Surrey Spartans Big Bad Escalation League – Month 1 List & Review.

    In a slightly desperate attempt to snatch the first point in my escalation league I’m writing this up now before one of the players – who is so organised that he has apparently written all his lists for the league already – emails me his first months submission. This post will also handily provide a good example of what I expect from each of the players so there won’t be any more confusion over format for submissions. I would ask that any submissions sent to me have the subject ‘Escalation League Month X List/Review/Battle Report/Fluff’, options deleted as appropriate. Any emails I receive under this heading will be considered final and errors found therein will be held against the owner. 

So now without further ado, behold, my brave bone warriors of the sands!

The Sandstorm – 2000 pts (Month 1 Submission)

Heroes (250pts)

Medulla Gogon (Hierarch) – General, Hierophant, Skeletal Horse Mount, Evocation, Ring of Fire – 250pts

Core (1020pts)

The Crazy Train – 3x Skeletal Chariots, Scoring – 290pts

High Aces – 3x Skeletal Chariots, Light Troops – 290pts

War Pigs – 3x Skeletal Chariots, Scoring, Standard Bearer – 310pts

Cowboys form Hell – 5x Skeletal Scouts – 130pts

Special (290pts)

Hell’s Bells – 3x Shabti, Paired Weapons, Standard Bearer, Champion – 290pts

Mason’s Menagerie (430pts)

Angel of Death – Colossus, Scales of Destiny – 430pts

Total: 1990pts

    I’ve chosen a heavy metal theme because when I eventually finish converting up my chariots and cavalry they’ll have a Mad Max theme going on, based of all the wonderful things from that full and thought provoking film series. And also it gives them a bad ass element that Undying Dynasties channel well. Metal and Undeath have that sort of timeless bond that is so rarely found in fiction. It makes both aesthetic and thematic sense while also appealing to my personal sense of awesome. Whether or not I can keep it up we’ll see, but I have plenty of source material.

    I appreciate I’ve created a list that as only got nineteen models in, and only two scoring units. Part of the problem for stems from only having about 30 skeleton infantry models and if I want to get WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) points in a month I’d either have to buy more later on or not run Necropolis Guard. Since option a) can be expensive and option b) would leave me without one of the best units in my list I decided to take the plunge and take limited numbers into the first month. Later on in the league I can switch the chariots to all being Light Troops and use them to harass and war machine/chaff hunt. This will mean that I’ll still have a use for them and they won’t fall by the wayside – and I don’t have to worry about my Core allotment. When I need a few more points I will most likely take either a second unit of Skeletal Scouts for a second Hierarch for bump up the current unit. I might consider a small unit of Skeleton Cavalry as a fast moving Scoring Unit for late game grabs, but this is less likely as I’d rather protect my Hierophant for obvious reasons!

    Since everyone would be bringing small forces (I hope) I’d be relying on impact hits to steam roll over enough enemies that the counter swing didn’t threaten my chariots which are accurately stat’d up for being made purely out of bone and prayer. The Shabti and the Colossus would obviously be my heavy hitters, hopefully scary enough to draw fire from my more fragile chariots while also weathering it suitably. With the Ring of Fire, the Scales of Destiny and the small amount of shooting on the chariots & skeleton scouts I am hoping to be able to force people to come to me – especially since I can reanimate my losses, putting attrition firmly on my side. This should let me get the first charge, importantly for my chariots, and then the big guys can weigh in and mop up.

    With no Pharaoh and only the Shabti to really fight off a decent sized block, I’d want to hold off getting engaged in combat for as long as possible except against dedicated shooting lists. Elves and Dwarves especially worry me, even with the supposed nerf to shooting. Crossbows and Handguns are the most fearsome thing for me this month, as S4 negates a bit of armour and Armour Piercing on top of that completely removes it from my chariots! Equally, repeating Bolt Throwers and Organ Guns spell doom for my small, specialist units but hopefully I can magic these away early, or present a more tempting target in the form of the Colossus which I can hopefully rebuild as I go.

    And so ends my example of what I want submitted for the league as far as lists and list reviews go! During the writing of this post the aforementioned Spartan managed to get his list in before I was done, so I have been denied the first point of the league – but he did provide some fluff, which I feel I should encourage. As of now, optional fluff is welcome and if I like it enough (not difficult to achieve) I’ll award some points, maybe an extra for best fluff of the month. Unsurprisingly, I’ve happily prepared an example below for how this can take form. My example is going to be a bit longer than expected, so for others I’ll only need about 300 words of creative genius:

                Medulla Gogon slunk out of the great pyramid to greet the sunrise as she had for four hundred long, empty years. Her King still rested, but the rituals must be observed. She stretched the long, sinuous form out before the sun, prostrating herself in apology that her King could not greet it himself. She’d been gifted her serpentine body by the first High Priestess of the Sandstorm centuries ago as a reward for her faith and loyalty. She’d considered it a curse, in life, but once the blessing of undeath had removed the shallow thoughts of appearance and finding lovers she’d realised how useful it was. Her sheer size intimidated many would-be treasure hunters and tomb raiders, and she could slither at the pace of most horses. Fresh bones littered the area around the royal pyramid from when her new form had proved its worth – fresh recruits for his Majesty when he rose. If he chose to.

                Medulla rose and prostrated herself seven times, utter the ritual words of repentance each time in accordance with the scriptures. She sighed as the sun continued to rise, apparently accepting her apology for the ten thousandth time. Both she and the sun seemed to have accepted her Pharaoh was not going to rise, and if he did they’d both be surprised. Her faith in Him never wavered; she knew He could rise. It was just whether she was worthy of His presence. She had been the least of his acolytes, and the least pious in when they’d last met. Why would He reward her with His awakening? She had resigned herself to this spurn, this rejection, within the first two centuries of her watch on the tomb. She had only a hundred more to bear before she could take her turn at resting.

                Bone scratched on limestone and echoes of sand whispering out from the pyramid entrance behind her. There was only other moving entity within the tomb, her King’s right hand lieutenant and commander of his personal guard. He was a dry and serious individual, even for the undead, and had been terrible company. But he was His Majesty’s right hand servant, and should be respected for that. Medulla did find it difficult at times, however.

                “Raiders come.” The two words resonated out with the certainty of the grave, the endless grasp of time reaching out over eons to sap life from anywhere it found it. They were the only two words he had uttered to her over the course of her Watch. All his other communication was pointing, nodding, head shaking or other non-verbal forms. He’d once left her a note in hieroglyphics displaying his patrol routes and schedule, but discussion and conversation were not part of his duties so he avoided them like the plagues of old.

                “Yes, Lord Phuc. They always do,” Medulla sighed again and turned to face her only companion during the Long Watch.

                “He will reward you for their severance.” Phuc’s impassive visage greeted her, the vibrant red and gold tattoos across his ivory skull and the wicked grin of undeath at odds with his sombre tone.

                “I am but a servant of His divine maje-“ Medulla replied by wrote and began to slither towards her antechamber to prepare, but her tired words were interrupted as Lord Phuc grasped her arms in his cold, dead hand.

                “You are worthy, Priestess Medulla. He will rise.” The empty pits of Lord Phuc’s eyes seemed to bore into her. “When this lunar cycle ends, so will His slumber. His legions begin to wake to prepare this world for His reign. You are His chosen herald. Take his vanguard and show these intruders His divine wrath.”

                Medulla’s eyes stretched wide, the leathery skin cracking as surprise and confusion. Was her King truly going to rise? Had Lord Phuc actually said all those words, or had she imagined it? Maybe the heat was finally getting to her after all this time, melting her mind even though it was meant to be safe in its burial jar. “Are you serious? I swear by the endless sands, Thkull Phuc, if this is your attempt at a joke I will scatter your bones so far that not even He will find them.”

                “I am always serious. Cease your blasphemy and go, spread word of His sandstorm.” Lord Phuc released her arm and span on one heel to march back into the pyramid, the myriad of blades on his back reflecting the morning sun like some celestial kaleidoscope. Screeching laughter burst out far below her and Medulla peered over the lip of the pyramid, thinking the raiders had already arrived. What greeted her was the most glorious sight she had seen in millennia.

                Chariots drawn by skeletal steeds burst forth from the ancient crypts at the base of the pyramid, skeletal horses clacking as they dragged their burdens in a circles while the ivory  charioteers’ laughter cut the air with its keening tone. Horseman rode in circles near them as three of the Shabti statues rose from their vigil, sand falling of them like golden water as they dug their way free. One of the chariots careened into them, shattering in a cloud of bone splinters and staggering one of the statues.

                Tentatively Medulla chanting, whispering as if afraid to be heard. The Rites of the Risen slithered from her throat, a vapour snaking its way towards the broken chariot and its crew. It disappeared, wrapping itself around the shards of bone and then fading from her view. Nothing. It remained broken, useless, a failure as so many of her previous attempts had been.

                A femur twitched, then a few vertebrae. All at once the chariot and its crew Rose, their bones fusing together and flying through the air as the steeds charged on. The chariot reformed, riders laughing as if nothing had happened. Medulla cried out to the sun and her King in thanks.

                The pyramid trembled in response. Medulla turned as a shadow fell across where she stood. From its perch atop the pyramid the aptly named Colossus stepped down from its post. It’s head tilted towards her and then it fell to one knee, ready to obey her instruction.

                Medulla would bring word of her King’s sandstorm, and she would do it gladly.

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