Battle Report – Death in the Darkness

Archaon the Everchosen has won a massive victory in the Realm of Fire and enslaved the Godbeast Ignax to his will. If he can repeat this success in the Realm of Life, not even the God-King may be able to stop him assaulting the Celestial Realm.

 

The Story So Far

The Scabrous Sprawl was once a rich and fertile land, dominated by massive gargants, some of them true goliaths compared to the Aleguzzlers that roam the Sprawl in the Age of Sigmar. However, Nurgle had turned his eye to the region long ago, bringing his plagues and pestilence as he had with almost every one of the Jade Kingdoms within the Realm of Life. Even the Great Green Torc, a land floating high in the sky, connected to the Sprawl by the Great Umbilicus, was overrun by Nurgle’s brayherds.

They were now joined by the Skaven, tasked by Archaon with corrupting the Scabrous Sprawl yet further in preparation for the battles the Everchosen knew would be fought there. The Clans Skryre, rather than directly face the native gargants that still dwelt on the land, constructed vast walking city-warrens known as parasite engines. Powered by immense warpstone furnaces, these parasite engines crossed the Sprawl, mining its resources even as they sucked the life force from the land whenever they approached a site of geomantic power. It was now the Clans Skryre and Verminus who dominated the Scabrous Sprawl.

No sun shone upon this land, and what little lighting it had came only from the luminescence of vast swarms of insects. It was here that Sigmar opened up a new front in the Realmgate Wars, hurling several Stormhosts into the Sprawl to reclaim the land and cleanse it of corruption.

Vast armies clashed in near total darkness, a dozen smaller battles erupting whenever they met as individual units tried to seek their enemies before they were discovered themselves.

 

The Forces

These are both fairly small, elite-style forces. The Skaven, in particular, have a lot of firepower, but both forces are going to be constantly battling the conditions on the battlefield as much as one another.

Clan Skryre
Arch-Warlock (Warpskreech)
Warlock Engineers x 2
Ratling Gun Weapon Teams x 3
Warp Fire Thrower
Warp Grinder
Skryre Acolytes x 5
Stormfiends x 6 (two units of 3)
Doom Wheel
Doom Flayer
Warp Lightning Cannon

For many Skaven players, this is going to seem like a dream list – however, the pitch darkness is going to marginalise almost everything in their army, and it may come down to illumination from the Warlock Engineers to make a difference. This will, of course, necessitate them moving towards the front line of battle, not an area Skaven leaders normally have much experience in…

Stormcast Eternals
Lord-Celestant
Lord-Relictor
Knight-Heraldor
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)
Decimators x 5
Liberators x 20 (four units of 5)
Prosecutors x 3

The Stormcasts might have an easy time of this battle, so long as they can sneak up on the weapon teams and not be exposed at the wrong time by a playful Warlock Engineer. This is not a perfect force by any means – the Decimators are better off fighting hordes rather than small units, and the bow-armed Judicators are going to find themselves as curtailed as the Skaven (though the Boltstorm-armed Judicators might turn out to be simply murderous). However, Stormcasts are tough and should be able to adapt.

 

The Battleplan

This battle is being fought in pitched blackness, limiting all spells, attacks and abilities to a maximum range of 6″, though models can still charge as normal  (you have to feel sorry for the Skaven player – just as he gets to play with a pure Skryre army, his range gets chopped right down!)

Wizards and priests can drive back the darkness, albeit briefly, illuminating everything around them for 12″.

The armies start a variable distance apart (between 12″ and 24″), dependent on how far the Stormcasts can sneak up on the Skaven before they are spotted.

Victory conditions are simple – wipe out the enemy army!

 

Deployment

The Stormcast force crept through the darkness, making their way to where they knew the Skaven army was at rest. However, the rats were alert and almost immediately heard the approach of the Stormcasts. They quickly swung into action, ready to attack.

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Battle Round One

The Clans Skryre force raced through the darkness with surprising speed, the Stormcasts fairly amazed as they heard squeaking ahead – not of panic, but excitement and bloodlust.

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No Skaven revealed themselves, but it seemed as though they had become the hunters. To break the deadlock, the retinue of Prosecutors took to the air in an effort to locate the Skaven. They quickly found two Ratling Gun Weapon Teams, and the rats shrieked in alarm as hammers from the Prosecutors rained down upon their heads.

The Prosecutors were preparing to swoop down and end the Weapon Teams, when their Prime noticed a far better target lurking at the edge of the darkness – the Skryre Arch-Warlock himself.

Despite knowing that other Skaven were likely to be hidden close by, the Prosecutor-Prime ordered his retinue onwards. There was no way they could pass up an opportunity like this, and the Arch-Warlock chittered as he saw the Stormcasts descend from the pitch black sky.

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Completely caught offguard, the Arch-Warlock flailed at the Prosecutors with his halberd, fending off most of their attacks. However, one of the Prime’s hammers caught him a nasty whack on the side of the head.

 

Battle Round Two

The Arch-Warlock and Warlock Engineers hastily threw Mystic Shields over themselves, before the Arch-Warlock hurled an Arcane Bolt, blasting one Prosecutor from the sky.

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The Warlock Engineers, under severe threats from the Arch-Warlock, then cast enchantments of illumination, driving back the darkness from around them. As they advanced forward, the front ranks of the Stormcasts became visible – now every rat in their army had a target.

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Unleashing the power of his Warpfire Gauntlet, the Arch-Warlock killed another Prosecutor before his halberd dispatched the Prime. The two Ratling Gun Weapon Teams who had been targeted by the Prosecutors saw the threat was gone and continued their own advance. It was with some alarm that they saw Liberators and Decimators stride out of the darkness, all too close for their own comfort, but the Skaven quickly cranked up their weapons to full speed.

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A hail of warpstone-infused shells erupted from the Weapon Teams, the darkness temporarily driven back by sparks flying off the Sigmarite armour of both Liberators and Decimators. However, when the volleys had finally subsided, the Skaven looked down at their weapons with some confusion – not a single Stormcast had been killed by their attacks.

Further away in the darkness, the Stormfiends had been guided to their targets by the light the Warlock Engineers had created, and both units crashed into Liberators.

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Within a deep crater, Judicators had taken up position and quickly found themselves under attack by the huge Stormfiends. The Liberators flanking them dutifully moved in to engage the Stormfiends, seriously wounding one but the Stormcasts lost three Liberators and one Judicator in the first few seconds of the assault.

Towards the centre of the battlefield, the other unit of Stormfiends chanced upon a shield wall of Liberators, along with the Lord-Celestant and Lord-Relictor.

Warpfire from one of the Stormfiends erupted from their ranks and enveloped the Lord-Relictor. Staggering out of the inferno, it was clear the Stormcast was badly hurt. He did not notice the Warp Lightning Cannon, still shrouded in darkness but able to spy him clearly within the Warlock Engineer’s illumination, as the rats around it charged up its warpstone capacitor. A brilliant beam of green energy struck the Lord-Relictor and exploded. When the flash cleared, nothing of the Lord-Relictor remained apart from a bolt of blue light racing towards the sky.

Goaded on by the Warlock Engineer, the Stormfiends continued their charge into the Liberators, slaying two of them immediately.

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Close by, the Warp Grinder Weapons Team and Doom Flayer had found the Decimators, and they fancied their chances against the Paladins. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a fool’s charge, with the axes of the Decimators quickly damaging the Doom Flayer, and the Warp Grinder flattened by a single swing of a Soul Mace.

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Sensing his forces were already under pressure, the Lord-Celestant decided to take action. However, he had not counted on the Knight-Heraldor, who strode confidently forward, and blasted a stone circle with his horn.

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The thunderous sound was mightier than even the Knight-Heraldor had intended, and the stones cracked and splintered under its blast. A Stormfiend and Warpfire Thrower Weapons Team were both killed by the blast, as was a Liberator. Worse, both the Knight-Heraldor and Lord-Celestant were knocked off their feet by the trumpet’s terrible sound, and the Knight-Heraldor glanced sheepishly at his commander as they both picked themselves off the ground.

As the Liberators on the right flank quickly dispatched the Ratling Gun Weapon Teams, the fight for the craters was quickly escalating with neither side willing to give ground. Finally, one Stormfiend was slain by a Liberator, and another retreated back into the darkness, never to be seen again.

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Having brushed off the effects of the Knight-Heraldor’s trumpet, the Lord-Celestant tried to reach the closest Warlock Engineer in an effort to end the wretches life and stop him providing a target for the Warp Lighting Cannon, but a Stormfiend blocked his path. Drawing his weapons, the Lord-Celestant dealt a deep wound on the Stormfiend with his sword.

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The Knight-Heraldor, however, had better luck in his hunting, and raced towards two Skryre Acolytes who were themselves just recovering from the blast of the trumpet. Before they could begin to heft their poison globes, the Knight-Heraldor was among them, slaying both with his sword.

A loud crack resounded across the battlefield as the Decimators concentrated their mighty weapons upon the Doom Flayer, smashing it apart with ease.

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Battle Round Three

By this time, the Skaven were strong in the centre of the battlefield, but the Stormcasts were beginning to get the edge on both flanks. There was now nothing between the Liberators on the right flank and the Arch-Warlock, and the Stormfiends on the left had almost been finished off.

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Once again, the Warlock Engineers continued the chants that flooded their immediate area with light, and the other Skryre Skaven were glad of it.

Elated by the encouraging chitters from their minions, one Warlock Engineer fired up his Warp Condenser to unleash a titanic bolt of Warp Lightning, but an explosion from his machine left him reeling. The other Warlock Engineer heard the all-too-familiar sound of an exploding Warp Condenser and sniggered, knowing he was far more competent. However, as he conjured up a bolt of Warp Lightning, he was knocked flat by an exploding condenser too.

Both Warlock Engineers chose not to hear the guffaws of the other rats.

As the Knight-Heraldor cast about for a new foe, he was assaulted by a vicious Warp Storm created by the Arch-Warlock. Staggering back from that attack, he was then struck full in the chest by an Arcane Bolt. The Arch-Warlock seethed as he saw the Knight-Heraldor pick himself up again, badly injured but nonetheless still alive.

The Knight-Heraldor gave the Arch-Warlock a baleful glare and pointed his sword at the rat, promising death. His ears still ringing from the magical assault, he failed to hear the Doomwheel thundering towards him until it was far too late…

Sparks flew from the Doomwheel, and a bolt of Warp Lightning zigzagged through the air to earth itself on the Lord-Celestant, sending him back to Azyrheim before he knew what had struck him.

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It was then the turn of the Decimators to come under fire, the Warpfire Throwers of the Stormfiends immolating two, while the surviving Ratling Gun accounted for another. The last of the retinue was blasted into nothingness by the Warp Lighting Cannon, whose crews were beginning to enjoy the battle a great deal.

By now, the remaining Stormcasts were beginning to realise that not only had their commanders been killed, but the centre of their army had been completely destroyed.

As the Judicators concentrated their fire upon the Doomwheel, Skybolts hammering into its structure and causing it to list perilously to one side, Liberators on the far flank started to advance, using cover to hide their approach on the Arch-Warlock.

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Battle Round Four

The Arch-Warlock twitched his nose and sensed the approaching Liberators. Cackling quietly to himself, he waved the last Ratling Gun Weapon Team forward and together they ran round a fallen tree to surprise the Stormcasts.

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As the Ratling Gun opened up with a hail of shells, the Liberators tried to retreat, but were cut off by Stormfiends. Even their Sigmarite armour could not withstand the combined firepower of warpstone bullets and warpfire, and they were quickly killed before they could find cover.

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Now, only a single Liberator and the Judicators and hunkering down in the craters were left to continue the fight. Despite facing overwhelming odds, they vowed to take as many rats with them as they could.

One Judicator poked his head above the rim of the crater, and instantly regretted it. The crew of the Warp Lightning Cannon had been waiting for just such a mistake, and the Stormcast was sent back to Sigmar in one brilliant blast of light.

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The Doomwheel was the next to pile in, but the Judicators had learned how to take best effect from the cover the crater provided, and the war machine found it difficult to reach the Stormcasts as they continually sent Skybolts into its shuddering frame.

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The Stormfiend whirled round to knock the last Liberator flying, then turned back to the Judicators as the Doomwheel cleared the rim of the crater and crashed down the other side in an ungainly fashion. Another Judicator fell, crushed under its massive wheel, leaving just the Judicator-Prime to continue fighting.

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Giving ground, the Judicator-Prime retreated further into the bowls of the crater, constantly outwitting the lumbering Stormfiend and Doomwheel. Gaining some distance, the Prime prepared to race out of the crater and into the safety of the surrounding darkness, but the closest Warlock Engineer had been waiting for just such a move.

Taking aim with his Warplock Pistol, the Warlock Engineer shot the Judicator-Prime in the back, killing the last of the Stormcasts to threaten this part of the Scabrous Sprawl.

Victory belonged to the Clans Skryre.

 

Conclusion

Well, that could have gone better for the Stormcasts!

Not being able to sneak closer to the Skaven hurt the Stormcasts a little, as it meant they could not grab the initiative and launch an assault on the first turn.

However, to give full credit to the rats, what really dominated this battle was the use of the Warlock Engineers to illuminate certain parts of the battlefield, which allowed the Weapon Teams and (especially) the Warp Lightning Cannon to be used to best effect. This was done at exactly the right time, just as the Skaven had the full momentum of their Stormfiends. While the Stormcasts had either stalled or won the flanks, their centre completely collapsed and, from that moment, there was no way they could pull it back.

And as for that Arch-Warlock – a lot harder than he looks. Not your average rat!

 

The Story Continues…

The Stormcasts had thought their tactics of hitting hard and in great numbers would win them the Scabrous Sprawl, quickly smashing the Skaven forces utterly. However, it is becoming apparent that this is a war that won’t be won in days, weeks or months, but in years. Just what are the Skaven planning, and why has Archaon been directing them to those sites of geomantic power? Find out in the next installment of The Realmgate Wars…

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