maanantai 22. toukokuuta 2017

Strike at Gorehenge


I finally took one night off from painting my Svedonnians to walk down to my local gaming store and have a game. I decided to take 1000p of my Freeguilders out for some fresh air and got paired up with some Khorne Bloodbound, which was interesting as my opponent was using the new Blades of Khorne Battletome and I got to see some of its content on the battlefied!

Our gaming table was a bit stretched out but we used lots of terrain to break it apart a bit, and rolled special terrain feature rules for everything except hills and forests. The battleplan was Three Places of Power, for which my opponent's army suited perfectly: he had four heroes in total, as opposed to my two. Every hero was an honest footslogger, though, so no monsters or super-fast objective grabbers on either side.

My list was as follows:
- Freeguild General
- Amber Battlemage
- Freeguild Swordsmen x20
- Freeguild Handgunners x20
- Freeguild Greatswords x20
- Helblaster Volley Gun

My opponent had 20 Bloodreavers, 5 Blood Warriors, 2 Khorgoraths, 2 Slaughterpriests, a Bloodsecrator and a Mighty Lord of Khorne.

Let us carry on to the battle itself!


General Ludwig Hassenbach had pressed his men hard. They'd been marching for two days with only a brief repose in the night between, obediently following the directions given by the garrison of Ostenfort to find some ancient altar they suspected may have been taken over by Chaos worshipers. The bloody Ostenland cowards claimed to be unable to lend any men for the task themselves, thus making Hassenbach's company responsible for investigating the matter further.

Behind him trotted his brave but unfortunate freeguilders, their weapons shouldered and breath steaming as they trudged along through the patches of snow that covered this barren landscape. Handgunners, swordsmen, artillery and his personal honour guard all followed up in a ragged column, fighting to keep themselves warm and their minds sharp for the task at hand. The company of the Amber Mage was something Ludwig found himself to be the most grateful of.

"Not many miles left, I hope?" he asked the green-clad figure walking beside him.
"No, General. It's just behind that forest," the battlemage replied, nodding towards the treeline they were soon about to enter. The mage closed his eyes and raised his face to the skies, whistling a short tune. A hawk's scream echoed back from the heights.
"There are human forms moving about the ruins, enough to resemble a warband of some kind."
"I see..." Ludwig muttered to the mage before calling out to the sergeant behind him to break the marching formation and spread out the men. The battlemage frowned, his eyes still closed.
"There's something else. Forms much bigger than a man, yet still oddly humanoid," Joshua of the Amber Brotherhood warned as he finally opened his eyes.
"All wildlife have fled the area except for my hawk. There are foul things ahead, General. I'd suggest unpacking that fearsome Volley Gun of yours..."

For a moment the column of soldiers halted, spreading out to form a battleline before pressing on into the woods ahead, and then the ruins beyond.

As soon as the first ranks of the freeguilders emerged from the treeline, a mighty roar went up from the other side of the clearing. Two towering monsters had gotten their scent, alerting the rest of the enemy to their presence with the unnatural howls they emitted.

"By the gods, that's a whole Bloodbound warband!"
"Sigmar preserve us..."
"Join the Guard they said, you'll see the Realms they said..."
Frightened chatter could be heard from among the marching lines, the men cursing their bad luck for having to face the rightly feared zealots of the Blood God in an open battle.

"Enough! We're here to deal out the Judgement of the God King upon the unworthy. Remember you vows, remember your duty. We'll show these degenerates how a true army wages war!" General Hassenbach bellowed, hoping to instill some courage and confidence to the men although he felt none of it himself. To his credit the soldiers around him cut their chatter and seemed to prepare their minds for the battle to come.

The Bloodbound surged forth with apparent joy, bunching up into loose groups of warriors that began running towards the freeguilders. Only one of their Slaughterpriests remained relatively still, seeming to channel magical energies from the tranquil pool right beside the ring of stone pillars.

"We must stop whatever ritual they're up to. Onwards, sons of Sigmar! Crush them in the name of all that is good and just!" Ludwig shouted out, drawing his sword from its decorated scabbard in one fluid motion.
The Guards and the Greatswords started towards the oncoming enemy while the Handgunners formed a firing line behind a stretch of mossed wall. Immediately they opened fire on the two Khorgoraths stumbling among the stone pillars, causing puffs of smoke and dust spring up all around the gorehenge with only a few shots actually hitting the beasts, sinking into their liquid-looking flesh without leaving a mark. The Helblaster Volley Gun emptied its revolving barrels into a gigantic man carrying a brazen totem of the Blood God, the bullets mysteriously bouncing off the man's skin or missing altogether.
"The blessings of Khorne are with me! None can harm the mighty Ragrax Brassfist!" the totem carrier screamed, laughing at the lead pellets falling to the ground around him like rain.

The Slaughterpriest by the lake seemed to finish some kind of a prayer as he pointed his hand towards the Swordsmen, three of which dropped to spasm on the snow in violent agony as their blood boiled in their veins and poured out of their eyes and ears in great streams. In response to these enemy tricks Joshua the Amber Mage spoke the words of power for a spell that infused the Swordsmen with the spirit of wild beasts, suspending their fears and lending strength and ferocity to their sword arms.

The servants of Chaos pressed on through the field, their leader Galathor Skullcleave leading his Blood Warriors to approach one freeguilder flank while the Khorgoraths advanced on the other. Bloodsectrator Ragrax struck the pole of his totem deep into the frozen ground, resulting in a blast of heat that melted the snow around him. The totem began to glow bright as forged steel, opening a rift in reality to pour in chaotic energies from Khorne's realm into this one. The ground beneath the giant man's feet began to turn into polished brass, the stain constantly creeping outwards to gain more land.

All Bloodbound on the clearing seemed to draw power from the energies that now ran rampant across the scene, their eyes glowing with indescribable frenzy. A group of bare-chested Bloodreavers rammed into the Swordsmen, laying about them with their axes to severe heads and limbs with each swing. Although their numbers were thinning rapidly the soldiers proved to be equal to the task, and with the help of their mage's blessing braced themselves and worked together to dodge, parry and dispatch the barbarians one by one. As the casualties began to pile up on both sides the tide seemed to turn to the freeguilders' favour, and soon the two remaining Bloodreavers found themselves surrounded.

Handgunners fired off another volley into the Khorgoraths, this time riddling one of them with holes that made even a creature of such ferocity succumb to its wounds and drop dead amidst the pillars. The strangely formed rock next to the Greatswords suddenly emitted a flash of green light, leaving the elite soldiers standing stupidly with blank expressions, some of them even losing the grip on their weapons.

"Foul witchcraft!" Hassenbach cursed. His gunners and Swordsmen could hold the left flank but on the right his artillery was in grave danger now that his elites suffered some incapacitating phenomenon. Just as his gaze swept past the Volley Gun he saw the crew trying to unjam the mechanisms of the weapon. It must have been the cold.
"Sigmar preserve us..." Ludwig sighed to himself as the realization dropped on him. The ritual had to be stopped and that Slaughterpriest by the lake seemed to be the centre of it. His right flank was failing him and the enemy forces were still largely untouched.

Ludwig took a deep breath of the brisk winter air and ran into the lake ahead. As the waded through the shallow water and tried not to make eye contact with the malevolent spirits that swam about his feet, the Slaughterpriest raised his head and laughed.
"Is this the challenge Khorne sends here to prove my worth? An old man with a toothpick!"
"I'll show you how proficient I am with this particular toothpick, you malformed dim-wit!" was the response General threw at his opponent before surging in to initiate a duel.

The last Khorgorath let out a blood-curdling roar as it charged the Handgunners, the bony tentacles on its shoulders lashing out and transfixing the foremost gunner in a spray of gore. The rest of the firing line pulled their triggers in haste, emptying nearly two dozen barrels into the monster at point-blank range. The Khorgorath fell on its face on the run, gliding across the frozen ground to crash into the brick wall and shattering a section of it. The monsters were now dealt with and the handgunners turned their gaze towards the centre.

The Swordsmen finally dispatched the last of the surrounded Bloodreavers, but the effort had been extremely straining. Over a half of their unit now grew cold on the ground amidst the bodies of muscled barbarians. Three of the surviving men still skulked off the battlefield after the fight ceased, their minds broken by what they had witnessed.

All across the clearing the Bloodbound engaged Hassenbach's company. The Blood Warrriors ran into the unprotected Volley Gun and Bloodreavers charged the witless Greatswords.

Ludwig danced deftly around the clumsy strikes of his adversary, his own blade licking out from behind his shield to cut and stab his foe here and there. The sword he held was no ordinary weapon but a relic blade capable of cleaving through flesh as if it were butter. His opponent certainly had the size on him, but armed with the magical blade Hassenbach believed he could wear down the priest and end the ritual.
While masterfully dueling his foe, Ludwig saw another Slaughterpriest approach at the edge of his vision and stepped aside a mere heartbeat before a giant axe would have decapitated him. Distracted by this newcomer, the General gave his original adversary enough time to chant a prayer that sent lances of pain through his body. His blood boiled inside him and flowed out of his ears and nose, but Ludwig made himself keep fighting. He had a duty to fulfill.

The Blood Warriors made short work of the artillery crewmen, running them down like dogs. Beside them the Bloodreavers sliced their way through unmoving ranks of freeguild elite, striking off heads and severing spines with exaggerated swings as they gleefully mocked their defenseless prey.

Ludwig heard the slaughter going on behind him, knowing his right flank was defenseless and about to collapse. He didn't know how long he could hold off the priests here to buy time for his gunners and swordsmen to rejoin the battle. Quickly wiping blood from his nose with his thumb, Hassenbach decided it was time to make an end of this. He feinted to his left, making the blade-armed priest miss a swing as he spun around it and sank his relic blade hilt-deep into the barbarian's bare chest, the tip of his sword bursting straight out of the priest's back. As his foe fell onto his knees before him, the General kicked the carcass to free his blade. It remained stuck.

Joshua the Amber Mage sprinted in between the Khorgorath corpses, seeing his chance to reach the Gorehenge and try to undo the foul ritual. The Handgunners shifted towards the centre and let off a volley that swept down half of the Bloodreavers from around the helpless Greatswords, thus effectively protecting the elites should they ever come to their senses anymore. The Swordsmen also ran to the middle of the clearing, trying to assess the situation and lend help where needed.

Ludwig Hassenbach knew his end had come even before the axe descended. His blade came free at the last possible moment and he turned in against his second adversary just as the Slaughterpriest lunged at him. His sword slid through the man's belly before the great axe struck him across his chest, splitting the breastplate and sending him on his back into the depths of the cursed lake and into the embrace of the malicious spirits.

The Slaughterpriest pulled the general's sword from his torso and tossed it into the lake with the man's corpse.
"Tough old bugger..." he muttered as he turned back to upholding the flow of the lake's magical energies to complete the ritual.

At last the Greatswords came to their senses as the curse of the peculiar rock lifted. There were still Bloodreavers in their midst, striking them down one by one, but now the freeguild elites would be fighting back!

The five remaining Swordsmen saw their general fall and charged across the lake as the Handgunners laid down withering cover fire that cut down the triumphant Slaughterpriest, thus clearing the way for the Swordsmen to reach Ragrax Brassfist. Three soldiers were lost into the lake, however, as the now-fed spirits craved for more human flesh and tore down warriors from the run to pull them into the deadly depths. Only two brave Swordsmen reached the Bloodsecrator and got immediately swatted aside by Ragrax's mace for their efforts.

Battlemage Joshua reached the Gorehenge and began unbinding the energies the priests had accumulated. The task was enormous and the Amber Mage knew he would only succeed if the remainder of Hassenbach's company could buy him enough time. 

The angered Greatswords slaughtered the Bloodreaver in short order after coming to their senses, but received another charge immediately after as Galathor Skullcleave led his Blood Warriors into the fray. Astonishingly no Greatswords fell in the first fierce moments of the combat, but two heavily armoured Khornate warriors were slain by determined zweihander strikes!

The Handgunners took aim once more and concentrated their fire on the Bloodsecrator that had now picked up his totem and was making his way towards the lake. As before, many shots went wide or bounced harmlessly off Ragrax's armour, but enough bullets found their marks that the giant barbarian was left severely wounded.

The wild hack-and-slash went on between the Greatswords and the Blood Warriors, with the latter side again failing to slay any of the human elite. Truly these warriors had the bravery and skill of Sigmar himself on their side as they cleaved through the red ranks of their foes with hatred burning in their eyes. Even mighty Galathor bled as the Guild Champion's greatblade pierced his armour and sunk into his flesh, the retaliation of his daemon hound harmless against the plate armour of the freeguilders.

The numbers of the Blood Warriors dwindled fast as the fighting drew on, but as their last warriors fell to the foe's zweihanders their own axes claimed a few lives in exchange, evening the odds a little. When the Guild Champion decapitated lord Galathor Skullcleave with one lucky overhead strike, however, the scales tipped permanently for the freeguilders.

No matter how hard he tried, Joshua the Amber Mage couldn't stop the completion of the ritual anymore. He could see the sky darken and sense the overlap in realities the foul priests were trying to accomplish.
"Fall back! All men fall back! This place is soon to be filled with daemons and you don't want to be around when that happens!" he cried out to the Handgunners who passed his warning across to the Greatswords. In good order, the remains of the Hassenbach company withdrew from the field.

Bloodsectrator Ragrax Brassfist stood by the lake, watching the weakling humans retreat into the treeline. The lone surviving Blood Warrior limped next to him, holding one arm over the gaping wound on his bleeding flank.
"Shall we give chase?" the warrior asked, grinning.
"No," Ragrax replied calmly.
"We spilled enough blood for the ritual to be drawn to its inevitable conclusion, and now we wait for His legions to arrive. Then we shall lay waste to this land."

The Blood Warrior stood silent for a moment, his gaze sweeping across the corpse-strewn battlefield.
"I thought the plan was to use these weaklings as the sacrifice, now we've lost our own warband and priests in the process!" the warrior stated, gripping his red axe more tightly.
"Perhaps you're not the one capable of leading this invasion after all..."

A wide smile spread across Ragrax's lips at that.
"Khorne cares not from whence the blood flows, only that it flows"


A massacre! And by more means than one...

My opponent was left with only 2 Wounds on the table, his 1-wound Bloodsecrator and a 1-wound Blood Warrior, meaning that his army was pretty much destroyed. Yet still he scored 9 points in the scenario whereas I scored only 3, resulting in a crushing defeat for my Freeguild!

The additional abilities and artefacts from the Blades of Khorne Battletome really make the blood flow on the battlefield, granting charge and anti-mage bonuses that combined with the Blood Tithes help getting the melee-focused army into combat faster and safer to use their astonishing amounts of Attacks per model and lay waste to enemy lines.

One of the important factors in this game was army composition in relation to the battleplan, four heroes against two! And as only heroes can score the objectives, the edge they gave is quite clear... yet that did not decide the game. The other factor was the two-turn dizziness my Greatswords experienced that prevented them from rushing into the middle and help stopping the Slaughterpriests from scoring. Also, my Volley Gun jammed and then got slain pretty soon after, making it totally useless to the outcome of this battle.

Oh well, luck is always easy to blame!

1 kommentti:

  1. I didn't remember to write any kind words of this great report when I first time read it. Better late than never, they say. Great story and what a great battle it was.