The year slowly comes to an end, but not my 9th Age games. On Saturday EM and I met for a 2000 points games. It was EMs first game, so list building took some time, but we were playing at my place and had plenty of it. We played with the 0.10.1 rules.
- Dread Prince, Fleet Commander, Ring of Shadows, Crimson Mail, Headman’s Axe, Gemstone Amulet
- Assassin, Nightshade
- Captain, Battle Standard Bearer, Beast Master, Raptor, Charm of Cursed Iron, Dusk Stone, Heavy Armour, Lance, Shield
- Oracle, Level 2, Black Magic, Elvish Horse, Dispel Scroll
- Oracle, Level 2, Black Magic, Elvish Horse, Shielding Scroll
- 22x Corsairs, Additional Hand Weapons, Vanguard, Full Command, Banner of Cleansing Fire
- 7x Dark Raiders, Repeater Crossbows, Shields
- 5x Dark Raiders, Repeater Crossbows, Shields
- 9x Dread Knights, Full Command, Banner of Speed
- Hunting Chariot, Harpoon Launcher
- Hunting Chariot, Harpoon Launcher
- 7x Raven Cloaks, Great Weapons
This time I wanted to be „on the charge“ as I suspected a range heavy Vermin Swarm. Being very sceptic of the ability I tested the Corsair’s vanguard option. The Knights should back up the charge, while the Raven Cloaks should already be in front. One unit if Raiders was tasked to transport the two Oracles, whose main purpose was magic defense with two scrolls, but could also get off that crucial Moraec’s Fury. The chariots complemented the army against heavy toughness targets and to provide additional oomph when crashing into existing combats.
- Magister, Level 4, Path of Ruin, Talisman of Supreme Shielding, Sceptre of Vermin Valour
- Chief, Battle Standard Bearer, Heavy Armour, Shield, The Lightning Rod
- Warp Tech Machnist (Rakachit Engineer), Level 1 Path of Ruin
- Warp Tech Machnist (Rakachit Engineer), some combat equipment
- Sicarra Assassin, Giant Blade
- 40x Vermin Guard, Full Command
- 40x Slaves, Musician
- 40x Slaves, Musician
- 20x Rats-at-Arms, Full Command
- Weapon Team, Rotary Gun
- Weapon Team, Globe Launcher
- 6x Gutter Blades, Scout & Ambush, Poison Attacks, Slings
- Plague Catapult
We rolled eight pieces of terrain. While EM set up two hills, centered in the deployment zones, I setup some impassable terrain (the buildings) on the flanks, for my Raiders to run around. In the centre EM placed forest, while I set up some small hills to provide the occassional cover.
For magic EM decided for a complete Path of Ruin magic, as we both thought, that Path of Disease lost a lot of power, while Ruin still has very potent spells. He got Defile the Ground, The Hunger, Storm’s Call and The Bell Tolls for the General and Black Lightning for the Warp Tech Machinist. I certainly would have liked the Bladestorm, but rolled 1 & 6 and 3 & 5. Deciding on the missile spell and swapping the other for Moraec’s Fury.
During deployment, EM decided to use his Gutter Blades as scouts and deployed his whole army in one fellow swoop. The catapult centered, the Slaves on the flanks, the random movers on the far flanks, a very symmetrical setup. I reacted by putting the Corsairs in the centre and only deployed from there on to my left side. The Chariots used the 90° turning trick to be able to barely climb the hill. EM deployed his scouts on my right flank, and my scouts stayed well out of normal random moevement values for the Dreadmill. This time I made sure, that even after turning he would still need a 16. My Assassin was with the Raven Cloaks. His was with the Vermin Guard. The Corsairs move aggressively forward, using the full twelve inches with vanguard.
Turn 1 – Vermin Swarm
Movement: The Dreadmill rolls 15. Phew, being extremely cautious with my Raven Cloaks paid off. He moves right up to my unit. The Abomination moves nine inches forward, slightly to the centre. The rest more or less stays, except for the weapon teams which move into range.
Magic: 4+2, both channel. Defile Ground (3+2) is dispelled (5+5+2). Lightning on Corsairs (4+3+1) fails to achieve casting value. The Bell Tolls (5+5) succeeds as I use my Scroll of Shielding. Two Corsairs die.
- Plague Catapult aims on the Corsairs but misses.
- Globe Launcher on Corsairs creates 14 shots, deals one wound.
- Rotary Gun on Corsairs uses 3D6 and creates 22 shots. One wound.
- Gutter Blades attack the Dread Knights: No Wounds.
- Dreadmill on Raven Cloaks, creates two shots, but only one wound.
Turn 1 – Dread Elves
Movement: At the beginning of my turn, the Skaven activate their Storm Banner, reducing my BS by two for the turn.
A fast game, just how I like it. I reveal my Assassin and Charge the Dreadmill with Raven Cloaks and Dark Raiders.
The Corsairs charge the Rats-At-Arms, needing a nine with Swiftstride. The Rats flee off the table, taking the Weapon Team with them as it also flees. We both were absolutely unsure if we played the rules correctly here, as EM did not have a lot of time to read the Vermin Swarm rules. Corsairs re-direct into the Slaves, now needing a ten and fail to reach it. I was not daring enough to charge the Vermin Guard as they could have easily gotten The Hunger in his phase.
The Oracles move up my left flank, the Chariot towards the centre hill (one on top of it). I position the other one to be able to charge the Abomination or the Scouts if they would move into range. The Dread Knights try to follow the Corsairs as quickly as possible.
Magic: 4+2, I channel. Moraec’s Fury on the Dark Raiders (6+5+2+1) is dispelled (6+6+5+4). The second Moraec’s Fury (5+4+1) is successful.
Shooting: The little shooting I have is without effect.
Close Combat: The Assassin and his Raven Cloaks eliminate the Dreadmill before the Dark Raiders can even attack. Unluckily I cannot overrun so the Dark Raiders reform in a way to allow the Raven Cloaks at least two inches of overrun.
Turn 2 – Vermin Swarm
Movement: The Vermin Guard charges the Corsairs, but they flee and land behinde the Dread Knights. Now the Gutter Blades attack the Corsairs, who now flee far to my left side.
The Abomination moves nine inches forward. The rest of the Vermin shuffle a little bit. The slaves turn a little towards the Dark Raiders and the Raven Cloaks and move further back.
Magic: 5+3, no channel. Black Lightning (6+5+1) is dispelled (5+4+4+2). The Hunger (5+4+1) on the Vermin Guard is successful (4+1). Defile the Ground directly before the Dread Knights is also successful.
- Rotary Gun creates 16 shots and kills one Dread Knight.
- Blight Catapult does two wounds on Dread Knights.
Turn 2 – Dread Elves
Movement: The nearer Hunting Chariot attacks the Gutter Blades, who flee. The Chariot follows with a failed charge.
Given that the ground before them is defiled, the Dread Knights retreat four inches back. The other Chariot moves in range to target the catapult. The Raven Cloaks and Dark Raiders make haste to get into a good firing position on the Slaves. The Oracles also move up, into 18 inch range of the Slaves and 24 range of the Vermin Guard.
Magic: 1+1, Dread Elves channel. Bolt of Darkness (6+6+4) on the Slaves. Only kills four slaves but the miscast is lucky to only kill two more riders. This is the kind of miscast you have to love… when playing as the opponent.
- Both Dark Raiders and Raven Cloaks shoot on the Slaves and manage to kill one
- The Hunting Chariot aims at the catapult, wounds, but does only one wound as well.
Turn 3 – Vermin Swarm
Movement: The Abomination moves another ten inches towards the Dread Knights. The Gutter Blades fail their rally test and stay barely on the battlefield. The Vermin Guard and the Slaves advance a little, the Rotary Gun as well. The other slaves reform to face the Dark Raiders and Raven Cloaks.
Magic: 4+2, both channel. Black Lightning (3+2+1) fails again. Storm’s Call is successful, but Defile the Ground is dispelled.
Shooting: Rotary Gun makes two wounds on Dread Knights. The catapult suffers a misfire and gets one wound, remains on one now.
Turn 3 – Dread Elves
Movement: The Hunting Chariot and the Dark Raiders both charge the Slaves. The Chariot needs a six and makes it easily.
The Dread Knights move forward and away from the Abomination. The Corsairs move towards the Abomination, trusting their flaming banner. While the other Chariot follows the first one to take the position on the hill. The Oracles move into a good casting position.
Magic: 5+2, no channel. Freezing Gale on the Weapon Team (6+6+1) kills it. But the miscast kill two Dark Raiders again. Here we didn’t know, that also D6 power dice would be lost. Moraec’s Fury (6+6+5) is a miscast again! Now the Oracle stand there without Dark Raiders and with only one wound each.
- Hunting Chariot shoots on Abomination but doesn’t hit.
- Raven Cloaks aim at the Catapult, but fail to do a wound.
Close Combat: I roll a ‚1‘ for my impact hits, but then manage to kill a lot of Slaves. But on the counter attack, they kill three riders. They hold on steadfast. Some more Vermin Guard die due to The Hunger.
Turn 4 – Vermin Swarm
Movement: The Abomination moves out of line of sight of the Corsairs. The other units turn towards my flanking units, especially the Vermin Guard, in order to be able to cast upon the Oracles.
Magic: 6+2, Dread Elves channel. Black Lightning on the Oracles (6+2+1). As he barely reached the casting value, I deemed it save to dispel with three dice, and then shutdown the magic phase with my Dispel Scroll. But I rolled 1+1+1. The spells easily kills both Oracles. Defile the Ground (6+3) before the Dread Knights is successful, as is The Bell Tolls (6+6+2), which kills two Dread Knights and does one wound on the Captain. The miscast is a small explosion which kills several Vermin Guard.
- The Catapult hits the Knights, but fails to do a wound.
Close Combat: The Dark Raiders and the Chariot once again do a great amount of wounds. The Slaves are no longer in range of the Magister and fail their break test on a steadfast six. The combat winners reform. Some Vermin Guard die to The Hunger.
Turn 4 – Dread Elves
Movement: The Hunting Chariot from the Slaves fight now charges the catapult.
The Raven Cloaks move far away from the Vermin Guard, trying to re-connect with the Corsairs. They are turning towards the Abomination, confident, that it wouldn’t be able to move out of their line of sight again. The Hunting Chariot also moves from the hill backwards to cover a wider angle towards the Abomination. The Dark Raiders move in front of the Vermin Guard to re-direct them towards the Vermin Swarm’s starting deployment zone. The Dread Knights also retreat to be near the Corsairs.
Shooting: The Raven Cloaks manage two wounds on the Vermin Guard.
Turn 5 – Vermin Swarm
Movement: The Vermin Guard charges the Dark Raiders. For some inexplicable reason I flee, thinking he has to follow me and his Magister would look in the wrong direction. But as I didn’t even measure, a re-direct was possible. He aims at the Corsairs, needs eleven and throws: Eleven! The Abomination also charges into the Corsairs, avoiding contact with my Dread Prince who is now bound by the Vermin Guard. The Slaves follow up with a march movement.
Magic: 5+1, no channel. Storm’s Call (2+2+3) is successful. Defile the Ground puts something in the way of the Hunting Chariot (6+6+1) but also causes the fifth miscast. Alas the Magister only loses one wizard level.
Close Combat: The Assassin of the Vermin Swarm reveals himself. First the Corsairs attack the abomination, but fail to produce a single wound. The Dread Prince fares better and makes short work of one Warp Tech Machinist and one guard. For some reason we don’t notice the extra attacks for the Sicarra Assassin. Also EM thought he only hits on fives (where he would have hit on fours) but I don’t notice, as we needed to speed up the game at this point. Additionally his rolls were really bad and luckily I could hold, with more than ten Corsairs still standing. Another three Vermin Guard are killed be the Hunger.
In the remainder of the match the Dread Elf Corsairs are supported by the Chariot and the Dread Knights in combat on my next turn. The chariot again does only two impact hits, but I am lucky to score two wounds with the attacks of the crew. The Corsairs deal also two wound, leaving the Abomination at one wound exactly. The Dread Knights are only three models, but easily dispatch of the other Warp Tech Machnist and the Chieftain, who could avoid the combat in the first round. The Dread Prince scores only one wound this time.
This turn we didn’t roll wrongly and EMs rolls were much better. The abomination kills both the chariot and together with the Vermin Guard all Corsairs. But now, The Hunger also depleted the Vermin Guard from their last additional rank, making my break test very managable.
In the last round of combat the Dread Prince and the Sicarra Assassin attack on the same initiative. I split my attacks: Three on the Abomination. I hit and wound all three and he saves two. One on the Assassin: I also hit, wound and he doesn’t save! The Assassin easily kills my general. The remaining knights kill most of the Vermin Guard and the few survivors are killed by The Hunger. At the end only the Magister remained facing my Captain, one Dread Knight and six Raven Cloaks and an Assassin ready to charge him as well.
I like some of the cleaner rules in the Vermin Swarm, compared to GW’s Skaven. The amount of extra special, only for this model special rules have been toned down and replaced by standard mechanisms. For example the Weapon Teams which now have two wounds instead of an situational saving throw.
Generally I still dislike the random movement rules. Being able to charge into units out of line of sight just seems wrong. Additionally it is really hard to guess how many inches the distance will be closer, after turning the model.
Units & Balancing
- Defile the Ground seems to be too good for that low casting cost. It basically kills one third of a unit (same as Final Transmutation) and can be placed, so that no one can avoid it when moving forward. Together with a range heavy army this spell is dirt-cheap-auto-include-no-brainer-cast-every-magic-phase-every-game. The other spells of Path of Ruin are quite flavourful but lack a little bit in raw power (except for The Hunger which is potentially game breaking)
- The new weapon teams were quite interesting and seem to have a good balance. The decision between two or three dice on the Rotary Gun is close, and EM used both modes.
- Ring of Shadows is still the most amazing item for the Dread Elves. Closely followed by the incredible Headman’s Axe which already has been nerfed in 0.11
- Vanguard on the Corsairs is not worth it. We don’t have other units that can follow fast enough (and fight) and Corsairs cannot stand a multi-charge from the opponent. Other non-fleetmaster heroes cannot be brought along so magical support is also very limited.
- The Abomination again seems to be a very strong choice, albeit T5 somewhat makes it more manageable.
Good and bad play
I think I played one of my best games here, until the mistake with the Dark Raiders. I could leverage the army-one-drop of EM by moving to one flank and positioning the Raven Cloaks against the Dreadmill, which they could more easily kill, than the Abomination. The Gutter Blades I could also ignore, as the closest unit could vanguard far away from it. With the Corsairs gone from the centre, I could not attack, but only bide my time, until the premature Hunger spell would have killed most of the Vermin Guard. I probably should have lost the game with his successful charge of my corsairs. When breaking I would have had a little chance to still break his Vermin Guard with a combo charge of Dread Knights and Chariot and the hope of a large casualty phase of the hunger.