After our tour of the realms, we are ready to get stuck back in to the Realmgate Wars, this time with the third book in the series, Godbeasts. While the Realm of Life is now back in contention as Alarielle grows into her war aspect, Archaon has recently gained a massive victory against the Stormcasts in the Realm of Metal and he is now ready to unleash the next phase of his plans – the subjugation of the titanic Godbeasts and the power they command.
The Story So Far
Since the Stormcasts first arrived in Aqshy and created a beachhead within the Brimstone Peninsula, defeating the forces of Lord Khul in the process, war has spread throughout the Realm of Fire.
Moving from the Brimstone Peninsula and the Scarred Isle, the Stormcasts launched an attack on the land of Asphyxia, hammering the forces of Chaos in general, and Khorne in particular, wherever they were encountered. The Bloodbound reacted to this with bloodthirsty joy, welcoming battle as the war gathered momentum. Drawn to this immense bloodshed was none other than the Consort of Khorne herself, Valkia the Bloody.
The fight for Asphyxia ground on for weeks, and corpses began to pile high, drawing yet more of the Bloodbound to action. High above, daemons on the Orb of Infernia watched, biding their time and waiting for a chance to plunge into the war.
The Daemon Prince Lord Skinskein reached out to Lord Khul, letting him know his old nemeses, the Stormcasts, were on Asphyxia. He proposed that Lord Khul should attack on one flank of Sigmar’s forces while he assaulted the other, cutting off any retreat. Thus Lord Khul’s vengeance would be complete.
When Lord Khul finally sighted the Stormcasts, his rage was boundless. He paid no heed to the deaths among his own forces as many succumbed to a strange malady, only thinking them too weak to fight along his side. Joined by Valkia the Bloody, Lord Khul unleashed the full fury of his Bloodbound upon the Stormcast Eternals.
This battle really could be of any size but we are not going to go too mad this early on in the campaign – there are some truly massive battles coming up (and very soon too!), so one step at a time. Both forces are quite ‘representative’ of the types of armies taking part in the fight for Asphyxia, with just enough ‘specials’ to keep things interesting.
Valkia the Bloody
Daemon Prince of Khorne (Korghos Khul)
Lord of Khorne on Juggernaut
Mighty Skullcrushers x 6
Bloodreavers x 40 (two units of 20)
Blood Warriors x 20 (two units of 10)
The Bloodbound are relying on the Bloodreavers here to make up the numbers, which is not usually a good strategy. However, they have some seriously hard heroes on their side, not least of whom is Valkia the Bloody, Consort of Khorne herself! For Lord Khul, we are using a Daemon Prince (seeing as, in our games, he completed The Ritual way back last year), but we are adding the Reality Splitting Axe rule from the Mighty Lord of Khorne.
Lord-Relictor Ionus Cryptborn
Liberators x 25 (five units of 5)
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)
Retributors x 10 (two units of 5)
For their part, the Stormcasts are relying on their Liberators in this battle, hoping to hold the tides of Bloodbound back until the Judicators and Retributors can do their work.
This battle is a simple one, as befits the start of a new campaign. It is a straight fight to the death, with victory going to the army who can destroy the most of its enemy! However, there is one complication – a strange enervating curse pervades this battlefield, weakening all combatants. The heroic actions of a general can delay its effects, but few units may fight as effectively as they usually might.
We will be using the Brimstone Peninsula Time of War sheet for most of our battles in the Realm of Fire, minus the rules for the Blood Geysers (those are a bit specific in terms of location, but everything else works as a general Realm of Fire sheet).
Both forces lined up across the battlefield from one another, with the Bloodbound concentrating its hardest hitting units (the leaders and Mighty Skullcrushers) in the centre.
For their part, the Stormcasts set up a solid line of Liberator retinues to receive the inevitable Khorne charges, with the two Retributor units a little behind, ‘floating’ to strike at the nastiest things the Bloodbound could throw at the Stormcast – their primary targets would be Lord Khul and the Mighty Skullcrushers, though if they could just pin Valkia down…
Battle Round One
Eager to get to grips with the hated Stormcasts as quickly as possible, and ever mindful of the gaze of the Consort of Khorne, the Bloodbound hurled themselves forward.
Throwing caution to the wind the charge was led by the Mighty Skullcrushers and Lord Khul, but Valkia the Bloody soared across the sky to put herself within striking distance of an entire flank of Stormcasts.
The Knight-Vexillor lofted his standard and the clouds above parted as a massive meteor streaked from the sky to smash into the battlefield. Even the massive Juggernauts of the Skullcrushers stumbled from the blast, and Valkia was winged slightly by shrapnel. Meanwhile, the Judicators took aim upon the largest target on the battlefield – Lord Khul himself. The Daemon Prince howled with potent fury as several lightning bolt arrows found their mark.
It had been Lord-Relictor Cryptborn’s plan to hold the line and receive the Bloodbound charge with a solid line of Sigmarite shields, but he changed his mind when he saw how bloodthirsty the enemy was and became nervous about handing the initiative to them. With mixed feelings, he ordered three retinues of Liberators forward to begin tying down the Bloodbound.
One retinue trapped Blood Warriors on the far right flank, while the other two advanced to the centre, right into the teeth of the Bloodbound. There, they pinned down the Mighty Skullcrushers, Lord Khul and Valkia herself, bracing themselves behind their large shields which suddenly seemed all too thin.
The effects of the mysterious enervating curse upon the battlefield quickly combined with the daemonic shield Valkia the Bloody carried, and the Liberators did little more than scratch her, while her spear sent one of their number straight back to Sigmar with ease.
Just a little further along the line, another unit of Liberators made good account of themselves against the Mighty Skullcrushers, bringing down one of the beasts for the cost of one of their own. However, Lord Khul raged as he retaliated to their charge, slaying three more Liberators in quick succession, leaving just the Prime to hold the line.
On the far right flank, Liberators clashed with Blood Warriors, but the armour of both proved string with only a single worshipper of Khorne smashed to the ground.
Battle Round Two
Lord-Relictor Cryptborn raised his reliquary staff and called upon the power of Sigmar, summoning a lightning bolt that blasted into the Blood Warriors, frying two of them in an instant.
The enervating curse was playing havoc with the Judicators armed with Boltstorm Crossbows, reducing their range to almost nothing. However, the Judicator armed with the massive Thunderbolt Crossbow levelled it at Lord Khul and, despite the difficulty of the shot, his aim proved true. A blast of lighting streaked across the battlefield to smash straight into the chest of the Daemon Prince, forcing Lord Khul to take flight and retreat from the battlefield.
Not to be outdone, the Skybolt Judicators unleashed a volley at the Mighty Skullcrushers, sending another one of their number crashing into the dust, never to rise again.
With his forces well and truly committed now, Lord-Relictor Cryptborn ordered his Retributors into the fray.
One of the Paladin retinues was slow to respond, having intended to charge Lord Khul – with him now gone from the battlefield, their charge was mistimed and they failed to reach the Mighty Skullcrushers. However, their brothers in the other retinue quickly closed the distance, throwing their full weight into the Bloodreavers who had assembled into a rabble in front of them, as well as one of the Skullcrushers.
With bright flashes of light and the deep rumble of thunder, the hammers of the Retributors set to work, the scant armour worn by the Bloodreavers no defence against their heavy blows. Ten Bloodreavers were smashed apart in seconds, while another six decided that a career in the Bloodbound army was not for them as they ran from the field of battle.
It was not all going the way of Sigmar though, as Valkia effortlessly killed another Liberator while the Stormcasts remained far too weak to hurt her in return. On the far right flank, Liberators continued to grind against Blood Warriors, and the Stormcasts were getting the worse of that fight too.
The Bloodbound had been stalled on the right flank and were suffering in the centre, but they had yet to commit to the left flank where a horde of Bloodreavers, supported by another unit of Blood Warriors, had yet to charge.
With savage yells, the Bloodreavers surged forward to reach the Liberators, just as the Boltstorm Crossbow-armed Judicators had been waiting for. They levelled their weapons over the shoulders of Liberators as the Bloodreavers closed distance at speed.
However, the Blood Warriors were not going to let lowly barbarians claim their kills, and the heavy armoured warriors cut across their path to pile into the shields of the Liberators.
The Liberators were caught off guard by this sudden move, and two were cut down by axes, with another two losing their nerve and retreating to reform some distance away from the battle.
In the centre, the Retributors were set on their bloody work, wiping out the last of the Bloodreavers there along with another two Skullcrushers for the loss of only one Stormcast.
Battle Round Three
Seeing the Liberators close to him suffer at the hands of the Blood Warriors, Lord-Relictor Cryptborn took his eyes off the rest of the battle and waded into the melee with his hammer, smashing the helmet of one Blood Warrior before they even realised he had charged them.
In the centre, the second retinue of Retributors finally reached the fray and they were eager not to let their brothers claim more glory than them. They charged into the remaining Skullcrushers, pummelling all but one with their hammers, while the Retributor armed with the Starsoul Mace thundered towards Valkia the Bloody. Too intent upon slaying the brave Liberators she had faced since the battle began, the Consort of Khorne did not realise her peril until it was far too late. Looking over her shoulder, she twisted just in time to avoid being smashed into the ground with the huge weapon.
Casting a quick glance at the rest of her forces, Valkia knew there were other battles that would see more blood flowing to her lord, and she took to the sky to find them. The Stormcasts cheered as they realised Valkia the Bloody had left the field.
Meanwhile, the two Judicator retinues concentrated their fire into the closest Blood Warriors, bolts and arrows finding every chink in their armour. When the volleys finally stopped, few Blood Warriors were left standing.
The nerve of the Bloodbound had clearly departed with Valkia and, across the battlefield, small but growing numbers of Blood Warriors were beginning to flee from the fight.
Seeing he was now in charge of the Bloodbound, the Lord of Khorne stood in the saddle of his Juggernaut and waved the Bloodreavers on – now the only truly intact unit he possessed. Directing them on, he forced them to charge the Retributors from one side while he thundered in from the other. The results of this ploy were telling and brutal.
While two Retributors were ridden down by his Juggernaut, and another fell to the axes of the Bloodreavers, their hammers proved just as deadly as before. Thirteen Bloodreavers met their end at the hands of the Retributors, the few survivors ignoring their Lord’s threats and curses as they fled for safety.
On the far right flank, the duel between Liberators and Blood Warriors that had been fought for so long finally came to an end.
Only one Liberator now stood beside Lord-Relictor Cryptborn, but the last Blood Warrior they faced was armed with a terrible Goreglaive. The Blood Warrior eyed Cryptborn as he attacked, but the Liberator leapt into breach, putting himself between the enemy and his lord.
A solid blow from his Grandhammer sent the Blood Warrior reeling but, before the Khorne worshipper died, he flung himself at the Stormcast, burying his Goreglaive deep in the Liberator’s chest. As the Liberator’s soul streaked upwards to Azyr, the Blood Warrior fell to the ground, leaving only the Lord-Relictor standing.
Battle Round Four
By now, there were few of the Bloodbound left on the field of battle, and the Knight-Vexillor waded into the few Blood Warriors still threatening the Judicators, dispatching one of them quickly.
Meanwhile the Mighty Lord of Khorne was making a furious last stand on the back of his Juggernaut.
Battle Round Five
Desperately trying to fend off the terrible hammers of the Retributors, the Khorne Lord paid scant attention to the Liberators who were also thrusting their swords at him. However, these were the Stormcasts who had fought Valkia the Bloody to a standstill for so long, and a mere mortal held no fear for them.
As the Khorne Lord laid about all around him with his axe, the brave Liberators crept under his guard and thrust home with their swords, piercing his foul heart.
After all the bloodcurdling warcries of the warriors of Khorne, an eerie quiet now descended over the battlefield. Sigmar had claimed the first victory in the Godbeasts campaign.
Now that was a battle where the Stormcasts could just do no wrong!
While a few things went awry for them (the second unit of Retributors failing their charge in the second round, for example), they consistently won the initiative every round, and barely noticed the enervating curse!
The Bloodbound, on the other hand, had massive problems with the curse as it withered away their wound rolls and when Valkia started to offset it (she was killing one Liberator every round in her duel on average – which in itself is far from her optimum level of slayage, it has to be said), the Bloodbound started developing issues with their hit rolls.
It just goes to show, you cannot plan for dice rolls! If anything I would have said the Bloodbound had the slight advantage when the battle started – the Stormcasts had two nice units in the shape of their Retributors but, that aside, their force was fairly unremarkable. The Bloodbound, on the other hand, had a large unit of Skullcrushers (who, even if they had not killed a huge amount, should have been able to withstand a great deal of punishment) along with Valkia and a Daemon Prince, who were capable of ripping through Stormcast lines with relative impunity. Frankly, I was expecting Lord-Relictor Cryptborn to end the battle with Valkia’s spear in his chest.
So, what went wrong?
Well, the Stormcasts managed to tie up the Skullcrushers and Valkia very early, two units which benefit greatly from charging. Then they just… survived, at least long enough for the Retributors to get involved. In fact, to give you an idea of what the Bloodbound had to put up with, there was a moment when Valkia managed to put two hits on the Liberators she was fighting (her hit and wound rolls really were abysmal), which had to be saved at Rend -2. The Stormcasts promptly rolled a double six…
We also ought to take a moment with Lord Khul – since being elevated to Daemonhood, he is rapidly becoming the butt monkey of Khorne, showing up to kill one or two models, and then getting filled in. He is going to have to start proving himself if the Blood God is not going to introduce him to spawndom.
Anyway, a good (but unexpected) start to the campaign for the Stormcasts, with a major victory under their belt. And, to be fair, the Bloodbound don’t really care about such loses. However, I don’t think Archaon is going to find it agreeable in the least…
The Story Continues…
Next time, we will find out just what is causing the enervating curse that plagued both forces in this battle, as a new power makes its play for the Realm of Fire…