After I had to abort my first 1.2 game versus the Dwarven Holds, I managed to get in my second game versus SH’s Saurian Ancients.
We played 4500 points with the 1.2 Ninth Age rules and used the tournament map pack for terrain.
As rules and list building changed quite a lot, we were both looking forward to try out something new.
- Dread Prince – Army General, Crimson Mail, Headsmen’s Axe, Talisman of Greater Shielding
- Cult Priest – Battle Standard Bearer, Executioner’s Blade, Cult of Nabh, Divine Altar with Paired Weapons, Stalker’s Standard, Crown of Scorn
- 5x Dark Raiders – Repeater Crossbows
- 5x Dark Raiders – Repeater Crossbows
- 7x Dark Raiders – Repeater Crossbows
- 27x Dread Legionnaires – Champion, Standard Bearer, Æther Icon, Spears
- 5x Dread Knights – Champion, Standard Bearer, Gleaming Icon
- 14x Tower Guard
- 10x Executioners
- 5x Dark Acolytes
- Dread Reaper
- Dread Reaper
- Dread Reaper
My experience from the Dwarven Holds game, where I played two Oracles with Divination caused my to abandon magic completely and go for the „Æther Crown“-route. This enabled me to field much more combat troops, which I centered on my Legionnaires. They should provide the bodies and the ranks, while the characters and the Altar should provide the kills. Around that I spread out with several small units of different types. For chaff clearing (no magic for that) I wanted to rely on the Dread Reapers and the Flame Breath of the Hydra. As the weapon beasts (a firm favourite of SH) lost their Skirmisher status, I thought this might be a better solution than chariots this time.
- Cuatl Lord – Army General, Path of Alchemy, Master of Magic, Book of Arcane Power
- Saurian Veteran – Battle Standard Bearer, Razor Blade, Hardened Shield, Heavy Armour
- Skink Priest – Path of Druidism, Dispel Scroll
- 33x Saurian Warriors – Full Command, Serpent Totem Animal, Spears, Flaming Standard
- 5x Caimans
- 5x Caimans
- 2x Weapon Beasts – Spearback
- 2x Weapon Beasts – Spearback
- Taurosaur – Engine of the Ancients
- 10x Skink Hunters – Blowpipes
- 9x Skink Hunters – Blowpipes
SH once more filled his core (only 20% for Saurian Ancients) entirely with one big block of Saurian Warriors of the Serpent Totem. Basically his army matched mine very much in composition: One big block, several strong support elements and some cheaper chaff, that can shoot. The big difference was basically magic and reapers.
As we wanted to use the map pack, we rolled for scenario first and got „Refused Flank“. Then we rolled a D20 to see which from the Refused Flank and General maps we got. The die (people, it’s called „a die“ not „a dice“, no wonder why so many people in the forum write „dices“ *ugh*) decided on Refused Flank #3. You can see how we implemented that, completely with a big wall (we called it the Trump Wall…). The secondary objective was breakthrough.
For spells, SH got Quicksilver Lash, Word of Iron, Molten Copper, Silver Spike on the Cuatl Lord and Entwining Roots on the Skink Priest. Basically the shootiest option he could take.
Luckily I was able to decide sides and chose the lower left corner. SH then deployed everything in one go, the right decision if you ask me, as he needed to draw the Crown as soon as possible, and starting would give him one more turn to do so.
His deployment offered my a weaker flank on my right side. There was quite some space and on the other side, the impassable terrain could help me delay his Spearback/Caiman/Taurosaur flank. So I delegated the Knights and one unit of Raiders there, as the Knights could threaten all of the three units on this side and put my main force towards my right side, with Tower Guard, Acolytes, Hydra and the bigger Raiders unit. The plan was to clear his Spearbacks with the Dread Reapers, circle around the Skinks and threaten the Cuatl Lord. The Divine Altar should help me to get charges by re-rolling them, so that I could force some flee reactions, which would help me advance. Luckily for me, there was nothing that could immediately threaten my Dread Reapers.
Movement: On my right flank, the Spearbacks use their movement to get away as far as much and still be able to shoot on the Dark Raiders in the forest. The Skinks do the same. In the centre they advance to shoot on the Dark Raiders before my Legionnaires as well. On the left flank the Caimans and the Taurosaur advance so that they can’t be charged by the Knights. The Saurian Warriors and central Caimans do not move very far.
Magic: 5+4+1, no channels. Master of Magic gets a nine dice phase. The Engine sets itself to make Alchemy spells cheaper. Silver Spike on Dread Knight flank fails (3+2+1+1). Big Molten Copper on Dark Raiders (6+5+4+3+1) is dispelled (5+4+4+4+1), as the Cuatl Lord lost his focus before.
- Red Spearbacks on Raiders: No wounds.
- Blue Spearbacks on Raiders: Three wounds.
- Skink Hunters on flank on Raiders: No wounds.
- Skink Hunters in centre on Raiders: One wound.
Close Combat: None.
I was very lucky in this first turn. I didn’t expect the Silver Spike on the Knights‘ flank, which would have devastated them. Additionally I got lucky with the dispel and held all my panic tests.
Dread Elves – Turn 1
Movement: The Altar gives his blessing for charging towards the blue Spearbacks. The centre Dark Raiders use the chance to attack their flank and they flee, the Raiders re-direct into the flank of the Skink Hunters, they need a lucky 11+… and make it! The dice gods smile on my today. Meanwhile the Legionnaires declare a charge on the centre Skinks, they flee as well, as I only need 9+ on Swiftstride. Their flee whoops them across the Caimans and Warriors. The rest of the army advances accordingly, with the Dark Acolytes keeping out of the charge distance of the Caimans (as does the Hydra and Tower Guard. On the left flank the Knights circle toward the centre and the Executioners advance, but I made a mistake there, the Executioners could not circle past the building anymore, so that Taurosaur and Caimans could theoretically advance as they like without fearing any charge.
- The Dread Reapers all shoot on the blue Spearbacks: Five wounds.
- Dark Raiders on Caimans: One wound.
- Dark Raiders on red Spearbacks: No wounds.
Saurian Ancients – Turn 2
Movement: The Saurians now also tried to get into close combat. The Caimans charged the Dark Raiders in the ruins. While stand & shoot did nothing, the Caimans suffered three wounds from dangerous terrain. The red spearbacks marched forward and the Taurosaur moved into range for its metalshifting shooting attack. The Skink hunters and Spearback rallied and the troops in the centre moved closer together.
Magic: The Taurosaur starts with Metalshifting and kills one Dread Knight. Magic flux is 5+4+4, no channels. Silver Spike on Divine Altar (4+3+2) is dispelled (5+4+2+1). Quicksilver Lash on Dread Knights (5+2) kills three. Molten Copper on Hydra (6+2+1) deals four wounds to the Hydra. Word of Iron on Caimans (1) fails.
Dread Elves – Turn 2
Movement: Dark Acolytes charge the Spearbacks. Stand & Shoot does not manage to kill an Acolyte and they manage to connect on 7+. The remaining Dread Knight flings himself into the front of the Saurian Warriors, preventing a charge or move of the unit. The Dark Raiders make haste on the right flank to catch the Cuatl Lord. Legionnaires and Tower Guard moves forward, while the Hydra flees out of spell reach and moves towards covering the left flank. There the Executioners use the impassable terrain to prevent a Taurosaur charge on them while still being able to charge the spearbacks or the Taurosaur themselves in case they remain on that flank.
- Dark Raiders on Cuatl Lord: No wounds.
- Dread Reaper on Spearbacks: Three wounds.
- Dread Reaper on Spearbacks: Two wounds.
- Dread Reaper on Caimans: One wound.
Saurian Ancients – Turn 3
Movement: Taurosaur and Spearback give up the left flank and move towards the centre to take care of the Dread Knight. The Cuatl Lord joins the Saurian Warriors, who shuffle backwards as do the centre Caimans. The Skink Hunters move into range to shoot on the Dark Raiders on the hill. The Caimans move towards the Executioners.
Magic: 2+2, no channel. The Engine now again switched to making Alchemy spells cheaper. Word of Iron on Caimans (5) is successful, making the Tower Guard flammable. Molten Copper (5+5+4) is dispelled with the Crown of Scorn.
- Spearback on Dread Knight: Four wounds
- Skink Hunters on Dark Raiders: Two wounds. Raiders panic.
Dread Elves – Turn 3
Movement: The Altar grants his blessig on all charging the Caimans in the centre. Tower Guard and Dark Acolytes try it, but the Tower Guard fails to connect, so only the Acolytes make it. The Dark Raiders move into the centre to once again block the Saurian Warriors. Hydra and Executioners set up a combined charge against the Caimans on the left flank. The Dark Raiders don’t rally and flee once more.
Magic: No magic.
- Dark Raiders on Saurian Warriors: Two wounds.
- Dread Reaper on Spearback: One wound. Wiped out. Caimans panic.
- 2x Dread Reaper on Saurian Warriors: Five wounds.
Saurian Ancients – Turn 4
Movement: Taurosaur charges the Dark Raiders and makes it. Caimans rally.
Magic: 4+2+1, no channel. Word of Iron (6+1) on Caimans is successful. Molten Copper on Tower Guard (5+4+2) is not dispelled (3+2+1+1) and kills six models. Silver Spike (4) on Altar: Doesn’t wound.
Shooting: Cuatl Lord and Skink Hunters on Tower Guard: Four wounds.
Dread Elves – Turn 4
Movement: Altar switches to Lethal Strike. Legionnaires charge the Taurosaur. I make a huge mistake by not charging the Caimans with the Tower Guard and enabling a „double strike“ with the Legionnaires. The Raiders rally and move to the back of the Skink Hunters. Executioners and Hydra move up to the Caimans, ready to strike the next turn or provoke another charge through dangerous terrain.
Magic: No magic.
Shooting: I have nothing written down on the shooting. I probably shot on the Saurian Warriors for little effect.
Close Combat: The Dread Prince charges up his Crimson Mail, by wiping out the Taurosaur himself. Aftwards we cannot agree whether the Saurian Warriors would be in the flank of my Legionnaires if I overrun into the Caimans. Our Solomonic ruling is that I don’t overrun. With a Tower Guard charge I could have wiped them out and reform securely…
Saurian Ancients – Turn 5
Movement: The Caimans and Warriors both charge the Legionnaires, seeking the final battle. The Caimans on the left flank charge the Executioners as we were running out of time, but they didn’t have much choice anyway, as the Hydra and Executioners would catch them eventually and they lack a musician to turn and run.
Magic: 3+3, Saurians channel. Being in close combat the Cuatl Lord only has one spell at his disposal. He casts Word of Iron on his Saurian Warriors with five dice and miscasts. Nine Saurian Warriors die, but the Cuatl Lord himself is unscratched and can still remember all his spells.
Shooting: The Skinks turn and wipeout the Dark Raiders with their shooting.
Close Combat: The Dread Prince does what he does best, using his Axe to kill multiwound models. After all the attacks of the Elves, the Saurian Ancients suffered eleven wounds, nine on the Caimans. With the thinning of the Reapers and the Witchfire, the Saurians lacked offensive capability, even with the re-rolls due to flammable. They killed seven, losing the combat, fleeing and being caught.
On the left flank, the Executioners easily decimated the Caimans before they could attack, winning the fight clearly as well. This concluded the game.
After Battle Analysis
SH and I agreed, that magic in 1.2 is in a very bad state. All the anticipation in the days before, which path your army will get is basically for naught. The clear „winner“ is the Æther-Crown combo. Even Alchemy with such a superb caster is not a lot of fun, the clear main threat is the flammable attribute combination. The spells themselves are too weak to counter the danger of serious miscasts. SH tried to mitigate that by keeping the Cuatl Lord out of a unit, but also had to keep his Saurian Warriors close to quickly jump into the bunker.
We both liked the other changes in 1.2. For the Dread Elves the Divine Altar offers supreme combat capability and deathstar forming war platform rules coupled with the potential to equip your BSB with a cool standard. Sadly the blessings leave me wanting more. The charge blessing is quite good in a standoff. The ward save against war machines is far too situational and has overlap with the Charm of cursed Iron. The Lethal Strike blessings did exactly nothing in the close combat. The overdue change to the Dread Elf monsters is surely appreciated.
On the Saurian Ancient side, the Cuatl Lord suffers a lot from the hamstringed magic. His skills are still cool, but meaningless as long as magic is that weak. Currently I’d say the bound spell discipline might be the best one. In core the Saurian Ancients clearly lack options. Only two entries and we both wonder who should ever use the Skink Cohort? On the other hand the Saurian Warriors are super mighty. Small units as well as the big Spear Totem block are a tough nut to crack and even shot upon by Reapers, they still could easily have won the final encounter if not for the miscast. For my taste the Saurian Warriors should probably not get a discount for the first ten models. Their strength also puts the Temple Guard in a tough spot. One fighty character and command already push the Cuatl Lord back to second rank and they fill core. Spearbacks without Skirmisher is a significant nerf, which enabled me to wipe them out with Reapers, of course a single unit of Chameleons could have thwarted my strategy. Overall the mobile Saurian units still seem to be better than their monsters and punchy units.
On tactics: I think SH made a little mistake in his list building to forego both Chameleons and Pteradons or Ramphodons. But this was also due to transportation restrictions. For my list I was quite happy how it turned out, the Hydra would have been the unit to secure the backfield. I was quite lucky to keep all my Dark Raiders after his first turn, maybe I need to keep them back further or invest in bigger units to withstand the assault of Skinks and Spearbacks. I think my tactic to focus on the right flank with Raiders and Acolytes was the right one and it certainly was boosted by very lucky dice rolls in turn one, especially the opportunity charge of my Dark Raiders on his Scroll Caddy bunker opened the flank. On the other side, the flank would have hard opposition which could hide behind the impassable terrain which is always dangerous to walk around. So advancement there was not really an option. All in all, I’d say it probably was one of the games where only I made a really big mistake with the Tower Guard not charging the Caimans for a double attack phase. Accordinly the game was close as the dice somewhat turned around after turn 2, making a comeback for the Saurian Ancients possible, up until that last miscast.