On Friday the 13th JB and I clashed for the first time playing with 9th Age rules. Since I want to contribute to the development by sending in this battle report for balancing purposes, I will post this entry in English and add a section how we perceived the balancing of the units.
Once again we played at WahnZinn Stuttgart and agreed on using the rules in version 0.9.1 and playing 2000 points each.
- Cult High Priestess, Altar of Blood, Cult of Blood, Charm of Cursed Iron, Whip of Subversion
- High Sorceress, Shadow Steed, Level 4, Path of Black Magic, Dispel Scroll, Ring of Darkness
- Dark Master, Raptor, Battle Standard Bearer, Beast Commander, Hardened Shield, Sword of Strength, Dusk Stone, Heavy Armour
- 5x Shadow Riders, Repeater Crossbows, Shields
- 5x Shadow Riders, Repeater Crossbows, Shields
- 5x Shadow Riders, Repeater Crossbows
- 22x Blood Maidens, Full Command, Banner of Speed
- 8x Dread Knights, Full Command
- Hunting Chariot, Harpoon Thrower
- Hunting Chariot, Harpoon Thrower
- 5x Shadow Stalkers, Great Weapons, Poison
- Warlord, The Wicked Fist, Rockhorn Charm, Armour of Destiny
- Blood Shaman, Level 4, Path of Butchery, Talisman of Supreme Shielding
- Brawler, Battle Standard Bearer, Great Weapon, Frosthorn Cloak
- 10x Tribesmen
- 5x Tribesmen
- 4x Cannoneers
- 4x Cannoneers
- Hill Goblin Scratapult
We decided upon six terrain features. While I deployed two impassable feature on the flanks and one hill in the centre, in the hope of getting some cover, JB opted for three small lakes (the brown pices) to slow my advance and give his shooting more time.
For spells I got very lucky and rolled 1, 1, 5, 5. This allowed me to keep both missile spells and also take Moraec’s Fury and Crippling Agony, resulting in a well balanced selection. The Blood Shaman got Teeth Cracker (+1 T), Entrail Gorger (+1 S), Brain Slurper (panic test) and Troll’s Heart (4+ regeneration). The typical augment heavy setup of a Path of Butchery follower.
In the deployment it became clear early on, where the Ogres would make their stand, so I decided to surprise my opponent, by deploying my whole army while he had three drops left. With +3 on the beginning die roll, I then could vanguard aggressively and also place my scouts close to the enemy.
Then I rolled a ‚1‘, but JB only rolled ‚3‘ so I still got first turn.
1. Turn – Dread Elves
Movement: The Shadow Riders on the flanks each moved as far as they could. The Shadow Stalkers also closed the gap to the enemy. The Blood Maidens with the Altar of Blood did not move their full range, but stayed out of an too easy charge range of both Tribesmen units. The Chariots moved forward carefully as well, while the Dread Knights mainly measured the distance for the Sorceress to be able to cast all her spells. The last unit of the Shadow Riders moved up to the lake, ready to intervene in the next turn.
Magic: 3+1, no channels. I tried to cast the large Bolt of Darkness with four dice, but rolled 4+3+2+1 failing to reach the casting value by one.
Shooting: DThe Shadow Stalkers begin my shooting phase by scoring impressive three wounds on the Canoneers (Ø1,7). The remaining Shadow Riders fail to add any more wounds to that howver (Ø1,1). The Shadow Riders on the other side inflict one wound on the Canonners (Ø1, 1). The Hunting Chariots both miss their shot and the crossbows of the crew are not wounding anything either.
Close Combat: None.
1. Turn – Ogre Khans
Movement: Both Canoneers turn outward to be able to shot upon their nearest harassers. Frosthorn and Scratapult do some turning, while the Tribesmen carefully move backwards.
Magic: 6+3, no channels. Brain Slurper on Blood Maidens (6+3) gets through. Afterwards the Entrail Gorger on the Tribesmen (2+1) is dispelled with two dice (4+1). Troll’s Heart on the Tribesmen is then successfully cast (6+5+4), while the Teeth Cracker (two dice) is easily dispelled with four.
- Canoneers on Shadow Stalkers: One wound (Ø 2,3)
- Canoneers on Shadow Riders: Two wounds (Ø 3,9)
- Frosthorn crew on Shadow Riders: One wound
- Scratapult aims at the Dread Knights but misses and hits the Hunting Chariot instead without doing any damage.
- The heroes in the Tribesmen unit shoot on the Dread Knights, but fail to inflict a wound (Ø 0,1)
2. Turn – Dread Elves
Movement: I declare two charges both on the Canoneers, with Shadow Stalkers and Riders. The Stalkers only need a four, while the Riders manage their long charge on nine or ten. A single dangerous terrain test remains without consequence.
The other Shadow Riders do what they do best and block the movement of the smaller Tribesmen unit. Chariots and Blood Maidens once again proceed carefully. The Chariots move to get targets in range but also to be able to aid any unit in a close combat. I hope to break the canoneers on the charge and overrun into the tribesmen with the Stalkers. So the Dread Knights move quite freely forwards and in easy charge range in turn three. The Sorceress switches to the other Shadow Rider unit.
Magic: 6+5, no channels. Freezing Gale on the far Canoneers (6+5+4) goes through, deals two wounds and lowers BS by three. Moraec’s Fury on the Stalkers (3+2+2) is also successful. Both times Soul Thirst didn’t to a wound. Bolt of Darkness (6+1+1) is dispelled (4+3+2+1). Crippling Agony on Tribesmen (4+3) is also dispelled (6+4).
- Shadow Riders on Tribesmen: No wounds (Ø 0,4)
- Hunting Chariot on Canoneers: No wounds (Ø 1,8)
- Hunting Chariot on Scratapult: Three wounds (Ø 1,0)
- Shadow Riders on Scratapult: No wounds.
Close Combat: Four Shadow Stalkers attack and inflict four wounds (Ø 2,8), the Shadow Riders and their steeds inflict another two wounds (Ø 1,9). The remaining Canoneer kills two Riders (Ø 1,3). The Canoneers need to test on LD 5, break and are overrun. The Stalkers end up in the flank of the Tribesmen unit.
2. Turn – Ogre Khans
Movement: Some shuffling in the units. No charges and / or major movement.
Magic: 3+3, no channels. The large version of Teeth Cracker scores high with three dice but is dispelled with a dispel scroll. The second spell is then easily dispelled with dispel dice.
Shooting: The Canoneers naturally don’t hit much and fail to inflict a wound. The crew of the Frosthorn is too far away for both to shoot at anything except the Riders. Both miss their attacks. The Scratapult targets the Dread Knights again and this time scores a hit. Two lethal strikes kill two knights, the other wounds are saved by armour.
3. Turn – Dread Elves
Movement: Time to seal the deal. Dread Knights and Blood Maidens declare charges on the Tribesmen, while the Shadow Riders that would have been in the way attack the flank of the smaller Tribesmen unit. The cavalry is auto-in, while the Blood Maidens need a five and roll exactly that (thank you Banner of Speed).
Magic: 5+4, no channels. Another brutal phase for me. Moraec’s Fury on the Maidens (6+5+2) is dispelled with five dice. The large version of Crippling Agony (6+6+6+1) lands in miscast territory and costs two levels of my Sorceress as well as the remaining power dice. Soul Thirst does one damage on the Scratapult.
Shooting: The Shadow Riders both target the Frosthorn and inflict two lucky wounds. The first Hunting Chariot hits and wounds with the harpoon and inflicts three damage. The crossbows of the second Hunting Chariot finish off the monster.
Close Combat: The Cult High Priestess issues a challenge, the Warlord accepts. The Dread Elf has a whooping seven attacks and hits on 2+, scoring seven hits, then wounding two. The Warlord saves one with his Ward Save, but the Whip now denies him any attacks for the round. The three Maidens from the Altar then wound the Warlord three more times. The Tribesmen unit gets decimated by impact hits, 15 Blood Maiden attacks and the ones by the Dread Knights and Dark Master. In the end, only three Ogres and the Brawler can return attacks. Three Blood Maidens and one Dread Knight die. Breaking away from the combat the Ogres don’t see any path to victory anymore and JB surrenders.
I definitely caught JB by surprise with the new deployment rules.We both knew them before, but I think he underestimated the potential impact if someone gets +3 on the beginning die roll.
Additionally his army was not very well equipped to deal with my forces. He lacked any kind of chaff and therefore could not get a crucial charge with the Tribesmen, that could have been boosted by one of his many augment spells. Not taking a dispel scroll remains an unforgiveable mistake. The 3+1 magic phase in turn one, should have ended with him taking a 3D6 S5 missile and losing a large part of his Canoneers.
My charges in turn two certainly were pivotal as well, as I could break his Canoneers. Something that would not have been possible with only one unit completing the charge.
Units & Balancing
- The Altar of Blood together with the Cult High Priestess sure is a murderous combination. Thanks to the Altar, one doesn’t need to spend items on the personal protection of the Priestess, freeing up points for yet another unit buff (Charm of Cursed Iron or Ring of Darkness) for a unit that already benefits from hard cover (Blessing) and Magic Resistance (3). This reduces the core weakness of the Blood Maidens very much.
- Dread Knights: In 8th edition I already enjoyed fielding the heavy cavalry of my army. In 9th Age even more so, as they were reduced in price by 4 points per model and got a toughness increase as well. Now they are even tougher, still hit hard like a brick and thanks to the Beastmaster upgrade basically ignore the bad part of stupidity and are even more deadly in the first round of combat.
- Hunting Chariots: Regardless of the many positives of the Altar of Blood, the Chariots just seem plain overpowered to me. The crew shoots like two Shadow Stalkers (which cost 32 points), the Harpoon is certainly not worse than the Dread Reaper’s single shot (60 points) and fantastic versus T6 monsters. Additionally it is a highly mobile Chariot with a decent defense (T4, 4+) and superb impact capabilities (S5, scythes, light lances on S4 crew).
Albeit receiving some buffs, the Ogres still seem a little underpowered to me. Without the Frosthorn Cloak, they’ll more often than not be shred to pieces before getting the chance to hit themselves. Perhaps JB should have fielded Outcasts, Yetis and the likes to remedy this.
Blessings of the Dice Gods
I certainly was lucky, that my Shadow Riders survived the shooting in turn one and especially that none of my charges failed. Although I had two high magic phases out of three, I don’t think magic was too much in my favour, as many of my rolls were really low. The close combats basically went as expected.