Friday, 14 August 2015

The Battle of Blood Valley - Part 1

A 3,250 point Warhammer Fantasy Battle 8th edition battle report with Aaron Graham.

It has been a while since I posted a proper battle report, so I thought I would put out the call and see who was interested in these disturbing and Age of Sigmar-laden times. Aaron put up his hand, and we set about planning a game. Things were largely dictated by what he had available (hence the slightly strange points limit). I tried to make an army that might face off fairly evenly against the sorts of units he would be fielding, and away we went.

Unfortunately the lighting at the club is really not great, so some of these photos are pretty dark despite my efforts to adjust the camera. In the end (as the afternoon got even darker) I wound up resorting to the flash. Sorry about my shoddy photography skills. Anyway, on with the game!

Smoke smeared the horizon as Grand Master Reichardt called his column to a halt at the top of a gently rolling hill. They stood on the lip of a green valley. The farmhouses occupying the area had all been abandoned for a while. The Chaos warband that was rampaging in this direction was hardly the first threat to the area in recent memory. In truth, the whole region was a war zone. A tide of warriors had been arriving from the north, and there was a limit to how many armies Elector Count Valmir von Raukov could dispatch to combat the problem. 

Reichardt's task force was one such force. He had been dispatched with the specific purpose of intercepting and destroying this latest warband before its southerly course took it beyond the Elector's reach and deeper into the Empire. This was not the first such sortie that the Grand Master and his men had been on. Every fighting man in Ostland was a veteran by now; there was no room for idle men.

A forced march had brought them to this valley, which Reichardt had identified as the best place to halt the northerners. They were arriving toward the later part of the afternoon however, and the sun would soon be setting. It would have been time to make camp, however the sounds from the other side of the valley suggested that there would be no time for that. The battle would take place now.

Already the lead elements of the Chaos force were emerging from the trees on the far side of the field. As the sun began to set behind them and the smoky sky overhead began to turn red, the gathering Northmen took up a chant as they formed ranks across the valley from the hastily deploying Empire forces. The chant was simple, but it simultaneously struck fear into the hearts of their enemies and praised their malevolent master.

"Blood! Blood! Blood! BLOOD!"

The Armies

Brothers of Blood
A Warriors of Chaos army commanded by Aaron Graham.
  • DP Fellrender, Daemon Prince of Khorne
    Daemonic Flight, Chaos Armour, Sword of Might, Charmed Shield, Collar of Khorne, Scaled Skin, Soul Feeder
  • SL Sorcerer Lord on Manticore
    Level 4 Lore of Fire, Fencer's Blades, Chaos Armour, Enchanted Shield, Talisman of Preservation, Chalice of Chaos, Chaos Familiar. Manticore has Iron Hard Skin and Venom Tail
  • BSB Exalted Hero on Daemonic Mount
    Battle Standard, Mark of Khorne, Helm of Many Eyes, Luckstone, The Other Trickster's Shard, Poisonous Slime, Halberd, Barding, Chaos Armour
  • WW Wulfrik the Wanderer
  • CW 20 Chaos Warriors of Khorne
    Halberds, Shields, Full Command, Gleaming Pennant
  • CM 16 Chaos Marauders
    Full Command
  • Ch Chaos Chariot of Khorne
  • MH 5 Marauder Horsemen of Khorne
    Flails, Shields, Musician
  • Dog 7 Chaos Warhounds
    Mutant Poisons
  • CK 7 Chaos Knights of Khorne
    Lances, Full Command, Banner of Swiftness
  • Ogre 4 Chaos Ogres of Khorne
    Great Weapons
  • Skull 3 Skullcrushers of Khorne
    Ensorcelled Weapons, Musician
  • HC Hellcannon
Reichardt's Task Force
An Empire army commanded by Greg Johnson.
  • GM Grand Master Reichardt
    Barded Steed, Full Plate Armour, Shield, Giant Blade, Dawnstone, The Other Trickster's Shard
  • WL Wizard Lord
    Level 4 Lore of Light, Dispel Scroll
  • BSB Captain
    Battle Standard, Barded Steed, Full Plate Armour, Shield, Sword of Might, Talisman of Endurance
  • W Battle Wizard
    Level 2 Lore of Metal
  • H1 40 Halberdiers
    Full Command
  • H2 15 Halberdiers
  • HG 16 Handgunners
  • Kn 10 Inner Circle Knights
    Full Command, Steel Standard
  • GS 40 Greatswords
    Full Command, Gleaming Pennant
  • S 15 Swordsmen
  • F 40 Flagellants
    Prophet of Doom
  • O 5 Outriders
  • GC Great Cannon
  • ST Steam Tank
  • CH Celestial Hurricanum
Deployment after vanguard moves.
I should have thought to bring the static grass cloth. Oh well. We'll call the Chaos deployment zone the north edge for simplicity.
The Chaos left flank. Or rather, their east flank.

The Chaos centre with the BSB leading the Knights and the Hellcannon lurking behind.
The Chaos west flank with the Daemon Prince near the building and the Sorcerer Lord on his Manticore nearby.
The view along the Chaos line.
The Empire across the field.
The Empire east flank, with the Grand Master and BSB leading the Knights
The Empire centre, with the Wizard Lord lurking in the detachment behind the Greatswords.
The Empire west flank, which was anchored by a building. Again there is a wizard leading from the rear in the detachment. They're brave like that.
Along the line.
This is Wulfrik the Wanderer, who always arrives fashionably late (and using the wrong door). He will make an appearance sometime later.
Empire Turn 1
Empire Turn 1.
The Chaos army did not take long to gather itself on the valley's edge. Their numbers were not particularly daunting, and this heartened the Empire forces as they realised that perhaps they had this engagement under control. This confidence was short-lived however, as a pair of shadows drifted in overhead and settled in amongst the enemy lines. The first was a Sorcerer upon a snarling Manticore; the other was a monstrous Daemon Prince, its form clad in brass armour as it brandished a wicked-looking axe at the distant foe. Another late arrival in the Chaos formations was a Hellcannon, which wheeled itself slowly onto the field as its Chaos Dwarf masters coaxed it with prods and chains. The maw of the cannon glowed unnaturally in the fading light as its crew brought it to a halt on the far hill. 
The Hellcannon was basically the only shooting in the Chaos army, but it posed a real threat.
As quickly as the enemy had deployed, Reichardt's veteran force had been swifter. Seeing enemy horsemen begin to fan out in front of the Chaos lines, he wasted no time and shouted the advance. He gestured to his own artillery to focus upon the enemy Hellcannon as he spurred his mount forward at the head of his Knights. The Steam Tank clanked about to line up a shot on the daemonic engine before firing its steam-powered cannon. The shot was true, but it glanced harmlessly off the Hellcannon's armoured hide. The Great Cannon (named Balance's Folly, though nobody recalled why) also took aim at the enemy machine and fired. Like the Steam Tank's effort, the shot was on target. Unlike the previous shot however, this one crashed dead-centre into the Hellcannon and tore it apart in some sort of infernal explosion.
The Outriders on the eastern flank take aim from their slightly advanced position whilst the Steam Tank rumbles about for a shot on the Hellcannon.
The Outriders on the eastern flank had taken up a position not far in front of their own lines, but within range of the enemy. Pulling their horses to a halt, they took aim with their repeater handguns and fired at the Chaos Hounds with a roar that engulfed them in smoke and the stench of burning gunpowder. when the smoke had cleared they could see only two of the seven Hounds still on their feet.
The Empire Knights charge straight into the vanguarded Marauder Horsemen, hoping for a big slingshot overrun move with the help of their Steel Standard.
A great cheer erupted from the Empire lines at the sight of all the destruction, and Reinhardt decided to seize the moment by leading a charge straight into the Marauder Horsemen that had ranged too far ahead of their own lines. It was a reckless move, leaving the rest of his forces so far behind. Perhaps the grizzled Grand Master had already allowed Khorne's blood-crazed presence to influence his own actions. Seeing the cavalry streaking ahead, the Wizard Lord did what he could to bolster the Knights, casting the Speed of Light upon them. An unearthly glow surrounded them as they crashed into and through the Marauders without even breaking stride. The Northmen were torn apart by the charge of the heavier cavalry, who allowed their momentum to carry them even further from their own lines. Reichardt snarled and pointed the tip of his enchanted blade toward the bearer of the enemy standard at the head of the Chaos Knights as his regiment thundered toward them.  If he thought to reach them in a single glorious charge however, he was mistaken. The ground behind the fallen Marauders was unexpectedly uneven, and the charge of the Empire Knights foundered as the steeds balked at the uncertain footing. Reichardt cursed as his men halted, their momentum lost. At the same moment a red haze seemed to lift from his eyes and he realised his own folly. They were far from safety and perilously close to the entire enemy army...
It was over very quickly. The Grand Master cut down 4 of them all by himself.
Not even close. I think they went 4 or 5", even re-rolling a couple of 1s because of their standard. Lame.
OK, so it was a little aggressive. Why are they all looking at us like that?
The rest of the Empire army advanced a little more cautiously.

Chaos Turn 1
Chaos Turn 1.
Khorne looked upon the battlefield and smiled as Reichardt's mindless aggression was met with similar enthusiasm from the Blood God's own crazed worshippers. The Imperial Knights quailed slightly as every enemy in sight surged straight at them. Reichardt's bellowed orders held them firm, but in their hearts they knew that they were in trouble. The Chaos Knights lowered their lances and charged down the hill to meet them, with the Chaos army standard leading the way. The earth shook, but not due to the thundering tread of the heavy Chaos steeds. It was the rampaging charge of the monstrous Skullcrushers that seemed to shake the very air. A Chariot rumbled in alongside them as they crashed into the flank of the beleaguered Empire Knights.
Yeah, that's not so good, even with WS 10 and In 10 from Speed of Light. OK, so I admit it was a poor plan. Of course if we'd managed a slightly better overrun, at least the Skullcrushers (and maybe the Chariot) would have been out of line of sight. Oh well. I didn't need a general and BSB anyway... Right?
Who wants a piece of this action? The unit champion? OK, who next? Look, I didn't think he'd try for (and make) a 20 or 21" charge. It was far. Just not far enough.
On the western flank Fellrender, loyal and exalted servant of Khorne, turned his gaze to the tightly packed ranks of Halberdiers as they wheeled their formation forward to defend the hill. They were still distant, but they did not reckon upon the swiftness of the winged Daemon Prince. Fellrender launched himself toward the hapless Empire infantry, bellowing a deafening roar as he swept across the field. A chorus of shouts and screams echoed out from the soldiers as they realised their plight, but to their credit they held fast and lowered their halberds to receive the charge. The Daemon Prince hefted his massive axe and prepared to lay waste to the enemy regiment when he heard a strident challenge from the champion of the unit. With a confidence that he could not possibly have actually felt, the pitiful human stepped forth from his own ranks and raised his halberd in defiance. Fellrender accepted his challenge aggressively - hooves first - as he landed heavily upon the ground and his opponent. The man didn't even have time to scream, but the sounds of his splintered bones were clear for his companions to hear, and left little doubt that the duel was already over.
Pesky Chaos Hounds. They really should panic on Ld 5, right?
The remaining Chaos forces eye the Flagellants warily. Apparently nobody wants to play with them. No fun.
OK, on with the main event...
The surviving Chaos Hounds raced forward to threaten the Outriders on the eastern flank and the rest of the Chaos lines shifted forward more guardedly, but all eyes were upon the clash between the rival cavalry. The impact of the charge was deafening. Several Knights were scythed down as the Chariot crashed into their formation. The Chaos Knights struck fast and hard, however the reflexes of the Empire Knights was magically boosted and they lashed out even faster. Unfortunately without the impetus of the charge to drive home their lances, their blows lacked the strength to break through the ornate armour of the Chaos worshippers. The Empire standard bearer struck a telling blow to his Chaos rival before being cut down and Reichardt himself split a Chaos Knight in twain, but it was a futile effort. The lances and ensorcelled blades of their assailants struck Empire Knights bodily from the saddle, and barded warhorses were tossed like children's toys by the incredible strength of the charging Juggernauts. The only mercy was how quickly it was all over; in a trice Reichardt found himself alone, and he was hacked down and ridden into the ground by his enemies as he turned in a panic and fled. 
Ow, it hurts! The Chariot killed something like 4 or 5 with impact hits alone, which was most unsporting.
Ahhh I just remembered I left something in the oven. I must be going...
The murderers of my Knights and characters go and have a party to celebrate on the east flank, where all the best parties are held.
Thus ends the first part of our battle report. Khorne is well pleased with my gift-wrapped offerings thus far, I think...

You can find part 2 of the report here.


  1. That is an absolutely gorgeous Daemon Prince! Hoping for some close pics of him in the next part :D

  2. Great start! Nice to see the big blocks in action.

  3. Great report! Nice to see some more 8th played.

    1. Agreed! I'm glad you stuck with 8th rather than switching to AoS.

  4. Hi,

    I feel like you've written off AoS without giving it a fair shot. In my experience it's no more unbalanced than 8th ever was, it is decidedly more fun, and I don't miss struggling to rank my High Elves up for an entire game.

    You should at least try one game of AoS, in my opinion. Take something silly, spend the 1-5 mins with your opponent balancing your armies, and enjoy the fact that it's simpler, rather than hating it. Is that too much to ask?

    Sasho Coates

    1. I haven't written AoS off so much as ignored it. It really is of no interest to me. I don't care to invest myself in the replacement background, I don't like the new models, I resent what it represents in terms of the world that I have known and loved, and it really is not a replacement for the ranked battle game that came before it.

      I have not played AoS. I haven't even bothered to read most of the rules. Nor have I gone about slagging off the people who have chosen to embrace it. It's their choice. The system may work well. It's just not of any interest to me. I don't find simplicity itself objectionable. There is a lot I like about Kings of War, and it's also very simple compared to Warhammer. The simplicity of AoS is probably the least of the things that make me avoid the game.

      Ironically the whole AoS thing looks like finally making it easy for me to break away from Games Workshop. As a company I loved them as a kid, then came to despise them over time as they made decision after decision that basically screws most of their customer base, particularly those living in my part of the world (Australia). I kept playing Warhammer because I loved the game and the world, and was incredibly invested in it. Now GW went and killed everything that was keeping me there. Why would I go looking for new ties to them? Contrary to what they (and some of their fans) think, GW are not the be-all and end-all of gaming. Although they did end all of Warhammer...

    2. Fair enough. I am hyper critical of GW Corporate. They killed off the world I came to love and in what I consider to be the lamest way possible (decrepit storyline, little or no original artwork, and a litany of spelling/grammar issues). They killed off the last of Specialist just TWO months before I joined the hobby. They treat their 3rd party retailers like crap.

      I don't think I can forgive them for that. I miss ranked up troops (frustrating though they may have been), I don't care for the new storyline or the new models or the 40k-inspired bits of the rules. I despise how easily they threw away 30 years of heritage and called it a 'prelude'.

      But I don't care for Mantic's ruleset, I don't hate myself enough to carry on with 8th, and nobody's game system has caught my eye.

      I'm *almost* stuck with AoS, because I don't have too much of an alternative. But I do like AoS.

      I see why you've shunned it, but it is worth a try. GW actually encourages people to use AoS to play games in what they call the "world before time". I don't think it's so simple.

      I won't begrudge you for ignoring AoS (I see your reasoning to ignore it more than I see my reasons to play it). It's a fun game if that's what you're looking for, but it's your right to pursue higher things. I guess what I'm saying is it's against your due diligence to outright write it off, but you don't have to like it. You can learn the rules in hall an hour and play a conclusive game in as much time. It's worth a shot.

      Have fun in whatever game you choose,
      Sasho Coates

    3. "I don't hate myself enough to carry on with 8th"

      This statement confuses me. What do you mean by that?

      There is also the possibility of waiting to see how something like the 9th Age turns out. I don't know if they're making any sort of stance in turns of background and timeline, but if you're just sick of 8th edition mechanics, it's possible what they end up with there might be more to your liking.

      I'm sure at some point I will either flick through the AoS rules or watch a game at the club, but as I've said, even if the rules work really well and the game has its merits, I doubt I will ever embrace it for so many other reasons.


    4. 8th was left behind in a half-finished state. The End Times needed some rules wrrata/FAQs/Amendments. 3 armies were stuck with 7ed books. Even then, the Dwarf, Tomb King, and Wood Elf books started most matchups with an arm tied behind their back.

      Things like 9th Age, whatever the Swedish Comp blokes are doing and Greghammer (it's a thing) are attempting to remedy 8th's issues, but it's all very fragmented and doesn't have the community backing that made this work for Blood Bowl and Mordheim. There are maybe half-a-dozen 8th evolutions *that I know of*. Blood Bowl and Mordheim have maybe half as many.

      The final nail in 8th's coffin is GW, who have been repackaging models with rounds in place of squares. True, true, they haven't repackaged many kits yet, and they still sell squares, but for GW purist idios like me, it's uneconomical to expand one of my 8th armies. Both sit at 1000pts right now, and neither High Elves nor Skaven lends itself to small-points games.

      8th to me is dead and buried, and even if Nagash absorbed the full power of Shyish, consumed all the wyrdstone in the Warhammer world and did all this within his Black Pyramid, he could not bring it back to life.

      It happened in both a blink of an eye and an eternity, but 8yh was sundered, drawn into the Realm of Chaos and left to crumble as the wargaming world sought greener pastures in either KoW or AoS. One could cling on to what little remains, but would only find themselves sharing the fate of the Warhammer World's denizens - a unique hell that could be a blazing inferno or a chill wasteland.

      Don't get me wrong, if GW was supporting 8th, I would be playing 8th, ignoring AoS, and being less of a flagellant about this. I miss 8th and for that reason above all else I so readily abandon it.

      If you do try AoS, I hope you have a fun time of it (that's why it's there).

      Sasho Coates
      War-mourner of Karak Acht

    5. Wow, you really are taking this very hard...

      For what it's worth, Greghammer is not actually a thing. That's what Owen dubbed my rules changes. I have never bothered to form my recommendations into something concrete, because there are too many splintered groups already. If anything is going to succeed, it will be the 9th Age. Simply because of who is backing it, and the potential for it to be adopted by the ETC. That could be just enough to make it a thing and start a domino effect as communities in different countries pick it up as a result.

      If you are going to be a true war-mourning flagellant, the Bretonnian book is from 6th ed. This increases the misery and doom. Important to get these things right for maximum wailing.

      If 8th, 9th or whatever survives beyond this period, it will really be without GW support, including having them as a reliable source of relevant models. This is part of what makes it all such a challenge, and why it might not work. The round bases in boxes will be the least of everyone's problems once they start phasing model ranges out entirely to cater to more AoS-specific stuff. No doubt that will happen in time.

      I'm not ready to let go of Warhammer entirely, regardless of whether there is such a thing as Warhammer tournaments in the future. If anything, GW's dumping of the brand makes me more protective of it and more inclined to hold onto it. Except it's no longer their world. Now it's mine. I just have to decide what to do with it.

    6. That's an interesting out of view, actually. And apologies for my apocryphal knowledge of when various army books were released.

      I do think that for people like me (poor high-school kids) round bases IS an issue. I can barely cimover the costs of the hobby as is, and buying 10-packs of 20mm square bases for £6.15 (which means they'd be ridiculous to buy in Oz) would be the straw that broke the camel's back. Then there's the movement trays - if you are going to be a true world-shaping champion of 8th, you'll need to remember movement trays. I'm sure people make them, but I wouldn't know where to look, and based on your views of KoW, I think you'll agree prefab trays in average shapes just don't compete with their modular cousins when you want a more ... esoteric unit size (who'll sell me a ready-made movement tray for a 4x3 Swordmaster dart?).

      I've thought about the whole phasing-out business and my view is this: GW will, for business and hobby reasons, not want to phase something out without providing a replacement. We may see Free Company/Bret Peasants merge into one, but they wouldn't - couldn't - leave them behind. Their competitors are giving them enough grief as is (we all know Mierce/Mantic/Avatars/etc are itching to find the copyright loophole that lets them make alternatives to GW's neemw Stormcast Eternaline, so they'll happily gobble up any part of the market GW DOESN'T cover). Would we still have peantry/militia wspear/shields or longbows/braziers/stakes? Maybe not, but I'm sure we'd have something close enough to work with.

      To be honest, I think we can agree to disagree on this. We've gone down two very different paths from the metaphorical crossroads that came about when AoS emerged. You're willing to continue with 8th or one of its forks, while I defy my better judgment and rebase my HE on rounds.

      In any case, I wish you the best as you navigate this rather... schistic new world we've entered.

      Sasho Coates
      Harbinger of the AoS/8th Hobby Schism

      PS. Sorry if I seemed a bit ... overdramatic in my previous post(s). My word choice is more stylistic than pragmatic, and sometimes my opinions can come across stronger than they actually are.

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  5. I have a quick question about AoS. What is the plot exactly? I have looked but the best I could find was a paragraph about sigmar riding a space dragon.