord sprang forward, dealt it another grievous injury, then sprung back before the Runefather could react. Roaring with rage, the Runefather steered his wounded Magmadroth forward to run down the Skaven Warlord, but the rat nimbly skipped to one side and swung his halberd in a blow that caused the Magmadroth and Runefather to crash down to the ground in a cloud of dust.
The Lord-Celestant shouted out orders for his Stormcasts to adopt a new formation and then signalled the moment to open fire. Prosecutors threw hammers, Judicator fired Skybolts and even the Auric Hearthguard joined in with their Firepikes, as missiles rained down on the Wrathmongers and Aspiring Deathbringer. When the Lord-Celestant gave the order to cease fire, not a single member of the Bloodbound was moving.
The forces of Khorne had finally been defeated and now the Stormcasts could lend their weight to the Fyreslayers!
Battle Round Five
Only four Hearthguard Berzerkers were now left alive to finish the Skaven, for the Stormcasts were still some distance away. With an angry roar that promised vengeance, they charged the Skaven Warlord, finally trapping the rat and slaying him. The Poison Wind Mortar managed to get off one final, futile shot at the Fyreslayers that missed its target by a wide margin, before it too fell to their axes.
The forces of Order had been ambushed, but had managed to fight their way clear!
Another close one! While the forces of Order managed to beat back the Chaos ambush and wipe out their enemies, the cost was obviously very high. The Fyreslayers had only their (small) Hearthguard retinues left on the battlefield, while the Stormcasts had been reduced to two missile-firing units and two heroes. With that small margin, it could so easily have gone a different way.
The Grimwrath Berzerker really started to come alive in this battle (he was not quite so hot in Consumed), and it is very apparent that he needs to get in amongst the enemy to be most effective – if enough enemy units are close by, he can potentially get a 1+ save against all wounds, including mortals (he gains a +1 bonus to his berzerk rage save for every enemy unit close by). Unlikely, but possible! However, that does, of course, put him in the place where he is most likely to die – so, get this guy stuck in and expect hium to die. But he should take a lot of enemies with him!
The Vulkite Berzerkers are solid enough, but they greatly benefit from having the right heroes close by. As for the Hearthguard, they need units bigger than five, I think.
On the Chaos side, the Wrathmongers are just plain nasty. They are extremely effective in their own right, but also buff all models close by and cause enemies to attack themselves – this was the primary reason the Lord-Celestant did not get stuck into them. A powerful hero on a mount can easily end up killing himself or an entire friendly unit if the rage of the Wrathmongers descends upon him.
As for the rats, well, the Jezzails were put out of their misery quickly, because everyone knows just what they are capable of! However, the Rat of the Match had to be the Skaven Warlord who, after attacking, was able to keep bouncing out of combat so he could not be wounded in return. Very annoying/fun (depending on which side of the battlefield you are on!), and I expect to see him returning in many battles in the future.
The Story Continues…
Despite the setback of the ambush, the Fyreslayers and Stormcasts are pushing onwards to the Bloodkeep where the Stormcasts’ (frankly mad) plan will be revealed. However, before that happens, we need to take a quick trip back to the Realm of Life, as Khorne has been watching the progress of Nurgle’s Rotbringers and he is decidedly unhappy with how things are getting on…