After a short break and the release of 9th Age 0.10 my favourite enemy SH and I met for 2400 points of Dread Elves vs. Saurian Ancients. In 8th edition, I could not win a single game versus the Lizardmen, so I was eager to get my first victory.

We played at SH, who has a slightly longer table, with 15,5“ of deplyoment zones. For terrain we used the 8th Edition Warhammer rules, meaning D6+4 pieces, alternate placing.

The Bleak Legion01-de

  • Cult High Priest, Cult of Nabh, Headman’s Axe, Crimson Mail, General
  • Exalted Oracle, Path of Black Magic, Level 4, Tome of Arcane Lore, Spout of Rebirth
  • Captain, Battle Standard Bearer, Fleet Commander, Hardened Shield, Sword of Strength, Dusk Stone, Heavy Armour
  • Oracle, Path of Alchemy, Level 2, Dispel Scroll
  • 6x Dark Raiders, Repeater Crossbows, Shields
  • 6x Dark Raiders, Repeater Crossbows, Shields
  • 29x Corsairs, Additional Hand Weapons, Throwing Weapons, Full Command, War Standard
  • Hunting Chariot, Harpoon Launcher
  • Hunting Chariot, Harpoon Launcher
  • Hunting Chariot, Harpoon Launcher
  • Dread Reaper, Repeating Shot
  • Dread Reaper, Repeating Shot
  • Dread Reaper, Repeating Shot
  • Hydra
  • Hydra

I was going for a shooting heavy list, with a devent character bunker, that also should be fast enough for attacks, thanks to the fleetmaster. The Hunting Chariots should provide the high strength shooting necessary for Cowboys or Monsters and also charge away the Skinks, if necessary.

Saurian Ancients02-sa

  • Cuatl Lord, Path of Heavens, Skull Splitter, Black Cube, Wellspring of Power, Telepathic Control, Shielded Soul, General
  • Skink Captain, Ancient Taurosaur, Sharp Horns, Spear of the Stampede
  • Skink Priest, Level 2, Path of Heavens, Dispel Scroll
  • 3x Snake Swarms, Scout
  • 3x Snake Swarms, Scout
  • 3x Snake Swarms, Scout
  • 12x Skink Hunters, Blowpipes
  • 12x Skink Hunters, Blowpipes
  • 12x Skink Hunters, Blowpipes
  • 12x Skink Hunters, Blowpipes
  • 3x Spearback
  • Ancient Taurosaur
  • Ancient Taurosaur, Engine of the Ancients
  • Stygiosaur, Poisonous Breath

SH thought basically the same: No close combat, just shooting, shooting and more shooting with a magic defense that is absolutely brutal. Even the big toad had to shoot with the Skull Splitter.

Terrain, Magic and Army Setup03-gelaende

With only five pieces of terrina not much was going on. Two forests, to impassable on the flanks and a hill in the centre. But once again SH used the terrain more cleverly than me, and took great advantage of the forests.

For spells nothing surprising happend. The Skink got the signature and the buff spells, while the Cuatl Lord did not take the Meteor but instead opted for the safe utility spells. With the Tome of Arcane Lore the spell selection for me was also basically free. I opted for Moraec’s Fury, Freezing Gale, Bladestorm, Mark of Fear and Bolt of Darkness. The Oracle got Molten Metal and Enchanted Blades. The Cuatl Lord chooses the dispel option for his Wellspring of Power discipline.


Once again the skinks made the first drops, revealing nothing of my opponents intent. I placed Raiders on the flanks as usual and one Chariot each. With his Spearbacks to the North and my first Hydra in the centre he placed all his dinosaurs to the south, a move I expected and could counter with medium success. Had I placed my corsairs to the centre, the game could have been a devastating defeat. SH then placed his scouts to great effect and to prevent a good vanguard. I retreated from the northern flank, knowing, that the game would be decided in the south.

Turn 1 -Saurian Ancients

Movement: The engine provides a 5++ ward save in 12“ bubble (the purple dinosaur). While the Cuatl Lord stayed with his Skink unit way back, the Taurosaurs moved forward, still being able to shoot their giant bows. The swarms, spearbacks, and skinks moved aggressively forward, even though, they wouldn’t be able to shoot anything.

Magic: 4+4, no channels. Thunderbolt (6+2+1) on a Hunting Chariot is dispelled (4+4+3+2). Lightning Storm (4 dice) is dispelled with the dispel scroll. Wind Blast needs a five but only scores four and fails.


  • Skink Captain shoots the Giant Bow on Chariot, but fails to wound.
  • Ancient Taurosaurus on Chariot: One wound.

Close Combat: None.05-sa1

Turn 1 – Dread Elves

Movement: I start the game with the first charges. Dark Raiders to the south charge the Serpent Swarm. Then I try to use the Spearback rules against them, charging with the Dark Raiders first, who are in hard cover (losing one rider), then charging with the Hunting Chariot. The Spearbacks flee. I charge the Serpent Swarm instead. The Chariot does make it (one wound due to dangerous terrain), but the Raiders fail.

The Hydras claim the centre hill, one moving exactly in range for the fiery breath on some skinks. The Corsairs move forward with maximum speed, but make a small curve to the north, as to avoid being double charged by the two Ancient Taurosaurs. My other units hold steady for shooting.

Magic: 4+3, both channel. All in all it’s 7 vs 5. Magic would be very hard for me. Bolt of Darkness on the nearer Skinks (5+2+2) is let through. The bolt however kills only four skinks, thanks to the ward save. The lore attribute fails to wound. Molten Metal (5+1+3) is dispelled (3+3+3) and for the Freezing Gale I roll too low (2).


  • Hunting Chariot on Ancient Taurosaur: Wound saved.
  • Hunting Chariot on Ancient Taurosaur: Didn’t wound.
  • Flame Breath on Skink: Four wounds.
  • All Bolt Throwers: No wounds.

Close Combat: The Dark Raiders and their horsed attack the Swarm. They deal eight wounds and the Swarm deals two. We forget the attack and the Swarm remains on one wound. The Hunting Chariot manages to only do two wounds with Impact hits. Another four wounds from the Crew and horses. The Swarm deals one wound and remains with three wounds. 06-de1

Turn 2 – Saurian Ancients

Movement: Snake Swarms to the North attack the Dark Raiders, who flee. The Stygiosaurus attacks the Dark Raiders‘ flank and gets in. The Spearbacks successfully rally.

The Skinks in front of the Hydra fail their march test and move into close range instead. The Skink Priest moves to the side. The more southern skinks move into the way of the Corsairs. The Taurosaurs retreat again or look for clean shots.

Magic: 3+1, no channels. Lucky me, the second magic phase is low. Lightning Storm (5+5+4+4) cannot be dispelled (4+3+1) and hits both Hydras. The first one suffers two wounds, the later one none.


  • Skink Captain fails to wound the Chariot again
  • Ancient Taurosaur on Hydra: One wound.
  • Skinks on Hydra: No wounds.
  • Skinks on Corsairs: One wound.
  • Cuatl Lord on Corsairs: One wound.

Close Combat:

Dark Raiders eliminate the Swarm, but are lucky and only get one wound from the Stygiosaur. SH gambles and keeps his breath attack beack. The gamble fails, as the Dark Raiders hold on six and even successfully reform. The chariot’s crew and horses mainly fluff their attacks, only doing one wound, receiving one in return. A win here would have been crucial, as it would have allowed me to charge the skink priest the next turn, and tar pit the northern Saurian forces for one more turn.


Turn 2 – Dread Elves

Movement: The two southern Chariots charge the Stygiosaur. The Hydras ignore the Skinks and instead march to the right and left of the Corsairs. The Corsairs continue their curved approach.

Magic: 3+3, both channel. No I am in range and target the Doombolt towards the Cuatl Lord and his skinks (6+6+3). Disaster strikes: I only manage to kill two skinks, but roll the dimensional cascade and kill eleven of my own Corsairs. Motel Metal (5+2+3) is dispelled easily.


  • Flame Breath from the Hydra on the Cuatl Lord manages to inflict two wounds (one on the general). Again the Ward Save proofed to be very efficient.
  • The Dark Raiders do one wound on the Skinks.
  • All Bolt Throwers: No wounds.

Close Combat: Neither Chariot nor Swarm do any damage. In the south, the Impact Hits (I once more rolled ‚7‘ after rolling the exact same on the hits for both Bolts of Darkness and Flame Breaths) alone are enough to kill the Stygiosaur. One overruns from the table, the Dark Raiders also (which most probably was a mistake, as they didn’t charge that turn) and the Chariot reforms.08-de2

Turn 3 – Saurian Ancients

Movement: Getting restless, the Spearbacks charge into the combat with the Chariot. The Skinks move up and around the hill, with the clear intent to wipe out the Dark Raiders. The Skink Captain charges the Dark Raiders.

Magic: 3+2, no channels. Low again, players do not seem to get good magic phases today. Thunderbolt on Hydra (6+2) is dispelled (6+4+1). Lightning Storm on Dark Raiders (possibly hitting three units), fails to achieve casting value (6+2+1). I though long about whether to dispel the Thunderbolt, but needing ten on three dice is by no way save, so it paid off.


  • Ancient Taurosaur on Hydra: Warded.
  • Spears from Taurosaur on Hydra: No wound.
  • Cuatl Lord fails to wound anything.
  • Both Skinks on Dark Raiders: Each two wounds. One holds.

Close Combat: The Chariot manages two wounds on the swarm and hold two armour saves on six. The Spearbacks manage to hold.09-sa3

Turn 3 – Dread Elves

Movement: The Corsairs charge the Ancient Taurosaur and thanks to the Fleetmaster the Corsairs make it. The Hydra charges the Cuatl Lords unit, but fails to reach it. The lone Dark Raider charges the Skinks and maintains a small chance to break the unit.

The Chariots and the other Hydra move forwards as best as possible.

Magic: 4+3, Saurians channel. Bladestorm (4+1) is dispelled (5+2), Moraec’s Fury (5+2) is not dispelled (4+1). Enchanted Blades are also dispelled.


  • Hunting Chariot on Ancient Taurosaur: Hits, but does not wound.
  • Hunting Chariot on Cuatl Lord: Ward saved.
  • Bolt Throwers finally come through and deal three wounds on the Ancient Taurosaur.

Close Combat: The Spearbacks make short work of the Chariot and deal five wounds. The Cult High Priestess with five attacks, hatred, strength eight and killer habits, also finishes off the Ancient Taurosaur quite easily with her Headman’s Axe. They reform. The Dark Raider manages to pull it off. On the charge he kills one Skink, while holding two armour saves, but the Skinks hold on three!10-de3

Turn 4 – Saurian Ancient

Movement: The Engine of the Ancients now switches to the magic support mode and chooses Heavens. The Skinks charge the lone Dark Raider, while the rest advances into shooting range where possible.

Magic: 2+1, no channels. Thunderbolt (5+5) on the Hunting Chariot deals two wounds. Windblast (6) is dispelled (4+3).


  • Skink Captain on Hunting Chariot: One Wound.
  • Skinks on Taurosaur on Hunting Chariot: No wounds.
  • Skinks on Taurosaurs on Hunting Chariot: No wounds.
  • Cuatl Lord and Skinks on Hunting Chariot: Three wounds.
  • Spearbacks on Hydra: Two wounds.

Close Combat: The Skinks wipe out the last Raider.11-sa4

Turn 4 – Dread Elves

Movement: The Hunting Chariot charges the Cuatl Lord, but is eliminated in the stand & shoot reaction. The Corsairs and the Hydras advance towards the enemy.

Magic: 4+1, both channel. Bolt of Darkness (4+3+1) is dispelled (6+6+1). Freezing Gale (3+1) does not meet the casting value.


  • All Bolt Throwers target the Skink Captain: No wounds.

Close Combat: None.12-de4

Turn 5 – Saurian Ancients

Movement:The Engine now powers up the Metalshifting Hits.

The Serpent Swarm charges the Bolt Thrower.

The Cuatl Lord leaves the Skinks as they try to re-direct my troops, but makes the mistake of being barely outside of 12“. Both Dinos face the Hydra. The Spearbacks and remaining Skinks move in range of the second Dread Reaper.

Magic: 4+1, no channel. Thunderbolt on (black) Hydra (6+1) scores one wound. Lightning Storm is dispelled.


  • Skinks easily eliminate the Bolt Thrower
  • Metalshifting fails to do a wound.
  • Javelins on Taurosaurs: No wounds.
  • Spearbacks on Corsairs: Five wounds.

Close Combat: Swarm eliminates the Bolt Thrower, takes one wound.13-sa5

Turn 5 – Dread Elves

Movement: The Hydra charges the Skinks, who flee in terror *yay*. The Corsairs also charge the Skinks, who need to flee again. Then both re-direct, the Hydra fails, but the Corsairs manage to charge the Ancient Taurosaur.

The other Hydra charges the Skink Captain on his Taurosaur.

Magic: 2+2, Saurians channel. Moraec’s Fury (4+4+2) is not dispelled (2+2+1).


  • Dread Reaper kills two Skinks with multi shot.

Close Combat: Cult High Priestess again eliminates the Taurosaur with ease. The Corsairs overrun, catching the Skinks how are already fleeing and therefore wiped out and land in the Cuatl Lord.14-de5

Turn 6 – Saurian Ancients

Movement: The Serpent Swarm charges the next Dread Reaper, after having overrun eleven inches in the last turn. The rest of the Saurian forces moves in, the Skink Captain turns around.

Magic: 6+3, no channels. Curse of the Westerlies (4+4+4) is dispelled (5+5+3+3+2). Blizzard (4+2+1+1) fails to reach casting value. Thunderbolt (2+2) also fails.


  • Spearbacks and Skinks kill the Hydra

Close Combat: The Cuatl Lord challenges but the Cult High Priestess declines. The rest of the unit easily dispatches with the Saurian General, still having Moraec’s Fury. The Swarm kills the last Bolt Thrower.14-sa6

Turn 6 – Dread Elves

Corsairs charge the Skink Captain. In the magic phase nothing happens, as the Exalted Oracle fails the Moraec’s Fury spell. Still the unit eliminates the Skink Captain.15-de6


Rule Set

This time we made a lot of rules mistakes. Partly because of our own failure, partly because the rules are very unintuitive. I marked the ones where I think the 9th Age team could improve with [9th]:

  1. Forgot the charge bonus of the Dark Raiders on the Serpent Swarm.
  2. [9th] Forgot, that the Dark Raiders cannot overrun. Actually it’s not that hard to remember, but when all others may do so, it’s not easy to spot the one unit out of three, who does not overrun.
  3. Played seven rounds instead of six.
  4. [9th] Used Breath Weapons on eight inches instead of six. Don’t know why I thought eight, but the six inch range is quite hidden within the rules text. Why does the entry not start with: Range 6“. Bla bla bla.
  5. [9th] My opponent forgot the +1 ToHit on Monsters for his Blowpipes. I don’t really get, why the army special weapon stats are not repeated in the entry of the unit itself. The way it is, you constantly need to swap through a lot of pages to get everything.
  6. [9th] Fleetmaster rules: As far as I can see, the Swiftstride gets lost, if other non-fleetmaster chars are in there. I think this is a really bad design and completely unintuitive. After all, even the Cuatl Lord gains Skirmishers, despite being a fat toad.

The other thing which is a MAJOR mistake is the non-stacking of numerical abilities. The first and gravest offender is Armour Piercing. Everybody expects it to stack, the whole rule set would support that much, much better than the non-stacking variant. Army books like the Dread Elves, which have special rules to grant Armour Piercing were majorly f*cked up, because this non-brainer got changed into a messy rule-hell. There are at least as many exceptions to this rule (Moraec’s Fury, Enchanted Blades, Masochism, Divine Blessings) as it is written. And I see no reason at all, why it shouldn’t stack. Now the Spears of the Dread Elves suffer, if somebody wants to play Cult of Yema, for no reason at all. The same is true for poison. There are only a few ways to grant extra poison, most of them are spells or abilities, which already have been worded as Poison(6) is improved to Poison(5). Why not let it stack? This would make the rules much easier. Some clever combinations may come up, and if they get out of hand, the skills granting an upgrade can still be made more expensive.


My last complaint (or maybe it is an oversight): Why can heroes without matching base get into a unit of skirmishers and then get the skirmish rule? Is this intentional, to have this opion? Having a Cuatl Lord in there, being hard to hit while simultaneously he could very easily flee anywhere seems wrong to me. The shooting have been changed (for the better) to make characters without matching bases much easier to hit. I think this is the exact opposite, as it doesn’t make sense. Why should a giant warrior be a nimble skirmisher, just because someone stands near him. It’s reasonable for matching bases, but not for non-matching. Other things come to mind: Rider attached to skirmishers is steadfast in forest, albeit has to take dangerous terrain tests when marching (doesn’t compute, is he now in advantagous terrain, or is he in terrain dangerous to him?).

Units & Balancing – Dread Elves Internal

  • The Corsairs are still completely underwhelming. Because they are no skirmishers, the cannot use their Throwing Weapons at all. The AHWs are not a factor versus strong opponents and versus weak opponents, the heroes in the unit will always make the difference, not the Corsairs. Their role does not match the perceived fluff of Corsairs/Pirates and I see absolutely no reason, why the design should cling to the 8th Edition S3, T3, AHW, TW, 4+ template. Give the option of AHWs to the Dread Legionnaires and be done with the Corsairs and make a meaningful unit out of them.
  • The Fleet Commander rules is messed up. Please allow other heroes to also get the swiftstride. Also: A Fleet Commander automatically gets Vanguard if within a unit of Corsairs that got Vanguard. Why should I ever pay 20 points to give him additional vanguard?
  • Dread Legionnaires with Spears and Chosen Cult of Yema are not an option anymore, because the rules for Armour Piercing are still crappy and unintuitive
  • Hydras are really strong, not in combat, but in drawing fire and weathering through it. However their low leadership confines them to the proximity of the general which nerfs them more than anything else, especially since their stats don’t hold up against any strong hero.

Units & Balancing – Dread Elves vs. Saurian Ancients

  • I don’t like that Wellspring of Power let’s you choose after seeing the enemies‘ list, so in my opinion it should be two abilities.
  • Increasing minimum size of Skinks Hunters to 12 isn’t changing anything. They were fine at unit sizes of 10. Hunters are not only re-directors, where you want to be cheap. Every hunter is also a very fast, hard to hit skirmisher, who can easily bring down anything without armour. So I think: The cost for a single Skink Hunter must go up, or they need less movement.
  • Serpent Swarms in Core is very nice. They present good tactical options and can block vanguard movements and threaten the backfield.
  • While the Ward Save bubble from the Ancient Engine is incredible strong, I think it’s still balanced by the costs of that model. However when I compare with the Altar of the Elves (a constant discussion, whether this is too good): The Altar only gives the save to one unit. Is not S6 or T6, has less wounds, and no telepathic link and less armour (but a ward save).

  • My opponent thought, that the Headman’s Axe is much too strong.
  • Hydras and Hunting Chariots felt also strong, but managable, to my opponent.
  • All over: Is the game generally balanced: Yes, from us both.




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