We are back in the Realm of Life this week, with another battle from the Dominion of Chaos book. This time, the Sylvaneth are up against the rats!
The Story So Far
Plague Priest Kratsik was on a mission. Nurgle dispatched him to the Realm of Life to attack the Eventide Grove, a Realmgate that was highly valued by the Sylvaneth, resting in one of their most hallowed places. The Skaven were the perfect instrument to attack, as they could use their gnawholes to burrow past most of the defences and launch a direct assault.
As the Skaven appeared in the midst of the grove, they used their Warpfire Throwers to torch the trees and the Sylvaneth quickly became aware of their presence. Only the Forest Folk were close enough to fight, led by a single Branchwraith and the Treelord Erekor.
The battle quickly became a race to see whether it would be the Skaven or Sylvaneth who could muster their forces quickly enough to create a decisive army.
We have deliberately kept the forces in this battle fairly small, as it works well as a skirmish and, at the end of the day, not every battle has to be a massive end-of-the-world fight – in fact, it is usually better for them not to be, as it makes those large titanic struggles all the more special!
Warlock Engineers x 2
Plague Monks x 20
Clanrats x 20
Stormfiends x 3
Warpfire Thrower Weapons Team
Censer Bearers x 5
This is a nice, well-rounded force for the Skaven, with Pestilens and Skryre working together for once. The bulk of the force is made up of Clanrats and Plague Monks, neither of which are the best fighters around but, then again, there is nothing truly wrong with them either. The power of this force comes from the Stormfiends and the Warpfire Thrower, both well supported by three Heroes.
Dryads x 30 (three units of 10)
Treekin x 4
Like the Skaven force, the Sylvaneth army is small-but-potent. Their only real heavy-hitter is the Treelord (powerful enough!), though the Treekin are more than capable of slaying large numbers of Clanrats or holding up more powerful units. The Dryads and Branchwraith are organised into a Forest Folk battalion, which will give them a little bit more of an edge – however, with the best will in the world, the Skaven are unlikely to be impressed with the Dryads, focussing on the Sylvaneth’s other units instead.
This battle takes place in the heart of a grove, so the battlefield is absolutely filled with trees – perhaps the only advantage the Sylvaneth will have. Neither force starts with all of its units, and reinforcements will enter the battlefield every turn, though from a random direction. The rate of reinforcement can be increased by use of the Eventide Grove Realmgate, so fighting is likely to be fiercest there.
Victory will go to the force that has a model closest to the Realmgate at the end of the battle.
For this battle, we are also using the Places of Power Time of War sheet from Battletome: Sylvaneth.
As arcane energies flowed out of the Realmgate, the nearby trees rustled as Sylvaneth and Skaven closed in on one another.
Dryads and Treekin approached from one direction, while a mighty Treelord stomped from another. Plague Monks, Stormfiends and a Warlock Engineer skittered towards the Realmgate from a single direction.
The trees of the grove recoiled from the presence of Chaos, though new shoots of growth had already started to appear as the Sylvaneth appeared.
Battle Round One
It was the Skaven who saw their enemy first, and their frantic squeaking caught the attention of Plague Censer Bearers who arrived on the battlefield behind the Treelord. Eyeing up the great creature, they prepared to attack.
Meanwhile, the Stormfiends led the way, thundering towards the Realmgate with the Plague Monks hot on their heels. The Skaven were eager to stake an early claim on the Realmgate and force the Sylvaneth to attack them.
Furious at the presence of Skaven in their grove, the Sylvaneth responded quickly and without mercy. A Branchwraith appeared to lead their attacks, stealthily creeping up behind the Warlock-Engineer. The first the rat knew of her presence was when an Arcane Bolt thudded into his back, leaving him badly wounded.
At the Realmgate itself, however, the battle was hotting up even faster. Recognising the Stormfiends as the greatest threat, the Treelord, Treekin and Dryads all charged forward, promising a painful death to the mutated monstrosities, the Treelord pausing only briefly to strange four Plague Monks with its roots.
One of the Treekin was killed in the charge, but its allies tore apart one Stormfiend, while the Treelord impaled another.
Battle Round Two
The trees of the grove began to stir under their own volition as they slowly awakened, and more Dryads marched onto the battlefield, though they were some distance from the main area of battle.
Still focused upon the Warlock-Engineer, the Branchwraith hurled another Arcane Bolt at the rat, detonating his Warp Condenser and leaving only blackened ground where he had once stood. Sensing the approach of more Skaven wizards, she then raced for the trees to take cover and await their approach.
Meanwhile, the Treelord strangled more Plague Monks before caving in the skull of the last Stormfiend. The Dryads raced around the Realmgate to halt the advance of the Plague Monks.
While some Dryads died in the confrontation, three Plague Monks also fell and just as many fled in terror, realising they had awakened something in the grove that could not be stopped.
Though one unit of Stormfiends had been defeated, they were not the only ones prowling the woods, and more entered the grove, directly behind the newly arrived Dryads.
As the leader of the Plague Monks opened the Book of Woe, consuming a Dryad with its full weight of diseases, the Plague Censer Bearers charged the Treelord, hoping to knock down the most powerful of the Sylvaneth with one maddened attack.
The Treelord was battered heavily by their devastating swings but it reacted quickly, its sweeping blows crushing all but one. However, unlike many other Skaven, the last Plague Censer Bearer refused to run. This new-found bravery was repeated with the Plague Monks as they viciously fought Dryads, with only one fleeing from battle.
Battle Round Three
The Treelord roared its fury as it tried to destroy the puny little rat at its feet, but the fumes of the Plague Censer wrapped around it, rotting its bark and temporarily blinding it. The Censer Bearer chittered in delight as it realised the Treelord could not see it, and took the opportunity to aim another swing.
Another Warlock-Engineer arrived on the battlefield, just in time to see the Branchwraith head into the woods. Charging its Warp Condenser, it aimed a lightning bolt in her direction, dealing a savage wound that blackened her bark.
Meanwhile, the Stormfiends had caught up to the Dryads closest to them, and charged. Though out-matched, the Dryads held their ground, evading the worst of the Stormfiends’ weapons. However, they were unable to penetrate the thick armour of the beasts.
As more Dryads appeared on the battlefield, the Branchwraith realised she had a decision to make. The Warlock-Engineer represented a significant threat and, alone and wounded, she was unlikely to survive a spell duel with it – she had fought enough Skaven to know that while their Warp Lightning was unpredictable, it could easily exceed the magnitude of any spells she could cast.
Instead, she roused a nearby Sylvaneth Wood to wrath, and the Warlock-Engineer failed to control its fear glands as ten Dryads strode out of the trees.
Believing the Dryads were more than a match for the Warlock-Engineer, the Branchwraith continued her journey through the trees and started to make her way to the Realmgate. If she could harness its power, the Sylvaneth would appear in overwhelming numbers.
Meanwhile, the Treekin claimed the Realmgate while the Treelord, finally, strangled the last Plague Censer Bearer.
With a shriek promising nothing but death, the Dryads the Branchwraith had summoned rushed out of the trees and crashed into the Warlock-Engineer. The poor rat huddled down as best it could, trying to appear small while flailing about with its halberd.
Though the Dryads rained blows upon the Warlock-Engineer, its armour held firm and kept it safe from harm.
Battle Round Four
The Branchwraith had thought she was now safe, until yet another Warlock-Engineer appeared, running to cut off her approach to the Realmgate. She saw it cackle as it charged up its Warp Condenser, but a loud explosion left it smoking and in distress. The grove around her was now beginning to awaken properly, and life energies surged into her bark, repairing some of the damage she had sustained in her duels with Skaven wizards.
The other Warlock-Engineer was in a more desperate situation. It too tried to use its Warp Condenser, and a giant bolt of lightning smashed into two Dryads, knocking them to the ground where they remained motionless. This created enough space for it to scarper, and it ran as far away from the vengeful Dryads as it could.
In its panicked mind though, the Warlock-Engineer realised it was not far enough…
On the far side of the battlefield, the Stormfiends dispatched the last of the Dryads they faced, and now had a clear run to the Realmgate.
The Branchwraith knew she had to reach the Realmgate, but the newly arrived Warlock-Engineer posed a problem for her. Hoping she could deal with it in the same way as the other, she roused the Sylvaneth Woods close by, and more Dryads appeared.
They charged immediately, badly wounding the rat,. The other Warlock-Engineer was left fortunate. The Dryads pursuing him gained ground quickly, and the Skaven’s heart was skewered by a branch that was punched clean through him.
The Treekin and Treelord on guard at the Realmgate saw the Stormfiends approaching them, but decided to hold their ground.
Battle Round Five
Yet another Warlock-Engineer arrived, this time in a position to support the Stormfiends and threaten the Branchwraith, who was continuing to heal through the growing energies of the grove. It immediately directed a bolt of warp lightning into the Dryads attacking its colleague, killing two of them instantly.
Meanwhile, the Stormfiends raced across the battlefield, knowing that if they did not reach the Realmgate they would suffer at the hands of their Clans Skryre masters.
The Branchwraith finally reached the Realmgate and two Dryads moved to protect her from any possible attack. The Treelord took a few steps forward but, reluctant to leave the Realmgate it had been charged with protecting, it was out of range to strangle the oncoming Stormfiends with its roots.
Battle Round Six
As the grove poured more healing energies into both the Branchwraith and the Treelord, the Sylvaneth prepared for a final confrontation at the Realmgate. The Treelord moved forward to block the inevitable charge from the Stormfiends, while the Branchwraith threw a Mystic Shield over the Treekin.
The newly arrived Warlock-Engineer had its own plans however. Deciding to risk all, it charged its Warp Condenser to maximum capacity and, ignoring the shrieks of metal and shuddering canister, it launched a titanic blast of warp lightning at the Treelord. The bolt impacted it hard in the chest before burning clean through it. With a mournful cry, the Treelord toppled to the ground as the Stormfiends hurled themselves at the Realmgate and the Treekin defending it.
The Realmgate itself shuddered under the impact of the Stormfiends and they showed no mercy as they battered and clawed at the Treekin. The Treekin had little choice but to cower under the cover of the Mystic Shield that had been placed upon them, but it was not enough. The Stormfiends tore them branch from branch, killing two and leaving the last barely able to move.
However, by now both armies were exhausted and forced to retreat. The Realmgate of the Eventide Grove was ostensibly still in the hands of the Sylvaneth but Skaven were now rampaging freely throughout the woods.
The battle was a draw.
That was another amazingly close battle! The Sylvaneth took an early lead and managed to hold onto it for most of the battle, but a good use of the Warp Lighting spell put an end to the Treelord, while the charge of the Stormfiends got them onto the Realmgate and came so close (just one wound!) to wiping out the Treekin completely – if they had managed to inflict just that one last wound, it would have been a major victory for the Skaven!
It is possible that the Skaven concentrated just a little too much on bringing Warlock-Engineers to the battlefield. After the initial duel with the Branchwraith, they seemed a tad too obsessed in bringing her down. That said, this also meant she had to deal with them and while she got her Dryads to do the work, summoning them on meant she could not support the rest of the Sylvaneth with Mystic Shields or use her magick to speed the awakening of the grove (which was doing a reasonable job of healing the Sylvaneth towards the end).
One final note that I picked up on while playing this Battleplan – it would be a really good one for a ‘pick up game’ (down the local store and against a player you may not have faced before) with no Matched Play points needed. The way units come onto the battlefield pretty much balances itself, while the small number of units overall keeps the game play very fast. You might easily get through a game in an hour, even if quite powerful units are being used.
Gets my full recommendation!
The Story Continues…
Next time, Archaon has taken a trip to the Realm of Beasts… and he is angry…