Monday, 9 October 2017

Faction Focus: Undrfast Guardians


This is the second of twelve posts detailing the warband factions which play a part in my The Dark Persists Age of Sigmar Skirmish narrative campaign. For details on rules/list resources used please wander over to the first post

The List 

The subject of today's post is an order grand alliance warband, using models from the Dispossessed subfaction, the Undrfast Guardians.  

This warband, like a lot of my collection is a lovely hotch potch of models spanning my 24 years in the hobby, in fact there is a dwarf (*cough* Duardin) representative from every era of GW plastics present. The Runelord model is Kragg the Grim, a metal special character from the 4th ed. armies book. Here's the list:
Warband Type: Duardin (Order)
Battle Trait: Defiant avengers
Initial Renown Cost: 34 (1)

Unit Name
Model Count
(Horlinn Gundrstag)
Inspirational Fighter
Rune Staff
(Relic Blade)
Runic Icon
Hand Weapon & Shield
Crossbows & Axes

The Runelord is primarily a buffing unit, able to use his Rune Lore prayers to either increase the attack or defence capabilities of the warband's grunts, combined with the hit-chance increasing trait of Inspirational Fighter. With 5 wounds and a 4+ basic save he is reasonably hardy when faced with standard enemy troops and when facing something above his weight he can drop Ancestral Shield on himself to keep him in the fight for more than one turn (maybe). As with most 'wizard' style characters, he doesn't really spit out much damage, but giving his Forgehammer the Relic Blade artefact ability bumps it up to a consistent 2 damage, to counter the rather more unreliable D3 damage from his Rune Staff

Runelord Horlinn Gundrstag

The main body of the warband is comprised of 5 Duardin Warriors armed with single handed weapons and Duardin Shields. This little group are effective in defence and distinctly average in damage output, not to mention pretty slow! In addition to a veteran, a Hornblower (actually a drummer) and a standard bearer with Runic Icon are included from the warscroll. These additions help to move the 'unit' along a bit faster to reach objectives in good time and also to add to their overall defensive focus (against magic in regard to the icon). Their equipment and abilities should make them a useful roadblock against some of the nastier foes they may face, hopefully long enough to allow their ranged support to do some 'softening up'. 

Duardin Warriors
Finally, 4 Duardin from the quarrellers warscroll provide a chance to participate in the shooting phase. These lads have a decent range of 20", which on small skirmish boards will often allow them to start loosing off bolts from the first turn onwards, but at 4+/4+ with no rend and damage 1, they will need to concentrate their fire to have much effect. Their Duardin Bucklers  give them the opportunity to qualify for combat save rolls, so they will probably spend most of their fights quickly moving to a position and digging in for the duration.   

Duardin Quarrellers

OK, so once again its time to get fluffy. Some background primer on the setting can be found in the second half of this post. As always, any location marked in bold can be found on my Wylderlands campaign map

The Lore

It has been five years since the Duardin hold of Undrfast was established in the footholds of the Shimmering Hills, and fifteen more since the first intrepid prospectors ventured north-east from Gillinbhad in search of Feystone, ore and minerals. For many, if not most of those early Wylderlands pioneers the only reward they discovered was a quick and brutal death at the hand of the many creatures of Destruction and Chaos still lurking there, hidden from the vengeance of the stormhosts. 

Despite the best efforts of the Umbrwardens, the ranger guild tasked with patrolling the fledgling settlements of the hinterlands around Umbhr and its satellite towns, the casualty rates and disruption of industry were simply too high to be sustained. Acutely aware that is was his own kindred which bore the brunt of these losses, the Duardin Dynast Tor Dundrigsson demanded his fellow High Council members agree to redirect increased resources east to Gillinbhad. With reluctance, citing the need to bolster their southern defences against the increasing power of the great wight lord, The Deathless King, the request was refused. 

Incensed by this perceived betrayal, Tor used his own coffers and those of loyal Duardin nobility to fund the construction of a fastness from which an unofficial militia could provide some degree of defence to the region. At first the other Dynasts objected strongly to this splintering of their authority, fearing where it may ultimately lead, but as the tax revenues began to flow in earnest through Gillinbhad and home to Umbhr outrage soon quietened to half-hearted grumbling.

Undrfast (source)

It is now the task of the Undrfast Guardians to patrol the mountain passes and winding tracks, mines and isolated settlements which dot the Shimmering Hills. As the Council would not allow Duardin already owing service to the armies of Umbhr to join, the ranks of the Guardians are primarily comprised of those too young or too old for standard military service. Some are veterans of Warden-service or earlier wars, but many are fresh and untested in true battle. No matter their background however, each member takes their duty seriously and many quietly profess a stronger allegiance to Tor as their king, rather than the increasingly resented and distant High Council.

The Runelord Horlinn Gundrstag, formerly of the Forge-temple of Grungi in Umbhr, is now a minor commander in the Guardian ranks. An unfortunate indiscretion involving the voluptuous and flame-haired daughter of his most prominent and influential congregation member led to his need to make a discreet and immediate withdrawal from the city out into the eastern stretches of the Wylderlands. Although a devoutly faithful Duardin, Horlinn longs for the comforts of urban life and has not taken well to a life spent sleeping at high altitudes with nought but bare stone for a bed. Despite these shortcomings he is well liked by those under him; if only because his near endless supply of salacious tales seem to make the cold mountain nights just a little warmer. 


His small band is currently several days march north west of the Hold, conducting the delivery of supplies and wages payments to several of the smaller and more isolated communities. They have spent the past three nights in the tiny hamlet of Axeborder, where a small surface outcrop of Feystone is mined, alongside several easily accessible caverns containing a variety of useful ores. The party is long overdue for there next stop off, but given the remoteness of Axeborder, its few inhabitants are always keen for fresh news and company; a commodity they purchase by offering to share freely their excellent homebrewed ale and generously filled mountain pies.

Though he has been in no hurry to lead his lads back out into the harsh chill winds, Horlinn is no fool and several of the younger Duardin have spent their time in the village perched at high vantage points where they could scan the treeline for approaching danger, whilst muttering about the unfairness of it all. the Runelord must now trust in their vigilance, as the task at hand cannot be delayed any further; the processed feystone must be loaded onto the carts and an arduous journey undertook. 

All the while dreaming of flame hair and strong white thighs. 


Next up is the first battle report in The Dark Persists campaign, where the savage outcast tyrant Ushtak will clash with the unfortunate Duardin in an effort to begin his quest to rebuild his murdered fathers legacy. 

Until then, thanks for reading!


Sunday, 8 October 2017

Faction Focus: Ushtak's Ironbrows


This is the first of twelve posts detailing the warband factions which play a part in The Dark Persists Age of Sigmar Skirmish narrative campaign. Each post will be divided into two halves; meta/list info first followed by the lore which ties them into the campaign world and events. The warbands were created to a total of up to 35 starting renown and I used not only the models available in the actual Skirmish rulebook, but also including the very professionally finished expanded ('unofficial') lists made by Grand Alliance Forum user Rafal Maj - thanks buddy! In actual fact I have gone a little further for several of the warbands and have added further unofficial units using the now well-documented formula of:

(Unit Cost ÷ Minimum Unit Size) ÷ 5 = renown cost

The List

The subject of today's faction focus is a Destruction Grand Alliance warband, currently comprised entirely of models from the Ogor Gutbuster list. I give you Ushtak's Ironbrows:

And here is the list (with a tyrant in there at 35 renown it doesn't make for a long read!):

Warband Type: Gutbusters (Destruction)
Battle Trait: Rampaging Destroyers
Initial Renown Cost: 35 (0)

Unit Name
Model Count
Wild Fury
Great Gutgouger
Ogor Pistols

This is the format in which all the warbands are presented. The value in brackets represents the current unspent renown they have in their pot, which totals an unsurprising zero for this gang, given the hefty cost of the general! The notes section lists any relevant command traits, artefacts, equipment, unit specialists etc. to aid my addled memory during play. I chose not to use random artefacts etc. and instead I allocated them guided by the backstory that I had created for each faction.

The combination of Wild Fury & Brawlerguts on the Tyrant makes him an absolute melee juggernaut, and synergises with his Great Gutgouger to deadly effect by increasing his odds of  hitting and subsequently landing double damage with each wound. The Ogor Pistols are a nice little touch, adding two ranged attacks for softening up targets on the approach, or nailing those enemies who decide to make a prudent exit upon his arrival. 

The Bully of the First Degree command ability on the Tyrant warscroll is of no use in Skirmish games and so he has one selected from the supplement book instead. I opted for Crusader as it would suit the character suggested by his other options and add further synergy whilst not being too overpowered for the game format. Giving him Merciless Killer instead would have made him a totally broken slaughter-machine who does double damage with nearly every blow (as it happens the Great Maw decided to see to it that this happened during the first battle anyway)! 

Ushtak's little entourage of Grots were included both as a convenient source of protein for those long treks through the Wylderlands, and as handy but disposable chaff for roadblocking enemies and potentially contributing to scenarios with multiple objectives. Believe it or not I actually had to nerf these wee fellas for skirmish play; their trappers ability would have been insane! Quote:
"Many Grots specialise in fighting dirty and laying traps. Roll a dice each time an enemy unit finishes a charge move within 3" of a unit of Grots; on a 6 that unit immediately suffers D3 mortal wounds". 

Wow. With each individual model being classed as a unit in skirmish this ability gets a bit out of hand. Grots with frickin' mini Bruce Lee filled nuclear landmines anyone? This is a good example of how Age of Sigmar (and especially Skirmish format, as it uses the standard warscrolls) is great fun, but you really do need to be prepared to exercise some creativity and reasonable judgement to get the most out of it. Personally, I'm fine with that.

OK, so that's the meta out of the way, now its time to get fluffy! BTW - any place names in bold can be found on my campaign map here   

The Lore

Only a few short years ago Ushtak had known only contentment with life, his belly had always been filled to burst and his blade had always known fresh meat in which to slake its own unending hunger. As the only surviving son of Maggrak, leader of the Ironbrow mercenary company, he had enjoyed comfortable wealth and the respect and fear of those around him. Even in a realm such as Ghyran, gripped as it had been in the poxed and nauseating embrace of the loathsome Grandfather, his kin had thrived and grew in power and status. The company made its home high in the mountainous regions, in places where the fresh cool air was a bane to the followers of Nurgle, ensuring they had remained unsullied by the touch of Chaos for generations. All this had changed when the lightning warriors had ascended from wrathful storms to strike as a hammer against all in their path.

At first it was only the servants of the Four who endured their righteous fury, and this in fact proved good for business. Desperate emissaries from the followers of Tzeentch, Slaanesh and Khorne sought them out in their mountain fastnesses, bearing cartloads of fattened slaves and caskets of glittering gems as payment for their sword arms. The corrupted ones came too, though they were rejected as their sweetener offered only zealous ravings regarding the bounteous gifts which would swell, bubble and burst from their flesh once they gave aid. Thus, suitably recompensed and eager to face new foes, the Ironbrows poured into the valleys to face the armies of Sigmar. 


Defeat was not a phenomena with which the ogors were well acquainted, but the hosts of the God-King soon gave them an unpleasant familiarity with stinging and brutal loss. Despite their martial prowess and great herds of beasts, they could not defeat that which returns over and over to stand defiant once more. The stormcast took horrific losses, fighting as they were on many fronts against a multitude of foes, but by sheer attrition they ground down the fighting strength of the tribes. Before long they were no longer fighting for the tainted coin of Chaos, but merely for their own continued existence. Towards the end, as they had ceded all ground save their highest mountain retreats, the emissaries of men offered the Ironbrows a chance to swear allegiance and deference Sigmar, and fight against the Four in His name. Maggrak had written his reply in the spilled entrails of the messengers and turned to rouse his warriors with a great speech espousing his intention for them all to face their deaths untamed and masterless. 

The mercenary and tribal leader had once been the most terrifying and mighty of ogors, none would have dared challenge him and all would gladly have followed him unto death and called it an honour. In these apocalyptic times his kin saw in him only defeat and doom, and an end to their line for all eternity. Instead of rising to his call, they rushed him en masse to drag him bodily from his stonehorn and slit his throat, turning the white snow of their ancestral home a shameful crimson.

As his former kinfolk squabbled and fought over who should go forth to seek the forgiveness of the storm warriors and offer fealty, Ushtak, still reeling with shock, slipped away from the camp and down into the mountain passes. Seeing their master flee, the grots which had personally attended his father slipped out after him, knowing that to stay would see them roasting on the fire before days end. 

For several years now, the young tyrant outcast has wandered the northern Shimmering Hills, eking out an existence through hunting and raiding soft targets down in the valleys. Times are becoming harder once more however; the followers of Sigmar have not only driven those of Chaos beyond the Peaks of the Lost but have now begun to actually tame the lowland areas. Wide cobbled roads and stone settlements have begun to emerge and clear areas of eons old forest, fortifications and watchtowers now stand guard over the vulnerable. Ushtak now feels as though he has awoken from a long slumber, the shame of his fathers ignoble end and his own expulsion from a place of honour have eroded at his warriors pride for too long. the Ironbrow Company shall rise again, and their name shall once more be both feared and valued in the Jade Kingdoms.

But first, he will need means. Not one of his former kin, save the stinking grots who buzz around him like flies, would follow such as he has become without reimbursement. And so, necessity means he must be prepared to take greater risk. In the southern hills Duardin have begun to burrow and delve as has ever been their wont. Ushtak knows that he will likely find the resources he needs in those lands, though he will also like as not face unfavourable odds. The memory of his father demands it.  


Next up is the faction focus for the Duardin of the Shimmering Hills, then we can move onto the battle report for the first fateful meeting of these two warbands. 

Until then, thanks for reading!


Thursday, 5 October 2017

My thoughts on AoS & campaign Setting Primer


This post is really an extension of my previous introduction and a chance for me to explain why I love AoS and to provide an overview of the setting in which my games are located.

AoS is your friend

I've been painting miniatures and playing Warhammer fantasy since 1993, starting during the crossover from 3rd to 4th ed. though I inherited a 2nd ed. box from my Dad and have a lot of fondness for that edition too. I'm also a massive fan of Age of Sigmar and the changes it has wrought. Is it a perfect ruleset? No, of course not, but there is no such thing (nor would I like there to be as tinkering and customising is half the fun right?) The thing I love the most about the new Warhammer, aside from the move to round bases and loose formations, is the thing that seems to be one of the biggest bones of contention for many other veterans; the setting.

The "Old World" was a great setting no doubt; the grimdark gothic excess and flagrant Moorcock/Tolkien "homage" aesthetic provided a rich vein to be tapped for fantasy geeks the world over for decades. But for me, it was a a bit of a victim of its own success and longevity. There had been so many army books, RPG sourcebooks, supplements, novels, etc. that there were very few stones uncovered and very little room for innovation of any kind. Now, the more libertarian gamers amongst you may clamour to point out that one need never to be beholden to any official setting or canon, and can therefore create any game world to suit your own tastes. This argument is not wrong, but for myself, and I'd wager the vast majority of gamers, it is in a lush patch of grassy middle ground that contentment lies.

While homebrew units, rules and settings are the aspects of the hobby that I probably enjoy above all else, it is still more satisfying, I believe, when these creative personal additions sit upon a foundation shared by a wider community. This allows us all to be the interventionist gods of our own plastic dominion, but still connected to one another's creations and immediately invested in each others ideas as we read of them. It is the nebulous character of the Mortal Realms, their uncharted vastness and embryonic lore which makes Age of Sigmar fit this need so perfectly. 

My Campaign Setting - Overview

My campaign is to be set in Ghyran, the Realm of Life. This is a land (or dimensional plane, however you personally like to envisage the nature of the Realms) of rampant growth, lush vegetation, pretty flowers and impossibly cool floating islands. Oh, and Papa Nurgle has spent the last few thousand years defiling it in the most puss-drippingly foul and vomit-inducing manner imaginable. The Grandfather's fun got rather spoilt about a hundred years ago though when the marmite poster-children of AoS (I like 'em) arrived via lightning bolt to free an Aelven goddess and deliver a hammer-centric reckoning on behalf of the God-King Sigmar. The current position of the official timeline has seen the first new cities arise since before the Age of Chaos and life on Ghyran for your average citizen now sites somewhere between blissful abundance and the very real likelihood that you'll be killed in your bed by something with 14 wounds. 

Following the ethos of creativity within a shared canvas that I outlined above, I have positioned my own setting roughly within the current 'now' of the Realms (maybe 5 or ten years later), and linked the lore surrounding people, places and events to those already detailed in the novels and Battletomes that i have read. I chose the city of Hammerhal Ghyra as the link between the official world and my own, a location which can be seen on the rather tasty map produced by GW for the 2016 Season of War global campaign:

As you will notice, the city is rather conveniently located in the top-right of the map, adjacent to a tantalisingly blank area devoid of all description, detail or illustration - perfect! It is here in these uncharted easterly lands that I have chosen to position the focal point for my setting; the City of Umbhr. 

Umbhr was founded as a client city to Hammerhal and though largely autonomous, its rulers owe allegiance and homage to the Twin-tailed City. Located far to the East in a land known as the Wylderlands, Umbhr acts as a forward operating base for recolonisation efforts and the control and exploitation of its dangerously untamed but realmstone-rich hinterlands (the local manifestation of which is called Feystone).

attributed to “Robert Brown”, source

The city is governed by a High Council comprised of the leading figures (known as Dynasts) from the primary racial communities; Aelves, Duardin & Free Peoples, mediated by Lord Celestant Eldenor of The Verdurous Legion stormhost. Positioned below these rulers are The Delegation; important leaders of factions, guilds and sects from across the city.

The races live in relative harmony, though away from the shadow of the God-King the utopian society of Azyrheim has begun to show cracks as the years have passed . Each of the racial groups are referred as the Kindreds and they have their own internal organisation and increasingly they inhabit different quarters of the city. Each Kindred has its own primary area of responsibility and activity; Duardin – civil/military engineering (including Feystone mining works), Free Peoples – agriculture and trade, Highborn Aelves – Lore keeping and magical research. In addition, each Kindred is also responsible for maintaining a military force in defence of the city and its hinterlands, some of which is in the form of conscripts to the Umbhrawardens.  

The Umbhrawardens are a non-sectarian ranger guild tasked with patrolling the fledgling road networks through the Wylds, protecting isolated mining & agricultural Wylderfolk communities from bandits and other more exotic denizens of the uncharted forests. Their ranks are drawn from the Duardin and Human Kindreds with support from the Stormhost garrison (the Aelven Kindred are tasked with the permanent garrisoning of the city defences and are largely exempt from Warden-service).  

Typical Umbhran Warriors

OK, this post is getting a bit long so we'll leave it there. Next time we'll have a look at the resident stormhost, The Verdurous Legion.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

New beginnings


For this inaugural post I thought I'd introduce my most current Age of Sigmar project (i.e. the one that's actually resulting in tangible evidence of completion, as opposed to the myriad of plans, hopes and dreams which we all keep in the mental compartment labelled "Some Day Soon").

And so, I give to you my Age of Sigmar Skirmish narrative campaign: "The Dark Persists".

The project began as I recently decided to work through my backlog of concept stage and half-completed terrain pieces (not to mention its sister pile of old lead and new plastic). As a motivator I came up with the idea of setting up a 4x4' board with a thematic link to each quadrant (e.g. forest, castle, settlement, mining area), and you can see pics and my initial plan on my Instagram Account. I soon decided to drop this approach as it would have involved playing on a partially completed board... *shudders*

Instead, I decided to create an area map within the homebrew Ghyran fluff I have been concocting and give each starter warband a "home base" at the beginning of the narrative. This would enable me to create a series of initial match-ups between the warbands which would provide the same motivation and targeted aims in regards to creating scenery (as each game would require specific terrain to represent their "base").

Without further ado I give you the campaign map version 1.1 (with 1.0 being the original biro sketch lol. You can also see that over on IG):

The map was created using Campaign Cartographer 3 with some final touches (namely a little blurring and a canvas texture effect) added in GIMP. The software makes editing a simple enough affair and so as new locations are discovered (or razed to ground by the foul misdeeds of Chaos) I can update the map accordingly.

The next image shows a close up of one the campaign faction starting locations, namely The Verdurous Legion. The legion is a homebrew Stormcast Eternal Stormhost with particularly strong ties to Ghyran, currently garrisoning the city of Umbhr. Within the stormhost is a sub faction known as The Tended Glade, to which the skirmish Warband belongs. I’ll be doing a series of detailed posts on each faction, detailing their lists and how they fit into the campaign setting starting very soon. 

OK, that’s it for this quick first post. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the meat of the setting and the factions, keep an eye open for the first of those posts very soon.

Until then, thanks for reading!