Introduction

This is the second game on the same day again versus SH. After the Empire of Sonnstahl was defeated, the Dread Elf expedition force entered a bewitched forest. The trees whispered and the shadows played tricks, but nothing can fool the extraordinaire senses of the Dread Elves: The Sylvans are there, get ready to fight!

Again it is: 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.

The Bleak Legion

  • Oracle – Army General, Wizard Master, Alchemy, Wandering Familiar, Ring of Fire, Skullsplitter
  • Cult Priest – Battle Standard Bearer, Divine Altar, Cult of Nabh, Executioner’s Blade
  • 5x Dark Raiders – Repeater Crossbows
  • 14x Repeater Auxiliaires – Musician
  • 33x Dread Legionnaires – Spears, Full Command, Flaming Standard
  • 25x Tower Guard – Full Command, Banner of Blood
  • 7x Dread Knights – Champion, Standard Bearer, Gleaming Icon
  • 5x Harpies
  • Raptor Chariot
  • Raptor Chariot
  • Dread Reaper
  • Dread Reaper

Since I had to pack up my army, I needed to re-use as many units as possible from the earlier game. As I still wanted to create a different list with a different feel I put away my Dread Prince and replaced him with an Oracle designed to bring the flaming Alchemy pain. Together with the Repeaters and the Reaper, my plan was to create enough pull to lure the Sylvan Elves into my very strong combat blocks and grind them down. The Raptor Chariots went into the second test seeing, if they are as good as everybody kept telling me.

Sylvan Elves

  • Forest Prince
  • Chieftain
  • Chieftain
  • 13x Sylvan Archers
  • 8x Heath Riders – Full Command, Fast Cavalry, Ambush
  • 8x Heath Riders – Full Command, Fast Cavalry, Ambush
  • 10x Blade Dancers
  • 10x Blade Dancers
  • 10x Blade Dancers
  • 9x Pathfinders
  • 9x Pathfinders
  • 2x Forest Eagle
  • 2x Forest Eagle

Oh wow. This list is certainly avoidance shooting as far as you can push it in Ninth Age territory. Not only are there zero close combat troops with ranks, there are also a lot of points in scouts, ambushers and mobile chaff as well as all characters having a ranged weapon. The list will certainly poke my troops, but will it be able to actually take an objective? My initial plan was of course doomed. I’d never be able to create a strong pull towards my troops.

Terrain, Magic, Deployment

For scenario we rolled encircle and the map pack got us the map Encircle #4. Which has a building in the centre and is quite symmetrical. Secondary objective is secure target. As my opponent placed the first one a little bit to the right I decided to place the second one on the right flank in order to create a strong pull towards that side of the table. If my opponent would flee from me, at least I wanted him to forego any possbility of claiming objectives.

For spells, my oracle rolled 1, 2, 4, 5 giving me two useful spells (Word of Iron and Transmutation of Lead), a medium one (Molten Copper) and an unusable one (Corruption of Tin). Once again the random spell generation is just there to randomly screw you, not to provide any actual depth to the game. The Sylvan Elves win the dice roll for start, having much less drops.

Sylvan Elves – Turn 1

Movement: On the left flank, the Eagles, Archers and Blade Dancers advance. The centre Eagles also movs slightly to the left flank. The rest stays quite where the are.

Magic: None.

Shooting:

  • Pathfinders with Heroes do a whooping 13 wounds on the Repeater Auxiliaries.
  • Archers on Legionnaires (again with character support) do seven wounds.

Close Combat: None.

Dread Elves – Turn 1

Movement: The Dark Raiders on the left flee behind the impassable terrain, the Harpies directly block the Archers. The Raptor Chariot right next to the BSB fails its stupidity check. Magnificient as this chariot should have turned around to cover the rear against ambushers. The remaining Repeaters move into the forst and Chariot and Knights advance with haste towards the Pathfinders.

Magic: 2+1, Dread Elves channel. Word of Iron (6+5) on Legionnaires is successful. Molten Copper does two wounds on Blade Dancers (which were Flammable).

Shooting:

  • Raptor Chariot on Blade Dancers: One wound.
  • Dread Reaper on Archers: Two wounds.
  • Dread Reaper on Eagles: Two wounds.

Close Combat: None.

Sylvan Elves – Turn 2

Movement: Archers charge the Harpies. One unit of Heath Riders ambushes on my back side. The Eagle circle around to cover a lot of ground. Blade Dancers advance on the Dread Reaper as well. The Pathfinders retreat as far as possible.

Magic: None.

Shooting:

  • Pathfinders on Dread Knights: Two wounds.

Close Combat: Archers kill all Harpies and reform.

Dread Elves – Turn 2

Movement: The Legionnaires charge the Archers, who flee and then re-direct onto the Blade Dancers. We completely misunderstand the rules of buildings which would actually only allow moving through a building not charging through a building. The charge fails and the Legionnaires hop over the building stopping before the Blade Dancers. The Dread Knights and Chariots advance, one turning back towards Eagles to prevent harassment from that direction. The Tower Guard turns forward. The Dark Raiders continue to flee.

Magic: 3+1, no channel. Fireball (4+4+3+1) is dispelled (5+5+4).

Shooting: Raptor Chariots do nothing as do Repeater Auxiliaries and one Dread Reaper. The other Dread Reaper manages to kill one Blade Dancer.

Close Combat: None.

Sylvan Elves – Turn 3

Movement: The Heath Riders successfully charge the Dread Reaper. The Pathfinder retreat once more, the Blade Dancers block the Legionnaires in a way, that the Legionnaires won’t be able to overrun into Pathfinders. The other Heath Riders appear right next to the remaining Dread Reaper. The Eagles split up, one unit chases the Dark Raiders, the other moves into the flank of the Tower Guard. The Archers fail to rally.

Magic: None.

Shooting:

  • Pathfinders on Dread Knights: Three wounds.
  • Heath Riders on Dread Reaper: One wound.

Close Combat: Heath Riders kill the Dread Reaper and overrun from the table.

Dread Elves – Turn 3

Movement: Legionnaires and Raptor Chariot successfully charge the Blade Dancers (Blessing helps). The Dread Knights continue to chase the Pathfinders. The second Raptor Chariot guards the back of the troops and turns towards the Eagles. The Tower Guard turns towards the Heath Riders, while the Repeaters flee towards the objective on the far right. The Dark Raiders once more fail to rally.

Magic: 6+2, no channel. Word of Iron (5+5+4) on Legionnaires is successful. Molten Copper on Heath Riders (4+2+2) is dispelled (6+4+2+1). Fireball (4+2) on Heath Riders is not dispelled (3+1). It kills four and sends the Heath Riders fleeing.

Shooting:

  • Dread Reaper on Pathfinders: One wound.

Close Combat:Legionnaires and Chariot easily kill the Blade Dancers. The Chariot only needs an 7+ to overrun into the Pathfinders, but only rolls six, stopping right before the Pathfinders.

Sylvan Elves – Turn 4

Movement: Eagles charge the fleeing Dark Raiders, sending them right to the board edge. The Blade Dancers advance towards the Legionnaires as do the Heath Riders. The other Eagles put themselves into position to attack the Dread Reaper. The Pathfinders flank the remaining Dread Knights. The Archers fail to rally once more and barely stay on the battlefield.

Magic: None

Shooting:

  • Pathfinders on Dread Knights: Two wounds.
  • Pathfinders on Dread Legionnaires: Three wounds.

Close Combat: None.

Dread Elves – Turn 4

Movement: My opponent made a crucial mistake. The Blade Dancers barely moved into line of sight of the Raptor Chariot, allowing me to charge those with the chariot and therefore allow the charge of Legionnaires on the Pathfinders. The Raptor Chariot connects, allowing the rear charge of the nearer Pathfinders. Those flee, but very short and are caught and defeated. The Tower Guard turns around to face the Eagles.

Magic: 5+5, Dread Elves channel. Word of Iron on Dread Legionnaires (3+2+1) fails. Transmutation of Lead on Pathfinders (4+2+2+2) is successful. Fireball on Eagle (4+1) is dispelled (5+2). Molten Copper (5+4) is dispelled (6+3+1).

Shooting: Dread Reaper and Skullsplitter only manage one wound on the Eagle.

Close Combat: The Blade Dancers weather the Raptor Chariot charge by using their Dance. The lose two and lose combat by 3, but stilly hold their position, spelling doom for the Raptor Chariot.

Sylvan Elves – Turn 5

Movement: The Eagles successfully charge the Dread Reaper. The second unit of Blade Dancers charge the Raptor Chariot. The Archers finally rally. Heath Riders and Eagles move towards the centre. The Character from the Pathfinders leaves those and chaffs up the Legionnaires.

Magic: None.

Shooting: Insignificant.

Close Combat: Blade Dancers easily kill the Raptor Chariot and overrun. The Eagles only manage one wound and the crew remains in the fight.

Dread Elves – Turn 5

Movement: Dread Legionnaires charge the Pathfinders (don’t know how that’s possible anymore, I thought the characters was chaffing up those Legionnaires). Tower Guard turns around and moves toward the centre to claim objectives. Repeaters do the same.

Magic: 6+2, no channel. Word of Iron (6+3+1) on Raptor Chariot is dispelled (6+5+4+2+1+1). Molten Copper kills the lone hero, Fireball only kills one Heath Rider.

Shooting: Raptor Chariot and Skullsplitter deal three wounds on Heath Riders.

Close Combat: Legionnaires defeat Pathfinders.

Rest of the Game

The Eagles succeed in killing the Dread Reaper and move on to also kill the Repeater Auxiliaries. The Raptor Chariot withstands the combined charge of the Heath Riders and the Eagles. Condemning its opponents to be utterly defeated by the counter-charge of the Legionnaires. The Archers pick off some Dread Legionnaires without much consequence. At the end of the game, the Dread Elves easily win, having scored objectives and killed Pathfinders (x2), Blade Dancers, Eagles and Heath Riders (x2), while only losing Dread Reapers (x2), Dark Raiders, Harpies, Dread Knights and Repeater Auxiliaries, but none of the characters and none of the big blocks.

After Battle Analysis

  1. List Building – even though it’s a horror to play against such a list, I don’t think it will ever work. My opponent never had the chance to win the objectives and close to none to break one of my two big units. I think it is a complicment to the Ninth Age design, that lists like these won’t win games, as fleeing 10′ together with Quick To Fire surely makes for ridiculous gameplay.
  2. Building as Terrain Feature – now that I understand the rules for this, I think the rules are horrible and should be completely removed from the games. Infantry troops are usually too deep to even move through the building and you can perform a lot of dirty tricks by positioning yourself behind a building blocking any further movement.
  3. Dread Elf balancing – winners were the Raptor Chariots which are just awesome and Dread Knights. The Knights alone took two-and-a-half turns to be shot down by 1000 points worth of shooting while forcing them back twenty inches. My other troops could have just sat back and play castle on the objectives, if I would have tried to secure an easy 13-7-ish win. I don’t think this strength of toughness contradicts the Dread Elves too harshly, as we also have killy elite cavalry in the form of the Dark Acolytes and aligning all elven troops into the same stat frame makes the designs very narrow.
  4. The Dice Gods – fickle as ever, they screwed a lot of my magic phase and some shooting, but they also kept the Archers running for three turns, which were more important than those Dark Raiders of mine, which also fled for many turns. Overall I think it was equal luck on both sides, the lists were more decisive.
  5. Magic (Alchemy) – Word of Iron is by far the best spell in the lore, often cast as the first spell to get that flaming attribute going. Magic is still very unsatisfying. First you get suboptimal spells on which you have no influence whatsoever. Then you have magic flux between close to nothing and devastating. Again with close to zero influence (except channeling). Then even if you do get a good magic phase, you can still roll six with three dice, screwing you once again. Or the other way around, a miscast, screwing you as well. I don’t want to win games, just because I get consistent magic phases with 10+ dice, but I also don’t want to be screwed by having 2+1, 3+1 and cast failures in three consecutive rounds either.

 

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