We are halting our tour of the Mortal Realms briefly, and this time going back in time to a far off period of history for a titanic confrontation. Here, we will be asking ourselves the deep, moral question; Archaon versus Nagash – who is best?
The Story So Far
Before Sigmar unleashed his Stormcast Eternals upon the Mortal Realms, Nagash, Supreme Lord of the Undead, rose from Shyish to reclaim his domain from the forces of Chaos. He had been banished there long ago by Archaon after the Battle of Black Skies, his armies of the dead bound into the Cage of Bones, a Chaos fortress built to extend mastery over the Realm of Death.
When Nagash returned, he unbound the magicks holding his undead warriors in check and the Cage of Bones fell in a single night. Forewarned by his Gaunt Summoners of this turn, Archaon was already marching at the head of a vast host to battle Nagash.
Nagash’s horde of the dead ploughed into the forces of Chaos as soon as they emerged from the Forlorn Wells Realmgate, and the two armies smashed against one another as they fought past the Towers of Torment and Bonekey Keep to the foot of the Cage of Bones.
Archaon knew only he had the power to face Nagash and so he confronted the Supreme Lord of the Undead, Everchosen against God.
As suits the confrontation between two of the greatest heroes (villains) of the Mortal Realms, we have two large forces to back up both Nagash and Archaon.
Army of the Everchosen
Archaon, Grand Marshal of the Apocalypse
Sorcerer Lord x 2
Lord of Plagues
Varanguard x 3
Blightkings x 10
Skullreapers x 5
Blood Warriors x 10
Chosen x 10 (Mark of Slaanesh)
Chosen x 10 (Mark of Nurgle)
Chaos Warriors x 20 (unaligned, two units of 10)
Chaos Warriors x 20 (Mark of Tzeentch)
Chaos Warriors x 10 (Mark of Slaanesh)
Chaos Knights x 5 (unaligned)
Gorebeast Chariot (Mark of Tzeentch)
Mutalith Vortex Beast
Archaon has brought the full weight of his mortal forces to bear on the dead, with not only representatives from all four Chaos Powers, but also his very own Everchosen, led by the Varanguard. There is also a good sprinkling of heroes and leaders throughout the force, from specialists like the Lord of Plagues to regulars like Sorcerer Lords.
Army of Nagash
Nagash, Supreme Lord of the Undead
Vampire Lord on Nightmare
Wight Kings x 2
Morghast Harbingers x 4
Skeleton Warriors x 60 (two units of 30)
Grave Guard x 30
Black Knights x 10
Crypt Ghouls x 20
Crypt Horrors x 6
Cairn Wraiths x 3
Spirit Hosts x 6
Vargheists x 3
Nagash has to be pretty confident with his army – he outnumbers Chaos by nearly two to one and, unlike the Everchosen, his forces can come back after they are killed. The Zombies have been left behind in this battle, but the bulk are made up of Crypt Ghouls and Skeleton Warriors, supported in a very heavy manner by Grave Guard and Morghasts, as well as some more esoteric units like the Vargheists (who are making their first appearance in the campaign!).
This Battleplan features this clash of Chaos versus undead at its height, where Archaon and Nagash have met one another and duel, as their armies swirl around at their feet. Nagash and Archaon therefore start in the centre of the table, and no unit may attack, cast spells, or otherwise affect either of these two mighty combatants in any way (unless ordered to do so by a command ability, Smite My Foe, but they will sustain 2D6 mortal wounds if they try…).
Victory is simple – kill the Big Bad on the other side. Everything else is immaterial.
However, the fight between Nagash and Archaon is handled in a special way. Every hero phase, they can use one command ability and then choose an action to use against their opponent – All-out Attack, Defend and Counter, Step Back and Unleash Ranged Attack, and Mighty Blow. Their choice is compared on a matrix against that of their opponent, and the results worked out.
For example, if Nagash chooses an All-out Attack while Archaon selects Mighty Blow, Nagash will get to fight normally, while Archaon makes a single melee attack and doubles its damage. If Archaon had instead chosen to Defend and Counter, Nagash would have been at -1 to hit with all weapons, while Archaon would only attack with one weapon, but would add +1 to both save and hit rolls.
Plenty of opportunity for bluffing between players!
The other twist is that, aside from the two Big Bads, there are no deployment zones – players can set their other units up anywhere on the table (so long as they are at least 6″ away from Archaon and Nagash – not wise to get too close to that fight!), and can go as close as they like to the enemy!
By the time Nagash and Archaon confronted one another, the battle was well under way, with Chaos and Death forces already in close combat across the battlefield.
The Varanguard had outflanked the Crypt Ghouls around the Numinous Occulum, while Chaos Warriors and Blood Warriors had surrounded a large unit of Skeletons.
A loud crack resounded across the battlefield as Nagash and Archaon came together in a clash that would have a profound effect upon history.
Battle Round One
With the battle in full swing, Nagash allowed his power to flow over his minions bolstering their strength and durability. A Vampire Queen blighted the Chosen of Nurgle, allowing the Grave Guard facing them to inflict telling damage before their halberds could fall.
However, a massive Mutalith Vortex Beast lumbered too close to the Vampire and she was forced to gallop away as fast as her steed could carry her. On the other side of the battlefield, the Skeleton Warriors who had been surrounded by the forces of Chaos fought with a determination only the dead could truly muster, killing nearly a dozen Chaos and Blood Warriors, pushing them back and forcing a few of the Blood Warriors to flee the battle.
As combatants hammered and slashed at one another, Nagash and Archaon duelled, mustering the full force of their powers against one another. Nagash raised his staff, Alakanash, in a defensive posture, ready to counterattack once Archaon revealed his intentions, but the Everchosen launched an all-out attack that swept the staff aside and landed a number of telling blows from the Slayer of Kings. Nagash thrust forward with his sword, Zefet-Nebtar, but it skittered harmlessly off Dorghar’s tough hide.
The Mutalith Vortex Beast lumbered after the Vampire Queen, receiving only a slash across its tentacles from her enchanted staff for its trouble
The Skull Reapers dispatched the last of the Morghasts they had been fighting, and started looking at the Grave Guard, gloating as they saw the feckless Nurgle Chosen might need their help.
A Chaos Sorcerer Lord of Slaanesh was being pursued by a Cairn Wraith, and he became desperate as he fumbled the casting of an Arcane Bolt at it. No friendly Chaos forces were close enough to help him, and everyone was already engaged in battle. With no other choice, he fled the terror that followed.
In the centre of the battlefield, Archaon once again launched an all-out attack that sent Nagash reeling, but this time the Lord of Death had been saving himself for a mighty blow. Swinging Zefet-Nebtar over his head, Nagash brought the sword down upon Dorghar, carving a deep wound into the daemonic beast’s flank.
Archaon backed off slightly, now developing a new respect for Nagash.
Battle Round Two
All over the battlefield, the forces of Death and Chaos ground away at one another, each seeking to gain a useful advantage that would mean they might assist their respective lords. The battle was finely balanced, with the forces of Chaos holding the advantage near the watchtower and Numinous Occulum, while Death was ascendant on the plain.
It was down to the two mighty lords to break the stalemate, and once again Nagash readied himself for a single, powerful blow that, should it connect, would bring Dorghar to its knees and leave the Everchosen truly vulnerable.
Archaon was of a single purpose though, and he once again rallied Dorghar to drive forwards, making another all-out attack that caused Nagash to stumble and fall. As the Lord of Death hit the ground, the entire battlefield trembled and the undead forces started to dissipate or crumble.
The Everchosen levelled the Slayer of Kings at Nagash’s throat. Once more, the Lord of Death would be a prisoner within his own realm…
A major victory for Archaon, and one that mirrored the ‘true’ result of this historic battle.
Playing with Nagash was all well and good (in fact, we are beginning to see how he could be a very powerful unit in a tournament list, even without the full benefit of his summoning skills), but this was the first Battleplan we have played that hit a bum note – which is not bad, considering we have played, what, something like 100-odd battles over 18 months?
The problem is that you spend a lot of time messing around with the forces swirling at the feet of the two titans… and it does not really matter. They are not going to break themselves free and be in a position to help their masters until well into the battle – and the fight will be over by then, one way or the other.
You could get pretty much the same effect by just having Archaon and Nagash on the table. Of course, that would be a Battleplan that lasted only 5 minutes, at best. Overall, this battle probably looks better than it played.
So, not brilliant, but pulling out Nagash for the first time was pretty cool, and Archaon is always fun to have on the battlefield.
And we do have some right cracking battles coming up over the next couple of months or so…
The Story Continues…
Our tour of the Mortal Realms is now drawing to a close. Next time, we start the next and final part of the Realmgate Wars saga – All-Gates.