9th Age: Empire of Sonnstahl & Dread Elves vs. Dwarven Holds


Once again we managed to activate three players of our group and therefore created a 2vs1 scenario. An Dwarven Hold army of 3200 points fought against the unlikely alliance of Empire of Sonnstahl and Dread Elves. In players it was SS versus SH and myself.

We played with the official 9th Age 0.11 rules and for the first time included the secondary objectives. For terrain we once again used the old 8th Edition rules.

The Bleak LegionDSC_5738

  • Captain, Fleet Commander, Hardened Shield, Sword of Strength, Lucky Charm, Heavy Armour, General
  • Captain, Battle Standard Bearer, Fleet Commander, Heavy Armour, Shield, Repeater Crossbow, Dreadfleet Standard
  • Assassin, Dispel Scroll, Additional Hand Weapon, Nightshade
  • Assassin, Ring of Shadows, Additional Hand Weapon, Nightshade
  • 28x Dread Legionnaires, Spears, Full Command, Banner of Speed
  • 10x Corsairs, Additional Hand Weapons, Throwing Weapons
  • 10x Corsairs, Additional Hand Weapons, Throwing Weapons
  • 12x Dancers of Yema
  • Dread Reaper, Repeating Shot
  • Dread Reaper, Repeating Shot
  • 10x Raven Cloaks, Great Weapons

Empire of Sonnstahl

  • Prelate, Horse, Barding, Star Mace, Winter Cloak, Hardened Shield
  • Prelate, Horse, Barding, Shield, Dragonhelm, Anti-Magic Crystal, Dusk Stone
  • Captain, Horse, Barding, Battle Standard Bearer, Shield
  • 9x Electoral Cavalry, Full Command, Banner of the Stallion
  • 9x Electoral Cavalry, Full Command
  • 9x Knightly Order, Full Command, Aether Icon
  • 5x Reiters
  • Heavy Artillery, Volley Gun
  • Heavy Artillery, Volley Gun

This time we went all crazy and didn’t bring any wizard at all. Just two of the new dispel scrolls and the Icon as Banner to dispel better. Having freed so many points by not bringing any Oracles, I decided to try the Dread Fleet Standard. My huge combat block of Legionnaires should profit from it, while the Corsairs where there to provide cover for my BSB. The Assassins should provide the necessary combat prowess, which my two Captains were lacking. SH fielded all Cavalry to quickly ride across the battlefield and put pressure on the gunline we were expecting.

Dwarven Holds

  • King on Shield Bearers
  • Master Engineer
  • Runic Smith
  • Runic Smith
  • Thane, Battle Standard Bearer
  • 20x Greybeards, Full Command
  • 20x Clan Marksmen, Musician, Handguns
  • 10x Clan Marksmen, Musician, Handguns
  • 15x Seekers, Skirmishers
  • Field Artillery, Cannon, Engineering Rune
  • Tunnel Artillery, Organ Gun, Engineering Rune
  • Vengeance Seeker
  • Vengeance Seeker
  • 20x King’s Guard, Full Command, Runic Standard of Dismay
  • Bomber
  • Steam Copter
  • Steam Copter

The Dwarves set up their army with a dangerous King capable of delivering seven attacks with S6. Enough to scare away all opponents, while still being guarded by his Kingsguard to annihilate any possible opposition. Otherwise the army was well balanced once again. A lot of distraction in the form of flying copters and bombers, Seekers and Vengeance Seekers to distract the opponent, and Miners to ambush the backfield. Greybeards and Hold Guardians to stop the enemies advances.

Terrain, Magic and Army SetupDSC_5739

All in all terrain was equally distributed to create two nearly identical halves. My team chose the side with the extra small forest and the Dwarves took the opportunity to deploy everything at once to secure the first turn. SS deployed his units in a straight battle line with the shooting concentrated around the Organ Gun on the hill and a strong flank on the side with the objective (one of them was in the centre, the other on the upper flank on the pictues, behind the building).

SH and myself took longer to decide where to put our units. In the end we decided to defend the upper flank with the shooting of two Volley Guns, covered by the forest. My infantry would take the centre route and hide in the cover of the forest against the Dwarven shooting. The light and heavy cavalry, together with the scoute should take the lower flank and allow a flanking maneuver to destroy the battle line of the Dwarves from the side.

All bound spells meant no dice rolls for that.

Turn 1 – Dwarven Holds

Movement: While the Dwarven regiments only took a slow advance movement (if any at all) the distractors went to work immediately. The Steam Bomber made a bombing run over the Reiters, killing two of them. However this put the Bomber in a precarious situation, so the Steam Copter on that side moved forward to prevent a charge on the Bomber. The Vengeance Seekers advanced behind the Copters. The Seekers moved forward to the lower flank to prevent the Knights from just marching wherever they want. The exception to the Dwarven Regiments were the Forge Guard, which moved full steam ahead into the centre forest.

Magic: 6+2, no channels. Rune of Resolve on Kingsguard (5+2) is banned (3+2+2). Rune of Resilience on Greybeards (6+3) is successful. Rune of Oaths (1) fails. Rune of Gleaming (6+2+2) is dispelled (6+5+4).


  • Organ Gun on Volley Gun: 10 shots, no wounds.
  • Master Engineer improves the range of the Clan Marksmen.
  • Clan Marksmen on Volley Gun: 3 hits, no wounds.
  • Other Clan Marksmen cannot shoot: No targets in range.

Close Combat: None.

Turn 1 – Empire of Sonnstahl & Dread ElvesDSC_5740

Movement: The Assassin with the Dispel Scroll reveals himself inside the unit of Raven Cloaks. They charge the Steam Copter, as it cleverly blocks the route to the Bomber, only needing a low result, they get in easily. The other units (Reiters, Electoral Cavalry in Blue) do not charge after some deliberation.

Instead the Reiters move into the way of the Vengeance Seekers to deny them a charge on the Raven Cloaks. The Electoral Cavalry with the BSB moves as far as possible behind the Raven Cloaks. Having no other choice the Legionnaires move forwards as quickly as possible by using their banner. Face to face with the Forge Guard they reveal the Assassin to get the cover bonus from the Ring of Shadows. The Corsairs with the BSB try to keep close, but fall behind a little bit. The Knightly Order with the Prelate and the red Electoral Knights cover the flank, but stay so, that the Seekers could not overrrun into them. The Dancers of Yema stay back, moving slightly behind, while the second Corsairs turn around to intercept any ambushing units.

Magic: 5+1, no channel. Ullor’s Blessing on Reiters is successful. Ullor’s Blessing on Knightly Order is successful as well.


  • Reiters on Seekers: Two wounds.
  • Volley Gun on Kingsguard: 18 shots, 4 wounds.
  • Volley Gun on Kingsguard: 10 shots, 1 wound.
  • Both Dread Reapers use multishot on Kingsguard: 3 wounds.

Close Combat: The Assassin alone finished off the Copter with ease. The Raven Cloaks overrun into the Vengeance Seeker.

Turn 2 – Dwarven HoldsDSC_5742

Movement: One unit of Miners arrives from their ambush. They pick the best spot outside of the Corsair’s line of sight and range.

The Seekers charge and connect with the Reiters, losing one Dwarf to stand and shoot. The Bomber makes another bombing run, this time targeting the red knights and kills two of them. The Clan Marksmen in the centre hold, while the Hold Guardians and Greybeards now advance, while the Kingsguard turns towards the lower flank. The Forge Guard moves backwards. The remaining Steam Copter and the Vengeance Seeker advance far on the upper flank.

Magic: 4+3, no channels. Rune of Resolve on Kingsguard (4+3) is dispelled (6+4+2). Rune of Meddle (6+4) on Greybeards is successful. Rune of Gleaming (6+5+5) is dispelled with the Assassin’s Dispel Scroll (we were worried, that the Assassin won’t survive the fight anyway).


  • Organ Gun on Legionnaires: Malfunction, only two wounds.
  • Bomber on Knights: No wounds.
  • Clan Marksmen on Dread Legionnaires: Two or three more wounds.
  • Forge Guard on Knightly Order: One wound.

Close Combat: The Assassin and the Seeker attack simultaneously. The Dwarf splits his attacks and hits the Assassin only once. Doing two wounds in total. The Assassin quickly disposes the Vengeance Seeker. The Raven Cloaks reform. The Seekers wipeout the Reiters. The following panic test, manages to panic the Raven Cloaks (despite BSB nearby). To make matters worse: They flee nine inches. It’s only some millimeters but clear: The Cloaks flee the battlefield.

Turn 2 – Empire of Sonnsthal & Dread ElvesDSC_5743

Movement: Time for the unlikely alliance to attack. The blue knights charge the seekers (successfully), the red knights charge the Clan Marksmen (failed), the green Knights charge the Clan Marksmen (successfully, stand & shoot kills one knight) and the Dread Legionnaires charge the Forge Guard (successfully, stand & shoot doesn’t deal a wound).

The Corsairs wheel to face the Miners. The Dancers of Yema are between a rock and a hard place. They can’t get a good secluded move behind the building and are threatened by the Steam Copter. In the end we decide to sacrifice them by moving directly before the Vengeance Seeker and prevent him from charging the Volley Guns. The second Corsairs with the BSB just followed the legionnaires to be as close as possible and inside the forest.

Magic: 1+1, no channels. Ullor’s Blessing with two dice is dispelled with the Dispel Rune.


  • Corsairs with Throwing Weapons and both Dread Reapers on Miners: Three wounds.
  • Volley Gun on Hold Guardians: 14 shots, 10 hits, 6 wounds.
  • Volley Gun on Hold Guardians: Malfunction, 12 shots, one wound.

Close Combat:

  • Knightly Order and Prelate deal only four wounds on Marksmen and the Master Engineer. The Marksmen hold on steadfast.
  • Dread Legionnaires kill all but one Forge Guard. The dwarf breaks and the elves decide to reform.
  • The Electoral Cavalry with the BSB diminish the Seekers to only five models. The Seekers kill three knights and don’t break as they are unbreakable.

The fact, that the Knigthly Order failed to break the Clan Marksmen was a major setback for our ambitions. This way the Kingsguard would be able to flank the knights. One tiny way out remaind: The Prelate and his crushing attack could kill the Dwarven King if the dice favoured us.

Turn 3 – Dwarven HoldsDSC_5744

Movement: Time for the Dwarves to do some charging. The Greybeards and the Vengeance Seeker both successfully charge the Dancers of Yema. The Kingsguard obviously charged the side of the Knightly Order. The Miners and Hold Guardians both charged a Volley Gun, but the dice were not on the Dwarven side. Both failed, with the Miners having a really short distance.

The Steam Bomber managed a bombing run over the red knights (no wounds). The Steam Copter placed itself right in front of the Volley Gun. The Marksmen on the upper flank wheel towards the centre and move forwards.

Magic: 6+5, Dwarves channel. Rune of Meddle (4+2) is successful. Rune of Reckoning (5+5+3+2) is dispelled with our second Dispel Scroll. Rune of Gleaming (4 dice) is dispelled with six dice.


  • Steam Bomber on Corsairs: No wounds.
  • Steam Copter on both Volley Guns: No wounds.

Close Combat:

  • The Dancers use Sword and Shield and deal three wounds, while Seeker and Greybeards deal four. The Dancers flee but manage to get away.
  • The Seekers lose three Dwarved while killing two knights. They remain unbreakable.
  • The Prelate being the only attackable model challenges the Dwarven King, who accepts. The Prelate barely survives and is dealt two wounds. His crushing attack hits, wounds, is not saved and deals two wounds as well. The remaining Kingsguard annihilates all but one knight. Before that the knights killed two more Marksmen. The Knights are still steadfast and remain in combat.

Turn 3 – Empire of Sonnstahl & Dread ElvesDSC_5746

Movement: After long deliberation the Dread Legionnaires opt for the safer option and charge the Marksmen, not the Kingsguard. The red knights again fail their charge roll. The Corsairs successfully charge the flank of the Miners.

The Dancers of Yema successfully rally and face towards the enemy. The Corsairs re-align themselves in the forest and move the BSB closer to the fight to make sure his banner will remain active for the Legionnaires.

Magic: 3+3, no channels. Ullor’s Blessing on blue knights (6+5) is successful. Sunna’s Blessing (4+3+2+1) is dispelled (6+5+4).


  • Volley Gun on Vengeance Seeker: 22 shots, 8 hits, 3 wounds. Dead.
  • Volley Gun on Hold Guardians: 18 shots, 10 hits, 3 wounds. Dead.
  • Both Dread Reapers on Steam Bomber: One wound.

Close Combat:

  • The Corsairs make short work of the Miners and annihilate them.
  • Blue knights kill one Seeker. The Seekers remain unbreakable.
  • The Dwarven King’s shield bearers kill the Prelate before he can make his crushing attack. As the Kingsguard kills the last remaining knight, they are now not in contact with the enemy anymore. We were really unsure with the rules in this situation. After reading the rules we concluded, that they are no longer in the fight and count as having won the combat.
  • The Dread Legionnaires kill six Clan Marksmen and lose two Elves. The Marksmen need to test on four (rerollable) and manage to stay in the combat.

Turn 4 – Dwarven HoldsDSC_5747

Movement: Having dropped out of the combat, the Kingsguard once again joins by charging the last remaining Knights. The Greybeards try to charge the Volley Gun, but again a charge fails.

The Steam Bomber makes another bombing run (I think on the red knights) but without any success and lands beside the Corsairs. The pilot of the bombers weathers the terrain and the copter does not take damage. The Marksmen move forward towards the centre to be able to shoot on the Corsairs. The Steam Copter aligns itself for a perfect shot on the rallied Dancers.

The second unit of Miners appears on the battlefield.

Magic: 5+3, Dwarves channel. Rune of Resilience on the Greybeareds (4+3+2) is successful. Rune of Resolve on Marksmen (6+5) is successful. Last spell is dispelled with five dice.


  • Organ Gun on red knights: No wounds.
  • Steam Copter on on Dancers: Four wounds.
  • Clan Marksmen on Corsairs: No wounds.

Close Combat:

  • The blue knights kill the last seeker.
  • Legionnaires kill six Marksmen and don’t lose anything. Once again the Marksmen show amazing courage and stand on the roll of three.
  • The King kills the last green knight. Once again the Kingsguard cannot overrun and therefore drops out of combat.

Turn 4 – Empire of Sonnstahl & Dread ElvesDSC_5748

Movement: The unlikely alliance does not declare any charges. Instead the Corsairs retreat a little bit. The red and blue knights make hast to get to the centre. The Dancers once again prove their courage by getting in the way of the Greybeards. The Corsairs get into throwing weapon range of the Steam Copter.

Magic: 6+4, Dwarves channel. Ullor’s Blessing on blue knights. Volund’s Blessing on blue knights creates a miscast and is lost.


  • Volley Gun on Miners: 18 shots, 9 hits, 8 wounds.
  • Dread Reaper on Steam Bomber: No wounds.
  • Dread Reaper on Steam Bomber: No wounds.
  • Volley Gun on Steam Copter: 8 shots, 2 hits, no wounds.

Close Combat:

  • The Legionnaires dispatch the remaining Clan Marksmen and reform to face the Kingsguard.

Turn 5 – Dwarven HoldsDSC_5749

Movement: Kingsguard charges the Dread Legionnaires. Greybeards charge the Dancers of Yema. Both units hold and both charges are successful.

The Bomber flies over the Corsairs and kills four with his bombs. The Marksmen move closer.

Magic: 4+3, Dwarves channel. Rune of Reckoning on Kingsguard (5+5+4+2) is successful. Rune of Metal (4+3+2+1) is dispelled (5+5+4+2).


  • Steam Bomber on blue knights: No wounds.
  • Organ Gun has double six and receives one wound.
  • Steam Copter on Corsairs: Hits all and deals five wounds. The Corsairs panic.

Close Combat:

  • The Greybeards have no trouble with the remaining Dancers, who opted to use Flails, trying to kill as many as possible. One Dancer remained, fleed and was not pursued.
  • The Dread Legionnaires, under the Dread Fleet Banner and with Assassin and Captain in them took a wide formation before, trying to kill as many Kingsguard as possible to reduce the number of returned attacks, even neglecting the Runic Master in the front row. They managed to kill eight, leaving only five rank and file models. However the Dwarves showed what their Rune of Reckoning is worth and killed no less than thirteen Elves. The Legionnaires ran… and once again the Dwarves revealed themselves as bad pursuers. The Elves got away.

Turn 5 – Empire of Sonnstahl & Dread Elves

Movement: The red knights charge the Organ Gun successfully.

The Dread Legionnaires and the Corsairs rally successfully, while the lone Dancer kept on fleeing.

The blue Knights now split up. The BSB moves aggressively towards the Marksmen, trusting in his armour to carry him through. The other knight placed himself as redirector between the Kingsguard and the Dread Legionnaires.

Magic: None.


  • The Assassin and the Corsairs in the forest on the Kingsguard: Two wounds. This made us realise, that the heroes inside the Kingsguard are now very much hittable by our ranged shooting.
  • Volley Gun on Kingsguard: One wound to Kingsguard, one on King.
  • Dread Reapers on Kingsguard: No wounds.
  • Volley Gun on Kingsguard: Malfunction, two shots, one hit on King. Not saved: The King is dead!

Close Combat: The Electoral Cavalry has no problems with the Organ Gun and reforms after wiping them out.

Last TurnDSC_5751

Dwarven Turn: The remnants of the Kingsguard charges the blue knight, kills him and overruns out of the sight of the Legionnaires. The Marksmen do their best and try to shoot down the BSB, but his rerollable 1+ armour proves to be too good. The Greybeards finally make a charge and wipeout the first Volley Gun, overrunning into the second one. The Copter tries to shoot down the Corsairs, but this time their armour serves them better.

Empire and Elves Turn: The red knights and the BSB get into close combat and send the Marksmen fleeing. The knights easily catch the Dwarves and wipe them out. The Volley Gun dies to the attack of the Greybeards. The Assassin and the Corsairs kill another Kingsguard.


Game Deciding Moments

Many! The game went back and forth and back and forth and back once again. First turn looked really good. Catching the Steam Copter early, then surviving the Vengeance Seeker. Then the Raven Cloaks panicked and I already lost hope. Shooting the same: One turn the Volley Guns nearly wiped out the Hold Guardians. Then the Dread Reapers failed to kill the Steam Bomber for two turns straight.

Most deciding was the successful flee of my Dread Legionnaires, I think. With this unit wiped out, the Kingsguard would have been able to chase away my Corsairs and claim the centre objective. On the other hand, as successful charge of the red knights could have broken the Marksmen in turn one, making the Kingsguard face three combat blocks at once.

All in all it was a fantastic game, that was open until the last Volley Gun shot, from the malfunctioning Volley Gun (6+1+1) actually killed the King.

Rule Set & Balance

We totally overlooked that Scouts are now 18“.

Balance wise the game seemed really fair.

Dwarven Holds: The Vengeance Seekers, Seekers, Steam Copters and Steam Bombers were really scary. Once more the „distraction“ part of the Dwarves proved to be really strong. The Clan Marksmen remained to be underwhelming, very much possible due to the fact, that they had to move around too much. A standard gunline setup would surely favour those.

What was lacking for the Dwarves was of course charge ranges and I like how that is a true weakness in an otherwise very durable and strong army. Yes, the Dwarves can march swiftly now, but they still need to defend something to get the charge or live with being charged.

On the Empire side, the Volley Guns were total nuts. Using 3D6 instead of 2D6 makes them much, much more devastating, than the Dwarven Organ gun. Having to charge those without heavy cavalry or some total cheap units (like Vermin Swarms can field) isn’t something I would like to do. In retrospect, the Steam Copter maybe should have charged one of the guns to ensure the Hold Guardians would get there. The Electoral Cavalry and the Knightly Order however proved, why the Empires guns are feared and not their human fighters. Their stats and armour seems impressive, but against anything remotely elite (and I count Dwarves among them), they just do not hit often enough. Comparing these to the Reiters, which can have some really cool upgrades and create a ton of hits on impact, I know what I would fear more.

The Dread Elves didn’t reveal any surprising news for me. The Assassin remains a beast, both in ranged and close combat, but could have easily been killed by the Dwarves. You don’t get that much fighting ability that cheap anywhere else. I like how Dread Elves are able to counter some of the „my general kills your whole army“ setup, just by being there and having a chance to get some wounds through. The Dread Fleet Standard is probably only good in larger games. Buffing one unit of Legionnaires is underwhelming and having to take a whole unit to babysit isn’t really nice either.

Playing without any wizards: Sure was interesting, but not something I would repeat. Perhaps if the Non-Dispel-Scroll-Scroll would not count towards a points limit you could add it to a hero. Otherwise you lose too much potential in a character just to carry around this item, losing almost all points you otherwise would have had by bringing a level 2 with dispel scroll. Having no spells to buff my units also hurt.


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