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…

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