Beastly Tzeentch

Getting towards the end of the Tzeentch Arcanites and daemons – last night, I managed to polish off the last of the Tzaangors, giving me three units of 10 in total (plus the six from Silver Tower).

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Despite all the frilly bits on these guys, they really are quick to do and, with hindsight, I might well have been okay doing 30 at once. The only real pain in the rear end is the gold lining, particularly on the bracers and leg pieces – just one of those things that you have to get your head down for and get on with it.

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I am very conscious at the moment that the new Duardin are due very soon now, and I am really looking forward to them, so it would be nice to have a clear painting table when they arrive.

Which is never going to happen.

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Still, soonest started, soonest finished, and I have the guys (and girls) coming round this Saturday for a dedicated painting day (if you all paint together, it kind of spurs you on), where I am hoping to at least get the majority of work done on the remaining Tzeentch models: Lord of Change, Kairos Fateweaver, a Tzeentchian Warshrine, nine Enlightened/Skyfires, and a Burning Chariot with a Herald.

After that, I just have the Vanguard Stormcasts to do, and Stormcasts never take long to do (despite their size, they are quicker to paint than Space Marines).

So, what could make this Master plan come a cropper?

Well, I want to get the Dwarf Giants Blood Bowl team done sooner rather than later, and I also have the odd Star Player to get round to (Skaven are nearly finished, with any luck there will be pictures tomorrow!). More to the point, already built, based and undercoated, I have Ungors, Centigors, and a Boneripper Gargant (the big Forge World one) that I would really like to get cracking with. I might slip though beastmen into the Saturday line up, just so I have some movement there.

Of course, the other plan would be to put the Vanguard on hold, and just move straight onto the new Duardin the day they are released…

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Battle Report – Through the Breach

This is it, the final and concluding part of not only the All-Gates book, but the Realmgate Wars saga as a whole. Stand by for a truly titanic clash as the forces of Order try to push their way towards the Brimfire Gate…

 

The Story So Far

Under clouds of fire, the Stormcasts and Fyreslayers advanced ever closer to the blazing arc of the Brimfire Gate. The Godbeast Ignax had been wrested from the control of Archaon, though the attempt had greatly weakened Runefather Borr-Grimnir, and had smashed the Bloodskull Fastness, allowing the forces of Order to bypass that fortress as they plunged forwards towards the seventh castle that ringed the Realmgate – Bloodcombe.

Built by the Children of Hashut, the Bloodcombe’s walls were impossibly thick, and reputed to be unbreachable by any mortal means. Under the thrall of Runefather Borr-Grimnir, Ignax railed against the walls three times, and it was only on the third blast of the serpent’s inferno that a breach was formed. Into the breach strode the last of the Chaos defenders, filling the gap with their own bodies and daring any to pass.

The Runefather felt his control of Ignax slip away, and finally the Godbeast was truly free, flying away to find peace and warmth far from the war that had shaken the Mortal Realms. The great serpent was last seen burrowing under the volcanic Infernus Mountain range.

Now, the Battle of Hell Breach had begun and, spearheaded by Liberators, the forces of Order advanced. The campaign for the eight castles around the Brimfire Gate now came down to a single assault.

The first Liberators were run through by Hellblades, but they were quickly replaced by Paladins. The Juggernaut-riding Crimson Guard, led by Lord Khar and supported by Slaughterpriests, threw the Paladins back, only for the Fyreslayers to throw themselves into the breach. Wave after wave of Vulkite Berzerkers forced their way into the breach, only to be repulsed by the Crimson Guard.

Then the Stardrakes arrived.

Sending forth a nova surge, a gleaming front of celestial energy, the Stardrakes felled the Crimson Guard by the hundred, finally forging a passage through the walls.

With a great roar, surviving Stormcast and Fyreslayer piled forward into the fortress, only to be met by a great bow wave of hatred. Skarbrand had arrived and though he had already spilled an ocean of blood, it was not enough.

The two armies had battered one another across the eight castles, but there was one final push to be made that would seal the fate of the Mortal Realms.

 

The Forces

The two armies in this battle are large, but not massive. They have ground away at one another and now only the toughest warriors remain.

Bloodbound and Daemons of Khorne
Mighty Lord of Khorne
Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury
Skarbrand
Aspiring Deathbringer
Bloodsecrator
Slaughterpriest x 2
Blood Warriors x 25 (two units of 10, one unit of 5)
Bloodletters x 50 (five units of 10)
Bloodcrushers x 6
Chaos Warriors x 12
Skullreapers x 5

The likes of Bloodreavers were slaughtered long ago, the last being boiled away by Ignax. What is left are elite warriors, Heroes, and plenty of daemons, all led by two Bloodthirsters – one of which is Skarbrand!

Fyreslayers
Vulkite Berzerkers x 30 (one unit of 20, one unit of 10)

Stormcast Eternals
Lord-Celestant on Dracoth
Lord-Celestant on Stardrake
Drakesworn Templar
Knight-Heraldor
Fulminators x 6
Concussors x 6
Retributors x 10 (two units of 5)
Protectors x 5
Decimators x 5
Liberators x 20 (four units of 5)

The forces of Order have suffered their own losses, and even the Extremis Chamber can muster but a couple of (albeit strong) units. However, the Paladins are also out in force, supported by Liberators and Vulkite Berzerkers.

 

The Battleplan

This is another Battleplan that is simple at heart. To win, the forces of Order just need to get three of their units, wholly or partially, into Khorne territory within six rounds. I they fail, the Khorne player earns a major victory.

There are, of course, some issues to be addressed first though. First off, the attackers are fatigued, and while they add 1 to their Bravery, their Movement is reduced by an inch, and they cannot run. So, they will have to slog their way to Khorne territory. In addition, they have a small deployment area and will have several units starting in reserve which, naturally, will have to walk even further.

On top of that, the Khorne defenders are not giving ground easily, and can re-roll all hit rolls of a 1.

We are using the Brimfire Gate Time of War sheet, which gives the Stormcasts blessed weapons (more damage for Heroes), but also means Skarbrand’s wave of fury  will affect the battle, which can bring in more daemons or even cause Heroes to explode with anger!

The Brimfire Gate rules for Ignax will not be used, as she was freed in the last battle!

 

Deployment

The forces of Order were hemmed in by the width of the breach and were limited as to who would be first through the gap. Casualties were expected to be high in the initial assault and while the Lord-Celestant on the Stardrake felt it was important to be among them, the rest of the Dracothian Guard were kept back for later waves to make a breakthrough at a weak point.

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Liberators took position at the front to receive the worst Khorne could throw at them, while the Vulkite Berzerkers mobbed on the left flank.

The Khornate defenders had mustered a strong line to hold the forces of Order back, with daemons to the centre and mortals to the flanks. A Bloodthirster towered among the daemons but, worse, Skarbrand had taken position just a short distance away.

 

Battle Round One

Though weary from previous battles, the Lord-Celestant knew that waves of daemons and Bloodbound could easily bog his force down, so immediate progress had to be made. Giving the order, he drove his Stormcasts forward to gain ground.

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However, he was painfully aware of how slow that progress was. In part to rally the tired spirits of fellow Stormcasts, the Knight-Heraldor raised his trumpet to his lips and blew hard, targeting the nearby Skull Keep. The whole structure rattled and shook, until great lumps of masonry and metal broke free to tumble onto the Chaos Warriors and Bloodletters below.

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The Lord-Celestant added his own weight to this barrage, summoning a hail of meteors from the heavens, which crashed down all over the battlefield, wounding the Bloodsecrator and Mighty Lord of Khorne.

The response from the Bloodbound and Daemons of Khorne was quick in coming, and everyone felt a pressure wave of hate sweep over them as Skarbrand unleashed an almighty roar of pure rage. This attracted more daemons from all over the fortresses, and a pack of Flesh Hounds appeared in front of the Fyreslayers, eager to engage in their own bloodletting.

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The Bloodsecrator, hidden behind the Skull Keep, realised the Stormcasts would not be able to advance far and that the bulk of the fighting would be happening close by. He planted his Portal of Skulls and opened up a doorway to the Realm of Chaos, infusing all Khornate followers with the Blood God’s own fury.

Then, as one, the forces of Khorne advanced, racing one another to be the first to claim the life of a Stormcast. On the Stormcasts’ right flank, Skarbrand thundered forward, leading a small force of mortals and Bloodletters.

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In the centre, Slaughterpriests bound a retinue of Liberators by blood, enraging them and forcing them to race forward, beyond the support of their Stormhost – straight into the path of Bloodletters, Bloodcrushers and a Bloodthirster.

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A terrible crack resounded across the battlefield as, all along the line, Bloodbound and daemon crashed into the Sigmarite shields of Liberators.

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It was Skarbrand who drew first blood though, his axes Slaughter and Carnage making short work of the two retinues of Liberators he had charged. One Liberator-Prime fought bravely with his lightning-blessed hammers, scoring several telling hits, but the fury of Skarbrand’s assault proved too much in the end, and the few surviving Stormcasts were forced to retreat back to the breach.

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In the centre, the Bloodthirster howled with pure anger as the Bloodcrushers simply rode over the Liberators who had raced forwards, clearing the way to the Paladins advancing behind them.

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To their left, the Flesh Hounds had leaped into the crowd of Vulkite Berzerkers, and were already tearing the Fyreslayers apart, though a few of the daemonic beasts were also returned to Khorne.

 

Battle Round Two

With the momentum purely on the side of the daemons and Bloodbound, the Lord of Khorne raised his axe and bellowed for the advance to continue. The Stormcasts had already been forced onto the backfoot, and the Lord intended to drive them all the way back to the breach.

Skarbrand’s rage continued to act as a magnet for daemons, and Bloodletters appeared on the battlefield, further demoralising the Stormcasts.

The Bloodthirster took to the skies briefly with slow, powerful beats of its wings, until it crashed down hard in front of the line of Paladins, the impact causing the Stardrake of the Lord-Celestant to stumble. Without missing a beat, the Bloodthirster piled forward with the Bloodcrushers to meet the first retinue of Paladins – the Decimators.

Though their axes were unsuited to the work of hacking apart beasts as large as Juggernauts, the Decimators nevertheless made good account of themselves, and were joined by the Knight-Heraldor as they all but slaughtered the Bloodcrushers.

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Furious at this display of defiance, the Bloodthirster lashed the Knight-Heraldor with his whip, but it simply skidded off the Stormcast’s armour. The Lord-Celestant forced his Stardrake back to its feet and then it piled in tot he melee before them, snatching one Bloodcrusher with its great maw before swallowing it whole, then finishing the last with a powerful lash of its tail.

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The Lord of Khorne had joined his Flesh Hounds in breaking the Vulkie Berzerkers, and the Fyreslayers started dying in greater number. Though they made good account of themselves against the Flesh Hounds, the attack was too much for five of them, and they turned and ran for the breach, leaving less than a handful of the most crazed Duardin to hold the line.

Only minutes into the battle, and both sides had received powerful blows from their enemy. However, as more Flesh Hounds appeared near a ruined temple, the Lord-Celestant realised that he needed to make a decisive action to break the deadlock, as a battle of attrition favoured only Khorne.

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Standing high on the back of his Stardrake, the Lord-Celestant bade the Knight-Heraldor to make a signal, and a clear trumpet note sounded. It was quickly followed by the thunder of heavy claws over rubble as the first of the Stormcast reinforcements arrived through the breach – a Lord-Celestant on the back of a Dracoth led a Drakesworn Templar and a retinue of Fulminators into battle.

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The Fulminators wasted no time and, as meteors rained down upon the Bloodsecrator, smashing the Portal of Skulls that had been driving the forces of Khorne into a frenzy, their Dracoths unleashed crackling lightning upon Skullreapers, before charging, their glaives levelled at the hearts of the enemy.

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Unable to get out of the way in time, the Skullreapers were simply ridden down.

The Drakesworn Templar, meanwhile, had already spotted his target – the Lord of Khorne who had almost broken through the thin, ragged line of Fyreslayers. Urging his Stardrake on, the Templar lowered his Stormlance…

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… and impaled the Lord of Khorne before he could scramble out of the way.

A series of mighty cracks deafened every warrior on the battlefield, a signal that the two retinues of Retributors had reached the battleline. One retinue unleashed the lightning of their hammers to blast the life out of a unit of Chaos Warriors, while the other repeated the exercise on Skarbrand, catching the daemon completely off-balance and hammering him into nothingness. However, all eyes were soon turning to the centre, where the Bloodthirster and Lord-Celestant on his Stardrake had been drawn to within striking distance of one another.

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The Decimators caught between them were completely outmatched and quickly fell to the wide sweeps of the Bloodthirster’s axe, incensing the Lord-Celestant. He raced forwards, too late to save the Paladins, but the Bloodthirster was rocked backwards by the impact of the Stardrake and a well-wielded Celestine Hammer.

It snarled back at the Lord-Celestant with hatred, but one wing hung limply, bones shattered.

 

Battle Round Three

The Stormcasts had made good account of themselves thus far but the Lord-Celestant could see it had been for naught. Despite having repelled the first wave of attacking daemons and forcing Skarbrand to return to his master, the Stormcasts had not advanced an inch, and another wave of daemons and Bloodbound were poised to strike them – and this time, there were no Liberators with locked shields to hold the attackers back.

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Both daemon and Bloodbound sensed this weakness too, and they eagerly threw themselves back into the fray. The Slaughterpriests enacted their foul rituals and the Stardrake of the Lord-Celestant bellowed in pain as its blood was boiled to intolerable levels.

The Fulminators, too, found themselves at a disadvantage, as the Skullreapers had broken their momentum, and now Bloodletters and Blood Warriors moved in to finish them off.

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Paladins and one lone surviving Liberator drew close to the Fulminators for mutual support, but all this did was provide daemon and Bloodbound with a single target they could overwhelm, and a huge, sprawling melee erupted across the Stormcasts’ right flank.

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The Fulminators, desperate to break free so they could use their glaives to full effect, fought hard against their attackers, and their Dracoths attacked with a frenzy, wiping out every Bloodletter within reach in seconds. The Dracothian Guard shouted jubilantly at their victory but knew, in truth, the mortal Bloodbound might prove far tougher to fight.

On the opposite flank, the Stormcast line was being propped up only by a retinue of Retributors and the Drakesworn Templar, and a unit of Blood Warriors rushed in alongside more Bloodletters, keen to take advantage of this weakness.

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However, their attacks were resoundingly rebuffed, with four Blood Warriors and two Flesh Hounds paying the price.

At the centre, the Bloodthirster and Lord-Celestant with his Stardrake fought tooth and nail, each scoring several deep wounds in the flesh of the other. Neither was willing to relent or retreat; the Lord-Celestant because he knew Sigmar’s plans for the whole Realm of Fire depended upon what he did in this battle, the Bloodthirster because it was simply in its nature to destroy all enemies.

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While every Stormcast was engaged in a pitched battle for his life, they could feel the power of Khorne beginning to slip. None felt this more than the Liberator-Prime, the last Liberator still fighting on the battlefield. He had been singled out by a Aspiring Deathbringer and, fighting with the stuff of legends behind him, the Liberator-Prime was going toe-to-toe with with one of Khorne’s favoured heroes… and was winning.

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The Lord-Celestant rode forward on his Dracoth, which opened its jaws and unleashed a torrent of lightning upon the Bloodthirster. Crippled by its wounds from the Stardrake, the Bloodthirster was consumed as celestial lightning crackled up and down its body, turning the greater daemon into a crisped corpse that collapsed to the ground with a shattering thud, before turning to dust.

The Bloodbound moaned audibly as they saw their great daemon defeated, and the Fulminators took advantage of the lull, bidding their own Dracoths to unleash a wave of lightning that fried several Blood Warriors.

Then, the Lord-Celestants both stood in their saddles and waved their hammers high, giving the signal to advance. As one, the Stormcasts surged forward and drove over the last of the Khornate defenders. Unable to resist, the last few Blood Warriors turned… and ran.

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Sigmar’s soldiers had claimed the Brimfire Gate.

 

Conclusion

It all fell apart for the Chaos defenders in the third round! Up to that point, they had been suffering badly, but dealing out equal misery to the Stormcasts (and annihilating the Fyreslayers). The Dracothion Guard had been worn down, and had become reliant on the Concussors coming on as reinforcements (which, as three units were needed to get into Khorne territory, was far from a guarantee of success), the Lord-Celestant’s Stardrake had just six wounds left, and the Drakesworn Templar had started to suffer damage too. The Liberators had been wiped out, and the Paladins were starting to lose steam – everything was standing on the edge of a knife.

And then, come third round, all the successes the Khornate force had been enjoying just fell apart, and the Stormcasts could do no wrong! This created a setback that Chaos could never recover from, and the weight of the Stormcasts pushed through.

Which, really, is how it should be in a great tale!

Units we had never really seen perform well started to out-do themselves early in the battle, with the Bloodcrushers leading the charge and crushing the Stormcasts’ front line, and Bloodletters kicking out a significant number of mortal wounds.

The one big mistake made by Chaos (and the player admitted this afterwards) was delaying Skarbrand in combat – he was hoping the Stormcasts would chip away at the Bloodthirster, leaving him on just a few wounds which is, of course, where Skarbrand really starts performing. However, a few scratches earlier in the battle meant the Retributors were well positioned to finish him off in a single blow of their hammers. Once Skarbrand was gone, the Stormcasts’ right flank still had work to do, but the pressure was significantly reduced.

All that said, until the third round, the Khorne forces had done exactly what they needed to do – advance and then hold the Stormcasts. Casualties did not matter (until they veered towards total), as the Stormcasts were crippled in their movement because of the fatigue rules, and if they could not advance (and they didn’t, really), they would simply run out of time in the Battleplan, giving victory to Chaos.

So close, and yet so far!

 

The Story Continues…

So, the Realmgates War has ended, and now we await the next chapter in the Age of Sigmar.

Sigmar’s bid to possess all the All-Gates and from there launch an assault upon the Varanspire of Archaon has cost the forces of Order dear and not been entirely successful – but then, the forces of Chaos have also suffered greatly. As things stand, possession of the All-Gates looks like this:

  • Realm of Fire: In Sigmar’s hands and closed, dealing a major defeat to Khorne.
  • Realm of Life: The Genesis Gate has also been closed, and now Alarielle is unleashing her Campaigns of Cleansing, undercutting the power of Nurgle.
  • Realm of Death: Nagash has turned his back on Sigmar, and the All-Gate here remains in the hands of Archaon.
  • Realm of Light: Strange things have happened here, and there is no word whether they have brought victory or defeat…
  • Realm of Beasts: The Mawgate is in the hands of neither Sigmar nor Archaon, for a new power has arisen here.
  • Realm of Metal: Safely in the hands of Archaon after he took a personal hand in its defence.
  • Realm of Shadow: A complete mystery, for every warrior sent to fight for this All-Gate, on both sides, has disappeared.

So, what now? Well, just because a major campaign among the great powers is over, that doesn’t mean the fighting stops, and we’ll be seeing what the Bonesplitterz and Beastclaw Raiders are up to during this lull. However, there is a strong feeling that great Change is coming and we will also be looking up to the skies…

Review – Nagash: The Undying King

As mentioned in my last post, I was at the Triumph & Treachery event at Games Workshop HQ in Nottingham this weekend, and I had the opportunity to pick up some of the items exclusive to Warhammer World.

I have already reviewed the Blood Bowl duo, Grak and Crumbleberry, so now I can move onto this bad boy:

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A Warhammer World exclusive novel for Age of Sigmar, written by Josh Reynolds and entitled Nagash: The Undying King.

It has been done in a run of 1,000 (I grabbed number 67), and comes in an embossed rubbery/plastic cover with blue foil stamping and blue-edged pages.

Before we get onto content, we have to deal with the two elephants in the room.

First off, this is a £40 book. Which is quite a lot of a (not-oversized) novel. Second, the line of novels is one of the primary ways GW has been revealing background information on their new Age of Sigmar universe, and making one of them only available to people who actually travel to Nottingham… that is going to grate on some players, I just know it.

Still, I am fortunate enough to be able to go, so I will review it as such.

Obviously, Spoiler Alerts by the bucket load…

Written by Josh Reynolds means you will generally be in for a good read if you are into Age of Sigmar, and the book opens up in Shyish (the Realm of Death), where a barbarian tribe is being attacked by Rotbringers, and not doing so well in the exchange. The barbarians are followers of Nagash, and they are wondering just what they have done to annoy him, as he does not seem to be coming to their aid. Their army is a mix of mortal barbarians, bolstered by ancestors that they raise from the dead, so plenty of Skeleton Warriors are on hand to fight the Nurgle invaders.

Things do not go so well, and as the rearguard prepare to sell their lives so their civilians can escape, Neferata turns up (always a plus in an Age of Sigmar novel!) and gives the Rotbringers a good kicking. When asked if Nagash sent her, she is very dismissive of his whereabouts.

It is in the second chapter that the novel is placed in the Age of Sigmar timeline – during the Realmgate Wars, when Nagash has yet to fully awaken. Josh Reynolds does a nice job of linking this novel to previous stories, with an appearance by Mannfred at Helstone, and references to the Lady of Cankerwall – it is a nice touch that begins to pull Age of Sigmar into a more cohesive whole.

From here, the novel follows two (maybe two and a half) points of view; the Rotbringers of the Order of the Fly, who have been set the task of conquering this rather cold area of Shyish and do not entirely agree with the daemonic Herald allied to them, and the mortal Nagash-faithful of the Rictus Clans. The half a point of view would go to Neferata who, as always, has her own agenda despite being bound to the will of Nagash.

The Rotbringers/Knights of the Order of the Fly are humanised nicely in this story and, if you could forget about their open sores, maggoty skin, and the very real chance of coming down with something terminal just by standing close to them, you could probably get on quite nicely with them. Far from your usual Baddie of the Book, they remain true knights despite their allegiance, and have a very strong code of honour which is one of the things that brings them into conflict with the Herald of Nurgle who accompanies them. The Rotbringers genuinely think they are doing the people of Shyish a favour by freeing them from the clutches of Death, and that they bring the freedom of life with them. Ultimately, this is a battle of life versus death, not good versus evil by any measure.

On the flip side, the people of the Rictus clans are indeed worshippers of Nagash, are necromancers by definition (they use their dead ancestors in battle), and are allied to Neferata – but they are portrayed as the good guys for all that, fighting to protect their homes, their people, and way of life (and death).

In short, both sides are characterised nicely, and you might have an issue picking which one to root for!

The timeline for this story is set before any others featuring Nagash (did this novel not meet the release schedule, and so was sidelined into a Warhammer World exclusive release, we wonders?), as he is still somewhat shattered after his confrontation with Archaon and has not quite woken up yet. Throughout the story, you see Nagash’s mind wandering, even as he talks to his servants, and there is a general feeling among the mortals that Nagash is actually dead – though, as Arkhan points out to them early on in the story, death has never stopped Nagash before.

The big question for devotees of the Mortal Realms is, of course, whether there are any major reveals in this book. The answer? Probably not. We have seen Nagash awakened in other Black Library novels, and it is perhaps likely that he will be a feature in the next round of campaign books.

However, the daemon is ever in the details, and perhaps a throwaway line might turn into something of greater import later on. One that caught my eye was a reference to ‘the Mortarchs and other Deathlords’.

Other Deathlords?

As things stand, the Deathlords faction of the Death Grand Alliance comprise Nagash and the three Mortarchs. We already know other Mortarchs exist (or have existed – Krell is the obvious example, though there have been others mentioned, and this novel reiterates that there are nine of them), but other Deathlords? Deathlords who are not Mortarchs? One of the characters in this story becomes one, and maybe it is a little sideways reference to something we will see later…

Also… mounted Blightkings seem to be a thing.

Overall, I would give this story a solid thumbs up, for the balanced characterisation of both Rotbringers and Nagash-worshippers, if nothing else (actually, I have just decided – I was rooting for the Rotbringers in this).  Is it worth £40 and a trip to Nottingham? Well, that is a lot tougher. Unless you are an absolute die-hard for Age of Sigmar fiction (I am), then… probably not. It is a good read, and I would recommend it, but you are probably going to be in the UK and a real Age of Sigmar nut to take me up on that recommendation.

Royalty of Tzeentch!

The process of painting up the forces of Tzeentch continues, and some decent progress has been made in the shape of the first Tzaangors and some Heroes.

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First up was the Curseling, and… I have just noticed my camera does not do the blue I used for Tzeentch very well!

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Honestly, it is a lot more teal-ish, on all of these models! Still, you get the idea.

I quite like the idea behind the Curseling, gathering all of Tzeentch’s secrets like a tumor until they gain sentience and sprout out of his shoulder to actually whisper themselves to him…

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The Fatemaster is quite a funky model, despite its age – the disc, in particular, looks a bit bland compared to the new ones. However, turn this guy around…

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And he is completely on fire! Quite like that, and I quite like the fiery effect I managed to get out of it – just successive washes, followed by a light dusting of Abaddon Black for soot.

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Rounding off the Tzeentch Heroes is the Tzaangor Shaman, and you can see the new models get far more intricate discs.

And that rounds off all my Heroes of Tzeentch (with the exception of the Lords of Change, coming very soon!). What about the Magister, you ask? Ah, already done, long ago, when he was the Sorcerer Lord of Tzeentch!

Also, got the first unit of Tzaangors done:

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These took a little bit longer than they should, though that is down more to early access of Mass Effect: Andromeda rather than any difficulties these guys cause. I have two more units on my painting table right now, and don’t foresee any great issues – do their skin, do their armour, loin cloths, and weapons… then just the gold bits and pieces and you are more or less done!

Finally, I also painted up this little Grot Shaman. He doesn’t actually have anything to do with Tzeentch, but he might pop up in Warhammer Quest, so I thought why not, eh?

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As I said, the last of the Tzaangors are on my painting table right now (along with the Skavenblight Scramblers and Varag Ghoulchewer, but I digress) and once they are done, that is almost everything finished for this wave of Tzeentch.

I have the Enlightened and Skyfires of course (total of 9 models for now), plus the Lord of Change to do, and I want to add the Changeling, Kairos, and a Tzeentch-dedicated Warshrine to really polish them off. Maybe Slambo as well but, again, he really has nothing to do with Tzeentch.

After that, I have pulled out the Stormcast Vanguard to do, but I am wondering whether they will be overtaken in the painting queue by those rather funky looking Kharadron Overlords…

Battle Report – Ultimate Siege Weapon

This is one of the titanic clashes of the Realmgate Wars – the Battle of the Brimfire Gate. In fact, it is so large, we are going to need two Battleplans to cover it, so get strapped in for the exciting first part!

 

The Story So Far

With the path cleared by the Strike-Teams, the full weight of Stormcast Eternal Brotherhoods could be unleashed. Elements from more than a hundred different Stormhosts were flung into battle, and lightning strikes deposited retinues and whole battalions upon walls, towers and courtyards.

As the Khornate defenders rose to meet the advancing Stormcasts, the first fortress, the Pyrevault Redoubt, shook and began to glow before magma burst from the ground in a shower of flaming death. From tunnels, the Fyreslayers arrived, marching alongside the Stormcasts for the final assault upon the Brimfire Gate.

Across all eight fortresses that ringed the Brimfire Gate, a cataclysmic battle raged, and through the centre of all gore and bloodshed waded Skarbrand, blunting the assault of the Extremis Chambers. However, a far greater threat began to emerge.

The molten coils that had wrapped themselves around the Bloodcombe and Great Skullhold began to twist and writhe as a monstrous shape climbed into the sky, a massive serpent.

Ignax, the Solar Serpent and greatest of the Godbeasts, had entered the battle.

Raising her head over Vulkstroya Keep, Ignax breathed a furnace blasts, killing thousands in an instant. Runefather Borr-Grimnir, last of the Fyreslayers of the Chained Sun, saw the Godbeast, and the rune that had been hammered into its flank by Duardin brothers who had died trying to give him this one chance to exert control over Ignax. If the Fyreslayers could just reach that rune, the tide of the battle could be turned.

 

The Forces

This is a fight for the All-Gate in the heart of Khorne’s territory, a realm he controls with a bloody iron fist. The armies are therefore suitably large and epic.

Bloodbound and Daemons of Khorne
Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage (Skrathax)
Skarbrand
Mighty Lord of Khorne on Juggernaut
Exalted Deathbringer
Aspiring Deatbringer x 2
Bloodsecrator
Slaughterpriest x 2
Skullgrinder
Blood Warriors x 25 (two units of 10, one unit of 5)
Bloodletters x 50 (five units of 10)
Bloodreavers x 40 (two units of 20)
Skull Cannon
Khorgorath
Bloodcrushers x 6
Mighty Skullcrushers x 12 (two units of 3, one unit of 6)
Skullreapers x 5
Wrathmongers x 5
Flesh Hounds x 10
Chaos Warriors x 12

If it was red, we grabbed it from the cabinet and out it on the table! This is a major Khornate force, a mixture of mortals and daemons, joined by a full Brass Stampede and topped by a Bloodthirster! They will also have the use of a Skull Keep, Overlord Bastion, and Ironskull Bastion (the latter from Battletome: Chaos Dreadholds).

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

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

The combined forces of the Stormcasts and Fyreslayers may yet be up to the challenge, as the Extremis Chamber has been called upon (using both the Lightning and Thunder Echelons), and a Hammerstrike Force has been deployed, allowing the Stormcasts to put their Retributors exactly where they need them.

 

The Battleplan

A big battle needs a big Battleplan (two, actually, but more of that next time!), and we have just the ticket here.

Ignax has wrapped herself around three fortifications on this battlefield, but one of them (known only to the Khorne player) marks the position of the rune that the forces of Order must reach. If they can get a Hero within 3″ of that fortification, he will gain control of Ignax for that round.

What does Ignax do? Well, whoever controls her can unleash her furnace breath, which dishes out mortal wounds in a 10″ radius (!).

In addition, Ignax brings a brand new Time of War sheet to the table, covering the Battle for the Brimfire Gate specifically. This adds the following:

  • All Dreadhold models confer immunity to spells (not an issue for this Order force) and do not allow the in-game deployment of models within 24″ of them (which will be a pain for the Hammerstrike Force).
  • However, this can be skirted by the use of Stormcaller Javelins carried by Prosecutors.
  • Skarbrand’s fury is magnified and affects everyone, which can summon daemons, force charges, or cause Heroes to explode!
  • All Stormcast Heroes and Primes are carrying Lightning-blessed weapons. Once per shooting or combat phase, they can add +1 to the Damage of their weapons.
  • Once per battle, the Fyreslayer Runefather can attempt to permanently bind Ignax. This may cause his death, due to the tremendous energies involved, but he can get Ignax to truly scour a massive section of the table until this happens.

There are no turn limits, and this is a fight to the death!

 

Deployment

The Stormcasts formed a wedge with their Dracothian Guard, determined to smash through the Khornate defenders and reach the fortifications in good order. Their Fyreslayer allies kept to the flanks, allowing the Stormcasts the glory of first strike.

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The forces of Khorne occupied their strongholds with Blood Warriors and Bloodreavers, but everyone else was eager to get to grips with their enemy.

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Battle Round One

Not wanting to give the Khorne defenders the slightest chance to manoeuvre, the Lords-Celestant held their hammers high and ordered their army forward, the leading Dracoths breaking out into a gallop to keep the Daemons of Khorne pinned in place.

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Towering above the battlefield, the Godbeast Ignax breathed a terrible inferno down upon the Fyreslayers on the right flank. The Runefather weathered the blast on the back of his Magmadroth, but ten Vulkite Berzerkers and one Prosecutor were instantly annihilated by the Godbeast.

Undaunted, Tempestors and Judicators unleashed volleys from their crossbows, bringing down a few Bloodletters but, high in the sky, above even Ignax, bright flashes in the clouds signified the coming of a hail or meteors. They smacked down among the ranks of the Khornate defenders amidst panicked cries, exploding in showers of Azyrite rock. Bloodreavers were shaken inside their Ironskull Bastion, but a Slaughterpriest walked out onto the balcony of his Overlord Bastion at precisely the wrong time, and was killed by two unerringly guided meteors.

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In a prepared position behind the Ironskull Bastion, the Bloodsecrator thrust his Portal of Skulls into the ground and opened a gateway to Khorne’s own kingdom in the Realm of Chaos, driving his Wrathmonger bodyguard to heights of unimaginable fury.

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Them with a bellow, Skrathax, the Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage gave the order to attack, and the followers of Khorne charged forward, led by Bloodcrushers, Bloodletters and Flesh Hounds.

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From the ramparts of the Ironskull Bastion, the Skull Cannon belched a bloody projectile which arced across the battlefield to strike a Fulminator square in the chest. The rest of hi retinue had no time to grieve, for Skrathax was on them immediately, hewing with his mighty axe.

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Though caught by surprise, the Fulminators fought bravely and, despite one of their Dracoths receiving a punishing swipe that left it limping, they forced the Bloodthirster to check its advance and adopt a more measured attack to avoid being spitted on their glaives.

Across the line, daemon fought Stormcast, but the warriors of Sigmar held firm with few falling to the Hellblades of the Bloodletters. In return, Bloodletters and Bloodcrushers both were savaged by the weapons of the Dracothian Guard, with entire units of both disappearing fast as they made contact.

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Battle Round Two

Ignax reared up, casting a deep shadow over the battlefield that was instantly dispelled by the searing light of another inferno. This time, the Runesmiter was the target and while, once again, the Fyreslayer Hero endured the intense heat, it consumed many Vulkite Berzerkers and Auric Hearthguard nearby. Undaunted, the Fyreslayers prepared to confront the Daemons of Khorne who were racing towards them.

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As the Skull Cannon fired once again at the Fulminators, this time bouncing off a raised shield, a huge, swirling general melee erupted outside the Overlord and Ironskull Bastions as the forces of Khorne tried to halt the advance of the Dracothian Guard.

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Skrathax hacked apart the Fulminators who had stalled him, even as Bloodletters, Blood Warriors and Skullcrushers flowed around his feet to launch further assaults against the Stormcasts and, at last, the line began to buckle. The Bloodthirster then raised his axe above his head and unleashed a terrifying roar that focussed its rage into a palpable force that exploded the heads of several Stormcasts who had ventured too close.

A counterattack by Vulkite Berzerkers, Concussors and Desolators managed to plug up the gap, but the Stormcasts now had no reserves to call upon, having thrown everything into the fight.

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This combined response stopped the Skullcrushers dead in their tracks as the hammers of the Concussors sent the Juggernauts reeling and the Vulkite Berzerkers hacked at their riders.

On the other flank, more Skullcrushers charged in, supported by a large pack of Flesh Hounds, aiming to tear apart the Fyreslayers who were still recovering from the breath of Ignax.

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The pitifully few Vulkite Berzerkers proved no obstacle, and the Fyreslayers were quickly ridden down by the Juggernauts, but the Flesh Hounds had veered too close to a retinue of Concussors. With a series of mighty cracks, the hammers of the Concussors swung down, smashing the unnatural life from the Flesh Hounds, and they were quickly joined by the vengeful Auric Hearthguard. When the dust settled, not a single Flesh Hound was whole and able to attack.

More importantly, a vital crack had opened in the Khornate line, and a path to the strongholds was now evident.

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Seeing that the Stormcasts close to him were preparing to advance, leaving his Fyreslayers alone to deal with the Skullcrushers, the Runesmiter goaded his Magmadroth on, and the beast spat a glob of lava that immolated a Skullcrusher, its rider screaming as molten rock consumed him. Taking his lead, the remaining Auric Hearthguard levelled their Magmapikes, and destroyed another.

Then the Stormcasts opened fire.

All along the line, Dracoths opened their jaws and unleashed a torrent of lightning that crackled across daemon and mortal follower of Khorne alike, while Tempestors and Judicators kept up their own steady rate of fire.

This opened up the line further, and a retinue of Concussors rushed forward to the Skull Keep, crying out in triumphant as they realised that a rune of control was present and, with the right approach, could be used to control Ignax and turn the Godbeast against the forces of Chaos.

However, the Stormcasts needed to get one of the leaders to the Skull Keep, and they all had a serious fight on their hands. Aside from the Concussors, the whole Stormcast advance had been stalled and the Dracothian Guard were desperately trying to hack their way through daemons to reach the strongholds.

As the Hearthguard charged the Skullcrushers, forcing those they did not slay to retreat from the battlefield, two Desolators took advantage of the confusion and forced their Dracoths on to leap over the fallen corpses of Juggernauts to reach the Bloodthirster Skrathax.

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Despite finding their massive axes unwieldy against a lone daemon, the Desolators ducked as the Bloodthirster’s own weapon scythed through the air at head height, and then swung they own blades in response. The axes bit deep into Skrathax’s legs, bringing the daemon crashing to the ground with an impact that shook the battlefield. The Dracoths then reared up and tore the throat out of Skrathax, sending him back to the Brass Throne in ignominy.

The Magmadroth of the Runefather spat lava at Skullreapers who had ventured too close, incinerating one of them, before it lumbered on to swipe at the others. The Magmadroth was badly wounded by the Skullreapers, but the Daemonblade of one of them turned upon its owner, consuming his soul as he shrieked in terror, and the Runefather’s Latchkey Grandaxe decapitated the rest in a series of long, slow, but extremely powerful blows.

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Battle Round Three

Ignax breathed once more, this time sending down sheets of flame around the Lord-Celestant and his Stardrake, immolating five other Stormcasts and one Fyreslayer who were caught in the flames. However, the vanquishing of Skrathax and the Skullcrushers had opened up another hole in the Khornate line, and both Stormcasts and Fyreslayers were quick to take advantage of it as they raced forwards for the strongholds.

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They were soon overtaken by the Dracothian Guard and Stardrakes who, despite having taken savage losses, now sensed the balance of the battle had turned in their favour.

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As meteors summoned by the Lord-Celestant and Drakesworn Templar smashed into the ramparts of the Ironskull Bastion, leaving deep dents in the metalwork of the Skull Cannon, Stormcast and Fyreslayer were forced to deal with pockets of Khornate resistance across the battlefield. On the right, a Skullgrinder and Deathbringer prepared to sell their lives dearly as enemies swept past them.

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The Skullgrinder went down quickly, unable to raise his anvil in time to ward off a charge from the Lord-Celestant atop a Dracoth, and Vulkite Berzerkers hurled their Slingshields into the Deathbringer, delivering several deep cuts.

Meanwhile, the Drakesworn Templar had reached the Ironskull Bastion and was preparing to clear it of defenders, thus removing the strongest fortification the Khornate defenders possessed.

This was exactly what the Bloodreavers inside had been waiting for.

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Channeling the vast reserves of anger and hate from the Bloodsecrator’s Portal of Skulls and the Wrathmongers close by, the Bloodreavers hurled themselves at the Stardrake with no thought of their own safety, seeking only to bury their Meatripper Axes deep into the flanks of the Stardrake.

Though a veteran of many battles against the Bloodbound, the Drakesworn Templar had never witnessed such savagery, and he was completely overwhelmed by the Bloodreavers, who only howled in fury as they realised the departing spirits of Stormcast and Stardrake would leave them neither skulls nor blood to claim as trophies. Bellowing in anger, they sought out another worthy opponent.

The Concussors at the Skull Keep were battling furiously against both Blood Warriors and the Slaughterpriest who led them, but their great mounts and huge hammers were proving a hindrance in battling enemies within a fortification, and found themselves deadlocked against the defenders inside.

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Just a short distance away, the last Skullcrushers were still putting up a fight, encouraged by the presence of their Lord of Khorne, also mounted atop a Juggernaut.

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They had dispatched a retinue of Prosecutors and forced the Runesmiter to retreat on his critically injured Magmadroth, but two depleted retinues of Liberators had held firm, and even started to turn the fight against them.

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Seeing the forces of Order start to move against the Skull Keep that retained control of the Godbeast Ignax, the Bloodbound in the other fortifications moved to intercept and delay their enemies. The Blood Warriors in the Overlord Bastion were the first to move, leaping out to race towards Fyreslayers and Prosecutors.

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However, despite surprising the Hearthguard and Stormcasts, the attack of the Blood Warriors was disorganised, and casualties were light.

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The Chaos Warriors leaping down from the walls of the Ironskull Bastion in the centre were more successful, hacking apart a Tempestor and forcing the two Desolators who had defeated Skrathax to stop their advance and deal with them.

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Battle Round Four

The Lord-Celestant on the Stardrake joined the Concussors at the Skull Keep, even as the Slaughterpriest directed the Godbeast to burn the life out of the Runesmiter and one of the Dracothian Guard. In response, the Lord-Celestant raised his Celestine Hammer and pointed it at the Slaughterpriest. Sneering in response, the Slaughterpriest realised too late that the Lord-Celestant was directing a hail of meteors to the Skull Keep, their impacts destroying the Slaughterpriest and balcony he was standing on.

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Another cry of victory went up, this time from the other side of the battlefield – the Runefather had finally unleashed the full power of the Master Rune Auriakh, gaining control of its brother rune that had been hammered into the flank of Ignax at the Battle of the Land of the Chained Sun and, by extension, control of the Godbeast as well.

Ignax reared up high into the sky once more, but this time the Godbeast had been focussed on the forces of Khorne. A great torrent of searing flame bathed the Skull Keep, cooking four of the Blood Warriors inside, immolating one of the Dracothian Guard, and wounding the Lord-Celestant.

The Stormcasts bore their losses lightly, as the turning of Ignax signalled the battle would soon be theirs.

With smoke pouring out of the Skull Keep and the aroma of baked Blood Warrior thick on the air, it was a simple matter for the Lord-Celestant to clear out the survivors within.

Elsewhere, defences continued to crumble, as the Lord-Celestant on the Dracoth joined the Desolators battling the Chaos Warriors outside the Ironskull Bastion. The Chaos Warriors resisted the first charge only by sustaining many casualties, a d they could not hope to continue battling the Dracoth riders after that.

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As Blood Warrior and Vulkite Berzerker fought one another to the last men on the right flank, the rest of the forces of Order prepared to assault the Ironskull Bastion, mindful that its defenders had already claimed the Drakesworn Templar and his Stardrake.

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Battle Round Five

Every defender within the Ironskull Bastion knew this would going to be their last stand, a pitched defence against the implacable forces of Order. So, naturally, they attacked!

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Nearly two score Bloodreavers poured out of the bastion, eager to tear apart the remainder of the Dracothian Guard, a wave of blood-fuelled hatred.

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Galvanised by both the Bloodsecrator’s Portal of Skulls and Wrathmongers, the Bloodreavers were truly dangerous and heedless of their own casualties. The Lord-Celestant was pulled from his Dracoth in seconds, and butchered with Reaver Blades as he was thrown onto his back. He was soon joined by the last Tempestor, but then the hammers and axes of the Concussors and Desolators went to work and the Bloodreavers were beaten back for an instant.

Snarling, they hefted their blades and axes and threw themselves at the Dracoths once more – just as Ignax breathed once again, this time enveloping the Ironskull Bastion in an inferno.

Though their Dracoths hissed in pain, the Dracothian Guard weathered the flames, but every one of the Bloodreavers were instantly burned to a crisp.

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Only the Wrathmongers and Bloodsecrator were left to defend the Ironskull Bastion, but the Stormcasts had faced Wrathmongers too many times to charge in heedlessly. Reforming their lines, they bathed the ramparts of the bastion with lightning.

 

Battle Round Six

Forced to hunker down behind the walls, the Wrathmonngers gradually succumbed to the lightning of the Stormcasts, one by one. Seeing the rest of his cult dying around him, the Wrathmaster decided to hurl himself over the walls to claim at least one Stormcast life, but a meteor from the heavens, directed by the Lord-Celestant, blasted him apart before he could take two steps.

A further meteor clipped the Bloodsecrator, who quickly decided he was no longer needed on the battlefield. Clutching his Portal of Skulls, he fled, leaving the Stormcasts to their victory.

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Conclusion

That was a decisive victory for the forces of Order – but take a look at that last photo and see how many models survived to the end of that battle. Not a lot! In fact, three quarters of the Dracothian Guard were sent back to Azyr, the heaviest losses they have taken so far in the Realmgate Wars.

Unfortunately for the Stormcasts, while they were able to remove Ignax from Archaon’s control, they are not going to be able to keep the Godbeast, as the Runefather will very soon succumb to the rigours of the Master Rune, setting Ignax free.

There is just one more battle to go in the Realmgate Wars saga and, despite both sides being seriously battered in this fight, they will be scraping together every warrior they can in an effort to claim final victory!

Stay tuned!

 

The Story Continues…

The Godbeast Ignax may be finally free now and unable to aid Archaon against the Stormcasts, but the Brimfire Gate is still contested. Stay tuned for the second and concluding part of the Battle of the Brimfire Gate…

Review – Grak and Crumbleberry

This is a bit of an odd review, and the first I have done for miniatures, but I think there will be some readers who will appreciate it…

I was up at Nottingham this weekend, for the Triumph & Treachery event for Age of Sigmar, and I noticed this pack in the Warhammer World store:

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A Star Player Duo for Blood Bowl, Grak and Crumbleberry, an Ogre and Halfling pair.

Warhammer World has been doing ‘exclusive’ releases for some time now, items that can only be purchased if you actually visit Games Workshop HQ. Feelings on this seem to be mixed – on the one hand, getting hold of them is plain impossible if you live far overseas (and is not always easy if you live in the UK), so many gamers are denied the opportunity to pick them up. On the other hand, it is a nice nod to people who make the effort to attend events there, albeit one they pay for.

This pack seems to have been a bit of a ‘stealth’ release for Blood Bowl, and I have not seen much chatter about it on the forums.

For £20, you get two resin Blood Bowl Star Players, the aforementioned Grak and Crumbleberry.

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Though they have joined my ‘painting queue’, I have not put these two chaps together yet, but you can see how they all fit together from the (digitally-printed) blister insert.

However, the insert folds out, to give you not only the (very easy) assembly instructions but also the rules needed to field this pair (and they are only ever fielded as a pair).

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No background or fluff is given for them (and while I have been playing Blood Bowl since the first edition, I was never really into the Star Players, so I am afraid I do not know if these guys are brand new or a reprisal from the past), which is a bit of a shame but, given the expression on the Halfling, I think we can presume he gets given the ball and then gets hurled by the Ogre.

There is also a separate sheet given for a new Player Card – very flimsy, so I am not sure it will actually get used as a card, but it will allow you to give a fellow team-mate a good kicking, sending them sailing down the pitch.

I am sure nothing can go wrong with that.

In short, I like these models and think they will be good additions to my small but growing Blood Bowl collection, and hope Warhammer World will do more. However, I do have the opportunity to pick these exclusive models up while others do not, so I can understand any kick back GW receives on the forums about this.

Hammerhal Heroes

Work on the new Tzeentch models continues apace, but I managed to squeeze in these few models – Heroes from the Shadows Over Hammerhal set!

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I pretty much followed the painting guide in the Hammerhal book for these guys, and they were easy schemes to follow. In fact, though it does not look like it on first glance, these models generally use a common palette – same colour cloth, same colour weapon hilts, etc.

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The Aelfs come first, and they are the debut for Aelves in my Sigmar collection (I still haven’t done the two guys from the Silver Tower!). The Loremaster is always a favourite, and it has got me thinking seriously about an Eldritch Council force for larger games of Sigmar.

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The Fleetmaster, on the other hand, was always a model I had pegged to do for Silver Tower, but only just got round to. These guys pop up in the City of Secrets novel as a kind of dockside mafia, an idea I love, so it is entirely possible this chap will be the start of a new force in the future too!

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The last of the heroes is a Cogsmith, and I was a bit hesitant about doing this one as rumours are currently saying the Steamhead Duardin will be appearing very soon now, and I imagine this chap will be among them – so I kind of had to pick a paint scheme for an entire army with one model.

Then again, it might not be such a hardship if I end up painting another Cogsmith and keep this one for Hammerhal…

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And finally the villain of the piece, a Sorcerer Lord of Slaanesh. Not that I needed another one, but you cannot have too many Sorcerers in a Slaaneshi Host, right?

That polishes off all the Hammerhal models for me, as I had all the baddies done for larger armies already – though I will be appreciating adding more Acolytes, Bloodreavers and Blightkings to those forces in due course.

Next up though, finishing off the Disciples of Tzeentch with a whole bunch of Tzaangors, in a variety of flavours!