Though darkness concealed much of the horrors of Mount Dextrous from sight, the stink of the Questing Reek still assailed the senses. Ulli Zangrom - grimwrath of the Hrukvorn lodge - grimaced as he peered into the darkness and could only make out but a handful of the scouting party he had been given command of.
'We're spread too thin...' whispered one of the hearthguard at the Zangrom's side. 'If we were to be ambushed here...'
'Words are wind, flameling,' said Ulli in response. 'Keep those sorts of helpful observation to yourself.'
The Zangrom cursed as he peered into the distance and could vaguely make out the glowing brazier from the vulkite karl's warpick disappear amongst a copse of dead trees. Just as he turned to speak to the fyreslayers following at his heels, a baleful, rasping howl filled the dead, pre-dawn air and was quickly followed by a chorus of hoarse barking. From within the ruins up ahead, a dim and unnatural light began to glow.
'The dead are waking,' said the grimwrath, tightening his grip around the haft of his fyrestorm axe. 'Make for the woods. Those idiots are as good as dead if we don't get there in time.'
Having recently procured a copy of the new Skirmish book for Age of Sigmar, my friend Josh agreed to play a couple of games both to help me out as part of the campaign, and also out of personal interest as a long time fan of Mordheim and other similar systems. As the objective states that two linked games of Skirmish are required, it seemed fairly sensible to give the Shadespire campaign a whirl. With Josh playing Death and myself playing the Fyreslayers, we set about playing Clash of Dawn.
Note - At the time of writing I realised that I had miscalculated my points and had a few more models on the field than I should have. This is something I will address for future games, of course! In the mean time, I hope you all still find these reports beneficial in some capacity - even if it is just as a demonstration of how Skirmish works!
For those who have not yet played, this scenario requires that the table (a 4' x 4' is recommended) be split into four quarters, numbered 1-4. During deployment, a dice is rolled for each individual model. The result determines which quarter they must be deployed in, with results of a 5 or 6 allowing the player to choose placement. The usual restriction of remaining 9" away from the enemy applies.
Fortunately, I was lucky enough to keep my Vulkites together, and the ended up in the forest deployed thusly:
I was not so fortunate with the majority of my hearthguard and my general, who ended up scattered throughout the various corners of the board.
Josh's grave guard and wight king ended up staring them down on the other side like this (you can just about make out the woods in the bottom left of the picture):
Josh's warband included a number of dire wolves which ended up scattered throughout the board, in addition to a few more grave guard he deployed inside buildings. It became immediately apparent where the bulk of the action would take place, however!
Josh finished deploying first, and so took priority for the first turn.
Death: Turn 1
The wight king activated his Merciless Killer trait, adding +1 to wound to himself and friendly units within 6". Elsewhere on the board, the dire wolves and remaining grave guard began converging upon the berzerkers within the forest.
As expected, the Wight King and his band of undead miscreants immediately began slaying the defiant duardin:
As I recall, 2 fyreslayers were downed in this confrontation, meaning Josh only needed to kill 8 more to win. The vulkites performed rather underwhelmingly here, but did manage to remove a dire wolf and a grave guard or two:
Nevertheless, the held their ground in the battleshock phase.
Order: Turn 1
Having pinned the wight king and his bodyguard in combat, I sought to bring Josh's army down the my auric hearthguard's respectable shooting. The other nearby pike-wielding fyreslayers advanced as far as they could to ensure they were well within the required 12" as shooting was curtailed in this turn by the pre-dawn darkness. Elsewhere, my stranded hearthguard and general began the slow trudge to the fray:
The auric hearthguard loosed their molten rockbolts into the undead, only slaying the grave guard standard bearer after he soaked up 4 of the 6 shots hurled at him.
Another vicious round of combat sees the forest once again grow emptier:
The wight king - who already has a phenomenal 3+ save - was utterly immovable in the forest which granted him a 2+ save. Though most of his warriors - excluding one surprisingly agile zombie! - were vanquished, he fought defiantly on, cleaving into the fyreslayers with ease.
I won the priority roll and so took the first turn in the next round.
Order: Turn 2
Here I attempted to charge my general and accompanying hearthguard at the dire wolves making their way into the vulkite flank. The grimwrath failed his charge, but his two hearthguard rushed headlong at the undead hounds:
I managed to kill the last of Josh's grave guard in this turn, and I did shave off a wound here and there on his dire wolves, but they were proving a menace to deal with in this game being 2 wounds a piece and surprisingly numerous for something so tough and agile. My vulkites failed to wound the wight king once again.
Death: Turn 2
The remainder of Josh's dire wolves charged into the fight to set about my vulkites. My hearthguard karl killed the wounded dire wolf in the centre of the field meaning that I had vanquished a sufficient number of Josh's warband to claim victory!
But another dire wolf killed him back!
'Fall back, you idiots!' barked Ulli at his warriors as the dragged their wounded brethren from the field.
The wight king - protected by his rotting pack of dogs - also appeared to be quitting the field. The creature glared across the ruins at the Zangrom and pointed his dark blade directly at him before defiantly drawing it across where his throat would once have been. He even seemed to throw back his head and cackle silently at the gesture.
Ulli glowered back at the undead warrior, cracking his knuckles one by one as he did so.
Having played The Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game a few times, I felt that this was very similar - especially as Age of Sigmar also uses the similar Priority system. Skirmish also has me excited at the prospect of using some units and characters that ordinarily I perhaps would not have an application or use for in larger games and I will most certainly be looking into perhaps adding some faster units like Skywardens or Wild Riders for grabbing objectives and such.
This particular battleplan makes for a very short game. I also felt at quite a disadvantage as a Fyreslayer player here - I am quite reliant on synergies to make my army work, and the mediocre movement stats of my pure infantry warband meant that recovering from the random deployment was quite difficult.
On the other hand, Josh's very mobile army was able to recover very easily in this scenario and has me considering adding some sort of equivalent unit to my own warband. He very easily circumvented the random deployment issue and was able to quickly converge on the area where the bulk of the combat took place. At 2 renown per model, dire wolves are an absolute steal for what they can do in Skirmish games.
Clash at Dawn definitely underpins the need for versatility in a Skirmish warband, and it is definitely something I will have to consider going forward - particularly as I am in the habit of wanting to field as many fyreslayers as possible!