A fairly momentous battle this time – Alarielle the Everqueen has awoken, and she is most vexed by Bloodbound incursions into the Jade Kingdoms. She is therefore taking a trip to the Realm of Fire to sort them out.
The Story So Far
When Alarielle was rebirthed, she was not idle – everywhere, the forces of Chaos pushed against her lands and her children, and everywhere she took vengeance upon them.
When the Hellhaze Realmgate atop the Godskull Mesa burst into life, it took the Khorne worshippers camped there by surprise, to say the least. They had often used the Realmgate to conduct raids into the Realm of Life, but no one had ever followed them back to Aqshy – until now.
Alarielle came out of the Realmgate first astride her massive Wardroth beetle, but she was quickly followed by waves of Sylvaneth as they spread out across a fiery landscape of thundering volcanoes and towering brass fortresses.
The Khornate horde rallied quickly to face the Sylvaneth – knights, warriors, and daemons flooded out of the Dreadholds to face them. Alarielle was not dismayed in the least.
She was smiling.
Up to now, we have always played the Sylvaneth as being on the back foot but, this time, we are unleashing their full power, spearheaded by none other than their own goddess. We just have to hope the forces of Khorne have something to match her…
Lord of Khorne on Juggernaut
Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury
Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage
Slaughterpriest x 2
Mighty Skullcrushers x 6
Blood Warriors x 25 (two units of 10, one unit of 5)
Bloodreavers x 20
Chaos Warriors x 12
Bloodletters x 40 (two units of 20)
This is not your average warband of Bloodbound by any means – the Lord has managed to rally the support of two Bloodthirsters to his cause, and enjoys the presence of two Slaughterpriests and a Skullgrinder. Up to now, they have been ready to face whatever they happened across in Aqshy or Ghyran.
Alarielle the Everqueen (Throne of Vines)
Treelord Ancient (Regrowth)
Branchwych (The Reaping)
Branchwraith (Verdant Blessing)
Drycha Hammadreth (Verdant Blessing)
Treelords x 2
Son of Durthu
Kurnoth Hunters x 11 (two units of 3, one unit of 5)
Dryads x 30 (three units of 10)
Spite-Revenants x 10
Tree-Revenants x 20 (two units of 10)
Clearly, Alarielle is not mucking about, as she has brought her best and brightest with her. The Sylvaneth have assembled themselves into three Battalions, the Household and Forest Folk, both of which we have seen before, as well as the Free Spirits which allows the Son of Durthu and Kurnoth Hunters a free move in the hero phase, so long as it is towards a designated enemy or terrain feature.
As this battle represents Alarielle unleashed, as it were, we thought it would be both fun and appropriate to add the Sylvaneth Allegiance Abilities to the game.
In this battle, the table is divided into six sections forming 12″ ‘strips’ across the long edges. The Sylvaneth’s territory comprises the first of these strips and increases to the next one so long as there are no enemy models within it (models within 3″ of a Sylvaneth unit do not count as they have already been overrun. If the Sylvaneth can push their territory right across the table by the end of the fifth round, they get a major victory.
If they do not achieve this, the Khorne force either has to wipe out the Sylvaneth to gain a major victory, or a minor victory will be determined (somewhat randomly) based upon how many territories the Sylvaneth did manage to claim.
Alarielle has a command ability that can force enemy units to flee out of a territory, while the Khorne general has an ability to stop them doing that. In addition, any Khorne model in Sylvaneth territory has its Bravery reduced, while Sylvaneth Wyldwoods will pop up throughout the battle as the force of life makes itself felt.
On top of all that, we will be using the Brimstone Peninsula Time of War sheet (minus Blood Geysers) to represent conditions in the Realm of Fire.
The forces of Khorne had been caught off guard by the sudden appearance of a bunch of angry foliage, but were disciplined enough to begin forming battle lines. However, they remained on the back foot and only half of their forces were ready to take the full impact of the Sylvaneth.
Alarielle was keen to bring the wrath of the Sylvaneth to the enemies who had plagued them for so long, and her forces came flooding out of the Realmgate. Tree-Revenants equipped with Waypipes took station on the far flanks, ready to leap forward to distract the Khorne defenders in their rear lines, while Drycha and her Spite-Revenants were instructed to remain far from the main body of the army. Alarielle and her Tree Lords occupied the centre, forming a solid block that she intended to roll over the defenders.
Battle Round One
With a keening cry, Alarielle gave the order to advance, her Wardroth Beetle stomping at the ground in eagerness to reach its enemies. Mystic Shields flowed like vines to cover Alarielle and the Spirit of Durthu as Drycha summoned trees that quickly grew out of the ground between her and a horde of Bloodletters.
As one, the Sylvaneth surged forward, with Alarielle leading the way. Kurnoth Hunters supported the advance, launching huge arrows from their mighty blows into the first Bloodthirster that led the vanguard of the Khorne force, the missiles lodging deep into its thick skin.
Another horde of Bloodletters scampered at the greater daemon’s feet, and Alarielle glanced contemptuously at them. As the Spirit of Durthu channelled his own life force into his sword, unleashing a mighty blast of living energy into their ranks, Alarielle hurled the Spear of Kurnoth at them. Bodies of more than a dozen Bloodletters spiralled high into the air as explosions erupted around them.
Behind the Sylvaneth attack, the Tree-Revenants used their Waypipes to access the Realmroots, using the shadowy path to emerge near the Dreadholds of Khorne. Their arrival had not gone unnoticed though, and already Blood Warriors and Skullcrushers were turning to face them – exactly the distraction Alarielle had intended…
Her Wardoth Beetle carrying her far ahead of the rest of the Sylvaneth, Alarielle alone was in position to begin the attack in earnest. With no hesitation, the Goddess threw herself at the greatest threat in the Khorne front line – the Bloodthirster.
Hapless Bloodreavers were inadvertently caught in the charge of the Wardoth, and five of their number were crushed under its heavy front feet. However, Alarielle’s attention was fixed firmly on the Bloodthirster. The great daemon thundered and roared, its great axe skidding harmlessly off the Wardroth’s thick carapace, even as the beetle’s massive antlers thrust forward to gore the Bloodthirster’s stomach. With Bloodreavers caught between the two battling giants, the fight went back and forth until, finally, Alarielle reached forward with the Talon of Dwindling and snatched the unholy life of the daemon.
Behind her, the Sylvaneth hissed in victory, as the first greater daemon had been dispatched within seconds of the battle beginning, and vegetation blossomed in the wake of their Goddess.
Bloodreavers threw themselves at Alarielle in a desperate bid to gain the attention of the Blood God, and the rest of their front line advanced to meet the Sylvaneth head on. Behind them, the Mighty Lord of Khorne turned his Juggernaut around, having spied the Tree-Revenants who had appeared near the Dreadholds. He was followed by his Skullcrushers and, on the other flank, Blood Warriors followed suit while others garrisoned a Skull Keep. Not wanting to be outdone, the Slaughterpriest within the Crucible called upon the power of the Blood God, boiling the sap within one Tree-Revenant before it could run.
With a blast of the Skullcrusher’s horn, the Juggernauts accelerated into an unstoppable charge. Half a dozen Tree-Revenants were flattened by the initial rush alone and while one Skullcrusher was badly wounded by their blades, the Sylvaneth were quickly wiped out. On the other flank, the Blood Warriors repeated the carnage with the Tree-Revenants they had caught as well.
As Bloodreavers fought and died fighting Alarielle, the daemonic forces of Khorne raced towards the Sylvaneth, with Bloodletters leading the way. However, Alarielle’s attention was fixed firmly upon the second Bloodthirster which raced towards, bellowing a martial challenge. Its whip flashed forward but its barbs did nothing more than scour the Wardroth’s antlers.
Such was the fury of its attack, Alarielle was forced to give ground while parrying axe and whip. The Bloodreavers took advantage of the distraction and hacked at the Wardroth with their Meatripper Axes, causing the beast to roar in pain.
Bloodletters raced through the woods Drycha had summoned, quickly finding the Spite-Revenants skulking in their shadows, and dispatching them with daemonic efficiency. Close by, Chaos Warriors routed an entire retinue of Dryads but Blood Warriors on the far flank soon found they had picked the wrong target when they charged a small unit of Kurnoth Hunters. Great scythes swung, easily slicing through thick armour and butchering the Khorne worshippers before they could properly organise their attack. The few that remained ran for their corrupted lives.
Battle Round Two
Advancing alongside the Kurnoth Hunters, the Branchwraith called upon the power of Alarielle for a Verdant Blessing, and more trees sprang into existence, this time next to an Ophidian Archway to help shield the advancing Sylvaneth.
Having absorbed the initial attacks of the Bloodletters, the remaining Forest Folk disappeared in view, following the Realmroots to reappear in this new wood. They had simply bypassed the first Khornate wave and were now in a defensive position, ready to meet the second – Blood Warriors who had moved out of position to chase down the Tree-Revenants. Knowing that Dryads would pay a heavy price in facing Blood Warriors alone, the scythe-wielding Kurnoth Hunters ran forward to support them.
As the Bloodthirster paused in its assault, seeking a way through the Wardoth’s defences, Alarielle bloomed with life, healing the wounds she had taken, and then reached into her Soul Amphorae to scatter pollen across the battlefield. Everywhere, Sylvaneth rallied and healed as the tiny grains floated past them.
The Spirit of Durthu pounded forwards to aid his Goddess, shimmering with the effects of the Mystic Shield the Treelord Ancient had placed upon him. Drycha, having seen her Spite-Revenants torn apart by the Bloodletters in front of her, also shimmered with magical defences as she prepared her own special form of vengeance.
Behind the Sylvaneth, life blossomed in a wave of vegetation and animal life, but the advance of Alarielle’s blessings were stalled by the nearest Skull Keep and the Slaughterpriest inside who enacted hideous rituals to keep the power of Khorne flowing across the land. Kurnoth Hunters tried to target the Slaughterpriest from across the battlefield, but even the great Spear of Kurnoth, thrown by Alarielle’s own hand, bounced off the thick walls of the keep.
With a piercing scream, Drycha raised her arms and swarms of Flitterflies flew into the air, descending upon everything that moved. Six Bloodreavers and a Chaos Warrior were torn apart by the tiny spites, but Drycha’s fury could never stop with the blood of Khorne worshippers alone, and the Flitterflies tore great chunks out of Treekin and Kurnoth Hunters before they dispersed.
In the centre of the battlefield, the Spirit of Durthu and a Treelord had joined Alarielle in her fight against the Bloodthirster, and the ground shook as three titans of battle brought war against one another.
The few remaining Bloodreavers were the first to suffer, stomped into the ground by the battling giants. The last of them fled the battle, leaving his unit’s standard battered and broken upon the rocks. Close by, the Spirit of Durthu casually squashed the Skullgrinder who had thought to lay low a Goddess.
Alarielle allowed her anger to flow freely now and, with a single order, goaded her Wardroth onwards. The mighty beast piled ahead, bullrushing the Bloodthirster and knocking it to the ground. Before the daemon could arise once more, the Wardoth plunged its antlers into the Bloodthirster’s black heart, sending it back to Khorne.
A short distance away, the Khorne Lord felt the first inkling of doubt cross his mind as he saw the last Bloodthirster bound to his service banished by the power of the Goddess.
Undaunted by the advance of the Sylvaneth, the two Slaughterpriests combined their prayers, promising many worthy skulls to the Blood God if he would but aid them now. Khorne smiled upon their belief and the Spirit of Durthu was caught in the grip of the Blood God, sinking to one knee as his sap boiled with pure fury.
As the Spirit of Durthu rose to rejoin the battle, the Crucible of Khorne unleashed a torrent of molten metal at him, incinerating his trunk. Blackened and still aflame, the Spirit of Durthu showed no hesitation in continuing his advance.
However, Khorne was not yet done. The Skull Cannon clattered forward, its Bloodletter crew cackling as they sighted the Spirit of Durthu down their long barrel. With a blast of black powder and blood, fiery skulls rocketed through the air to impact the Spirit of Durthu in the chest. The great Treelord rocked back on his feet, then fell to the ground, never to move again.
Bellowing frantic orders, the Lord of Khorne reorganised his Skullcrushers, and returned to the battle. Across the battlefield, Blood Warriors advanced to the Dryads who had taken cover in the new growing trees, but only a small splinter unit actually reached the Sylvaneth. Several Dryads fell to their axes but their line held.
Battle Round Three
Directing his great Tendril Staff, theTreelord Ancient awakened the wood the Forest Folk were fighting in, and branches impaled a Blood Warrior before he realised not everything he was battling was a Dryad.
Meanwhile, Alarielle cast a Metamorphosis spell upon the Slaughterpriest within the nearest Skull Keep, and the devout man died screaming as branches and leaves forced their way through his skin. With his foul rites at an end, the force of life flourished, and the Skull Keep began to sprout vines across its black metal walls. For good measure, Alarielle hurled an Arcane Bolt at the Skullcrushers who were assembling in front of her before raising the Spear of Kurnoth high to urge the Sylvaneth forwards.
The Branchwraith brought more trees into existence, close to the Crucible, and the Dryads moved forward under their branches, keeping pace with their Goddess.
Behind Alarielle, Kurnoth Hunters dispatched the last of the Blood Warriors, even as Drycha tore apart the last of the Bloodletters.
However, both had been delayed too long by their enemies and were now far away from Alarielle, who now surged forward to smash into the Skullcrushers before their Juggernauts could build up enough speed.
The Wardroth Beetle possessed far more momentum than even a Juggernaut at full tilt, and three Skull Crushers were gored by its great antlers.
The great guns of the Crucible angled slightly in their mounts, one coming to bear upon Alarielle herself. She sensed the build up of magical energies as the Crucible unleashed an Arcane Onslaught upon her. Raising the Spear of Kurnos, Alarielle absorbed most of the energy from the attack, with just a single gout of liquid metal splashing against the carapace of her Wardoth. Then, the Lord of Khorne charged into the fight, astride his Juggernaut.
Blindsided by the charge, the Wardroth was knocked a few steps to the right under the impact of the Juggernaut, but then held firm. Alarielle looked down upon the Lord of Khorne with a cold contempt.
Battle Round Four
With the forces of Khorne on the verge of collapsing, the Sylvaneth advanced under the shadow of their Goddess and the trees that were springing up in her wake, rising miraculously from blasted, volcanic rock.
Alarielle once again reached into her Soul Amphorae and scattered pollen across the battlefield. This time, the tiny grains coalesced into four Tree-Revenants who dutifully took up position on Alarielle’s flank to guard against the oncoming Skull Cannon.
However, a Treelord, leading Kurnoth Hunters and Dryads, got there first. The Bloodletter crew were quick to react and they turned the Skull Cannon around to attack the Dryads. The daemonic machine opened its maw and swallowed one whole, before belching its flaming head at Alarielle. Raising their greatswords, the Kurnoth Hunters wrecked the Skull Cannon with two heavy strokes.
The Mighty Lord of Khorne continued his duel with Alarielle but soon realised that, alone, he could not hope to face the wrath of an angry Goddess. His massive axe did little more scratch the huge Wardroth, while its antlers nearly tore him off his saddle.
Realising he needed to regroup his forces before he could laucnh a successful attack, he gave an order to the hornblower among the few surviving Skullcrushers. As one, the Juggernauts turned and galloped away from Alarielle.
Battle Round Five
Seeing his Lord flee from battle, the Slaughterpriest within the Crucible cursed the blatant cowardice and knew there would be a reckoning after the battle – there was no way the Lord could lead a warband after that rout, and perhaps now was the time for the Slaughterpriest to take command.
Invoking the power of Khorne, the Slaughterpriest called upon the Blood God’s aid as he activated the Crucible. Molten metal spouted from its guns and, once again, Alarielle raised her spear to block its path. This time, however, the fury of Khorne was behind the torrent and even a Goddess could not stop it all. Her Wardroth hissed in pain as boiling metal sank into its carapace.
As he saw the Wardoth falter in its advance, the Slaughterpriest saw how he could defeat a Goddess. Enacting his most vile rites, he sought to boil the blood of not Alarielle, but her mount. Under the heat of Khorne’s gaze, the Wardroth burst into a million tiny spites, forcing Alarielle to take to the air and withdraw from the battlefield.
As the last Skullcrushers were hacked apart by the Kurnoth Hunters, the Treelord extended its roots and strangled the Slaughterpriest for the insult he had offered to Alarielle.
Now, just the Mighty Lord of Khorne remained on the battlefield.
As he saw the angry Sylvaneth advance beneath the eyes of their Goddess who floated high in the sky above them, the Lord of Khorne realised his warband had been utterly destroyed. Turning his Juggernaut, he fled the battlefield as fast as he could.
The Sylvaneth were triumphant.
Now, that was a fun battle!
In the end, it was a minor victory for the Sylvaneth, as they only managed to capture four sections in all (that Slaughterpriest in the first Skull Keep seriously held up the advance of their territory), and only a reasonably lucky dice roll in the end meant they managed to win.
That said, while we have been playing with Sylvaneth almost since Age of Sigmar came out, this was the first time we saw them work as a truly potent force. This was in part down to Alarielle (she is lethal, and I am not surprised we have seen her start to appear in tournament lists, despite her points cost), but also because of the Allegiance Abilities and, in particular, the wider range of spells. The Verdant Blessing that allows trees to spring up over the battlefield allows for the effective leapfrogging of units and allowed (for the very first time, despite having taken the Battalion many, many times in the past) the Dryads to do something useful by using the Forest Folk ability to redeploy (and avoid certain death at the hands of those Bloodletters!).
It was a shame that Alarielle was driven from the battlefield in the final act, but she had been a real power house before that point – killing two Bloodthirsters, one after the other! Had the Treelord Ancient (or Captain Useless, as we have started calling him) managed to keep up with her, his Regrowth spell might have kept her going but then… you can never trust a Treelord Ancient…
The Story Continues…
In the next battle, we are going back to the Ironjawz, this time visiting the Realm of Death where a Vampire Queen has inadvertently placed herself between the Orruks and where they intend to go.