SmithF's 9th Age Battle Reports 2

MSU battle reports, as first seen in TWF.

Articles Tagged with “Tactics”

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  • Hello again dear readers!

    This week we've been exploring the issue of magic in the SE subforum (friendliest place on the 9th age boards, visit us!) so I thought I'd share my thoughts on the subject with you. Unlike the previous article, this one is more heavily focused on Sylvans but, again, some of the principles apply to all armies and may help you use and defend against magic more effectively.


    [b][/b]Magic Defense:


    The sylvan elves have a particular vulnerability to magic, for several reasons:

    • Many of their units are comprised of expensive, unarmoured units that rely on targetting penalties (skirmish/cover) and superior mobility to survive ranged damage and get into position. It comes as no surprise that a 2d6 s4 fireball that can potentially wreck a unit of Pathfinders has many generals searching for their dispel scroll.
    • Nothing can destroy your dreams as quickly as a couple of combat buffs that turn your combined multi-charge on the enemy’s main combat unit into a fiasco.
    • Treefathers: as much as I love them, the way some spells counter them is pretty sad. If you field them, you’d better shell out the cash to protect them, too.
    And the list goes on.



    Knowing your vulnerability is one thing, but taking it into account when building your list and when maneuvering on the battlefield can save you some precious dispel dice, which will in turn save you points from magic defense to spend on other stuff.


    Here are some principles I have found useful:

    • Your units are not as vulnerable to magic missiles as you think they are: One of the main threats that panics SE generals into spending a ton of dice to dispel is magic missiles. It is a common concept that our units will melt away if a stiff breeze blows their way. I have found this to be untrue with most units.D6/2D6 S4 magic missiles may hurt, but most of the time they don’t: Bladedancers get a 5+ ward against them, Thicket Beasts are usually not hurt at all (even when you factor in the flammable reroll, you get 1-2w on average from a medium fireball) and the T4 and 4+ save of Kestrels will help them survive. So if faced with a dilemma between saving a small unit or having dice to stop more destructive spells, my advice is to let the magic missile through. Exceptions to this rule: Banishment on high value targets, Big Burning Brightness on otherworldly monsters.

    • Find the minimum effective unit size for each of your elements, then add some models to that: Even if you’re playing MSU, adding a couple of models to your Bladedancers means that they can take that magic missile and still have 4-5 models left to cause your opponent a headache. An added bonus to that is that you have a bit more leeway before you need to give your opponent the VPs for being below 25%.
    • Spell Ranges: you can limit the amount of magic coming your way by taking into account the spell range and type limitations. For example, a mage inside a unit that’s fighting in combat won’t be able to cast magic missiles, and even direct damage spells will be limited by the front arc. It may buy you a turn of respite, enough for your more dedicated mage hunters to get into place. A key to not being overwhelmed by the opponent magic phase is to never give a good target for multiple spells. For example, on the turn when you wish to dispel that all-important Mindrazor, make sure that your Pathfinders are outof range/arc for a 2d6 s4 fireball.
    • Don’t waste your scroll: my approach is to play as if I didn’t have the scroll, until the point where stopping a spell will win me the game (or prevent me from losing). More often than not, it is used to stop the desperate Beast Within that may make my charges bounce, or a Summer Regrowth on a monster I’ve been painstakingly taking down to its last wound for the entire game. There are games when I end up not using my scroll, but this also means that I’ve managed to contain the magic threat in another manner.
    • Risk assessment: at the start of the magic phase, think of which spell you absolutely need to dispel and keep your dice to do so. I am usually very conservative when it comes to dispelling, making sure to roll enough dice to make dispelling almost a certainty. It may so happen that there are multiple must-stop spells and the opponent has enough dice to cast them: in that case, your opponent probably played a better game, and your best bet is to try and even out the dice advantage by burning the scroll. Failed casting rolls also happen, so that is certainly another option to hope
    • Use miscasts: when your opponent miscasts, think if the spell cast will hurt you a lot or not. If you can weather it, it’s worth letting it through to deny him some more dice and limit his magic phase subsequently. The miscast damage is a bonus, but the desired effect here is that the casting pool goes down by at least 4 dice.
    So to sum up, reaching for the scroll every time someone hurls a 2d6 s4 magic missile at you is a bad habit. Learn to weather the magic, deny your opponent juicy… [Read More]
  • Greetings!

    In the past few weeks I've spent some of my hobby time writing tactics articles in the elven subforums, each discussing a different aspect of the game. (mainly from a Sylvan Elf perspective). Even though the tactics are focused on elves, a good deal of them can be "ported" to other races with a little bit of work. So I thought I'd share these with you, since I'm fairly certain that most of you do not venture into the sylvan elf subforum:


    Getting the Secondary Objectives: Sylvan Elves in the brave new world.


    If there is one thing that 9th brought into the game, it is objectives. In tourrnament play, these count for 3 points, while denying your opponent another 3. This is a 6 point differential that can make the difference between a loss and a win (or at least a draw).

    A frequently discussed issue on the forums is how the SE are not well equipped to play the objective game, due to their hit-and-run, guerilla warfare style. The more I play 9th Age games, the more I believe that this is not true: we have all the tools necessary to grab the objectives, but there are some things to take into consideration:


    1. Patience!

    The goal of the game is to hold the secondary objectives with more scoring units than your opponent by the end of turn 6. Getting there early (in the take-and-hold scenarios) will not accomplish anything. This is where most of the critics about the relationship of SE with secondary objectives stem from: there are only a couple of units in our book capable of grinding the opposition one-on-one, so it is in your best interest to take your time and plan ahead to get the objective during late game.


    2. Non-scoring units are VERY important:

    You can also consider these as the heavy lifters in your army: these are the units that you can risk to kill the enemy scorers and to do most of your fighting. Losing them will "only" lose you victory points, but it won't give away any banner points and it won't hamper your chances of winning the objective. This becomes a lot more important in the "breakthrough" and the "capture the flags" scenarios.

    Putting a banner on every unit with scoring potential may seem like a good idea, but it will probably come back to haunt you whenever you roll the "capture the flag" scenario. It is your opponent who decides which ones of your units are the targets, and it is easier to keep safe a unit that is kitted out for close combat (big unit of Rangers/Forest Guardians or Thicket Beasts comes to mind), or units that will probably be out of combat and as far away from action as possible (Sylvan Archers and/or small Heath Riders are in this category).

    So while MSU Forest Rangers are awesome, they are perhaps not the most efficient of scoring units for the reasons outlined above. Or they may be, depending on your battle plan.
    But the bottom line is: pick your scoring units wisely, and do bring a number of non-scoring units that can have an impact on the battle; there will be times when your scorers will have to just bide their time while the Treefathers and Bladedancers do their thing.




    3. Getting the first turn is a TRAP!

    Yes, you heard me. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it is my firm belief that in most cases, playing second is a boon:
    First off, the moment you forget about going first, you start outdeploying your opponent. If anything, Sylvan Elves can bring more units than most armies out there, and also have the mobility to rapidly redeploy if need be. So getting your matchups right is more critical than getting that first volley off. (as a plus, you WILL get the first volley anyway; more on that later)

    Vanguarding units play a huge role in that pre-game sequence. You can drop the kestrels to confuse your opponent, then vanguard them 12" behind cover and closer to another part of the battlefield. On a side note: NEVER vanguard to a place where it will give your opponent a chance to jump your fast units. It is rarely worth it, unless you are 100% sure you'll get the first turn.

    A weakness of the elves is that they're not very resilient and die in droves to enemy fire. Going second means that the first turn volley of a dedicated shooting army will probably do nothing to your troops: you get a free forest to hide in, you've got brilliantly resilient skirmishers to screen your T3 elves, you've got Thicket Beasts to hide your shapeshifters behind. And more importantly, you've got Sylvan Archers, Sentinels and Pathfinders who can move between 5 and 10" and shoot without incurring any penalties.

    Use this to your advantage, grab some cover and weather the initial volley. Then you get to do your thing!

    What does that get you, objective-wise? It gives you the opportunity to move your fragile scoring units in position at the bottom of turn 6, without risking anything. 5 Heath rIders with banner will die to a stiff breeze, but with their 18" march move they can contest or claim the central objective from half across the battlefield. The… [Read More]