After being alienated by the release of Age of Sigmar, the final 1.0 version of 9th Age brought SR back into my playgroup. Welcome back, mate! As we had yet another public holiday in Germany (seriously folks, May is just the best month here), it was time to have our 9th Age premiere.

We decided on 2000 points with the normal ruleset. SR brought his Vermin Swarm to stand against my Bleak Legion.

The Bleak Legion01-de

  • Dread Prince – General, Headsmen’s Axe, Potion of Swiftness, Crimson Mail, Lucky Charm
  • Captain – Battle Standard Bearer, Mithril Mail, Icon of the Relentless Company, Halberd
  • Assassin – Path of Silent Death, Nightshade, Paired Weapons
  • Oracle – Path of Wilderness, Level 2, Dispel Scroll
  • Oracle – Path of Wilderness, Level 2, Tome of Arcane Lore, Obsidian Rock
  • 5x Dark Raiders – Repeater Crossbows, Shields
  • 5x Dark Raiders – Repeater Crossbows, Shields
  • 5x Dark Raiders – Repeater Crossbows, Shields
  • 6x Dark Raiders – Repeater Crossbows, Shields
  • 6x Dread Knights – Champion, Standard Bearer
  • 24x Tower Guard – Full Command, Banner of Blood
  • Divine Altar – Altar of Yema
  • Hunting Chariot – Harpoon Launcher

Finally! An ultimate Deathstar list. All five characters had only one place to go. With Altar and the Wilderness path I wanted to get into close combat quickly and safe. So my core was Dark Raiders only to be able to re-direct, anti-chaff and harass my opponent as good as possible. One Harpoon Launcher to shoot the occassional monster was also possible.

Vermin Swarm02-vs

  • Tyrant – General, some more equipment
  • Vermin Daemon – Plague Bringer, Level 4, Not A Leader
  • Chief – Battle Standard Bearer, some more equipment
  • Apprentice Magister – Path of Shadow, Level 1, Dispel Scroll
  • 48x Rats-At-Arms – Full Command
  • 48x Rats-At-Arms – Full Command
  • Globe Launcher
  • Globe Launcher
  • Rotary Gun
  • Verminous Artillery – Plague Catapult, Black Death
  • Abomination
  • 3x Vermin Hulks – Thunderous Charge, Frenzy & Hatred

Terrain, Magic, Deployment03-deployment

Terrain did not bring major things to the game. We had two forests in the centre, a small hill and one impassable terrain on the far side. We also rolled very common for the setup: Classic battle line and Hold the Ground as secondary objective.

Magic saw his Vermin Daemon getting Pestilent Miasma, Mass of Flesh, Leprotic Curse, and Foetid Wind. His Magister Apprentice opted for the Shadow Miasma (naturally).

My caster with Tome of Arcane Lore got Swarm of Insects, Inner Rage, and Beast Within. The second caster with the Dispel Scroll got Beast Within and Raging Storm. A selection I could live with very well as I wanted to have at least one damage spell.

During deployment I put up two units of Dark Raiders on the flanks and then quickly deployed everything as he put his Rats-At-Arms near the centre. SR opted to put his heavy hitters on the lower flank and leave the other one open. With my early deployment I also secured playing first.

Dread Elves – Turn 104-de1

Movement: Naturally I wanted to get into close combat as fast as possible. So everything moved forward on the double. The Raiders on the far flank circled round, careful to have the Vermin Daemon between them and the Abomination. The Raiders on my right flank were easy to move as were the chariots. The main question were the half left Dark Raiders and whether they should be in front of the Tower Guard or not while simultaneously being out of charge range from Abomination and Monstrous Infantry.

Magic: 3+2, Vermin Swarm channels. Not a good magic phase at all for me. Swarm of Insects on the catapult (5+5) fails to be dispelled (4+2+1+1). Very lucky for me, but I also fluff my rolls and only deal one wound. The Wild Hunt however moves my Tower Guard even more to the front. Beast Within on Tower Guard (5+5+3) draws his Dispel Scroll.


  • Dark Raiders on Vermin Daemon: No wounds.
  • Dark Raiders on Globe Launcher: No wounds.
  • Dark Raiders on Rats-At-Arms: One wound.
  • Dark Raiders on Globe Launcher: One wound.
  • Hunting Chariot: I completely forgot it.

Close Combat: None.

Vermin Swarm – Turn 105-vs1

Movement: The Vermin Daemon charges the Dark Raiders, who flee. One touches the forest but stands his terrain test. The Vermin Daemon however moves through the forest and suffers one wound. Having nothing in view to redirect, the Daemon stumbles forward a little bit. This opens the way for the Abomination for a potential charge on the far left Dark Raiders, but SR instead opts to move towards the centre. There the Rats-At-Arms move backwards as do the Weapon Teams. The Vermin Hulks turn towards the flank to deny the Dark Raiders a move behind the enemy lines.

Magic: 6+2, Vermin Swarm channels. Big Miasma on Tower Guard (4+3+2) is successful and make -3 WS. Mass of Flesh on the general’s unit (6+5+2) is dispelled (6+5+5+4+3+3). Leprotic Curse on Tower Guard (5+4+2) is dispelled with the Dispel Scroll.


  • Plague Catapult on Tower Guard: Scatters into Divine Altar, wounds, but is ward saved.
  • Globe Launcher on Tower Guard: 3+3, malfunction. Turns backwards and doesn’t hit anything.
  • Globe Launcher on Tower Guard: 6+6, malfunction. Explodes.
  • Rotary Gun on Tower Guard: 20 shots, three dead.

The legendary bad luck everybody seems to have when playing against me strikes again. The shots could have really decimated my Tower Guard, but I came through largely anscathed.

Dread Elves – Turn 206-de2

Movement: Tower Guard charges the Rats-At-Arms. Dark Raiders on the half right, charge the Globe Launcher, which flees from the battle field, then redirect into the second Rats-At-Arms. The other Dark Raiders position themselves in the best way possible. On the right side, the Raiders move into the back to be able to charge the catapult if some Rats die. On the left side, the Raiders move into the way of the Vermin Daemon and the others try to get in the way of the Abomination (but fail to do so). The chariots move up (could have charged the Rats-At-Arms, but only on 9+).

Magic: 2+1, Dread Elves channel. Not the magic phase I hoped for. Beast Within on Tower Guard (5+3+3). He needs a ten to dispel and rolls 6+3. Inner Rage on Tower Guard (6) is also successful.


  • Dark Raiders on Vermin Daemon: No wounds.
  • Dark Raiders on Abomination: Two wounds.
  • Dark Raiders on Catapult: One wound.
  • Harpoon on Abomination: Wounds, but is regenerated.

Close Combat: The Dark Raiders inflict one wound on the Rats and suffer none in return. They lose the combat by two, but stay in the fight. On the other fight there is a character on character massacre: The Assassin reveals himself and inflicts three wounds on the Vermin BSB. Lily, my axe-wielding general snuffs out the Vermin Tyrant. To make matters worse, the Dread Elf captain also kills the Magister Apprentice. Afterwards the Tower Guard kills ten rats. Not enough to remove their steadfast, so the rats remain in the fight.

Vermin Swarm – Turn 207-vs2

Movement: The Abomination is unhindered by the Dark Raiders and charges the flank of the Tower Guard. The Vermin Daemon does not want to be distracted and moves around the Dark Raiders. The Vermin Hulks turn towards the centre.

Magic: 4+2, no channels. Mass of Flesh on Rats-At-Arms (6+3) is successful. Leprotic Curse (4+2+2+2) fails.


  • Rotary Gun on Tower Guard in Close Combat: No wounds on either side.
  • Catapult on Hunting Chariot: Scatters away.

Close Combat: Dark Raiders deal two wounds and receive none. Again the lose by two, but remain in the fight. In the other fight the frenzied, bestial Tower Guard shows their brutal faced unconstricted by shadowy miasmas. The Assasin deals four wounds. Lily deals two to the Abomination which are both regenerated. Captain deals two wounds, Oracle deals one. Tower Guard another eight. Then the Tower Guard attacks the Abomination from the flank with no less than twelve attacks, dealing seven wounds and killing the Abomination before it could even strike.

At this point my opponent concedes the game, as I would have been able to attack catapult, Vermin Hulks and Rotary Gun without much hassle and still have enough Dark Raiders to block the Daemon for two more rounds.


Deciding Moments, Mistakes, etc.

We both agreed, that SR would have needed chaff/re-directors badly. In fact he went on buying some Footpads just the next day. It was very unfortunate for him to face my Wilderness-boosted Deathstar with his army setup. However the game didn’t need to be this one-sided. First the Vermin artillery probably had the worst dice of all time. Not a single hit with the Catapult. Three malfunctions from weapon teams and no really great roll.

During deployment however SR conceded many advantages before any dice were rolled. He could have moved into a corner, which would have made him less susceptible to Dark Raider harassment. Additionally the „denied flank“ on my right side was not something he should have tried, as there was only only fast cavalry which easily moved across the flank with vanguard and first turn anyway. Regarding order of placement, it is of course hard without chaff to outdeploy your opponent, but using the Hulks first and Catapult second, he could have hidden his intentions better. Infantry is always anchored and the unit with his BSB, General and Wizard was my obvious target for the Tower Guard.

Regarding the Abomination: I am not quite sure, what the right move would have been in turn 1. I think eliminating the Dark Raiders would have had its merits, but it could have stranded the Abomination far away.

Regarding balance: Tower Guard, Killer Dread Prince with Axe, Divine Altar (of Yema of course). This combination feels like the strongest the Dread Elves have to offer. Sadly the book offers so little in the way of synergy, that the Altar will probably show up all the time to provide ward saves to characters (which in turn can be equipped with more killing power in the end). MSU for example is only supported by points values, but the rules discourage it heavily (panic tests, BSB and general ranges, victory point system, low bonuses for flank and rear charges, ease of building a death star with unit items like magic resistance and ring of shadows).

On the Vermin Swarm side, the game was too short to determin good or bad units. One thing they absolutely need is a good plan to prevent their characters from being massacred by opposing heroes in close combat. The Sicarra Assassin’s absence together with the lack of re-directors was really backbraking for this kind of setup.


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