Monday, 27 March 2017

The Order of the Fiery Gate - Battle Report: The Hidden Artefact

Folkvar-Grimnir sneered as he turned the baleful amulet in his hand. Shadows coalesced and writhed within a huge, blood-red ruby clasped within an ur-gold setting.

'Sacrilegious bastards...' spat Runesmiter Alsvir.

'I have seen its ilk before, my lord,' chimed in Aurelius Oathkeeper, Errant-Questor of the Black Wardens. 'Heathen warlords often use such gems to lend them great power in battle. They trap unclean souls within them and use the essence therein to empower themselves.'

'We shall have Runemaster Ruadhar destroy it safely,' the Runefather decided. 'Who knows what other trickery is concealed within-'

Folkvar-Grimnir was cut off by the peal of a barbarous horn reverberating throughout the surrounding woods.

'Orruks!' roared Runemaster Ruadhar, brandishing his staff in the direction of the forest. 'A whole bloody tribe of them!'

Immediately the duardin encampment burst into life. Berzerkers leaped to their feet and began forming up into individual units, weapons at the ready, whilst Fokvar-Grimnir and Alsvir both took to their mounts.

'They're here for that unholy relic and no doubt,' hissed Ruadhar as he rushed over to Folkvar-Grimnir, who was in the middle of clambering up onto the back of his magmadroth. 'They must not have it; the essence of Grimnir must not fall into the hands of these savages.'

Folkvar-Grimnir nodded grimly at the Runemaster.

'Take my hearthguard and hold them off. I'll see that the ur-gold is safe,' said the Runefather. Ruadhar gave a curt nod and hurried off, barking orders at the poleaxe-wielding duardin.

Folkvar-Grimnir leaped onto the back of his magmadroth and unhooked his grandaxe from his throne. With a kick of his heels, the beast hauled itself up onto all fours and burled about so that Folkvar could survey what was about the become the battlefield.

'My lord!' cried Liberator-Prime Titus of the Black Wardens, the other black-armoured Stormcasts rushing past to take up their places at the front lines. 'You must get the artefact to safety! My brothers and I will hold the beasts off for as long as Sigmar wills us to!'

As the human warrior spoke, a tide of stinking, roaring orruks poured out from the forest and into the clearing, brandishing all manner of crude and vicious implements. Part of Folkvar-Grimnir wished only to rain fire down upon the creatures as he plunged into them with his monstrous axe, but too often had he witnessed firsthand the price of stubbornness and pride...


The Runesmiter turned his masked face to Folkvar-Grimnir just in time to catch the golden amulet.

'Hide that for me, will you?' 

So after a small hiatus from battling, I managed to organise a game with a friend of mine who has been dabbling in Age of Sigmar. I had informed him that I was participating in an online campaign and was looking for opponents, and he was pretty enthusiastic about helping me out! (We played in a number of campaigns back in 8th Edition of WFB. We also used to play a lot of Triumph and Treachery.)

The natural choice - particularly as this was to be a campaign game - was to select one of the more narrative-driven battleplans from the campaign books. After a bit of deliberation, we both agreed that the Hidden Artefact battleplan was particularly interesting. You can find this battleplan on page 43-45 of the Balance of Power book. If you like a bit of subterfuge in your games, it's definitely worth playing.

My army list was as follows:


Auric Runefather on Magmadroth (General) = 320 pts

Command Trait: Reckless

Artefact: Relic Blade

Auric Runesmiter with Forge Key = 100 pts

Grimwrath Berzerker = 100 pts

Battlesmith = 100 pts

Auric Runemaster = 80 pts

Auric Runesmiter on Magmadroth = 220 pts

Artefact: Quicksilver Potion

Mistweaver Saih = 80 pts

Errant Questor = 140 pts

Artefact: Obstinate Blade


Vulkite Berzerkers with War-picks and Bladed Slingshields (x10) = 160 pts

Vulkite Berzerkers with War-picks and Bladed Slingshields (x10) = 160 pts

Liberators with Hammers and Shields (x5) = 100 pts

Liberators with Hammers and Shields (x5) = 100 pts


Hearthguard Berzerkers with Flamestrike Poleaxes (x10) = 200 pts

Auric Hearthguard (x5) = 100 pts

Auric Hearthguard (x5) = 100 pts

Auric Hearthguard (x5) = 100 pts

Irondrakes (x20) = 440 pts


Lords of the Lodge = 160 pts

Forge Brethren = 80 pts

Grand Total = 2840 pts

My friend - who was playing a mixture of old school orruks and Ironjawz - used the following:


Orruks Megaboss (General) = 140 pts

Command Trait: Ravager

Artefact: ?

Orruk Weirdnob Shaman = 120 pts

Grot Shaman = 60 pts

Grot Shaman = 60 pts

Black Orc Big Boss = 100 pts

Black Orc Big Boss = 100 pts


Orruks with Choppas and Waaagh! Shields (x10) = 100 pts

Orruks with Choppas and Waaagh! Shields (x10) = 100 pts

Orruks with Choppas and Waaagh! Shields (x10) = 100 pts

Orruks with Choppas and Waaagh! Shields (x10) = 100 pts


Grot Spear Chukka = 120 pts


Aleguzzler Gargant = 180 pts

Rogue Idol of Gork (Or possibly Mork) = 480 pts


Orruk Ardboys (x30) = 540 pts

Orruk Brutes with Twin Brute Choppas (x5) = 180 pts

Orruk Gore-Gruntas with Jagged Gore-hackas (x3) = 180 pts

Orruk Ardboys (x20) = 360 pts

Grand Total = 3020 pts

I must apologise in advance for my appalling photography, but it was all I could do with the camera phone I have, and I don't quite have the patience to create the very helpful diagrams that I've seen some of you construct. But without further ado, I shall dive into the battle!

Deployment for this scenario stipulates that the Pursuer (the Orruk player) deploys 18" from the short board edge. The Custodian (myself) deploys in the 18" from the end of the Pursuer's deployment zone forward. This does mean that units can be deployed so that they are immediately in combat with one another, but otherwise the normal system for deployment follows. The only other unusual aspect to the scenario is that prior to deploying my units, I secretly write down the name of one of my own units to serve as the bearer of the Hidden Artefact. I selected my Auric Runesmiter on Magmadroth for this. To win, I need to get the unit holding the artefact to within 6" of the other board edge. For the Pursuer to win, he must slay this unit. The trick to this is that the unit holding the artefact cannot run, charge, fly or teleport for fear of damaging the artefact, so I can either just send the Runesmiter off to the other side as fast as he can go, or I can move a few of my other units slowly to try and confuse my Pursuer. My friend is also allowed to select one of his units prior to deployment to Encircle. So again, it's not quite as easy for the Custodian as it first seems.

I decided that I would have to throw a few speedbumps in the way of the disgustingly fast Orruk horde (made disgustingly faster by the Megaboss' Ravager trait!). My opponent decided he would Encircle with his Rogue Idol, and I opted to tunnel my Runesmiter on foot with on of my Vulkite units, should I need another roadblock further up the board. My hearthguard would hold the centre, ready to ambush the Pursuer's Gore-gruntas the moment they jumped through the realmgate, and the Auric Hearthguard stayed close enough to the Runesmiter to get a few buffs off on my Liberators and Vulkites. I deployed my Battlesmith up behind the hearthguard next to the woods, and had my Errant-Questor babysit my general - again part of my plan to throw my opponent off of the mounted Runesmiter's trail. The Irondrakes I deployed to the right to try and pepper the horde of Ardboys as much as possible, and I set the Mistweaver up in the middle so that she could float to wherever she was needed. As I finished deploying first and was anxious to get my fiery amphibians as far away as possible from the horde of Orruks, I took the first turn.

My Auric Hearthguard set about buffing my Liberators and Vulkites in the hero phase, whilst my Runemaster used his Inspiring Presence on my Irondrakes. The Liberator units both charged headlong into the Orruks, keeping a wide formation to try and pull as many units as possible into combat, including the Gore-gruntas seeking to hop through that Realmgate. These were the only units I charged this turn, with most everything else moving slowly up the field. As expected, some of them died. Unexpectedly, most of them survived. My opponent had some appalling dice rolls, which became a bit of a theme for him throughout the rest of the game. (We joked that as my rolls had been so shocking in the last game, it was his turn for a dose of poor fortune.) One plucky Liberator even managed to bruise the Megaboss, which was a pleasant bonus! Meanwhile, my Irondrakes felled a few Ardboys, whittling them down somewhat.

During my opponent's turn, he decided to charge his other unit of Ardboys and a unit of Orruks into my Vulkites on the other side of the field. (I think this image may actually be from the second turn, as I think the giant didn't make it into combat until then.) A combination of some sub-par dice rolls from my opponent, and Fyreslayers being generally pretty tough meant that they were able to weather a ridiculous volume of attacks.

Amazingly, the Liberators actually lasted into the second turn, but quickly fell apart having lost the +1 bonus to their saves from the Auric Hearthguard. Here was were my opponent made a big tactical gaffe that I really capitalised upon - he didn't retreat the Gore-gruntas! In fairness, that centre (which by now he had sussed contained the artefact somewhere!) is able to pump out a disgusting amount of mortal wounds, so I can understand his truculence in approaching!

Here we see a Rogue Idol smashing duardin. My opponent did somewhat hint that the Irondrakes had given him mild PTSD from other battles, so that may well be why he chose to go after them instead.

I went second in turn 3. I lost the remainder of my Vulkites this turn, but they had by now successfully held up 4 of my opponent's units (not including characters). I managed to dispatch the giant by peppering him with an Arcane Bolt before having the Vulkites hack off his remaining moves. I won the roll-off and decided to have him fall safely backwards.

By this stage, the Irondrakes had also been summarily smashed by the Rogue Idol, with the few remaining fleeing in battleshock. With my roadblocks all wiped off of the board, the Pursuer took full advantage of his Ravager command trait and Orruks of all sizes began sprinting up the board. My hearthguard prepared to greet the Gore-gruntas emerging from the realmgate.

'Go, go, go!' barked Folkvar-Grimnir as Alsvir and his magmadroth disappeared into the trees. 

Folkvar-Grimnir turned back to look upon the battlefield as he prepared to charge after the Runesmiter, and what was almost a grin quickly became a grimace as he saw the bodies of the duardin in his fyrd scattered across the battlefield, and the smoke craters where his human allies had been snatched back into the heavens by their god-king.

'Khazuk!' he roared as he thrust his grandaxe into the air. His magmadroth gave a blood-curdling roar as great, brutish orruks sat astride monstrous swine rushed out of the realmgate. The beasts halted as the Runefather charged headlong at them. A great gout of lava vomited forth from the magma-beast's gullet and washed over one of the riders. The orruk and pig alike howled in agony as they were consumed alive by the searing heat. With a great swing of his axe, Folkvar-Grimnir cleaved the head from one of the gargantuan boars, knocking the beast's rider back through the realmgate with the back swing. The magmadroth lunged at the last, pinning the rider beneath his mouth as the burning behemoth gored the beast to death.

Folkvar-Grimnir proudly looked on as his hearthguard charged headlong at the orruk leader and his personal guard, slinging fyresteel throwing axes at the brutes. The courage of the savages waned as they watched their leader fall beneath a flurry of flaming steel. 

In his periphery, Folkvar-Grimnir saw the golem that had killed and wounded so many of his Irondrakes enter into an earth-shattering charge. Loose rocks and boulders fell from the back of the monstrous construct, threatening to trundle straight into the path of the Runefather. But as Folkvar-Grimnir began to guide his mount out of the path, Aurelius Oathkeeper of the Black Wardens dropped his sword and with a great roar dropped his shoulder and charged headlong at the boulder, redirecting it from Folkvar-Grimnir's path. The Runefather watched in horror as the Stormcast Eternal was consumed by the cascading rocks, but immediately returned his attention to the animated idol.

His magmadroth leaped onto the creature's chest, knocking the monster off balance. The creature swung its mighty fist at the duardin's mount, the creature howling in agony as the blow connected. A great gout of blue lava erupted from the wound, melting away the creature's fist. Folkvar-Grimnir swung down as hard as he could with grandaxe, letting lose a great bellow of rage as he did. Rune-empowered fyresteel connected with the talismanic power of the orruks and the automaton was blasted onto its back.

'Rally to me!' roared Folkvar-Grimnir as his mount stood back to its feet after recovering from the explosion. 'Rally to me!'

By this stage in the battle, there was nothing that could reach my Runesmiter on Magmadroth except the Gore-gruntas. There are no Gore-gruntas in this picture on account of the mounted Runefather polishing them off. We both agreed that even had he not killed them off, there was probably little they could have done at this late stage. For the last two turns, I had also made use of my special Rearguard command ability, using it on my Hearthguard Berzerkers both turns. This gave the unit +1 to their save rolls, made them immune to battleshock, and also prevented enemy units within 3" from retreating. It made the hearthguard nigh on impossible to shift, and they were able to hold up the megaboss until he was taken out, the brutes, and the remainder of the big unit of Ardboys. Had I not already managed to sneak my Runesmiter out of harm's way, I can imagine this being an absolute lifesaver. As it was, it simply allowed me to throw up one last rock-hard obstacle against a portion of the army that was probably too far away to cause any real harm anyway. In the end, the Runesmiter was able to make it to the other side of the board without any problems at all, though it came at great cost.

Order Major Victory!


I had to play this scenario in a way I am completely unaccustomed to playing. I essentially had to construct an obstacle course for my opponent using my army, simultaneously casting enough doubt to make him uncertain as to which of the two magmadroths had the artefact (as it was pretty much a given that one of them had it). My army was pretty much hacked apart, as I had to stagger all my units so much and therefore lost a lot of the synergies I usually rely upon. As the artefact is the only deciding factor for a win in this scenario, however, I knew that sacrificial units was probably the way to win.

That being said, my opponent definitely made two big tactical gaffes. The first being that he didn't retreat his Gore-gruntas to get them through the realmgate ASAP, and the second being the Rogue Idol's encircling. To his credit, he identified this himself, and said that if he had the game to play over, he would have moved the gore-gruntas out quicker, and used them to hold up the magmadroths, giving the Rogue Idol time to catch them. That being said, the Runefather on Magmadroth went through that unit pretty quickly on his own - I imagine two magmadroths would have breezed through them!

As it was, I think he did as well as he probably could have with the tools at his disposal. It's a scenario that probably lends itself better to armies with more cavalry and monsters, and I'd be very interested to see how an army like Order Draconis or Beastclaw Raiders would fare. Regardless, it was immensely fun to play, and I would highly recommend playing it to anybody with access to the battleplan.

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