Monday, 5 June 2017

Smeltdown: Ironjawz vs Disciples of Tzeentch

The Ark of Alternatives was unfolding like a tangram flower. Complex panels of engraved and enamelled bone shifted slowly through the air as the Tzeentchian choir chanted and hummed around it. Sparks of blue and pink light snapped and crackled from piece to piece. Already, you could hardly tell it had been a box at all.

What would it become? 


The apologetic acolyte was clearly reluctant to intrude. Zonaranoz, chief Magister of the Tzeentchian Throng, waved his apologies aside - if this was important enough for the acolyte to enter during the days-long ritual, it would have to be heard. 

"The greenskins have returned, and in greater numbers!" 

Zonaranoz sighed. "Hardly startling. It is their way. Very well. Muster the guard, we shall drive them off once more."

"But Magister, our guard! They are so few, and the orcs are many!"

Zonaranoz made a complex gesture, and the three nearest candelabra in the room flared with coruscating light. The heavy brass twisted, melting and bulging into new shapes. Within moments, a trio of Flamers writhed in place, guttering fire spilling from their boneless jaws. 

"Then we must create more," Zonaranoz said, smiling. "Come hither, boy. I shall show you a new rite, your very own transformation ahead of the great Day of Change. You shall become more powerful than you ever expected! You shall behold the Vortex, and become its bearer!"

The acolyte smiled nervously, but followed. Zonaranoz felt serene. The choir could manage without him for a time, and the creation of a Mutalith was always enjoyable. 

This should be fun.

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

Has anyone got a light?
It's All-Skype Fight Night!

The Ark of Alternatives saga continues! I (Stylus) will be playing Ironjawz (an army that had a lot more success at WoffBoot XI than I did, so I'm hoping the luck of the Gorkamorka dice will rub off.)

I, Kraken, shall be taking charge of Tzeentch once again. There's this whole losing streak thing I'm trying to break, and Tzeentchian machinations have seen me proud in the past, against a very similar Orruk army to this one. 

We're using the Border battleplan from the General's Handbook (having tried all these scenarios, we should hopefully be getting the hang of them): four objectives in a diamond shape: the one in your zone is worth 1pt, the middle two are each worth 2pts, and the one in the enemy zone is worth 4pts. You claim them with a majority of models within 6" and, crucially for lower-point games, you still claim them even after you've moved away.


Rise of the Cult - Disciples of Tzeentch

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

  • Zonaranoz, Magister, General, Arcane Sacrifice, Timeslip Pendant, Lore of Fate: Bolt of Tzeentch
  • Scraan, Ogroid Thaumaturge, Lore of Fate: Infusion Arcanium
  • 10 x Kairic Acolytes, 4 x Pair of Cursed Blades, 4 x Cursed Blade & Arcanite Shield 2 x Cursed Glaives, Scroll of Dark Arts, Vulcharc
  • 3 x Flamers Of Tzeentch
  • 10 x Chaos Warriors, Axes and Shields, Mark of Tzeentch
  • 5 x Marauder Horsemen, javelins and shields, Tribal Banner, Mark of Tzeentch
  • Mutalith Vortex Beast

Flamers! I like the look of their warscroll, and thematically, they're quite at home in this collection of Tzeentchian lightweights. 

None of my line units are going to last longer than a kitten in a combine harvester once the Orruks reach them. But all of them are faster and shootier (except the stalwart Warriors). Adding this to a leadership that can hurl out a fairly potent number of mortal wounds via spellcasting, as well as my heavyweight Mutalith, itself a mortal wound generator, and I reckon I can blunt the Ironjaws' attack before they hit me. 

Or so I hope. The Mutalith is meaty in close range, but the Brutes like meat. To give me a second chance in hand to hand, the Thaumaturge is taking the Infusion Arcanum spell, which is easy to cast and gives him +1 to hit and wound. Hopefully, they can capitalize on their damage potential to finish off units the others have already scuffed.


Iron Out Da Flaws - Orruk Ironjawz

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

  • Ferrous Bulla, Orruk Megaboss, General, Bellowing Tyrant, Battle Brew
  • Witchetty Zub, Weirdnob Shaman, Talisman of Protection
  • Groll, Warchanter
  • 5 x Brutes, Brute Boss with Boss Klaw and Brute Smasha, Brute Choppas, Gore-choppa
  • 5 x Brutes, Brute Boss with Boss Klaw and Brute Smasha, Brute Choppas, Gore-choppa
  • 3 x Gore Gruntas, Pig-iron Choppa
  • 10 x Ardboys, Boss, Orruck Banner, Waaagh! Drummer, 5 x Pair of Choppas, 2 x Choppa/Shield, 3 x Big Choppas
  • [Battalion: Ironfist]
This was an easy list to write, as it took every Ironjaw in my collection (we pushed the limit to 1,120pts, so I could fit this all in - as well as taking the invaluable Ironfist battalion). The battalion more than paid for itself just by allowing me to complete deployment first, and force the first turn on Kraken.

Terrain and Deployment

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

Freshly armed with my MDF tokens, we allocated rules to the scenery pieces - the only ones than came into play was the central barn (Arcane), the ruins at the top (Damned) and the hovel in the top-right (Mystical).

I reckoned that an oblique attack would suit this scenario well: refusing my left flank while pounding down the right flank to seize the back objective. I set up accordingly, with the Brutes and characters on the right, the Ardboyz in the centre (to guard my own objective) and the Gore-Gruntas on the left, ready to ride down early challengers, but more likely to switch out to the right flank.

Of course, Kraken likes an oblique attack too...

Must. Deny. Flanks. 

But I walked right into a trap, as I followed my usual military discipline of setting up down one side. Stylus, clearly seeing it coming, did likewise. I'd won the roll-off for sides, and I'd picked the northern edge. Yes, there was a Mystical building in the middle of it (5 in 6 chance of rerolling failed wound rolls, which is nice, but 1 in 6 chance of being paralysed until your next hero phase, which isn't), but it also put me nearer to the Arcane Pub in the centre of the field, and I could see my spellslingers enjoying some wizard juice near that. 

Stylus started deploying first. As he had the larger army, I knew I'd be finished first and could make him take that initial slow turn, nothing to do but walk into range of my missiles. Fast ranged units on either flank, Warriors in a horseshoe shape filled with a tasty Acolyte filling, heroes backing the Mutalith in the centre. 

Crafty fellow that he is, Stylus deployed his last two units as a single Battalion! Outfoxed, I would be taking the first turn, but I felt I'd be okay. After all, I had a denied flank, and it's always worked fine for me before now. Look at my track record if you don't believe me.

Turn 1 - Disciples of Tzeentch  

Zonaranoz stepped out of the ritual chamber. Magical energies still rippled and shuddered from the incantations he'd unleashed. The Mutalith had been created, and with it, a shimmering tide of power that reverberated through the bodies of his soldiers even as it wreaked havoc with the bodies of the foe.

The acolyte's transformation was complete. Now an eight foot muscular creature that defied taxonomical classification, his fusion with the vortex of power left him maddened and unpredictable. Deadly of course, pulsing warping energy across the broken cobbles of the empty city. 

The thunder of the Orruk advance was already clearly audible. Zonaranoz waved his troops forward, ready to surprise the clumsy greenskins. 

Nothing happened. 

Zonaranoz looked at his men. The Warriors stood entranced as purple streamers of energy ran up and down their weapons and armour. Scraan, the Thaumatuge, was similarly hypnotised. 

The ritual was clearly having unforseen consequences! Excellent - Tzeentch must be watching them. With a flick of his wrist, Zonaranoz bade the rest of the army hold position until he could learn more of this phenomenon.

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

Turn 1 - Ironjawz

"Get at 'em ladz!" Bulla's voice echoed through the ruined halls and hollow alleys. "Da streets belongs to a Ironjawz!"

With a rattle of iron shoes on cobbles, the Orruks surged forward. The mob of Brutes led by EadRip sped down the thoroughfare on the right flank, grabbing another piece of loot, while Klamp's Brutes jostled to cram themselves down the main alleyway. The Wierdnob Zub and Warchanter Groll pressed close behind, egging them on.

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

Bulla himself ran alongside the central advance, leaping on top of the central ruins to get a clear view of the advancing enemy.

Behind them, Steelhorn's Ardboyz gathered around their first piece of loot, protecting it from the sneaky Chaos gits. And displaying a rare trait of low cunning, Scratchings led his Gore-Gruntas away from the left flank and the bulk of the Chaos force, speeding around to join the rest of the Ironfist.

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

Turn 2 - Disciples of Tzeentch  

The weird purple energy was coalescing round the Mutalith now, A strange aurora looped eerily between it and the acolytes, who stood slack-jawed as they watched. 

Zonaranoz wanted to watch with them. It was so beautiful! So fascinating! But there wasn't time. He could already see the leader of the Orruks thumping his way through the ruins nearby, a determined look on his face and a vast chunk of rusty steel in his fists. 

He reached out with his ritual knife and sliced a chunk from the side of the Mutalith. The flesh immediately started boiling away in ropes of deforming gas, which he breathed in gladly, revelling in the aroma. 

When he breathed out, he breathed out flame. 

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

The Thaumaturge followed suite, hurling a gout of seething fire at the Megaboss. And a great wave of crackling power pulsed out from the Mutalith at the same time, racing ahead of the twin sorceries and bowling the huge Orruk off his feet, which devolved into a writhing mass of tentacles. 

The fires of Tzeentch smashed into the hapless Megaboss, leaving him scorched inside his armour. Snapping pink aftershocks crackled round the torched Orruk as a pair of Pink Horrors materialised and began hooting with laughter at the cooked creature. 

Zonaranoz smiled, and waved the army forwards. The Mutalith had already healed itself, the wound overgrowing into a new tentacle within moments.

To his left, the Warriors ran forward to secure the outer markers of the Ark's ritual boundary. Horsemen raced past the hypnotised Acolytes, ready to intercept any Orruks seeking to attack the temple itself.

The trio of flamers started washing the nearest Orruk Brutes with fire. One fell, another was half-melted, but from the seared flesh a huge and ugly claw arm reached out, healed and ready to smash. What Tzeentch took, he often gave back anew.

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

The laughter of the Pink Horrors turned defiant as they darted into the Orruk line. They wouldn't last long, but the Orruks were caught on the hop, pinned in place. And even as they fell, four of the lesser Blue Horrors rose to take its place.

Turn 2 - Ironjawz  

Their Megaboss had fallen, his ironclad body now smouldered with magical fire. But the Ironjawz were not so easily cowed. Their green blood had been roused, and the beat of the Warchant drove them forward.

A blast of Waaagh! energy tore apart two of the blue deamons in the alleyway, before the Weirdnob gibbered and cowered behind the ruins. 

Having secured their loot, the Ardboyz moved forward to confront the Chaos advance. The Gore-Gruntas wheeled around and took up their place in the back line.

EadRip's Brutes continued to race along the flank, getting within striking distance of the flaming daemons, only to find a quartet of brimstone deamons leaping away from the carcasses of the blue deamons and appearing on their flank, distracting them from their charge.

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

A charge down the alleyway from Klamp's Brutes easily stomped the rest of the blue deamons, though EadRip's Brutes found themselves confused by too many foes. They were just about close enough to strike at both brimstone and flamer deamons, and though it was easy enough to stamp down on the brimstones, the flamers managed to avoid most of the strikes.

On the left of the field, iron met steel as the Arboyz crashed into the Chaos Warriors. Two of the Chaos Warriors fell, but that only cleared a space for the Ogroid to push through and smash down a couple of Orruks in turn. Neither side was going to give ground or die easily, and both settled in for a grind.

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

Turn 3 - Ironjawz

Yet more brimstone daemons had appeared as fast as the blue daemons had been cut down. Though little more than a nuisance, they were blocking off all but a single route for Klamps' Brutes - the path that ended in the Mutalith.

"Duff up a big one!" The Warchanter and Weirdnob both spurred the Brutes on with words, magic and drumbeats. "Pick a tentacle and get hackin'!"

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

The Brutes set to work, tearing into the befuddled monster with heavy iron blades and boundless enthusiasm. By the time they had finished, the creature was staggering on it's last leg, or tentacle, or whatever it was they had yet to hack off.

Deciding to ape their larger cousins, the Ardboys picked the largest target they could reach and began attacking the Ogroid, spilling his vibrant ichor even as his brazen horns flung their iron comrades into the air.

On the right flank, the brimstone deamons were finally snuffed out, but the flamers once more proved resistant, and only one fell to their axes.

The green tide was pushing hard against the enemy's loot, but they had not yet broken through.

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

Turn 3 - Disciples of Tzeentch  

Once again, the purple energies clashed and clamoured around the Mutalith. The great beast sat down on its deformed haunches, reaching wandering tentacles up to the patterns in the air above it, oblivious to the Brutes hacking away at it. 

Zonaranoz snarled. The Orruks weren't relenting at all. If anything, the death of their leader had only enraged them even more. Too stupid to see they were outmatched, were they? Well, he'd happily make it even clearer to them. 

With a snap of his fingers, he conjured another pack of Flamers on the other side of the battle between his Warriors and the Orruk tribesmen, then sent them chasing after the boar riders.

The other Flamers bounded clear over the Brutes that were trying to fight them, moving on to protect the outer markers from further greenskin interference and leaving the Orruks confused and frustrated. 

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

Scraan wrapped sorcerous energies round himself, enhancing his own formidable strength even further with daemonic power. Where he reached out, his staff and horns felled greenskins like rotten timber. 

Behind him, with a roar, the Acolytes and Horsemen unleashed volley after volley of javelins and flame at the Brutes who were hacking the Mutalith apart. Not a single one fell, so they swept in to engage the invaders even as they finished their butchery of the poor, bemused creature. So much power wasted, Zonaranoz thought, but then found he needed his concentration elsewhere as an Orruk pounded towards him, axe held high. 

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

A swift jab from his sword and a blast from his staff saw the Orruk sprawled dead on the ground. But when he looked back at the Brutes, they'd murdered more than half the Marauders, and the Acolytes were panicking and falling back as their glaives glanced ineffectually from the armoured monsters.

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

It was all going wrong.

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

Turn 4 - Ironjawz

"Keep going ladz! Yer makin' Bulla proud!" Both Zub and Groll were feeling the kunnin' of Mork flow through their hearts, and decided that the best way to conduct the battle was behind this arcane barn, safe from the magic fires that had claimed their Megaboss.

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

On the right flank, EadRip's Brutes suddenly found themselves facing no foes at all, and had to tramp back the way they had come, to stop the flamers from getting away. After the failure of their initial attacks, they finally found their swing and tore down the flamers to secure their loot.

On the left flank, the Gore-Gruntas couldn't be held back from the fun. Provoked by the fires of the newly-arrive flamers, they charged into them, pulling down two more of the daemons.

Deep in the enemy's territory, Klamp's Brutes swung at everything within reach, cutting down both horseman and acolyte until they remained the sole custodians of the enemy's loot.

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

The determined struggle of the Ardboyz was finally coming to an end as Steelhorn himself fell to the Ogroid's staff, until only the standard bearer remained, bloody but determined to continue the fight.

Turn 4 - Disciples of Tzeentch

It was hopeless. Everywhere he looked, Zonaranoz saw green. He stretched out with his magicks, hurling a Bolt of Change at the last of the Orruks that had engaged his warriors, turning it into a furry smear speckled with orange crystals. 

But the massive Brutes were everywhere, pounding towards the doors of the temple, throwing Acolytes into the air and tearing apart delicately runed tapestries in their savage fury. 

"The Ark!" the Magister gasped. "I must protect it!" 

"I'll buy you time!" Scraan snarled, focussing his powers around himself again before charging into the nearest pack of greenskins. 

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

The Magister began an incantation of teleportation, ready to whisk himself back to the Ark. Even as the world began to shiver around him, running like molten glass as the warp currents began to carry him off, he saw the wreck of his plans. 

Scraan trampled one Brute into the ground, winged another, and then another three clubbed him to the ground, gathering over his prostrate form, their bloody weapons rising and falling relentlessly.

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

The Flamers bubbled and popped, overrun by Orruk riders or blown apart by tribal magics. The Horsemen and Acolytes had fled. Only the loyal Warriors still held the field, although their ranks were badly depleted after the scrum with the Ardboys. 

Of the Mutalith, there was no trace. Just that strange purple energy, spreading across the sky like a bruise. Zonaranoz hoped there would still be time to retrieve the Ark, but it would be touch and go. Certainly the Temple, and with it the Ritual of Opening, was lost.

He hoped this was all part of Tzeentch's plan - it certainly wasn't his. 

Age of Sigmar battle report: Border War' between Orruk Ironjawz and Disciples of Tzeentch.

Major victory to the Ironjawz!

Klamp used his Boss Klaw to lever another singed plate off the massive form of the Megaboss. It was blackened, but also swirling with colour, like a patch of oil. Not like it had been burned with proper fire at all. He flung it away and selected another piece to work on.

"Is 'ee dead?" EadRip asked.

"Nah," Klamp replied. "But 'ee 'ain't gonna be 'appy when 'ee wakes up. Don't fink we're gonna be bashin' magical humies fer a bit. We gots to smash sumfink proper."

EadRip nodded sagely. "Da humie shaman got away," he confirmed. "What was left of 'is boys took dat magical box wiv dem."

"Why woz dey after dese fings in da first place?" Klamp stopped his work to consider the heap of glowing crystals they had looted from the abandoned city.

"Dunno," EadRip placed an iron-shod foot over one of the heaps and slowly stomped down. There was a flicker of energy, and then nothing but crushed powder. "Can't be worth much if it breaks dis easy."

"Stoopid humies," Klamp tore away another iron plate to reveal a heavily-muscled back, badly scorched. A growl came out from beneath the armour like the waking of a gargantuan squig.

"You woz right!" EadRip said. "Da boss is gonna be fine."

Klamp grunted accord, then considered one the writhing tentacles that had sprouted below the Megaboss' left knee. "Wot are we gonna do about dat?"

"Don't worry." EadRip picked up his Boss Choppa and ran his thumb down the sharp edge. "I'll get 'im a nice peg."

Locker Room

Waaagh! When things start to go the way of Ironjawz, they really go their way. With both their allegiance ability and Ironfist battalion, the Ironjawz have some incredible manoeuvrability on the field. And unlike trying to push everything into a central scrum (as I tried last time), I got to sweep around the battlefield to grab objectiveness.


It is quite possible that the usefulness of my denied flank manouvers has passed its prime. Maybe time to move on to chapter two of Clausewitz. 

The poor Megaboss didn't get much of a look-in (although he did draw fire from my units - which was clearly my plan in leaving him in such a stupidly exposed position), but the other two characters provided some great buffs.

I was also more impressed with the speed of the Gore-Gruntas and resilience of the Ardboyz. The MVP, however, must go to the Brutes, especially the unit that killed the Pink Horrors, Blue Horrors, Mutalith Vortex Beast, Marauder Horsemen, Kairic Acolytes and Ogroid Thaumaturge! After a fairly cold start with my dice, I started to get a great run of luck (although when you're hitting on 2s and rerolling 1s, luck becomes a bit moot).

Conversely, Kraken was desperately unlucky to have a befuddled Mutalith twice in a row (Arcane terrain really is the poisoned chalice - I love the scenery rules, and the tokens really help).

Yeah, that didn't help any. Losing two rounds of its crazy ability, that I could cope with. But two rounds of lost damage potential from melee? Plus having to leave it behind rather than continue to reap that regenerating source of magical energy with the Magister's Sacrifice ability was also annoying.

But to be honest, I lost it earlier than that when I didn't advance the Horsemen to the centre on turn one. It gave Stylus an early, easy lead in victory points, left me out of position and on the back foot, and I never made it back in. Even if I did roast the Megaboss in one simple turn.

If I'd rushed the middle line with the Horsemen, I suspect he'd have wiped them out easily with his Goregrunters. But then I'd have been able to engage them myself, rather than leaving him to double-deny my flank and leave my army unable to reach anything for a second round! By the time I got going, I was already overrun, and no amount of bonus daemons was going to pull me back from that. 

It was fun, though! Frustrating but fun.

I was expecting more of a magical barrage, especially from the Flamers, which never materialised. And aside from taking out the Megaboss, I didn't feel too pushed by the magical attacks either. Without ranged attacks whittling down the Ironjawz, it came down to combat punch, and I don't think the Disciples could compete (except for the Ogroid, who was his usual awesome self, and killed most of the Ardboyz himself).

The Warriors were stalwart but unimpressive - they do a reliable amount of damage and don't dent easily, so they made a good anvil for the Thaumaturge's hammer. Deadly though he was, I was still whiffing his rolls despite the Arcanum boost, and he should really have finished those Ardboys a turn earlier. I suppose they've earned their name, really!

Now if I can only find enough drawer space to accommodate a Maw-Crusha...


  1. Those Marauder Horsemen are such mainstays in our Skype duels that I have a subliminal urge to paint some.

  2. I won't leave home without them. How else can I protect my denied flanks?