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...
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.
"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..."
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.
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!