Battle Report – Slay the Prophet

The Bonesplitterz have well and truly burst into the Mortal Realms. They had a bash at the Seraphon last time, and now they are going to have a go against the Bloodbound…

 

The Story So Far

While chasing herds of Gruntas, Wurrgg Prophet Gurkak Weirdteef and his warclan stormed through the Gnarlgate and into the Realm of Life. However, they had been followed…

Baudrax the Hunter, leader of a Brass Stampede of Khorne, had been chasing the Bonesplitterz, intending to exact vengeance upon them for poaching the lives of beasts that belonged to the Blood God. As the Brass Stampede thundered towards him, Gurkak Weirdteef panicked somewhat and desperately tried to reopen the Gnarlgate so more of his warclan could get through and reinforce those who had followed him. However, the arrival of Baudrax and the blessings of the Blood God ensured the Realmgate remained still.

The Brass Stampede began to ride over the Bonesplitterz, and Baudrax saw his chance. If he could reach the Wurrgog Prophet before more Orruks arrived, he would claim a worthy skull indeed for his master.

 

The Forces

As the Bonesplitterz are still a fairly new army for us, we are keeping things small and tight (don’t worry, that will change in the next battle, and we have some truly stonking Orruk-based battles planned for the near future!) on both sides. Both armies have strong cavalry themes, so expect a lot of movement in this fight!

Bloodbound
Lord of Khorne on Juggernaut (Baudrax the Hunter)
Mighty Skullcrushers x 12 (one unit of 6, two units of 3)
Chaos Knights x 10 (two units of 5)
Chaos Chariot

The Khorne force has a full Brass Stampede in this army, ably assisted by two units of Chaos Knights. Should be fast and fun! On top of that, we have just got hold of the new Blades of Khorne book, so we will be giving those rules a whirl too.

Bonesplitterz
Wurgog Prophet (Gurkak Weirdteef)
Wardokk x 2
Maniak Weirdnobs x 4
Morboys x 20
Boarboy Maniaks x 20 (two units of 10)

We are continuing with using the Bonesplitterz Battalions, with two types we have not yet tried. These are the Kop Rukk (Wardokks and Savage Morboys, who get bonuses to wound rolls and increased chances of casting spells) and two Snaga Rukks (Boarboy Maniaks led by Maniak Weirdnobs, who can charge in the hero phase, and can dish out mortal wounds when they do). Together, these Battalions will be able to kick out a lot of magic against the Bloodbound.

 

The Battleplan

In this Battleplan (Slay the Prophet), the Bonesplitterz are set up first in the centre of the battlefield, with just the Wurrgog Prophet and two units, in a place of power. The Bloodbound then deploy with three of their units.

So long as the Wurrgog Prophet stays in his place of power, he cannot be attacked at a range further than 6″ (not an issue for Bloodbound) and he may also have attacks safely diverted away from him by Gorkamorka.

Both armies will receive reinforcements throughout the battle, the Bloodbound getting three units every round (we will be allowing destroyed units to be recycled), while the the Bonesplitterz receive one unit on their first round, two on their second, and so on.

The Bonesplitterz gain a major victory if they ever have more than twice the number of units on the battlefield than the Bloodbound. The Bloodbound gain a major victory if they managed to slay the Wurrgog Prophet.

In addition, both armies pick one unit in their force for a special rule. The Bonesplitterz have a bodyguard unit for the Wurrgog Prophet, who can take wounds in place of him, while the Bloodbound pick a unit to assassinate the Wurrgog Prophet, gaining +1 to wound rolls made against him.

Both units automatically pass battleshock trests.

 

Deployment

Wurrgg Prophet Gurkak Weirdteef knew he was in trouble immediately. Only a group of Morboys and Boarboy Maniaks were close to hand, and the Skullcrushers of Baudrax the Hunter were already thundering towards him. Sticking close to the Realmgate, he fervently hoped the rest of his boys would arrive soon.

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Battle Round One

It was about to get worse. Baudrax rode forward, the Skullcrushers either side of him causing the ground to shake with their iron hooves and, behind them, more Skullcrushers arrived, flanked by Khornate Chaos Knights.

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Seeing their prey huddled around the Realmgate, the Skullcrushers did not hesitate and, led by Baudrax, they crashed into the Morboys thronging around their Wurrgog Prophet.

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As promised by Gurkak Weirdteef, the warpaint the Morboys had covered themselves with before the battle proved sufficient protection against the Juggernauts, and only two Orruks were mercilessly ridden down by the Skullcrushers. However, the warpaint proved less effective against the glaives of the Skullcrushers and Baudrax’s axe, and more than a dozen were hacked down as they barely scratched the Juggernauts. The few remaining Morboys broke, and ran, leaving their Prophet to his fate.

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Preparing himself for a real fight, Gurkak Weirdteef opened his mouth to unleash a mighty warcry, fuelled by the power of Gorkamorka himself, but something went wrong and nothing more than a pathetic mewling left his lips. With some chagrin, the Prophet instead opted to throw a Mystic Shield over himself.

The Boarboy Maniaks were made of stronger stuff than the Morboys, and they whooped with glee as they urged their mounts onwards, surrounding one of the Skullcrusher units.

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One Skullcrusher went down to their initial attack, and though they managed to slay one Boarboy Maniak and his pig, they were completely unprepared for the boars to surge forward again, wiping the Skullcrushers out.

As more Boarboy Maniaks arrived on the battlefield, Gurkak Weirdteef dared to hope he might yet be saved from the axe of Baudrax the Hunter.

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Battle Round Two

However, Baudrax had not become the leader of a Brass Stampede by being fooled by simple Orruks. He ordered the closest unit of Skullcrushers to loop round the Realmgate, and cut the Prophet off from the newly arrived Boarboy Maniaks.

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By now, the second wave of Brass Stampede had advanced and was now ready to launch itself into the fight.

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As more Skullcrushers and a Gorebeast Chariot arrived, Baudrax turned his Juggernaut around and retreated, to the jeers of Gurkak Weirdteef. However, the Khorne Lord had a plan, and he did not intend to lower himself to the catcalls of a Bonesplitter.

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With a gesture of his axe, Baudrax gave the order to close in around the Bonesplitterz, and his Skullcrushers and Knights obeyed with a precision that would have impressed a Stormcast Eternal. The Bonesplitterz near the Realmgate were now almost completely surrounded and becoming rapidly fewer in number.

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The Boarboy Maniaks bore the brunt of the attack, with three of them crushed by the initial charge of the Skullcrushers alone. The rest put up a brave fight, but were completely outmatched, and were slaughtered by gleeful Chaos Knights. Gurkak Weirdteef survived, with just a scratch from the glaive of a Skullcrusher.

Though he was now alone, Gurkak Weirdteef smiled to himself, for he had seen a way out. The noose Baudrax had thrown around him was not complete, and if he could reach his reinforcements, he could skulk in the nearby Sylvaneth Woods until the rest of his warclan turned up.

However, Baudrax the Hunter was not done.

Calling upon the power of Khorne, Baudrax offered a Blood Tithe, and was rewarded with his Chaos Knights being filled with a Murderlust. Enraged by the power of the Blood God, the Chaos Knights pushed their steeds hard, and closed off the Prophet’s escape route.

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Gurkak Weirdteef was now in real trouble. He tried to unleash another Warcry at the Chaos Knights, but Gorkamorka was not granting that power this day. The Prophet instead hastily threw a Mystic Shield around himself… and ran.

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The Chaos Knights had left the tiniest of gaps in their line, and Gurkak Weirdteef took advantage of it. However, this route took him straight past Baudrax the Hunter, and he desperately hoped the Lord of Khorne had not seen him.

More Boarboy Maniaks arrived, but though they raced as fast as their boars could carry them, they were far from their Prophet.

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Seeing that they could not reach Gurkak Weirdteef, the closest unit of Boarboy Maniaks ploughed into the Chaos Knights, tying up both them and the largest group of Skullcrushers in the hope that they could at least buy their Prophet more time.

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Three Boarboy Maniaks were slain in the swords and axes of the Chaos Knights, but they managed to get one of Khorne’s warriors in return. More importantly, the Chaos Knights were now fixated on them, and not the Prophet.

 

Battle Round Three

Gurkak Weirdteef was now running for his life, and Baudrax the Hunter now revealed himself for the cunning tactician he was. Though all his men were engaged with the Bonesplitterz, his earlier retreat now pout him in the perfect position to chase down the Prophet.

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The Lord of Khorne rode forwards, his Juggernaut knocking the Wurrgog Prophet to the ground.

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Gurkak Weirdteef had just enough time to look upwards as he lay on his back, to see Baudrax’s axe descending upon his neck.

A worthy skull indeed had been claimed in Khorne’s name this day.

 

Conclusion

Now, that was an interesting battle – and, in the end, it all came down to the new Blood Tithe rules in the Blades of Khorne book (this battle was played a week too late for the Bonesplitterz!).

This was always going to be a tough battle for the Orruks, as they have to cede ground while holding up Khorne units (and Juggernauts at that!), making sure the Prophet is safe. And that was exactly what was happening, right up to the point that a Blood Tithe was declared in the Bonesplitterz own hero phase, and Murderlust allowed a unit of Chaos Knights to rush forward and cut the Prophet off from his reinforcements. Had they not done that, the Prophet could have run back towards his Boarboy Maniaks, who would then advance and cut off any approach (they would die, but the Bonesplitterz get more and more reinforcements every round, so they could afford that loss).

There was a second chance for the Prophet to make a break, if only the Bonesplitterz had won first turn in the third round but, again, it was not to be.

However, it was a great battle and a worthy victory for Khorne!

 

The Story Continues…

As we are now up to speed on the Bonesplitterz, we are next going to try a battle that involves the whole warclan – against the best the Stormcasts can muster!

Review – Battletome: Blades of Khorne

Hot on the heels of the new Battletome for the Stormcasts, the forces of Khorne get a revision too. So, let’s crack open the cover and see what’s what.

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The first thing to note is that this book does not just cover the mortal Bloodbound, as the previous edition did. Like Disciples of Tzeentch, this volume covers all Khorne-based armies, from the Bloodbound, through daemons, to Khorne worshipping Slaves to Darkness.

A word about the art… it is fairly awesome…

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I have noticed some debate on forums of late regarding art in recent Age of Sigmar books, with suggestions that some of it is bad. Umm, no. Some art is better than the rest, but there really is no bad art in these books. Put that one down to Internet Stress.

As with Disciples of Tzeentch, the book kicks off with an overview of Khorne and what it is to be in his armies. Being Khorne, there is not a great deal of nuance here (‘aaargh, I am really angry!’), though it does lay out why Khorne has such a massive issue with Slaanesh.

That said, the writing does a good job of putting you in the right frame of mind to control an army of Khorne – or what it might be like to face one.

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Veterans of Warhammer will know all about the eight hosts of Khorne, and where the Bloodthirsters fit into them. A nice touch is that the First Host specifically lists Exalted Bloodthirsters, which is a good nod to the renaming of the models from Forge World (of which I have just become a proud owner and, as soon as the Exalted Bloodthirster gets a lick of paint, I’ll post piccies!).

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We have all become familiar with the suggested paint schemes in Battletomes, and there have been comments that they are a little poor, art-wise, being rather flat and ‘coloured in’. I am actually okay with this, as it gets the point across without any confusion, which is the last thing you need when trying to settle on a new colour scheme for your army. Both mortals and daemons are covered, though the range of colours for Bloodletters is always going to be limited (though bone coloured Hellblades are a nice idea…).

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I am a fair fan of the double page spread of weapons and their descriptions that have started to pop up in Battletomes, but there is something else I would have liked to have seen these pages used for, and I’ll come back to that in a moment…

Another nice touch…

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Lord Korghos Khul is still a thing, and while he managed to achieve daemonhood in our own campaign, it is good to see he is likely to appear in future GW publications.

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The ‘timeline’ spread is limited to two pages, and this one is really more of a history of what has gone by, mostly before the Realmgate Wars. However, the last event suggests Khorne is somewhat put out by the successes enjoyed recently by the Stormcasts. Expect retribution…

Following what is becoming the traditional format of Battletomes, unit descriptions follow, with entries for every Khorne model currently available. Even the likes of Karanak get healthy coverage.

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Veterans may be tempted to skip past this bit, but I would caution against it, as this is probably the most in-depth overview we have ever had for Khorne in Age of Sigmar. It even differentiates between the different Heralds of Khorne – Bloodmasters, Skullmasters, Blood Thrones and Skulltaker himself.

Next up, the ‘hobby’ section, with lots of photographs of pretty miniatures. Lots of them. In fact, at 22 pages, I think this is the most space that has been given to these photographs in any Battletome – perhaps not a surprise, given the size of the Khorne range.

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Next up are the rules, and let me now welcome all of you who skipped the review to reach this point!

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There has been a fair bit of chatter on forums already about the Blood Tithe table used in the Battle Trait for all Khorne forces – in a nutshell, you get a Blood Tithe point for every unit (friend or foe) destroyed during the battle. These may then be spent (sometimes in your enemy’s hero phase) to use additional command abilities, unbind spells (automatically!), have a brass skull meteor lobbed onto the battlefield, or summon new Khorne daemon units (and yes, Skarbrand will most certainly count!).

Command Traits, like those for Tzeentch, are divided between mortal, daemon and hardcore mortals (the Bloodbound in this case, in the same way as the Arcanite Acolytes represented for Tzeentch).

Plenty of artefacts follow, with tables divided between mortals, daemons, and Bloodbound specific forces. Like the Stormcasts, there are also tables specifically for totems and prayers, and I foresee Bloodsecrators and Slaughterpriests becoming (even) more prominent in Khorne forces.

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Again like recent Battletomes, there are two Battleplans (one for daemons, one for mortals) and regulars will know what I am going to say at this point – please GW, give us background stories for these Battleplans like you used to do, and advance the storyline as you go! Some of us really like the context this background gives to our battles on the tabletop!

Both Battleplans are simple in their approach (as befits Khorne), with one focussing on shedding as much blood as possible and the other having armies seek worthy skulls (also as befits Khorne).

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Path to Glory campaign tables follow, and I think I would be quite comfortable with Khorne forces. The odd Bloodthirster aside, there are no units included here that will simply crush all opposition. And you can deal with the odd Bloodthirster.

Until you get to the Battalions, of course. Up to now, the additions to Khorne forces have been flavourful, interesting and of some small benefit to Khorne players. Now we come to the part of the Battletome that will really make Khorne forces fly.

Take the Daemon Legion of Khorne, for example:

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This is actually two Battalions, as it includes the Blood Host of Khorne. Minimum cost, 1260 points (ten Bloodletter units, and a pint-sized Bloodthirster). So, in a 2,000 point tournament army, you have plenty of room to add more units and finesse existing ones (increasing Bloodletter units to 20 or 30 models would be a good start, to get those lovely mortal wounds – add a Herald to get even more). However, for your points, you are now getting pile ins/attacks during the hero phase, along with a bonus Blood Tithe point every round, and if any unit is destroyed in a combat phase, every Battalion model gets +1 Attacks to every melee weapon.

Not good enough for you? Well then, let me introduce you to the Murderhost. You just need one Bloodletter Hero and 3-8 daemonic units (you’ll go for 8), and you get a bonus 2D6″ for every unit close to the Hero at the start of the game. Have the full 8 units, and you get that in every hero phase. You no longer have a problem reaching enemies before they shoot you to pieces.

Existing Battalions have been revised, with the Brass Stampede getting some new bonuses (and the Bloodcrushers get an equivalent Battalion too now).

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My only bugbear here? The big Bloodbound Warhorde mega-Battalion still has the Gorechosen in addition to the Heroes of the other Battalions. And it just ain’t supposed to be that way – there are supposed to be eight Gorechosen, full stop, with each leading a portion of the warhorde. Not eight Gorechosen sitting on top of other Heroes who then lead the others.

Yeah, I know, that is a small concern, but it has been bugging me since Battletome: Khorne Bloodbound…

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Finally, you get Warscrolls and Pitched Battle Profiles. I would recommend that veterans do not skip this section either as, like the Stormcasts, there are some small tweaks. The biggest (in effect) is probably with the Bloodreavers, who now get Save 6+. Other generals might guffaw at that, but this is a Big Deal to a Bloodreaver, who can now take advantage of cover…

Bloodreavers now also only respond to Khorne Totems, and I have a feeling in the last edition they got excited around any Totem.

 

Conclusion

Overall, this is a worthy addition to the Age of Sigmar line and while there will be some complaints that Khorne did not need this volume before Nurgle got his, there are plenty of Khorne players who will appreciate it (and, I have a feeling, some new Khorne players will be joining them). I don’t begrudge them that, and there is plenty in this book for them to get their teeth (and axes) into.

 

Warscroll Cards

In addition to the Battletome, GW also released some handy Warscroll cards that cover every Khorne unit.

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Regular readers will know of the font issue that plagued the Stormcast card deck, so did GW make suitable changes for Khorne?

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I don’t think so!

This Skulltaker card is entirely representative.

Now, to be fair, this approach does make a degree of sense for the likes of Skarbrand:

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But not for other units.

To put a further nail in the coffin, take a look at that Skulltaker card… then look at the Skulltaker entry in the Battletome a little further up the page.

They have done the same thing in the book!

This is officially Not Good. Can’t help thinking it may be a push towards PDF Warscrolls (which tend to be just fine) or the Age of Sigmar app.

So, final-final conclusion: Get the Battletome, leave the cards.

 

 

 

Battle Report – The Beast Hunt

Though the Realmgate War has been fought and (sort of) won, fighting does not stop in the Mortal Realms. We are in a kind of interbellum period at the moment as we wait for the new campaign books to drop, advancing the storyline further, but in the 50-odd years between those and the Realmgate War, there is plenty going on.

This time round, we are going to take a look at a brand new army for us, the Bonesplitterz, and see just what they have been up to.

 

The Story So Far

Bonesplitter Orruks believe that the power of their god, Gorkamorka, literally resides in the bones of the greatest monsters that roam the Mortal Realms. So, they spend their time following the directions of their Wurrgog Prophets, who promise to lead them to the biggest beasts within reach. However, the Seraphon have always provided a certain fascination for the Bonesplitterz, as their monsters simply vanish into starlight when slain. This has not stopped the Bonesplitterz from repeatedly trying to get at their bones though…

Within the Realm of Fire lay the Dragon’s Gullet, a winding valley so mountainous that the sides curled back on themselves so peaks hung overhead. Here, the Bloodbound had built the Gorefane, a great fortress that sucked in magic and breathed out fire. Starmaster Koatok had selected this fortress for destruction, and his Seraphon slaughtered the defenders and took apart the Gorefane piece by piece.

Then, the Bonesplitterz arrived, carried across the Scorched Seas on ships of living stone. Wurrgog Prophet Gurkak Weirdteef had been following the signs (that only he could see) of great beasts coming from the stars. Sighting the Seraphon’s great beasts, the Bonesplitterz leapt from their ships and started thundering forwards.

Starmaster Koatok had not foreseen this, and cursed the unpredictability of the Orruks. However, he was well versed in warfare, and the Seraphon were soon deployed to meet the new threat.

 

The Forces

The background of the Bonesplitterz very much suggests they are arranged around their Battalions, as opposed to their Battalions representing specialised formations or just cool things to try out. So, I have been building my Bonesplitterz with this in mind and, as this is the first outing for them, we are just trying three simple Battalions.

Bonesplitterz
Wurgog Prophet (Gurkak Weirdteef)
Big Boss x 2
Wardokk
Boarboyz x 10
Savage Orruks x 40 (two units of 20)
Arrowboys x 20
Big Stabbas x 4

These are arranged in a Brutal Rukk (faster when they run), a Kunnin’ Rukk (which will be familiar to many on the tournament circuit, though we have toned down the units within it – one of the Savage Orruk units and the Arrowboys basically get a ‘free’ action in the hero phase), and a Teef Rukk (all the Big Stabbas, allowing them to get free attacks against specific monsters).

Seraphon
Slann Starmaster (Koatok)
Oldblood on Carnosaur
Saurus Warriors x 40
Skinks x 20
Chameleon Skinks x 5
Saurus Knights x 10 (two units of 5)
Saurus Guard x 15
Bastiladon
Stegadon

The Seraphon have come loaded for bear and, to the joy of the Bonesplitterz, they have three monsters among them (Carnosaur, Bastiladon and Stegadon). We don’t really know how the Bonesplitterz are going to perform (and being our first game with them, they are unlikely to be played in an optimum manner), so we have avoided taking any Battalions for the Seraphon. Let’s just assume the Starmaster is very confident about handling a bunch of green-skinned savages…

 

The Battleplan

In this Battleplan (The Beast Hunt), the Bonesplitterz have completely surrounded the Seraphon and are so pumped up with the thrill of the hunt that they will automatically pass all Battleshock tests.

For their part, the Seraphon brought some particularly vicious beasts to deal with the Gorefane and they are still around to face the Bonesplitterz. All Seraphon Monsters add +1 to all their hit rolls (that is going to be savage!).

Victory conditions are simple – if all three of the Seraphon monsters are killed, the Bonesplitterz earn a major victory. The Seraphon gain a major victory if they can wipe the Bonesplitterz out…

 

Deployment

It was with no little surprise that Starmaster Koatok looked up from his contemplations to see eighty fist-throwing Orruks racing towards him, bellowing as they ran. The Seraphon reformed their lines in a disciplined manner, ensuring a barrier of Saurus Knights, Warriors or Guard would face the Bonesplitterz from every direction. High above the battlefield hung the constellation of the Great Drake, a good omen, the Starmaster knew.

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For their part, the Bonesplitterz were running to battle within their Rukks, the Brutal Rukk from the east, while the Kunnin’ and Teef Rukks approached from the north. The Brutal Rukk had further to run, but comprised the fastest Orruks.

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Battle Round One

The Kunnin’ Rukk was well named, for the Arrow Boys launched a sneak attack at the Stegadon who had ventured just a little too far forward among the other Seraphon, and a wave of arrows arced through the air. Some penetrated the Stegadon’s thick scales, causing the beast to bellow in pain.

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Not to be outdone, the Savage Orruks accompanying the Arrow Boys tore forward, eager to claim the bones of the beast. Behind them, Wurrgog Prophet Weirdteef danced and capered, until a massive spectral fist appeared above the Skinks. It slammed down, and six Skinks burst into starlight instantly, before the fist opened and scooped up the Savage Orruks, depositing them within yards of the Stegadon.

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The Brutal Rukk had already promised themselves they would not be left behind by the sneak Kunnin’ Rukk, and they raced forwards as their Wardokk performed a ju-ju dance behind them.

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The Arrow Boys loosed another volley at the Stegadon, and what they lacked in accuracy they more than made up for with volume of fire. This time many more arrows struck the Stegadon, and it started to limp as it turned to face the Savage Orruks, who crashed into the beast with an impact that reverberated around the battlefield.

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The carnage they inflicted would have impressed even the toughest Orruk of the Brutal Rukk, and the Arrow Boys were hot on their heels, slamming into the side of the Saurus Knights.

The Stegadon was simply overwhelmed by the rush of the Savage Orruks, and the beast moaned as it faded into starlight. Cheated of any bones, the Orruks yelled in frustration, and immediately started to find more prey. They did not have long to wait as the Oldblood piled into them on the back of a Carnosaur, the Saurus Guard flowing around the Bastiladon to support him. All of a sudden, the Savage Orruks had a real fight on their hands.

Then it was the turn of the Brutal Rukk, as the Boar Boys galloped to reach the Saurus Warriors. Neither unit was in a position to overwhelm its enemy, but both sides started to suffer casualties.

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The sheer ferocity of the Bonesplitterz unnerved some of the Seraphon, and a handful of Skinks and Saurus Knights fled the battlefield. Starmaster Koatok paid them scant attention, for he knew he had to act quickly if he were to stop the Bonesplitterz from completely overwhelming his force.

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Harnessing the arcane power of the Numinous Occulum, the Slann Starmaster threw a Mystic Shield over the Oldblood and Carnosaur, before hurling an Arcane Bolt at the Wurrgog Prophet. However, the mad capering of the Prophet created a complex weave of mystical energies that the Starmaster just could not penetrate, and the spell went awry before it came close to the Orruk.

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With a silent command from the Starmaster, a small group of Chameleon Skinks scampered out of a rock cluster, and raised their blowpipes – the Wurrgog Prophet was in their sights, and they had a chance to decapitate the Bonesplitterz before their attack could gather strength.

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Unfortunately, their aim proved to be less than legendary, and Weirdteef barely noticed the darts that thudded into his flesh.

The Oldblood started getting into his old rhythm as he and his Carnosaur tore apart the Savage Orruks. They tried to avoid the Carnosaur and instead launched an attack on the Bastiladon, but its thick shell protected it from all but the heaviest of their blows, and as the beast turned about, a massive swing of its tail knocked the last of the Savage Orruks flying.

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On the other side of the Numinous Occulum, the Brutal Rukk was beginning to get bogged down by the horde of Saurus Warriors, and the fight was beginning to dissolve into a confusing melee – just how the Boar Boys liked it!

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Battle Round Two

The momentum of the battle was firmly with the Bonesplitterz, and Wurrgog Prophet Weirdteef was quick to take advantage of it.

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The Arrow Boys loosed a thick volley at the Bastiladon, but were disappointed as most of their arrows simply bounced off its shell. Cursing their ineptitude, Weirdteef decided to show them how things should be done, creating a great spectral Fist of Gork that crashed down among the Saurus Guard, flattening four of them. However, as he prepared to hurl an Arcane Bolt at the Bastiladon, the Slann Starmaster picked apart the spell as if it had been cast by an infant.

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However, the Wurrgog Prophet had another trick up his sleeve…

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With bellows that were equal part aggression and pure joy, the Big Stabbas of the Teef Rukk ran in, slamming into the Carnosaur and burying a Gork Took deep into the beast’s flank. The Prophet Weirdteef proved he indeed had the power of the Waaagh! with him as he urged the Big Stabbas onwards – they pulled their Gork Toof free and then charged again, driving their weapons deep into the Carnosaur until it burst in a rain of starlight.

They, too, were disappointed to see the creature simply disappear before their eyes, but they were still elated – the Bonesplitterz had now accounted for two of the three beasts the Seraphon had in their ranks. Now, only the Bastiladon remained.

As one, the Arrow Boys and more Big Stabbas started to converge on the Bastiladon, keen not to let other Orruks have all the fun.

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Just a short distance away, the Orruks of the Brutal Rukk were perturbed that the Kunnin’ Rukk was claiming all the beasts, and so they tried an old trick. As their own Savage Orruks neared the Seraphon, the Boar Boys retreated, leaving the Saurus Warriors wide open…

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…before returning with a new charge alongside the Savage Orruks.

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The Saurus Warriors buckled under this fresh attack, but continued to hold firm.

Seeing the rest of this tribe approach the Bastiladon, Wurrgog Prophet Weirdteef was keen to help, but he saw the Chameleon Skinks closing in on his position, so he instead opted to heroically relocate to somewhere safer.

The fighting began to intensify as the Bonesplitterz concentrated their efforts on the Bastiladon, but the beast was proving tough. Missiles form the Arrow Boys continued to bounce off its thick shell like rain. However, the Stabba Boys were close. Barely missing a step after they had slain the Carnosaur, they raced in with their Gork Teef.

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Even the Bastiladon’s mighty armour was no match for the power of the Big Stabbas, and armour plates were shattered and split as the Gork Teef were driven in at full speed. Gasping once, the Bastiladon dissolved into nothingness.

Seeing all his beasts destroyed, Slann Starmaster Koatok had no choice but to withdraw back to Azyr, the sound of excited, chanting Orrusk ringing in his ears as he departed.

 

Conclusion

As it turns out, Bonesplitterz are very, very good at killing monsters!

Those Big Stabbas are just brutal against anything large and, when combined with their Battalions and the Wurrgog Prophet, can deliver an amount of attacks that, frankly, even Archaon would have a problem with.

The Bonesplitterz are an exciting little force, capable of punching far above their own weight. Their basic foot troops (Savage Orruks) are ‘okay’ – they are durable enough, but don’t expect them to work miracles. They might be best used to hold up the enemy while the more specialised units do their work but, at the end of the day, this is just our first battle with them.

The Wurrgog Prophet is a good leader and wizard but the stars of the battle, without any doubt, were the Big Stabbas. Just a single unit was responsible for the Carnosaur and Bastiladon and, if they had had a crack at the Stegadon, I have little doubt they could have claimed three beasts in that fight!

 

The Story Continues…

Well, the Bonesplitterz have certainly made their impact upon the Mortal Realms, and we will be sticking with them next time as a full Brass Stampede of Khorne has isolated a Wurrgog Prophet and seeks to crush him into the ground before the rest of his tribe can arrive…

Skavenblight Scramblers

I have been managing to keep the Blood Bowl releases on a low key roll, and this weekend I managed to finish off the Skavenblight Scramblers:

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Overall, I am quite happy with how these little rats turned out. I more or less followed the paint scheme from the ‘official’ Skavenblight Scramblers, and the models are very nice, especially considering they are snap-together in design.

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I started off base coating them Mournfang Brown, with a Tyrant Skull drybrush, but there is not too much need to go heavy on that (as you might with Clanrats) as there is not a great deal of fur on display.

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The skin goes on next (Bugmans), then the metal (Leadbelcher and Balthazar), before everything gets drenched in an Agrax wash.

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Then it is just a case of doing the highlights and clothing. Black (with Skavenblight Dinge highlight) is predominant, along with the green trimmings and armour (Warpstone Green, followed by Moot Green – no wash needed here).

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The red spot colours are just Mephiston, Agrax and Evil Sunz.

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I was unusually efficient and did the Rat Ogre at the same time. Despite criticisms of this model in the various forums, it really does look better in real life – not awesome, but better.

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The green colour scheme works particularly well on a larger model, I think.

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Finally, I also ‘popped in’ Varag Ghoulchewer. Nothing to do with Skaven, of course, but as a single model he was really quick to do in the colours of the Gouged Eye team, as detailed in the Blood Bowl rulebook.

Beastly Tzeentch

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

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

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

Which is never going to happen.

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

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

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

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

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

Battle Report – Through the Breach

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

 

The Story So Far

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

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

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

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

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

Then the Stardrakes arrived.

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

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

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

 

The Forces

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Battleplan

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

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

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

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

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

 

Deployment

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

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

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

 

Battle Round One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Battle Round Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Battle Round Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sigmar’s soldiers had claimed the Brimfire Gate.

 

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

So close, and yet so far!

 

The Story Continues…

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

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

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

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

Review – Nagash: The Undying King

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obviously, Spoiler Alerts by the bucket load…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Deathlords?

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

Also… mounted Blightkings seem to be a thing.

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