General’s Handbook 2017 & Open War Cards

When the last General’s Handbook hit the shelves it marked a true shift in Age of Sigmar and how the game was played – will the dual release of the General’s Handbook 2017 and the Open War card deck have the same effect again?

It is time for us to see…

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I’ll say one thing before kicking off… this book is packed with cool things to do in the Age of Sigmar and if it is any indication of how GW will shake things up on a yearly basis for the game (and for 40k, with their similar Chapter Approved book), then the future is looking very bright for Warhammer players of any ilk.

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As expected, the book is divided into the three styles of play; Open, Narrative, and Matched Play. It starts off with Open Play, which most players are just going to skip over – but wait! As well as the general mash-up most players seem to think Open Play is (it really does not need to be that way!), the new GHB introduces some variants that are, in the very least, interesting.

For example, using the Open War cards (scroll down for the review on them), you can construct an Open War campaign with the winner of each battle able to influence the direction the campaign goes in. That might be worth a real look.

There is also ideas for Open War Tournaments – I am less enamoured with that as I am not sure Open Play and tournaments really mix. Still, it is there if you want a swing at it.

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Open Play also embraces Triumph & Treachery which, having played at the T&T event at GW HQ, I can thoroughly recommend. More than just a multiplayer game, T&T actively encourages you to make alliances, bribe opponents, and then treacherously turn against them throughout a battle. Get four or five people all doing that round the same table, and you have a real battle on your hands!

This is done through the use of Treachery Points that are accrued through the game and then spent to nobble your opponents through acts like bribing enemy wizards not to cast spells, placing a turncoat in an enemy unit, or placing a booby trap in front of a unit about to charge…

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GW then go one step further… Triumph & Treachery campaigns. This plays just like the map campaign of the first GHB but with more treachery. That kind of campaign is going to be chaotic in the extreme, but it has to be a lot of fun, and will suit less serious (more fun!) players nicely.

That concludes the Open War section and then we launch into Narrative Play – and I am all about the Narrative Play, as regular readers will know. There are a few pages on forging a narrative and building themed armies… which is okay, but the first real meat comes in the form of new Time of War sheets that now cover each of the Mortal Realms.

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This is useful (I could certainly have used it during the Realmgate Wars), though there is a lot that will be familiar when playing in Aqshy or Ghyran – if you have used Time of War sheets, you have seen many of the rules presented here before. That said, we have our first real look at rules for Shyish, Hysh and Ulgu, which I will certainly be pulling out in forthcoming games.

We then get six Battleplans intended for Narrative Play… and they are all pulled from the Realmgate Wars books. That was disappointing, and I am trying hard not to use the word ‘filler’.  However, we then get a definite plus in the form of siege battles.

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Now, don’t expect anything too complicated here – this is Age of Sigmar, and counting up ‘tunnelling points’ as you try to undermine an enemy wall would not have been the way to go. Instead, GW have adopted a system based upon the siege in the Realmgate Wars – however, rather than just lifting the simple matrix system, they have built upon it. You still focus on starving, battering or tunnelling (if you are the attacker), but the effects of each are now more varied, so even if you concentrate you starving your enemy out, you may till have some success on battering down their walls.

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Two Battleplans are provided so you can start your siege immediately.

By this time, we are less than half way through the book, and now it turns to Matched Play, the bulk of the General’s Handbook.

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There do not seem to be too many changes to the actual core of Matched Play, though there are two new Rules of One (you cannot re-roll or modify the dice roll to determine who starts each battle round – bad news for Seraphon – and no Artefact can be taken twice in an army).

You also have the rules for Allies in your force, which basically allow you to bypass Battlefield roles to take a small detachment within your army – so, if you have always wanted to add a couple of Gargants to your otherwise ‘pure’ Ironjawz, it is now a simple matter. A great move to inject some variety and get new models on the table without having to build a full force around them.

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There are also six new Battleplans intended for Matched Play. This I like, having a new set of Battleplans for tournaments every year (that is how they are going to get used, after all), meaning even competitive play will not be static. There are already well over 100 Battleplans for Age of Sigmar and in a few years time, that number will increase to a truly ungodly amount!

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The Pitched Battle profiles (the points for units) have all been updated – it looks like just the current range is included (I hear rumours that the old ‘compendium’ forces will still be ‘legal, just removed to a download – which is great, as that leaves more room for everything else in this book), but older ‘direct only’ models are still there, such as the Orruk Warboss on Wyvern.

One brilliant little touch on these pages are those stars next to certain (many!) units. This denotes something has changed since the last GHB and that, frankly, is a mark of genius on the part of the designers (really simple things can be genius because the rest of us miss them…). If you want to know if anything has changed for your favourite unit, there is no need to sit down with both books and cross-reference everything, it has all been done for you.

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There is also just one Warscroll update, for the Grundstok Thunderers. This is nice as it goes, but I cannot help thinking that the GHB is not the place for this – think a few years ahead, and these Warscrolls could really start crowding out other material, when they would be far better placed as downloads… like every other Warscroll.

Finally, we get into the new Allegiance stuff. Every Grand Alliance is represented, as before, though there have been some small tweaks (don’t worry, Destruction players, Battle Brew is still there). What is new is that the small alliances are now represented – not all of them (perhaps more will appear in GHB 2018?), but enough to get you going and you do, of course, still have the Grand Alliance to build upon.

For example, Clans Pestilens and Skryre now have their own Allegiance abilities, but Verminus does not.

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There is always going to be someone who gets missed out with this approach, but I don’t think there will be too many glum faces, especially as a force like the Free Peoples get attention…

One of my favourites, the Seraphon, have this treatment, and all you lizard guys will not be disappointed – you can now teleport any unit across the table and unbind spells regardless of range… This is on top of Commmand traits, which are specific to Slann, Saurus and Skink, and new Artefacts (the Coronal Shield, which blinds enemy units, has potential, but I think a lot of people will lock firmly on the Prism of Amyntok and take advantage of the D3 mortals it kicks out during movement phases…).

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Not enough for you lizard players? Well, have a couple of new Warscroll Battalions as well. Not every allegiance gets these, but there are enough scattered about to keep things interesting. The personalities in the Battalions will be familiar to anyone following the Realmgate Wars storylines and though they take the form of the ‘mega-battalions’ that have appeared in past Battletomes, the required models are not too onerous at all. The Fangs of Sotek is a nice addition to boost a Carnosaur, especially when added to the abilities of the other Starhosts within the Battalion, but the Dracothion’s Tail might be worth a look – if someone can ‘figure’ this Battalion out for tournaments, summoning might be a real thing.

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As I said earlier, if GW can keep reinvigorating their games by these yearly books, I think they are onto a winner. Even if they release a ‘bum’ year book, you will only have a few months for things to change again rather than waiting years for a whole new edition. What is even better is that, points aside, this GHB does not really replace the old one, so they can build into a full library of ‘cool things to do in Warhammer’ over the years (that does not apply to Matched Play so much but if you chose to be a competitive only player, well, that is your look out – you are missing out on a lot!).

When GW talk about ‘game changing, again’, they actually mean it. This book is more of an evolution than the last GHB, but it is building on solid foundations and is all the better for it. At £20 for 160 pages, the GHB 2017 gets a big thumbs up.

 

Open War

The Open War card deck comes in GW’s new style ‘cigarette packet, like those of the recent 40k card decks.

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The rules to use them come, predictably, on the first card, but the rules take up four sides – now, it would have been very easy (and, indeed, lazy) for GW to simply print them on two cards but, instead, they made a little ‘gatefold’ card instead. A tiny touch, but a nice one.

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When using the cards, you divide them up into five decks; Deployment, Objectives, Twist, Ruses and Sudden Death. Draw a card from the first three decks, and you have a Battleplan all set and ready to go!

You then count up Wounds in your armies. If one player has more, his opponent draws a Ruses card. If he has more than twice the Wounds, his opponent also draws a Sudden Death card.

There is a great deal of variety here – the Objectives cards create the victory conditions, and they can be as obvious as placing objective markers, to King Slayer, which gets players to count out the Wounds they dish out, doubling their score if they nobble the enemy general.

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Twists create adverse conditions players must either get around or find someway to use to their benefit. Dead of Night, for example, limits the range of all spells and attacks, while Battle Frenzy boosts all melee attacks.

Ruses are used to boost weaker armies, and basically represent inspired tactics like Outflanking an army or bringing in Reinforcements (recycling a dead unit). If an army is really outclassed, it can used Sudden Death cards to focus all their efforts on a single objective to immediately win the battle – Assassinate allows you to destroy the highest Wound Hero or Monster in order to win, while Endure simply means you need just one model on the table at the end of the fifth round.

Assuming you can avoid the real twits in your group (five Bloodthirster man) who just want to win at all costs, I think this is a great little system for pick up games. There is plenty of variety in this card deck, and there is no reason why any two games should repeat themselves, a hallmark of Age of Sigmar.

GW have avoided printing the text too small (unlike their recent Warscroll cards – grrrr!) and, at just a tenner, I don’t think you can go wrong…

The Freeguild Goes to War!

Of late, I have had a bit of a slow down on the old painting – but this weekend, it looks like I got my mojo back! A fair horde of miniatures were completed, which I’ll showcase this week, but we’ll start off with an important milestone… the Freeguild are now complete, as I finished a fair shed load over the past couple of days…

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As you may recall, I had already done a unit of 24 Handgunners, a couple of Battle Wizards, and a General to lead them all – I now have 30 Guard, 10 Greatswords, and the starting of the Ironweld Arsenal. Not a massive army, by any stretch, but a good base to build on and more than enough to get playing.

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The Guard were always going to be the biggest unit and, in a ‘proper’ army, I would probably need at least one more unit of this size. However, they form the core around which all the ‘special’ units will work.

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The Greatswords add some punch, and I thought that (despite there only being ten of them) they would prove to be a bit of a bear to paint with all their frilly bits. However, if you use shading for their ‘ribbed’ sleeves rather than actually trying to paint the under layer (which will send you mad), they are actually easier than even the Guard, as their armour takes a large portion of their bodies and they carry less junk into battle.

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And what is a Freeguild army without some truly heavy support from the Ironweld Arsenal, eh? I wanted them to be a slightly different colour to the Freeguild itself, so switched the green for blue, as I had already chosen that for the Cogsmith I painted up for Warhammer Quest (and no doubt he will join them in battle someday).

I had an open choice for artillery, but went with the Helblaster Volley Gun because, well, boom.

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And if you have the Ironweld Arsenal, you just have to have a Steam Tank. It is sort of mandatory.

Again, this is another model that you might expect to be a pain, but is actually quick and simple to paint up. The shields and crewman match the colours of the other Ironweld models, and the greatest time-sink was probably all the gold detailing but, in truth, it was no hassle at all.

So, those are all the models I had planned to do for the Freeguild, at least for the time being, and I can now focus on other projects. Next up for Age of Sigmar is probably the Kharadron Overlords but, before I get to them, I have some models who want to sort a Heresy out…

New Battalions: Fyreslayers/Beastclaw Raiders

There are new Start Collecting sets for Age of Sigmar out this week, including two that players have been waiting a fair while for – the Fyreslayers and Beastclaw Raiders. Both represent good value and I think will become the standard go-to for anyone beginning a new army.

Each also comes with a new Battalion that uses all the models in the set.

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The Beastclaw Raiders get Loshar’s Frost Guard, for which you need just a Frostlord on a Stonehorn and a Mournfang Pack (potentially just two Mournfangs, though four is a better number on the table and it fits in with the brief lore behind the Battalion).

It allows the Mournfangs to charge enemies close to the Frostlord in the hero phase – which is nice enough, until you realise it can also do this in the enemy’s hero phase.

That is pretty sweet…

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Hajkarl’s Sons of Fortune come from the Fyreslayers set, and requires a bunch of Vulkite Berzerkers (ten will do, though they work better in twenties), a Runesmiter, Runeson, and a Runefather on the back of a Magmadroth.

Once you have all those painted, once per battle you can have every unit in the Battalion move 4″ towards an enemy unit. Not spectacular on the face of it, but the Fyreslayers need everything they can get when it comes to movement, and this will allow you to converge on a single enemy – remember, that last part of a charge is 4″, so this could make or break a combat!

Review – Path to Glory

Path to Glory has just plopped onto my desk, a revision of the quickfire-and-easy-to-organise campaign system for Age of Sigmar.

So, is it any good?

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If you have read through or played the Path to Glory campaign in the General’s Handbook, you pretty know what to expect. Things have been kept much the same, with the odd tweak here and there, but what has been added is scope and context.

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The first section of the book begins with the Rise of Gulgaz, a Bonesplitterz Bigboss who leads his warband on a rampage, getting stronger as they encounter various enemies – the inference here being that his warband was built using the Path to Glory system, and then various battles were played.

There are no great revelations of Age of Sigmar lore in this story, but it is fun enough to read, and you begin to see how a Path to Glory campaign can fit together on a narrative level. In a nutshell, because no points are involved in building forces, you might as well construct background behind your force – and a bunch of Orruks rampaging through the realms works as well as anything else!

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There are six pages of photographs covering various warbands, with the caption text tying them into the story of Gulgaz in some way. Not too much to say here; the photography is excellent and you may get some good ideas for putting your own warband together.

Then we get to the meat of the book – the Path to Glory campaign rules.

If you are not familiar with them, the idea is dead simple. First, pick a Grand Alliance allegiance, then a champion (leader) for your warband based on that allegiance.

The champion you pick will determine how many units of followers your warband begins the campaign with. So, for example, if you had chosen Grand Alliance Chaos and wanted a Khorne theme to your warband, you might pick something humble, such as an Exalted Deathbringer to lead your warband, who will let you have four units of followers – or you could go right to the other end of the scale and pick a Bloodthirster, who will only let you start with two followers.

This is the first ‘balancing’ mechanism used to put warbands within spitting distance of each other (don’t expect hard and fast points with these rules – they are not used, and not necessary for Path to Glory).

Once you have worked out how many follower units you have, you simply pick a Follower table for your Grand Alliance (no need to stick with the theme your opted for your champion) and roll. So, your Exalted Deathbringer could roll on the Khorne Retinue Followers table, select the Bloodbound Followers column (as opposed to daemons), and then roll up 20 Bloodreavers, 5 Blood Warriors, 3 Mighty Skullcrushers, or a Khorgorath.

Alternatively, you could roll on the Khorne Elite Followers table, which takes up 2 of your followers rolls and, selecting Bloodbound again, and get either 10 Blood Warriors, 5 Wrathmongers, or 5 Skullreapers.

However, you can also ‘branch out’ and roll on the followers tables for other Chaos factions, such as Beasts of Chaos, Skaven, Pestilens, or Slaves to Darkness – the elite follower table for the latter would give you the chance of, for example, 10 Chaos Warriors, a Warshrine, 5 Chaos Chosen, or 5 Chaos Knights, all of which you can (of course) give the Khorne keyword to bind them tightly into your existing force.

Basically, whatever Grand Alliance you choose, you are going to get plenty of options to create a wide and varied force that by no means needs to look like the force of someone else in the same Grand Alliance.

You can also use one roll to give your champion (or a unit of followers) a reward before the campaign starts – for our Exalted Deathbringer, this could be Daemonic Armour (re-roll failed saves), Molten Blood (dish out mortal wounds when hit), an Enscorcelled weapon (better Rend), or any one of nearly a dozen options in total.

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Playing the campaign is even simpler – pick an opponent (‘oi, you, stitch this!’), play a game with an agreed Battleplan, and see who wins. The winner gets D3 Glory points, the loser 1. The first warband to total 10 Glory points (or gains 5 additional units of followers) fights one more battle and, if they triumph, wins the campaign!

After each battle, your warband gets rewards, which can be upgrades to your champion or followers, or could be more followers. If you get the latter, you have the choice to burn a Glory point to roll on the aforementioned elite followers table, so you have to make the choice between a better warband or a quicker win.

There are seven Battleplans provided in Path to Glory though, frankly, you can use any of the hundred or so Battleplans already published for Age of Sigmar. Some of those in this book you may have seen before, while others are brand new, and they tend to tie into the Path to Glory campaign – perhaps granting bonus Glory points for achieving certain goals,, or adding a ‘free’ monster to a warband. There is even provision made for battles involving more than two warbands at once.

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The photograph above shows the basic layout of warbands, this one showcasing Tzeentch. As you can see, you have a wide variety of champions to kick off your force, from the ever so humble Magisters and Heralds, right up to Ogroid Thamaturges and Lords of Change (!). The followers tables are broken down into retinues (units), heroes, and elites, with each of those tables split between mortals and daemons. The reward tables for champions and followers come after.

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The champion rewards table for chaos warbands allows for Dark Patronage, gifts directly given by the warband’s god, which can be anything from the odd re-roll to increased damage or extra spells.

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While there are warband tables for every ‘current’ faction in Age of Sigmar, happily there are also ‘general’ Grand Alliance tables which allow the use of older miniatures and further increase the scope of what is possible when building a warband. The Destruction tables, for example, allow you to use an Orruk Warboss or Shaman as a champion, or an Ogor Tyrant, Moonclan/Gitmob/Spiderfang Warbosses, or (very funny) an Arachnarok Spider.

So, just because your Ogors (for example) do not have their very own warband table, you can still field an all Ogor force in Path to Glory, and the same applies to Aelfs, Duardin, Freeguilds, and undead.

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The very last chapter introduces Start Collecting Warbands – instead of going through the warband creation system, simply grab a Start Collecting box and use the forces from that! This is, of course, ideal for someone just beginning Age of Sigmar or just starting a new army, particularly if there is a group ‘Tale of Four Gamers’ thing going on, where players add a new unit every couple of weeks or so.

Not all Start Collecting sets are created equally, of course, so some must achieve tougher goals in the campaign, while others get a free reward.

Very nicely done, and in just four pages too.

 

Conclusion

The Path to Glory campaign was always something I had meant to get running, but never quite got round to. The additions and tweaks made to it with this book has just bumped the campaign up in priority (expect to see a report soon!).

For just £20, you get a ‘new’ way to play Age of Sigmar (get yourself out of the matched play rut!) and a campaign system that you can probably play through and determine a winner in a single day – certainly through a weekend.

This is a nice little addition to the Age of Sigmar line, and I think I will be recommending it!

Battle Report – Gathering Bloodstorm

We are going to be trying out the second of the new Battleplans in Battletome: Blades of Khorne, this time seeing what the weight of a daemonic legion makes of the Ironjawz.

 

The Story So Far

The forces of Khorne had been trying to wrest Ghyran from the dominance of Nurgle for decades and, after the successes of the Stormcasts had shaken the Rotbringers hold, the Blood God had started seeing some gains. However, a new power had arrived in the Jade Kingdoms, a mighty Orruk horde inspired by the Fist of Gork himself, Gordrakk.

Many Megabosses led their warbands into the Realm of Life, smashing aside Sylvaneth, Rotbringer and Bloodbound alike. Khorne could not stand to let primitive creatures like the Orruks disrupt his plans and so he unleashed the Helfire Legion, a daemonic force that swept through the forces of the Orruks, tearing apart Bonesplitterz and Ironjawz alike.

While the daemons of Khorne advanced, a raging Bloodstorm churned in the skies overhead, fuelling bloodlust and murder in any who saw it. As the Helfire Legion approached the warband of Kraga Daemonbasher, the Megaboss grinned as he waved his own boys forward.

As far as the Ironjawz were concerned, this was shaping up to be a good fight.

 

The Forces

We want this battle to be a truly memorable clash, and so we have gone for mid-sized forces that nonetheless have some serious power behind them.

Daemons of Khorne
Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage
Exalted Daemon Prince
Bloodmaster
Skullmaster
Bloodthrone
Karanak
Flesh Hounds x 10 (two units of 5)
Bloodcrushers x 6
Skull Cannon
Bloodletters x 40 (two units of 20)

We are using a very large (Forge World) model for the Daemon Prince, and so will be ‘exalting’ him by doubling his wounds. In addition, all the units are arranged into a Blood host of Khorne led by the Bloodthirster, makes several units close to him very angry indeed!

Ironjawz
Megaboss
Weirdnob Shaman
Brutes x 15 (three units of 5)
Gore-Gruntas x 6 (two units of 3)
Ardboys x 52 (two units of 20, one unit of 12)

All the basic parts of an Ironjawz force are here, with the Brutes arranged into a Brutefist (tough Big Boss, and a chance to charge in the hero phase while dishing out mortal wounds), and the Gore-Gruntas and Ardboys in Weirdfist (allowing the Weirdnob to really suck up the magical power of his boyz!).

 

The Battleplan

In this fight, the Daemons of Khorne have a new command ability, Glory to Khorne! This allows the general (Bloodthirster or Daemon Prince) to immediately pile in and fight, and if he deals out 8 or more wounds, he earns a Blood Tithe point. The Ironjawz get their own ability, Fight Fire with Fire, allows one unit close to the Megaboss to re-roll all failed hits.

A mighty Bloodstorm is raging above the battlefield, which has two effects – first off, no Battleshock tests are taken for this battle and, second, every turn, players count how many enemy units they wiped out, and multiply that by the battle round number. This becomes their Bloodstorm point total, and the player with the highest at the end of the fifth round wins!

 

Deployment

The two armies threaded their way through the Skull Keep complex, lining up to face their foes. As Bloodletters hissed malevolently, the Ardboyz and Brutes jeered and bashed their weapons together, taking energy from the swirling bloodstorm overhead as they were driven into a frenzy of destruction.

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Megaboss Kraga Daemonbasher was unusually subdued though, for he had every expectation that the wrathful Bloodthirster opposite would be making a beeline for him as soon as hostilities commenced.

 

Battle Round One

Galvanised by the Bloodstorm in the sky, the daemons of Khorne acted first, running towards the Orruks with all speed. Behind them, more daemons arrived, in the form of a Bloodthrone, Karanak and a truly massive Daemon Prince.

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With a boom that echoed across the battlefield, the Skull Cannon blasted a flaming skull clear through an unlucky Ardboy.

Not that the Orruks were put off by this display – they charged, bellowing as they went, promising maximum violence to any daemon they caught. The Ardboyz clashed with the daemons first, piling into forty Bloodletters with no thought to their own safety.

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Hellblades and crude axes were swung, and great gouges were torn out of both sides but this only served to drive daemon and Orruk to ever greater heights of savagery. Further along the line, more Ardboyz crashed into the Bloodcrushers, grinding one of them into the dirt.

Not to be outdone, two units of Gore-Gruntas arrived ion the battlefield, waved on by the Megaboss who had taken cover in the Sylvaneth Woods.

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The battle had opened with outright savagery, but both armies were only just getting started.

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Battle Round Two

Roaring with anger, the Bloodthirster took to the sky, crashing down in front of the Brutefist as it drove the Flesh Hounds forward with a crack of its whip.

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Barging the Skullmaster aside, the Bloodthirster piled into the nearest Brutes but the Orruks had been watching its approached and scattered as the Axe of Khorne bisected a single Brute. Seeing the Bloodthirster recovering from its swing, the Brutes counterattacked, hacking through the daemon’s greaves and causing it to bellow in pain.

Close by, the Flesh Hounds savaged a Brute but half a dozen of them were dispatched back to the Realm of Chaos by the return attacks.

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Further down the line, the Bloodthrone drove into a unit of Ardboyz who were preparing to add their weight against the Bloodcrushers, but only a single Ardboy fell under its wheels. Another Bloodcrusher was torn apart but reality blinked and all the Bloodcrushers’ losses were reversed.

Sighing, the Ardboyz picked up their weapons and began their attacks afresh upon the Juggernaut riders.

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The Brutes fighting the Bloodthirster were having the time of their lives, for here was an enemy truly worth fighting. They were not selfish either, as they beckoned another unit of Brutes in to join them. Together, they started to hammer the Bloodthirster as one of the Bosses leapt up to snare the Bloodthirster by the throat with his Klaw before bashing it round the head with his Brute Smasha.

The Bloodthirster reeled from these rude attacks.

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A mighty battle was forming quickly in the centre of the battlefield as the Gore-Gruntas reached the fray and charged, effectively linking the three Ardboyz units, Bloodletters, Bloodcrushers, and Bloodthrone into one vicious brawl. Many Orruks were felled, while many daemons were banished, and the Bloodthrone was quickly being taken apart by Ardboyz, despite the Herald’s best efforts to keep them at bay with its Hellblade.

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The Bloodthirster was badly wounded, while the Orruks’ own general had yet to enter the fight. However, the battle stood on the edge of a knife, with neither daemon nor Orruk willing to give ground.

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Battle Round Three

Despite the Bloodthrister’s wounds, the land itself still rebelled against the daemon’ presence, and the Brutes yelped in confusion as massive cracks opened between their feet. One was too slow, and fell screaming into the abyss.

However, even the furious Bloodthirster could see this was not enough and with a mighty sweep of its wings, the greater daemon soared away from the Brutes.

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The Orruks jeered at this cowardice, only falling silent when they saw the Bloodthirster’s plan unfold – a great Daemon Prince now loped towards them.

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Joined by Karanack and the Skullmaster, the Daemon Prince was the embodiment of savagery, hammering every Brute it could reach.

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Meanwhile, the Bloodcrushers had suddenly surged forward, catching a group of Ardboyz by surprise and stampeding three of the Orruks into the ground. However, now the Megaboss and Gore-Gruntas had joined the fray, the Bloodcrushers were being steadily whittled down and a great many Bloodletters were banished from the battle.

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Watching the battlefield, Khorne himself instilled a terrible and divine Murderlust in his Bloodthirster, then raged with impotent fury as he watched the Bloodthirster take this rare power and used it to hide within the Crucible. However, the Gore-Gruntas were watching and they goaded their hungry mounts onwards in pursuit. They caught the Bloodthirster just as it reached the Crucible, riding the greater daemon down as it wailed, knowing full well the fate that now awaited it at the foot of the Skull Throne.

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As Ardboyz tore apart the Bloodthrone on one side of the battlefield, the Weirdnob Shaman on the other gathered the mighty energies of the Waaagh! from every Orruk close to him and hurled an empowered Arcane Bolt at the Skullmaster, immolating the Herald in a single blast.

 

Battle Round Four

Feeling the momentum of the battle begin to build behind them, the Ironjawz redoubled their attacks. Karanak unbound another Arcane Bolt, much to the chagrin of the Weirdnob Shaman, but the Flesh Hound was already badly battered by the Brutes it faced, and even the great Daemon Prince was beginning to look unsteady from the multiple deep wounds it had sustained.

By now, the Bloodcrushers had been reduced to a single Juggernaut, fending off attacks from the Ardboyz and Gore-Gruntas that surrounded it.

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However, the Bloodletter riding the Juggernaut was as spiteful as a Khornate daemon could be, and it stabbed forward with its Hellblade, straight into the heart of the Megaboss.

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The rest of the Ironjawz barely noticed the loss of their general as they were now chanting war songs as they happily bashed in the heads of daemons, banishing them with every swipe. In quick succession, Karanak was dispatched back to the Realm of Chaos, followed by the last of the Bloodletters and the Bloodcrusher.

Though many Brutes had been killed by the enemies they faced, they remained undaunted, slaying the Daemon Prince and breaking the back of the Khorne force.

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Battle Round Five

Only the Skull Cannon remained intact among the Khornate daemons, and it fired defiantly from within the Crucible, killing a Gore-Grunta and then a Brute. The Ironjawz tried to rally for one final assault, but they were exhausted. Congratulating themselves on a battle well fought, they retired from the battlefield, happy but tired.

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Conclusion

That was, predictably, a bloody battle!

That said, no units were destroyed (and thus no victory points were earned) until the third round when one of the Bloodletter units was finally wiped out. Things picked up quickly from there though, with the Ironjawz leading 18 points to 6 at the end of the third round, going up to 34 to 10 in the fourth round!

Once the Ironjawz got going, there seemed to be nothing that could stop them, though the Daemons of Khorne clawed back a lot of points at the end, leaving the score at 34 to 20 in favour of the Ironjawz – the Orruks may have won, but it will be a while before they can build their strength back up again!

 

The Story Continues…

In the wake of the Realmgate Wars, Sigmar built many cities across the Mortal Realms – and not everyone is happy about that. The Orruks have gathered their forces into one mighty horde in Ghyran, and only a thin line of Hallowed Knights stand in between them and the Free Peoples.

This is going to be a truly immense battle (well over 6,000 points on each side!) so we have to set a day to fight it – but it is going to be a truly memorable battle, so keep an eye out for it!

The Realmgate Wars – A Retrospective

Well, it has been a long, long tale, spanning more than eighteen months and nearly 90 battles – but we have finally finished the Realmgate Wars saga from the Age of Sigmar!

This stemmed from a mad, desperate idea way back in the latter half of 2015, whereby we would play through every Battleplan in the Age of Sigmar storyline, collecting and painting every model needed to do every one of them justice.

There is a very strong storyline running through the Age of Sigmar, so I thought it might be fun to look back, going right to the humble beginnings of the crusade, and see just how long this path has been.

Grab a coffee and settle yourself down, as this is a long tale!

Lightning Strikes & Reclaim the Fallen
We started off with the Lightning Strikes Battleplan in Battletome: Stormcast Eternals (the original one), that basically combines all the scenarios in the starter set into one big fight. The Stormcast Eternals arrived on the Brimstone Peninsula in the Realm of Fire, fighting to knock the Bloodbound back long enough to open a Realmgate to Azyr and thus bring in the main portion of Sigmar’s force. We met Lord-Celestant Vandus Hammerhand for the first time, along with his nemesis, Lord Khul. Vandus laid Lord Khul low in this first clash, forcing Bloodsecrator Threx to lead an attack to try to reclaim the wounded Lord Khul.

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The Watchtower
Unfortunately, for Threx, this attack failed. While the Stormcasts had their own problems with a rogue Lord-Celestant pushing far too far forward into Bloodbound territory to stake his own claim to glory (Battleplan: Hold or Die), Lord Khul finally picked himself up, dusted himself off, and started a long, lonely march to the Gate of Wrath. Bloodsecrator Threx was too old and too wise to face the anger of his lord, so he took command of one of the Skull Keeps surrounding the Gate of Wrath, at what he felt was a safe distance from the furious Lord Khul.

Unfortunately for him, this Skull Keep was the target of the Stormcasts’ next attack. Despite Lord Khul enacting a bloody ritual that summoned waves of Khornate Daemons to keep the Skull Keep out of Sigmar’s hands, Bloodsecrator Threx fell in the battle.

The Ritual
The Stormcasts kept the pressure on the Bloodbound, forcing their way up the Brimstone Peninsula until they breached the ring of Skull Keeps and launched an attack on the Gate of Wrath, a Realmgate that Lord Khul was using to bring countless daemons in from the Realm of Chaos. Lord Khul was hoping to enact his final rite to transcend into daemonhood and while the Stormcasts were successful in smashing the Bloodbound, they failed to do so in time to stop Lord Khul’s ascension.

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With a furious roar of victory, Lord Khul unfolded his new wings and took to the skies, out of the reach of Vandus Hammerhand.

The Trap & Raze to the Ground
With the war going strong for Sigmar in the Realm of Fire, the God-King sent more Stormcast Eternals into the Realm of Life, with the dual aim of shaking the hold of Nurgle on the Jade Kingdoms, and seeking out the Goddess of Life, Alarielle, for an alliance.

The Sylvaneth felt the arrival of the Stormcasts and knew this was a chance to drive out the Rotbringer forces that had occupied their lands for centuries. Ambushes erupted across the Jade Kingdoms (reflected by Battleplan: The Trap), and many Rotbringer fortresses were destroyed (giving us our first chance to use the new Chaos Dreadhold).

Man the Gates
The Stormcasts were not slow in their attacks on Nurgle-held strongholds, and a force attacked the Rotfane, a fortress under the command of Blightmage Slaugoth, whose open gates spewed a constant pestilent wind. Repulsed in their initial attacks by strong defenders of Nurgle, the Stormcasts had no time to muster a second assault and were force to move on as the Sylvaneth continued to die from the diseases blasted out of the Rotfane.

Breakthrough
The first strategic target for the Stormcasts was the Gates of Dawn, an important Realmgate that would allow the Storncasts to bring reinforcements into the Jade Kingdoms, while undercutting Nurgle’s ability to bolster the Rotbringers. However, the Rotbringers knew the Stormcasts were coming, and threw up an armoured ring around the Gates of Dawn. Gathering momentum, the Stormcasts punched through the line, and regrouped to begin their main attack.

Pre-Emptive Strike
Despite having seized the Gates of Dawn, the Stormcasts were unprepared for Nurgle’s cunning ploy. The Gates of Dawn shook, before Bolathrax, a Great Unclean One, emerged from the Realmgate ahead a horde of daemons.

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Worse, a Verminlord Corruptor, Vermalanx, was searching for the Goddess of Life himself, and he believed the Stormcasts could lead him to her. Gathering the Clans Pestilens, he lent his weight to the attack.

The Stormcasts drove the combined Nurgle force off, but only at great cost – Lord-Celestant Gardus paid for the destruction of the Gates of Dawn by being dragged into Nurgle’s own garden within the Realm of Chaos…

Sudden Assault
While the war raged in the Realms of Fire and Life, Sigmar also dispatched armies to the Realm of Metal, where the forces of Tzeentch held sway. At first, the realm seemed deserted of any life, but soon enough the Stormcasts found themselves under attack from the Bleak Horde, dedicated followers of Tzeentch.

Storm the Walls
The Bleak Horde was led by a Sorcerer Lord called Ephyrx, and he was nothing if not cunning. He drew the Stormcasts to his place of power the Eldritch Fortress, where he planned to use their own magical energies to fuel a mighty spell.

The Stormcasts managed to take the outer walls of the Eldritch Fortress before Ephryx unleashed an enchantment that blasted their entire force away from the castle. However, the Lord-Celestant had gained a brief glimpse of something extremely powerful within the Eldritch Fortress – Sigmar’s own hammer, Ghal Maraz…

Spellbreakers
By now, things were hotting up in the Realm of Life. The Gates of Dawn had been taken by the Stormcasts, but were subsequently utterly corrupted by Nurgle, and now Gutrot Spume and his Blightkings had taken command of a Brayherd tribe who possessed the Dirgehorn, a powerful magical artefact that sowed discord and bleakness whenever it was blown. Though the Stormcasts tried to end this reign of terror, they were beaten back by the combined force of Gors and Blightkings, but now had a new mandate – find the hiding place of Alarielle, Goddess of Life, and form an alliance.

Out of the Mist
The Verminlord Vermalanx was still pursuing the Stormcasts and Sylvaneth, hoping they would eventually reveal the whereabouts of Alarielle. He concocted a plan whereby a Plague Furnace would spew out a poisonous fog so deadly, the Sylvaneth would have no choice but to attack – he would then grab an important looking one, and question it until Alarielle’s hiding place was revealed.

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During the battle, a nearby Realmgate stirred, and from it appeared Lord-Celestant Gardus. Having survived Nurgle’s garden, Gardus had received a vision that gave him information critical to winning the war in the Realm of Life. Though the Sylvaneth were beaten back from the Plague Furnace, Gardus managed to escape and carry his vital news back to the Hallowed Knights.

Kill the Beast
Gardus told the Hallowed Knights that Alarielle’s hiding place was close by – if they could just get to the Oak of Ages Past, they had a good chance of finding her. However, the path was blocked by Pupa Grotesse, a Great Unclean One who was polluting the River Vitalis, turning it into the Gelid Gush. This was the Battle of Rotwater Blight, and would see Nurgle mass his most powerful forces yet, led by the Glottkin.

The Stormcasts were roundly defeated by the army of Nurgle, but Lord-Celestant Gardus led his army past the Great Unclean One, and found a hidden portal beneath the Gelid Gush. Descending under the putrid waters, the Stormcasts discovered the Athelwyrd, Alarielle’s secret glade…

War of Storms
Unfortunately, Nurgle’s eyes were watching closely, and the Stormcasts had inadvertently led the entire Grand Congregation of Nurgle straight to the Goddess of Life – a combined force of Rotbringers, Nurgle Daemons, Clans Pestilens Skaven, and Brayherds. In a mighty clash, the Sylvaneth and Stormcasts quickly formed an alliance to hold back the Nurgle advance long enough for Alarielle to escape.

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The Grand Congregation of Nurgle, led by the Glottkin, was unstoppable, and the Athelwyrd was lost. However, a last ditch defence by the Stormcasts of the Hallowed Knights allowed Alarielle to escape.

The Tables Turned
Alarielle had been found, but the armies of Nurgle were irresistible in the Realm of Life – but the Stormcasts were about to get help from an unexpected quarter in the Realm of Fire.

Khorne Lord Kaelgor had ruled the Obsidia Isle and surrounding areas with an iron fist for centuries, but the Stormcasts were determined to drive him out. They launched an attack upon his main stronghold, the Fortress of Embers, but while initially successful, a massed charge by the Bloodbound forced them back. Soon surrounded, the Stormcasts prepared to sell their lives dearly – and then, a massive comet smashed into the battlefield, opening up lava-filled chasms that swallowed Bloodbound units whole.

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Emerging from the comet came the Seraphon, new defenders of Order who tore into the surviving Bloodbound to bring Sigmar a great victory.

Purge the Corruption
The Seraphon struck Chaos forces across the Mortal Realms, hammering their age-old foes with a series of lightning strikes that delivered crippling damage to the schemes of the Ruinous Powers.

They next turned their eyes to Ghyran, targeting the Runnel Pits the Clans Pestilens had been using to make offerings to Nurgle. Though the Skaven would recover, this attack set back their plans greatly.

The Cursed City
Sigmar launched a new wave of attacks in Chamon, intent on recovering his ancient weapon, Ghal Maraz. However, upon returning to the Eldritch Fortress, the Stormcasts found it was… gone! Some power of Tzeentch had scooped the Dreadhold out of the ground and relocated it. The Stormcasts set off in pursuit, searching for information to track it down, and in so doing they came to Elixia, the Shattered City. Within the narrow streets, the Bleak Horde attacked, but the Stormcasts were aided by Celemnis, the Silvermaiden, a weaponsmith tortured and killed by worshippers of Tzeentch. Once the Bleak Horde had been defeated, Celemnis pointed the Stormcasts to where they should look next.

Death at the Dais
Celemnis had directed the Stormcasts to a Dragonfate Dais within a shattered hamlet near the Argent Falls. While trying to divine the key to unlock the power of the dais, the Stormcasts were ambushed by Skaven whom the Tzeentch Lord Ephryx had dispatched to slow Sigmar’s warriors down. The Skaven inflicted savage losses with their Stormvermin and Stormfiends, but were eventually repulsed, and the Stormcasts used the Dragonfate Dais to commune with the great drake Dracothion, who told them to look to the floating Great Crucible, from which the Argent Falls flowed.

Battle Against Time
Harnessing the power of Dracothion, the Stormcasts persuaded the Great Drake to do battle with the Godbeast Argentine, the Silver Wyrm, in the skies over the Great Crucible as they fought through the many layered defences of the Bleak Horde to reach the new resting place of the Eldritch Fortress. However, Argentine fought off Dracothion and turned his powerful breath to melt the silver sea the Stormcasts were crossing…

Retrieve the Relic
Finally, the Stormcasts reached the Eldritch Fortress and immediately made their assault against its walls. However, the Sorcerer Lord Ephryx had positioned the fortress under the Shardgate, a Realmgate that led straight to Tzeentch’s own kingdom in the Realm of Chaos, and a Daemongale was blowing, casting hordes of daemons onto the battlefield. Under such numbers, the unthinkable happened, and the Stormcasts were repulsed.

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Cast Adrift
The Stormcasts mustered another attack on the Eldritch Fortress in a desperate bid to reclaim Ghal Maraz, but Ephryx had another trick up his sleeve – enacting a great enchantment, he caused the Eldritch Fortress to rise into the air, towards the Shardgate. If he succeeded, the whole fortress would be relocated in the Realm of Chaos, along with Ghal Maraz! The Stormcasts fought doggedly and, this time, they breached the walls and seized Sigmar’s holy weapon.

On Tainted Ground
Though Ghal Maraz had been returned to its rightful owner, the forces of Order could not pause in their assault against Chaos. The Stormcasts of the Hallowed Knights had to move quickly to lend aid to the Sylvaneth as Skaven of Clans Pestilens tried to drive them from the Mossgleam Glade.

Martial Contest
With Ghal Maraz back in Azyr, Sigmar was able to awaken his greatest champion – the Celestant-Prime. One of the champion’s earliest battles was atop the Anvil Mountain in Chamon, against the forces of the Bloodthirster Khrul’Sath the Slaughterer.

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At the Threshold
Despite being buried deep within their lodges, the Fyreslayers could not escape the predations of Chaos and, in the Realm of Fire, under the Furios Peak, they defended their stronghold against the Bloodbound of Lord Bruul.

Fortresses of Death
Sigmar was determined to keep up the pressure on the forces of Chaos, and his next target was the Bloodbrass Bridge, connecting the Realms of Fire and Metal through a Realmgate. Each side of the bridge had a fortress protecting the route – one held by the forces of Tzeentch, the other by the Stormcasts. Launching an attack, they tried to claim this important strategic point.

On Thin Ice
Not everything was going the way of Order though, and having been forced out of her hiding place in the Athelwyrd, Alarielle had become dormant and was now in the hands of the Lady of Vines, the Sylvaneth making a desperate exodus from the Rotbringers who pursued them.

The Hidden Artefact
The Rotbringers moved ever closer to the small band of Sylvaneth and Stormcasts who were racing to escape them. On the frozen Sea of Serpents, the forces of Nurgle caught the escapees, and threatened to cut them off.

Consumed
In the Realm of Fire, the Skaven of the Clans Verminus rose from the depths to launch a devastating attack on the Fyreslayers of Vostarg Lodge, capturing one of the Runesons before they were beaten back. The Fyreslayers launched a desperate bid to reclaim him before the Runeson could be sacrificed in a Verminlord’s cruel rites, setting into motion events that would shake all the Mortal Realms.

Uneasy Alliances
As well as losing their Runeson, the Fyreslayers had lost most of their vaults to the Skaven, so when the Stormcasts proposed an alliance that would see the Fyreslayers become rich again, they had no choice but to agree. However, the Stormcasts wanted great service from the Fyreslayers, starting with aid in attacking a fortress of Khorne. Along the way, the Stormcasts and Fyreslayers were ambushed by a combine force of Bloodbound and Skaven.

Raging Fury
Meanwhile, Khorne had been eyeing Nurgle’s progress in the Realm of Life with envy, and saw his brother was close to capturing Alarielle. He could not allow Nurgle such an easy victory, and so hurled Skarbrand at the Sylvaneth. However, Alarielle had conjured an enchanted shield that caused the angry Bloodthirster to be thrown off course – straight into the the trap the Seraphon had laid for him.

The Dilemma
Back in the Realm of Fire, the Stormcasts revealed the full extent of their plans to the Fyreslayers – they intended to enter the Bloodkeep, where Skarbrand was imprisoned, and steal the Brass Chain that held him. This would give control of the Bloodthirster to Sigmar, effectively taking one of Khorne’s greatest weapons out of the war and, as luck would have it, Skarbrand himself did not appear to be home. However, as Stormcast and Fyreslayer emerged inside the fortress, they were unaware that Skarbrand was returning. Skarbrand beat the forces of Order back and forced them to retreat from the fortress – however, they had disturbed a rune that began to float through the Mortal Realms, unerringly towards an unknown destination…

Breach the Line
The Sylvaneth had broken free of the Rotbringers and now turned their thoughts to planting Alarielle’s soulpod so the goddess could be reborn into her war aspect. They had found the perfect place to do so but, upon arriving, discovered that the Rotbringers had beaten them to it – the Sylvaneth and their Stormcast allies had to break through the Rotbringer line in order for Alarielle to be reborn.

Home Ground
In the Realm of Death, dark things began to stir as the forces of Chaos launched their own offensives to bring the children of Nagash under their dominion. In Nulahmia, Neferata, the Mortarch of Blood, was forced to quickly rally her armies to fend off the Slaaneshi host that had found her.

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Path of Retreat
In ages past, Tzeentch had bound his greatest Lord of Change, Kiathanus, breaking the daemon’s true name into nine fragments and scattering them across the Mortal Realms. The Watcher King, one of the Gaunt Summoners, had schemed to free Kiathanus, and thus claim enough power to topple the Everchosen. It was at this point that Archaon appeared, and demanded to know exactly what the Gaunt Summoner thought he was up to. The Watcher King had no option but to run for his life – but he did not run far.

Never Give Up
The Stormcast Eternals had fought hard to keep Kiathanus imprisoned, but Archaon had merely used this as bait and, as the Stormcasts advanced, the Everchosen led a massive army to crush them entirely. In doing so, he dealt Sigmar the greatest defeat yet in the Realmgate Wars. Just two Prosecutors managed to escape the trap to take news of the loss to the God King.

Sorcerous Duel
Archaon was far from finished with the forces of Order, and his next attack was against the Seraphon. As a (loyal) Gaunt Summoner kept the Slann Starmaster occupied, the army of the Everchosen dealt a crippling defeat to the Seraphon.

Ambush at the Cursed Temple
However, the Seraphon had earned their own victories too. A small Slaaneshi Host had managed to penetrate the Celestial Realm, and were hunting old temples for clues as to the whereabouts of their God. Feeling they were getting a little too close, Starmaster Kuoteq arranged an ambush in an abandoned temple, driving them out of the Celestial Realm.

At Search’s End
The power struggle between Sigmar and Archaon provided many opportunities for other forces in the Mortal Realms, and Verminlord Corruptor Sepskrik was fast to take advantage. He had found the location of the Serpentstone, an important artefact that would allow him to unleash the Undulant Scourge across the Mortal Realms, one of the Thirteen Great Plagues. Fortunately, Starmaster X’loc X’hul arrived to put paid to these plans, at least temporarily.

The Putrid Bog
The Plague Monks of Clan Rotclaw were similarly boisterous, and their foul plans had upset the balance of power in the Jade Kingdoms by raising a Warpstone monolith within Withertree Bog. Those living closest to them raised enough gold to hire the Fyreslayers of Baeldrag Lodge to pull the monolith down.

The Verdigris Plains
Within the Realm of Metal, two Realmgates stood close to one another – one controlled by Skaven, the other by the undead of Lord Helmut von Drakenspyre. Both coveted the Realmgate of the other, and with the disruption caused by the wars of the Stormcasts against the armies of Tzeentch, both felt it was time to stake a claim. In this first clash, the forces of Death simply rolled over unprepared Skaven, immediately putting the ratkin on the back foot.

Revenge at Blackblood Weald
The Skaven were forced to retreat from the overwhelming undead hordes, and they put up a desperate rearguard. However, though they deployed some of their most powerful weapons, von Drakenspyre had sent his personal harem on board their Coven Throne to defeat the Skaven.

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Into the Realm of Fire
Taking the Realmgate from the Skaven, the forces of Death, led by Lord Drakenspyre himself, moved into the Realm of Fire to finish off the Skaven and stop any reprisals. However, on their homeground, the Skaven proved devastating, and they forced the undead back into the Realm of Metal, to re-establish the status quo that had existed before either army had marched.

The Chamber Unleashed
Sigmar had recovered from his defeat against Archaon in the Realm of Metal, and now he had a brand new weapon – the Chamber Extremis. His first target for the Dracoth riding Stormcasts was the old city of Vellixia, once a monument to the God King and now in the hands of Khorne. In a series of lightning fast attacks, the Chamber Extremis defeated the daemonic hordes within and delivered the city to Sigmar.

Relentless Assault
The Realm of Death was the territory of Nagash, but the forces of Chaos had pressed upon it hard for centuries. A roving warband of the Bloodbound encountered the forces of Mannfred von Carstein, Mortarch of Night, and they quickly moved forward to claim skulls. Mannfred was defeated in this battle and forced to flee, only to run into more Bloodbound and be captured…

Clash of Fates
Archaon was preparing a new offensive against the forces of Sigmar, but the battle of Chaos against Order did not cease. Atop a volcano in Aqshy, the Sorcerer Lord Xergon Ninefates was enacting a ritual a gateway to the Realm of Chaos and thereby gain the attention of Tzeentch himself. However, Slann Starmaster Azqualta had other ideas…

Bloody Escalation
In Ghyran, the Skaven were on the move, to attack the Eventide Grove, a place truly sacred to the Sylvaneth. As Warpfire Throwers torched the trees surrounding the Realmgate, the Forest Folk raced to halt the encroaching Skaven. A bloody battle erupted in the grove and while the Skaven were eventually beaten back, too many Sylvaneth had been killed to ensure they could hold onto their place of power.

Extermination
Archaon’s plans were falling into place, but the Everchosen needed access to the underways beneath the Howling Cities of the Beastplains in Ghur. These were dominated by tribes of Spiderfang Grots and their Gargant slaves. After seeing his forces repulsed time and again from the tunnels, Archaon led an attack himself, designed to smash the power of the Spiderfang tribes. Leading his Chaos Warriors into the heart of Grot territory, he attacked their breeding grounds, smashing huge stores of spider eggs and gutting the power of the tribes.

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The Sacred Glade
The Rotbringers kept the Sylvaneth under pressure in the Jade Kingdoms, marching on the glade in the Greatstump, long coveted by Nurgle. Led by Treelord Ancient Haaldhorm, the Sylvaneth quickly rallied when they realised they were under attack, with Kurnoth Hunters appearing for the first time. However, the Rotbringers were determined, and yet another glade sacred to the Sylvaneth fell to the forces of decay.

Site of Power
A Lord-Relictor of the Hallowed Knights led a small force of Stormcast Eternals through the Arch of Bones into the Realm of Death, to recover the remains of several War-Priests who had perished in the Dragonfate Chamber. However, their presence alerted the Ghoul King Marrowthirst, who quickly gathered his forces and wiped out the Stormcast expedition.

The Fiend’s Lair
The Realm of Death was beginning to stir, and not always to forces of Nagash’s liking. The Gloom Tribes had long been dominated by the Vampire Queen Cyssandra and they hired the Fyreslayers of Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir to end her reign. The Duardin entered her subterranean lair, and dragged the vampire queen out of her fortress before dispatching her.

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Fury Overcomes
Archaon launched his next great effort to defeat Sigmar, beginning the Godbeasts campaign – a plan to enslave the greatest creatures of the Mortal Realms, turning them into an unstoppable force that would batter down the very doors of the Celestial Realm. The Stormcast Eternals were spreading throughout the Realm of Fire, but the Blood God now drew a line in the fiery ground, dispatching his consort, the Daemon Queen Valkia the Bloody to fight alongside the Bloodbound of Lord Khul. Unfortunately, their first battle saw a great defeat that allowed the Stormcasts to push right through them.

Beneath Warring Storms
Nurgle saw the Blood God’s weakness in the Realm of Fire, and he sent Maggoth Lord Bloab Rotspawned to unleash a powerful disease that would lay low the forces of both Sigmar and Khorne, allowing the Lord of All Things to begin dominating Aqshy. However, Sigmar was ready for Nurgle’s ploy, and he dispatched the Hallowed Hunt, led by the Celestant-Prime himself, to break the back of the Bloodbound and defeat Nurgle’s champion.

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Against the Horde
High above these battlefields lay Orb Infernia, a shattered world ruled by four warring Daemon Princes. For centuries, the Seraphon had probed and prodded the Daemon Princes, causing them to constantly declare war against one another. This ended when Archaon dispatched an agent who told the Daemon Princes just how the Seraphon had used them and then immediately formed an alliance that caught the badly outnumbered Seraphon offguard, almost annihilating their army.

Pincer Attack
Forced to retreat, the Seraphon fell back to the ruins of a Numinous Occulum. The daemonic forces were quick to react, and they fell upon the Seraphon from two sides, launching wave after wave of attacks. Though many Seraphon were dispatched back to Azyr and their Slann Starmaster badly wounded, they managed to hold the line, frustrating the efforts of the Daemon Princes.

Bringing Down the Mountain/Twist of Fate
Below Orb Infernia, the battle between Stormcast and Bloodbound, both afflicted by Nurgle’s powerful enervating disease, continued to rage. Khorne had unleashed Skarbrand, and this gave the Lord-Relictor of the Stormcasts an idea – he would bring a mountainside down upon the Bloodthirster, and channel the daemon’s rage into burning the disease from the land. This he managed and, luckily, the mountain fell upon the Bloodscorch beasts, a mighty Warherd of Bullgors and Ghorgons that had been marching upon the last faithful pocket of the Devoted of Sigmar to wipe them out.

Storming the Gates
It was here that Archaon revealed the first part of his grand plan, the binding of the Godbeast Ignax, a dragon so large that the Fyreslayers who lived below had thought it a sun. Ignax had been bound to the Land of the Chained Sun by mighty chains that anchored the continent to the Godbeast. The Fyreslayers swore they would rather scour the land clean than allow Archaon a victory, and they planned to capture the great chains and retract them, pulling the continent into the Godbeast and burning all life from it. Sigmar unleashed his Extremis Chamber to aid them, attacking the Ironwarp Citadel that tethered one of the chains. In response, Archaon summoned the daemons of Orb Infernia and a great battle erupted that saw the Stormcasts breach the outer walls of the citadel

Securing a Foothold
Once inside the Ironwarp Citadel, the Stormcasts were joined by a large army of Fyreslayers, but both were quickly surrounded by the Bloodbound defenders. Despite the Bloodbound unleashing the mightiest of their forces, the Stormcasts and Fyreslayers held their ground long enough for reinforcements to begin pouring through the breach.

To Kill a King
With a massive army behind them, the Stormcasts assaulted the great keep of the Ironwarp Citadel. Seeing the danger, Archaon himself descended onto the battlefield, and a long protracted fight was waged for the inner walls. The Bloodbound threw themselves at their attackers, while Bloodletters and a Bloodthirster were summoned to hold the line. Finally, the Celestant-Prime arrived in a blinding flash of lightning to beat Archaon back and force him to abandon the citadel. The Stormcasts had captured the Ironwarp Citadel, but Archaon still held the balance of power on the Land of the Chained Sun.

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Noble Sacrifice
Though the Ironwarp Citadel had been lost, Archaon was otherwise unstoppable. The Fyreslayers began to enact their plan to burn the Land of the Chained Sun clean of all life, using the massive chains attached to it to haul it into the Godbeast Ignax’s fiery body. Archaon threw everything he had at them, disrupting their efforts long enough to enact a ritual that bound Ignax to his will. However, though Archaon had his first Godbeast, the Fyreslayers had managed to hammer an ancient rune into Ignax’s burning hide…

Death in the Darkness
The Stormcasts had launched a major offensive in the Scabrous Sprawl in the Realm of Life, determined to free the land from the attentions of the Clans Pestilens and their massive Parasite Engines. However, little did they know that this would be the scene for Archaon’s attempt to gain control of a second Godbeast, and the Everchosen had warned the Skaven that the Stormcasts were coming. The Stormcasts’ surprise attack was quickly countered by a combined Pestilens and Skryre force, making a quick victory impossible.

The Shattering
The Stormcasts became mired in the Scabrous Sprawl and what should have been a short war dragged into weeks and then months. Billions of Skaven were killed, but those were numbers they could easily sustain. Under the direction of Archaon, the Skaven had been working to corrupt geomantic nodes that bound the World Titan Behemat, a Godbeast Star Gargant of massive proportions, beneath the ground. As Behemat began to wake, so the ground quaked with his movements, disrupting the Stormcasts as they tried to bring the Skaven to battle.

Stem the Tide/Fleeting Fealty
High above the Scabrous Sprawl hung the Great Green Torc, a massive ring comprising the soulstuff of a dozen seasons. Archaon needed control of the Torc to bind the Godbeast Behemat. Two battles erupted at each end of the Great Umbilicus, the Realmgate that connected the Torc to the Scabrous Sprawl, with the Stormcasts facing the Rotbringers of Bloab Rotspawned below and Brayherds above. Only the appearance of a Gargant tribe saved the Stormcasts and allowed them to sever the connection to the Great Green Torc.

Hammer and Anvil
On the Great Green Torc, the battle of Order versus Chaos still raged as the Stormcasts tried to cleanse the land of Rotbringer and Brayherd. This time, they had unlikely allies in the form of Spiderfang Grots who had been constantly oppressed by the forces of Chaos and now saw their chance to gain freedom. However, despite being caught between these two forces, the Rotbringers drew their army in tight and weathered constant attacks, ensuring they would be present upon the Great Green Torc for many years to come.

To Bind the Storm
Despite the constant meddling from the Stormcasts, Archaon was ready to fully awaken his second Godbeast, Behemat the World Titan. Sigmar was left with no choice, and he dispatched a massive army of Stormcasts to kill the Godbeast before Archaon could gain it. Unleashing the Brotherhood of the Great Bolts, the Stormcasts broke through the Chaos line and slew the World Titan as it rose from the ground.

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Archaon had been defeated in the Realm of Life, but he still had one Godbeast under his control and he now began planning the next phase of the Realmgate Wars.

Stirring the Nest
Elsewhere on the Mortal Realms, Stormcast Eternals were being dispatched to secure more Realmgates, which were allowing them to strike at the heart of the forces of Chaos. One expedition was sent to the Voldyr Keep in the Realm of Fire. However, the Realmgate that lay within was guarded by the Ghoul King Marrowthirst, and his minions easily repulsed the Stormcasts as they arrived, striking from the shadows in a constant wave of Crypt Ghoul, Horror, and Flayer.

Two Became Three
Deep in Chamon, the Realm of Metal, Fyreslayers and Skaven had battled for decades aboard the lumbering Wyrd-Engine for control of the massive machine. Both had built their forces and both planned to finish their age-old enemy in one final push – however, as they launched their attacks, a third force arrived to contest the Wyrd-Engine, the deathly minions of a Flesh-Eater Court. The Skaven tried to run while the Fyreslayers battled the Ghoul King and his followers, but it was to no avail – the Crypt Ghouls overran both forces to claim the Wyrd-Engine for their monarch.

Headlong Onslaught
The Skybashas tribe of Ironjawz had been having a lot of fun, rampaging through one side of the Realm of Life to the other – however, they had been halted by the World Chasm, the rift between Ghyran and Aqshy. The Seraphon had been hoping that, deprived of any more Sylvaneth to bash, the Ironjawz would turn upon themselves. Unfortunately, the Skybashas discovered the Silverglade Citadel, a massive tree-city that spanned the chasm, and so the Seraphon were forced to position an army to halt them. The Ironjawz did not care – they simply ploughed through the celestial line, barely slowing down…

Awaken the Land
With the bulk of the Skybashas tribe now moving into the Realm of Fire, the Sylvaneth took the opportunity to retake the island at the heart of Sorrowmere Lake, a place of great import to them. Led by Drycha and her Outcasts, the Sylvaneth dealt the Ironjawz a cruel defeat and were able to reclaim their territory.

Over the Abyss
The Stormcasts, too, were interested in retaking lost ground, and now they focussed their attention on the Black Chasm Bridge, a mighty structure at the end of which lay the Emberport Realmgate – now held by the Helfire Legion, an army of Khornate Daemons. The Celestant-Prime himself was sent to lead the attack, but was hurled back to Azyr by the Bloodthirster general.

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The Wild Hunt
The Mortal Realms shook as a goddess emerged – Alarielle, the Radiant Queen, had been reborn in her war aspect. And she was angry. The first to feel her wrath were the Bloodbound who had been using a Realmgate to raid the Realm of Life from Aqshy. Alarielle gathered a great force of Sylvaneth and invaded Khorne’s own ground, burning through two Bloodthirsters as she smashed their warbands.

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Tornado of Destruction
Alarielle was not the only one flexing her muscles, for a great Ironjawz tribe had been rampaging through the Realm of Death and had chanced upon the city of Crookback, dominated by Aylessa, Consort to the Blood Queen and sister to Cyssandra. The vampire was forced to flee her lands as the Ironjawz tore through her city and razed it to the ground in an orgy of destruction.

Dead Cunning
In their quest to link ever more Realmgates, the Stormcasts launched an assault upon the Growling Gates in Ghur. However, the Fist of Gork himself, Gordrakk, had twigged that they would be coming, and he laid a series of traps for Sigmar’s warriors. The ensuing battle was brutal and both sides sustained massive casualties. In the end, the Ironjawz were forced to retreat but the Storncasts had too few men left to hold onto the Growling Gates.

A Deadly Hunt
Unwilling to allow Archaon to unleash his captured Godbeast, the God-King Sigmar stole the strategic initiative and launched his own offensive – this would be the All-Gates campaign, the last phase of the Realmgate Wars. Hos plan was to capture all the Realmgates, one in each Mortal Realm, that led to the Varanspire, a nexus of Realmgates guarded by Archaon’s own fortress. With the All-Gates in his possession, Sigmar would be able to strike at any Chaos force, anywhere in the Mortal Realms and begin forcing them back to the Realm of Chaos. He began with the Realm of Life and an alliance with Alarielle, and both started seeking the All-Gate deep in Nurgle’s territory – the Genesis Gate. However, Nurgle’s hold on this land was strong, and many Stormcast Eternals perished in the search.

Frontal Assault
The Genesis Gate was finally located within the heart of the Ring of Corruption, a complex of seven fortresses commanded by the Glottkin. Stormcast and Sylvaneth launched a joint attack on them, with the greatest battle being fought at the Hornspire. Alarielle herself took to the battlefield alongside the Celestant-Prime and, together, they broke the Rotbringers’ defence and took the walls of the fortress.

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The Key to Victory
Battle raged all over the Ring of Corruption, but Alarielle was getting frustrated. Gathering the Sylvaneth closest to her, she made a beeline for the Genesis Gate. The Glottkin were caught offguard and desperately tried to rally enough forces to stop her, but the goddess’ wrath was irresistible. Sweeping Rotbringers aside, Alarielle reached the Genesis Gate and cleansed it, smashing the hold Nurgle had over her realm.

Subterranean Attack
One of the All-Gates was now in the hands of Sigmar, and he had already launched attacks on the others. In Chamon, the Mercurial Gate lay within the Ironholds, a massive complex of constantly shifting walls and towers. The armies of Tzeentch made the Ironholds impregnable, so the Stormcasts enlisted the aid of Fyreslayers to tunnel into it. Popping up in one of the courtyards, they created a beachhead to allow reinforcements to flood the Ironholds.

Across the Deadly Span
The Stormcasts and Fyreslayers were now within reach of the Mercurial Gate, needing to cross just one long bridge to reach the Citadel of the Ironholds. Unfortunately, as they approached the citadel, the gates swung open to reveal Archaon himself, flanked by his Varanguard. Charging forward, the Everchosen smashed the Stormcasts and Fyreslayers, ending any chance for Sigmar to capture the Mercurial Gate. The first chink had formed in the God-Kings plans.

Beast Run
In Ghur, the Realm of Beasts, the Stormcasts had launched an attack on the Mawgate – however, the Orruks of Ghur noticed the battles and decided they just had to get involved. They first clashed with the Bloodbound, drawing one warband away from the battles to chase them into a narrow gorge inhabited by a tribe of Gargants. The Bloodbound were torn apart as they and the Ironjawz ran the Gargant gauntlet.

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The Dreadhold
The Stormcasts’ attack on the Chaos forts surrounding the Mawgate was beginning to get bogged down, but now the Ironjawz arrived on the scene. Led by a great Megaboss, they swept over one of the forts, annihilating a combined Slaanesh and Khorne force inside who had been forced to work together in a vain attempt to halt the green tide.

Right of Conquest
The Mawgate was now within reach of the Stormcasts, but the combined forces of Chaos still maintained a tight grip on it, and now Gordrakk, Fist of Gork, appeared at the head of a massive horde of Ironjawz, intent on claiming the whole realm for his own. A three-way battle erupted around the Mawgate.

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Gordrakk proved unstoppable, smashing through both Stormcast and Chaos Warrior to claim the Mawgate. Sigmar had failed to take another All-Gate, but it had also been denied to Archaon.

Elsewhere, in the Realm of Death, treachery from Nagash denied the Stormcasts the All-Gate there, and forces dispatched to the Realms of Light and Shadow simply disappeared without trace. The balance of the All-Gates campaign now rested on the Brimfire Gate in Aqshy, the Realm of Fire.

Unleash the Beast
The Brimfire Gate lay within the Brass Mountains, within a ring of eight ever larger fortresses. In their centre, guarding the gate, Khorne had chained Skarbrand. A small strike force of Prosecutors flew to the Brimfire Gate and released Skarbrand, who immediately turned upon the Bloodbound close by, before rampaging in fury throughout the rest of the fortresses.

Ultimate Siege Weapon
Joined by a large army of Fyreslayers, the Stormcasts began breaking through the walls of successive fortresses in an effort to reach the Brimfire Gate. They quickly ran into a seemingly insurmountable problem, as Archaon had into the fight, the massive dragon wrapping itself around several towers as it breathed an inferno into the ranks of the Stormcasts. One Runefather managed to activate the ancient rune that had been hammered into Ignax, at the cost of his own life, briefly taking control of the Godbeast and forcing it to immolate the Bloodbound defenders before it was released to escape to a far corner of Aqshy.

Through the Breach
The armies of Sigmar and Khorne had fought one another over eight fortresses, and now just a final push remained to reach the Brimfire Gate. The Extremis Chamber led the way, followed by Warrior Chambers and Fyreslayers. Matched against them were both mortals and daemons of Khorne, including Skarbrand, whose fury now drove this final conflict into new levels of bloodlust.

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The Bloodbound and daemons held the Extremis Chamber, containing them within the breach, until Retributors finally felled Skarbrand and a gap was opened. Though many tough fights claimed Stormcast and Fyreslayer alike, Sigmar’s army finally broke through and broke the back of the defenders, leaving the Brimfire Gate in the hands of the God-King.

And that was the end of the Realmgate Wars!

Quite a journey – more than 2,000 miniatures were painted for this campaign, used in nearly 90 battles, over eighteen months.

We are really quite proud of ourselves!

So, what is next for us?

Well, we have already started playing the ‘between wars’ Battleplans of the Battletomes that have been released since the end of the Realmgate Wars, and we are eagerly awaiting the next great installment in Age of Sigmar. We are also (re)fighting the Badab War campaign in 40k, and I have a hankering to play through the Prospero campaign in the Horus Heresy.

Whichever way we turn next, we’ll be detailing the entire campaign right here, battle-by-battle, so stay tuned!

 

 

 

Freeguild, Unite!

These are some models I have had in the works for quite a while (the new 40k upset my schedule a bit), destined for the ongoing Age of Sigmar campaign – the first of a new Freeguild army!

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I started off with a nice big unit of Handgunners (can be easily broken down into two units of 12 for smaller games), using a green and white colour scheme inspired by the Freeguild mercenaries in the City of Secrets novel.

For years I have been put off Empire models mostly because of their ‘quartered’ paint scheme but, as it turns out, it is not a bear to do at all!

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I also managed to do a General to lead the Freeguild, who will sit nicely alongside the two Battlemages I did a short while ago.

For the rest of this army (it is only going to be a small force – for now, at least) I have a unit of 30 Freeguild Guard and another of 10 Greatswords. To these, I am adding an Ironweld Arsenal Helblaster Volley Gun and a Steam Tank (because you just have to).

All of these have been built and based, and are just waiting an undercoat and slot in the painting schedule – going to be cracking on with these quite soon as I have a two-game, two-table, four-Battleplan fight planned for these, as part of the Age of Sigmar campaign.

Stay tuned!