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!

torstai 9. marraskuuta 2017

Path to Glory: In the Hall of the King of Ghouls


So I started playing in this Path to Glory -campaign some time ago and totally managed to miss the second round. Well played, me. Luckily I got back on track in time for the third and fourth rounds, both of which have now been played and no clear victor has emerged as of yet. Me and my aelves might still have a chance!

Although this report will be marked as Part 2 in the Campaign menu, it's actually the third scenario of the league. I obviously didn't receive any Glory or new units for the missed game, so my warband still consists of only four units and my points total still stands at 3 GP.

This time I got paired with a Flesh-Eater Courts warband, a faction I've never faced on the battlefield before.

"I do not like this," Loremaster Aerelian said, letting his gaze sweep across the autumnal landscape. Lord Sundamar shifted his weight from his left leg to his right, having waited for the Loremaster's evaluation for a good hour by now. He and his warband had found Aerelian the Sage from a ruined temple in the Zendorn Foothills, lost in his studies of the dark rites that had apparently taken place there. The Loremaster had agreed to join them after A'undtur helped in translating the ancient scripts, directing them through the foothills on their quest to track down the source of the corruption spreading in the region.

"Dark magic? I can faintly sense it in the air myself," Sundamar stated while petting the long scaly neck of A'undtur.
"Yes, magic of the undead. You can tell by the dusty reek of it," the Loremaster replied.
"I believe I have fairly proficient evidence to back up my claim that we may have entered the sacred halls of the King of Ghouls."
"So you're saying we just walked into his or her chamber without knocking?" Sundamar Blazeborn asked. A silent nod from the Sage was all the reply he needed to realize the severity of the situtation.
"Sound the alarm and gather the group!"

My warband, left to right: Dragonlord, 10 White Lions, Loremaster, 5 Dragon Blades
My opponent's warband: 10 Ghouls, Ghoul King on Terrorgheist, Vargulf Courtier, 3 Crypt Horrors, 10 Ghouls
I was one unit behind my opponent because of the missed game, so I prepared myself for a tiring uphill battle. The scenario was Vendetta, in which both players secretly pick a unit in their army. The chosen units are then revealed at the start of the game and gain +1 To Hit and To Wound for when attacking each other. The side that managed to slay the chosen enemy unit would be declared a victor immediately.

Both of us picked our Champions, a Dragonlord and a Ghoul King. A battle of the titans was about to begin!

My opponent begun the first battleround and formed a protective circle around his heroes. The Ghoul King cast Unholy Vitality on the Ghouls to the left, strengthening his flank while sending the Crypt Horrors around the hill on the right to make me feel uncomfortable.

I didn't see the approaching Ghouls as a threat, but the King himself along with his Courtiers and Horrors gave me the chills. I would have to focus down his units one at a time and each in one go, otherwise they'd just keep coming back until my feeble forces would wither away under the pressure.

In my turn the Loremaster cast Hand of Glory over the Dragonlord, who then flew ahead to land on the altar in the middle. The White Lions followed suit, having been buffed with Inspiring Presence from their liege lord. The Dragon Blades remained fairly still, hanging back as a reserve and waiting for the enemy Crypt Horrors to make their next move.

I wanted to approach this battle with extreme caution. I had one less unit than my opponent and the Aelves are not exactly known for their resilience in the brutal cut-and-thrust of close combat, after all.

The Dragonlord spat fire over the Ghouls and the White Lions charged in, collectively taking down 6 enemies while losing only 1 of their own number. To my disappointment the Ghouls didn't disappear in the battleshock phase, and two of the bastards were still left when we rolled to see who got to take the first turn of the second battleround.

I managed to take the first turn and set about taking down his units. The White Lions received Inspiring Presence once more and made short work of the remaining Ghouls, wiping the unit off the table. My Dragon Blades moved up to support the Lions, as I was expecting a counterattack on the middle, and my Dragonlord (buffed with Hand of Glory) swooped across the field to assail the Crypt Horrors.

A gout of dragonfire and a round of combat proved insufficient in wiping out the three buggers, and two were still standing by the end of it. Fortunately they didn't manage to take any Wounds off my Champion.

As I had predicted, my failure to destroy the Crypt Horrors in one go resulted in the slain model coming back as reinforcements. My Dragonlord was now locked in combat with a full unit of 3 Horrors and flanked by the Ghoul King and the Vargulf who both smelt an opportunity to end the game before it had even properly begun.

My opponent also took his remaining unit of 10 Ghouls from the flank and brought them to the middle to deal with my victorious White Lions. We now had an even number of units on the table and the scales of battle hung in the balance.

The Ghouls charged in, taking down 4 White Lions in exchange for their own 5 fallen. The Crypt Horrors only managed to inflict a single Wound on my Dragonlord, who in return slew one Horror and wounded another badly.

The initiative of the third battleround would decide a whole bunch of things. If my opponent won the roll-off he would get his Crypt Horrors back to full strength once more, and my Champion would be in the perfect place for him to descend upon and tear apart. Should I get the first turn, however, I would have the chance to wipe his Horrors off the table and bring up some units to support my Dragonlord.

And so the dice rolled...

The Aelves won the initiative and my Dragon Blades charged in to fight alongside the White Lions while the Loremaster cast Hand of Glory upon my Champion.

Dragonfire managed to take a couple of Wounds off the Ghoul King, weakening the enemy hero for the inevitable final encounter. I began the combat phase by taking down the remaining 2 Crypt Horrors with my Dragonlord for good, wiping another enemy unit off the table. The Ghouls in the middle activated next, taking out 2 White Lions before getting trampled to the ground by the aelven cavalry.

My Champion was still stuck in the teeth of the enemy, but at least the two heroes in the temple ruins were the only units my opponent had left. I still had all my units at my disposal, although the White Lions had already been severely depleted.

My opponent began his third turn.

Both enemy heroes crawled from their nest to prepare for a charge at my Champion. The Ghoul King on Terrorgheist released Death Shriek upon my White Lions, destroying the unit completely with more than enough mortal wounds before charging in.

My Dragonlord used his Quicksilver Potion to try and take the oncoming enemies by surprise, but he gloriously failed to inflict more than a couple on wounds on the Ghoul King and took 9 wounds himself from the combined efforts of the two Death heroes.

The fourth battleround was just around the corner and my Champion still stood surrounded by enemies. Initiative for the Flesh-Eater Courts would mean very harsh times for the Aelves: my Dragonlord only had 4 Wounds left and he was in dire need of help from the rest of the warband if I desired to survive this encounter.

Once again I managed to win the initiative and the fourth battleround began with Aelves. My Dragon Blades charged the Ghoul King to support their liege, while the Loremaster cast Hand of Glory over him to boost the attacks of both the lord and the dragon.

I picked up a handful of dice and set about rolling the Dragonlord's attacks, hoping to play towards the objective by directing all the attacks against the Ghoul King. All I needed was to take him down before my own Champion succumbed to his injuries!

Fortune smiled upon me as my lord's blade and dragon's claws lowered the enemy Champion to its last few Wounds. The three dice I rolled for my dragon's jaw-attacks were successful, and my opponent scooped up some dice to roll for his saves. The Ghoul King had something along the lines of three separate saves (sources of which I unfortunately do not recall) and many of my attacks were negated, but in the end I managed to deal just enough to take out the enemy Champion for good.

A major victory for the Aelves!

The lonely Vargulf Courtier scattered away into the woods as soon as the Ghoul King's severed head rolled on the bloody grass. The Blazeborn Household Knights rode up to their liege lord through the corpse-strewn field in haste as they realized the severity of their lord's injuries. Sundamar hung in his sadle with an empty gaze in his eyes and a bloody longsword barely hanging from a numb hand, while A'undtur's whole form was covered in bloody cuts and vicious bite-marks.
"Are you alright, my liege?" one of the knights called up to him as he forcefully straightened his back in the presence of his followers.
"I'm quite fine, thank you. Would you be so kind as to find our Loremaster so we can be on our way once more?" Sundamar called back at the knights, who rode off to carry out the command without a second thought.
"We may need to call for reinforcements from my father, I'm not sure we can keep on this pace with our current escort," he mind-sang to his dragon, his thoughts clouded by grief for the loss of yet another band of rangers. A'undtur's reply was as unsettling as always.
"Do what you will, little one. Whatever makes you think you're safe from the challenges of our journey..."

A very interesting and tight match for which I had no real expectations (I was missing a unit, after all). The Flesh-Eater Courts are a peculiar faction to play against, and despite suffering from the same lack of ranged options they seem to be a fresh take on Death as a Grand Alliance. Fighting them is pretty much like fighting other undead; focus down units one at a time and take them out with the first try, otherwise they'll simply come back. Unlike Skeletons or Zombies though, the Flesh-Eaters replenish their ranks without spells of summoning. This makes it more difficult and annoying to try and stem the endless reinforcements as you cannot simply unbind the some spells and be done with it.

My opponent's warband was gorgeously painted and I really loved the autumn forest look our battlefield had. Now I stand at 5 Glory Points (one of which I'm going to use to acquire some Reavers for my warband) which almost takes me halfway up to the final scenario. I have no realistic expectations for any great rankings in this league, but I'm having a blast and that's all that matters in the end. And I can always try again!

The next scenario (already played, currently in writing) will be some kind of altar-hunting and sacrifices. Interesting. Until then!

perjantai 27. lokakuuta 2017

Regimental Rebasing


It's been a while since my last post but now I'm back on track with an assortment things to show you. Although I'm still working on my newest Path to Glory report, I thought it'd be nice to let you see how my army projects are coming along!

Since my order of hundreds of 25mm round bases arrived I've been working hard to re-base my old Empire models from squares to rounds. Who once were the ill-fated and grim conscripts of the 14th Talabheim State Regiment have now been transformed into the stalwart defenders of the Mortal Realms as proud members of the Puffington Host!

Swordsmen, Handgunners, Spearmen & Greatswords
Witch Hunter, Bright Wizard, Warrior Priest, Engineer, Warrior Priest & Freeguild General
Freeguild General on Warhorse, Freeguild General with Stately War Banner & two war machine crews
As all the models are varnished I have no way of changing the colour scheme more to my current liking, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. This Empire force was my first real Warhammer army (as in, I had only owned some separate models before) so perhaps it is for the best to leave it as it is. At least I can easily see how the level of my painting skills has slowly increased over the years!

I simply cut, sawed and pried each and every square base from the models and quickly painted up some new ones to glue them on. The workload seemed enormous at first, but in the end it was quite a fast and simple operation. I really like how the round bases change the general look of the models, giving them all some individuality rather than just making them bricks in a wall.

What I did to the bases was also very simple. Simple is the keyword I designated for this army project, as I have many armies on my plate and this one will have to be as speed-assembled, speed-painted and speed-based as possible.

First I took a wide square-tipped brush and slapped some flagstones onto the bases with Dawnstone, adding a few details with Gehenna's Gold (sewers, ornate swirls...) and Sotek Green (mosaic, coloured flagstones...) to break up the monotone black-and-gray a bit. Lastly I washed it all over generously with Nuln Oil, and the bases were done!

They don't look that great when inspected up close, but they do the job when there are 100+ models on the table and you just want to get on with the project.

I also added a couple of new heroes to the army's ranks to bolster them for the new age of warfare they're about to enter. A couple of evenings' speedpainting resulted in two Freeguild Generals and two allied Battlemages!

Not the greatest of my paintjobs but I'm happy with the result. As I only have limited time on my hands and there are loads of projects to do, I opted to go with a very simple palette and a bit less finishing touches than my heroes would normally receive. It feels oddly good to get things done in so little time and to leave some small details less detailed in order to finish the model sooner... I feel like I've actually accomplished something. Perhaps I've finally broken out of the perfectionist's cage, that infernal loop of doing and redoing things to get it all nice and perfect?

Nah, that's not possible.

Speaking of swelling the ranks of my army, I recently acquired 50 old Empire Militia models from various different sources. All unpainted, most unassembled, some still in their sprues. I have untold amounts of Empire bits and pieces in my bitz box, so I decided to go crazy with it. Taking out all my unused human arms, heads, weapons and shields, I assembled 10 models at a time while making sure each one was different from the others before moving on to the next batch of 10. I went through all 50 models by slapping on parts from multiple kits like Handgunners, Greatswords, State Troops, Outriders, Knights, Pistoliers, war machine crews...

I ended up having a nice company of armed men kitted with various tools of war: pistols, axes, clubs, swords, crossbows, hunting bows, blunderbusses, halberds, pikes, knives and so forth. I really like how they look as a unit. They're not a coherent and uniformly armed fighting force, but a mixed bunch of irregulars who fight for their homes in the ranks of the Freeguild Militia.

Here are a few pics of the unit before I started painting them. They're all on squares for the duration of the painting, but as soon as all 50 have been speedpainted through I'll put them on those rounds bases they deserve.