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:

IMG_8173

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.

IMG_8219

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

IMG_8220

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…

IMG_8221

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…

IMG_8222

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.

IMG_8223

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:

IMG_8224

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?

IMG_8226

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.

IMG_8185

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

IMG_8184

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.

IMG_8186

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.

IMG_8187

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.

IMG_8188

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.

IMG_8189

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.

IMG_8190

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.

IMG_8191

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.

IMG_8192

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.

IMG_8193

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.

IMG_8194

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.

IMG_8195

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.

IMG_8196

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.

IMG_8197

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.

IMG_8198

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.

IMG_8199

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.

IMG_8200

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.

IMG_8201

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.

IMG_8202

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.

IMG_8203

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.

IMG_8204

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.

IMG_8205

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.

IMG_8206

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

IMG_8207

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.

IMG_8208

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.

IMG_8209

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.

IMG_8211

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.

IMG_8214

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!

IMG_8215

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.

IMG_8216

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.

IMG_8217

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.

IMG_8218

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…

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!

IMG_8165

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.

IMG_8166

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.

IMG_8167

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!

IMG_8168

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…

IMG_8169

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!

Battle Report – Unleash the Beast

As the All-Gates campaign thunders to a close, Sigmar launches a desperate last strike in the Realm of Fire, but Archaon was expecting this and already has a plan…

 

The Story So Far

If the Realm of Fire could be closed off from the Allpoints, Sigmar would deliver a powerful blow to the Blood God. The Brimfire Gate lay in the daemon-haunted wastelands of the Fellbarrens, a ruined land plagued by constant war and marked with blazing skullpyres as far as the eye could see. Khorne himself had raised the Brass Mountains to encircle the All-Gate then cleaved a chasm through them with his sword, creating the bottomless Black Abyss spanned by a single bridge that led to the Pyrevault Redoubt. Sigmar had sent his armies to claim the Brimfire Gate many times before, but had failed in every instance.

Since then, the defences of the Brimfire Gate had increased, becoming a succession of castles nested within one another. An army breaching the walls of the Pyrevault Redoubt would merely find themselves facing the much higher walls of the Keep of Skrathax. Breach those, and they would face another, yet higher, wall of another castle. And at the centre of them all, the monolithic arch of fire that was the Brimfire Gate.

While Sigmar could hurl his warriors into battle in any Mortal Realm on bolts of lightning, the fortresses around the Brimfire Gate were studded with brass skulls, magebane wards and the blessing of Khorne himself, making them resistant to this ploy. Instead, waves of Prosecutor Strike-Teams were dispatched to take the outermost defences and open the way through them.

Sweeping in attack waves, and at great cost, the Strike-Teams made a path through the defences of seven fortresses, only stopping when they reached the last and mightiest – the Great Skullhold. However, while the Brimfire Gate was in sight, there was a major problem.

Skarbrand had been bound beneath the flaming arc.

 

The Forces

Who needs a huge army, when you have Skarbrand to guard your most valuable possession?  Despite being backed up by a handful of Bloodbound and Flesh Hounds, the Stormcasts have taken many casualties in their assault upon the fortresses, and must rely on Prosecutors to get the mission done.

Forces of Khorne
Skarbrand
Exalted Deathbringer
Bloodreavers x 40 (two units of 20)
Flesh Hounds x 10

Faced with lightweight Prosecutors, even the Bloodreavers must be fancying their chances in this battle. So long as Skarbrand remains bound by his chains of course. It would be awful if he broke loose…

Stormcast Eternals
Knight-Azyros
Knight-Venator
Prosecutors x 18 (six units of 3)

For once, the Stormcasts are not going into battle loaded for bear, and must rely on two Strike-Teams. They are extremely fast and agile, but that may be of little account if they find themselves going toe-to-toe with Skarbrand himself.

 

The Battleplan

Victory for the Stormcasts is simple in this battle – get a model next to the Realmgate at the end of any round (or wipe out the Khorne force, but I’ll leave the jokes to others…). If they cannot do that within six rounds, Khorne gets a major victory (or a minor one if Skarbrand is a casualty).

There are, of course, some complications for both sides.

For a start, Skarbrand is really upset right now, and re-rolls all failed hits. On top of that, while he remains bound by his chains, he ignores all wounds on a dice roll of 5 or 6.

While he remains bound? Well, to begin with, Skarbrand is held by chains that limit his movement to an 18″ radius from the centre of the table. However, the Prosecutors can duck into Skarbrand’s reach (a risky prospect!) and try to break those chains. If they succeed, Skarbrand breaks free and is then controlled by the Stormcast player, much to the chagrin (and pain) of the remaining Khorne forces.

 

Deployment

The Prosecutors fanned out as they approached the Brimfire Gate, the Hallowed Knights taking one flank and the Stark Hammers taking the other.

img_8137

Undaunted by Skarbrand’s raw rage, Bloodreavers and Flesh Hounds bounded forward to meet the Stormcasts, led by the Exalted Deathbringer. One unit of Bloodreavers hung back around the Brimfire Gate, under no illusion of what would happen to them should a single Stormcast get past them.

img_8138

Battle Round One

The forces of Khorne continued their headlong rush, joined by Skarbrand as they raced to be the first to send a Stormcast back to Azyr.

img_8139

The Knights-Venator and -Azyros barked orders to their Prosecutors, who executed them with grace as they began to manoeuvre to strike the chains from Skarbrand while holding back the worst of what the Blood God could throw at them.

img_8140

Swooping down, the Prosecutors unleashed a torrent of javelins and hammers, but the smoke billowing out of the Brimfire Gate made the picking of targets difficult, and many missiles missed their targets.

img_8141

As they touched down, the Prosecutors began attacking the brass chains that held Skarbrand in check, Grandhammers smashing great chunks of metal. Though the chains held, they had sustained noticeable damage.

img_8142

Battle Round Two

Taking advantage of their speed, the Prosecutors adjusted their formations, with some leaping ahead to harass and confuse the Khornate force, while others continued to smash Skarbrand’s chains.

IMG_8143

A handful of Bloodreavers and Flesh Hounds fell to the ground as hammers and javelins began to find their mark but, other than those casualties, the Khornate warriors and daemons were untouched and now the Stormcasts were within easy reach.

img_8144

Then, raising his massive Grandhammer over his head, a Prosecutor-Prime of the Stark Hammers brought his weapon down upon the brass chains in a blow that sent lightning crackling for yards in every direction. This was quickly followed by a terrible raw of pure fury – Skarbrand had been released.

Perhaps not realising that Skarbrand was now free, Bloodreavers continued to race forward, and their let loose savage warcries as they ploughed into the nearest Prosecutors, out-paced only by the Exalted Deathbringer.

IMG_8145

Two Prosecutors were torn from the sky as they tried to gain altitude to escape, the last too overwhelmed by the raging Bloodreavers to land any blows in return. Two more Prosecutors fell to the Exalted Deathbringers axe, but he in turn fell prey to the twin Celestial Hammers of the Prosecutor-Prime.

On the other side of the battlefield, the Flesh Hounds had caught up to the Prosecutors of the Stark Hammers, but these Stormcasts were better trained in the art of brutal melee.

img_8146

Two Flesh Hounds were killed by quick thinking Prosecutors, and their shields protected them from the slavering jaws and talons of the attacking packs.

 

Battle Round Three

The Stormcasts were now engaged with the Bloodreavers and Flesh Hounds, but the Knight-Azyros knew they could not tarry for long – they had to keep pushing for the Brimfire Gate.

img_8147

At the sound of his order, Prosecutors from both Stormhosts executed a well-practiced manoeuvre, taking to the sky while leaving their enemies confused and unable to retaliate. Soaring onwards, they flew to the Realmgate, hoping to put as much distance between themselves and the Chaos force as possible.

img_8148

Three Prosecutors of the Hallowed Knights gained a great burst of speed from the thermals around the Brimfire Gate, and were able to translate that into speed, reaching the Bloodreavers protecting it faster than anyone else. They immediately set about spearing the Bloodreavers with their javelins and trident, but the Khornate defenders put up a solid defence.

IMG_8149

Other Bloodreavers had begun to realise something was wrong, and they caught sight of Skarbrand thundering towards them. There was not mistaking the rage in his eye, and they raced back to the Brimfire Gate, suddenly believing the Blood God wanted them to hold it at all costs.

IMG_8150

The Stark Hammers had suffered losses in battling the Flesh Hounds, but they had now dispatched one pack and left the other snorting in the dust left by their wings beating to carry them away and towards the Realmgate.

img_8151

The few remaining Bloodreavers and Flesh Hounds had by now turned to give chase to the Stormcasts and, ever mindful of the raging Skarbrand just metres behind them, caught up to the slowest Prosecutors.

The first they reached was the Prosecutor-Prime who had defeated their Exalted Deathbringer, but despite their need for bloody vengeance, they could not land a solid blow. The Prosecutor-Prime brained a Bloodreaver with his Celestial Hammers for their trouble, and this was sufficient to force another to flee the battlefield.

img_8152

The last two Flesh Hounds had raced after the Stark Hammers they had been fighting, but the Prosecutors were ready, and killed one of the hounds before it could leap up to drag them to the ground.

IMG_8153

At the Brimfire Gate, Bloodreaver fought hard against Prosecutor, but neither side could deliver a telling blow and force the other to retreat.

IMG_8155

Battle Round Four

Bloodreavers finally gutted the Prosecutor-Prime who had killed their Exalted Deathbringer, even as the Stark Hammers dispatched the last Flesh Hound.

IMG_8156

The battle now hung in the balance, and casualties began to fall to the ground on both sides as the Bloodreavers and Prosecutors at the Brimfire Gate fought ever harder in an effort to defeat their enemies.

IMG_8157

Flying just behind the Prosecutors, the Knight-Azyros saw more Bloodreavers were about to join those at the Realmgate. Despite having suffered many casualties in the battle so far, the Knight-Azyros knew they might still be enough to swing the fight in Khorne’s favour.

Dropping down to the ground, he opened his Celestial Beacon, and a ray of pure light lanced out to burn the Bloodreavers. They clawed at their own faces as they were burned were they stood, utterly destroyed by the purity of the God-King’s power.

IMG_8158

Now, though, the Prosecutors of the Stark Hammers reached the Bloodreavers at the Brimfire Gate, and their presence immediately relieved the pressure on the surviving Hallowed Knights.

img_8159

Skilled in exactly this kind of fight, they laid about the Bloodreavers with twin Celestial Hammers, while the Prosecutor-Prime swung his mighty Grandhammer. In seconds, half a dozen Bloodreavers lay on the floor, broken and bleeding, and the nerve broke among the others.

The pitifully few surviving Bloodreavers turned and ran, desperate to get away from the Stormcasts and find some dark corner of the fortress to hide within.

The combined force of Hallowed Knights and Stark Hammers had won the day and broken through the last of the great defences surrounding the All-Gate. Leaving Skarbrand to rage impotently below them as he was driven to find something – anything – to kill, the Prosecutors departed to enact the next chapter of Sigmar’s great plan for the Brimfire Gate.

 

Conclusion

This was a nice, short battle – plenty going on, but not too long to play!

At one point, I thought the Stormcasts were in real trouble, as the dared not get bogged down in close combat and their shooting was proving utterly miserable. On top of that, Skarbrand had not been released!

As it turned out, they managed to yank the iron out of the fire, but they sustained very high casualties in this attack.

And just my luck – I finally get to play with the absolute monster that is Skarbrand, and he never gets into combat! He had one chance to charge Bloodreavers (okay, that would have been a massive overkill, but still), and I fluffed the charge roll

* Sigh *

I bet I never get another chance to play him again in this campaign…

Still, the Stormcasts did manage to yank victory out of the jaws of (self-inflicted) defeat, and we are ready for the next battle in the Realmgate Wars!

 

The Story Continues…

The action really hots up next, as the Battle of the Brimfire Gate is about to begin…

Battle Report – Right of Conquest

The Ironjawz have had a laugh with the forces of Chaos so far – but now they are getting serious, as Gordrakk has arrived to give both the forces of Chaos and the Stormcasts a good duffin’.

 

The Story So Far

Gordrakk’s Great Waaagh! had been rampaging through the Mortal Realms, growing in size as it went. Aboard great hulking warships, Gordrakk now came over the Gnawing Sea and watched Ironjawz, Chaos, and Stormcasts fighting – the Fist of Gork saw the chance to even a few scores as he led his horde onto the shore.

For their part, the Stormcasts had gradually whittled down the Chaos defenders over days of fighting, and now pushed forward to the Mawgate. It was not until the ground started shaking with the footfall of thousands of Brutes and Ardboyz did the Stormcasts slow down. For the most fleeting of moments, they thought that an alliance had been brokered between Sigmar and Gorkamorka, but these hopes were dashed as the Ironjawz piled into their rear lines.

The Flayed, Brass and Blood Crawlerforts had already fallen to the Ironjawz, and a counterattack by the forces of Chaos distracted the Orruks long enough for the Stormcasts to reach the Mawgate. However, they were not alone, for Gordrakk had led his own force there and the combined armies of Chaos had followed too.

A pitched battle erupted around the fortifications of the Mawgate, even as the World-Worm Fangathrak writhed and twisted against its chains, the powerful Waaagh! energies of the massive Ironjawz army driving it mad.

 

The Forces

This is a three-way battle, all against all, for control of an Infernal Realmgate. Expect serious carnage!

Bloodbound & Slaaneshi Host
Daemon Prince of Slaanesh
Mighty Lord of Khorne
Bloodsecrator
Slaughterpriest
Blood Warriors x 20 (two units of 10)
Bloodreavers x 20
Wrathmongers x 5
Khorgorath
Daemonettes of Slaanesh x 30 (three units of 10)

The forces of Chaos have combined, with both Slaanesh and Khorne bringing strong forces to the battle. There is going to be a lot of close quarters fighting in this battle, an area where Chaos normally excels.

Ironjawz
Gordrakk, Fist of Gork
Megaboss on Maw-Krusha
Weirdnob Shaman
Warchanter
Gore-Gruntas x 6 (two units of 3)
Brutes x 15 (three units of 5)
Ardboyz x 40 (two units of 20)

The Ironjawz, on the other hand, are throwing everything they have at the fortress, sporting two – count them! – two Maw-Krushas, one of which is bringing the Fist of Gork to the fight. Added to that, they are arranged in a Brutefist and Weirdfist, meaning they will be charging an awful lot, and the magic of the Weirdnob Shaman is going to be truly spectacular. They ain’t worried about nuffin’.

Stormcast Eternals
Lord-Celestant
Lord-Castellant
Lord-Relictor
Liberators x 25 (five units of 5)
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)
Decimators x 5
Retributors x 10 (two units of 5)

The Stormcasts have a solid core of Liberators, with a good range of commanders and fifteen Paladins to back them up. So long as they can avoid getting crushed by combined attacks from Chaos and the Ironjawz, they may have a chance for victory.

 

The Battleplan

This Battleplan features a huge Dreadhold in the middle of the table (using the Infernal Realmgate Battalion Warscroll), with each army taking a third of it right at the start. The winner is the army that manages to claim all three sections or, alternatively, the army that has lost the least number of models (expressed as a percentage) once one of the other forces has been wiped out.

Other than that… well, this is an all-against-all battle involving three brutal armies. Casualties are going to be horrific!

 

Deployment

The three armies hastily arranged themselves to face their two foes, but the fighting had already begun in earnest, with Daemonettes and Liberators battling on the ramparts. Other units assembled themselves on the walls, but some were already moving outside the fortress to attack the Skull Keeps their enemies had claimed as temporary headquarters.

img_8094

No one dared set foot in the courtyard of the Dreadhold, knowing that to do so was tantamount to suicide.

 

Battle Round One

Gordrakk was the first to act, continuing his headlong plunge into both Chaos and Stormcast forces. He bellowed with the Voice of Gork, a mighty challenge that infused his boyz with the power of the Waaagh! as he followed int he wake of his Gore-Gruntas to hammer the Stormcasts protecting their Skull Keep.

img_8095

Together they smashed into a retinue of Retributors, flattening them before a single hammer could be raised.

img_8096

On the other side of the Dreadhold, the Megaboss smacked his Weirdnob Shaman around the back of the head, instructing him to do something about the Bloodreavers and Daemonettes that blocked their path to the Chaos-held Skull Keep. Drawing upon the excited energy of the nearby Ardboys, the Weirdnob summoned a giant green spectral foot above the Bloodreavers before bringing it stomping down, grinding half a dozen of them into the dirt. The foot raised itself and then came down again, this time on top of five Daemonettes as the Weirdnob giggled manically to himself.

Then, the Ironjawz charged.

img_8097

The combined weight of Ardboys and Maw-Krusha proved overwhelming to the Bloodreavers, who were slaughtered to a man, the Ardboys barely noticing they had struck the unit as they pounded over the bodies.

On the walls of the Dreadhold, the Liberators clashed with Daemonettes, but casualties on both sides were slight, despite the Slaaneshi daemons being infused by the rage-causing Wrathmongers close by.

img_8098

The forces of Chaos were the first to react to the charges of the Ironjawz, as the Lord of Khorne activated the power of his Skull Keep to create a ring of vorpal blades that barred entry to the tower.

Outside the Dreadhold, the Daemon Prince of Slaanesh took command of a unit of more Daemonettes, leading them on a flanking sweep to the Stormcasts, intending to keep the pressure upon them and take advantage of any opening that Gordrakk created.

img_8101

With blinding speed, they charged into the two retinues of Liberators deployed to block just such as advance, but the Sigmarite shields proved to be unyielding. Only two Liberators were returned to Azyr, while the Daemonettes were utterly destroyed. Now, the Liberators could concentrate upon the Daemon Prince alone.

The Lord of Khorne saw he had a more immediate problem with the advancing Ardboys, and while he felt confident that the Blood Warriors within the Skull Keep would deliver severe punishment to anyone assaulting the tower, he knew that his own casualties might make further defence impossible. Yelling from the top of the Skull Keep down to his minions, he ordered Blood Warriors and the Khorgorath to leap down from the walls to block the Ironjawz.

img_8102

They were joined by the Daemonettes who had survived the Foot of Gork, and threw themselves into the enemy.

img_8103

The Megaboss was gleeful as he sliced through the Daemonettes, but the thick armour of Ardboys and Blood Warriors proved difficult to breach and casualties were otherwise light. One Ardboy thought he might slink off, away from the battle, but a blow to the head from the unit’s icon bearer changed his mind and he stayed in the fight.

The Slaughterpriest waded into the fight too, determined to earn the skull of the Weirdnob, and his Hackblade tore a chunk out of the Shaman’s arm. However, the Slaughterpriest was surprised to see that, instead of running, the Weirdnob started laughing as it pointed its staff at him. A bolt of green energy slammed into the Slaughterpriest’s chest, staggering him and teaching him a lesson that all Ironjawz should be respected in battle.

Back round the Stormcasts’ Skull Keep, Gordrakk was urging his Gore-Gruntas ever onwards.

img_8099

As the Gore-Gruntas slammed into the Liberators, their mounts disappointed to find he could not eat a Stormcast, Gordrakk piled into the Lord-Celestant, who immediately found himself on the defensive.

img_8100

Though the Lord-Celestant managed to land a telling blow on the Maw-Krusha, he was no match for the Fist of Gork, and was quickly sent back to Sigmar on a bolt of blue lightning.

img_8104

With the Lord-Celestant gone, the Lord-Castellant took over command of the Stormcasts. He surveyed the battle from the Skull Keep and saw the situation was already grim – however, despite the loss of the Retributors and Lord-Celestant, the Stormcasts were still intact as a fighting force and could deliver telling blows to both enemies.

On the walls, the Lord-Relictor raised his Reliquary Staff to the skies and called down a bolt of lightning that struck the Daemon Prince of Slaanesh hard.

img_8105

The Lord-Castellant then gave the order to unleash the ambush the Lord-Celestant had planned for the Ironjawz. From the walls of the Dreadhold, Boltstorm-armed Judicators rained fire upon Gordrakk, peppering him with bolts, as Liberators and Decimators dropped down to engage the Gore-Gruntas.

img_8106

The axes of the Decimators were unsuited for use against such large targets, but the Paladins made good account of themselves and dispatched one Gore-Grunta, as did the Liberators guarding the Skull Keep.

Gordrakk himself piled on further forwards, attacking both the Judicators and Lord-Castellant. Three Judicators were torn apart by the Fist of Gork’s weapons, Smasha and Kunnin’, causing another’s nerve to break and run, while the Lord-Castellant was battered by the Maw-Krusha. However, their return attacks caused the beast to rear up in pain, blood gushing from several deep wounds.

img_8107

Outside the Lord of Khorne’s Skull Keep, the Ardboys and Blood Warriors both started to get past one another’s guard, and bodies on both sides were starting to pile up.

The Megaboss urged his Maw-Krusha forward and together they knocked the Slaughterpriest flying – the Megaboss bellowed that if anyone was going to hit his Weirdnob Shaman, it would be him.

img_8108

Battle Round Two

Battle was now raging around the Dreadhold and the Ironjawz advance was beginning to slow down. However, both the Lord-Castellant and Lord of Khorne saw that Gordrakk had yet to commit his Brutefist to the fight – could they deal with the lead elements of the Ironjawz and still be in position to take advantage of any chaos the Brutes caused when they charged?

img_8109

Channelling the Waaagh! energies, the Weirdnob Shaman hurled an Arcane Bolt at the Khorgorath that was lumbering towards him, wounding the creature but not slowing its advance, and exploding the head of a nearby Ardboy in the process.

img_8110

Meanwhile, Gordrakk cast an eye over his shoulder to see Liberators were beginning to advance on his Skull Keep. Bring both brutal and kunnin’, Gordrakk gave a signal, and the Brutes pushed the Malefic Gate wide open, crushing three Liberators beneath the heavy metal gates.

img_8111

Pleased with the crunchy yet squelchy sound the flattened Liberators made, the Brutes jumped down off the walls and entered the courtyard, ready to charge wherever Gordrakk told them to go.

img_8112

Though the charge of the Gore-Gruntas had been halted by the Stormcasts, Gordrakk himself was really enjoying himself as he continued to batter away at the defenders of the Skull Keep. The Lord-Castellant was the next to fall to the Fist of Gork, and the last Judicator soon followed.

The Skull Keep previously occupied by the Stormcasts was now empty!

img_8113

As the Maw-Krusha of the Megaboss bellowed at the Khorgorath, blasting the unnatural life out of it, the fight for the walls of the Dreadhold was beginning to swing in favour of the Stormcasts.

img_8114

Though the Liberators had suffered under the pincers of the Daemonettes, the Liberator-Prime and Retributors dispatched the last of them, and weathered the Wrathmonger counterattack.

However, just below them, the Daemon Prince of Slaanesh slaughtered the last of the Liberators it had been fighting, and was now free to pick a new target – either the Stormcasts on the wall, the Liberators pushing their way to the Chaos-held Skull Keep… or the now empty Skull Keep closer by…

img_8115

The Daemon Prince chose the empty Skull Keep, but knew it had to deal with Gordrakk before the tower could be claimed.

img_8116

The ground outside the Chaos-held Skull Keep was now looking rather empty, as both Bloodbound and Ironjawz had effectively destroyed one another. Two Ardboyz scrambled over the corpses of their mates and fallen Blood Warriors, and as the Megaboss began turning his Maw-Krusha around to lumber towards the Skull Keep, the Lord of Khorne activated his tower’s gargoyles, sending Ruby Rays of Death lancing through the air to savage and burn the beast.

img_8117

On the walls, tragedy struck for the Stormcasts. Whirling their chains, the Wrathmongers spun about the Retributors and Liberator-Prime, the hammers at their ends glancing off Sigmarite armour. However, the mere presence of the Wrathmongers infused the Stormcasts with seething rage, and they struck out blindly, hammering the Wrathmongers into the skull work, before turning on one another in an orgy of pure slaughter.

When the dust settled, no Stormcast or Wrathmonger was left alive…

img_8118

Leaning over the walls of the Dreadhold, the Lord-Relictor saw the Decimators had almost finished their fighting with the Gore-Gruntas. Calling upon the power of the God-King, he brought another bolt of lightning down, frying the last one.

The Liberators who had been advancing towards the forces of Chaos saw their chances of success were slim, and were alerted to the danger posed by both the Ironjawz and Daemon Prince behind them. Reversing their course, they marched back to their own Skull Keep.

img_8119

Meanwhile, the Liberator-Prime, Decimators and Lord-Relictor both sought to avoid the Brutefist inside the Dreadhold, and make an attempt to claim the Ironjawz Skull Keep, despite it being garrisoned by a full unit of Ardboys.

img_8120

Battle Round Three

The Lord of Khorne dared a glance at the remaining Ironjawz outside his Skull Keep, and was rewarded for his curiosity by an Arcane Bolt hastily thrown by a quick-reacting Weirdnob Shaman.

img_8121

The Megaboss lumbered towards the Skull Keep on his Maw-Krusha, bellowing at the two Ardboys to follow him – far from being wearied by battle, they were well up for the fight and chased after their boss.

img_8122

Within the Dreadhold, the advance of the Stormcasts had not gone unnoticed by the Brutefist, and the first Orruks clambered up the walls to reach the Judicators.

img_8123

More poured out of the open gates, racing out to intercept the lone Liberator-Prime.

img_8125

However, the Brute Big Boss was a kunnin’ Orruk, and he thought he had figured out the great swirly-thing arch in the centre of the courtyard. Leading his Brutes forward, they leapt through the Realmgate…

img_8124

…to appear right next to the Chaos-held Skull Keep.

With barely time to take a breath, they charged forward, joining the Ardboys and Megaboss in the assault on the Skull Keep.

img_8129

The level of brutality they brought with them was sickening, even for hardened Blood Warriors. The great bellowing of the Maw-Krusha blasted the Lord of Khorne to death, while the Blood Warriors were quickly defeated by creatures who loved battle even more than they did. Only four Blood Warriors survived, using a secret portal to escape the Skull Keep and flee the battlefield.

On the other side of the Dreadhold, more Brutes had also caught up with the Liberator-Prime, with predictable and devastating results.

img_8128

Gordrakk himself was keen to claim his third Stormcast hero of the battle (he is always interested in getting the ‘full set’, as he calls it), and chased down the Lord-Relictor, who had dropped down from the walls to avoid the Brutes inside. Even with a heavily wounded Maw-Krusha, the Lord-Relictor was utterly outclassed by the Fist of Gork.

img_8127

Not realising the Skull Keep had already fallen, the Bloodsecrator dropped down from the walls to defend it, placing himself in the path of the Ironjawz.

img_8131

Meanwhile, the Daemon Prince of Khorne had a far better plan. As Gordrakk was focussed on battling the Lord-Relictor, it crept up from behind, and then charged before the Maw-Krusha could turn round.

img_8132

A series of terrible slices from its great sword slashed through the Maw-Krusha, causing fatal damage. Gordrakk was toppled from his mount and then buried by it as the beast rolled over on top of him. His rage at being pinned in place could be heard from across the battlefield, but the Daemon Prince had other problems to contend with, as the Stormcasts were intent upon exacting their own revenge against it.

As Liberators charged the Daemon Prince, the Boltstorm-armed Judicators on the walls leaned over and tore it to shreds with a flurry of bolts.

img_8133

Battle Round Four

Feeling that victory was now in their grasp, the Ironjawz attacked both Chaos and Stormcast forces with renewed vigour.

Chanting and dancing, the Weirdnob Shaman enveloped his Megaboss with a Mystic Shield, then suddenly stopped, with a look of great consternation. In a burst of green light, blood and brains, his head exploded, showering the walls of the Dreadhold with its remains.

Completely unperturbed by this, the Megaboss drove his Maw-Krusha on to the Bloodsecrator, the Brutes not far behind.

img_8134

The Bloodsecrator was bowled over by the Maw-Krusha’s massive bulk and, before he could properly get to his feet, the Megaboss had jumped down from his mount and quickly finished off the follower of Khorne.

img_8136

Further away, Brutes swept over the few remaining Stormcasts, rolling over them as an inevitable armoured tide.

img_8135

It was with some disappointment that the Megaboss realised there was nothing left to kill on the battlefield. Then he heard the angry voice of Gordrakk, promising pain to everyone if they did not get the corpse of his Maw-Krusha off him…

 

Conclusion

Well, I was right – casualties were indeed horrific!

The Ironjawz won the day, and there was plenty done by both the Chaos and Stormcast players that helped that. The Stormcast player (yeah, that would be me) placed his first retinue of Retributors within charge range of Gordrakk and his Gore-Gruntas, meaning there was no heavy support capable of tackling Gordrakk on that side of the table – just one round of attacks from Retributors would have at least cut Gordrakk down to size, allowing the Stormcasts to keep their Skull Keep.

The Wrathmongers were well used against the Retributors on the wall (completely forgot about their ability – the price of running a three-army game while actually playing), but they would likely have been better used on the Megaboss and his Maw-Krusha. The Ardboys and Blood Warriors effectively destroying one another was a good trade for Chaos, if the Megaboss could have been flattened as well. That would have ensured the safety of their Skull Keep (the Blood Warriors inside would have been sufficient to throw back most assaults).

Instead, the Chaos and Stormcast players chose to engage in clashes on the walls and just outside the Dreadhold, which achieved nothing but weakening both their positions, a situation the Ironjawz were more than capable of taking advantage of.

Basically, the Ironjawz acted, and Chaos and Stormcast reacted. Which is never a great strategy in miniatures games.

It is also worth pointing out that the use of the Realmgate by the Brutes in the last turn guaranteed the taking of the Chaos Skull Keep, as that unit was just enough to turn the tide convincingly against the Blood Warriors holed up inside.

Still, a great result for the forces of Destruction, and an All-Gate now out of the hands of both Sigmar and Archaon!

 

The Story Continues…

With Gordrakk reigning supreme over the battlefield, the World-Worm Fangathrak broke free of its chains and tunnelled into the earth, taking the Mawgate with it. Neither Chaos nor Sigmar will claim this All-Gate, as the war drums of the Fist of Gork have smashed all before them.

This is not the only bad news for Sigmar, as an alliance with Nagash has broken down in Shyish. The God of Death had promised his legions to help the Stormcasts take the All-Gate there, but they never appeared – without the support of Nagash, the Stormcasts were slaughtered to a man when they assaulted the mighty walls of Gothizzar.

The All-Gates War is therefore taking a dark turn for Sigmar, for while he has gained the Genesis Gate, he has now lost the All-Gates in the Realms of Metal, Beasts, and Death. There are still more All-Gates to claim, however, and the action now moves to the Realm of Fire. If Sigmar can close the Brimfire Gate, he will have delivered a powerful blow to the forces of Khorne.

All Hail Tzeentch!

This weekend, after having taken abut a week longer than intended, I finally finished (sort of) the Kairic Acolytes to give the forces of Tzeentch a real boost.

img_8161

A total of 40 Acolytes!

However, there are some notes to be highlighted about the painting of these. First off, they are a lot easier to paint than they might at first look. In fact, I would put them on parity with Bloodreavers.

Once you break the models down into components, there is little enough to do: start with the skin (Bugmans base, Reikland Fleshshade wash, Pallid Wych drybrush on top), then do the armour (Stegadon, Sotek, Temple Guard, Bharroth Blue – no washing required!), then the weapons (Leadbelcher, Druchii Violet, Runefang). After the leather (Abaddon, Mechanicus Standard Grey), you are more or less done.

img_8163

But don’t do 40 at once. Just… don’t.

The pain is the gold (Retributor, Fleshshade, Liberator). There is a lot to get through, and this is what really slowed me down – more on the motivation side than actual time spent painting.

On the plus side, they are now all done. Well, except the Acolytes I just got hold of in the Hammerhal set which, when added to those from Silver Tower, will make for another unit of 18.

img_8164

For the birds, I used colour schemes from the Battletome, and it is worth highlighting the big scroll carried by one guy in each unit – despite the intricate wording, it is dead simple to do. Start with a Ushabi Bone base, wash with Seraphim Sepia, and then do the lightest drybrush with Screaming Skull. All those symbols will leap right out at you.

The next Big Task are the 30-odd Tzaangors I finished putting together this weekend, but I am going to be breaking those down into two separate batches (with the Enlightened forming a third). However, I am going to be popping in some Heroes (including the Hammerhal guys, as well as Fatemaster and Curseling), and maybe the Skavenblight Scramblers as well…