Age of Sigmar Battle Report: Empire vs Nurgle

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It was a warm June day when Adam’s Old Empire formed up against Rob’s Maggotkin of Nurgle in a 500 point scrap to the death. It was the first time we’ve faced off against each other.

Rob – 500 points sounded like a lot when we first started playing. Turns out it’s not, and I only had a small force of 26 models. I’ve always gone with three units of Plaguebearers and a Poxbringer (480 points) for my 500 point battles which gives me quite a slow and lumbering force. The bonus to them is they’re able to take an obscene amount of punishment, and with the Icon Bearer’s bonus to battleshock rolls – roll a 1 and gain D6 Plaguebearers – and the Poxbringer’s ‘In Death there is life’ – heal one wound to a friendly Daemon unit within 7″ – it means that, potentially, I can regain 19 Plaguebearers a turn with some lucky rolls. With a base 5+ save and a 5+ disgustingly resilient save, they can weather a lot.

This time though, I thought I’d change it up to two units of ten Plaguebearers, five Putrid Blightkings and Spoilpox Scrivener to lead them. With the army all carrying the Nurgle Allegiance, the Blightkings come in as battleline, which nicely rounds off the points to exactly 500. The Scrivener comes with ‘Keep Counting, I’m Watching You’ which allows Plaguebearer units within 7″ to re-roll charge rolls of a 1 – something I need as my charge rolls are shocking – and re-roll to hit rolls of a 1.

The Blightkings were a new unit for me but they looked promising. With 21 wounds and 15 attacks between (3+ to hit and wound!) they looked filthy. Combined with ‘Blighted Weapons’ that give you D6 hits instead of 1 if you roll a 6 to hit, they showed a lot of promise on paper. In the hero phase, ‘Virulent Discharge’ also gives any friendly units within 3″ D3 mortal wounds back if you roll a 6+, or causes D3 mortal wounds to enemy units within 3″.

I had drawn the Ambush card for the battle, which allowed me to sneak the Plaguebearers and Scrivener forward so they were closer to Adam’s lines. With a bit of luck I could charge them in turn one.

Adam – I was looking forward to getting some use out of my Empire army again! These chaps were originally configured to be a Dogs of War army in 6th Edition (a German Landsknecht proxy, big pike blocks supported by crossbowmen), so they have fought many a battle, changing allegiances and army books along the way. There are a lot of old lead models in this army, and the composition is based mainly around my old force composition, and what looks cool to me.

No army is complete without its General. Mine is Maximillian Von Lietdorf, who has been knocking round for at least 12 years in various guises and game systems. In Age of Sigmar, the Empire general is a good choice as he boosts the infantry around him with his Hold The Line ability. This stops up to three Free Peoples units moving but gives them +1 to hit and to wound for the following turn. At 100pts he isn’t too shabby in  a fight and is perfectly survivable in full plate armour and carrying a shield.

Empire Infantry are cheap and cheerful at 80pts for 10 and do best in large units. 20 is probably the minimum and this was all I could afford at the time. They come in three flavours: Swordsmen, Spearmen and Halberdiers. Each has a different bonus, Swordsmen are more survivable, Spearmen have a longer reach and Halberdiers have a very useful -1 Rend.

My favourite troop type has always been Swordsmen but I prefer my Halberdier models, converted from Greatswords to represent Paymaster’s Bodyguard back in the day. So they are in!

No Empire army is complete without missile troops, and the choice is between Handgunners, Crossbowmen and Archers. I went for Crossbowmen in this instance due to their longer range. Those Nurgles are slow (I thought) so it might get me an extra round of shooting before the inevitable combat.

The final decision was me last 140pts. Looking at the points values available, Artillery and Knights were both available for this exact figure. I chose my knights, as I prefer the models and wherever possible I like to play offensive armies (Raven Guard, Night Lords, Tyranids…). I have also seen a few games where the our group have ended up needing crazy numbers to hit Nurgle troops due to the buffs and abilities they have to reduce their enemies’ abilities.  And since someone stole my templates for my Mortar, I now have to roll to hit rather than guess the range!

In hindsight, the cavalry was a terrible idea…

In the beginning it was all about movement, and crossbows. 

Rob – With no missile weapons and slow movement, all I could do was run toward the enemy  as fast as possible. The Plaguebearers  got a shift on, and shambled toward the Empire lines with incredible speed – by which I mean, I rolled dreadfully, and they only moved a short distance, leaving them ripe for missile fire. This was in sharp contrast to the Blightkings who managed a 2 for their run roll, giving them a whopping 7″ move (4″ move, +2 run and +1 for Sonourous Toxin). It comes to something when I’m pleased with a move and run of 7″… After the movement was finished, so was I, and all I could do was grit my teeth and pray that Adam’s missile fire didn’t King Harold too many of my Plaguebearers. Thankfully, with a -1 to hit, it limited the effectiveness, and only a few were removed from play.

Adam – Before I even got to react, those dastardly Nurgles were on my doorstep. Not only that, the other Twist card enabled Mortal Wounds to be dealt to my Crossbowmen before they had a chance to fire on the approaching horde. A bit of redeployment was required to react to those infiltrating plaguebearers. I imagine them striding out of a cloud of poison gasses and clouds of flies much to the surprise of my troops!

On the other side of the board, the Knights eyed up their plague ridden brethren ready to attempt a heroic charge.

Let the bloodshed commence!

Rob – When the battle lines finally meet I predict I’m going to fail horribly. Adam’s knights charged across the board to lance the Putrid Blightkings like a ripe boil and if I’m honest, I thought the Blightkings were going to be battered. Thankfully, their bloated bodies were able to fend off the initial attack with the loss of only a couple of wounds, and they returned the favour by hacking at the knights, killing two of them.

The Spoilpox Scrivener’s bonuses really helped, and the Plaguebearers rolled high enough to make it into combat with only a few losses as Adam fired off a burst of crossbow bolts and pistol fire from his general. With Adam’s units in an extended line, I tried to front each unit keeping the Scrivener in the middle to take advantage of the to hit re-rolls (if you get a 1) he grants them. He also has 2 attacks with his Distended Maw, each doing 2 damage, if only he can manage to hit and wound. He doesn’t.

Adam – This was exactly when I intended the majority of the Plaguebearers being intercepted by my line infantry, allowing my General and Crossbowmen to gang up on the other unit. Using the Hold the Line ability, we were wounding on the same as the daemons and actually hitting more easily! Unfortunately, the dice didn’t agree with me and the first round of combat was mostly uneventful. A shout must go to the knights’ horses, who did more damage than the knights. Who charged. With lances.

I would definitely note to all those budding Free Peoples players out there, Musicians are worth their weight in gold: they give some very useful benefits, allowing Stand and Shoot reactions to charging enemies or Counter Charging with unengaged infantry. And what’s more, they are free, so make sure every unit has one!

The War of Attrition

Rob – With no mages on either side able to cast spells of mass death on the enemy it just became a close quarter slugfest, with neither side making massive head way in any one turn. I feel had the advantage with this down to the save, then Disgustingly Resilient, and my chance of gaining Plaguebearers for rolling a 1 for bravery tests. The lines were thinned a number of times, but were aided by more Plaguebearers before things became too dangerous. When Adam’s crossbowmen and General pummelled one squad down to five Plaguebearers, a lucky roll saw them gain their five missing daemons back so they were back to full strength. When I can get Disgustingly Resilient saves as bad as the ones below, it  it’s definitely a bonus having the ability to respawn your troops.

The Putrid Blightkings were outrageous, and after a couple of round of combat, upped the ante by rolling three sixes to hit, which gave them around 20 hits. When the wounds came in, and then the saves, I felt a little bad that – not supported by a hefty battletome of rules and bonuses – the knights made their way to Sigmar.

Adam –  The Halberdiers and Crossbowmen gave a good account of themselves in combat. The main difficulty for the Free Peoples in the main combat was resilience. Honours were about even in the killing stakes, but whilst the daemons were Bravery 10, the Halberdiers were Bravery 6. There was only one round where no infantry fled. To be honest I don’t blame them, look how scary and putrid Rob’s guys look! They could get slime all over you and ruin your nice yellow silk tights.

The end is nigh. Right nigh.

The final round saw the recently replenished Plaguebearers drive home their plagueswords into the the Empire pikemen and crossbowmen, leaving them free to continue counting Nurgle’s blessings. With only the Empire General remaining, we called it a day, and shook hands on a game well played.

VICTORY TO OUR BENEVOLENT LORD, NURGLE!

Afterthoughts

Rob – I was almost pleased with how Nurgle had fared, and suspect they would have fared a whole lot better if we hadn’t have been using Mike’s Mechanicus dice, which roll more 1s than should be possible. The same can be said for Adam’s Empire, as we both vowed never to use those dice again.

Forces wise, I felt there was a big gap between the power of Nurgle and the power of the Empire, and I think Nurgle’s Maggotkin Battletome has really made them a force to be reckoned with. The combination of re-rolling 1s to hit, Disgustingly Resilient and  their ability to regenerate Plaguebearers because of the Icon Bearer makes them relentless, which is brilliant in that it’s fluffy. When I see the artwork of hundreds of Plaguebearers marching forth into battle, it’s how I imagine them to fight.

All in all, it was. lot of fun, and another successful venture into Age of Sigmar. Cheers, Adam!

Adam – Thanks, Rob! A fun game in spite of the average dice roll for each player being a 2. Those dice were really pants!

I have learned a lot from this game as well as having a laugh. The first learning point is that this is not Warhammer Fantasy repackaged. Age of Sigmar has been around long enough that I really should be up to speed by now, but as one of the old fantasy grognards I have tried to ignore this fact as much as possible. My army selection was a perfectly acceptable 6th, 7th, or maybe even 8th Edition Fantasy army, but it is a pretty naff Age of Sigmar Army!

Rob is very kind saying it may be down to Battletomes, but  I think that it is more that I am not playing the right game. Age of Sigmar rewards players who build synergies between their units and characters and play to their strengths.

My poor knights were massacred because they were too far away to benefit from my General’s command abilities, as well as me not using them correctly. Rather than charging off against the Blight Kings, I should have kept them close and tried to wipe out whichever unit of Plaguebearers was looking most worse for wear once it had charged my battleline.

Also my selection of infantry units was poor… but less of my excuses! It was a good game and I have been taught a valuable lesson- Don’t Mess with Papa Nurgle. A lesson Max will learn well as he staggers off to gather a new army.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our game. Who knows, there might be more on the way!

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