Introduction

Exciting news: First I got to visit my hometown again and had the opportunity to visit „The Folterkeller“ courtesy of SH my favourite opponent. That meant we had the time to play two games back2back, first my Elves versus his numerous humans from the Sonnstahl empire. Then my expedition force would need to hunt down those sneaky woody cousins they have.

But first things first: The mighty Empire versus the dreaded Elves, 4500 points with standard rules and a randomly determined map from the map package on the slightly larger than usual gaming table in the Folterkeller. Enjoy!

The Bleak Legion

  • Dread Prince – Army General, Elven Horse, Midnight Cloak, Jack’s Pickaxe, Heavy Armour, Hardened Shield
  • Cult Priest – Battle Standard Bearer, Divine Altar, Cult of Nabh, Executioner’s Blade, Stalker’s Standard, Crown of Scorn
  • 5x Dark Raiders – Repeater Crossbows
  • 5x Dark Raiders – Repeater Crossbows
  • 10x Corsairs – Paired Weapons
  • 35x Dread Legionnaires – Spears, Full Command
  • 10x Dancers of Yema
  • 10x Executioners – Standard Bearer, Æther Icon
  • 10x Tower Guard
  • 10x Tower Guard
  • Raptor Chariot
  • Kraken
  • Hunting Chariot
  • Hunting Chariot

My take on MSU, or at least some small units. A big block of Spears with the Altar should be enough to go toe to toe with anything the Empire might throw at me, while simultaneously pushing any cavalry or steam tank far, far away from them. The Chariots are there to support the main block and keep chaff or other pesky units far away. The Kraken and Hunting Chariot also can deal some nasty S7, multiple wound stuff to anything with more than one wound. The rest is handled by the four elite infantry blocks which would be tasked with running around, getting of flank charges and being a general nuisance to the enemy.

Empire of Sonnstahl

  • Prelate – Army General, War Altar, Skull Splitter, Crown of Autocracy
  • Prelate – Axe of Battle, The Winter Cloak
  • Artificer – Long Rifle
  • Marshal – Battle Standard Bearer (otherwise quite blank)
  • 50x Heavy Infantry – Halberds, Full Command
  • 20x Heavy Infantry – Full Command
  • Arcane Altar
  • 6x Reiters – Pistols
  • 6x Reiters – Pistols
  • 6x Reiters – Pistols
  • 20x Light Infantry – Replace Crossbow with Handgun
  • 25x Flagellants – Champion
  • 10x Rangers

Terrain, Magic, Deployment

Our scenario was Refused Flank so we decided to use a map from that pool and got Refused Flank #4 which has two hills, two forests and a building as main elements. Nobody brought a Wizard, so we didn’t have to roll for any spells. For secondary objectives we got Capture the Flag. I will be choosing the Heavy and Light Infantry, my opponent opted for Tower Guard, Executioners and Corsairs.

I was lucky and could determine my corner and decided to have the Wall on my side. We took drops one after another, with no one really pushing for first turn. About half way through I decided to drop everything after the Flagellants were placed.

SH then setup his remaining forces with a strong presence on my left flank, making the side with Kraken, Hunting Chariot and Flagellants the „weak“ side for both of us. The Light Infantry took their place a little back in the forest to be able to shoot with the Order from the Artificer and not risk being charged themselves.

Having deployed first, I got first turn.

Dread Elves – Turn 1

Movement: After the Reiters on my left flank moved aggressively forward during Vanguard, I immediately charged them with my left Tower Guard and the Hunting Chariot. For this I used the Divine Altar blessing to secure success more easily. Tower Guard and Hunting Chariot charge the centre Reiters, who kill one Tower Guard with stand & shoot and then flee. One unit of the Tower Guard and the Hunting Chariot redirect on the Reiters on the far left. The Guard fails, but the Hunting Chariot is successful (thank you for M9), but suffers one wound from the dangerous terrain. On the right flank, the Kraken charges the Reiters, who fail their terror test and flee from the table. With a smug expression on its face, the Kraken moves forwards five inches.

The rest of the army moves forward carefully, with the exception of the Raptor Chariot in the centre which moves the full seven inches and the Dread Prince who barely makes it out of the line of sight of the Flagellants, threatening the Rangers and the two units of Dark Raiders who can now circle around the right flank, as the Reiters fled.

Magic: None.

Shooting: Shooting of Chariots and Dark Raiders deals a combined two wounds on the Rangers.

Close Combat: The Impact Hits of the Hunting Chariot kill three Reiters, the Crew kills one other. The Reiters fail do to a wound and flee from the table, the Hunting Chariot reforms.

Empire of Sonnstahl – Turn 1

Movement: Flagellants are tempted by the Raptor Chariot and try to make the charge on 9+ but they fail. The Reiters rally and move forward again towards the Hunting Chariot. To my surprise the rest of the army also advances putting them very close to my troops. The Rangers retreat from the threat of the Dark Raiders and Dread Prince.

Magic: 6+1, Empire channels. Fate’s Judgement on Hunting Chariot (5+4) deals two wounds. Unerring Strike on Tower Guard (5+2) is dispelled (6+6). Ullor’s Blessing on Heavy Infantry (4+2) is dispelled (5+3). Volund’s Blessing on Heavy Infantry (3+1) is dispelled (3+3).

Shooting:

  • Reiters on Hunting Chariot: Kill the Hunting Chariot.
  • Skullsplitter on Tower Guard: One wound.
  • Rangers on Dark Raiders: Three wounds.
  • Light Infantry on Raptor Chariot: Two wounds.

Close Combat: None.

Here is the world according to the Champion of the Dread Legionnaires:

Dread Elves – Turn 2

Movement: It was time to get this game kicking. A triple charge with Altar Blessing on the Heavy Infantry should take care of that. Tower Guard, Legionnaires and Executioners all make it. The Raptor Chariot on the side successfully charges the support unit to prevent a counter charge move. The Dread Prince charges the Rangers, they flee and redirects into the light infantry, which flees as well.

The Tower Guard moves into the forest to work up something on the next turn, the Kraken and Hunting Chariot move towards the centre as do the Dancers and Corsairs, they keep a corridor open for the Flagellants to overrun into as the Dark Raiders set themselves up to chaff them. The other Raiders chase after the Rangers.

Magic: None.

Shooting:

  • Dark Raiders on Rangers: One wound.
  • Hunting Chariot on Flagellants: Two wounds.

Close Combat: The Heavy Infantry champion challenges and the Dread Legionnaire champion accepts. The Heavy Infantry takes very heavy losses through the combined force of my attack, suffering a whooping 32 wounds. Striking back however they manage to kill all but one Tower Guard and one Executioner. They flee and are pursued by the Tower Guard but get away.

The Raptor Chariot makes a perfect impact, creating seven wounds. The Crew deals another one. The Heavy Infantry deals one wound to the Chariot and remains in combat on steadfast.

Empire of Sonnstahl – Turn 2

Movement: Reiters charge the Tower Guard and make it in. The Flagellants charge the Dark Raiders. The Heavy Infantry rallies as do the Light Infantry and the Rangers. The Arcane Altar charges the Tower Guard who pursued into the War Altar.

Magic: 5+4, Empire channels. Fireball on Executioners (6+4+3+1) is dispelled (6+5+4+3+1). Volund’s Blessing and Ullor’s Blessing on Reiters are both successful.

Shooting: None.

Close Combat: Reiters kill six Tower Guard and lose two models in return. Tower Guard brakes and flees from the table. Heavy Infantry kills the Raptor Chariot. Dark Raiders manage to kill another Flagellant before being wiped out, the victors overrun.

Dread Elves – Turn 3

Movement: The Dancers of Yema charge the Heavy Infantry. I think they feld and were caught. The Dark Raiders charge the Rangers (success). I decide against a dual flank charge on the Flagellante and instead move around them with Kraken and Hunting Chariot. The Corsairs being Capture the Flag targets bravely move towards the no-man-land. Legionnaires and Executioners turn towards the two chariots and remaining Heavy Infantry.

Magic: None.

Shooting: No wounds.

Close Combat: Dark Raiders send the Rangers fleeing and hunt them down.

Empire of Sonnstahl – Turn 3

Movement: The Empire tries to delay the Dread Elf forces by sending the War Altar to the front and blocking the movement. The other altar and the remaining troops on that flank set themselves up for charges on the following turns. The Artificer flees from the Light Infantry. The Flagellantes turn around to face the Kraken and the Hunting Chariot.

Magic: 4+1, Empire channels. Fate’s Judgment on Dread Legionnaires deals three wounds. Pyroclastic Flow on Dancers of Yema (3+1) is dispelled (6+3). Ullor’s Blessing on Flagellants (4) is successful. Unerring Strike (2) fails.

Shooting:

  • Reiters on Legionnaires: Five wounds.
  • Light Infantry on Dancers of Yema: Four wounds.

Close Combat: None.

Dread Elves – Turn 4

Movement: The Dark Raiders charge the Artificer first, who flees and barely stays on the table, then charge the Light Infantry, they flee as well, but are caught by the Dark Raiders and wiped out. Dread Legionnaires and Executioners charge the War Altar.

Kraken and Hunting Chariot split to move out of sight of the Flagellants. The Corsairs further invade the Empire territory. The Dancers move up to the Artificer.

Magic: None

Shooting: Hunting Chariot kills one Flagellant.

Close Combat: The Prelate challenges and my Cult Priest does not step up. The Executioners deal four wounds to the War Altar, but the Altar stays on stubborn.

Empire of Sonnstahl – Turn 4

Movement: The Flagellants turn once more, before that the Artificer rallied and the Reiters and Arcane Altar and Heavy Infantry all joined the major fight.

Magic: 6+1, no channel. Fireball on Dancers (6) is successful and kills four. Volund’s Blessing (3+1) is dispelled (3+2). Sunna’s Blessing is dispelled. Ullor’s Blessing is dispelled.

Shooting: None.

Close Combat: The Prelate challenges once more and this time the Cult Priest accepts. The Cult Priest manages to kill the War Altar. The Executioners deal two wounds on the BSB and the Dread Legionnaires kill the Reiters (four wounds with four attacks, thank you ToWound rerolls). The fight was looking good for me, but then the Heavy Infantry dealt a whooping nine wounds with twelve attacks (thank you Marshal order and thank you Hatred (we were not sure whether they’d still have Hatred after the Prelate was killed)). Overall the Empire won the fight slightly, but the Elves stayed in the fight.

Rest of the Game

Dancers of Yema managed to finish off the Artificer and the Dread Prince joined the combat against the Heavy Infantry after the Legionnaires easily killed the Arcane Altar. For fun I charged my Kraken into the Flagellants and rolled insanely lucky killing of nearly the whole unit over two combat phases. The Dread Prince however fluffed all attacks and was neary killed, but the Legionnaires saved him.

After Battle Analysis

Tactics wise I think SH made a rare error of moving forward. With the Light Infantry, the Ring of Fire and the Divination spells he had a clear advantage on shooting and could have diminished my troops significantly before the first clash, while also preventing a triple charge. The 32 wounds from the big fight in turn 2 were not even especially high, basically the fight was 60 Elves versus 50 Humans. Additionally the best combat unit with the combat Prelate was too far away from the real action. I could easily dance around them and make them pay for Frenzy + no musician.

On the other side I made a big error in not pursuing the complete unit with everything I had. Even with only 16 models left, the unit of Heavy Infantry was still enough to be a major contributor to a fight.

The bound spell magic from Empire is really good on paper, but suffers a lot if the enemy brings the Æther-Crown-combo. You then need to rely on high rolls, but SH was unlucky with most, so I could dispel with the same amount of dice. A really good 3+3 or 4+4 magic phase could have still won him the day, but it wasn’t meant to be. Channeling helped alleviate the bad magic flux somewhat. Once again choosing no magic feels like the strongest option.

Balance-wise I still maintain that Ring of Fire is too universal and too much of an „always take“ item to be a good design. The magic phase with magic flux, casting rolls and miscasts remains to be the silliest thing in the whole game (can’t wait for 2.0). The units seem to be overall balanced, maybe with Light Infantry as the exception. Unwieldy is so harsh, SH and me both would like that gone and maybe replaced with a drawback that is not quite as severe.

On the Dread Elf forces I was very please with the performance of the Divine Altar and the charge rerolls and the Raptor Chariot of which I was very sceptical in the past. My opinion turned around 180°. The thing is pure awesome as a stand-alone support element and withstands a lot of fire. I underestimated the fact, that opponent’s shooting would routinely try to remove my chaff and anti-chaff first, but on the Raptor Chariot they can’t, so you always have a nice tool against enemy chaff and small units at your disposal. With the Altar even the range can be somewhat alleviated.

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