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:
Stormvermin x 20
Clan Rats x 40 (two units of 20)
Command Trait: Lord of War
Artefact of Chaos: Crown of Conquest
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
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.
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.
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?).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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…