Tzekmek, Great Changer of the Barrowflock, shrilled curses as a pervasive, sugar-sweet scent permeated the air of the fens. With the guardians of the dead in disarray, and the Wickenmotte in flames, the magics of the marsh barrows had been theirs for the taking.
But even as the Tzaangor warflock had moved to plunder the ancient ruins, their celebrations were interrupted by the skirl of strange pipes and joyful, inhuman shrieks. The air had taken on an oily sheen the shaman recognised all too well…the veil was drawn thin, and something had issued forth from the realms beyond sensation.
Now, gaunt, glistening shapes loped through the mists and hunched trees, their abominable laughter tainting the very air. Daemons, but not those loyal to the Feathered Lords. Rather, these served the Great Schemer’s lost sibling, Slaanesh. And with the way so generously cleared of opposition by the Tzaangor, they had come to claim the magics of the barrows for themselves.
Perhaps they thought the charnel grounds held some secret which would return their lost god to them. Perhaps they were simply scavengers. Either way, they could not be allowed to plunder Tzekmek’s hard-won spoils of war.
Not without a fight.
Previously on useless hobby talk, my Tzaangor warflock managed to defeat Rich‘s Deathrattle forces, and lay claim to the crumbling ruins of the Wickenmotte, after seeing off both the tenacious Wight King and his sanguinary ally.
This time around, Tzekmek and his feathered coven-kin would be facing the servants of another of the Ruinous Powers – Slaanesh – under the command of my pal, David. As always, Wargames Emporium played host, lending us the use of one of their awesome battle-boards for the duration.
While the original plan was to face Dave’s Sylvaneth or his Nurgle Rotbringers, he instead decided to try out his Slaaneshii warband. Dave’s forces consisted of a force of Seekers, Fiends and Furies, led by a Herald of Slaanesh. Roughly a thousand points, according to the General’s Handbook. While not big on numbers, they more than made up for it on speed and brutality. Also of note, Dave’s converted Chaos Furies. Look at those little guys. So pudgy and cheerful.
I decided to use the same army composition as before, more for the sake of expediency than anything else. Too, once you use Skyfires and Enlightened once or twice, it’s really hard not to want to use them all the time. They just work so dang well, game-wise. That said, next game I might do without the Skyfires, just to see how a Witchfyre Coven plays.
Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to get any painting in, this past month, so my Mardi Gras coven is in pretty much the same state as it was last time around. I know, I know…bad hobbyist. But, hopefully, if fortune is with me, I can break the paints out in the coming weeks and make some progress before the next game.
Anyway, Dave and I decided on playing the second Battleplan from the Disciples of Tzeentch Battletome, ‘Banquet of Magic’. His fast moving Slaaneshii daemons would attempt to thwart my warflock’s plundering of the barrows, which, spoiler alert, they very nearly did!
Things went sour right off. The blessings of Tzeentch weren’t with me, as Dave won the first turn, took it, and showed me just how fast Slaaneshii daemons can move.
If you were wondering, they move very, very fast indeed. Dave won the initiative three more times over the course of the game, leading me to privately question my allegiances. Even lost, Slaanesh watches over his servants.
Thus emboldened, the Hounds of Pleasure occupied most of the objectives on the first turn, leaving Tzekmek to unbind one measly ward, as the rest of the warflock swept forwards to contest the others.
Tzekmek, protected by his cohort of Skyfires, raced across the battlefield, looking to unbind as many wards as he could. I needed to unbind at least four to secure a draw, and Dave’s speed meant at least half of them were contested at any one point. Everywhere Tzekmek went, there were foes present.
As the Shaman and his bodyguards ran afoul of the enemy at every turn, the Enlightened moved to occupy the hill of skulls. But they were met and very nearly thrown back by the Herald and the Seekers, who quickly overwhelmed the blessed warriors, killing one and wounding the others.
The remaining Enlightened responded by doing what they do best. In the following turns, they managed to kill most of the daemon pack after two savage turns of combat, though not without suffering more wounds in turn. Tzekmek, momentarily abandoning his quest, burned the Herald to cinders with his magics, but not before it had removed the head of the Enlightened’s Aviarch. Daemons being daemons, they didn’t fail their Battleshock test. The fight over the hill of skulls would continue for another turn.
The Skyfires’ shooting during this period proved ineffectual – I’ve come to realise over the course of these games that they’re best used as snipers. They’re lethal against characters or large monsters, with the ability to deal out multiple mortal wounds, but against units they can only pick off a few models at a time. While they managed to kill a Fiend, and wound another, that left the rest of the galloping horrors in a position to protect one of the objectives.
Another Enlightened fell to the Seekers’ claws in subsequent turns. The remaining warrior, down to his last wound, broke off from the conflict and shot across the field, seeking to unbind an undefended ward as the Tzaangor finished off the Seekers.
The Furies descended on the Tzaangor, wounding one. The winged daemons came off badly in the exchange, receiving a disproportionate amount of damage in response. Nevertheless, the fight for the bloody hill continued, even as Tzekmek and the Skyfires, fresh from unbinding two more wards, swooped towards the fray.
Meanwhile, the lone Enlightened found himself under attack from the Fiends. The bestial daemons intercepted the unlucky warrior as he hurtled towards his objective, cutting him off and very nearly dispatching him out of hand.
But, Tzeentch finally turned his gaze to the struggles of his children, and the lone warrior managed to eviscerate one of the daemons and fight his way free. As he shot off towards his goal, the remaining Fiend launched itself at the hill of skulls, in an effort to deny the Tzaangor victory.
As the fifth turn came to an end, the lone Enlightened managed to unbind a fourth ward, safely securing a draw. The rest of the warflock was locked in battle with the single surviving Fiend which managed to survive everything they threw at it – magic, arrows, blades and beaks alike – by the grace of Slaanesh. And with that, the game concluded.
While my strategy was sound, overall, I made a few tactical blunders that nearly cost me the game early on. My Destiny Dice were less help this time around – I mostly used them to ensure Tzekmek’s spells went off without a hitch, after a few bad rolls. Too, I got distracted by my desire to take that blasted hill, and Dave ably played on it, essentially trapping the bulk of my army there for the duration of the game.
In retrospect, I should have peeled the Enlightened off after the first turn and left the Tzaangor to handle the Seekers. And while Tzekmek and the Skyfires managed to unbind three of the wards, I should have left them to get the other two, rather than sending them to join the brawl. Dave was understandably wary of them, and if I’d been thinking, I might have used that to my advantage. Instead, I lost sight of my objective, and became focused on wiping out his army.
But, lesson learned. Next time, I’ll think like a proper devotee of the Great Schemer and concentrate on securing my objectives.
Tzekmek crouched over the smouldering remains of the Slaaneshii Herald, trying to discern some meaning in the residue. The Shaman inhaled the sickly-sweet stink of the daemon, tasting the heady aroma of the magics that made up such creatures. Why had they come to this place? What had drawn the Hounds of Pleasure here?
He turned his head, studying the moss-encrusted ruins that rose from the low, turgid waters of the fen. The stones stank of death-magic, and ancient bindings. The fen kingdoms of the Ghost Bat Bog had once been the outpost of a greater empire by far. One that had stretched across realms, and had challenged the gods themselves, before the coming of Chaos. Perhaps the secrets of that long-vanished empire yet remained hidden somewhere within these ruins. It might explain why the Unseen had chosen this place to weave its schemes.
The Shaman hissed as he considered his ally. The Magister was cunning, and deceitful. It had used Tzekmek and his kin to clear the way, playing on their greed. But, if there was truly something here – something that both the Unseen and the servants of lesser gods wanted – then it surely served the will of the Feathered Lords that he remain and discover it. Whatever the cost…