9th Age: Dread Elves vs. Saurian Ancients

Introduction

The christmas time brought me home and allowed me to fit in another game versus SH and his Saurian Ancients on 21.12.2015. As my car was already packed, I designed my army for easy transportability, which means a lot of infantry and my old altar which is ulgy, but also indestructible. We played 2400 points with the 0.10.1 rules and 8th edition terrain setup rules on SH’s table. His table is a little bit longer and features deployment zones of roughly 15,5 inches.

The Bleak Legion01-de

  • Cult High Priest, Cult of Yema, Altar of Yema, Ring of Shadows, Hardened Shield, Lash of Yema, Yema General
  • Exalted Oracle, Path of Black Magic, Level 4, Dispel Scroll, Obsidian Nullstone
  • Assassin, Nightshade
  • Captain, Battle Standard Bearer, Fleet Commander, Headman’s Axe, Crimson Mail
  • 10x Corsairs, Additional Hand Weapons
  • 10x Corsairs, Additional Hand Weapons
  • 25x Dread Legionnaires, Full Command, Banner of the Relentless Company
  • 11x Repeater Auxiliaries, Musician
  • 20x Dancers of Yema, Full Command, Banner of Speed
  • 5x Dread Knights, Champion
  • 6x Raven Cloaks, Great Weapons
  • 8x Dark Acolytes, Champion

This time I went all out infantry. I thought to advance in strenght, have the Corsairs guard my near flanks and get some Skinks into charging range. The Repeaters would follow and shoot some stuff or act as an emergency bunker for the Exalted Oracle. The Knights and Dark Acolytes were the swift hammer to get anything that is not a main combat block.

Saurian Ancients02-sa

  • Cuatl Lord, Telepathic Control, Higher State of Mind, Wandering Path, Obsidian Rock, Book of Arcane Power
  • Saurian Warlord, Glittering Cuirass, Starfall Shard, Shield
  • Skink Priest, Lore of Heavens, Level 2, Alpha Pteradon, Black Cube
  • Skink Captain, Light Armour, Shield, Serpent Bow
  • Saurian Veteran, Battle Standard Bearer, Armour of Destiny, Shield
  • 12x Skink Hunters, Blowpipes
  • 12x Skink Hunters, Blowpipes
  • 12x Skink Hunters, Blowpipes
  • 23x Saurian Warriors, Spears, Serpent Warriors, Full Command, Banner of Speed
  • 5x Skink Sky-Riders, Pteradon, Shields
  • 5x Skink Sky-Riders, Pteradon, Shields
  • Salamander, Spout Venom
  • Stygiosaur, Poisonous Breath

This time, SH fielded Saurian Warriors, to my surprise. Luckily he didn’t bring his shooting heavy dinosaur list from last time. He was gambling a little bit, since he didn’t include a dispel scroll this time.

Terrain, Magic and Army Setup03-deployment

This time I had a clear plan for terrain. With my army being the attacker and having close to none shooting, my plan was to make the battlefield as narrow as possible. I deployed impassable terrain from the lower to the upper side and took the narrow corridor with a complete army drop to get first turn.

SH reacted by playing avoidance nonetheless. His Pteradons would be able to fly over the impassable terrain and the Skinks and Cuatl Lord would be able to use the narrow gap on the lower end to move into my initial deployment zone.

However I had one ace, my Raven Cloaks deployed near the river to prevent any aggressive vanguard movement of the Pteradons.

The Saurian spells were Lightning Storm and Blizzard for the Skink. The Cuatl Lord’s spells were pre-assigned anyway, by virtue of his discipline. My Exalted Oracle got Moraec’s Fury, Freezing Gale, Crippling Agony and Bolt of Darkness. The combination of two damage and two non-damage spells has been very efficient in the past games and I had one double to make it happen.

Turn 1 – Dread Elves

Movement: My attack line consisting of Dread Knights, Dark Acolytes, Legionnaires and Dancers moves forward in the fastest way possible. Both casters made it into 18“ range of Pteradons and the Salamander. The Auxiliaries were blocked by the lake. The Raven Cloaks retreated to disallow a flyover maneuver and the Corsairs moved sidewards to protect my flank from Pteradon attacks.

Magic: 6+5, both channel. In the first magic phase a critically high magic flow was exactly what I needed versus a no-dispel-scroll magic defense. Large Freezing Gale (6+3+1) on the Pteradons went through and dealt two wounds. The Lore Attribute dealt one wound to the Salamander. The Dark Acolytes cast Bolt of Darkness on the Salamander (6+4+4+3), which is also uncontested. The Salamander dies and the Lore Attribute fails to do a wound. With four remaining dice I refuse to cast another spell versus his six and +5 defense, not wanting another miscast ridden magic phase like last game.

The Pteradons are panicked by the Salamanders death and flee. As the Skinks are behind them, they are jumping over and from the table. The Skinks hold their panic test.

Shooting: Some, but basically none.

Close Combat: None.04-de1

Turn 1 – Saurian Ancients

Movement: The reamining Pteradons cross the impassable terrain, but stay behind for a while, not wanting to risk a charge. The Skinks and the Cuatl Lord make their way towards the narrow gap between terrain and battlefield edge. The Saurian Warriors retreat 2“ and the Stygiosaur and the Skinks with hero advance into 18“ range for spells and Serpent Bow.

Magic: 6+1, Dread Elves channel. Lightning Storm (5+2+3+1+1) is dispelled (5+4+3+3+3). Light Spell with one die, is dispelled with two. The Fireball with one die succeeds and kills all but one of the Raven Cloaks. The remaining one does not panic.

Shooting: Serpent Bow doesn’t hit on five.

Close Combat: None.05-sa1

Turn 2 – Dread Elves

Movement: The main battle line advances as fast as they can. Meanwhile I take care, that no units could hide on the right flank of my altar unit. For my Dread Auxiliaries I clearly didn’t have a good plan and should have avoided the small lake altogether. The Corsairs moved to protect the flank and provide good attack zones to deny a fast approach of the Pteradons. The remaining Raven Cloak moved into the forest.

Magic: 3+1, Saurians channel. After some deliberation I decide on a 2/1 split and try the Bolt of Darkness (6+1) which is dispelled (6+3+2). The one die Freezing Gale (4) is also dispelled (4).

Shooting: Basically none.

Close Combat: None.06-de2

Turn 2 – Saurian Ancients

Movement: While the main force retreats from my battle line and positions the skinks half before the Saurians, the Skinks and Cuatl Lord continue to move towards the gap. The Pteradons make a risky move and get close enough to the Corsairs to shoot with all ranks.

Magic: 3+2, both channel. The Cuatl Lord tries a medium Fireball (3+1) which fails. The following Lightning Storm on my Corsairs (5+5+5+2) is dispelled with a Dispel Scroll.

Shooting:

  • The Serpent Bow fails to hit again
  • Pteradons on Corsairs do one wound

Close Combat: None.07-sa2

Turn 3 – Dread Elves

Movement: Once again, I cannot quite make it into combat with my main force, as Skinks and Stygiosaur keep moving away with 12“, so everything kept on moving forward with nearly full speed. Nearly because I didn’t want to get charged too easily by the Saurians. But the Corsairs of course try a charge. Stand & Shoot brought no results and the Corsairs get in.

Magic: 5+5, no channels. Another really good Magic Phase for me. Unfortunately I didn’t really plan ahead what I wanted to achieve. Freezing Gale (4+3+2) on Skink Hunters kills five or six Skinks. The Lore Attribute kills one more Saurus. Bolt of Darkness (5+2+2) on the same Skinks is then dispelled (4+3+3). Now I couldn’t target the Skink Hero with my next missile. So I cast Crippling Agony (6+1+1) on the Saurian Warriors, which wasn’t dispelled (2+1). The Lore Attribute kills another Skink. The Skinks hold their panic test.

Shooting: Basically none.

Close Combat: The Corsairs have 14 attacks and manage to do very impressive nine wounds (average would have been seven). The Pteradons suffer six wounds, returning three to the Corsairs. The Pteradons fail their break test (only double one could have saved them) and flee from the battlefield.08-de3

Turn 3 – Saurian Ancients

Movement: Stygiosaur and Skink Hero charge the Dark Acolytes, who hold. The Skinks move into the way of the Dancers, while the rest flees from my forces.

Magic: 5+2, Dread Elves channel. Blizzard on Dark Acolytes (3+1) is not contested (grave mistake on my part), Shadow Miasma (5+2) is dispelled (6+5+2+1), The Beast Within on the Skink Hero is successful, as well as Regeneration on the Stygiosaur.

Shooting:

  • Skinks on Dancers don’t manage a wound.
  • Skinks on Corsaris deal two wounds.

Close Combat: The Skink Hero manages to survive the Dark Acolytes attacks. The Stygiosaur also saves all wounds from the Dark Acolyte attacks. On the other side, the Saurians manage to kill three Dark Acolytes, sending them fleeing, but unable to catch them.

As the Skink Hero and Stygiosaur are now easy prey to my combat units and the Pteradons already gone, my opponent concedes the match at this point.09-sa3

Conclusion

Units & Balancing

The Corsairs as small units were intended to protect my flanks and kill any Skinks if I manage a charge. For this they are definitely strong enough and AHWs are very important there. However even in this role, where you would expect it, Throwing Weapons are beyond useless. They will never get to throw them, without being Skirmishers.

Dancers plus Altar seemed overwhelmingly strong in the eyes of my opponent. As this combination is not possible anymore in 0.11 other opponents of Dread Elves seem to have seen this the same way. I am still unsure. The altar wouldn’t have seen relevant combat for at least another and I already had favourable terrain and the Banner of Speed.

On the Saurian Ancient side, my last comments still apply, but were not present in this game: Cuatl Lord attached to skirmisher without matching base seems silly. Skinks as 12x units does not change their OP status.

Having the Oracle in the Altar unit is really cool as she can be pushed back and also benefit from the Ward Save. This way I could give my most important a massive MR(3) in addition to the Altar Blessings Save.

My opponent once again complained about the Lash and the Headman’s Axe. As they were severly nerfed, these issues should also be resolved.

Conclusion

This time the game was decided by a combination of small mistakes on my opponents part and the timely luck of a really good first magic phase and failed panic roll on the pteradons. This caused his chaff to crumble and allow my main force a straight up rush to his Saurian Warriors, the only unit that could not flee. However without this unit (and most SA play without Saurians), my infantry would never have gotten a relevant combat in the game, showing, that Skirmish avoidance still is somewhat too good.

 

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