Time for a classic, of sorts. This Battleplan popped up way back in Battletome: Khorne Bloodbound but, because of the models involved, we are only just getting to it now. This is actually quite an interesting battle, in terms of background, as it takes place right before the Age of Sigmar audio dramas. If you want to know what Mannfred was up to before the Stormcasts found him, read on!
The Story So Far
Within the Realm of Death, Exalted Deathbringer Vrak Brazenfist led his Skullfiend tribe Bloodbound deep into the Gulf of Regrets, hoping to find enough skulls to get Khorne to recognise him. However, poking about in the Realm of Death is rarely healthy, and as they started hewing their way through legions of skeletons, they were unaware that dark eyes were watching them.
The Skullfiend tribe eventually fought their way to a Dragonfate Dais, and here they mounted a solid defence as wave upon wave of the dead crashed against them. The skeletons were soon joined by more powerful creatures – wights, wraiths and Black Knights, all watched from the edge of the courtyard by their master, Mannfred von Carstein, Mortarch of Night.
However, the number of skulls being claimed by the Bloodbound gained them the attention of Khorne, and Mannfred saw his army begin to dissolve from the foul energies coming from the dais. Snarling, he ordered his Dread Abyssal, Ashigaroth, to carry him into the fray…
This is a fairly small scale battle, with the dead coming at the Bloodbound in three waves – the last led by Mannfred himself!
Exalted Deathbringer (Vrak Brazenfist)
Bloodreavers x 20
Blood Warriors x 25 (two units of 10, one of 5)
Skullreapers x 5
Mighty Skullcrushers x 3
This is a small but solid force, with the Blood Warriors creating a tough barrier to crack as the likes of Skullreapers and Skullcrushers do what they do best. The tribe is led by Vrak, an Exalted Deathbringer, and his Slaughterpriest, giving us a chance to use the new models I have recently painted!
Mannfred, Mortarch of Night
Grave Guard x 20
Skeleton Warriors x 60 (two units of 30)
Black Knights x 10 (two units of 5)
Mannfred’s army is a little tougher than the Bloodbound and, of course, it features the Mortarch himself. However, there are some problems. First off, the army is split into three waves, meaning it is coming in piecemeal (though there is a chance to recycle any units completely destroyed in an earlier wave). Second, the Bloodbound can create makeshift barriers from the bones of their attackers as the battle progresses.
In order to attain a major victory, Mannfred needs to wipe the Bloodbound out to a man. Alternatively, the Bloodbound need to either destroy half of the third wave, or drive off Mannfred himself…
From the start, it was clear that the Bloodbound were less than interested in using the Dragonfate Dais as a defensive position. As the forces of the dead approached, they saw nothing except walking skulls ready to be harvested for Khorne.
Mannfred had not taken to the battlefield yet but was watching from the shadows. He directed his Black Knights to attack from one side while a Cairn Wraith led Skeleton Warriors from the other. As they marched forwards, the Bloodbound were already rushing to meet them.
Battle Round One
The Slaughterpriest led a stirring prayer to Khorne which infected even the Skeleton Warriors. Overcome with a fury that the Cairn Wraith could not control, they stumbled forward into the waiting axes of Blood Warriors.
Seeing more skulls with the Skeletons rather than the Blood Knights, the Bloodreavers were left to deal with the cavalry lurking in the woods while almost every other member of the Bloodbound headed for the Skeleton Warriors.
The first clashes proved deadly for both sides, as nearly a dozen skeletons were smashed to pieces while their own swords claimed four Blood Warriors.
The slaughter continued in the woods as Bloodreaver fought Black Knight, with one Bloodreaver killed and another two running for their lives before their general spotted what they were doing.
As the Cairn Wraith moved in to battle the Blood Warriors, Skeleton Warriors that had been smashed apart started to reassemble and begin fighting once more.
More Blood Warriors fell to their blades but it was rapidly becoming clear that the Khornate forces were having the best of it so far. Even the Bloodreavers surged on, bringing down three Black Knights though they lost more of their own number in the process.
Battle Round Two
The Slaughterpriest called upon Khorne to boil the ectoplasm of the Cairn Wraith, but Khorne’s favour was weak for this servant, and the prayer had little more effect than causing the Wraith to trail a little smoke.
More Blood Warriors piled in and, between them, they hammered the Skeleton Warriors, this time ensuring they would not rise again, before finishing off the Cairn Wraith.
As the Bloodreavers dispatched the last of the Black Knights int he woods, Mannfred directed his second wave forward into the fray. The Bloodbound hastily reformed their positions around the Dragonfate Dais but the Bloodreavers were too far away to respond to the rallying call of the Exalted Deathbringer.
Battle Round Three
While the Bloodbound had sustained some losses, mostly within the ranks of the Blood Warriors, Mannfred decided he would end this battle quickly and his second wave was a far mightier sight than the first.
The undead approached from three sides, two big units of Skeleton Warriors trapping the Bloodbound between them, while Black Knights arrived ready to charge their way through the Khorne worshippers.
Battle Round Four
Crying out praises to the Blood God for the delivery of yet more skulls, the Bloodbound moved as one. They chose to ignore one unit of Skeleton Warriors, instead attempting to engage everything else on the other side of the battlefield.
The two units of Blood Warriors who had destroyed the first Skeleton Warriors were eager to repeat their success, and they charged at full tilt.
However, this time the Skeleton line held and while a few bones were smashed, the Blood Warrior charge was broken, five of them slain by ancient swords and the scythe of another Cairn Wraith.
Further along the battleline, the Skullcrushers smashed into a new unit of Black Knights, one of their horses blasted apart by the weight of the charge alone. As their riders started hacking at the undead cavalry, another two Black Knights dropped to the ground.
Even the Bloodreavers had found a renewed purpose and they rushed out of the trees to engage yet another unit of Black Knights. However, they fared less well, the careless swings of their axes easily dodged or parried while lances spitted down to skewer three of them.
It was with some dismay that the Bloodbound watched the crumpled form of destroyed Skeleton Warriors and Black Knights rise up to fight once more. Across the battlefield, the Khorne warriors were being contained by the relentless nature of the undead. The Blood Warriors were hit the hardest, with only one surviving from the units that had charged the Skeleton Warriors, Bloodreavers were beginning to drop like flies, and even the Skullcrushers had been brought to a halt by the constantly reassembling Black Knights.
Then, Mannfred took to the battlefield, swooping down on the back of his Dread Abyssal, Ashigaroth.
Battle Round Five
Mannfred had assembled a unit of Grave Guard to act as his bodyguard, but he had sent them in a wide loop of the Bloodbound so that they appeared at one end of the Khorne line, while he appeared at the other, just yards from the Skullcrushers.
The vampire gestured at the Skullcrushers and a Wind of Death blew through their line, claiming one of them immediately as his skin shrivelled and rotted.
More Skeletons picked themselves off the ground and rejoined the ranks of the dead, and Mannfred’s army began to surround the remaining Bloodbound.
The Cairn Wraith proved a little too foolhardy for its centuries of existence, and swept forward to engage the Exalted Deathbringer. Though he aided the leader of the Bloodbound, the Slaughterpriest rushed in and, together, they dispatched the Wraith.
Elsewhere, though, the Bloodbound were suffering, with both the last Blood Warrior fighting the Skeleton Warriors and the Bloodreavers all slain.
The Slaughterpriest tried to commune with his god for the power to reverse the undead tide, but Khorne had grown weary of listening to his constant bleating for help, and the Slaughterpriest suddenly twisted in pain as punishment was delivered.
The Skullreapers, for their part, were eager to be the ones to claim Mannfred’s skull, but the Mortarch proved too elusive and they slaked their bloodlust against the Black Knights.
However, the shields of the Black Knights proved firm once more and they took the charge, coldly dispatching another Skullcrusher as they fought.
Seeing his chance to shatter the third wave of undead, the Exalted Deathbringer attempted to lead a charge against the Grave Guard but while the last Blood Warriors and Slaughterpriest smashed into their shields, he was waylaid by the Skeleton Warriors who had started to stream through the woods.
Five Grave Guard were smashed in this attack but the Slaughterpriest was wounded and Blood Warrior dead had already started to carpet the ground. And already the destroyed Grave Guard were starting to reassemble themselves and reach for their swords…
Battle Round Six
The Exalted Deathbringer was beginning to realise he might have bitten off more than he could chew, for while a single Skeleton Warrior was no match for a fighter such as he, their numbers marching through the forest seemed endless.
Despite fighting bravely, every cut from their swords began to count and soon he was overwhelmed by their sheer weight.
Meanwhile, Mannfred was eager to drive the rest of the Bloodbound away from the Dragonfate Dais, and he led the Black Knights forward.
Swinging Ashigaroth round, he plunged into the rear of the Skullreapers. It was a short fight.
The tipping point of the battle, however, was on the far side of the woods from Mannfred. The Grave Guard were putting up a staunch defence, and the Slaughterpriest soon joined the fate of his Exalted Deathbringer as he fell to their swords and axes along with half a dozen Blood Warriors.
In their death throes, the Blood Warriors hurled themselves at the Grave Guard, desperate to break their shield wall. One Blood Warrior managed it, smashing in the skulls of Grave Guard before finally being cut down.
This last effort proved just too much for the Grave Guard and their spirits began to flee the battle, leaving their skeletons to drop, lifeless, to the ground.
Mannfred’s third wave had been broken and now the Mortarch had to flee before more Bloodbound showed up…
That was an extremely tight battle! Just as things looked hopeless for the Bloodbound, their Blood Warriors made one final push which was just enough to force the Grave Guard to take a Battleshock test which, failing, reduced their numbers just enough to give a victory for Khorne!
As anyone who has listened to the Age of Sigmar audio dramas will already know, Mannfred will flee this battle but be captured by another Deathbringer and then imprisoned and tortured. He will eventually be freed by the Hallowed Knights and then promise to help them find Nagash.
I won’t spoil the rest, but it will not go well for everyone…
The Story Continues…
We are continuing our tour of the realms, next time taking a look at what the Tzeentch Arcanites are doing in the Realm of Fire with a Battleplan from the Dominion of Chaos book.