Strange trilling calls echoed through the fenlands. Lean forms, clad in jade and gold, splashed swiftly through the dark waters. The scent of death-magic was strong on the night wind, even as the Unseen had promised. The mortal had offered his Tzaangor allies first pickings – if they could break through the dead, now massing at the ruined watchtower known as the Wickenmotte. A test of their loyalties and strength, both.
Tzekmek, Great Changer of the Barrowflock, had accepted that challenge, and gladly. There was strong magic in those ruins, and with it, he might raise a flux-cairn capable of warping the turgid landscape of the Ghost Bat Bog into something more pleasing to Tzeentch’s gaze.
He hissed in anticipation of the feast to come as he crouched low on the pulsating Disc of Tzeentch he rode. He sped just above the marsh’s tangled canopy, followed by his bodyguard of chattering Enlightened. The babbling warriors hunched atop their own discs, a fug of broken memories swirling about them. Nearby, ever-silent Skyfires kept pace, their keen gazes sweeping the murk below, arrows ready to be loosed should the enemy show themselves.
Beneath the trees, lesser Tzaangors loped through the gloom, screeching eagerly. They too could smell the dead, and the magic that animated them. And soon enough, that magic would belong to the changekin…
Previously on useless hobby talk, I managed to eke out a win against Rich’s Deathrattle horde, smashing his skeleton warriors and crushing his Wight King into the mud, thanks to the whims of the Changer of Ways. But the dead often don’t stay that way in the Mortal Realms, especially not in the Ghost Bat Bog.
The Deathrattle defenders of the sunken mansions reassembled themselves with commendable speed and regrouped further south, at the Wickenmotte. The Wight King, realising that these foes were beyond him, called forth his Grave Guard to join him and demanded aid from an ancient ally.
Soon enough, his moss-encrusted forces were joined by an elegant stranger, who’d ridden from the Coast of Tusks, and the tangled byways of Excelsis, to answer an ages-old pact between the dead fen-king and her mistress. While she had come ostensibly to act as an adviser, the power she wielded might prove a match for that of the encroaching arcanites.
Meanwhile, the Unseen had given the glory of driving the dead from the Wickenmotte to his ally, Tzekmek. The Tzaangor shaman was eager to feast on the death-magics which festered in the bog, and raced ahead with his warflock to claim the Wickenmotte for himself.
Last time, Rich and I played the Skeins of Fate battleplan from the Disciples of Tzeentch battletome. This time, we opted for the Take and Hold battleplan from the General’s Handbook. Once again, Wargames Emporium kindly played host to the carnage.
As you can see, I managed to get some painting in. My Tzaangor are coming along nicely, if a bit Mardi Gras-esque. They’re not finished yet – not even close – but they’re getting there. I’m only getting in a few hours every few days, when I can scrape up the spare time, but it’s enough.
Rich was playing the same army he employed last time, augmented with a unit of Grave Guard and a Soulblight vampire. I opted to use a Tzaangor warflock – a shaman, a unit of Enlightened, a unit of Skyfires and two ten-strong units of Tzaangor.
Since we were playing Take and Hold, Rich and I chose our objectives, with him grabbing the big crumbled ruin and me taking the lonely little archway. As with our last game, Tzeentch smiled on me, and I won the first turn. I gave Rich the option to go first, and his fleshless warriors began to advance through the sludge and stones. As the Wight King and his bodyguards opted to defend their objective, the vampire summoned a new unit of skeletons closer to my lines…
…which were then summarily obliterated by the shaman’s magics and the deadly accuracy of the Skyfires.
As the Tzaangor formed a shield wall, awaiting the arrival of their bony foes, the Enlightened swooped down on the Wickenmotte, shadowed by the Skyfires.
Despite dashing an impressive number of skeletons into the mud, the Enlightened couldn’t break them all, leaving them in position to be swarmed by the Wight King and another unit of Deathrattle warriors. Given their toughness, I wasn’t overly worried – but I needed to do something about the Wight King.
As in our previous game, I managed to win initiative for the second phase, and duly took my double-turn, as befitted one blessed of the Architect of Fate. Deciding to focus on what I perceived to be the largest threat, i.e. the Wight King, my shaman and Skyfires moved to support the Enlightened, as the other Tzaangor shuffled leftwise. Despite Tzekmek’s spellcasting proving utterly ineffective – Tzeentch giveth and Tzeentch taketh away – the Skyfires managed to wound the Wight King, and shatter a few skeletons.
The Enlightened did a bit better, crushing some skulls, and nearly killing the Wight King, but for a lucky save. The ancient warrior was tottering, though he managed to draw blood in return. As Rich’s turn began, the vampire cast Spirit Blight on the embattled Enlightened, even as more skeletons piled in to join the fray at the Wickenmotte, ones that had fallen clambered back to their feet, and the Black Knights and Grave Guard advanced towards the Tzaangor with stolid determination. To finish things off, the vampire used her command ability – Blood Feast – to make one of the units of skeletons extra murder-y.
Despite this, the Enlightened held firm, thanks mostly to their Guided by the Past ability, allowing them to re-roll failed hit and wound rolls. The Aviarch managed to dispatch the Wight King in a stunning display of brutality (and failed saves), before being eliminated in his turn by the vengeful skeletons. Luckily for me, the remaining Enlightened passed their battle shock test, by the grace of a Destiny Dice.
Handy things, Destiny Dice.
The third phase began with more blessings from Tzeentch and another absolute failure on the part of Tzekmek to do anything useful, despite using his Sorcerous Elixir. Luckily, everyone else was on point. A pack of Tzaangor loped to the aid of the embattled Enlightened, as the other pack tightened their shield wall, and the Skyfires plucked apart a few more skeletons. The melee phase got bloody as the newly arrived Tzaangor wiped out a group of skeletons and another Enlightened was pulled down, but he took a few skeletons with him, as the unit suffered from the Babbling Stream of Secrets, and lost several models due to battleshock.
Things got a bit hectic, after that. With the beginning of the fourth phase, Tzekmek finally managed to get his mojo working, and obliterated a number of skeletons. The Grave Guard, led by the vampire, and the Black Knights raced towards the brawl on the steps of the Wickenmotte, but only the latter reached it. Unfortunately for Rich, the Black Knights ran smack into the Tzaangor, who’d finished with the skeletons and hungered for meatier fare.
The Black Knights managed to get in a few blows before the fifth phase began, and once again I was blessed by the Master of Fortune. Between Tzekmek’s magics, and the Tzaangor’s brutality, the Black Knights were cut down to a rider.
The Skyfires, meanwhile, had finally gotten a bead on the vampire, and put her down with a bevy of well-aimed shots.
As the fifth phase came to a close, the Grave Guard retreated, bearing the broken body of their twice-slain lord deeper into the fens. The vampire, writhing from the pain of the arrows jutting from her form, tried to escape as well, the screeching Tzaangor in pursuit…
All told, this was a more interesting game than the first. While neither Rich or myself managed to accomplish our objectives – those damn skeletons proving too stubborn to fully shift – I still managed to eke out a minor victory.
Unit synergy played a big part in that, I think. Keeping the shaman close to the Enlightened and Skyfires, and later, the Tzaangor, allowed them to use a variety of special abilities, which, in turn, allowed them to do a lot more damage than they might otherwise have done. Given the Deathrattle penchant for resurrecting slain models, that’s the edge I needed.
All that said, this army build performed a lot more ably than the first one I tried. I have a game lined up for next week, wherein I’ll be facing either Sylvaneth or Nurgle Rotbringers, and I’m eager to see how Tzekmek’s warflock performs against such opponents.
Next time…hopefully a closer look at some painted models. No promises, but I might actually finish painting something this weekend.
The leech shrieked in defiance as the Tzaangor surrounded it. It was hobbled, tarry blood streaking its pale limbs and soaking its once-fine garments. But that did not mean it wasn’t dangerous. Tzekmek growled in frustration as one of his warriors was flung backwards, neck broken. Another crumpled, skull crushed by an ivory fist. The vampire tore a heavy branch from a nearby tree and swung it in a wide arc, driving the Tzaangor back.
With a contemptuous sniff, the vampire tossed the branch aside, and began to weave its hands in ritual gestures. Tzekmek felt the aether stir, and knew the creature was trying to escape. He squalled a command, and the Skyfires swooped past. Arrows hummed through the murky air, pinning the vampire’s hands to the tree behind it. It screamed, more in rage than pain, until a third arrow sprouted from its throat.
Even then, it persisted. They were hardy creatures, these leeches. He crouched atop his disc, leaning against his staff, and observed the struggling vampire. Such a creature had a plethora of uses, if one but had the wit to see. Chuckling harshly, Tzekmek signalled for his warriors to bind the vampire.
He would deliver it up to the Unseen. A gift and a challenge, both. The Magister wasn’t the only one who could test his allies…