9th Age: 2on2 Prerelease Bash

Introduction

In the past month the 9th Age project has evolved, re-evolved, changed, nerfed, buffed and generally re-worked any- and everything related to our beloved game. Now the time of stability with the 1.0 release is just around the corner. With the current rule set 0.99.4 no major changes are expected anymore, so my friends and I got together to battle it out 2on2 style.

Everybody from us brought 1500 points. We randomized the teams shortly before the match to disallow specific anti-builds and to shake things up. For team games we allow to buff friendly units just like the own ones and allow inspiring presence and hold your ground to affect those as well.

Everything else was just as described as it is in the rulebook. We even randomized all terrain features.

The Bleak Legion01-bleakLegion

  • Dread Prince – General, Headsmen’s Axe, Crimson Mail, Divine Icon, Lucky Charm
  • Oracle – Level 2, Path of Fire, Dispel Scroll
  • Captain – Battle Standard Bearer, Hero’s Sword, Dusk Stone, Shield, Heavy Armour, Fleet Commander
  • 25x Dread Legionnaires – Spears, Full Command, Banner of Speed
  • 12x Repeater Auxiliaries – Musician, Standard Bearer
  • 5x Harpies
  • Divine Altar – Altar of Yema
  • Hunting Chariot – Harpoon Launcher
  • Hunting Chariot – Harpoon Launcher

1500 points is really hard. With the changes throughout the iterations and the goal to make the „standard human“ a viable force in the game, the Elves had to be a lot more expensive, having Lightning Reflexes, more Weapon Skill and more Initiative. I decided to use the Legionnaires again as my main block, filling my core in the same time. The Auxiliaries are mainly there as bunker for the Oracle and chaff clearers. Additionally they can capture an objective with their standard. I tried the Harpies as chaff this time, as they are cheaper than the Dark Raiders and because I wanted to try something different. I considered Hunting Chariots a must, in case I play versus Beast Herds with lots of ambushers or versus a chariot heavy Vermin Swarm or Warriors list. For this I left the Dread Reapers at home. Magic was hard to decide, but Fire is excellent versus Vermin and versus Beasts and WDG also has access to Trolls and Barbarians. Only versus their heavy armoured Warriors, Chosen, Knights, etc. the S4 hits would not be effective.

Beast Herds02-bh

  • Beast Lord – General, Beast Axe, Crown of Horns, Hunting Call, Dragon Mantle, Talisman of Supreme Shielding, Heavy Armour, Shield
  • Soothsayer – Path of Shadow, Dispel Scroll, Soothsayer Staff, Ambush
  • Beast Chieftain – Totem Bearer, Mithril Mail, Battle Standard Bearer, Dark Rain, Paired Weapons
  • 25x Wildhorns – Throwing Weapons, Shield, Full Command, Ambush
  • 10x Mongrel Raiders – Ambush
  • 10x Mongrel Raiders – Ambush
  • 5x Feral Hounds
  • 27x Longhorns – Full Command
  • 5x Centaurs – Sober, Ambush, Thorwing Weapons
  • 5x Centaurs – Sober, Ambush, Thorwing Weapons
  • 1x Razortusk Herd

UK brought his wild Beast Herd with him. And they would be a nasty opponent. No less than five ambushing units. Dark Rain to weather the shooting in turn 1 and the hunting call to ensure those ambushers are there, when he needs them.

Vermin Swarm03-vs

  • Magister – General, Talisman of Supreme Shielding, Plague Patriarch
  • Sicarii Assassin – Amulet of Power, Tail Weapon, Lethal Strike, Multiple Wounds (D3)
  • Chief – Battle Standard Bearer, Dragon Mantle, Heavy Armour, Shield, Hero’s Sword
  • Chief – Dark Shard Brew, Mithril Mail, Halberd
  • 40x Vermin Guard – Full Command, Banner of Courage
  • 30x Rats-At-Arms – Standard, Musician
  • Rotary Gun
  • 3x Jezzails
  • 5x Gutter Blades – Poison, Slings, Scout and Ambush
  • Plague Catapult – Black Death
  • Dreadmill

EM’s list was quite clear: It would have a buffed up Vermin Guard, with two killy Chiefs and maybe the Sicarii Assassin in it. Additionally the catapult, Rotary Gun and Jezzails should ensure, that the enemy has to walk up to him. He could however get into problems with ambushing beasts.

Warriors of the Dark Gods04-wdg

  • Harbinger of Chaos – General, Mark of Pestilence, Shield, Wildling Blood, Sword of Strength, Dragon Mantle
  • Harbinger of Chaos – Battle Standard Bearer, Mark of Pestilence, Great Weapon, Path of the Fallen
  • 6x Wasteland Trolls – Mark of Pestilence
  • 5x Warhounds
  • 5x Warhounds
  • 5x Once-Chosen – Mark of Pestilence, Full Command
  • 22x Chosen – Mark of Pestilence, Halberds, Full Command, Banner of Speed

JB made use of the Wildling Blood mark and used an unit of Trolls to fill his core. This way he could field three absolute close combat monster blocks with only 1500 points. Albeit he had to forego magic to achieve that. A gamble indeed.

Terrain, Magic, Deployment

I rolled for the complete terrain and we had a battlefield with something of everything. A small ruin, impassable terrain, some forests and many hills.

Teams got up next. The Gods of Chance decided, that the Vermin Swarm and the Warriors of the Dark Gods would team up to create „Team Pestilence“. The Dread Elves and Beast Herds had to remain healthy and created „Team Medicine“.

For deployment nothing spectacular came up: Usual line deployment with Hold the Ground as secondary objective.

Spells:

  • The Soothsayer rolled Glimpse of the End, but naturally switched that for the Shadow Miasma.
  • The Magister rolled Breath of Corruption twice and Mass of Flesh. He changed the double to Cleansing Infestation and the Breath for the signature spell Pestilent Miasma.
  • The Oracle rolled Flaming Swords and Burning Ramparts, switching the later for the Fireball.

No real surprises here, I got lucky to get the Flaming Swords, the one spell I definitely preferred to all others. Apart from that the signature spells were quite clearly the ones for which the specific paths were chosen. While Team Medicine had plenty of backup with up to four Totems, Team Pestilence would have to act very tactically to get through a spell that would matter for that turn.

Medicine won the roll for the side and chose the side with more hills. Pestilence deployed first and deployment went on very slowly. Pestilence had no intention to claim the first turn, neither had Medicine. Additionally everybody wanted to get their main pieces like Assassin, Dread Prince, Jezzails, Dreadmill and Chariots at the best location. Shortly before the end Pestilence dropped everything to still get the +3 bonus. Pestilence rolled a ‚1‘, but Medicine only a ‚3‘ so Pestilence started the game.05-deployment

The Sicarii Assassin hid in the unit of Vermin Guard. The Dark Shard brew granted them Lightning Reflexes, but also killed five rats.

Team Pestilence – Turn 106-pest1

Movement: Basically the army remained still, while the vanguards and scouts moved forward. The Once-Chosen shifted slightly to let the trolls pass. The Dreadmill was very slow, only five inches. The Magister and his rat escort move forward to be in 18“ range for casting. The Gutter Blades moved into 9“ range of the Harpies.

Magic: 2+2, Medicine channels. Always nice to have a double, when you want to cast only one spell. Cleansing Infestation (6+4+3+2) scored high, but was dispelled with a Dispel Scroll.

Shooting:

  • Dark Rain falls heavily on the battle field. The vermin can barely make out their targets.
  • Dreadmill successfully prevents itself from striking the trolls.
  • The Plague Catapult aims on the Repeaters but has a malfunction. The Catapult cannot shoot this and next turn.
  • Gutter Runners use their slings on the Harpies: One wound.
  • Rotary Gun aims at the Feral Hounds: One wound.

Close Combat: None.

Team Medicine – Turn 107-med1

Movement: The game was about to get into full swing now. It started with first turn charges: The Feral Hounds wanted to take revenge on the Rotary Gun, but it fled. They redirect into the Jezzails. The Jezzails use stand & shoot but have to hit on 7+. They inflict one wound to themselves. Afterwards the hounds need an eight, but don’t manage the charge.

Now all the ambushers make an appearance. Using the rerollable 3+ to get onto the battlefield, all ambushers do so. The Centaurs immediately move into short range for their throwing weapons, while the Mongrel Raiders and Wildhorns remain still for now.

On the other side of the table, the Razortusk places itself to make an easy charge on the hounds. Only a successful march test on LD 4 would move them out of charge range. The Hunting Chariots move in a way to still be able to shoot the Dreadmill, but without any real risk of being charged (16 and 17 would have been necessary). The Dread Legionnaires make use of their swiftness and move right up to the Trolls, taunting them to attack. The Altar tries to catch up, while the Longhorns are somewhat more careful and place themselves so that the Chosen and Vermin Guard would both need a ten to charge them. The Harpies fail their march test and so can barely block the Warhounds. The Repeaters do a quick reform and face towards the hounds and bring the Oracle in position to cast a fireball on the Gutter Blades.

Magic: 3+2, Medicine channels. A good result to get that Fireball through. I opted against the risky large version and instead used four dice on the medium one targeting the Gutter Blades (5+3+2+2), with that low roll Team Pestilence had the chance to dispel it, but fearing the Flaming Swords the spell is let through. After the Fireball one Gutter Blade is still standing, so the Raging Fire is needed which kills of the last one. The Flaming Swords are then easily dispelled.

Shooting:

  • The Repeater Auxiliaries shoot on the Warhounds: Three wounds.
  • Centaurs on Jezzails: Two wounds.
  • Centaurs on Once-Chosen: No wounds.
  • Wildhorns on Chosen: No wounds.
  • Mongrel Raiders on Vermin Guard: Five wounds.
  • Hunting Chariots on Dreadmill: No hits.

After shooting the Jezzails flee from the Centaurs toward the centre. The Warhounds also flee from the Repeaters.

Close Combat: None.

Team Pestilence – Turn 207-pest2

Movement: Team Pestilence bets on some lucky dice in their charge phase. The Trolls are auto-in, but the Chosen and Vermin Guard both try to charge the Longhorns on a 10+, which both do not manage.

The Rotary Gun is outside of any inspiring presence and flees from the table. The Jezzails manage to rally. The Warhounds instead flee further away.

The Dreadmill overcame it’s slow first turn and moves ten inches towards the Hunting Chariots.

The Once-Chosen now see the error in their ways and turn around to face the ambushers, alas one turn too late.

Magic: 3+3, Team Medicine channels. Mass of Flesh on Vermin Guard (6+5+5) is successful. Pestilent Miasma (6+5+3) is also not dispelled (5+3+3+2). Two Vermin heroes get one toughness via lore attribute.

Shooting:

  • Dreadmill on Hunting Chariot: Two wounds.

Close Combat: The Dread Prince immediately shows what his Axe is made of and deals four wounds to the Trolls. His second in command the Battle Standard Bearer cannot compete and fails to do a wound. The Legionnaires inflict three more wounds. Four Trolls are still there and kill seven Legionnaires. They lose the combat by two, but remain in the fight.

Team Medicine – Turn 208-med2

Movement: Team Medicient went berserk and the ambushers all smelled blood:

  • The Hunting Chariot charges the Trolls (auto-in)
  • Altar of Yema charges the Trolls (auto-in)
  • Longhorns charge the Vermin Guard (need 7+ and make it)
  • Centaurs charge back of Rats-At-Arms (auto-in)
  • Wildhorns charge catapult (auto-in)
  • Razortusk charges Warhounds (auto-in)

After the charges, the other Centaurs run into the way of the Chosen to re-direct them if necessary.  As the catapult is round, the Wildhorns align themselves, so that they would be able to overrun into the Vermin Guard. Repeaters and Harpies face the centre and the second Hunting Chariot moves backwards to shoot on the Dreadmill once more.

Magic: 1+1, no channel. Luckily for us, we only wanted one spell: Flaming Swords on the Longhorn together with the Blessing from the Altar was our plan to win the combat. The Raging Fire targets the Chosen, but fails to do any damage.

Shooting:

  • Mongrels on Chosen: No wounds.
  • Mongrels on Chosen: One wound.
  • Centaurs on Chosen: No wounds.
  • Repeaters on Chosen: No wounds.
  • Hunting Chariot on Dreadmill: Two wounds.

Close Combat:

  • The Feral Hounds do two wounds on the Jezzails, while receiving none in return. The Jezzails flee and are caught. The Feral Hounds overrun into the Vermin Guard, pinning the Assassin in place.
  • The Razorgor receives one wound from the Warhounds, but deals two wounds itself. The Warhounds flee, and are run down by the boar.
  • The two chariots only do five impact hits combined. The Medusa rolls triple one on wounding. Nonetheless the Trolls are still wiped out before getting the chance for another attack. The Hunting Chariot overruns, while the Legionnaires face the Dreadmill.
  • The Centaurs do not receive a wound from the Rats-At-Arms and deal five themselves. The Rats-At-Arms remain steadfast, but cannot reform to face the Centaurs.
  • Wildhorns deal two wounds on the catapult, the crew flees and the Wildhorns overrun, but not far enough to reach the Vermin Guard.
  • In the most important fight, the Sicarii Assassin challenges and the Champion of the Longhorns accepts. The Assassin makes short work with him and deals six wounds, which transfer into +3 overkill. The two Vermin Swarm Chiefs deal three wounds on the Longhorns, but the Vermin Guard has a bad day and only manages one more kill. The Longhorns and the heroes focus on the unit and collectively deal fourteen wounds. The Vermin Guard is not steadfast, breaks and is run down.

„The squeaking of dying rats rings in the ears of everybody on the battlefield, while the Longhorns shout their victory with loud cries, if they can after gorging on the tasty rats. Koralek, the Dread Prince wipes of the acidic Troll blood from his Axe and looks around. He immediately sees that the opponent is broken. Wedged in between the Beasts ambush and his elvish forces they don’t stand a chance and know it. The Yema Altar still looms across the battlefield and even from the distance he could still see the giant Beast Banner moving about, while the Centaurs made fun of trampling over fleeing rats, their weapons already put away in favour of their pocket flasks…“

Result, Big Plays, Dice Gods

Seeing no road to victory anymore, Team Pestilence conceded the game after the Vermin Swarm lost most of their troops.

When seeing the lists of all players, I imagined this game would be a close one. But a lot went for UK and myself. First thing was the lack of Dispel Scrolls on the other side. This way we could already push throught in turn 2. With a scroll, the enemy would have been to create a much better result in the Vermin Guard vs. Longhorn fight, as the regeneration save would have been intact.

The second thing was a mistake in planning ahead on our opponents part. The Chosen were clearly the best unit on the battlefield, but did little to advance or get into the fight. The Pestilence turn 1 was crucial here. By staying behind the two main blocks allowed the Medicine troops to advance aggressively, without generating a secure distance for charges in turn 2. If shooting is much better you can do that, but with the large amount of ambushers, it was clear, that Medicine needed to connect those two army parts at some time. Additionally the Warhounds were wasted in their roles. With so little leadership and no war machines to hunt, they could have run interference right in the centre and prevent charges of the Feral Hounds on Rotary Gun and Jezzails. The last and perhaps most crucial mistake was to not turn around at least one strong combat block to immediately be able to attacks ambushers in the turn they arrive. The Once-Chosen could have prevents the Wildhorns from appearing where they did. A chariot would of course have been perfect to chase away Centaurs and Mongrel Raiders with impact hits.

The Dice Gods keep smiling on me, however this was mainly the successful charge on 7+ of the Beast Herds. In the fight, the Longhorns were lucky to receive less wounds than expected. If breaking their steadfast would not have been an option, our strategy would than have been to try to kill the two chieftains, of which the chances would not have been that bad. Magic was quite low for both parties. Their rolls have been better in general, but because they had only three spells, it did not matter too much for us, as we had two Dispel Scrolls. On the other side, we could get through one spell each turn, as expected. With a high magic phase the second turn could have been a total disaster, as four totems plus Shadow Miasma could have been possible.

How did my tropps perform? The Altar was great as ever, I now realise the biggest advantage of it: You can forego the ward saves on your characters and gear them fully towards armour or killyness. The Dread Legionnaires were rock solid as ever. Harpies didn’t do much and failed a march test, but would have been great in turn 3, as they could have redirected the chosen as second time. Hunting Chariots were not that great against the Dreadmill (but seriously, for 140 points you get: T6, Impact Hits, Grinding Attacks, Lightning Shooting, even into close combat and a 360° charge possibility?), I probably should have placed them elsewhere. Path of Fire once again was superb, an Oracle in these low point games is also great as the Master of Dark Arts has more effect.

9th Age 1.0 promotion

The release is finally there! The 9th Age project will move the armies into a more stable phase and see how the playstyle of armies will evolve. A perfect moment to adress other players to start playing 9th Age without having to deal with monthly rule and army changes.

For this I got recruited to join the „Content Team“ with my little blog. For the release I prepared four articles, have fun reading and even more playing the game:

  1. The Battle Report of a 2on2 clash with three friends of mine. 4×1500 points of pure awesome.
  2. Fiction: Read my attempt at writing a short story about the latest battel between Warriors of the Dark Gods and Vermin Swarm versus Dread Elves and Beast Herds.
  3. A Dread Elf army review, somewhat geared towards new players or table toppers switching from other games to 9th Age.
  4. A discussion/interview with my very good friend SH about the state, development and outlook of his favourite army the Saurian Ancients. Expect some heated discussion there.
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