Last week I got a chance to play my first scenario from the Age of Sigmar books and it was a blast! My friend had built up his Khorne forces from the starter set and added a Deathbringer and Bloodthirster to his forces. With such a large monster I knew what scenario we had to play right away, Kill the Beast.
K'arnarth shifted uncomfortably in the dense fog, surrounded by the oppressive petrified forest of the Igneous Delta. Somewhere close by he could hear the roars of the great beast they had summoned, muffled and distorted by the encroaching storm heads. Its cries of frustration and unholy rapture bouncing eerily from tree trunk to tree trunk. It had taken many blood priest's lives to complete the task, but they had ripped the creature into reality, binding it to his master's will. The glorious demon had radiated rage, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end and his eye develop an unhealthy twitch. With no enemy to sate his growing bloodlust, K'arnarth had wandered off into the dense banks of fog in a near blood drunk stupor, his mind a befuddled mess.
Away from the cloying presence of the demon his thoughts began to clear as the storm above finally broke. A deluge of rain pouring down between the twisted branches. A growing sense of unease gripped the bloodreaver, but he couldn't pinpoint its source. Holding his blades in a white knuckle grip K'arnarth began to back away towards the Bloodbound's camp, when without warning a bolt of lightning crashed down before him. The force of the blast threw him backwards into a nearby tree, cracking his head against the stone hard bark.
A massive golden warrior swam into focus before him, a tall plume of red cresting his helmet. "Tell me filth, where is the demon?" the warrior rumbled menacingly as he loomed over the prone bloodreaver. Before K'arnarth could form a reply the Bloodthirster's roar cut through the storm, drawing the attention of the demigod. Looking back down at the terrified Bloodreaver, the warrior gripped his head and twisted it violently with a crack. Dropping the lifeless body, Liberator Prime Claesus rose to his feet, war hammer in hand. "For Sigmar!" he roared, as more bolts of lightning struck around him and the golden host advanced.
We didn't count out wounds or anything for this game and the only comp we used was to measure from the base. He just brought all of his models, and I brought all of my Stormcast Eternals. This lead to me being outnumbered, not only by models, but by wounds as well. He had about 75 wounds where as I had only about 50. This worked fine for the scenario though since it encourages unequal sides. It would have been tough for me to win if I needed to kill all of his models, but all I had to do was take down the Beast, which in this case was his Bloodthirster. This scenario also calls for split battlefields, with a 2' x 4' separate playing area to represent the sky war going on and a 4' x 4' main playing area. The only flying units we had were my Prosecutors and his Bloodthirster though, so it never saw any use. Most of our units were unpainted since it was all fairly new models. The only unit that had any paint was my unit of Liberators in progress, so sorry in advance for the greyness of these pictures.
I knew I couldn't worry about any of my guys surviving, so the first thing I did was throw my Prosecutors at him. Their shooting attacks didn't do anything to the demon, so they charged in. Nothing else made their charge role so it was up to my Prosecutors. After inflicting two wounds they were promptly turned into a red smear on the ground. On his turn he charged his Reavers into my Relictor and his Bloodthirster into one of my units of Liberators.
Unfortunately for him both of his units were within 3" of another one of mine, so in the combat phase my second unit of Liberators piled into the Bloodthirster and my Celestant plowed into the Reavers. At this point the game pretty much got split into those two combats as the rest of his army tried to make it over to help out. I didn't expect the Liberators to do much. I really just hoped they could keep the demon tied up until my Retributors or heroes could make it over there. In the end though these guys did the most damage. Their ability to have a plus one to hit when fighting a model with more then five wounds really helped out. As soon as they started knocking wounds off him too his combat stats started dropping. This is the first time that mechanic has really come into play in any of my games and I have to say, it's pretty cool. It really does a good job of representing the bigger monsters starting to lose steam as they bleed out from all the wounds they have.
A golden body arced through the air off to Lord-Celestant Orros Firestorm's far left. A trail of blood following it in its deadly trajectory before it disappeared in a flash of lightning, spearing back up into the heavens. Beneath his impassive helmet Orros cursed. The Liberators were no match for a Greater Demon and he knew it. Although several gnarled trees blocked his view he could hear the carnage being unleashed against his forces by the Bloodthirster. As much as he wanted to ride to their aide, the mob of bloodreavers hacking into his armor demanded his immediate attention.
Swinging his tempestus hammer in a long arc he crushed several of the reavers, small arcs of lightning signaling each impact. His dracoth tore through their flesh with equal ease, and still they came, their blade arms seeming to never tire. Gritting his teeth Orros redoubled his efforts while to his right the Lord-Relictor called down a powerful storm, charred bodies rewarding his prayers. "We must make for the demon!" he called over the clanging of steel and the raging storm. "It must not live. Sigmar's victory in Aqshy demands it!"
The Reavers didn't last long on their side of the table, and eventually my Liberators started taking a ton of wounds too. What had seemed like a solid victory for me just a turn ago quickly started to unravel as the rest of his army caught up with me. My Retributors got caught in combat with his heroes before they could make it to the Bloodthirster while my own heroes were still mopping up the very last few of the Reavers. Now it was a race against time. If he could bog down my army before I could get them to the demon then it was all over for me. Amazingly my one Liberator Prime kept making his saves and slowly chipped away at the demon's wounds. Proof that painted models play better, even if only half painted.
In the end my Celestant was able to make it within assault range and charged into to finish off the beast in a suitably heroic manner. This happened at the very start of that combat phase so we agreed to play out the rest of the combats even though the game was done. In the end I had one Liberator Prime left, my Celestant, and my Relictor and that was all. He still had his Mighty Lord of Khorne, his Bloodstoker, his Khorgorath, all five of his Bloodwarriors, and his Deathbringer. Needless to say, if the game had been to the death, I wouldn't have won.
Claesus felt the bones in his arm fracture as he blocked the demon's blow with his shield one last time. The sigmarite may hold, but he didn't know how much longer his own body could withstand the punishment. He stood alone now, all of the warriors in his charge having returned to Azyr in death's embrace to be reforged. Blood leaked out from the mouth of his mask as he brought his own hammer around in a wild swing that went wide, the demon darting backwards. As bad of shape as he was in, he knew they had hurt the Bloodthirster too. It moved a little slower, swung a little weaker. Whether it bled or not was hard to say due to the hellish hue of its skin and the lashing storm that threatened to drown them all. It was Sigmar's storm though, and that fact alone gave Claesus solace.
"Do you feel the rains of my lord upon your flesh demon? It will wash all of the realms clean of your filth in due time," he proclaimed in a wheezing rasp. The creature merely chuckled in amusement before swinging its meteoric hammer around in a brutal arc. The hammer head slammed into the hastily raised shield, tearing it from his grasp and finishing the job of pulverizing his bones. With his arm now hanging limp at his side he had little defense for when the demon leapt upon him, pinning him to the ground. The sulfuric stink of its breath enveloped Claesus' senses as the Bloodthirster leaned in close, it's tremendous bulk pressing down upon his chest.
"I think I will give your soul to my lord Khorne as a gift. A plaything for him to pass the time," the beast rumbled in a strangely discordant voice. "He would take great pleasure in stealing you from the upstart barbarian you call a god." Lightning flashed, silhouetting the demon against the raging tempest as it raised its ax for the killing blow. "I do not hear that pretender's name upon your golden lips now, do I Eternal?" it growled, placing particular emphasis upon the last word, savoring the implicit irony.
"No, you hear it upon mine," said Orros as he brought his hammer around in a brutal upper cut with the full power of his dracoth's charge behind it. "For Sigmar!" he roared. The tempestus hammer connected with a wet crack as it caved in the side of the demon's head, snapping its neck at the same time for good measure. The dead weight of the lifeless Bloodthirster fell to the side, narrowly missing the Liberator Prime. The rest of the Bloodbound horde recoiled, their idol slowly dissolving in the rain, yet they still outnumbered the Stormcast Eternals two to one. Claesus clambered to his feet slowly, wincing in pain as he retrieved his hammer from the sucking mud of the forest. "What now?" he asked, tired to the core. Orros sat high in his saddle, shaking the demonic ichor from his weapon as the Khornate forces recovered their nerve and began to stalk towards the remaining few Eternals. "We have accomplished what we set out to do, Sigmar asks no more of us," the Celestant said. "Yet, we still have more to give. We shall sell our lives dearly and take as many of these wretches with us as we can. We walk into death's embrace and will discover how eternal we really are. With Sigmar's grace we will return to our lord and be reforged for battle anew. We will return. This battle may be nearing its end for us, but our war continues eternal. For Sigmar."
I was at a disadvantage from the start if you go by typical standards for a game, but was still able to pull out a victory thanks to the scenario. I truly believe this is the way the game is meant to be played. It's fine to play a battle line game every now and then, but I highly encourage you to take a look at the scenarios. It forced me to play my army in a way I normally wouldn't have. I essentially shotgunned everything I could at the Bloodthirster to try and kill it and was racing against the clock the whole time. After the game my friend and I talked about what he could have done differently and we both agreed on a few things. Firstly, it would have benefited him more to deploy his army more evenly spread out to deny me a safe corner to drop into. Secondly, his greater demon had benefits in the scenario from staying within his "lair". This was a 15" bubble measured from the center of his table edge. Underestimating my Liberators he thought he would have been able to quickly wipe them out and then retreat back into safety. Instead they lasted until the end. The last thing that would have made a difference is that he should have retreated from the combat once he realized that the Liberator's weren't going down without a fight. It would have cost him a turn of fighting, but could have won him the game. I will say that he played true to lore though, since Khorne would never willingly retreat from a fight.
I had a ton of fun with the scenario and look forward to playing more of them going forward. I think it will be a long time before I play a simple battle line again.
Until next time,