As the Godbeasts campaign continues, we come across a very special battle – this is actually two Battleplans wedded together, played on two tables simultaneously! We like to do things big around here…
The Story So Far
Led by Lord-Relictor Cryptborn, the Stormcasts had gained some ground against the Bloodborn but they still had two very real problems – the enervating curse from Nurgle that was sweeping through all the Ashlands, and Skarbrand (who is always going to be an issue). Cryptborn, however, had figured out a way to use one to destroy the other – even though it meant temporarily having truck with Valkia the Bloody.
Using the Hengegate, a type of Realmgate that led to the Unreachable Mountain on whose slopes lay the Crystal Henge, the Lord-Relictor led his soldiers to enact his plan. Cryptborn had figured out that the Crystal Henge could amplify raw emotion, and Skarbrand had anger enough to scour the entirety of the Ashlands clean of Nurgle’s plague. All the Stormcasts had to do was channel it, and Valkia had given Cryptborn an idea how to do this.
Climbing the mountain, they would confront Skarbrand and, using the power of the Paladins’ weapons, they would bring the mountainside tumbling down on top of the Bloodthirster. Carried away on such an inglorious descent and buried under tons of rock, there was little else that would guarantee the maximum fury from Skarbrand.
The Stormcasts would not be the only followers of Sigmar affected by these events. Floating at the foot of the Unreachable Mountain was the Tauroi Archipelego, a series of islands suspended in the air. Upon them lived the Candlemen, once proud rulers of the land but now greatly diminished by successive waves of Khornate invaders, and none so much as the Bloodscorch beasts, a massive Warherd comprising Bullgors and Ghorgons.
The Stormcasts had launched attacks against the Bloodscorch, but been repelled by the fury of the Warherd. They instead devised a new plan – use the land and its people against the enemy, crushing them with Sigmar’s own fury.
Led by Arch Lector Veltahren, the Devoted of Sigmar left their caves and rallied behind the Stormcasts, determined to break the oppression of the Bloodscorch tribes once and for all. It would be a tough fight but perhaps the forces of Order could win, if only fate would smile upon them… and perhaps drop a mountainside on top of their enemies.
This sprawling conflict sees the Bloodbound (with Skarbrand!) up against the Stormcasts on one battlefield, and the Devoted of Sigmar against a full-blown Warherd on another!
Chaos Warriors x 12
Bloodreavers x 20
Retributors x 10 (two units of 5)
Decimators x 5
Protectors x 5
Liberators x 5
The Bloodbound do not have a massive force in this battle – but then, nor do the Stormcasts! This is a fight between small, elite forces with Skarbrand all too capable of toppling the balance.
Bullgors x 9 (three units of 3)
Ghorgons x 3
Devoted of Sigmar
War Altar of Sigmar
Warrior Priests x 4
Flagellants x 60 (three units of 20)
Liberators x 10 (two units of 5)
This side of the battle sees the use of two formations – both of which are pretty much designed to kill the other! The Warherd is using the Bloodscorch Bulltribe, which adds +1 Wound to every model, re-rolls all failed charges, and re-roll wounds when attacking anyone from the Tauroi Warclan. The Devoted of Sigmar, on the other hand, are using the Tauroi Warclan, which allows them to recycle units that are destroyed, add +2 to their Bravery, and re-roll misses against any Bloodscorch models.
They also, of course, have the War Altar of Sigmar on their side which, against Chaos units, is frankly a Death Star in the making.
One way or another, this will be a very, very bloody fight!
As mentioned before, we are actually using two Battleplans, on two different tables.
In Bringing Down the Mountain, the Stormcasts must advance out of their territory and use specialist units (such as Retributors) to hammer the ground and, well, bring down the mountain. If they succeed in this, they win this fight as the mountain comes crashing down, taking Skarbrand with it.
However, that does not necessarily mean they win the fight as a whole.
That relies on what happens in A Twist of Fate. Both battles are fought alongside one another, turn-for-turn – and the Devoted in A Twist of Fate will be wanting the mountain to fall on the Bloodscorch Tribe as soon as possible! In this battle, the Bloodscorch Tribe have seven turns to wipe out the Devoted completely, gaining a major victory if they succeed. Things look pretty bleak for the Devoted (though remember their Battalion rules allow them the possibility of recycling units) but when (if) the mountain falls, the Devoted player decides who gets first turn in battle rounds, all Chaos units receive D6 mortal wounds, and the Warherd loses a special Command Ability which allows units to re-roll misses whenever a Devoted unit gets wiped out.
Both battles will use the Ashlands Time of War sheet, which features:
- The Blessings of Ignax, the Solar Drake: Players must roll on a table every turn to see what effect Ignax has on the battlefield – this ranges from solar flares dazzling archers to scenery bursting into flame.
- Apocalyptic Rage: Skarbrand’s fury, magnified by the Crystal Henge, will make units far more bloodthirsty in battle, forcing some of them to make charges.
- Burning Skies: Flying units will get scorched if they spend too long in the air, while wizards can call down a Meteoric Conflagration.
- The Pyroclasm: A sentient fire storm regularly sweeps through the Ashlands, which the players can try to appease with sacrifices in the hopes it ignores their army.
Upon the side of the Unreachable Mountain, Skarbrand led his mortal followers in a tight wedge, Bloodreavers boasting they would claim more skulls than the Chaos Warriors. The Stormcasts spread out, Liberators to the fore, ready to receive charges upon their Sigmarite shields. The Paladins deployed behind them, most intent on bringing the mountain down upon Skarbrand. The Protectors, however, stood ready to engage Skarbrand in close combat should the others fail.
Upon the Tauroi Archipelego, the Devoted of Sigmar assembled in motley fashion within a narrow pass as their Stormcast heroes advanced to receive the charges of the Warherd.
Battle Round One
On both battlefields, the forces of Chaos swept forward, both keen to utterly destroy the Stormcasts and their lackeys.
Upon the mountainside, Skarbrand breathed fire as the power of the Godbeast Ignax infused him with its strength, while the Slaughterpriest sacrificed two Bloodreavers to appease the Pyroclasm. However, Khorne found the Slaughterpriest’s willingness to court other powers distasteful and withheld his gifts.
The, led by Skarbrand, the Bloodbound charged. The Liberators took the brunt, leaning into their shields against the Bloodreavers, but Skarbrand shattered their line as he dove into the fray.
The Chaos Warriors rushed forward and managed to reach the Protectors, tying them up so their glaives were unable to touch the Bloodthirster. Though they killed three Chaos Warriors, one Protector was brought down by their axes.
An Ash Storm then descended upon the battlefield, another gift from Ignax, reducing visibility all round as volcanic dust blinded all combatants. Lord-Relictor Cryptborn challenged the Pyroclasm, refusing to bend his knee to a false power, and the Retributors behind him paid the price as the fire storm descended to blacken their armour.
Though the Ash Storm obscured nearly everything, Cryptborn could just make out the massive form of Skarbrand through the dust, raging as he turned this way and that, seeking new prey The Lord-Relictor prayed to Sigmar for deliverance, and a thick lightning bolt lanced down from the sky to strike the Bloodthirster, enraging him even further.
The Decimators flanked the Chaos Warriors, while another retinue of Retributors stopped their work on dislodging the mountainside and charged Skarbrand, knowing they could not afford to let the Bloodthirster rampage freely through their lines.
Trapped between the Decimators and Protectors, the Chaos Warriors had nowhere to go and most were pierced by glaive or bisected by axe. The pitifully few survivors threw down their weapons and ran, the Paladins allowing them to escape as they had far more important enemies still on the battlefield.
Swinging their hammers, the Retributors pounded Skarbrand, causing the daemon to roar with equals parts rage and pain. Bones started to crack under the onslaught, but this merely maddened the daemon further and when his axes, Slaughter and Carnage descended, the Retributors had no defence. The entire retinue was wiped out in just a few swings. Skarbrand was wounded but now he was also free to fight.
On the Archipelago, battle was also raging as the Warherd met the first line of defence, a shield wall of Liberators. Bullgors were joined by a Ghorgon, and the Devoted of Sigmar moaned as one as they saw Sigmar’s blessed destroyed in seconds, the blue streaks of their souls rushing up to Azyr.
The Ash Storm that had plagued the Unreachable Mountain now rolled down into the Archipelago, blinding all. This caused problems for the War Altar of Sigmar, but more for the Doombull who could no longer command his Warherd effectively.
The Devoted of Sigmar had seen their heroes destroyed with ease by the lead Ghorgon and Bullgors but instead of cowering in fear from their age-old oppressors, they rallied quickly and advanced.
As Flagellants gladly sacrificed themselves to the Pyroclasm on an effort to attain victory, the Warrior Priests led the others in prayers to Sigmar. The God-King’s countenance was shining upon his mortal servants this day, and every Flagellant felt the power of Sigmar enter him. Feeling indestructible, the Devoted threw themselves at the Warherd.
Used to easy victories against puny humans, the Warherd were immediately forced onto the back foot. The War Altar of Sigmar glowed bright as the Light of Banishment erupted from its idol, its white-hot beam lancing into the chest of the leading Ghorgon. The Ghorgon was blasted back, stumbling as it tried to paw at the blackened crater in its chest. Though the Doombull roared at it to continue fighting, it now approached the Devoted with a noticeable limp.
The nearest Flagellants sensed weakness and surged forward, surrounding the Ghorgon as they pounded it with whips, flails and their own fists. With a terrible bellowing, the Ghorgon stumbled again and fell to the ground, where the Flagellants continued beating down until it stopped moving altogether.
A great cry went up from the Devoted – they had killed the greatest of their oppressors! Surely the will of the God-King as on their side.
Before the Bullgors could react, a Warrior Priest led more Flagellants against them, but the brute strength of the beasts was telling and several Flagellants met their end in the emboldened charge.
Battle Round Two
Upon the mountainside, rocks burst into flame as the influence of Ignax waxed, burning the Retributors taking shelter there. Fearing anything more powerful than them, the Bloodreavers eagerly sacrificed more of their own number to appease the Pyroclasm and, once again, the sentient storm found their gift worthy and passed them by.
Skarbrand bellowed his rage at the Protectors, even as the surviving Liberator-Prime battered the Bloodreavers who surrounded him.
Seeing the Paladins undaunted by his fury, Skarbrand charged the Protectors before they could raise their glaives to properly defend themselves. With consummate ease, Skarbrand sent each and every one of them back to Sigmar in a streak of blue light that flashed up to the sky.
Sensing an easy victory with the Bloodthirster on his side, the Aspiring Deathbringer advanced to challenge Lord-Relictor Cryptborn, and a duel quickly erupted between them, both trading blows but failing to land a lethal strike.
As a Solar Flare from Ignax dazzled everyone on the battlefield, Lord-Relictor Cryptborn stepped back from the Aspiring Deathbringer and once more called upon the God-King to smite the Bloodthirster. Again, lighting lanced down but, to the Lord-Relictor’s dismay, Skarbrand still stood after the flash had dissipated – in fact, he seemed almost energised by the lightning.
Though they were better suited to attacking the likes of Bloodreavers, the Decimators bravely stepped forward to swing their Thunderaxes at Skarbrand. The hefty weapons seemed to have little effect upon the Bloodthirster, but then the Decimator carrying the Starsoul Mace entered the fight. One mighty overhead swing smacked the weapon directly into Skarbrand’s chest, causing the daemon to reel and collapse into the mountainside dust.
With Skarbrand temporarily knocked insensible, the Stormcasts could now begin the process of bringing the mountainside down on top of the daemon – so long as they could keep the Bloodbound at bay.
On the Archipelago, the Ash Storm continued to blow, but the blood of a Bullgor was not deemed a worthy sacrifice to the Pyroclasm, and the fire storm raged across the entire Warherd, immolating two Bullgors as it turned them into fiery columns that caused the Devoted of Sigmar to cheer all the harder.
By now, the Warherd had advanced deep into the pass and was within easy striking distance of the heart of the Devoted. Despite their earlier losses, they could almost taste the blood of humans and were eager to find their fill.
The Doombull bellowed at the lead Ghorgon to tear apart the War Altar of Sigmar that trundled on its wheels just in front of it, but the beast spied the last retinue of Liberators and found them a far more tempting target. Furious at the dumb brute, the Doombull started his own rush forward but the Ash Storm thickened and he roared with frustration as the Devoted disappeared from view.
As the Liberators managed to hold the combined charge of the Ghorgon and a retinue of Bullgors that had joined it, the Flagellants were beginning to suffer casualties at the hands of the Warherd. However, a brave Warrior Priest confronted a Bullgor directly, despite having been knocked to the ground by its massive axe. Pulling himself back to his feet by faith alone, the Warrior Priest ducked under its guard and hammered away until the beast crashed to the ground to move no more. The nearby Flagellants, galvanised by this display, surged on to batter another Bullgor to death.
As the very rocks outside the pass ignited into flame, a Warrior Priest sacrificed himself to the fury of the Pyroclasm, abating its fury.
The air began to hum with religious fervour as the remaining Warrior Priests led the Devoted in prayer. The Knight-Azyros judged the time to be right, and he opened his Celestial Beacon to allow the light of Azyr to shine forth. The Bullgors nearest him reeled under the divine purity of the light that burned their eyes and scoured their flesh. When the Knight-Azyros closed the lantern, two Bullgors had been thoroughly purged, burned away to nothing.
Seeing the Ash Storm clear, the Warrior Priest riding the War Altar of Sigmar peered through the clearing dust to see the Doombull emerge in front of him. Crying to his horses to carry him closer, the War Altar picked up speed as the Light of Banishment lanced out once more, this time striking the Doombull. The beast staggered under the assault, but bellowed its pain away, looking up just in time to see the War Altar crash into him at full tilt.
As the horses rode over the Doombull, the Warrior Priest’s Grandhammer swung just low enough to catch the beast in the head, caving in its skull with a single blow.
Battle Round Three
Ignax sent a Raging Heatwave across both the Unreachable Mountain and the Tauroi Archipelago, sending all warriors present into an apocalyptic rage that forced them to fight all the harder.
The Slaughterpriest dispatched six Bloodreavers to appease the Pyroclasm, but this finally angered his own Blood God and he was crippled by pain when he had the temerity to ask Khorne for favour.
Not quite believing they had managed to lay Skarbrand low, at least for a while, the Decimators charged the Bloodreavers, their Thunderaxes making short work of the barbarians.
Knowing he had to draw blood, and lots of it, to regain Khorne’s blessing, the Slaughterpriest joined the Aspiring Deathbringer in battling Lord-Relictor Cryptborn. The Stormcast, feeling victory close, calmly dispatched the Deathbringer before turning to the Slaughterpriest and battering the brute down with his hammer.
All went quiet on the side of the Unreachable Mountain, then a steady rhythm began, growing louder and louder, as the Paladins hammered away at the ground with their largest weapons, seeking to dislodge the entire mountainside and bury Skarbrand before he could recover.
Down on the Tauroi Archipelago, the Raging Heatwave drive the Devoted to ever new heights. Ignoring the Pyroclasm completely, few noticed as two Warrior Priests were consumed by fire.
The War Altar of Sigmar continued its sweep forward, barely slowing down as it trundled over the still body of the Doombull. Turning, the Warrior Priest aimed the Light of Banishment at one of the Ghorgons and scored a solid hit. The divine light struck the centre of its back and burned through to light up the entire path. The Flagellants had just enough warning to get out of the way before the creature crashed to the ground, its body still smoking.
Only one Ghorgon now remained of the Warherd, and the Knight-Azyros swooped around its head, causing the creature to flail with its four arms in an effort to keep the Stormcast away. Timing his attack perfectly, the Knight-Azyros dodged the bladed limbs then dove in, sword held forward. Its point pierced the skull of the Ghorgon, leaving it swaying for a few seconds before it too crashed into the dust.
The Devoted saw more beasts of the Warherds approaching them over the horizon, but they no longer had any fear for their oppressors and the Warrior Priest atop the War Altar bade them reform to receive the new attack.
Then they stopped – a deep rumble began to shake the ground, and one Flagellant cried out as he pointed upwards. The peak of the Unreachable Mountain had started to collapse and massive boulders began raining down on the Archipelago, landing in front of the pass held by the Devoted, crushing the new Warherd beneath tonnes of rock.
Once again, the power of Sigmar had been revealed to the Devoted, and they all reaffirmed their vows to the God-King.
Well,that battle really did not go the way we expected at the start – I had thought that the Stormcasts might just be able to sneak a victory against Skarbrand and pull the mountain down on top of him, but that the Devoted of Sigmar would be hard pushed to stall the advance of the Warherd before that happened.
As things worked out, they need not have worried so much.
The big issue here was the absolutely appalling rolls made by the Warherd. If there was a critical charge to be made (like against the War Altar of Sigmar who was just ruining the huge Ghorgons), it would be failed. If there was a set of 3+ hit rolls, they would be failed. As for armour saves… no such thing, really.
The Devoted, on the other hand, truly had Sigmar on their side – only two prayers were not answered during the entire battle, meaning the Flagellants enjoyed constant protection and had their own attacks nicely pumped up.
Still, it is nice to see the good guys get a convincing victory for once!
One thing I should mention is the Ashlands Time of War sheet – this one is really worth a look, as the combination of Ignax’s effects causing fires to spring up all over the battlefield, added to the placation (or not) of the Pyroclasm, meant there was always something interesting taking place on the battlefield, regardless of what the players were doing!
The Story Continues…
Their pact concluded, Valkia the Bloody promptly dove down from the sky to skewer Lord-Relictor Cryptborn through the chest, sending him back to Sigmar in ignominy – however, his plan had worked and the Ashlands were safe from Nurgle’s curse. It was now time for Archaon to enact his own schemes to finally enslave the Godbeast Ignax. For this phase of the war, we move our attention away from the Ashlands and up to the Land of the Chained Sun, high above the battlefields we have been fighting on so far…