Clash of Wills 2: Revenge at Blackblood Weald

We are continuing our Clash of Wills campaign, with the forces increased to 1,250 points. The Skaven have suffered a catastrophic loss against the undead forces of Lord Helmut von Drakenspyre, and are in retreat. A rearguard has been sent out to slow down the undead, but the undead are now being led by the von Drakenspyre’s personal harem on board their Coven Throne…

 

Revenge at Blackblood Weald

This Battleplan was determined by the winner of the previous battle, so we are playing Revenge at Blackblood Weald.

These are the two forces:

Skaven
Warlord
Warlock Engineer
Stormfiends x 3
Stormvermin x 20
Clan Rats x 20 (two units of 10)
Jezzails x 3
Plagueclaw Catapult

Command Trait: Lord of War
Artefact of Chaos: Crown of Conquest

Death
Coven Throne
Wight King with Baleful Tomb Blade
Tomb Banshee
Spirit Hosts x 3
Skeletons x 60 (two units of 30)
Zombies x 30

Command Trait: Death Incarnate
Artefact of Death: Cloak of Mists and Shadows

The Lord Helmut von Drakenspyre has sent some of his underlings, on board their Coven Throne to oversee this phase of the campaign – he has way too much minion blood to drink at the moment to stir himself from his castle.

 

Deployment

The Skaven sent out a single unit of Clanrats to act as the rearguard to their main force, and this proved to be wholly inadequate. Before the battle even began, the Clanrats were wiped out, and one of the Jezzail teams was caught and slain before they could get away.

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Anxious to stave off further disaster, the Skaven Warlord hastily formed up his troops. The remaining Jezzail teams were set up in woods on his far flank, while the Plagueclaw was placed within more woods in the centre. The Stormvermin took position on one side of those woods, while the remaining Clanrats acted as a screen for the Stormfiends on the other side.

The Vampires on board the Coven Throne were content to let the Wight King manage the deployment of most of their forces and, lacking true imagination (though that had not seemed to affect his ability), the Wight King deployed the Skeletons and Zombies almost exactly how he had on the Verdigris Plains.

The Vampires took their Coven Throne to the far left flank, dragging the Spirit Hosts with them, for they had already spied their priority targets, and were eager to drink the blood of their enemies (even though their enemies were filthy rats – von Drakenspyre does not treat his girls well, it seems).

 

Battle Round One

Not wanting to repeat the mistakes of the last battle, the Warlord hesitantly pushed his troops forward. He squeaked in frustration as the crew of the Plagueclaw wildly missed their target (again), and became apoplectic when he saw the work of the Jezzail teams.

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Sighting the Wight King, the Jezzail teams cracked off two shots, but they ricocheted off his ancient shield.

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The undead began their steady advance, the Wight King hoping to repeat his success upon the Verdigris Plains using exactly the same tactics.

However, the Vampires on the Coven Throne had other ideas. Their queen activated her Cloak of Mist and Shadows, and the whole throne flickered and appeared much closer to the Skaven line. It then surged forward to flank the Jezzails.

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The Skaven desperately tried to bring their weapons around to bear but with a thunder of spectral hooves, the Coven Throne crashed through the trees and wiped them out in seconds. The Vampire Queen did not even have to reach down to finish them off, leaving that odious work to her maidens.

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Battle Round Two

First blood had gone to the Vampires of the Coven Throne, but the Skaven Warlord was not in the least bit perturbed by that, and he ordered the advance to continue, running to catch up with his Stormvermin (but always ,making sure they remained between him and the enemy, of course).

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Summoning up the power of Warp Lightning, the Warlock Engineer hurled a powerful bolt at the Wight King, seriously damaging the undead hero.

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Meanwhile, the Stormfiends bellowed as they spied the Coven Throne within the woods the Jezzails had occupied, and started lumbering towards it.

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The maidens on board screamed as the Coven Throne was rocked by Warpfire, Poison Globes and shells from the Ratling Guns the Stormfiends carried. However, the Vampire Queen hurled venomous curses at them, and this seemed to make them pause, for they were reluctant to charge her. On the opposite side of the battlefield, the Stormvermin also stalled, choosing not to charge the Zombies just ahead of them.

The forces of the dead reacted with uncharacteristic swiftness to this hesitation. Cautious of their heavy weaponry, the Vampire Queen beguiled the Stormfiends as the Coven Throne swept behind them. Mesmerised by the beautiful woman on board, they stared stupidly at the Vampire as she rallied the undead around her.

Elsewhere, the Tomb Banshee shrieked a ghastly wail, and three Stormvermin clawed at their own ears as they fell to the ground – then, the combined forces of the Skeletons and Zombies charged them.

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Nearly half of the Stormvermin were slain in that initial rush, but the others stood firm and began striking out at the walking dead with their halberds. With the Warlord so close, they would never risk fleeing, and so held their ground despite being so heavily outnumbered (more than three to one!).

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By this time, the Vampires of the Coven Throne had organised their own assault. As the Coven Throne crashed into the back of the Stormfiends, who resolutely refused to strike back at it, a massive wave of Skeleton Warriors ploughed into their front, catching nearby Clanrats and the Warlock Engineer in the charge. To ensure the balance was firmly in their favour, the Vampires called upon the Spirit Hosts to sweep into the Clanrats as well.

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While the Stormfiends were able to resist these attacks with just a few scratches, the Warlock Engineer was seriously wounded by the swords of the Skeletons and the Clanrats were utterly slaughtered.

 

Battle Round Three

Despite being so badly wounded, and with Skeletons pressing around him from all sides, the Warlock Engineer managed to spy the Wight King whose presence was having such a powerful effect in the battle against the Stormvermin. Summoning more Warp Lightning, the Warlock Engineer experienced a momentary feeling of regret before his Warp Condenser exploded, completely blasting him apart in a burst of green fire.

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As the Plagueclaw Catapult missed the Skeletons it was targeting again, the Stormfiends opened up with their tremendous firepower against the Skeletons they were battling. Shattered bones flew everywhere as nearly a dozen were mown down with a single salvo. However, it was to no avail, as these losses had no effect upon the Skeletons and they continued to attack, finally killing a Stormfiend. This was too much for one of the big brutes and it fled, leaving a single Stormfiend holding the entire flank.

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Zombies, Skeletons and Stormvermin ground away at one another on the other side of the battlefield, with neither side willing to surrender. However, this battle of attrition could only favour the undead.

The Skaven Warlord saw the obviously damaged Wight King stumble in front of him, but checked his charge at the last moment, not feeling the time was quite right to attack.

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The Vampires of the Coven Throne revealed that they were indeed Death Incarnate, and the savagery of their attacks wounded the lone Stormfiend before it was pulled to the ground by the mob of Skeletons.

With the Skaven flank now destroyed, the forces of the undead began to close in.

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While the Spirit Hosts began to swoop towards the Plagueclaw Catapult still hiding in the woods, the Wight King and Tomb Banshee strode purposefully towards the Skaven Warlord. The Banshee’s scream injured the Skaven slightly, but the Wight King was unable to bring his foe to battle.

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Meanwhile, the Stormvermin continued their now desperate fight against the Skeletons and Zombies. Both sides had suffered horribly in this clash, but the Stormvermin were taking casualties far faster than the undead.

 

Battle Round Four

The Skaven Warlord underlined, with some force, his desire for the Stormvermin not to run, but it was a hopeless gesture, as the last of them soon disappeared under the claws of the Zombies. Seeing few chances for redemption, the Warlord finally geared himself up to charge the Wight King, destroying it with a swing of his halberd.

However, the Warlord had not kept his eye on the Coven Throne, and the Vampire Queen coolly directed an Arcane Bolt towards him, blasting the rat where he stood.

Once again, seeing the loss of their Warlord caused the (very) few remaining Skaven to flee for their lives.

The Vampire Queen was content that she could now report her victory to the Lord Helmut von Drakvenspyre.

 

Conclusion

Another win for the undead, though they suffered a lot more casualties in that fight. The Coven Throne did its job, though if it had not managed to Beguile the Stormfiends, I fear it would have been lost in the third round.

The Stormvermin more or less held an entire flank by themselves, but they never really got into their stride – with the right set up, they could near enough destroy any one of the large undead units in a single round of combat, but their position meant they could never get their full weight to bear as the undead gradually whittled their numbers down.

A fun game, overall, and a big thumbs up for the Matched Play system we are using in this campaign.

Next week we will be finishing this campaign as the undead forge ahead with their advance, pushing their way into the Realm of Fire for a final showdown with the Skaven.

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Clash of Wills 1: The Verdigris Plains

There has been a great deal of attention of late on the Matched Play systems of the General’s Handbook. However, that is, of course only one of the three styles of play that it supports, and we decided to start delving into the Narrative Play area. There are lots of ways to approach this style, but the General’s Handbook provides a ready-to-go tree campaign in the form of Clash of Wills, so we decided to have a swing at that.

The basic premise of the campaign is that there are two Realmgates relatively close to one another, each controlled by a different force. However, each force covets the other Realmgate and, one day, a fight breaks out.

James opted for a Skaven army, specifically a Verminus/Pestilens cross. I did initially think about also doing Skaven, for a bit of rat-on-rat action, going for a Skryre/Moulder force, then I debated doing Beastmen… but in the end, went with a nice Death-led force. I figured these were the minions of the great Vampire Lord Helmut von Drakenspyre…

We have been doing a lot of fighting in the Realm of Metal, so I figured that with all the disruption going on between the Stormcasts and Tzeentch Arcanites, some of the little guys might take the opportunity to increase their own territory – which seems right for a Skaven vs. Vampire furball!

This should work out well in the campaign, as we are planning to start small at 1,000 points (using Matched Play forces in Narrative Play!), and gradually build up to 2,000 points by the last battle. James will have the entire Skaven horde to pick and choose from, whereas I can supplement my Undead with some interesting dead things.

James will have the Blackblood Weald, a Realmgate in the middle of a black forest that leads to the Realm of Fire, while I will plump for the Rusted Steps, a Realmgate that joins the Realm of Metal to, suitably enough, the Realm of Death.

And that is about all you need to kick this campaign off – choose two forces, pick a Realmgate for each, and dive into the first Battleplan, The Verdigris Plains.

 

The Verdigris Plains

This is a nice, simple Battleplan to kick off the campaign, with each army trying to wipe out the other – this reflects both sides sending out small probing forces to spot the weak points in the enemy’s dispositions. The one complication is that the Verdigris Plains are famed for the ferrous storms that whip across their surface which may hamper (and even harm!) the two forces trying to fight through them.

The next Battleplan in the campaign will be determined by whomever wins this one!

These are the two forces:

Skaven
Warlord
Warlock Engineer
Assassin
Stormvermin x 20
Clan Rats x 40 (two units of 20)
Plagueclaw Catapult

Command Trait: Lord of War
Artefact of Chaos: Crown of Conquest

Death
Wight King
Tomb Banshee
Spirit Hosts x 3
Skeletons x 60 (two units of 30)
Zombies x 30

Command Trait: Ruler of the Night
Artefact of Death: Ring of Immortality

 

Deployment

The forces of the dead set up in a tight block, close enough for the Wight King to keep an eye on all of them as the Tomb Banshee flitted about their ranks and the Spirit Hosts prepared to speed down the left flank.

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The Skaven, perhaps feeling outnumbered for the first time in their short, brutish lives, placed Clanrats on their flanks, with the Stormvermin, Warlord, Engineer and Plagueclaw in the centre – keeping all the ‘important’things in one place.

 

Battle Round One

The Skaven held the initiative at the start of the battle, but solidly refused to move. Squeaking at his rats to not move a muscle, the Warlord held all the Skaven in place, determined to let the undead come to him (and perhaps hoping the Plagueclaw would do most of his work for him).

The crew of the Plagueclaw dutifully let fly with a ton of filth aimed at the Skeleton Warriors on the left flank but their aim was off, and the projectile went sailing off into the distance.

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With a clicking of bones and moaning of Zombies, the undead advanced under the will of the Wight King, trying to cross the battlefield before the Plagueclaw crew managed to find their range.

 

Battle Round Two

As the Warlock Engineer threw a Mystic Shield around Clanrats, both flanks of the Skaven force pulled inwards to protect the Plagueclaw and Warlord from the undead advance, almost forming a square (were they expecting cavalry?).

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The Plagueclaw crew had their sight in by now and hurled a projectile right into the heart of the Skeleton Warriors in the centre of the undead formation, sending splinters of bone flying everywhere. However, they squeaked in frustration and not a little fear as each of the smashed skeletons reformed and pulled itself back upright, continuing the march towards them as if nothing had happened.

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Sparing no thought to this attack, the undead continued to close the distance, the Tomb Banshee unleashing a terrifying scream at the Stormvermin. However, under their Warlord’s careful eye, they refused to buckle under the dreadful sound.

 

Battle Round Three

Skeletons and Warriors briefly slowed their pace as they moved closer to the Skaven, preparing their charge. Then, they struck, pouring forward as a single deathly battering ram.

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The Zombies cut off the advance of the Spirit Hosts as they charged into the nearest Clanrats but, everywhere else along the line, the undead ploughed into the Skaven line as the Wight King watched with something approaching satisfaction from nearby ruins.

Utter carnage followed, the undead swelled by both their numbers and the presence of the Wight King. While the Clanrats facing the Zombies managed to more or less hold their part of the line, Skeleton Warriors hit the other Clanrat unit and Stormvermin. The few rats that survived quickly decided that this battlefield was not the safest place for then, and they ran for their lives, leaving the Skaven line completely shattered.

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Panic rapidly set in amongst the Skaven. The Warlord shrieked at the last Clanrats to hold their ground (or else), while the Warlock Engineer shot two Skeletons in the face before retreating to hide behind the Plagueclaw. The big engine of war threw more filth into the air, smashing apart five Skeletons, but even its crew could tell this was likely to be too little, too late.

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The Warlord dived into the nearest Skeleton Warriors, but shrieked in frustration as their solid shields caught every one of his blows. Knowing he was not in a safe place, the Warlord quickly skipped out of combat before the Skeletons’ swords could find their mark.

The last Clanrats were indeed holding their ground, but paying for it heavily. They managed to bring down a single Zombie, but were dismayed when one of their own number rose up from the ground to begin fighting them.

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Battle Round Four

At that moment, the ferrous winds of the Verdigris Plains blew, blinding everyone on the battlefield. This caused the crew of the Plagueclaw to chitter in frustration, but everyone else was too busy fighting at close quarters to much care.

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The Warlock Engineer threw a Mystic Shield around the Plagueclaw, then promptly legged it, running away as fast as he could scamper. The Warlord tried to dive upon the Skeleton Warriors again, but became disorientated within the ferrous storm. As the winds cleared for an instant, he realised the Skeletons were a lot closer than he had thought, and they were quickly closing in…

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As one unit of Skeleton Warriors charged onto the Plagueclaw, quickly tearing it apart, more crowded around the Warlord, blocking off any chance for him to escape. The Skaven desperately flailed with his weapons but was soon beaten down by the sheer weight of Skeletons mobbing him.

Seeing their leader disappear under the crush of Skeletons, the few remaining Skaven fled the battlefield. The Wight King had won a great victory for the Lord Helmut von Drakenspyre.

 

Conclusion

There is no other word for it, that battle was brutal!

In the end, the undead did not lose a single unit, and despite the Skaven inflicting consistent (but small) casualties throughout the battle, the dead just kept coming back. The overall effect was pretty much like a battering ram, marching towards the Skaven and then just breaking them down.

As it turns out, the Warlord survived that battle and crept back to the Blackblood Weald, feeling very sorry for himself. However, his Clan Warlord promptly ordered him back into the fray, as a large undead force had been sighted closing in on Skaven territory…

 

 

 

 

Extremis Complete!

Well, this little project took somewhat longer than I had intended (about twice as long) but, finally, I have finished the Extremis Chamber of the Hallowed Knights with the addition of two Stardrakes.

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One with the Lord-Celestant, the other with a Drakesworn Templar. And yes, I realise that while with the complete Lightning and Thunder Echelons I did earlier, I am missing a Battalion in the form of the Drakesworn Temple but, you know, my heart is just not into doing another two Stardrakes!

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So, what were these two chaps like to do?

Well, the initial work was very easy. Using a combination of the Dracoths in the Stormcast Painting Guide and paint schemes that are listed in the instruction book for this kit, most of the model was quick and simple. The Stardrake’s scales come first, a two-tone arrangement that is just based, shaded, then drybrushed – very quick, very effective.

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Then comes all the normal Stormcast bits and pieces – silver armour, blue plate, brown straps, and gold. This is by now a very fast process for me (Stormcasts are quicker to paint than Space Marines!), and so was no issue at all. Honestly, I can do all that in my sleep (almost).

The problems arose with the wings. Why, oh why, did I decide that a really light-coloured membrane right next to a dark colour would be a good idea? You see, I am not the most precise painter in the world. In fact, I am kinda the opposite of that. So, the ribs in the wings got done at the same time as the rest of the scales, but when I come along to do the membrane, some paint inevitably gets splashed on the rib. So, no problem, I go back and tidy that up – and get green on the membrane. Tidy that up, and get paint on the rib again… repeat, repeat, repeat.

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When I ‘finished’ them the first time round, in all seriousness, it looked like a five year old had attacked it. The wings just looked horrible.

In the end, I went over the ribs with Agrax Earthshade to create a ‘shadow’ and then tidied up the membranes once more, this time with the margin of error the Agrax provided. They are still by no means perfect, but they are at least functional now.

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So, the decision has been made – no more Stardrakes! I believe the Hallowed Knights can live without a Drakesworn Temple (especially as I have already tried out a single unit of Dracothian Guard in Matched Play and they are mean!).

I am working on some Grave Guard and Black Knights this weekend (about half the base colours are already done) which will give me enough ‘normal’ undead to be getting on with for some time, I think. After that, it is all about Destruction as I dive into a tribe of Gargants and some Spiderfang Grots!

 

The Betrayer: Mannfred, Mortarch of Night

Though we are only due to use him in one battle (at the moment), Mannfred has been popping up in the AoS fiction a fair bit, so I was looking forward to tackling the model – and last night, I finished him!

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Overall, this is a very quick/easy model to do. The only real pain in the bum comes right at the start with all those skulls inside the Dread Abyssal’s body.

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The skulls themselves, easy enough – paint them white (over a black undercoat), then use Cassandora Yellow and Fuegan Orange to ‘flame them up’, with a light drybrush of Yriel Yellow on top. Takes minutes.

However, you then have to repaint all those ribs and any areas that that you splashed over with the skulls, and that takes a bit of precision… and thus a bit of time.

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Once that is complete, however, you are away. A bit of drybrushing on the Dread Abyssal (Skavenblight Dinge and – very lightly – Karak Stone), then the chest plate, and Ashigaroth is done!

That just leaves Mannfred himself.

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His armour is an easy black (went with Dark Reaper then Fenrisian Grey for the highlights, to separate it from the Dread Abyssal), a crimson cloak, and then weapons and gold. For Mannfred’s skin, I did the same thing as with Neferata, using Rakarth Flesh/Reikland Fleshshade, with Rakarth and Pallid Wych for highlights. Gives a nice pasty, vampire-y feel.

Quite happy with this model overall, and I have begun work on some more minions for the Mortarch (Grave Guard, Black Knights and a mounted Wight King). However, a lot of this is to put off work on the two Stardrakes that will finish off the Extremis Chamber. The vast majority of these models is dead easy, following the same pattern as other Stormcasts, but the wings… ah, the wings. A gigantic pain, which I will share with you later this week. I finally cracked them, sort of, and I’ll go through the process soon enough.

On the building table, I have started on the forced of Destruction, with a (rather large – more than I intended!) Spiderfang Grot force, plus a complete tribe of Gargants. Been wanting to do a force of the latter since Age of Sigmar came out, so looking forward to those!

Review – Ironwarp Citadel

This is a bit of a stealth release for Age of Sigmar – an installment in the Realmgate Wars series, entitled Ironwarp Citadel.

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The reason you may not have heard of this one is because it is one of GW’s Warhammer World-only releases, available only from their HQ in Nottingham. So, if you want a copy yourself, you will either have to make the trip up there or avail yourself of eBay (where it seems to be going for circa £20 at the moment).

It is a 48 page softback book which focusses on one set of battles depicted in the Godbeasts book, specifically the fights that went on in and around the Ironwarp Citadel, just before the Noble Sacrifice Battleplan in the main campaign book. It is also based around the massive new diorama the Exhibition Centre has just put together.

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The book starts off with a behind the scenes look at how the diorama was actually built, and while the final result is going to be beyond any mere mortals (75 Helfort sets were used to create it!) it is very interesting in its own right and may even give some ideas on how to approach scenery. For example, the painting of the actual citadel itself uses an extremely quick yet effective basecoating method that could be duplicated if yu want to quickly paint up your own Dreadhold.

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And that is what the final result looks like!

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The book then goes onto the story behind the Ironwarp Citadel. This fortress lays on the edge of the Land of the Chained Sun (which, as we now know, is actually Ignax, one of the Godbeasts). Now, this part of the Realmgate Wars does not go so well for the forces of Order, but during the fight the Fyreslayers launched their own offensive to clamber up one of the chains to plant a rune on the side of Ignax that would allow them to control the creature’s flames – this would become very important in the All-Gates book.

The anchor for one of these chains is the Ironwarp Citadel, hence the massive fight for the fortress that is the basis of this book.

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I won’t give away the full story, but anyone who has read Godbeasts will know the Fyreslayers obviously make it (it is in subsequent events that things go south for Order).

There are lots of lovely photos of the diorama where you can see the combined Fyreslayer and Stormcast armies hammering away at the Khornate-held walls. What is interesting here is that some familiar faces pop up that have not yet been directly mentioned in the background of the Age of Sigmar – in this picture, for example, you can see the new Forge World Khorgorath, Skaarac Bloodborn and, a couple of pages on, you can see Fyreslayers trying to beat up Scyla Anfingrimm.

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The battles culminate in the Fyreslayers starting to climb the chain as Lord-Celestant Imperius, ably assisted by his Drakesworn Templars, try their best to keep Archaon busy.

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A Time of War sheet is included to cover the Ashlands, the area in which the Ironwarp Citadel sits. I think this is the same Time of War sheet as in Godbeasts but I cannot double check that at the moment as, umm, my Age of Sigmar app has crashed since the last update (I don’t believe I am alone there…).

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There are three Battleplans in the book. The first, Storming the Gate (though it does not actually have a gate, funnily enough…) sees the forces of Order rushing forward to claim the back end of the defender’s territory.

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The next, Securing a Foothold, has the attacker’s surrounded within the fortress as the defender’s launch a counterattack.

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Finally, To Kill a King is a direct attack upon Archaon – though the Everchosen is going to be tough to defeat, as he can use 3 Command Abilities every round, and has access to any and all that his underlings have!

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Beyond the Battleplans, the real point of interest in this book for many will be the new Battalions. Having seen the 40k-equivalent of this book, I was expecting some very sizeable Battalions which require a number of models that most gamers will simply not have – however, while they are large, they are not completely undoable.

The Swords of Chaos, for example, depicts the First Circle of the Varanguard, and requires at least three units. Not sure I am desperate to paint that many Varanguard, but I can see others will. Especially as the Battalion means they can re-roll hit rolls of 1, which basically means they will almost never miss!

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The Everchosen’s Menagerie is a good one, and I think I will be using this Battalion in one of my own games. It is formed from a Bloodstoker leading any five Monsters you like (they cannot have riders), so you can unleash your Slaughterbrutes, Cockatrices, Hydras, Great Spined Chaos Beasts… whatever you like!

The Knights Imperius is one of those Battalions that is almost in reach – it reqStardrake (easy enough), and at least two Drakesworn Templars. If someone has a full Extremis Chamber, I can see them having one Templar alongside their Lord-Celestant, but two… Maybe not.

Mind you, if they went for the full Drakesworn Battalion in the Battletome, they will already have the models needed for the Knights Imperius!

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The Hammerfall Brotherhood may be the Battalion that veers most towards being out of reach for the average gamer – the Celestant-Prime leading five (and up to ten!) Retributor retinues. I think you would have to really love hammers to have that many Retributors without having made some into Decimators or Protectors.

The Fyrestorm Pack may be an easy one, formed of any three Magmadroths of your choice, in return for which you get re-rolls on the beasts’ magma-breaths.

 

Summary

And that is Ironwarp Citadel! It is not a long book by any means, nor is it in any way essential, even if you are a dedicated follower of the Realmgate Wars story line. I get the sense that it is intended as a bit of fun, really, concentrated on one set of battles that were ancillary to the main campaign anyway.

What I am saying is, don’t get angry that GW only released it via Warhammer World! You are not missing out as such, and it really is just a bit of icing on the Realmgate Wars cake. Collectors are going to want a copy, and they have the eBay route to fall back on.

Overall, I liked this book for what it is, but don’t consider it a major addition to the Age of Sigmar line.

Review – Age of Sigmar Starter Sets

GW have just released two new items (actually six if you include the £10 ‘easy to build’ miniatures packs) designed to get people into Age of Sigmar at a very low price point.

 

Storm of Sigmar

The main one is the Storm of Sigmar starter set.

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This is a small £20 box set with purportedly everything you need to start playing Age of Sigmar – and that is true, though it should be noted that it is in no way a replacement for the larger £75 set. That contains two complete armies, whereas Storm of Sigmar has 13 models, split between Stormcasts and Bloodbound, as with its larger cousin.

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The bulk of the box is taken up with the thirteen miniatures (3 Liberators, 2 Retributors, 3 Blood Warriors and 5 Bloodreavers), a transfer sheet, dice, and a Construction Guide. These are the same models as those that appear in the larger set.

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You also get attractive unit cards for the models – nice and clear, with everything you need. They do not have all the unit options but then, with this set, you just do not need them, and they would only clog things up for what is an introduction to the game.

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All of this we have seen before – what I was really interested in seeing was the rulebook.

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It kicks off with three pages of background behind the setting, explaining the Mortal Realms, and who the Stormcasts and Bloodbound are. This focusses solely on these two forces, with the other Grand Alliances not getting so much as a look-in.

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Then we come to what is, in effect, a mini-narrative campaign that uses the models in this set. In terms of story, these Battleplans take place ‘off to one side’ from the big fights depicted in the larger starter set and the first hardback book. They are also going to be very quick to play.

The first battle, for example, features a single Retributor-Prime to interrupt a ritual being conducted by three Blood Warriors.

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The other battles are in a similar vein, with the next featuring the Liberators trying to hold a pass against waves of Bloodreavers, then the Retributors trying to force their way through a mixture of the Bloodbound.

The final Battleplan, Lord of Blood, uses all the models and introduces the idea of Command Abilities, with a special one for the Bloodbound.

As simple as they are, I actually quite like the look of these and, with the low model count, you could probably get through them all in half an hour or so. We are going to give these a whirl, and I may do a battle report on them!

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The core rules come next (on 8 pages rather than 4, due to the smaller format book), and the book finishes with some adverts/guides on where to go next – given the nature of this set, that is to be expected and cannot really be begrudged.

Overall, this seems to be a nice little starter set to get someone pushing models round the table and rolling dice, and I can see it working very well as a birthday or Christmas gift. For veteran players… well, the value is less, and it really is not targeted at you. The models are going to be of limited value as they are ‘non-standard’ unit sizes, so you are really looking at £20 for the mini-campaign. If you were to play it more than once, or use it to get someone new into the game… that could be worth it…

At the end of the day, this set is very much targeted at the new-to-Age-of-Sigmar player, and perhaps not anyone who reads this blog. In that regard, I would give it a solid A.

 

Getting Started with Age of Sigmar

Released the same day, there is a (much) cheaper Getting Started with Age of Sigmar book. It is just £5 and while it is nicely printed, with a spine, and weighs in at 96 pages, it may be better to look at this as a kind of special magazine, maybe even a ‘White Dwarf special edition’.

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This book seems to be intended to take someone who is completely new to Age of Sigmar (from someone who has just walked into a GW store for the first time to a veteran 40k – or even Fantasy Battle – player), and show them what is what in Age of Sigmar.

Oh, and you get a single free Liberator attached to the front. Pretty sure that is the same one that originally appeared on the front of White Dwarf last year (and, in fact, it has just occurred to me – with the White Dwarf Liberator, this one, and the three in Storm of Sigmar, I have just got myself an entirely new 5-man Liberator retinue!).

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The first 14 pages are dedicated to the setting of Age pf Sigmar, with all the major events, running from the formation of the Mortal Realms and the Age of Myth, right up to the All-Gates battles of the latest hardback.

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A very quick guide on how and why to collect models follows, and then we dive into a battle report.

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This is no ‘starter force’ battle report, but a full-on clash that pits the Celestant-Prime against Valkia and Skarbrand, with lots of Stormcasts and Khornate Daemons mixing it up.

It does not go into any detail on how the game is actually played, concentrating more on ‘cool things’ that happened during the game and how they can be applied to your own battles.This covers things like ‘active’ terrain, Realmgates, named characters (it explains who Skarbrand and Valkia are), and duels between heroes which culminates with a Herald of Khorne facing the Celestant-Prime (and winning!).

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Presumably having got a newcomer sufficiently fired up, the book then dives into the different factions, and here I can see some people having an issue. Take a look at this page:

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If the charge was made that this book is a 96 page advert for Age of Sigmar, that would be kind of hard to refute. However, I think that is very much in the nature of the book and if you were a newcomer to the game and were interested in getting properly started, then this is exactly what you would want/expect to see.

Not everyone is a jaded sourpuss like us gaming veterans!

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Fulfilling much the same function but in a more interesting fashion, are three double-page spreads featuring complete armies with their back story – the Grand Congregation of Nurgle, Vostarg Lodge and, pictured here, Chotec’s Burning Spear. A nice selection, and it gets away from the heavy Stormcast vs. Khorne direction.

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The rest of the book, forty-odd pages, is devoted to painting stuff up. The ‘Citadel Paint System’ is introduced, and it goes further than just getting base colours onto your models, going into Glazes and Technical paints, for example. Nothing too in depth, but it would get you started.

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A little further on is a step-by-step painting guide for several Bloodbound and Stormcast models. These are really only basic guides, stopping at all over washes and with no highlights, but they would get painted models onto the table in very quick order.

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And, of course, you have the rules as well. These are the same as those featured online and in the two starter sets, but they have been ‘prettied up’ with sidebars and photographs, extending them into eight A4 pages.

And that is about it for the Getting Started book.

Is it worth it? To be honest, this is very much an impulse purchase that someone might make while getting a new squad of Space Marines, or for a GW staffer to point a parent towards after their kids have expressed an interest.

For veterans… regard it as a special issue magazine, and you will not be too disappointed Just remember, it is not really intended for you…

Rise of the Warhost

The guys have been beavering away on their new Space Marines armies for our Badab War campaign (my own Mantis Warriors are in progress too, really got to get cracking on them), but we figured we would get some ‘test’ games in before getting to Badab, as they are both fairly new to the game.

I figured I could use a Daemons of Chaos army, utilising the miniatures I have been building up for Age of Sigmar (got to love an army that is just right for both games!) but knew that they would want to ‘gang up’ on me for a big 3,000 point game. That would mean using my Craftworld Eldar but I was lacking a few models that would allow a proper Warhost at that level (I could do a 1,500 pointer, but there were some units I just had not got round to picking up).

This gave me a problem, as my Eldar are painted up old style, in a ‘get an army done in a week’ kind of way. And I don’t paint like that now. So, I presumed that new Aspect Warrior plastics are coming (might be fairly soon, as a new plastic Eldrad has just been leaked) and figured they could be done ‘new’ style, which would mean I could just phase-out/re-paint the Guardian stuff at that point. With that plan in mind, I cracked in with the new units with a kind of hybrid old-style/new-style approach.

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Just a few units, but they took me a little longer than usual, a I was fitting them around the main Age of Sigmar projects.

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I already have a Vyper for the Windrider Host, but I needed another for the Guardian Battlehost. This one has been kept cheap, but mounts a Bright lance for anti-tank duties.

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This was the big unit I needed, and a tough one to pick up – GW does not supply Vaul’s Wrath batteries to retail and they never appear on eBay. So, for once in my life, I actually had to hand over some monies for these!

As for the choice of weapon, I cannot see they are anything but obvious. I am not a big fan of Webspinners unless I know I am going up against hordes (they are just a bit too situational) and I am not sure anyone in history has seriously taken Vibrocannon into battle. Which just leaves everyone’s favourite, the D-Cannon!

I am not expecting huge things from these guys in the battlefield. Their barrage is nice enough, but the range is limited. I am thinking of popping them up on a flank with a Warlock, preferably in colour, and just bombard anything that comes close. They should have a good chance of holding a flank almost by themselves, due to the fear of their D weapons.

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I also wanted to field an Aspect Host, as I think this is possibly the most underrated formation in the standard Craftworld list. I already had some Dire Avengers in a Wave Serpent, but wanted to pop six Fire Dragons in a Falcon for some serious anti-armour action. Terminators, Battlewagons, Super-heavies… doesn’t make much difference to these guys…

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Finally, I popped one really mean unit in – a unit of Dark Reapers. The Aspect Host means they will be rocking to the battlefield with BS 5 and, as every Marine player knows, they are truly lethal. I popped the Starshot missiles in with them (it is the only way to be sure), bringing the likes of Rhinos and Dreadnoughts into their field – and woe betide anyone who tries using flyers!

I did actually paint up a few more of these guys, but only five will likely appear in the army, as they are hellishly expensive.

So, that polishes off my Eldar for the foreseeable future. Our game is this Friday (taking a very quick break from Age of Sigmar), and I’ll let you all know how it goes!