sunnuntai 19. maaliskuuta 2017

Invasion of Fellhorn Steppes

Greetings!

It's been a while since I last continued the narratives of my many armies. I've been mostly painting in the last few weeks, but now I finally managed to schedule and play a game that will become my 18th Narrative Battle Report.

This game was rather exceptional in two ways: I got to play against a faction I've never faced before on the battlefield, The Legion of Azgorh, and I tested the Disciples of Tzeentch Battletome with my Slaves to Darkness for the first time!

The battleplan we played was Banquet of Magic from the Disciples of Tzeentch Battletome in which the servants of Tzeentch must unbind Protective Wards set up by the opposing force. There are 6 Protective Wards on the battlefield which the Disciples of Tzeentch can unbind by having at least one friendly unit and no enemy units within 3". The battle lasts for five battlerounds with the following victory conditions:

1-3 Wards unbound: Legion of Azgorh victory
4 Wards unbound: draw
5-6 Wards unbound: Disciples of Tzeentch victory

As the Protective Wards are unbound the Tzeentchian army receives cumulative bonuses ranging from +1 to casting rolls to re-rolling 1's when hitting.

Simple. Let us begin...

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Daemonsmith Carazad the Dreaded carved the last few lines of the dark rune into the stone column with his pyrestaff, leaving a complex mark on the rough surface that begun to glow bright red. All around him similar runes carved into six different statues and pillars begun to glow brightly, filling the air with energies that sent a tingly sensation wash over his skin.

His warriors around him shifted uncomfortably, sensing the magical energies rampaging across the landscape but having no proper means to understand what was going on. Carazad preferred it that way. He had marched into this desolate steppe to erect powerful wards of protective magic in order to halt the advance of some barbaric followers of the Dark Gods that were seeking to reach the hidden ziggurat he hailed from. None could be allowed to reach that location lest the dark works of his Daemonsmith coven be discovered.

"The wards are in place, our work here is done..." the Daemonsmith barked, turning to leave the site. Before taking more than a few steps, however, Carazad the Dreaded came to a sudden halt. He closed his eyes for a moment, seeking for the breeze of magical disturbance that now assaulted his sorcerer senses.
"A daemon..." he whispered to himself before turning back to face his warriors.
"I sense the presence of a daemon, there are foes nearby. Prepare the artillery! Infernal Guard, form a line! And you... go and see if you can already spot the enemy."

A trio of Bull Centaurs to whom the last order was directed started towards the outer wards. Carazad cursed silently into his black curly beard even as his underlings took their positions with drilled efficiency. The wards were still too fresh to deny passage of a powerful daemon. The magics he had employed here required some time to build momentum and protect this passage to the ziggurat from trespassers. There was no other choice but to stand and fight, to preserve the wards until they reached the full extent of their power and scorched the invaders from this world.

Just as the Bull Centaurs reached the outer wards, an army of howling barbarians appeared as if from nowhere and a unit of Chaos Knights thundered into the trio of creatures. Having now dropped the spell of illusion, Daemon Prince Aphophas Silvertongue chuckled as he strode towards the closest obsidian statue and the red runes engraved upon its surface.

"Interesting..." he muttered thoughtfully, extending his clawed hand but retracting immediately as the closest rune emitted a pulse of searing energy.
"I have to say I'm surprised they sensed us coming despite the powerful illusion, there must be a rather skilled sorcerer amidst their ranks... Tear down these wards before they deny us passage! I want the soul of that poor mortal who seeks to keep me from my destiny!"

With the angered roars of their daemon overlord ringing in their ears, the Marauder Horsemen galloped to the statue and started striking viciously at the glowing runes with their axes. On the right flank the Chaos Warriors set about the same task, their maces and hammers striking dark carvings from the nearby column.

The Knights crashed into the Bull Centaurs like an avalanche of metal, cutting down and trampling the creatures while only taking glancing hits in return. Behind them Magister Azurass was reciting incantations of power, gathering the rampant magical energies for his spells.

Seeing the enemy suddenly so close and the forward elements of his force already embattled, Carazad gazed murderously at the Dreadquake Mortar crew who were slowly goading their slave ogor in pumping steam for the weapon's first shot. Angered by their incompetence, the Daemonsmith unslung a whip from the hook on his belt and slashed it across the ogor's scarred back to hurry the process. 

The enslaved creature roared in pain and punched its mighty fists into the warmachine, denting the barrel and dismantling a wheel. Carazad rolled his eyes in despair.
"Hashut's horns, this'll be a long day..."

With the Bull Centaur swept aside as bleeding carcasses, the Chaos warband surged forth. Three of the wards were unbound as keen axes and heavy mauls erased runic carvings, releasing the violent energies held inside in crimson explosions that toppled half the obsidian statues.

Trotting behind the barbarian hordes came Prince Aphophas and Magister Azurass, weaving protective enchantments upon their followers to keep them useful a while longer. The Marauder Horsemen on the left flank galloped as far as the small patch of forest ahead of the enemy lines and lobbed a volley of javelins into the Infernal Guard, piercing one unfortunate Azgorhian's armour to sink into the dark flesh beneath.

The Legion of Azgorh was not so easily outdone, however. Rank upon rank of Infernal Guard lowered their deadly fireglaives and took aim before unleashing a storm of hell-forged ammunition at the foe in a cacophony of magically enhanced pyre-lock weaponry. The Tzeentchian cavalry took the brunt of this fusillade as Knights and Marauder Horsemen fell to the frozen ground in a mangle of armour and limbs, the hungry pyre-spirits bound within the infernal enemy ammunition eating away at their still-warm flesh.

The Dreadquake Mortar was finally ready for its first shot which soon arced through the vault of the sky to land amidst the Chaos Warriors for morbid effect. More than half the hardened veteran warriors disappeared in a gory mist as the shell exploded, raining shrapnel, smoke and body parts in all directions. Even the Marauders did not escape the attentions of Azgorhian artillery as the Magma Cannon spewed molten metal and other unhealthy substances into the mass of bare-chested bodies, reducing a handful of tribesmen into bubbling puddles of blackened remains.

Watching his followers die in droves, Prince Aphophas decided it was time to intervene. Having torn down half the foe's wards he could feel the magical energies flowing stronger once again. Stretching out his muscled arms, the Daemon Prince uttered a mighty incantation that made the very air around him ripple like a water surface. Tongues of multicoloured flame begun dancing around his wrist as he pointed it towards the lines of the Infernal Guard, unleashing a blazing maelstrom of iridescent fire at the plate-clad legionnaires.

The high-quality blackshard armour of the Azgorhians did little to protect them from the raging inferno and more than third of their number baked inside their fine suits of plate and mail. Beards burned to crisp, skin blackened and burst, eyes melted and evaporated.

While the ranks of their enemies were still in total confusion the barbarian hordes charged into them like a tidal wave. On the left flank the Marauder Horsemen ran down those who survived the cataclysmic spell while on the right Knights and Marauders engaged the remaining Infernal Guard.

Right behind the enemy lines the last three wards shone and pulsed, all the while gathering power to complete Carazad the Daemonsmith's spell to fend away the invaders. Could the spell be completed in time?

As the last Infernal Guard on the flank fell in defence of the Dreadquake Mortar, the warmachine's crew fired once more. This time the shell arced only slightly, hitting Prince Aphophas almost point-blank and ripping apart one of his wings while raining shrapnel across his side. Bellowing out in pain, Aphophas begun limping away from the thickest fighting to preserve his material form.

Meanwhile the last cohort of Infernal Guard put up a stiff resistance. Using their bladed fireglaives like halberds, the legionnaires cut and thrust their way through the barbarian masses felling Knights and Marauders despite their comrades getting slaughtered around them in return. Even the Magma Cannon fired into the whirling melee without any concern for the safety of their brothers-in-arms and turned yet more barbarians into melting heaps upon the snowy ground.

Carazad the Dreaded hefted his pyrestaff and charged into the Marauders, flinging a vial of the Blood of Hashut at an oncoming tribesman on the go. The vicious substance liquefied the man's face as the Daemonsmith kicked him aside before smashing his smoldering staff into the chest of another to send the brute sprawling on the ground.

 The ranks of the Azgorhians were in disorder, making it easy for the Tzeentchian cavalry to push through and into the wards beyond. The bitter fighting between Marauders, Chaos Warriors and the remaining legionnaires was swiftly turning against Carazad's force as Infernal Guards fell under the pressure of axe and mace.

The Daemonsmith himself was surrounded by bare-chested tribesmen who battered him fervently from all sides, finally drawing him down to the ground and beating his wicked life out of him. Carazad the Dreaded of the Fellhorn Ziggurat had fallen.

Darksteel swords and barbarian axes raked across the obsidian surface of the statues, disturbing the dark runes and causing crimson explosions of baleful energy that toppled the last wards. Prince Aphophas could sense the enemy spell dissolving in the brisk steppe wind, opening way to the hidden location these foolish, twisted duardin were trying to keep away from his grasp. His destiny was not to be denied.

As the remnants of the Azgorhians retreated from the battlefield with his barbarian followers hot on their heels, the Daemon Prince turned his thoughts towards the next step in his malevolent scheme.

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What a game! I have to say the battleplan was absolutely delightful, it was something different than most with the defenders holding all the cards (and most of the battlefield) while the attackers only arrive on their first movement phase, losing the hero phase altogether, to try and wrestle the objectives to themselves for some bonuses to carry them through the battle.

The game ended on the fourth battleround with the Disciples of Tzeentch having unbound 5 out of 6 of the Protective Wards, resulting in a major victory.

The Legion of Azgorh is a very peculiar faction to play against. Their Daemonsmith did little in this particular battle but seems to be a passable wizard, while the Bull Centaurs got pretty much trampled by my Knights. What surprised me was the power of the Infernal Guard, the faction's battleline unit, who have a pretty basic 16"/4+/4+/-1/1 profile but shoot twice against monsters when over 10 models strong and inflict double damage on 6's when wounding. For a missile unit they're pretty durable too, sporting a 4+ Save with rerolling 1's against enemy shooting. Their artillery has some great potential but as they're also quite unreliable I'd say they're pretty even with the artillery of Ironweld Arsenal and Dispossessed Duardin.

All in all a wonderful game against a merry opponent, looking forward to facing these twisted stunties again in the future!







torstai 9. maaliskuuta 2017

Hearthguard Reinforcements

Hey all!

During the league I got my painting balanced between speed and passable quality, so now I've put this newly-acquired skill to good use.

Here are some models I've painted up from the pile of plastic that fills my every closet:

First up, my 20 Hammerers!

They are the King's Guard unit from Avatars of War that I acquired from a Black Friday sale. They so closely resemble the GW Hammerers that I figured I'd get myself a bulky unit for much cheaper than the original models.

Gave their flag the colours of Karak Izor, the greatest of the clans that make up my Iron Company duardin army. Added the rune of Everpeak/Everlasting Mountain as well as runes for Khazalid words "hammer" and "dwarf".

The speedpainting technique I applied here was very speedy, as the result shows. What I did was a basecoat of Abaddon Black, followed by plenty of drybrushed Ironbreaker. Then four different browns and Dawnstone for some variance in the beards, and clan colours on their undertunics. The final touches were Gehenna's Gold and Spiritstone Red for their jewelry and some Nuln Oil wash on the beards.

I had to stick to this very limited and cheap technique as I still have 20 Warriors and 20 Quarrelers looking at me angrily from across the table even now. Not to mention my fledgling Bonesplitterz warband! 

This grim chap here is Morgrim Stoutback, a Warden King loyal to Ungrim Ironhelm and his Iron Company. Morgrim hails from the conservative clan of Helhein who refuse to use gunpowder in their weaponry, instead preferring to stick to more traditional ways of waging war such as axes hammers and crossbows.

This model is one of my all-time favourites. So tranquil and unmoving, yet still threatening and posing a commanding presence. So simple and straightforward: a helmet capped under his arm and a heirloom axe to carry out his vengeance upon those who have done his clan wrong. The little personal book of grudes on his left hip is just a hilarious addition that many miss the first times they lay their eyes upon this magnificent model!

Then some scenery: two King's Walls from the Battle for Skull Pass 7th Edition Starter Set.

Very simple colours for the stone and the metal, I even left the Reikland Fleshshade wash on to give the gold parts a more brass-like look. I freehanded some runes on the shields resting against the walls, the Rune of Stone and the Rune of Shielding if I remember correctly.
I really like the dwarfiness of these terrain pieces, they're short and squat just like their builders.

Grimnir's beard! Some beardling has left a tankard of Bugman's ale unguarded!

Bonus model for those of you who've read this far: Chaos Lord Titaharr the Executioner.

He is a Barbarian model from a Spanish company called Momminiaturas but he fits the role of a power-hungry maniac just fine... he even carries a giant daemon-possessed axe around!
I painted him in the colours of my Tzeentch Slaves to Darkness so he can now set out to collect heads according to the Great Schemer's mysterious plans.


Working hard to get that Narrative Battle Report out. Until next time!








torstai 2. maaliskuuta 2017

Guardians of the Dawnspire

Greetings!

During the amazing local league I finished my Aelven battalion faster than any of my previous armies ever, and now I've also done the few final touches on their bases. What does this mean? A new Army Showcase, of course!

Here are my brave and battle-hardened Guardians of the Dawnspire:


This army consists of all the models in the Spire of Dawn boxed set plus 10 additional Spireguard to bolster their numbers. There are already reinforcements on the way for this merry lot but for now I'll focus on painting my 60 Duardin infantry waiting in the corner of my workbench...

To say a few words on the colour scheme, I wanted to go for a pale palette with only a few starker colours mixed in. I tried to maintain a high-fantasy feel that'd look more like Age of Sigmar rather than the High Elves of WHFB.
When it comes to their bases I went for a rough and barren-looking terrain with only scarce vegetation to imply that the Spire they garrison is located in a place more interesting than just bright-green meadows and magical bushes. Or perhaps they're on a counter-attack into an evil territory? The options are limitless.


The very first unit of the army and the one I practiced the colour scheme on: 20 Spireguard by the name of Imladrik's Legion. Who's Imladrik, then? We'll get to that later on.

The heraldry on their shields is that of the Order of the Moonserpent, a silver sea monster plunging up from pure waters under a night sky. The same scene is depicted on the unit's banners along with runes of bravery and protection.
The Order is a force to be reckoned with, as the equipment of these warriors betokens: despite being militia levied from local Aelven population each warrior bears gilded armour and many precious gemstones on his person, a testament to their people's wealth and prosperity.
Together these stalwart souls have faced the violent menace of greenskins, the vile sorceries of the Dark Gods' servants and the avalanche of flesh brought upon them by nomad ogors. Through this all they held firm the wall of shields, readily stepping up to take the places of their fallen comrades as they fought for all that is good and pure.

But who is Imladrik?


This is Imladrik Beastbane, Watch Master of the Spireguard.

He is the unit champion of the aelven militia, a natural leader who excels at fighting all things bestial. His sword has dented the armour of Stormfiends, tasted the blood of Stonehorns and decapitated Bonesplitter Orruks while the wielder himself has kept his underlings in the fight by voicing encouraging warcries at times of despair.

One of Imladrik's mightiest feats was single-handedly killing off two Savage Orruk Arrowboys while his own warriors were falling around him, earning Aelves the necessary points to end the ill-going battle in a bloody stalemate rather than a defeat. In commemoration of this vital deed his base is now decorated by a decapitated orruk head.


The next infantry unit is the Swordmasters of Ifulvin's Escort.

Ten elite aelven warriors armed with eloquent greatblades which they wield with unnatural speed and dexterity, Bladelord Ifulvin and his brothers-in-arms act as personal bodyguards for the battalion's Archmage. In times of relative peace these warrior-mystics garrison the tower in which the mage resides, protecting the knowledge and research practiced within. Their blades are forged from the finest steel in the enchanted forges of their race, imbuing them with qualities beyond any ordinary weapons. Same goes for their azure lamellar armour which surpasses even the finest works of human smiths.

The army's main mobile force: Kidrion's Reavers

These skilled riders act as the eyes and ears of the garrison, watchfully patrolling the regions surrounding the Spire for any sign of unwanted visitors. Their parthian shots have thinned many an enemy formation eager enough to give chase to these expert horsemen. In times of dire need these agile warriors have even occasionally discarded their bows and plunged straight into the thick of the fight, their spears lowered and cries of defiance upon their lips.

The Spire's venerable Archmage, Aristeides Clearsight.

Using his incredible arcane powers, Aristeides has saved uncounted aelven lives during the many battles he has partaken by summoning Elemental Shields to ward off arrows, warpfire and hostile magic. Though there are a great many more powerful wizards in the Nine Realms than him, Aristeides Clearsight is well respected and coveted among the ranks of the Order of the Moonserpent for his capabilities in unbinding enemy spells.

Finally the lord of this host: High Warden Thoriol and his faithful griffon, Greyfeather.

Swooping down from the clouded skies the High Warden rips into enemy regiments like a comet of destruction, transfixing enemies with his starlance while the monster tears warriors limb from limb using its mighty claws. Thoriol's charge signals the Guardians of the Dawnspire to launch swift hit-and-run attacks that bloody the enemy before the aelves close in for the final killing blow.

In reality, he's so helpless in a battle that I took to comparing his power-level to that of a bullfinch. Hence the colour scheme. He has managed to kill a unit of Pink Horrors with the aid of a few volleys from the Spireguard, however, as well as several Chaos Warriors and even a couple of Dragon Ogors. He's not completely useless (especially with the warscroll battalion) but with only 10 Wounds he makes for a poor Behemoth that melts away too quickly without doing any serious damage. Let's just say it takes skill and patience to play him right and get the most out of him!


Well, that was the army showcase for my Aelves. I'll be back soon with more painting and a narrative battle report in the near future!





perjantai 24. helmikuuta 2017

Local League: Final Judgement

Greetings everyone!

This is the last league report for this event, a 2000p special scenario which I attended with a fully painted army! It took a few late nights of hectic painting but I pulled through it with sheer force of will (and a handful of ignored essays...).

Here is the army I brought to the final battle in all its painted glory:

My Aelves couldn't hope to reach the point total without help, so the recently finished Scarlet Sentinels descended from the Azyr to lend some aid!

1x High Warden
1x Archmage
20x Spireguard
5x Reavers
10x Swordmasters
[Guardians of the Dawnspire] -warscroll battalion
1x Lord-Celestant on Dracoth
1x Lord-Castellant
1x Gryph-hound
1x Knight-Vexillor
5x Liberators
5x Liberators
3x Prosecutors
5x Decimators

With this mixed and varied list I faced my opponent, a Beastclaw Raiders player I hadn't yet played against in the league.

The scenario was quite simple: both sides had a tower in their deployment zone with 15 Wounds and a 3+ Save. Ranged attacks only wounded the tower on 6s and even mortal wounds only went through by rolling a 5+. The game would end as soon as either player's tower was completely demolished!

My opponent had a Frostlord on Thundertusk, two Stonehorns with Beastmasters, two Sabrecats and six Mournfang riders. He also had a battalion which I do not recall.

The Beastclaw Raiders got the first turn and advanced boldly to the midfield, his Thundertusk wiping out a unit of Liberators (3 slain by the breath, 2 fled) and one of his Stonehorns ramming into my Reavers and killing them to a man.

The pain was unbearable.

Having lost two full units before even touching my models after deployment, I considered my options. With a Thundertusk in the middle and two Stonehorns rushing towards my already obliterated lines I had little choice but to try and halt his advance.
The Spireguard poured a total of 40 arrows at the Thundertusk (20 with the battalion ability, 20 in the shooting phase) but only managed to inflict a single wound (which the monster regenerated as soon as it got a chance). Even my Prosecutors lobbed their javelins at the creature but their missiles merely bounced off its hide.

Depressed at my inability to harm the 14-Wound enemy general, I formed my remaining Liberators, Spireguard and Lord-Castellant around my tower and cast an Elemental Shield over them with my Archmage for some protection.
My High Warden used his speed to fly around the enemy flank in a desperate attempt to reach the enemy tower. Meanwhile my Lord-Celestant and the Knight-Vexillor hid behind a rocky spire to escape the Thundertusk's attentions.

At least my brave Swordmasters charged into the closest Mournfang unit and managed to kill off one and wound the other rider badly with minimal aelf casualties. Yay!

The Beastclaw Raiders were relentless, however, and slaughtered two of my Prosecutors, breathed 6 Swordmasters off the table (Thundertusk...) with the rest fleeing and grinding half of my Liberators to paste. His other Stonehorn even crushed my hapless Lord-Castellant under an enormous fist, causing the Gryph-hound to lose its mind and actually inflicting a wound on the rampaging monster!

My High Warden glided in to attack the enemy tower and the Lord-Celestant was also teleported there by Knight-Vexillor's once-per-game ability even as my remaining infantry formed up around my own tower to shield it with their bodies. My two heroes managed to beat the enemy building from 15 to 7 Wounds in one combat round and things started to look bright for the Order Alliance.

Alas, it was not to last. His Thundertusk breathed 6 wounds off my High Warden and charged in to skewer the poor soul, leaving only my Lord-Celestant in combat with the enemy building. His Stonehorns killed my Liberators to a man and started grinding away my Decimators and Spireguard that died away in handfuls.

My last Prosecutor inflicted 2 wounds on the enemy building with his javelins and charged in to aid the Lord-Celestant. Together they reduced the enemy tower down to a single wound!
Unfortunately one of his Stonehorns manage to edge close enough while piling in that it started taking chunks out of my building, completely impervious to the arrows and spears my desperate aelves were lobbing at it to fend it away.

With his tower at 1 Wound and mine at 5, everything depended on who got the first turn of the fourth battle round...

As is my typical luck, I lost the roll and his models charged in. My tower was reduced to wreckage with a couple of heavy swings from a Stonehorn and the day was lost.

A major victory for the Beastclaw Raiders.

All I'd have needed was a single swing at his tower and the alliance of Order would've triumphed! But that was not to be, not this day, so I packed my belongings and sat down to see how the other players were faring.
The Skaven player that led the league (one point ahead of me) lost majorly to a Destruction player with a mixed army of Grots, Orruks and Ogors, the end of their battle ushering in the dreaded time of Final League Point Calculation that would determine the final scores of each player.

This league was quite heavily hobby-oriented so there were extra League Points available for painting Warscrolls, having a completely painted army and having all of your models on round bases. I scored the maximum 6 "hobby points" which brought me to a total of 13 League Points, exactly the same total as the Skaven player.

The league organizer brought us dice to break the stalemate; the one who rolled highest would be the winner of the whole league. I silently accepted my defeat already (I roll terribly whenever the stakes are high) and thought that second place isn't bad at all when the Skaven player suddenly turned away from the dice and asked the organizer:
"Which of us had the most hobby points?"
"The Aelf player," was the reply.

The Skaven player then turned to me and held out his hand.
"Congratulations on your league victory!"
I was stunned. I simply couldn't believe what was happening.
He explained that this league was a hobby-heavy one and it was only right that the victory should go to the one who had scored more in painting and modelling .

So it was that I walked out of the league holding the first place on the lists and some valuable loot in my backpack: the Quest for Ghal Maraz campaign book, Khorne Bloodbound Battletome and a 50€ gift-card to the local gaming store! Hooray!

The league was an absolute blast, we had a great group that shared tips and compliments on each other's progress throughout the league and the battles we played were executed in a fun and gentlemanly way. Many were the nights I spent painting my aelves while participating in long hobby discussions on our group chat. I have never finished an army that fast!

With my Aelves now battle-tested I'll be starting a new army which I'll fund with the loot I acquired: Bonesplitterz!
I'll also start looking for the next opportunity to produce a new Narrative Battle Report as those have been in a bit of a decline in the blog with me focused solely on the league. I'll also post a Finished Army -album of my Spire of Dawn Aelves, so lots of varied content to come now that the league is over!

Here are a few close-up shots from the game. Thank you for following my Aelves along their perilous journey!

Stonehorns closing in as the Spireguard brace themselves
My two brave Order heroes battering down the enemy tower
The ranks of the defenders thin at a perilous rate...
With the High Warden dead, the Ogors turn their gazes on the two Stormcast Eternals still assailing the tower...









torstai 16. helmikuuta 2017

Local League: Sneaky Stabbing

Hi folks!

Yesterday we had the fifth game of our local league, leaving only the special 2000p scenario to go before the league draws to an end.
The scenario was a 1000p Three Places of Power and I found myself facing an army of Grots.

I even managed to paint a unit and a half during the week, but more on those at the end of this post!

My opponent had a Grot Warboss, two Grot Shaman, two Rocklobbers, fifteen Wolf Riders, a Wolf Chariot and 40 Grots with bows. Quite a numerous foe for only 1000p, I must say!

My Aelf list was the same as last time as I'd built it specifically for this scenario:

1x High Warden
1x Archmage
1x Loremaster
5x Reavers
5x Reavers
10x Spireguard
1x Repeater Bolt Thrower


I got to pick the table edge and take the first turn, so let's see how this all played out!

I moved my forces boldly into the middle, hoping to cover my heroes' advance and pin-cushion his 4-Wound leaders as they rode in to claim the objectives. My opponent had measured my threat ranges carefully, however, and the only unit I could fire this turn was the Bolt Thrower which loosed a salvo of bolts at the archer Grots (the only unit in range).
12 shots and 10 kills, with 5 more running away in terror. Only 25 left to deal with...

Nevertheless, my High Warden already started scoring me points thanks to his amazing movement value.

On my opponent's first turn he unleashed hell upon my pointy-ears. A unit of 10 Wolf Riders (buffed with +1 Attack, +1 to Wound, +1 to Hit, +1 Rend and +1 Save) crashed into my High Warden and a unit of 5 Reavers along with their wolf-mounted Warboss, dealing 9/10 Wounds to the Warden and wiping the Reavers off the face of the world in one go. Ouch!

As if that wasn't enough one of the Rocklobbers scored a hit on my Bolt Thrower Crew who miserably failed their saves (to be fair it was a 6+) and died away, rendering my artillery useless for the rest of the battle. Double ouch!

The Grot Shaman kept away from the fighting even in the second round, with only the Grot Warboss advancing with the buffed-up Wolf Riders. To preserve my Archmage in the middle and to get rid of his heroes I had my Spireguard fire into his Warboss before charging it, but they only managed to inflict 2/4 Wounds on the little warlord before getting trampled by the Wolves. My High Warden healed a Wound with the Phoenix Stone he carried around and flew away from combat to keep himself alive and in control of the objective. My Archmage and Loremaster both made it onto the objectives too and I now held all three places of power.

Then it all took a sudden turn for the worse. Again. My High Warden took a boulder to the head from a Rocklobber and plummeted to the ground. The Wolf Riders (on steroids) charged and ripped apart my Archmage but not before the defiant spellcaster slew one of the riders and sent three more running away in fear!
My last unit of Reavers got charged by the remaining 20-odd Grot archers and my Loremaster got surrounded by 5 Wolf Riders and 3 Nasty Skulkers. At this point my opponent had one of his Shaman run to the left objective, his Warboss was closing in on the middle one and the other Shaman stood on a hill on his deployment zone casting buffs on his units.

This is what the end of the third battleround looked like. My Reavers were slaughtered to a man and even my Loremaster with his Mystic Shield succumbed to the volume of attacks coming his way. My opponent merely moved his characters onto the objectives and we fast-forwarded to the end of the fifth battleround to count the final score as I had no models left on the table anymore.
Up until the third round the Aelves had been leading the game 7-0, but the last rounds the Grots got to hold all three objectives for a total of 15 points.

The game ended up as 15-7 major victory for the Grots and they barely lost more than ~26 models in total during the whole game. Ouch.

After thinking the game through over and over again in my head I have to say that the death of my Bolt Thrower crew seemed to be a major factor. With them alive for even a few rounds more I could have kept the enemy heroes at bay and severely weakened his Wolf Riders, or perhaps even sniped out his 4-Wound heroes pretty reliably had he rushed them into the fight too early.
I have no choice but to congratulate my opponent for playing admirably well and showing excellent tactical sense with how he handled my pretty effective shooting, movement and even long-range artillery. Of course some very lucky rolls were involved, but it's still a special skill to keep all your weedy Grot heroes alive and kickin' for the whole game while making your cheap, screaming simpletons true comets of destruction!

Next week we play the last scenario at 2000p and the overall winner will be revealed. For now I hold the second spot in the league and prepare my forces for the crucial battle. The Aelves will need some reinforcements to take on this final challenge...

I promised some painting at the end of this post, so here it is, along with a few close-ups from the game itself:

Swordmasters finally finished! Only took somewhere around 9-10 hours so I can call them "speed-painted"
Swordmasters back view. Freehand runes on the flag
During this league I've taken to comparing my High Warden's effectiveness to that of a bullfinch, so here we are
Aelves getting wrecked, a total of 19 wounds worth of hurt taken in one combat
My Archmage and his defiant last stand in which he killed off a wounded Rider and made 3 others flee. Ha!