perjantai 17. marraskuuta 2017

Path to Glory: At the Altars of Damnation


In the third game of the local Path to Glory league I got paired against Khorne Bloodbound in a scenario called Altar of the Gods. The aim was to control three out of four altars on the table by being the only player having models within 3" of them. Pretty straightforward, but as an interesting twist each warband's Champion had a chance to pray at a nearby altar in their own hero phase, either suffering mortal wounds or gaining powerful bonuses for their efforts.

The reinforcements from home arrived in mere days after the encounter with the Ghoul King. A band of Reavers appeared in Lord Blazeborn's encampment late in the night, carrying supplies and promises of even more troops on their way to assist the young noble. The duel with the King of Ghouls had left its marks on Sundamar, who even now sat upon a mossy rock chewing a restoring herb his mother had sent along with the cavalry.
"We're getting close, my lord," Loremaster Aerelian stated as he stood on a tree branch several feet above his liege.
"According to the ancient scripts in the temple there should be a cluster of altars nearby. Dedicated to the Dark Gods, they said. Leveling them should at least slow down the spread of corruption..."
"Don't get carried away, master Aerelian. We might be reinforced with skilled warriors from home but I do not intend to lose them straight away," Sundamar replied, grimacing as he forced himself up from the rock.
"The longer we wait the harder it is to combat this darkness gripping the region," the Loremaster shot back from the heights along with a determined gaze. With a simple motion of his pale hand the warrior mage descended to the ground, carried by a magical gale of wind.
"There's bound to be a gathering of worshipers guarding these constructions. If we strike now we might catch them unawares, otherwise they'll spot us first and call for their friends to join the party."
Lord Sundamar Blazeborn looked long and hard into the bright blue eyes of the Loremaster before giving his reply.
"Gather the warriors, we move out at dawn."

Bloodbound: 20 Bloodreavers, Khorgorath, Slaughterpriest, Bloodsecrator, Mighty Lord of Khorne, 5 Blood Warriors, 3 Mighty Skullcrushers and 3 Plague Drones
Aelves: 5 Dragon Blades, 10 White Lions, Loremaster, 5 Reavers and a Dragonlord
As you can see, my latest addition to the warband was a unit of 5 Reavers. I had planned on adding them to the warband as early as possible, but I didn't remember that they're an Elite choice in Path to Glory. In the previous scenario I scored 2 Glory Points which brought me up to a total of 5, but taking an Elite Follower unit is costly and I had to pay the price for adding them. Now I stand at 4 Glory Points with a unit of missile cavalry at my side.

I could only hope that they'd pay themselves back in this game, as my only way of winning this league now is through collecting the required 10 GP (missing one of the games left me a unit short of everyone else, so victory through 5 added units isn't really an option anymore).

On with the game!

I took the first turn of the first battleround partly by mistake. I rolled higher so I had the option to choose either myself or my opponent to go first, which would've been wise against a melee-heavy faction like the Bloodbound. I could've let my opponent approach me without them getting into charge distance, then counter-strike in my own turn and hope for a double turn in the 2nd battleround, which would've given me plenty of time to whittle down his forces.

What I did instead: I took the first turn myself, realized the error and stood my ground. I merely re-positioned my units and rode my Reavers on top of the middle hill. They released 15 arrows at the Plague Drones, failed to inflict any wounds (due to Disgustingly Resilient) and retreated back behind the hill using their handy Aelven Purebreeds ability.

My opponent used his turn running towards me with everything he had, leaving only the Bloodsecrator in the woods in his deployment zone to hold up his skully banner. The Khorgorath and the Blood Warriors captured both of the altars on his table edge, just as I had done on my own.

Aelves got to take the first turn of the second battleround too, giving me more than enough time to position my units. I wanted to take on his ferocious assault as best as I could, with each of my (weakish) units supporting one another. I had to survive long enough to mount a counter-attack into his side of the table later in the game.

My Reavers galloped up the hill once more, raining 15 arrows at the Bloodreavers which I deemed a softer target than the Plague Drones. For once my Parthian tactics proved effective; 8 Bloodreavers disappeared from the table before my Reavers ran back into the safety of the hill (and their lord's dragon).

The Bloodbound closed the gap in their turn, charging their Bloodreavers into my White Lions and the Plague Drones into my Dragonlord. The Plague Drones also tossed some virulent Death's Heads at my Reavers, inflicting 1 Wound.

The combat between the Bloodreavers and the White Lions proved brutal. 4 White Lions went down under the amount of attacks unleashed upon them (3 Attacks / Bloodreaver), but they managed to inflict 8 casualties on their assailants in return.

The Plague Drones tried and and failed in inflicting wounds on my Dragonlord, who in exchange slew one of the buzzing multi-Wound bastards. My Reavers also piled in to lend a hand hoof, but didn't do much with their 4+/4+ Rendless attacks.

So far I had taken the enemy charges well and without losing any significant amount of troops. I still had two combats going on which could still go either way, especially with the Skullcrushers sitting by one of the altars on the right.

I began the third battleround and moved my Dragon Blades to the middle hill. I wanted to advance into my opponent's territory soon, but I still felt like keeping them around should anything go wrong in the two ongoing combats.

The White Lions made short work of the 4 remaining Bloodreavers, losing only one of their own in the fight, while my Dragonlord ate away the unit of Plague Drones in one go. My opponent still had his Skullcrushers nearby and I wanted to remain in control of the altar, so my Loremaster (who up to this point and beyond merely kept casting Hand of Glory upon my Dragonlord) moved up to stand within 3" of the objective.

In my opponent's turn he left his Slaughterpriest to guard the altar in the top left corner, which freed his Khorgorath for more aggressive use. The hulking monster began stomping its way towards my depleted White Lions, but it luckily failed its 12" charge. The Skullcrushers didn't fail their charge though, and soon I found my Loremaster under brutal assault by these peculiar demonriders. A round of combat slew my wizard and saw the destruction of the Skullcrushers in the jaws of the Dragonlord, and soon it was time to roll for initiative of the 4th battleround...

Once more I got to begin the battleround. The Dragon Blades rode towards the top right altar, guarded by 5 Blood Warriors. The White Lions retreated back to the nearby altar, while my Dragonlord re-positioned himself to for later advance into enemy territory. The Dragon Blades failed their charge and my plan of storming the altar fell apart, passing the turn to my opponent.

The Bloodbound sent their Mighty Lord of Khorne to halt the advance of my Dragon Blades, slaughtering three of them in the combat phase in a storm of gore! The Khorgorath rumbled towards the White Lions, picked one off with Bone Tentacles and charged in...

...and bashed the living daylight out of the rest. The battleround ended with my opponent holding three of the altars and a happy Khorgorath eating away at aelven corpses.

A Major Victory for the Bloodbound!

To their credit the aelves retreated in some resemblance of order. That was the only thing Sundamar was even remotely thankful for, apart from the fact that so many of his own were even alive in the first place. This attack had been a disaster.
His Household Knights had suffered heavy casualties, he had lost yet another band of rangers and Loremaster Aerelian was grievously wounded. The damned altars had to be left behind along with the dead, for they were overrun with ferocious followers of Khorne.

Sundamar knew he had made the enemy pay a hefty price for their victory. He had even personally avenged the fall of the Loremaster by slaughtering the enemy cavalry together with A'undtur. Yet something gnawed at him in the back of his mind as he clung to the dragon's back in the heights of the clouds, his followers running in full retreat beneath him.
"Tell me, little one..." the soothing voice of the dragon sang inside his head.
"What did you discuss with the entity of the Altar of Doom? I felt you tap into the powers of that dark and unholy construction..."
"I... I asked for its help. When Aerelian fell under the charge of the enemy cavalry and his spells wore off... I needed help in exacting revenge upon the servants of the Dark Gods. I received a surge of power that lent me the strength to kill them..." the aelf lord replied inside his weary mind.
"Fool... Do you have any idea of what the entity might have demanded in return? No? Doesn't matter, I have a feeling we may find out soon enough," A'undtur mind-sang in a melancholic tone as they glided towards the sun setting in the horizon.

I admire the way my opponent handled this match. Despite the apparent lack of strategy at the start, where the majority of his forces just rushed towards me, he masterfully directed his diminishing forces to claim a clear victory. He didn't batter my warband into submission with brute force. He didn't make use of any cheesy faction tricks. He merely threw some units at me, waited for my reaction, denied my counter-attack and then sent out one Khorgorath to seal the deal. A truly skilled tactician!

He either had this masterful plan hidden away all along, or he just adapted to the changing tides of battle very fast and seamlessly. It was refreshing to see a pretty straightforward faction being played in a not-so-straightforward way. Now I stand at 5 Glory Points, halfway to the goal and eagerly waiting for the next scenario, the Beast's Lair. The unit I'll add to my warband now will be 10 Spireguard. I desperately need more ranged firepower and infantry to be able to hold my own in the next game!

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