perjantai 29. joulukuuta 2017

Defilers of the Bargonne Boneyard


You still remember my hold's Great Book of Grudges, right? Well, recently I played my first so-called Grudge Match, a special type of narrative battle in which my local playmates gather their murderous hordes and challenge my Dispossessed for a cruel fight for survival.
Why? To deliberately inflict harm, misery and grief to my clans so that they can see their names carved into the hallowed pages of the Book of Grudges, of course!

This very first Grudge Match was against a Bloodbound warband by the name of Galathor's Gore Pilgrims. We played a roughly 1500p game using the Battleplan: Skulls for the Skull Throne from the Bloodbound Battletome, in which both sides randomly determine an enemy hero who's skull they must claim for Victory Points. Once the marked hero's skull has been claimed, a new one is determined randomly. Simple and brutal.

On with the story!


"Move it, lads! We gotta reach the boneyard before those blood-crazed fanatics lay waste to it," Slayer Lord Farim bellowed to his marching warriors. The duardin picked up pace and ate away miles at a steady speed not many human armies could have maintained for even a few hours.
With the vast majority of Kazad-Zul's legions chasing greenskins beyond the realmgate, it had fallen to Lord Farim and his remaining clansmen to defend the western reaches of Ungrim Ironhelm's duardin kingdom. The regions they had to patrol were vast, dotted only sparsely here and there by fortified outposts and walled mines and lumbermills. Each of these islands of duardin civilization could hold its own even with the minimal garrisons they had been left with for the duration of their High King's campaign, but dealing with any larger threats was a job Farim's meagre force had to do by themselves.

An urgent message had arrived from the rangers of the Bargonne Forest that a warband of Khorne-worshippers had entered the region. It seemed this barbarian horde had set its aim on the local boneyard. For what purpose, Lord Farim had no idea. Perhaps they were after some easy skulls that didn't fight back when claimed for the Blood God? Or perhaps this was a planned maneuver with which they hoped to draw desperate defenders to come to them, running to the defense of their buried friends and kinsmen?

Whichever the case, the latter of the options was exactly what Farim and his forces were doing. To fight the enemy away from disturbing the sacred rest of those put to eternal sleep.

"Aaight, seems like we made it after all!" the Slayer Lord claimed as he stopped in front of the boneyard gate, his Slayers still jogging not far behind him. Everything seemed quiet enough and there was no movement visible anywhere in the forest opening.
"Spread out and keep your eyes open. And set up the bolt thrower up on that hill."

On the far left flank of the recently arrived duardin company stood the Bargonne Forest Rangers who had carried the message to Lord Farim's hold. They stalked through the autumnal woods with crossbows at the ready, eyeing the treeline for first signs of the enemy.

They didn't have to wait for long as the first barbarians started pouring onto the opening. Dozens of khornates strode casually onto the opening, as if they had stood there waiting for a good while now. Almost like the trap they'd set up was sprung. A shouted warning from the Rangers alerted the rest of Farim's host to the presence of the enemy. They had just given the enemy exactly what they wanted.

Fresh prey.

"Onwards! Push back this corrupted filth and preserve the eternal rest of our kin!" Farim bellowed as the thrust his axe towards the foe, causing the entirety of the duardin force to advance. Only Runelord Nithrik and his accompanying Rangers acted more cautiously, taking good positions on the edge of the forest in the left flank.

The duardin ran across the field and entered the boneyard. The enemy did nothing. The bolt thrower fired into their ranks in an attempt to take down Bloodsecrator Ragrax Brassfist who carried a banner of bone. The enemy did nothing.
Then suddenly a Slaughterpriest strode forth from the ranks of the Bloodbound, his booming voice raised in fervent prayer to his merciless patron. As the cursed words of the dark tongue rang across the boneyard, a handful of Slayers following Lord Farim fell to the ground in agony, their blood boiling within their veins and flowing out of ears and noses.

Only then did the Chaos horde reveal itself in its entirety, a horde of barbarians and muscular monsters emerging from the woods and running full speed towards the duardin.

Their advance was so rapid that Farim's clansmen were caught off-balance. Towering fleshy Khorgoraths crashed into the ranks of the mountainfolk, followed by blood-crazed fanatics with their jagged blades and heavy axes.

Behind all the chaotic tribesmen and abominations now bringing the battle to the duardin walked a single, giant man. He was Galathor Skullcleave, the Mighty Lord of Khorne in charge of this warband and its unholy quest of brining ruin to the Bargonne Boneyard. A cruel smile spread on the face of the khornate lord. Today the blood spilled and skulls claimed in the name of Khorne would be plenty!

Inside the boneyard a band of Bloodreavers threw themselves upon the Slayers without any thought of self-preservation. Axes whirled in the air as both sides hacked into each other, muscled men falling as fast as the orange mohawks did. In the end the Slayers came out on top, standing upon a mound of cleaved corpses of both their friends and their foes.

Lord Farim and his accompanying Slayers met two Khorgoraths and an Exalted Deathbringer amidst the tombstones. The Bloodbound hero managed only a few swings at the Slayer Lord before a swift strike from an ancestral rune-axe decapitated him, but the Slayers were not as lucky as their liege; the Khorgoraths were all but immune to the blows landed upon their fleshy forms, yet claiming many duardin lives in return with each blow. Bone tentacles snapped out from their shoulders, grasping throats and puncturing chests, even as their giant meaty fists pounded life out of any who came close enough to land a strike.

On the right flank the charge of the Khorgoraths was halted by a lonely Grimwrath Berzerker, Grundin Giantbane. The lonely duardin took on both of the monsters, bouncing around them to strike his axe home here and there, trying to wear the beasts down. The Khorgoraths were not just dumb brutes, however, and Grundin attained serious injuries as his adversaries ran into him using the weight of their massive bulks. This noble feat still took all of the monsters' attention, letting the clan's warriors form a shieldwall upon which the tide of rushing Bloodreavers crashed. The barbarians died in droves as the duardin hacked away at them with systematic efficiency, but the sheer ferocity of the Bloodreavers still broke their formation. Many duardin paid for it with their lives as the hungry axes of the Bloodbound bit into their flesh.

Things went even more south when a Skullgrinder appeared from the forest, wielding a giant flaming anvil at the end of a length of chain. This peculiar weapon scythed down the remaining shieldwall, sending the broken bodies of warriors flying through the air before crashing down amidst their brothers-in-arms.

As the battle raged on inside and outside the boneyard, the Rangers stood in wait. Their patience was rewarded when a mob of Blood Warriors ran into view, apparently seeking to flank the beleaguered duardin. A chorus of unloading crossbows thrummed from the Rangers' hideout and a swift volley of bolts swept across the field, striking all but one Blood Warrior to the ground with their chests filled with protruding shafts.

In the boneyard the other band of Slayers ran into the last Blood Warrior, seeking to take down this persistent foe. The tribesman proved to be even more persistent when the duardin clashed blades with him: that single man carved through one Slayer after another, using his twin axes to trip and throw the duardin around before landing the killing blows. The maniac even laughed uncontrollably while performing this cruse dance of death before the weight of foes pressed him down to be chopped to death in turn.

The Khorgoraths made short work of Farim's remaining companions, ramming through the Slayers to leave nothing alive in their wake. Many wounds and axes decorated the bodies of these monstrous beings by now, but nothing seemed to stop them. Lord Farim picked up some speed and flung himself into a slide in between the feet of one of the beasts, his runic axe slicing the creature nearly in half on the go. As he got up from the ground behind the slain monster, the other one rushed in to land a blow that sent the Slayer Lord back to the ground.

On the right flank Grundin Giantbane's distraction of the Khorgoraths came to an end when he got picked up and eaten whole. His heroic actions had still bought time for the warriors to gather around to focus on the beasts and the Skullgrinder in the woods. The monsters proved tough as ever, the axes and hammers of the duardin merely bouncing off their fleshy hides, while in return the mountainfolk died in droves. Each roaring charge of a Khorgorath resulted in warriors getting trampled and maimed, each swing of the flaming anvil sending more bearded folk and broken shields flying through the air.

Death everywhere.

The fighting inside the boneyard was alleviating. Mounds of fresh corpses filled the scene, with Lord Farim and a lonely Khorgorath battling each other in the middle of it. An Unforged called Murin the Shattered was closing in on the scene, willing to aid his lord as he saw Galathor Skullcleave approaching the Slayer Lord as well.

In the left flank forest the Rangers heard a strange rumble from the skies, and before they could react a huge meteorite of brass came down upon them from the heights. It crashed into their formation with tremendous force, sending a score of duardin flying onto their backs and utterly crushing the two unfortunate rangers to have stood right under it. It seemed the Blood God was watching the battle unfold and saw fit to bless its followers with an unholy intervention.

Both the Rangers and the Slayers spotted some movement behind a nearby rock, and set out to investigate. Perhaps there were more Blood Warriors there, lying in wait for the right moment to spring up and join the battle?

Elsewhere the battle was fading down to the last few skirmishes across the field, with both forces spent and tiring.

Before Murin the Shattered could reach his liege, the rampaging Khorgorath trampled the prone form of Lord Farim to death. So did the Protector of the Western Reach and Lord of the Drakeflight Hold pass on to the halls of his ancestors.

On the right flank the combined efforts of the Khorgoraths and the Skullgrinder finished off the remaining warriors, leaving only a single survivor who ran off into the woods, leaving his whole company to grow cold on the bloodied grass.

The Rangers and the Slayers found Ghirkar Redwrath, an Aspiring Deathbringer, from behind the massive rock. A volley of bolts shot out from the Rangers in the forest, leaving a number of shafts stuck into the armour plates of the Bloodbound champion. The Slayers charged in, only to be cut to shreds by the wrath of Ghirkar. The gigantic man had much to prove in the eyes of both Galathor and his dark god, so he used his axe and hammer to deadly effect in bashing the heads and cleaving the skulls of these hapless souls foolish enough to face him.

The bolt thrower on the hill had hit nothing in the battle so far, as much of the fighting had been done swiftly and in brutal, swirling melees that gave no chance to take down foes without risking friendly fire. Now the eyes of the terrified crew turned towards the monsters that rushed out of the corpse-strewn woods, led by the grinning Skullgrinder with murder in his eyes.

Murin the Shattered stopped in his tracks as he saw Lord Farim battered to bloody paste under the wrath of the fleshy beast.
"Come on 'ere, ya towerin' pile o' pig-meat! I'll show ya what a proper duardin feels like on the way to yer foul belly!" he cried out, gaining the attention of the lone Khorgorath. As the monster began stomping its way towards the Unforged, Galathor Skullcleave also joined the fray.

Murin had to dodge the Chaos lord's Flesh-hound as it tried to topple him. Soon after that Galathor's own reality-splitting axe swung through the air, missing Murin's neck by a hair's breadth. Then the Khorgorath was upon him. Stepping aside from the beast's furious downward blow, Murin ran up the monster's muscled arm to stand on its back, sinking his twin axes to where he supposed the creature's head would be. A scream of agony emitted from the Khorgorath as it fell on its face on the ground, stone-dead. The brave Unforged used this forward momentum to fling himself upon Galathor, who parried the oncoming duardin's weapons with his own.
For a moment the lonely duardin and the Lord of Khorne stood toe-to-toe, holding each other's gaze in a murderous challenge. Soon the Flesh-hound bounced upon Murin once again, forcing the Unforged to turn and cleave the beasts head off in one swing, but not before it had ripped a mouthful of tough duardin meat from Murin's back. Lord Skullcleave saw his opportunity and rushed on, weaving his mighty weapon in a series of furious strikes that got turned aside by the duardin's axes. The parried strikes hit the ground, raising a cloud of dust that separated the combatants for a few heartbeats. The duel resumed when Murin appeared out of the dust cloud, hacking at Galathor from every imaginable angle with the skillful use of his runic weapons. Some blows found purchase on the Lord of Khorne's armour, and some even drew blood as they landed in between the armour plates.

During this relentless assault by the Unforged, Galathor saw an opening in the duardin's defense and went for it. His mighty hell-forged axe bit deep into his opponent's side, a fatal blow.
"You fought well, mortal, but there's no defeating the ch-" 
"I'm not done yet," Murin interrupted Lord Skullcleave and brought up an axe to the man's face. Both combatants collapsed on the spot, each other's axes still stuck on each other's prone forms. Both had met their martial match in battle.

Up on the hill overlooking this fatal duel the two Khorgoraths simply ran over the bolt thrower and its crew, stamping them to red mist and tearing the war machine apart piece by piece.

The battlefield began to grow silent as the dead had now outnumbered the living. The entire site was covered in carcasses both great and small, and the only duardin on the field were the Rangers and Runelord Nithrik in the forest on the left flank. They loosed yet another volley at the Aspiring Deathbringer hiding behind the rock, but their bolts merely bounced off the cold stone or clattered harmlessly off the Chaos champion's armour plates.

Ghirkar Redwrath finished off the last of the Slayers fighting him, taking one of them down with a hammer to the jaw and the other with a wide sweep of his axe. As both of his remaining adversaries fell broken to the ground, the Aspiring Deathbringer started towards the forests behind him, away from the range of the duardin crossbows.

Before the Rangers started running after the escaping enemy champion, another brass meteorite struck down from the skies and blasted into the ranks of the duardin. As the survivors got back up to their feet, the Aspiring Deathbringer was already out of reach. The Rangers huddled into the patch of forest, aiming their crossbows around and seeing if there were any immediate threats to them on the field. There were none.

Even the nearest enemies were too far away to catch the Rangers, so Runelord Nithrik made the call to retreat from the field. As the last surviving duardin skulked off into the woods to return to their now-leaderless hold, the remaining Bloodbound began scouring the field for worthy skulls to offer to their deity.

The Skullgrinder looked around him and realized there were no more enemies to kill. The battle was over. He flew into a mighty rage for not having had a fair enough share of the killing, and swung his flaming anvil around to take down a lonely autumn birch with a single blow. As the hapless tree cracked and toppled, catching fire in the process, the Skullgrinder let out his frustration to the uncaring skies with a long, wordless cry.


Despite what it looks like as a story, the game was really a close one!

My Marked Hero was the Unforged, Murin the Shattered, while my opponent's was the Aspiring Deathbringer Ghirkar Redwrath. As it happens, my Marked Hero met his demise fighting (and taking down) a Mighty Lord of Khorne and a Khorgorath! As my Slayers and Quarrellers both failed to kill that single Deathbringer (I needed 2 more inches and my crossbows would've reached him!) so the victory went to the Bloodbound by 1-0.

in retrospect I really should have been more aggressive with my Quarrellers. I could have used them to move up the field after having wiped out the Blood Warriors, rather than kept them hugging cover in the corner of the field. Now all they did was kill a few infantry and wound a hero! I was too careful with my ranged unit, and it cost me the game. However, I still blame my Bolt Thrower. It didn't hit (or at least didn't wound) anything during the game, if I remember correctly. It might have put in a few wounds on one of the Khorgoraths, I do not recall, but not that it matters anyway. Won't be using that machine for a while.

Then there's this one thing... this was a Grudge Match, so naturally this loss is now to become a grudge in the Great Book of Grudges. This unfortunate event lowers my hold's Grudges Settled -percentage from 67,7% to 60,0%.
Congratulations to Galathor's Gore Pilgrims, you've now made your mark in history by having your name written there in blood!

Expect furious vengeance.

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti