Battle Report – Two Became Three

We are going to be sticking with the Flesh-Eater Courts for our tour of the Mortal Realms. In this fight, Fyreslayers and Skaven are having one of their normal bashes, but a Flesh-Eater Court has now arrived. This is our first three-player, three-army game in an all-against-all, so expect carnage!

 

The Story So Far

On board the massive Wyrd-Engine, lumbering its way over the Iron-Scree Wastes of Chamon, Fyreslayers and Skaven were locked in an ages old battle. Many times had they clashed for control of the Wyrd-Engine, but now the Skaven had a new weapon.

Grey Seer Reeknik had commissioned the construction of a Screaming Bell and when the rats surged up from the depths of the Wyrd-Engine to attack the Fyreslayer’s forge-temple, he was on board his new weapon.

Every time the bell peeled, Fyreslayers fell to the ground, clutching their bleeding ears. Thousands of rats were behind the Grey Seer, and overwhelming wave of Skaven that could only crush the Fyreslayers once and for all.

However, something else stirred in the depths of the Wyrd-Engine, something neither Skaven nor Fyreslayer suspected the existence of. It was Reeknik who first saw something was wrong when his planned reinforcements failed to materialise, but soon he realised just what was happening.

A Flesh-Eater Court had revived itself from a long slumber, and now the Abhorrant Ghoul King leading it was intent on claiming the entire Wyrd-Engine as his own domain.

 

The Forces

This is a relatively small battle, concentrating on the action that takes place where the three armies have converged – there is a lot going on off-camera, but this is where the fight will be decided!

Flesh-Eater Court
Abhorrent Ghoul King on Terrorgheist
Crypt Infernal Courtier
Crypt Ghast Courtier
Crypt Ghouls x 40 (two units of 20)
Crypt Flayers x 6 (two units of 3)

These are just the lead elements of the Flesh-Eater Court, as the rest are already feasting on the vast numbers of Skaven who would otherwise be overwhelming the Fyreslayers. However, they may find the other two armies easy prey after they have been battering one another…

Fyreslayers
Runefather on Magmadroth
Runesmiter on Magmadroth
Runemaster
Battlesmith
Grimwrath Berzerker
Auric Hearthguard x 5
Hearthguard Berzerkers x 5
Vulkite Berzerkers x 30 (one units of 20, one unit of 10)

The Fyreslayers may have thought they were coming to this battle able to deal with anything the Skaven threw at them but, despite the presence of the Magmadroths, they are going to find themselves under serious pressure from the start.

Clan Verminus
Screaming Bell (Grey Seer Reeknik)
Clanrats x 50 (two units of 25)
Stormvermin x 20

The Skaven have more foot troops than either of the other two armies, but they will have to use them carefully. If the Clanrats (or, the Horned Rat forbid, the Stormvermin) are thrown into the battle carelessly, Grey Seer Reeknik will have nothing to face the Flesh-Eater Court with.

 

The Battleplan

This is a three-way Battleplan, with three armies and three players. There are no special rules as such in this battle (the Flesh-Eater Court can re-roll failed charges, while the other two armies can re-roll wounds of 1 against one another), just the facility for handling three players. Every round effectively has three turns, and models fight in each if they are near an enemy, regardless of whom it is.

On the face of it, the Flesh-Eater Court is likely to sweep the field clear of battle-weary Skaven and Fyreslayers. If either is to triumph, they must (temporarily) unite against the Flesh-Eaters but as their one special rule makes it easier to hurt one another, this might be more difficult than it looks!

The victory conditions are calculated when one player has been wiped out, with major victory going to the survivor who has lost (proportionally) the least in their force. The players involved in this battle are competitive, so expect to see them watching their opponents carefully and counting models on the fly!

 

Deployment

The three forces assembled on the battlefield, with the Skaven and Fyreslayers looking venomously at one another. However, both noted that the Flesh-Eater Court had deployed heavily weighted towards the Fyreslayers, positioning that caused the Grey Seer to lick his lips with glee.

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Having half-expected this, the Fyreslayers had deployed aggressively to face either foe, hoping they would not have to do so simultaneously.

 

Battle Round One

The Screaming Bell tolled, a mournful sound that shook the battlefield. An avalanche of energy flowed from the bell, which the Grey Seer quickly harnessed into a spell. Crack’s Call ripped a chasm across the ground, into which three Vulkite Berzerkers tumbled, screaming as they fell.

Then, the Grey Seer unveiled his master plan. Chittering to his troops from atop his bell, the Grey Seer ordered a steady retreat, pulling his Clanrats even closer to him. His strategy was made clear immediately – he wanted to wait until the Fyreslayers and Flesh-Eater Court had more or less destroyed one another, then swoop in to claim victory!

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The Ghoul King had no such worries about his own safety and took to the air on his Terrorgheist as more Crypt Ghouls sprang out of the shadows to join the growing horde. As one, they advanced across a broad front.

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A unit of Crypt Ghouls and Crypt Flayers pushed their way towards the Skaven, but the bulk of the Flesh-Eater Court was aiming straight for the Fyreslayers.

Seeing this, the Runefather quietly directed his troops to face the threats. Vulkite Berzerkers advanced cautiously towards the Skaven, determined to take advantage of the cover the woods provided but all too aware they would provide no protection against the Grey Seer’s Crack’s Call. The rest of the force rearranged itself to face the Flesh-Eater Court while the Auric Hearthguard began lining up a few long-ranged shots at the Crypt Flayers lurking amongst the trees.

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Battle Round Two

Hearing a command barked from the Runefather, the Fyreslayers halted their advance and readied their weapons. Only the Runemaster paced forward, raising his staff and speaking words of power. Among the trees closest tot he Flesh-Eater Court, magma bubbled up from the ground, spurting to drench the Crypt Flayers and immolate a Crypt Ghoul who had strayed too close.

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The Auric Hearthguard continued the bombardment of flaming rock, training their magmapikes upon the Crypt Flayers. Fire blasted through the trees, felling two of them.

Across the battlefield, the Screaming Bell tolled once more, feeding the Grey Seer yet more magical energy but it was too much for the rat to handle and his Crack’s Call failed this time, much to the relief of the Vulkite Berzerkers.

Then, the Ghoul King stood high atop his mount and gave a hideous shriek that galvanised his court into action. As one, they surged forward, aiming straight for the Fyreslayers.

Two Crypt Ghouls sank into bubbling magma as they rushed carelessly through the woods, but the rest did not even notice their pitiful cries, more dismayed by the Crypt Flayer and Ghoul King himself overtaking them to reach the fresh meat.

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Two of the Auric Hearthguard fell to the ground, clutching bleeding ears as the Terrorgheist unleashed a tremendous scream that boiled their brains, but the others stood firm against the Crypt Flayers who dove into their thin line. One of the Hearthguard fell to the Crypt Flayers’ talons, but Vulkite Berzerkers were quick to respond and piled-in, slaying on of the beasts. Another Crypt Flayer soared above swirling melee to land next to the Runemaster. Drawing his runic iron, they immediately clashed, trading blows and wounds behind the front line.

The Ghoul King had already chosen his target, and aimed his Terrorgheist at the largest enemy he could find, the Runesmiter who had advanced forward on his Magmadroth. The two beasts scratched and raked one another as their riders duelled.

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Quicker on the wing, the Terrorgheist savaged the Magmadroth, causing great gouts of volcanic blood to drench the nearby Crypt Flayers, boiling them as they fought. The Runesmiter backed his badly wounded Magmadroth up slightly, now wary of his enemy.

 

Battle Round Three

Having built up momentum in their charge, the Flesh-Eater Court continued to roll forward over the Fyreslayers.

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The Terrorgheist screamed again, this time at the Magmadroth. Waves of the terrible sound broke across the beast, smashing scales and unleashing its volcanic blood. The Runemaster saw it arcing towards him and sidestepped, allowing the lone Crypt Flayer he was fighting absorb the magma, immolating it completely.

Before the Magmadroth could recover, the Terrorgheist darted forward and snapped it heads off with one bite of its enormous jaws. The Magmadroth fell, spilling the Runesmiter to the ground. Before he could stand, the Ghoul King was on him, ripping the Fyreslayer apart with his bare claws.

The line between the Fyreslayers and Flesh-Eater Court became confused and messy, as Vulkite Berzerkers fought Crypt Flayers and Crypt Ghouls. Many ghouls fell to their axes, but the Auric Hearthguard could not free their weapons from the close tangle and were quickly killed.

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A lone unit of Crypt Ghouls had been quietly advancing across the other side of the battlefield, far from the developing battle with the Fyreslayers. The Skaven finally saw them approaching and started chittering among themselves, alerting the Grey Seer to the threat. Diverting his attention from the Fyreslayers, the Grey Seer directed a Crack’s Call spell at the ghouls, with several falling into the yawning earth.

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Seeing the Crypt Ghouls ignore this warning, the Grey Seer squeaked furiously, goading his Clanrats forward to face the enemy.

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Fifty Clanrats raced forward, the Stormvermin hot on their tails. The Crypt Ghouls were somewhat taken aback by this sudden move and were immediately forced onto the defensive as they were surrounded by Clanrats.

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While the sprawling battle was vicious, with much hissing and squeaking, few actual blows were landed and the result was a desperate tangle of angry Skaven and Crypt Ghouls trying to lash out at one another.

Still, at least the Grey Seer was safe, so he counted that as a win.

The Fyreslayers were facing far more problems. Another wave of Crypt Ghouls raced forward past the Terrorgheist and completely overwhelmed the Vulkite Berkerzers.

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Now, only the Runemaster alone held the Fyreslayer’s flank, and he had already been wounded by the Crypt Flayer he had fought.

The Runefather was well aware of the Perilous position the Flesh-Eater Court had put his force in, but he also spied opportunity now the Skaven had been drawn into the engagement. Roaring a command, he urged his Magmadroth forward towards the rats, the Battlesmith and remaining Vulkite Berzerkers streaming in his wake.

The Grimwrath Berzerker was charged with holding the flank, a suicidal duty he relished. Leading the Hearthguard Berzerkers, he raced for the Ghoul King on the Terrorgheist, legs pumping as fast as they could.

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Leaping over the remains of the Runesmiter’s Magamdroth, the Grimwrath Berzerker bellowed a challenge as he brought his axe down over his head. The Terrorgheist looked up in alarm as its mind slowly began to understand what was happening – far too slowly.

The Grimwrath Berzerker’s axe cracked its skull wide open with a single blow, but the Fyreslayer was not yet done. Jumping up onto its head, he sprang for the Ghoul King and, with one mighty swing, cut the vampire in two.

The Hearthguard Berzerkers were not going to be outdone by this display, and they raced for the Crypt Flayers surrounding the Runemaster. They were not quick enough to save him, but their axes made short work of the Crypt Flayers, felling two and wounding another before they realised what was happening.

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Battle Round Four

Busy squeaking orders to his incompetent Clanrats, the Grey Seer belatedly realised that the remaining Fyreslayers were running towards him, intent on wrecking his Screaming Bell and separating his head from his neck. The Grey Seer chittered a series of confused and contradictory orders, but the Clanrats got the gist of them and they started to flee, running from the Crypt Ghouls as fast as they could while the Stormvermin advanced meaningfully towards them, halberds ready.

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One unit of Clanrats stuck around just long enough to stop the Crypt Ghouls from escaping the Stormvermin – then the elite rats charged.

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Unable to run, the Crypt Ghouls raised their arms in a vain attempt to halt the descending halberds, but they were all butchered to a diseased, degenerate ghoul.

With the Ghoul King killed, the Crypt Infernal Courtier now took command of the Flesh-Eater Court. Raising up on his haunches, he screeched at the sky and was soon rewarded with a flock of Crypt Flayers arriving on the battlefield to bolster his waning force.

Then, to the surprise of both Crypt Flayers and Crypt Ghouls, he ordered the court to disengage from the Fyreslayers and start running for the Skaven. Perhaps he wanted revenge for the slaying of the Crypt Ghouls by the Stormvermin. Maybe he had seen the effectiveness of the Grimwrath Berzerker’s axe and merely wanted to avoid its kiss. No matter, the Fyreslayers were now free to fight the Skaven too…

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This reversal of the intentions of the Flesh-Eater Court had not gone unnoticed by the Runefather, and he was thankful for the relief it gave the Fyreslayers. The Grimwrath Berzerker and Hearthguard, he noted, were chasing after the Crypt Ghouls, helping to shepherd them towards the rats.

As the Battlesmith led the Vulkite Berzerkers into the woods, where they would be in a position to both weather a sudden charge from the Stormvermin and be in range to strike at the Creaming Bell, the Runefather goaded his Magmadroth forward at full speed, aiming straight for the nearest Clanrats.

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The Magmadroth spat a gob of magma at the Stormvermin as it galloped, toasting three of them in a wash of fire and panicked squeaking, but their cries were quickly overwhelmed by those of the Clanrats who suddenly realised who the Magmadroth was bounding towards.

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A spray of rat blood soared into the air as the Magmadroth bounced among them, biting and swiping while the Runefather made long, powerful sweeps with his latchkey axe. Seven Clanrats were killed between the Magamdroth’s claws and the Runefather’s axe, and another were hurled from the battle by sweeps from the beast’s tail. This proved too much for the survivors and another seven scampered for the shadows, alongside two of the Stormvermin.

 

Battle Round Five

The momentum had been firmly seized by the Fyreslayers, and they took every advantage.

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Streaming out of the woods, the Vulkite Berzerkers roared challenges at the Skaven, but it was very clear the Grey Seer was not going to accept as the Screaming Bell trundled as fast as it could away from the fighting.

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The Magmadroth continued to tear apart the few Clanrats who still stood, but most of them were ready to break and run anyway. The creature took enough time to spit another gob of magma at the Stormvermin, causing them to back up and huddle together for protection, but this caused them to miss the oncoming Vulkite Berzerkers.

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The Vulkite Berzerkers smashed into the Stormvermin like a Steamhead train. Flinging their shields as they ran, the razor-edged discs sliced through five of the Stormvermin, while the axes of the Fyreslayers quickly dispatched the rest before the rats could react.

The centre had been torn out of the Skaven force within minutes, much to the consternation of the Grey Seer. His Screaming Bell was now moving much slower now it was not being pushed by his minions, and the only Clanrats left had fled to the far side of the battlefield and there were some very angry Fyreslayers between him and them…

Seeing this turn of events, the Crypt Infernal Courtier reassessed his priorities and, spying the Grimwrath Berzerker and Hearthguard following behind, barked an order to his followers. Responding instantly, they turned to surrounded the Fyreslayers.

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The Hearthguard Berzerkers were quickly beset by a massive horde of Crypt Ghouls. Though nearly a dozen ghouls died to their axes, there were simply too many for the Hearthguard to face, and they were torn apart in a shower of blood, organs and limbs.

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The Grimwrath Berzerker fared better. Having reached the woods, he spat curses at the Crypt Flayers that came for him, deriding their treachery, however expected it had been, Though wounded by their talons, his axe accounted for one of their number, forcing them to be a little more cautious.

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Battle Round Six

By this time, all three armies had taken horrendous casualties, but victory remained possible for all.

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The Fyreslayers were the first to make their move, and the Runefather decided to continue pressing his advantage on the Skaven. While the Vulkite Berzerkers reversed their direction to chase the Screaming Bell, he pursued the Clanrats upon his Magmadroth.

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Seeing this, the Clanrats tried to run even faster, though they knew they could not outpace an angry Magmadroth. The Grey Seer had other ideas though, Fed up of constantly running, he turned the Screaming Bell round, and rolled towards the Vulkite Berzerkers.

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Another Crack’s Call spell opened up the ground, causing several Berzerkers to fall into the earth, while the Screaming Bell itself rolled over more. However, the survivors stood firm, and their axes caused the frame of the Screaming Bell to shudder and creak as several of its timbers crashed to the ground.

Dispatching the wounded Grimwrath Berzerkers, the Crypt Flayers took to the air, searching for new victims. The Crypt Ghouls had already found theirs, and they rushed through the ruins to reach the Runefather, cutting off his pursuit of the Clanrats.

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Their oversized horde flowed across the broken masonry as they reached, claws outstretched, for the Runefather. All they accomplished was the ripping off of a few scales from the Magmadroth. Then the Runefather’s massive axe descended, cutting ten of them in two and forcing more to run.

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While others still remained in combat with the Magmadroth, the great charge of the Crypt Ghouls had clearly been shattered by the Runefather’s staunch defence.

 

Battle Round Seven

The Crypt Ghouls did not know whether to fear the Magmadroth more, or the Crypt Infernal Courtier who they knew lurked in the ruins just behind them. It was the Magmadroth that made the decision for them. Swiping with its claws, most of the ghouls were killed instantly, and the rest promptly bolted for the shadows around the battlefield.

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Further away, the Battlesmith joined in the fight around the Screaming Bell, carving great chunks out of its wooden frame, though a swipe from the Rat Ogre at its rear left him with a savage wound across the back.

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This was a distraction that poorly served the Rat Ogre, as its pulls on the bell became erratic. The Screaming Bell peeled a discordant note that sent tremors through its frame, damaging it further.

The last remaining Clanrats cowered on the far side of the battlefield, hoping no one would notice them. However, they had already been spotted by the circling Crypt Flayers who now dived towards them.

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Badly damaged as it was, the Screaming Bell and its Rat Ogre managed to kill the last of the Vulkite Berzerkers and the Battlesmith who had joined them. Now, it rattled its way towards the Runefather, the Grey Seer hurling Arcane Bolts as it went, determined that the last Fyreslayer, at least, would not walk away from the battle.

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Battle Round Eight

The Clanrats could not flee from the Crypt Flayers, and they squeaked in terrible fear as they were cornered, trying to clamber over one another in a bid not to be the first to die.

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It made little difference to the Crypt Flayers, who soon feasted on rat flesh.

Seeing that the damaged Screaming Bell was in no shape to catch him any time soon, the Runefather turned his Magmadroth and went hunting Flesh-Eaters. He found his first victim climbing out of the ruins, the Crypt Ghast Courtier who had been responsible for building up such a massive horde of Crypt Ghouls throughout the battle. Now caught in the open, the Courtier managed to shriek in true terror before the Runefather’s Latchkey Axe removed its head.

 

Battle Round Nine

However, the battle had been a long and hard one for the Magmadroth, and a constant stream of volcanic blood dripped from its many wounds. It was now not moving as fast as it had been, and the Crypt Infernal Courtier easily reached it with one long glide.

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The fight was short but intense. The Magmadroth managed to gouge a hideous wound in the Courtier, but the Flesh-Eater’s own talons proved more telling. Bounding up the Magmadroth’s flanks, it tore the Runefather from his mount and sank its long teeth into his flesh.

The last Fyreslayer had fallen, and the Grey Seer decided to leave the Wyrd-Engine to the Flesh-Eater Court.

 

Conclusion

Well, that was a battle and a half!

As always, it was very close, and we really had no idea who was going to win, right up until the end of round nine when the Runefather fell (and that fight could so easily have gone the other way!). At first it looked as though the Fyreslayers were going to be knocked out first, then the Skaven, and then the Flesh-Eater Court (the Flesh-Eater Court was not allowed to count newly summoned models as survivors, so they actually only had a few left!).

At the end of the battle, the Fyreslayers had been wiped out, but the Flesh-Eater Court only had 6% of its starting models left on the battlefield, and the Skaven 1.4%! You really cannot get much closer than that!

As far as the Fyreslayers were concerned, the man of the match was probably the Runefather, who led the charge that shattered the Skaven as a fighting force. However, honourable mention should go to the Grimwrath Berzerker who managed to utterly destroy the Ghoul King and his Terrorgheist in a single round of combat!

This is a Battleplan I would wholeheartedly recommend for any group to try (you can find it in Battletome: Flesh-Eater Courts). The rules for three player games are extremely simple and do not put much overhead on a battle, but (as with all good rules in Age of Sigmar), they add a whole new dimension that players must come to grips with – not least that it is very possible to lose models in another player’s turn when that player’s models are not fighting yours (because if you are in battle, you fight, no matter whose turn it is). This means you are getting another lot of close combat in every round, which can be good… or very, very bad…

 

The Story Continues…

Next time, we are taking a trip to the Realm of Life for our first battle featuring the Ironjawz!

Why I Like Age of Sigmar

It has been nearly 18 months since Age of Sigmar was released and, for some, there has been some heartache and a lot of confusion on the way.

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Round our way though, things have been bright and sunny, or at least as much as they can be in the Mortal Realms where war stalks the lands. We have played an awful lot of games (more than we did 40k or Fantasy Battle before Sigmar was released), we have got through four big campaign hardbacks, and I have painted way more miniatures in that space of time than I ever have for any other game. Ever.

There are reasons why…

 

Every Game Different

Just about every game we played of Warhammer Fantasy was drawn from one of the six ‘main’ scenarios in the rulebook (we did at one point substitute one of them for a Storm of Magic scenario, but that was about as adventurous as we got). 40k was no better, rolling on the mission table for every game, drawing from the same six missions.

Now consider this.

Since Age of Sigmar came out, we have played nearly 70 games in the grand storyline campaign featured on this site, plus a few Matched Play games and some events at Warhammer World.

Aside from a few games at those events, we have never played the same Battleplan twice.

That means you could forget about tweaking your army or getting hold of new units (and we do plenty of both), every game is still different. There are over a hundred Battleplans for Age of Sigmar right now, and you can be sure many more will be coming next year when the new campaign books start appearing.

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If you find yourself repeating games in Age of Sigmar, you are doing something very wrong.

 

Smaller Armies, and More of Them

Once we broke away from the rigid ‘must have a 2,000 point game or it ain’t Warhammer’ mindset, we found it easier to spread the love between different forces – no longer was an army a year(s)-long endeavour where every possible variation of units was put together, then followed by doubling down on the most effective units. Instead, we could explore lots of areas of the Warhammer universe, focussing on those forces that held the most interest, but giving each at least a little time in the sun.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the forces built over the past 18-odd months have grown, well, fairly titanic – in the display cabinets I have 4,500 points of an Extremis Chamber alone, and the Bloodbound probably come to more than that. However, you would also find an Aleguzzler tribe, all clans of Skaven well represented, the Devoted of Sigmar, Spiderfang Grots. I even have an Eldritch Council on the way.

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Multiple armies multiplies the fun, and the set up of Age of Sigmar (once you move beyond Matched Play) encourages you to explore them.

 

No Argument, No Fuss

I really cannot overstate this one.

When playing 40k or Fantasy Battle, at some point the game will stop as one of the players opens a rulebook or Codex up. Maybe the players will start chatting or debating the rules. Maybe an argument will start. It does not matter how many years you have been playing these games (coming up to three decades, myself!), there will always be some rule somewhere that gets read wrong or understood badly or, worse, a player will intentionally try to get a bad reading of a rule working in his favour.

Either way, the game has just ground to a halt.

Since playing Age of Sigmar, there have been no rules debates in our group. None. Nada. Zilch. And here is the funny thing – I cannot think of one cropping up during events at Warhammer World where you are playing against strangers.

I will even go as far as saying that I cannot recall the last time I looked at the main rules for Age of Sigmar – it has been months since I so much as glanced at them.

Age of Sigmar simply works.

It does not pretend to be some grand tactical simulation where great minds engage one another in a mental duel akin to Grandmasters (and if you think you are demonstrating your mental abilities when you win a game of Fantasy Battle or 40k, well, it may be beneficial to take a step back and consider where your life is going).

Age of Sigmar is about getting cool models on a good-looking table and seeing what is currently happening in the Mortal Realms. That is all it is aiming for, and all it needs to do.

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The core rules for Age of Sigmar are so simple they effectively become invisible during play, with only Warscrolls (and the occasional Time of War sheet) popping up.

Simple, easy, does not get in the way.

That is not to say they are not without their subtleties. To give one example…

In Fantasy Battle, siege games were a bit of a deal, and required special rules, a special set up, and you could end up hunting around for a decent set you were happy with, plumbing the depths of previous editions for something suitable.

Age of Sigmar does not need any of that. In fact, you don’t really need the Warscrolls for the Dreadhold to play a siege game. They just add some fun rules for specific parts of a fortress. All you require is a castle and the assumption that the units attacking it are equipped with some basic siege gear – ropes, ladders, spells of levitation, whatever you fancy.

It is not until you are actually assaulting that fortress that you start to see how clever the core rules are and how they handle siege assaults.

You see, for the average soldier, enemies on the ramparts are untouchable (they are further than your weapons can reach). However, if the enemy is completely strung out along those walls (or, at least, the section you are attacking) you cannot move onto them to reach him, and you cannot charge him because his models are blocking your movement – you cannot move through his models, and so you cannot place your own on the wall, even if there is room behind the enemy.

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This means that to take a Dreadhold, you must:

  • Clear the walls first with missile fire or magic.
  • Use something big enough to literally reach over the wall and clobber the enemy.
  • Use flying units.
  • Or, if you have one, push open the Malefic Gate (not an easy job; I have managed it a grand total of once over the past 18 months)

Which are all solid tactics in a fantasy world. But here is the thing: at no point have any ‘siege’ rules been added to the game. This is all done through the core rules.

Simple. And brilliant.

 

Play the Game, Not the Rules

This one leads on from the last.

Once you find yourself in the happy position of never, repeat never, consulting the rulebook, you find yourself free to enjoy the game.

There is no looking up of the rules (during play or afterwards) in an attempt to leverage every ounce of advantage from them. There is no ‘pushing’ of rules over common sense, where models start doing things that are technically legal within the rules, but would never happen in the real world.

Instead, your focus is on the actual game – whether your Stormcasts can roll up the flank of the Skaven with a full force of Prosecutors leading Retributors, not whether you can squeeze another +1 from the combat resolution. Whether your Blightmage can finish off the Necromancer with a well-timed Arcane Bolt, not whether you have the right magic item to give you more magic dice.

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Warhammer at its most fun and, I very much think, the way the designers intended for it to be played.

 

The Storyline

The odd Matched Play aside, the main driving force behind our games has been the ‘official’ storyline, as laid out in the campaign books and Black Library novels.

And you know… it is actually quite a good story!

This background material gives battles on the tabletop a depth that, up to now, has been somewhat lacking in games, even given the (very) rich background of the Warhammer universes (you can see the format developing in the End Times books which, rules aside and with a great deal of hindsight, do seem to be Age of Sigmar in a different guise).

We have charted the fall and rise of the likes of Lord Khul and Torsun the Redeemed, not over a few battles, but over continuous games across 18 months, and there does not seem to be any sign that their stories will end any time soon.

We have seen the assault upon the Eldritch Fortress and watched as the Grand Congregation of Nurgle discovered the Athelwyrd, triggering the Exodus of Alarielle. We witnessed the arrival of Archaon, Grand Marshal of the Apocalypse, into the Realmgate Wars, and the unleashing of the Chamber Extremis in response. Heroes have risen (such as the brave veteran Liberators who faced down Valkia the Bloody) and the craven have fallen (Bloodsecrator Threx failing to recover Lord Khul when wounded then retreating to a Skull Keep to avoid his master’s wrath, only to find he had put himself in the path of the main Stormcast attack).

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These were not abstract events that happened in some background piece in a Codex or the pages of a Black Library novel. We saw them take place, on our tables, as we rolled the dice.

And that is a whole other experience.

 

A Lot Goes on in Age of Sigmar

We once had a game of Age of Sigmar that lasted just two turns.

What we found was that a huge amount had still happened during the game.

In Fantasy Battle, it would have been quite a disappointing match – by turn two, you might have a couple of initial charges, but more likely just some sporadic bow fire and the odd wizard flinging a spell (or immolating himself with a miscast).

In Age of Sigmar, there is always a lot going on, and it happens in multiple layers.

  • Even basic units can often do something a little out of the ordinary, and damn near every Hero has funky rules that let them take special actions on the battlefield.
  • You have to go long and far to find a Battleplan that does not add something to the depth of a game, from new General Abilities that, perhaps, do something as minor as allowing units to re-roll wounds, to big battlefield-wide events that open up chasms under the feet of units or drop daemons from a spinning vortex in the sky.
  • Time of War sheets are the cherry on top, adding more events, spells, and special rules.

The point is, from round one, something is always happening in Age of Sigmar, and that keeps things interesting.

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A side benefit of this, but one not to be overlooked, is that while I can predict what will happen and when during a game of Fantasy Battle as soon as deployment is complete (and figure out who will win – how boring is that?), I often can’t tell who is going to claim victory in Age of Sigmar until the last turn!

 

A Teenager Again

When Age of Sigmar first came out, we played with no points – you did not have a choice in the early days.

I could say playing games without points became a revelation but, really, it was a rediscovery – after all, this was how we used to play these games when we were kids. And you know what? We had fun doing it!

As army lists came out back then, with the likes of Chapter Approved: First Book of the Astronomican, and then new armies (like the Eldar) appearing in White Dwarf, we buckled down and conformed to what became tournament play.

But, you know, there is more to games than tournaments and, as much as I might sound like a social worker, more to life than winning.

Not that I lack the competitive spirit. You face me in Fantasy Battle or 40k (or Matched Play with Age of Sigmar) and I’ll take you down. I’ll do it quickly, efficiently, and without mercy. Turns out I am a little bit good at competitive miniatures play.

Take the points out and, frankly, I could not give a damn who wins. I really cannot stress that enough. Could. Not. Care. Less.

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What I am looking for is a fun time, rolling dice and pushing models around the table (with absolutely no arguments brewing) as cool things happen on the battlefield.

I don’t care if this battle means I will have beaten you a dozen times in a row and it represents an unbroken line of achievements (it just doesn’t). I want to know if my lowly Grot Shaman is going to safely guard the entrance to the egg nest on his own against your Chaos Warriors. I want to see the (truly majestic) sight of the full Extremis Chamber riding down the enemy horde, a tidal wave of armour and scales. I want to see Aleguzzler Gargants get so drunk they cannot even stumble their way towards the enemy.

Competitive, tournament play still has its place and I enjoy dipping back into it (I am going to one in a couple of weeks at Warhammer World). But, and I have said this before, if you find yourself continually playing games that would not be out of place in a tournament setting, ditch your competitive spirit for just a game or two, find some like-minded people and play Warhammer like (as I have said), I am pretty sure, the designers do.

It really is okay for you to do that. Jervis has given you permission.

So, those are just a few of the reasons I have been enjoying Age of Sigmar. What has been your excuse?

The Fist of Gork

Two little milestones achieved this weekend…

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The forces of Destruction are coming on well!

First up is Gordrakk himself, the Fist of Gork.

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This model marks the last of the Ironjawz I will be doing for a good while (might sneak in a handful more Ardboyz to take me up to three units of 20, and I could probably use another unit of Gore-Gruntas), and one of the last models needed for the All-Gates campaign which we will be starting soon, likely after Christmas.

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This was a fairly no-stress model to paint, just following the paint scheme that comes with the box set.

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Even the yellow is no fuss these days, with the ‘Citadel Painting System’ (used to hate doing yellow).

So, as the Ironjawz are completed (that is, ‘completed’), the Bonesplitterz start appearing. While I have a few other bits and pieces to be getting on with (Prosecutors, a Skull Keep and Morghast Harbingers on the painting table right now), I wanted to get one unit of Bonesplitterz done before launching into the main bulk of their army, just to see what is what when it comes to painting them.

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And… they are fairly easy to do!

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They are, of course, mostly green skin with bone, hair, leather, stone and tattoos the only real additions to them. The only real pain was that you really need to do the leather and hide in two stages – once to get the main loincloths and straps done, but then again once the bone is complete to sort out all the leather straps on the shields and weapons. Not a real hassle, but I really like only doing colours once on a model.

Also managed to pop one of these chaps in:

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Just to get the point across that this is a monster-killing army!

This weekend I also put together a couple more characters for the Bonesplitterz and a unit of Boarboyz. The aim is to get the whole army more or less done before the Christmas break and not make the Bonesplitterz my Christmas Project, but I think that might be a little ambitious, especially as I will be losing a weekend to the Battle Brothers event, plus I need to spend some time actually building whatever I end up doing for the Christmas Project.

Still best foot forward!

Guarding the Starmaster

So, I will be attending the Battle Brothers event at Warhammer World in a couple of weeks or so. This is a team event, where you and a buddy each combine 1,000 point forces and take on all comers.

Now, having, umm, quite an extensive AoS collection, I thought we might take something interesting and unusual… Until my running mate (mentioning no James’ names) informed me he was taking a Daughters of Khaine force for his 1,000 points.

Okay, I thought, any hopes of Sportsmanship/Best Game awards had just gone of the window, they were a pipe dream.

You see, there are a handful of forces that are known to be just plain nasty in AoS – you will hear phrases like ‘Beastclaw Raiders’, ‘Skyborne Slayers’ and ‘Kunnin Rukk’, to give just three examples. However, the Daughters of Khaine are a kinda stealth army. They are right up there with those three but few people know it and, looking at the army, opponents will not suspect a thing – until the first Witch Elves shrug off a hail of shooting and mortal wounds, and then tear apart any unit they come into contact with.

So, I had to have a rethink on what I was going to take. In the end, I settled for another ‘stealthy’ type force, based around the Seraphon. However, it meant I had to paint a few more models…

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This is the first time I have painted a unit specifically for Matched Play purposes, and I am not sure if I feel dirty or not…

Anyway, I painted myself up another 15 Saurus Guard, giving me a total of 30.

The idea here is that the Witch Elves run forward and… do what Witch Elves do. Eat the enemy, mostly.

My Seraphon, comprising three units of 10 Saurus Guard, an Eternity Warden, and a Skink Priest (there is enough room for something else – maybe a Bastiladon to counter any Balewind Vortex shenanigans), advance behind the girls and sit on objectives.

The trick is that they have been arranged into the Eternal Starhost. This gives them a number of benefits.

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First off, assuming the right Heroes are near (they will be), each Saurus Guard has an effective 2+ save that ignores Rend of -1 (most of the Rend out there), without going anywhere near scenery or accepting a Mystic Shield. And the Skink Priest will be getting them to re-roll that. Oh, and they will have a Bravery of 12, for all that will matter.

This makes the Saurus Guard an absolute rock that will be a pain to shift as they sit on objectives, quietly accruing points.

But suppose the enemy manages to break through the Witch Elves and staggers, battered and bloody to the Saurus Guard line?

Well, the Eternity Warden will be giving my lizards an extra attack (total of three each), which are already at 3+/3+/-1 but, so long as they do not move (and, sitting on objectives, they won’t be), that is coming in with D3 damage too.

That is a total monster killer.

Now, this force does have weaknesses. Unless they are accompanied by the Bastiladon, they have no ranged ability. Plus, they have no protection against mortal wounds – however, that is what the Witch Elves are for (#LizardLivesMatter).

So, the upshot of all this is, while there are going to be some nasty forces at Battle Brothers, I think we will be going into the fight with some fair optimism.

The only real question is: do I up my Saurus Guard to 60 models and do the same thing at 2,000 points for the Grand Tournaments next year..?

 

Battle Report – Stirring the Nest

Having finished the Godbeasts book in the last battle, we are now taking another tour of the Mortal Realms to see what else has been going on, before diving back into the main storyline with All-Gates. In this battle, a Flesh-Eater Court has caught the Stormcasts in a trap!

 

The Story So Far

Though Archaon had taken the Godbeast Ignax, the forces of the God-King were still hitting the Realm of Fire hard. More Realmgates leading back to Azyr were being captured, strengthening the Stormcast armies and allowing them to strike further into Aqshy.

One such force was headed to liberate a newly discovered Realmgate in Voldyr Keep. However, their approach had been watched by the minions of the abhorrant Marrowthirst, and they quickly scampered back to their lord and master to report the invasion. The Ghoul King ordered the Marquis Retchbile to gather his forces and, as one, the Flesh-Eater Court moved to intercept the Stormcasts.

Marrowthirst allowed the Stormcasts to make it all the way to the ruined Voldyr Keep before unleashing his forces. Dreadfully outnumbered, the Stormcasts quickly realised the magnitude of the army they faced, and they started to retreat, only to find the rest of the Flesh-Eater Court materialising from the shadows behind them.

Faced with no good choices, the Stormcasts abandoned their quest to liberate the Realmgate and attempted to break out of the trap.

 

The Forces

The Stormcasts are quite seriously outnumbered in this fight, and the Flesh-Eater Court is not going to be pulling any punches.

Flesh-Eater Court
Abhorrent Ghoul King on Terrorgheist
Crypt Infernal Courtier
Varghulf Courtier
Crypt Ghast Courtier
Crypt Horrors x 6 (two units of 3)
Crypt Ghouls x 60 (three units of 20)
Crypt Flayers x 12 (four units of 3)

The Flesh-Eater Court has the numbers with its Crypt Ghouls, but has not been shy about bringing the heavier boys along in the form of Crypt Flayers and Horrors. These have been assembled into two battalions, the Deadwatch (Crypt Flayers forming the king’s bodyguard, able to pile in and attack in the hero phase) and the King’s Ghouls (Ghouls and Horrors led by a Ghast Courtier, able to make long-reaching pile-in moves and ignoring battleshock while in their own territory).

Stormcast Eternals
Lord-Celestant
Lord-Relictor
Liberators x 35 (seven units of 5)
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)
Prosecutors x 9 (three units of 3)

The Stormcasts clearly were not expecting trouble with this Realmgate, and a Flesh-Eater Court this size is quite a surprise. The Stormcasts have a fair number of Liberators with them, but they left the Paladins at home for what was supposed to be a routine mission…

 

The Battleplan

This is a fairly easy Battleplan. The Stormcasts set up in the middle of the table, with half the Flesh-Eater Court deploying around them. The rest of the Flesh-Eaters appear at the start of the second round, allowing them to counter any early thrust the Stormcasts make.

To win, the Stormcasts need to exit the table from one of the four corners, the gradient of their victory (or the Flesh-Eaters) based upon how many manage to leave.

As this battle takes place in the Realm of Fire, we will be using the Brimstone Peninsula Time of War sheet, ignoring the Blood Geysers rule.

 

Deployment

The Stormcasts deployed in a standard formation designed to repulse an ambush – Liberators forming a shield line around the sides, with Prosecutors in the middle ready to break out, and Judicators sandwiched between them to provide support.

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The Flesh-Eater Court appeared quickly enough, moving out of the shadows to reveal bloodthirsty Ghouls and Crypt Horrors, led by an Abhorrant Ghoul King atop a massive Terrorgheist.

 

Battle Round One

The Flesh-Eater Court wasted no time as they sprang forward, eager to rip the Stormcasts apart. The Ghoul King proved himself no coward as his Terrorgheist landed right in front of two retinues of Liberators before opening its maw to unleash a deafening screech. Three Prosecutors fell to the ground, clutching their heads before disappearing in a flash of blue light that bolted up to Azyr.

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Then the Flesh-Eater Court charged, with only the Varghulf Courtier too slow to reach a Stormcast. Despite their diminutive size, the Crypt Ghouls held no fear as they leapt up to claw at the Stormcasts over their shields.

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Despite losing one of their number as they rushed the Stormcasts, the Crypt Horrors quickly proved lethal, slaying three Liberators in seconds. However, the Stormcasts facing the Ghoul King knew how to defend themselves against beasts such as the Terrorgheist, and they drew their shields tight, losing only one Liberator to the creature’s claws while a single Prosecutor was wounded by a swipe from the Ghoul King.

Two Liberators were dragged down to the ground by Crypt Ghoul, but their comrades quickly stepped in and started hammering the Ghoul King’s followers.

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As the Lord-Relictor called upon the power of the God-King to blast the Terrorgheist with a bolt of lightning, a retinue of Liberators led the break out as the Stormcasts began to flee to safety.

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On the other side of the battlefield, the Lord-Celestant led a retinue of Liberators out of the trap, Judicators keeping pace as their Skybolt Bows peppered the Ghoul King at range.

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As the Boltstorm Crossbow-armed Judicators shredded Crypt Ghouls, Liberators tried to batter the Ghoul King and his Terrorgheist back, but the beast managed to snap one in two with its wide jaws.

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The Lord-Celestant diverted briefly from his flight, activating his cloak to send a hail of celestial hammers into a Crypt Horror, before charging into their backs. However, the Crypt Horrors sensed his approach and whirled round, tearing the Stormcast commander apart before he could do much more than raise his sword. The nearby Liberators moaned as they saw their leader defeated so easily.

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Battle Round Two

The Stormcasts had suffered losses early in the battle, but they had begun to break out, with several paths open to them.

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Standing high on the back of his Terrorgheist, the Ghoul King called for more of his followers to come out of the shadows, a cry that was quickly taken up by his courtiers. The Stormcasts were dismayed to see the summons answered, first by Crypt Horrors moving to block the retreat of Prosecutors.

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However, they were soon joined by Crypt Flayers moving to cut off fleeing Liberators on opposite sides of the battlefield.

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One pack was led by a Crypt Infernal Courtier, a creature that could not wait for his minions to assemble themselves into a battle formation. Sweeping forward on his wide wings, the Courtier landed within ruins to attack the Liberators making their way through them. Though the Stormcasts reacted quickly and wounded the Courtier, he would not be driven off.

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Meanwhile, the Crypt Ghouls gathered in number, with enough pouring from the surrounding shadows to more than offset the losses the Stormcasts had inflicted upon them. Very soon, the lead Liberators were completely surrounded.

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Terrifying shrieks resounded across the battlefield as the Crypt Flayers and Terrorgheist took their toll on the sanity of the Stormcasts, with both Liberators and Prosecutors falling to the ground as they clutched their helmets in a vain attempt to keep the murderous screeching out of their heads.

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Everywhere, the Stormcasts ran for their lives, Crypt Horrors and Ghouls snapping at their heels. Only the Judicators kept a measured pace of retreat, continually picking off Crypt Horrors and showering the Ghoul King with Skybolts as they went.

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Battle Round Three

The number of minions at the call of the Ghoul King seemed limitless as yet more arrived on the battlefield, hungry to taste Stormcast. The Terrorgheist turned round to unleash another shriek at the nearest Liberators, but the Skybolts of the Judicators had taken a terrible toll, leaving the monster badly wounded. Opening its maw, little more than a pathetic mewl emerged.

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The retinue of Liberators had made it to a nearby woods where they sought protection, but their Prime had a nasty feeling they were simply being shepherded into a killing ground by packs of Crypt Ghouls.

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His fears were confirmed as the Crypt Ghouls gave a collective shriek and scampered forward. The fight in the woods was brief but vicious in the extreme. Not one Liberator would walk out.

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The Lord-Relictor had seen the fate of the Liberators but was frustrated in his attempts to help them as he realised he was being stalked by a pack of Crypt Flayers. Taking cover in the closest ruins, he quickly found himself fighting for his life as the creatures charged him.

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Meanwhile, the Skybolt-armed Judicators and the Liberators they had been tailing were caught in the open by a combined force of Crypt Horrors and Flayers, led by the Varghulf Courtier. Though their Sigmarite armour proved strong, there were simply too many enemies around them and they began to fall.

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Faced with such a bloodthirsty and terrible foe, the nerve of the Stormcasts broke and all across the battlefield, men fled from their retinues in the largest rout yet seen from Sigmar’s warriors.

While those running would likely be caught alone in the dark and torn apart by minions of the Ghoul King, there were now few Stormcasts still fighting on the battlefield and little semblance of order or tactical planning. In desperation, the Lord-Relictor called upon Sigmar to heal himself of the wounds inflicted by the Crypt Horrors in the ruins, and then ran as fast as he could.

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A single Prosecutor-Prime had survived the carnage, and his wings carried him high over the woods. Just one more leap, and he would be out of the Voldyr Keep and safe.

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While the Liberators they had been supporting had fallen, the Judicators were still fighting hard, and their Warblades gutted a Crypt Horror as it lunged forward. Despite being painfully outmatched, the Judicator-Prime gritted his teeth and forbade any of his men to run.

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Battle Round Four

The wounds covering the Terrorgheist of the Ghoul King began to knit and heal as it searched for more prey. The Ghoul King himself surveyed the battlefield and saw the Stormcasts were all but defeated, and he was pleased.

But still more of his minions raced out of the darkness to finish off the last of the defenders.

The flight of the Prosecutor-Prime had not gone unnoticed, and the Crypt Flayers abandoned the Lord-Relictor to pursue the fleeing Stormcast. They raced through the air to reach him, the Prime just having time to turn around before their claws shredded him mid-flight.

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This had not relieved the Lord-Relictor, however. As he watched the Crypt-Flayers chase down his Prosecutor, he became aware of dozens of glowing red eyes watching hm from the darkness. He was surrounded by Crypt Ghouls.

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His end was quick but brutal.

Only the Judicators were left fighting now. Far from safety, they were nevertheless determined to make the Flesh-Eater Court pay for every Stormcast that had been slain on this day.

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However, bravery alone will not triumph in the dark. All too soon, they had been dispatched back to Azyr with their brothers.

This was a dark day for the Stormcast Eternals, for the Ghoul King Marrowthirst had now claimed Voldyr Keep for his own.

 

Conclusion

That was less of a battle and more of a horror story!

You can just imagine how the Stormcasts felt as more and more ghoulish creatures emerged from the darkness, and what the Lord-Relictor must have been thinking as he realised he was being watched by way too many Crypt Ghouls to fight!

The Stormcasts were completely unprepared for a stand up battle, and it showed. While they came close to making actions that would count (the Ghoul King and Terrorgheist were reduced to just a single wound at one point, and had the Prosecutor-Prime managed to make it off the table – just getting a single double turn would have done it – the Flesh-Eater Court would have walked off with just a minor victory), they had no hard-hitting units in this fight. Just a couple of retinues of Retributors would have made all the difference, and Decimators would have had a whale of a time, but Sigmar had not seen fit to dispatch them.

As for the Flesh-Eaters themselves… well, they may not have a huge amount of armour, but they can certainly dish it out! There is a really good feeling of fighting against the clock when facing them, as they will constantly bring more and more models to the battlefield, leaving you only with the options to wipe them out in one good, hard hit… or run!

 

The Story Continues…

Next time, we are going to be seeing what the Flesh-Eater Courts are up to in Chamon, the Realm of Metal!

The Might of Khorne

With mortals and daemons combined, what was once intended to be just a handful of Khornate models has turned into a veritable horde. I haven’t got too much that needs adding at this point, but a couple of Battleplans coming up could use just two more models…

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The first is a Skull Cannon and granted, if I were dead set on doing a massive Khorne force (and despite the numbers reached already, I am not), I could probably use more of these. But one is enough to get going with a couple of battles coming up in the All-Gates campaign, and so I am in no rush to add more.

The second was a Blood Throne.

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Now, I already have one of these done, and I am not sure anyone really needs two. However, the Over the Abyss Battleplan in the General’s Handbook suggests two and, as I had everything else in the Khorne force ready to go, it seemed a shame not to add one more.

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Definitely not doing three though.

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Is anything else going to be added to the Khorne force in the future?

Well, there have been rumours of some Khorne Lord on a massive dragon from Forge World, so I might need to take a sniff at that at some point. Otherwise, I wanted to add some more Skullcrushers (so I can do a proper Brass Stampede), and perhaps some Khorne-marked Chaos Knights. And maybe a Chariot.

However, none of that is essential to the campaigns as yet, so I foresee instead a fair amount of Destruction-based units on the horizon, spearheaded by the Bonesplitterz!

Battle Report – To Bind the Storm

So, we finally come to it – the final battle of the Godbeasts campaign. Expect a confrontation of truly epic proportions…

 

The Story So Far

The Great Green Torc had been liberated from Chaos and immediately started rejuvenating itself, springing with new life. Without the possibility of reinforcement, the few Chaos warbands remaining were left fighting for their survival as the ruthless Spiderfang Grots hunted them down.

Upon the Scabrous Sprawl, Behemat had been roused to a state of demented agony by the Skaven drills boring into him, and cracks and chasms opened up across the land as the Godbeast shifted. Massive hands, knuckles tipped with mountain peaks rose, sending avalanches that crushed even one of the mighty parasite engines of the Skaven. The terrifying tectonic grinding made armies impossible to coordinate as the mound of Tor Crania rose, revealing Behemat’s head, roaring in pain at impossible volume.

Archaon’s plan to awake Behemat had worked.

With Bloab fleeing the Scabrous Sprawl, the forces of Chaos were left leaderless but for the Skaven, though they fought all the more viciously for it. The Stormcasts were dreadfully outnumbered and, with Sigmar’s attention split between the Scabrous Sprawl and the fate of Alarielle, they were set to be wiped out.

Dracothion then turned his form to starlight and rippled across the skies, hurling a rain of meteors into the war zone. Behemat tried to grab him with a hand the size of an island, but Dracothion slipped free, and then delivered the reinforcements the Stormcasts desperately needed – the Chamber Extremis.

Together, the Stormcasts rallied and assaulted Tor Crania. Their goal – deliver a killing blow to the World Titan. To do this, they would have to commit the direst of blasphemies and summon the Great Bolts…

 

The Forces

This is the final fight of the Godbeasts book, and will determine the fate of Behemat, the World Titan, so we need suitably epic forces. The Stormcasts total nearly 300 wounds, while the combined forces of Chaos are reaching towards 400!

Clans Verminus & Skryre
Verminlord Warbringer
Stormvermin x 20
Clanrats x 40 (two units of 20)
Jezzails x 5
Warp Lightning Cannon
Stormfiends x 6 (two units of 3)
Doom-Flayer
Doomwheel

Rotbringers
Chaos Warriors x 36 (three units of 12)
Chaos Knights x 5

Brayherd
Gors x 40 (two units of 10, one unit of 20)
Ungors x 30 (one unit of 10, one unit of 20)
Bestigors x 10
Bullgors x 9 (three units of 3)
Cygor

Chaos Gargants
Gargants x 4

These forces have combined to represent the last forces Chaos has managed to gather in the Scabrous Sprawl, drawn from the remnants of every army that has fought there so far. This is not without its benefits – they have the likes of Stormvermin, the weapons of Clan Skryre, and four (count them!) Gargants. However, the leadership of the Chaos forces has been completely smashed, and there are no great warriors to command this army other than the Verminlord Warbringer…

Stormcast Eternals
Celestant-Prime
Lord-Celestant on Stardrake
Drakesworn Templar
Lord-Celestant on Dracoth
Knight-Vexillors x 2
Fulminators x 6 (two units of 3)
Tempestors x 6 (two units of 3)
Concussors x 6 (two units of 3)
Desolators x 6 (two units of 3)
Liberators x 20 (four units of 5)
Retributors x 15 (three units of 5)
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)

The Stormcasts, on the other hand, have fewer issues with their own combined force, brought together from two Stormhosts, with an Extremis Chamber added for good measure. They are heavily outnumbered by their Chaos enemies, to be sure, but they have brought their biggest guns to bear, and the Extremis Chamber has deployed both the Lightning and Thunder Echelons.

Added to that, they also have a Battalion in the form of the Brotherhood of the Great Bolts, which has to be about the sickest Battalion possible – every round, D3 Great Bolts strike the battlefield, typically doing either D3 or D6 mortal wounds on an enemy unit. However, that is not the thing that will really have Chaos trembling… Oh, no. Using this Battalion, the Celestant-Prime’s damage with Ghal-Maraz jumps from 3 to D3+3. That is an Archaon Killer…

 

The Battleplan

The Stormcasts are aiming to deliver a killing blow upon Tor Crania, aiming for the edifice defended by the forces of Chaos. To do this, they will have to cross the battlefield and destroy the edifice which has 20 wounds, but cannot be hurt by anything other than mortal wounds. This they must do in six rounds to claim a major victory (they get a minor victory if they inflict 10 wounds).

However, as always, there are some complications, not least of which is the lightning storm raging over the battlefield that will be constantly blasting units on both sides (the Stormcasts have some slight protection against this, but not much). Stormcast Heroes can try to harness this lightning as they will all have access to the Fury of the Storm spell.

The Scabrous Sprawl Tie of War sheet is also being used for this battle.

 

Deployment

As the armies assembled, the Lord-Celestants saw the magnitude of the task ahead of them. The Stormcasts were hugely outnumbered and, worse, it seemed as though the Gargants of the Sprawl had turned against them too.

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Ever wary of Stormcasts striking down from the heavens on bolts of lightning, the Verminlord had flooded the region around the dais with Ungors and Clanrats, while keeping his best troops forward to battle the Stormcasts. This tactic caused much chagrin to one retinue of Retributors, who had been held back in a nearby woods alongside Knight-Vexillor precisely for this purpose.

 

Battle Round One

With a cry from the Lord-Celestants, the Stormcasts surged forward, the Dracothian Guard at their vanguard.

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Bolts of lightning lashed down from the storm overhead, but they seemed indiscriminate as one earthed through a Knight-Vexillor. As Judicators started sighting primary targets among the hordes of Chaos, the Dracoths of the Thunder Echelon struck.

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More lightning discharged, this time from the weapons of the Dracothian Guard, as they hit the Chaos front line with the force of the God-King’s own hammer. Two units of Bullgors were instantly flattened, and even the Runeshields of the Chaos Warriors proved little defence against the Dracothian Guard’s weapons and the claws of their Dracoths.

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The Lord-Celestant on the back of a Stardrake shouted a new order and commanded a Ruinous Assault.

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The Dracothian Guard surged forward once again and started to force their way through the Chaos line, with one Dracoth biting the head off a Gargant with a single snap of its mighty jaws.

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The Liberators advanced more cautiously but proved just as irresistible.

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Even under the weight of this punishing assault, the Chaos line held but gaps started appearing as Chaos Warriors and Stormvermin began to break and flee. The Verminlord hissed dire warnings as they fled past it but too many of the comrades had been killed in the first seconds of the battle for them to heed its threats.

The full fury of Sigmar’s wrath had descended upon the Scabrous Sprawl, and the Verminlord knew it had to act quickly if the Stormcasts were going to be repulsed. First things had to come first though, and the Verminlord threw a Mystic Shield about itself, immediately feeling a bit better about the situation. Then, casually, it hurled an Arcane Bolt at a nearby Knight-Vexillor, causing the Stormcast to reel from the attack.

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Lightning continued to lash down from the sky, but the Great Bolts were now beyond the full control of the Stormcasts, and both a Retributor and a Concussor were blasted into ashes, even as a lone Chaos Warrior, the sole survivor of the first wave of attacks from the Dracothian Guard, stubbornly held his ground.

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Slowly, the forces of Chaos started to regroup and launch their own attacks. The Cygor retreated a few steps to keep distance with the Dracothian Guard, while the Jezzail teams upon the dais blasted a Concussor off his mount and badly wounded another. Stormfiends unleashed waves of poison gas and warpfire, slaughtering three Retributors before they could reach the huge rats. A massive bolt of green lightning erupted from the rear line as the Warp Lightning Cannon discharged powerful energies into the Dracothian Guard, tearing through a Fulminator – it was becoming apparent that even the mighty Dracothian Guard could be killed by determined attacks.

However, the Chaos horde was still suffering losses of its own. The Doomwheel bounced forward over the rough ground to plough into a retinue of Fulminators but their Dracoths nimbly leaped out of the way before turning back to tear the war machine apart with their jaws and claws.

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The battlefield shook with more than just the sound of thunder as a Lord-Celestant steadied his own Dracoth and caved in the chest of a Gargant with his Celestine Hammer. Unfortunately, this left him exposed to a rampaging unit of Bestigors, and their large axes hacked him apart, along with a Retributor-Prime. A retinue of Concussors tried desperately to fight their way to their commander but though they were able to avenge themselves upon the Bestigors, they arrived too late to save the Lord-Celestant.

Then, a great cheer went up on the Stormcasts left flank. The Dracothian Guard had slain huge numbers of Gors and Stormfiends, and now a true gap had opened up in the Chaos line!

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Battle Round Two

The Great Bolts continued to lash the battlefield, and a Knight-Vexillor was blasted back to Sigmar. However, they also cracked down upon the dais, weakening the structure slightly sand killing several of the Jezzail teams.

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The surviving Lord-Celestant waved his hammer, signalling the Lightning Echelon of the Dracothian Guard to begin their Linebreaker Assault. Tempestors and Fulminators now moved into the breaches, riding over any follower of Chaos who got in their way. The lone Chaos Warrior proved to be no obstacle to their relentless advance.

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The full weight of the Dracothian Guard was now being applied to a very narrow front, and this tactic was beginning to tell. The Lord-Celestant commanded his Stardrake to take to the air, before diving down on top of the Cygor.

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A vicious flurry of swipes from the Stardrake’s claws proved too much for the Cygor, and it crashed to the ground, removing yet another lynch-pin from the Chaos line.

By now, the Linebreaker Assault of the Lightning Echelon had broken through to the Warp Lightning Cannon, but their momentum was running out and the crew of the war machine fought doggedly to keep it safe.

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Just a short distance away, a lone Concussor, the only survivor of his retinue, ploughed into a unit of Ungors, pounding each of them into the ground before they realised the Stormcast had reached them.

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Seeing the Stormcasts so close to their positions, both Jezzail Teams and Clanrats broke and ran, streaming from the battlefield in a frantic attempt to escape, closely followed by the last of the Ungors.

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The Verminlord began to feel its own position was becoming untenable, and it hastily maintained the Mystic Shield protecting it. However, it cast a rueful glance up at the storm raging above as the Great Bolts hammering downwards this time avoided hitting any Stormcast. Even the weather had turned against him.

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The Chaos force was now in tatters, and the Verminlord ordered the last of its units to close in around the Dragonfate Dais. However, it decided not to engage in combat itself – the timing just did not look good to it.

With the crew fighting for their lives, the Warp Lightning Cannon failed to generate enough power to blast its attackers, and Clanrats and the Doom-Flayer piled into the Tempestors assaulting it in an effort to free up the war machine.

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One Tempestor fell under the wheel of the Doom-Flayer, but the others concentrated on the Warp Lightning Cannon, finally tearing it to splinters.

 

Battle Round Three

The Great Bolts hammered down once more, this time claiming a Retributor. However, the Stormcasts stoically weathered the loss and continued their march to the dais.

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Seeing no other option, the Verminlord then moved in to the front line, sweeping its long glaive to remove the head of a Tempestor, before reversing the weapon to skewer the Stormcast’s Dracoth.

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The Great Bolts now seemed to be bending to the will of Sigmar as they lashed Clanrats and started to strike the dais, sending great chunks of stone spiralling into the sky. Concussors and Retributors finally reached the dais and began lending their own hammers to the task, sending great cracks creeping up through the stonework.

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The forces of Chaos now started huddling together as the Dracothian Guard and Lord-Celestant on his Stardrake reached them.

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A single charge from two retinues of Fulminators saw the end of the Verminlord as they thrust their glaives deep into its body, while the Stardrake derived much pleasure from the slaughter of Clanrats who were, by now, completely helpless.

Battle Round Four

 

Behemat, the World Titan, shifted as the hammers of the Stormcasts rained down upon his skull, and everyone on the battlefield fell to the ground, unable to keep their balance.

The Doom-Flayer team was the first to recover and, seeing their Verminlord killed, they backed away before sighting the Retributors hammering away at the dais. Cranking up the mechanism of their Doom-Flayer, they ploughed into the side of the Retributors.

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The Retributor-Prime barely noticed as he swung his hammer back, inadvertently smashing the Doom-Flayer and flattening its crew. Raising the hammer over his head, he brought it down in one titanic blast of lightning that crushed the skull of the World Titan, instantly calming the land.

Behemat, the World Titan, was dead and now beyond the reach of Archaon. However, though this thwarted the plans of the Everchosen,m every Stormcast knew he still had the Godbeast Ignax under his control. The forces of Chaos would soon be resurgent once more…

 

Conclusion

An epic battle for the final clash in Godbeasts!

The Dracothian Guard truly proved their worth in this battle, and the concentration of their formations on one particular spot among the Chaos forces allowed them to perform perfectly. Once they had started making their way among the Chaos units, the Verminlord had no real answer for them.

However, the Stormcasts did not survive without some painful losses – one Lord-Celestant was killed, as were two Knight-Vexillors (the latter from the Great Bolts rather than Chaos!), and the Dracothian Guard had been whittled down towards the end. If the Chaos horde had just survived a little longer, had just been a bit more accurate with their attacks, the whole Stormcast advance might have started becoming desperate.

The two generals did have disagreement over tactics in this battle – I had been of the opinion that if the dross of the Chaos force had been put in the front line rather than the elite units, the line would have held. After all, the likes of Fulminators are absolutely murderous on the charge, and it makes little difference to them whether they charge Ungors or Bullgors (Damage 3 on the charge means they will likely wipe out either!). However, once the charge has been arrested, their glaives become… somewhat less powerful. Once halted, the forces of Chaos can then grab the initiative and decide who is best positioned to deal with the Dracothian Guard.

The Chaos general disagreed, citing the opinion that these are the Dracothian Guard – nothing is going to stop them!

Who is right? You decide!

 

The Story Continues…

The Stormcasts have managed to stop Archaon grabbing another Godbeast but the Everchosen still has Ignax in his pocket, and even now both sides are planning the next phase of the Realmgate Wars. However, before we dip into the All-Gates book, we are going to take another tour of the Mortal Realms and see what else has been happening during the Godbeasts campaign, starting with a quick trip to the Realm of Death and the rise of a Flesh-Eater Court…