All Blood, No Brakes: 4-1 with Blades of Khorne

by @aoscalvin

Spring time means new chances, new opportunities, and new means through which great carnage can be spread–so when the Charlotte Karnage GT was announced I knew I had to jump in. After spending 18 months playing Bonesplitterz to pretty good success (which you can read about here on the blog) but enough was enough–it was time to try something new, and after looking at my choices after a million damn books got released in six months I ended up on Khorne. The Blood God was with me at the tournament and I ended up 4-1, landing at 6th place and Best in Chaos!

Courtesy of The Mighty Meeple in Charlotte, NC

A Short Sales Pitch on Khorne

Do you love high speed ground circle management? Do you desire for slot machines that randomly commit MASSIVE carnage? Do you think that casting spells is for nerds that need to be knocked down a few thousand pegs? Then boy do I have the army for you!

Khorne, as an army, does not commit massive wholesale slaughter in explosions of debaucherous violence–oh no, that would be too simple. Instead, what Khorne does well is it grabs you by the throat and proceeds to beat you to death at its own pace, whether you like it or not. If you’ve ever thought, “I sure wish I could just walk into combat whenever I want and guarantee that we are going to fight” then keep reading.

A (Brief) History of Violence

So how does Khorne work? Well, let’s do a brief run through of the mechanics:

  • Blood Tithe: Any time a unit is destroyed (for ANY reason) or whenever you are successful on your Hatred of Sorcery rolls (a 5+ army-wide spell ignore) you get a Blood Tithe (BT) point, which can be used:
    • To summon Daemon units starting at 3 Blood Tithe for some Flesh Hounds and working all the way up to a whopping 10 points to summon the Bloodthirster of your choice, and/or;
    • Activate some pretty heinously powerful abilities at the end of EACH hero phase–I won’t list them all since the first four are the really important ones:
      • Murderlust (1 BT): Move up to 3 friendly units that are more than 3″ from enemy units D6″ each, and you can end that move within 3″ of enemy units–yes, you read that right. It’s real powerful, and makes this army work overtime.
      • Spelleater Curse (2 BT): Auto-unbind a spell during the hero phase, and you can’t use any more BT that phase. Real good.
      • Brass Skull Meteor (3 BT): Pick a unit, roll 8 dice, any 5+s are MWs. If the picked unit has 10 or models or a Wounds Characteristic of 10 or more, then it becomes 3+s cause MWs.
      • Apoplectic Frenzy (4 BT): Pick a unit within 3″ of enemies and it fights immediately–oh is Skarbrand pissed off and in fighting range? Sure would be a shame…
  • Murderous to the Last: when a Mortal Blades of Khorne model dies from melee weapons, roll a dice and on a 5+ something with 3″ of that models takes 1 MW.
  • Locus of Fury: Daemons have a 5+ ward when outside of 8″, and lose this ability permanently if they retreat, which you probably will never do with your big daemons, at least.

The theme here is that the army wants to be in combat, and make it as awful an experience as possible for your opponent’s army. Murderlust alone is worth the price of admission, as there are some times where you are just going to straight up steal games by preventing battle tactics by simply waltzing right into combat, thus preventing important charges by your opponent.

Credit: Creative Assembly–oh lawd, he coming

The List and the Choices

-Army Faction: Blades of Khorne
- Subfaction: Reapers of Vengeance
- Grand Strategy: Take What’s Theirs
- Triumph: Inspired
Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury (330)*
- General
- Command Traits: Firebrand
- Artefacts of Power: Halo of Blood
- Prayers: Bloodbind, Unholy Flames
Slaughterpriest (110)*
- Bloodbathed Axe
- Prayers: Bloodbind, Killer Instinct
Realmgore Ritualist (100)*
- Prayers: Blood Sacrifice, Bronzed Flesh
- Aspects of the Champion: Tunnel Master
Skarbrand (380)**
Bloodreavers (80)**
- Icon Bearer
- Hornblower
- Blood Chieftain
- Meatripper Axe
Bloodreavers (80)**
- Icon Bearer
- Hornblower
- Blood Chieftain
- Meatripper Axe
Bloodreavers (80)**
- Icon Bearer
- Hornblower
- Blood Chieftain
- Meatripper Axe
Mighty Skullcrushers (400)**
- Standard Bearer
- Hornblower
- Skullhunter
- Bloodglaive
Skullreapers (380)**
1 x Bleeding Icon (40)
1 x Skull Altar (0)
*Command Entourage
- Magnificent
**Battle Regiment
TOTAL POINTS: 1980/2000

Let’s go down the line:

  1. Reapers of Vengeance: Daemons get +1 to hit vs Heroes, and when an enemy hero dies you get 2 BT instead of 1
    • Most of the army is mortals, so why Reapers of Vengeance? Because Blood Tithe kicks ass, that’s why! Also because you really want Skarbrand Roaring vs units instead of Titantic Duel/All-Out-Attack.
  2. Why two prayers for all the priests?
    • Because this army lives and dies by prayers, all of which do something awesome:
      • Killer Instinct lets a unit do a normal move in the Hero Phase, which is especially sweet while Tunnel Master is still a thing (letting you teleport the Tunnel Master GC), which can sometimes set up a sweet combo with:
      • Bloodbind which pulls a unit 8″ towards the chanter, and that unit can end within 3″ of the chanter. Got a pack of Hearthguard Berzerkers inside their 9″ ward bubble? Not any more.
      • Bronzed Flesh is the prayer version of Mystic Shield, giving out a +1 to save, but it’s cooler because it doesn’t involve casting spells.
      • Unholy Flames add +1 rend to a unit’s melee weapons, which helps cracks tough nuts with high armor saves.
  3. Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury
    • He flies 12″, has a -1 to hit bubble for ALL enemy attacks within 8″ (shooting and melee), and even causes MWs to anything dumb enough to be within 8″ of him at the end of combat. Also he gives a non-hero Blades of Khorne unit a 3d6 charge. His combat is middling, but the Firebrand command trait makes him a priest, and the Halo of Blood makes him always fight first, which opens up important activation chains given that you want him to at least kill something before being dragged down. He is only 16 wounds on a 4+ save, after all.
  4. Skarbrand
    • Ah, Skarbrand. Possibly the angriest single thing in the universe, and boy did he get a glow-up–gone are the days of chain activating Skarbrand into putting out 48+ MWs in one combat, but instead he gained consistency. Whenever he fails to fight in both turns the previous round, Skarbrand gets PISSED OFF and gets to fight at his bottom bracket for the entire next round, where he has 8A/2+/2+/-2/3D on one axe, and then on the other you simply roll a dice and on a 1+ he deals 8 mortal wounds–and if you roll a 6 he deals 16 MORTAL WOUNDS instead.
    • While he can’t fly and only moves 8″, he has a built-in 3d6 charge, so combo him off with Killer Instinct and watch him absolutely maul things to death.
  5. Realmgore Ritualist and Slaughter Priest
    • They’re Galletian Champions and they are priests. All you need to know.
  6. Bloodreavers
    • 80pt screens that produce Blood Tithe. They’re great!
  7. Skullreapers
    • MVPs here: 10 of them represent 40A/3+/3+/-1/1D, which doesn’t sound like a lot, except on 6s to hit they do 1 MW in addition, and can carry Unholy Flames well. Give them a 3d6 charge and a hero phase move and they’ll reap skulls in no time.
  8. Mighty Skullcrushers
    • They are 5 wound cavalry with a 2+ Base Save–tough as nails and will pin anything you want into combat for however long you want to. I gave them Glaives for 2″ reach, but once one dies coherency no longer becomes a problem. They do impacts on the charge as well.
  9. Bleeding Icon
    • An undispellable Horrorghast effect–put a priest in the Skull Altar and double the summoning distance. Ended up useless for me, but there are great matchups for it.
  10. Skull Altar
    • Re-roll prayers while wholly within 8″, double invocation summoning ranges if you’re garrisoned in it, and cause D6 mortal wounds on miscasts instead of d3. It’s awesome! Don’t leave home without it.

A Quick Note on The Mighty Meeple and the TO (Mike Schlegelmilch)

The Mighty Meeple rules. If you’re ever in Charlotte, NC, stop in and enjoy it. One of the best venues I’ve ever been to. They also have a beer tap. Simply incredible.

As for Mike the TO, he ran a tight ship and even came out with a neat concept for player placed terrain. Basically, after rolling for Attacker/Defender, the Defender gets to pick between two different terrain maps to use, which made rolling off actually feel impactful! I am a big, big proponent of player-placed terrain, so this was a sweet idea that I am DEFINITELY not stealing for myself later on.

W = Wyldwood

A = Area Terrain

G = Garrisonable

I = Impassable

Round 1: Daniel Lake with Skaven on Prize of Gallet (27-4 W)

This was Daniel’s first ever tournament, so I was excited to be his first ever tournament opponent! Daniel was playing a traditional Skaven build of Thanquol + Stormfiends and some rats in between. Of note, there were no Bridges or Lauchon’s in his list.

I won the Attacker/Defender, and proceeded to place Wyldwoods between us to mitigate shooting attacks, even though the Windlaunchers ignore LOS anyway. Every little bit helps!

Being more drops than Daniel, he elects to let me go first and activates the center objective. Given that he turtled around his Gnawhole–and that Bloodthirsters just die to any amount of applied shooting–I go for a T1 Trial of Skulls (Kill 8 Models with Attacks) on my General. I chuck out the Bleeding Icon–fun fact, this is the ONLY time I used it–and drop it in the middle of all his rats, then hero phase move my Unfettered Fury up to get in position. I get on ALL the objectives, just barely touching them, and go in to charge his line. After some whipping and axing, a unit of Clanrats dies to battleshock and almost half of a block of 20x Stormvermin run as well. I score max and pass.

Daniel’s T1 involves him picking the Skryre Tactic of Shooting a Monster to Death with Skryre Units. Given that he’s got a Warlock Bombardier and 6 Stormfiends, and I have a Blood Thirster on a 3+ save (from Finest Hour), it’s a safe pick… right?

He gets More-More-More Warp-Power off, shuffles around a bit, but fails to get enough on the center objective to take it from me. We go to shooting and revs up the Ratling Guns and Windlaunchers and splits attacks–Ratling Guns into the Thirster and Windlaunchers into the Mighty Skullcrushers. He pops an all-out attack to negate the Thirster’s -1 to Hit/Bubble and the Bombardier eats a Warpstone token to hand out +1 damage–and the Thirster lives with 1 wound remaining against the Skryre onslaught! I also got quite lucky with the Skullcrushers, who managed to tank all their saves and come away undamaged. The Thirster dies in combat, but Daniel ends up scoring 0 for the turn.

I win priority into 2 and give Daniel the double turn. This is important because 1) I get to activate my Home objective to continue racking up the advantage and 2) his Stormfiend ratling guns are going to be out of range of anything in my army even after moving. He loads the Stormfiends back up with More-More-More Warp-Power, walks his entire army forward, and proceeds to shoot 1 Skullcrusher and 10 Bloodreavers to death. He caps the middle objective and scores Desecrate Their Lands thanks to Skitterleap.

On my turn, I pick Eye for an Eye. This is where the power of Khorne prayers come in–I use Bloodbind to drag Thanquol directly into combat and load up the Mighty Skullcrushers with Bronzed Flesh. After Murderlusting a few units around, I charge Thanquol (safe from his overwatch!) and his Clanrats, killing both units, netting me a heap of Blood Tithe and scoring 5.

I win priority again into 3 and this time I take the double, hoping to seal it. I pick Gaining Momentum on a Warp-Grinder. I load up Skarbrand with +1 Save and Killer Instinct him up, then use Murderlust him into combat with Stormfiends. Have I said Murderlust is ridiculous, yet?

Skarbrand kills 3 Stormfiends and the rest of his Stormvermin die to Skullreapers. Out of command points, he rolls a 6 on Battleshock and the rest of the Stormfiends runs. I score max.

At this point, we finish the round out and Daniel scores 1 point by keeping just enough alive on his home objective, but we talk it out from there. He was a great person to play and ended up with two wins, which is two more than my first GT experience!

Round 2: Joseph Hawkins with Mawtribes on Ours for the Taking (33-24 W)

Joseph is a club mate of mine–in fact, we rode up together to the event! We had a great time, but holy shit what a bloodbath this game ended up being. Tactics became loosey goosey in this one as we traded haymaker after haymaker.

I outdrop him and win attacker/defender, and set up the table where I can mitigate his charge lanes given my boy here loves his Stonehorns including two Frostlords. I also decide to go ahead and let him have T1, because getting doubled by Mawtribes is a surefire way to die.

He loads up a Stonehorn Beastrider with Molten Entrails, beefs up a Frostlord with Mystic Shield and in come the Monster Trucks. He–thankfully, rolled low on impacts on my Might Skullcrushers, and fails to clear the screen blocking his Beastrider from getting to Skarbrand. But, of course, he proceeds to roll a 13 on his Stonehorn rampage to Tokyo Drift behind Skarbrand.

The proceeding combat sees 2 Skullcrushers die and Skarbrand get put to 1 wound left–which is the best news because now Skrabrand is PISSED OFF. Skarbrand absolutely shreds the Beastrider and the Skullcrushers stay put. He scores max.

On my T1 I load up my Bloodthirster with buffs and hero phase move him out of my backfield. Murderlust sees my Reapers, Blood Thirster, and Skarbrand advance up. I take his back objective, killing a Tyrant in the process. Skarbrand saunters up to the Frostlord in my lines and does a casual 16 Mortal Wounds to him, which kills him outright even through his ward saves.

Credit: Creative Assembly–Like this, but with a Frostlord!

The next few turns get hazy from all the blood in the air. We trade blow after blow, and I more or less rely entirely on my Unfettered Fury to fly around capping his objective while my Skullcrushers and Skullreapers whittle him down. By the end of the game, all that remains on the board is a single Frostlord, my Unfettered Fury Thirster and a Bloodmaster I had summoned in. Absolute meat grinder.

Round 3: Tobias Kempf with Tzeentch on Nidus Paths (18-22 L)

Loathsome sorcery! Tobias is a great general and pilots Tzeentch well–and he was on Guild of Summoners. We were both the same drops, and he won the all-important attacker/defender roll and chose to be attacker. I set up the board to facilitate quick charges and he makes me go first.

T1 I have nothing but bad choices, as Nidus Paths is a VERY hard mission score tactics on T1. My only option is a Descrate their Lands, which I fail due to a redeploy. I load up Skullcrushers and chuck them immediately into his front lines, where he gets pinned in for almost 3 straight rounds.

Unfortunately, Tzeentch has ludicrously easy battle tactics, which ended up deciding the game. The details are hazy due to a combination of exhaustion and drinking (did I mention Mighty Meeple has a bar?) but here are the highlights:

  1. I rolled 25 Hatred of Sorcery Rolls (5+ spell ignore). I succeeded 3 times.
  2. He had an Ogroid Thaumaturge with Tuskhelm (impacts on the charge) which he burned 4 destiny dice to give him 12″ charges TWICE, and only did 5 MWs total with it.
  3. He won a priority roll that won him the game, which otherwise would have resulted in Skarbrand hero-phase fighting to kill a Lord of Change and his Ogroid, and then another LoC in regular combat.
  4. Be’lakor ate shit and died from Skarbrand.

We both ended up failing our Grand Strategies and scoring evenly on Primaries. Due to easy tactics, he scored two more than me and I lost. Tobias ended up winning the whole thing. On to Day 2!

Round 4: Justin Crain with Slaanesh on Position Over Power (28-16 W)

Justin was such a nice person and opponent–he’s been playing AOS for a couple months now after deciding to jump in to Hedonites of Slaanesh. Thankfully he was only playing 44 Blissbarb Archers–which more power to him, because just building one of those kits is hell.

I win attacker/defender and set the board up with wyldwoods dead center. He makes me go first and I decide well, screw it, I’m going to charge him T1. I load up the Mighty Skullcrushers with Bronzed Flesh and a 6+ ward and just stick them in at the Top of 1. Turns out Sigvald is way less dangerous when he can’t charge, and Blissbarb shots just bounce off when you’re on a 0+ save (Bronzed Flesh + All Out Defense). I use Tunnelmaster to put my Realmgore Ritualist on one of the flank objectives to score max and now the rest of my army is deployed forward.

On Justin’s turn he moves his Blissbarb Seekers (the mounted archers) to grab a flank objective. He manages to slip out a unit of Myrmidesh Painbringers to fight my General who I put dead center of the table and fails to kill him between shots and and a fight. Skullcrushers lose no models, and he only scores 4, scoring the battle tactic where he has to wound an enemy unit with 3 different units.

I win priority and continue to press the advantage–Skarbrand advances up and axes Sigvald to death while the Skullcrushers continue to hold the line. On Justin’s turn, to make up the points differential he runs his Contored Epitome (and only GC) to the flank objective to score Cunning Maneuver. Through these two rounds of combats, all he has left on his home objective are the 44 Blissbarb Archers and 5 Blissbarb Seekers.

I win priority again and pick Skarbrand to score Trial of Skulls. I load him up with buffs and commit both him and the Skullreapers onto the center objective wherein Skarbrand rolls a 6 on Carnage to deal 16 MWs to the Blissbarb Seekers, and then kill 11 Archers. Skullreapers follows up and kill 11 more. Blood for the Blood God, indeed!

At this point we talk it out, as I have enough Bloodtithe to fight at the end of his Hero Phase with Skarbrand to kill the remaining archers. They key to victory here was not taking the mortal wounds from Slaanesh’s Temptations–essentially, if you fail a hit/wound roll or a save roll, they can offer you a free 6 to replace the failed roll for D6 depravity points, or you take d3 mortal wounds instead. Since Skullcrushers HATE mortal wounds, I just kept feeding him depravity points since the -1 to hit from depravity points doesn’t matter at all vs Skullreapers (who get +1 to hit vs units with 5 or more models) and Skarbrand (who hits on a 2+ anyway and can easily overcome the -1), and with enough volume of attacks the 5+ ward Slaanesh can get from depravity only slows down the meat grinder instead of stopping it.

Round 5: Cory Bragg with Sons of Behemant on Jaws of Gallet (20-19 W)

I would like to go on the record to say Cory Bragg is my favorite opponent ever. Seriously. I’ve met hundreds of good folks in this community and no one has ever been more fun and more of a good opponent than Cory. Absolutely highlight of the weekend.

To that point, I’d like to talk about what makes Age of Sigmar fun, and that’s less the tactical minutiae and more the highs and lows of a match. So with that point, I’d like to give you a more cinematic take on this game.

Credit: The Mighty Meeple and Cory Bragg–BIG SKULLS

Cory makes me go first, and I maneuver my army to claim ownership of the objectives, putting my Skullcrushers dead center in anticipation of getting charged. Cory does exactly that, launching his General dead center to engage the Skullcrushers while his Mancrusher Gargants run to the edges to fight some poor, stupid Bloodreavers to the death. Thankfully the armor of the Skullcrushers holds fast against the towering Warstomper, and I win priority into two and decide to take it. Cory chooses the center objective to disappear, so now the Skullcrushers and Warstomper are fighting in the middle of the board over nothing.

Skarbrand loads up with buffs and decides the time is now–and charges the Warstomper General. Cory’s Gargant decides that Skarbrand is too dangerous to fight alone, so with his Monstrous Rampage the Warstomper suplexes Skarbrand behind himself into range of his Beast-Smasher friend, who headlocks Skarbrand into fighting last. The Warstomper attempts to stomp all over the Skullcrushers, but they refuse to budge and only one dies.

Skarbrand–who at this point is staring death in the eye and pissed beyond ALL comprehension–stands up, dusts himself off, turns to the Warstomper and proceeds to deal 16 Mortal Wounds and drop the General all the way to 4 wounds remaining. The Beast-Smasher took this personally and proceeded to smash out his 5d6 attack, and crushes Skarbrand to death in one shot.

Cory’s turn sees his Gatebreaker run around the Skullcrusher block while the Warstomper retreats to get the hell away from the Skullcrushers. The Gatebreaker charges the Crushers and piles-in to my General, who proceeds to live with only a few wounds remaining before retaliating with 15 wounds on the Gatebreaker, reducing his efficacy.

I win priority into 3 and take it, intending to drop the Gatebreaker once and for all. The Skullcrushers maneuever just outside of his two other Megas, while the Skullreapers line up to charge his Gatebreaker and are successful in making the charge, and drag him down! On Cory’s turn, a strategic Murderlust locks both of his Megas into combat, so now he has nothing to do beyond retreating or fighting the Crushers to death. His general retreats back onto his objective, while the Beast-Smasher fights but fails to kill the Crushers to a man.

I win priority into 4 and give Cory the Double Turn, pulling his back objective and leaving me with control over every remaining objective. The Gargants are pinned into the back, and from here we play a game of cat and mouse where I stay away from him and he fails to make key charges. What. A. Game.

Final Thoughts

Another 4-1, another 5-0 barely missed out on. I ended up in 6th, which is good enough for Best Chaos, my 4th Straight Best in Grand Alliance award and my first outside of Destruction. The list is a 5-0 list through and through, with the ONLY change I would make being getting rid of the basically useless Icon and replace them with Hexgorger Skulls to make the Tzeentch matchup a good one, which is also incidentally betting the hedges against Seraphon and Kroak’s nonsense.

If you’re interested in learning more about the army, feel free to reach out to me on Discord @ Calvin#6383, and I’d love to talk shop about the best Chaos god out there!

Credit for the cover image to Games Workshop

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