maanantai 27. marraskuuta 2017

Path to Glory: Signs of Corruption


The fourth part of my local Path to Glory campaign is finally here, this time centered around the battleplan Beast's Lair in which both players had a chance to control a powerful monster in the middle of the battlefield by rolling off at the beginning of each battleround. Whichever side had any models in the table centre (without any enemies nearby) when the monster was slain would be victorious. We used a Treelord as the Beast of the Lair.

I played against a Blades of Khorne warband which was quite daemon-heavy. Actually it was all daemons through and through. Interesting!

"By Asuryan... Look at this place," Loremaster Aerelian sighed as they stood on a hill overlooking a blackening valley full of leafless trees and infertile ground.
"This is the work of the minions of the Dark Gods. The corruption is spreading rapidly throughout the region and it seems to originate from somewhere around here."
"A morbid sight indeed," Sundamar replied, sitting in the back of A'undtur who had fallen deathly silent since they had entered the dying valley.
"We must locate the source of this desolation to put an end to it. I say we search this valley thoroughly now that we have enough warriors for the task," he said, nodding back over his shoulder towards the lines of aelven troops snaking up the hill to accompany their leaders.

The rest of the reinforcements from home had arrived shortly after the battle at the Altars of Damnation, swelling the ranks of Sundamar's expedition with fresh citizen militia skilled in the usage of bow and spear. With these new warriors he was confident he could find and destroy the source of this foul corruption in no-time.

"There was a dedicated warden for this valley once, a mighty lord of the forest," A'undtur mind-sang suddenly, startling Sundamar.
"I wonder what has become of him."
"Sylvaneth, you mean? I bet those forest spirits have been driven away from here ages ago, they wouldn't let their lands be despoiled in this way," the aelf noble replied, eyeing their surroundings nervously as their party began descending into the valley.

They hadn't traveled far before they spotted disturbing movement in a patch of forest ahead of them.
"I believe we have found the valley's guardian... or something that used to be him. And we're not the only ones making this discovery, either. Draw your blade, Little One..." A'undtur sang as a black-barked Sylvaneth Treelord burst out from amidst a collection of dead trees, bloodcurdling howls of daemons echoing in the background. Lord Sundamar's mouth was too dry to form a reply.

Here's what my Aelf warband House Blazeborn Expedition looks like now. A Dragonlord, a Loremaster, 5 Dragon Blades, 10 White Lions, 5 Reavers and (the latest addition) 10 Spireguard.

The Spireguard were the only non-elite choice I could add to my warband at this point, as I do not want to waste any more Glory Points in another unit of Reavers. They were also already painted, conveniently enough, so I could just swoop sweep them into my bag to be taken along with a minute's notice. I don't expect much of them, but I hope their bows will prove handy when harassing the opposition and thinning down their ranks before the inevitable brutality of melee.

10 Bloodletters, 10 Bloodletters, a Bloodthrone, a Bloodhthirster (behind the rock), a Skullmaster (behind the rock) and 3 Bloodcrushers
I deployed my forces into the corner with less Mysterious terrain around it (I roll terribly when those are nearby) and my opponent's warband naturally set up on the opposite corner. Both forces started a bit bunched-up, with the intention of running into the mid-field Beast's Lair to bathe in blood, but I was confident in my missile capabilities and their might against his all-melee horde of slavering daemons.

The first turn of the first battleround went to the Aelves, as well as the control of the Treelord for this round. I moved my forces cautiously towards the middle in order to unleash a hail of arrows at the daemons in the second round, letting them slither out of their deployment area into the daylight. The Treelord walked out of its lair and shot its Strangleroots at the Bloodcrushers, but failed to inflict any damage. Its subsequent charge also failed and the turn switched over to the Blades of Khorne.

The Beast's Lair in the middle was Deadly terrain, which is why the Dragon Blades are so oddly positioned.
Completely ignoring the Treelord, the daemons circled around it to get closer to the Beast's Lair in the middle of the field. The Bloodcrushers and the Skullmaster began some sort of flanking maneuver on the right, riding closer upon the backs of their juggernauts.

The Aelves got to begin the second battleround (and gained the control of the Treelord once more), so I lined my warriors up for the shooting phase. My Dragon Blades and Reavers got close enough to the Lair to claim it for the Aelves should the Treelord perish any time soon. The Loremaster cast Hand of Glory on my Dragonlord, who then flew next to the hill on the right in order to halt the flanking enemy cavalry.

The Reavers managed to take down 4 Bloodletters with their 15 arrows, thinning down the closest enemy infantry unit quite nicely. The Dragonlord spat fire over the hill to burn a single Bloodcrusher to crisp. The Dragon Blades failed their charge into the Bloodthrone looming in the distance. The Treelord, however, did make its charge and managed to reach the great Bloodthirster himself!

After Strangleroot shots and a number of melee attacks the Bloodthirster stood on 5 Wounds, but it managed to get back at the sentient twig by carving it down to 4 Wounds in return!

A true clash of the titans.

My opponent moved up his forces within charge distance, leaving only one unit of Bloodletters to see if their Champion could handle the Treelord with or without some help from its minions. The Bloodcrushers along with the Skullmaster on the right advanced just a bit, maintaining a disturbing presence in my dragon-guarded flank while his other units charged in.

The Bloodthrone charged my Dragon Blades, suffering 1 Wound in the melee while the aelven knights took as much in return. The 6 Bloodletters of the arrowfire-weakened unit came at my Reavers, cutting down two of the poor cavalry before suffering two casualties in return as the Spireguard ran in to aid their mates.

The Combat between a Greater Daemon and a Treelord was going horribly. The Bloodthirster dealt out three wounds while only taking one himself, leaving its adversary at a single Wound!

The third battleround began with the Aelves, but the control of the Treelord switched over to the Khornates. The Dragonlord received Hand of Glory from the Loremaster and climbed to the nearby hill, blasting one more Bloodcrusher from this reality with a healthy gout of dragonfire before charging in. The Spireguard fired at the turncoat Treelord, seeking to take out its last Wound with a rain of shafts. All shots bounced off or missed altogether, but one lucky shot went through and slew the Beast of the Lair!

The White Lions charged the Bloodletters in the middle to lend some aid to the Reavers and the Spireguard, making short work of the remaining daemon infantry with their axes. The Dragon Blades managed to put two more wounds into the Bloodthrone but lost one of their own in the fight, while the Dragonlord ate up the last remaining Bloodcrusher.

The Bloodletters and the Bloodcrushers at the back (around the rock spire) are casualties, not unholy reinforcements.
My opponent's third turn saw the Bloodthirster advance into the middle with its minions hot on its heels. The daemons sought to swarm the centre and push me out, for now that the monster was dead the victor would be determined as soon as all enemies had been cleared from the Lair. Funnily enough, the Greater Daemon of Khorne failed its Deadly terrain test when charging across the middle forest and was removed from the field!

The Dragon Blades slew 2 Bloodletters in the combat phase but suffered 5 wounds in return, killing two knights and leaving one on 1 Wound. The Bloodthrone survived this round unscathed and managed to heal 2 Wounds with its Gorefeast ability. I wonder what the flesh of aelven nobles taste like...

The fourth battleround began with the Aelves. The Loremaster tried to cast Arcane Bolt at the Bloodletters but got automatically unbound by the Khornates' Blood Tithe Battle Trait. The Dragonlord climbed to the edge of the hill and slew one daemon with dragonfire, while the Reavers repositioned themselves and loosed 9 shots at the Bloodthrone, taking it from 5 Wounds down to just 2.

Both the White Lions and the Spireguard charged the Bloodletters through the Deadly forest, forming two layers around the daemons: tough White Lions in the first rank, spear-armed Spireguard in the second, with only a small gap left to get the Spireguard unit champion into contact with the foe. One Lion and two Spireguard met their demise charging through the woods, but the daemons were quickly dispatched under the aelven onslaught.

In the Blades of Khorne turn four, the Bloodthrone charged the Spireguard and managed to kill 6 of them in one go! The lonely Skullmaster on the right also charged my Dragonlord but got minced before getting a chance to attack my Champion.

The Bloodthrone was the only enemy model on the field at this point, yet it still stood within the boundaries of the Lair and thus still denied me victory. So I activated my White Lions next and piled them in...

A handful of dice, 3+/3+/-1/1 and the daemonic slaughter-chariot was gone.

A major victory for the Aelves!

The last of the daemons crawled out of the wreckage of the Bloodthrone, clawing its way onward amidst the corpses with its mangled legs trailing numbly behind it. A ranger walked up to it and pressed the abomination flat on the ground with a dirty boot, bringing a great axe down on the daemon's head with a splat. The warriors began spreading out to examine the battlefield, checking fallen comrades and skewering lingering foes. All around the corpse-strewn valley the corporeal forms of the slain daemons began slowly dissipating as their hosts had been banished back into the Realm of Chaos, leaving only dead mortals to dot the landscape.

Sundamar was breathing heavily. The corrupted warden had fought the daemons with admirable ferocity, but there had been something sinister about the Treelord all along. The Loremaster had advised everyone to keep their distance and remain vigilant, for the warden surely couldn't tell a friend from foe anymore. It had clashed with a greater daemon with some measure of success before it had turned on the aelves. Aerelian had immediately ordered the Spireguard to loose a volley at the wooden giant, finally bringing the grievously wounded behemoth down with one lucky shaft.

Young Lord Blazeborn was even now staring at the blackened Treelord that laid flat on the ground, its bark split and torn, with several arrows protruding from its battered form.
"There still is a chance to save it. Its life essence hasn't completely left the husk yet, and I might be able to spark it once more," Loremaster Aerelian stated as he walked up to his liege.
"It might be grateful enough afterwards to join our little adventure. I'm quite convinced it has a score or two to settle with whoever is spreading this corruption."
"Do it," Sundamar replied after a moment's thought.
"We need all the help we can get. How much time do you need, master Aerelian?"
"I'd say three days, but I'll make it two. The restoration ritual is exhausting and it'll take our friend here a while to recover its full strength, but we'll get there. I think I'd better start recalling my lessons on the tongue of the ancients..."

As an additional reward for this victory the Treelord now joins my warband with D6 Wounds, recovering and additional D6 Wounds at the start of each subsequent scenario as it gains back its strength. A handy addition if you ask me! That monster packs a punch which is always welcome in Aelven warbands while also bringing some serious durability into my ranks, too. I believe I now stand at 6 Glory Points in this league, which is not that good as there are already players competing for victory with either 5 added units or 10 collected Glory Points. Oh well, I've had a blast and there are still scenarios to come, so the challenges haven't ended yet for Sundamar Blazeborn and his followers! I'm thinking of taking a Reward for my White Lions instead of a new unit, just to try how that mechanic plays out.

My opponent's Blades of Khorne were a joy to meet on the field, the black-and-red colour scheme topped with weapons of bleached bone looks absolutely stunning! The warband was also played really well, and I have to admit I feel a bit embarrassed to fall for such an obvious bait. A bunch of cavalry hanging on my flanks doing nothing? Had I done nothing the bastards would've struck my Loremaster and Reavers in the back, but as a pretty poor tactical choice I sent my Dragonlord after them. Yes. I sent a damn dragon to chase flankers while my footmen died in droves in the mid-field. The Dragon Blades could've done the same and I would've had my main killing machine free to meet the foe where it mattered!

Agh, what is done is done. I was lucky to have the Treelord on my side for so long, it pretty much saved the day by smashing the Bloodthirster down to its last Wounds before dying itself. I also have to pat my Spireguard and White Lions in the back. They held the middle even though their lord and master was off chasing daemon-riders.

We'll see what the next game brings about. Until then!

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