The Athens ETC chronicles - Game 1

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  • The Athens ETC chronicles: A Sylvan Elf MSU report

    Greetings again! The biggest T9A event in the entire world is done, it was a great experience that pictures and text can only begin to explain. The whole «community» feeling that the Ninth Age forums have helped cultivate was pretty much present in the ETC venue, so at a lot of times it felt just like hanging out with old friends.

    Going to a team event is definitely something different than playing a singles tournament, as definitions of what is a good or a bad performance change. Winning is not always the goal, and losing can be fine as long as the team is picking up the slack.

    The way the pairings of the 8-player teams are done is a game inside the game itself, adding a few layers of strategic thinking as the coaches needed to account for the scenarios, deployment types, and the matchups themselves. A thankless task, and one I was glad not to be doing!

    In this series I’ll be recounting my six games of the ETC, against some of the best T9A players and often with stunningly beautiful armies.

    Here is the list I took to this year's ETC:

    SmithF wrote:

    Dryad Matriarch: General, Lv2, Wilderness, Oaken Crown, 105
    Thicket Shepherd, BSB , Flaming Standard, Entwined Roots,180
    Druid White Magic , level 2, Dispel Scroll, 130
    18 Sylvan Archers, Black Arrows Standard, Musician, 246
    28 Forest Guard: FCG, Gleaming Icon, 257
    8 Dryads: Skirmishers, 110
    5 Heath Riders: Elven Cloaks, Standard, 110
    5 Thicket Beasts: FCG, Entwined Roots, 285
    2x 7 Blade Dancers: 105
    2x 5 Wild Huntsmen: 145
    2x 3 Kestrel Knights: Skirmish, Light Armour, Swap Longbow for Shield, 153
    10 Briar Maidens: Champion, 270

    GAME 1 – Denmark (Empire of Sonnstahl, capture the flags)

    For those of you who haven’t followed the ETC in the past years, it’s worth noting that Denmark is one of the better teams: they have won the ETC once, and they regularly get good results in team tournaments. This year’s ETC warm-up in Denmark was also won by the hosts, so the team was still very dangerous. Things became even more complicated since El Rey, one of the RT members and ETC veteran was the non-playing coach of the team.

    Looking at the Danish lists, we quickly understood that we were in a weaker position: the Danish had made a good job of finding synergies and pushing the army books to their limits, which is more than can be said for Belgian lists!

    Mikael wrote:

    Prelate on Altar of Battle: General, Hardened Shield, Heavy Armour, Barding, 280
    Captain: BSB, Plate Armour, Shield, 97
    Captain on Pegasus: Dusk Stone, Dragonscale Healm, Flaming Lance, Plate Armour, Shield, 177
    Wizard: Level 2, Light, Tome of Arcane Lore, 105
    Wizard: Level 2, Light, Dispel Scroll, 125
    50 Heavy Infantry Spearmen: FCG, Spear, light Armour, Shield, 285
    20 Heavy Infantry Swordsmen: Standard, Musician, Light Armour, hand weapon, shield, 100
    2 x 5 Electoral Cavalry: Banner, Musician, Lance, Shield, Plate armour, Barding, 120
    2 x 30 Flaggelants: 260
    2 x Artillery – Cannons: 100
    Arcane Engine of Foreseeing: 140
    Steam Tank: 230
    Total: 2499

    My opponent, Mikael, is an 8th edition veteran player, returning to the 9th age. From previous experience, I knew that the Empire was a bad game for me, mainly due to the presence of 3 cannons, Steam Tank, double Banishment and double Burning Brightness. The empire wins the war of attrition, and it all boils down to whether I can move into position and do some damage on the turn I will use my scroll.


    The scenario we got was capture the flags, and we had 4 banners to pick from each: I selected the two electoral knight units and the big Spearmen block, while Mikael shunned the Thicket Beasts in favor of the Archers, Heath Riders and Forest Guard.

    The White Druid got Luminous Bolts and the Hidden Path, Dryad Matriarch got the Redwood Shaft and the Curse of the Wildwood. Mikael’s Light Mages failed to get the Banishment, ending up with the Burning Brightness twice, then Shield of Protection, Net and Timewarp.

    I got to pick sides, and opted for the one with the small hill to hide my thicket beasts behind.


    Deployment was diagonal, and we traded some deployments before my opponent opted for a full army drop in order to get the first turn. He anchored his right flank with the Steam Tank and a unit of Flagellants, put the two buff wagons and the two Heavy infantry up the middle, along with the Pegasus captain, then a unit of knights and the second unit of Flagellants on his left flank. I deployed in a fast units on both flanks (Briar Maidens and Wild Huntsmen on my left, Wild Huntsmen and two units of Kestrels on my right) and made sure to keep the scoring units at a greater distance and with options for rapidly redeploying if need be. Practically everything was too far away for first turn unboosted magic missiles.

    TURN 1 – Empire of Sonnstahl

    The imperial lines moved up in unison, careful not to leave any openings for my Kestrel Knights or fast cavalry. In the magic phase I stopped the Banishment on the rightmost Wild Huntsmen and had to let through an irresistibly cast Thunderbolt on them, resulting in three dead elves. The spell was lost in the process. In the shooting phase, the cannons opened fire with an unnerving accuracy: the Steam Tank killed a single Wild Huntsman from the left unit, while the warmachines opened fire at the left Kestrels and killed one outright, despite needing 6’s to hit.

    TURN 1 – Sylvan Elves

    So the plan here was simple: go for the objective, and hopefully the warmachines. The way to do this was to trap the small electoral knights right in front of the Spearmen, and try to create openings for the Kestrels to move past the imperial battleline. My opponent had done a great job of covering his bases, with his Steam Tank creating an 18 inch no-go bubble.

    So the Wild Huntsmen moved forward outside the charge arc of the pegasus, urging the knights to charge. The left flank created a circle around the Steam Tank and Flagellants, with Archers stepping forward to start softening the religious fanatics. The Kestrels stayed in a position where the right flagellants would have to stay put in order to avoid a fly move into the rear of the Imperial lines.

    In the magic phase the Redwood shaft failed to cast, and the Luminous Bolts were dispelled against the leftmost flagellants. Shooting killed a couple of them, though.

    TURN 2 – Empire of Sonnstahl

    The Electoral knights didn’t take the bait, and opted instead for a relocation to the west. The Pegasus captain moved in right in front of the Wild Huntsmen, blocking their path to the cannons. Both flagellant units reformed to close the imperial lines even further.

    Magic opened with yet another irresistibly cast spell, this time Burning Brightness on the two remaining Wild Huntsmen. I let it through, losing the cavalry but also putting a wound on each of the two Light wizards due to the miscast.

    The cannons were aimed at the Forest Guard this time, dropping four of them. A potshot against the scoring Heath Riders didn’t hit and the Steam Tank killed another Wild Huntsman from the remaining unit.

    TURN 2 – Sylvan Elves

    The remaining Wild Huntsmen failed their Frenzy check and had to attempt to charge the Steam Tank, thankfully failing their charge roll. The Kestrels saw an opening, and changed formation to get out of line of sight of the flagellants while still threatening the warmachines. The Forest Guard attempted a long charge against the Electoral Knights, but these fled to safety behind the entire imperial line.

    Magic opened with a boosted Amber Spear on the Pegasus captain, which was dispelled using the scroll. The shooting was directed at the flagellants, but failed to wound the T4 humans!

    TURN 3 – Empire of Sonnstahl

    Having the magic and shooting superiority, my opponent opted to keep his battleline compact, still, ignoring the option for some easy points from the Steam Tank charge into the Wild Huntsmen. The flagellants near the table edge reformed yet again, managing to block the charge of the kestrels against the cannon. The pegasus also flew over, to threaten my flying cavalry. The Spearmen block moved towards my Forest Guard, with the two buff wagons close by.

    In the magic phase I dispelled the Banishment on the Kestrels, and the boosted Burning Brightness failed to cast.

    This time the cannons failed to do any damage.

    TURN 3 – Sylvan Elves

    Having effectively blocked my kestrel charge, I opted to reform into a single line, ready for a charge on the following turn and protected by the nearby flagellants (no space for the pegasus captain to land). The Wild Huntsmen failed their second consecutive frenzy test, and once again they failed to reach the Steam Tank.On the left flank, I was keeping my units far away from the Steam Tank and flagellants, and moving up with the Sylvan Archers to hopefully be within short range on turn 4. To the right, I set a trap for the Spearmen with my Forest Guard, kestrels and bladedancers.

    In the magic phase I got a big phase, allowing me to cast the Hidden path on the archers, getting them within short range of the flagellants. The Amber Spear against the Steam Tank failed to cast, though, bringing my magic phase to a halt.

    In the shooting phase the archers and heath riders opened fire on the religious fanatics, managing to drop 10 of them in an impressive round of shooting.

    TURN 4 – Empire of Sonnstahl

    The Spearmen attempted a long charge at the Forest Guard, failing and moving forward 6 inches. The Pegasus captain landed in front of my rightmost Kestrel Knights and blocked their charge path to the cannon. The Arcane Engine and War Altar both moved up to cover the Spearmen.

    Magic and shooting are blurry, but nothing of note really happened. Kestrels proved very good at dodging bullets, thanks to their skirmisher upgrade.

    TURN 4 – Sylvan Elves

    Here I had to make a decision: either play it safe (the ETC way) or go for broke and use the opportunity to charge the spearmen with kestrels, Forest Guard and Bladedancers. All charge ranges were average, but in the end I opted for the safer approach on the urge of my coach.

    However, I wanted to find a way to «unlock» the Imperial defenses, so I decided that I’d need to risk a bit: I flew the Kestrels right in the imperial backline and 14 inches away from the Electoral Knights. He’d either charge and commit one of his scoring units against my expendable fast cavalry (with 9 s4 ap1 attacks) or would have to abandon his warmachines. The Forest Guard and Bladedancers prepared a flee path for next round should the spearmen charge again. On the left flank, I regained control of the Wild Huntsmen and quickly moved them outside of the Steam Tank range. Finally, the Thicket Beasts moved up in the open, bolstered by a White magic counter and the fact that the cannons would probably have to deal with the Kestrels.

    The magic phase started with a Luminous bolt spell on the flagellants, which killed 4 of them. The Redwood shaft was dispelled yet again, leaving me enough dice to put the Curse of the Wildwood on the big spearmen horde.

    Black Arrow shots are great in short range, and the Sylvan Archers made this pretty clear by killing another 8 Flagellants with their shots. Only 6 remained now!

    TURN 5 – Empire of Sonnstahl

    Now it was time for my opponent to think things through; After a time-out with the Danish coach, he opted for a charge of his Electoral Knights against the Kestrels, and this time it connected. The spearmen didn’t fall for the Forest Guard trick, in part due to the 50 dangerous terrain they’d have to take charging in. The pegasus captain repositioned to help out in the Electoral Knight fight if need be.

    In the magic phase a 4-dice banishment was cast with irresistible force on my archers, and I elected to let it through. Five archers died, but it effectively shut down the entire imperial magic phase and denied my opponent a chance at casting Banishment one again on his last turn. Unfortunately, the archers failed a Ld9 rerollable panic check and fled.

    The Cannon shots were directed at the thicket beasts now, and despite the white magic counter, a cannonball managed to slay a thicket beast outright. My BSB would have to weather some sniping cannon shots next turn...

    In the first combat of the game, the Kestrel Knights only managed to kill one Electoral knight, and they suffered two wounds in return. They then failed their Break test and ran off the board.

    TURN 5 – Sylvan Elves

    If there is one thing that I hate when playing Sylvan Elves, is being forced to play avoidance. I enjoy the game most when I’m advancing and grinding down the enemy through combined charges. So my first memorable game moment of this ETC was when I got to shout «Leroy Jenkins» at Kwinten (our coach) and declare the charges against the Spearmen: Kestrel went into their flank, while Forest Guard and Bladedancers went into the front. All of the chargers made it in, and the fleeing archers rallied.

    The Thicket Beasts were now pushed aggressively forward, and the Briar Maidens moved in front of the 6 remaining flagellants. With the right imperial flank ready to collapse, they were the only thing standing between the rampaging thicket beasts and the squishy mage bunker.

    Magic started with the Luminous Bolts on the flagellants, killing 2 of them. Then the thicket beasts were moved closer to the action using the Hidden Path. The Redwood Shaft also slipped through the dispel efforts of my opponent, but it failed to wound the Arcane Engine.

    The Briar Maidens attempted to kill the 4 remaining flagellants, but only got 3 wounds, leaving a single survivor!

    In combat, the Bladedancers went for the extra attack dance, and their efforts, combined with these of the Forest Guard and the Kestrels, killed an impressive 25 spearmen! The return attacks only managed to drop 2 Bladedancers and 5 Forest Guard, leading to an auto-break.

    The Kestrels caught the fleeing unit and flank charged the War Altar, with the blade dancers and Forest Guard nearby.

    TURN 6 – Empire of Sonnstahl

    With such a big points swing last turn, Mikael had to commit: The Arcane engine went for the victorious blade dancers, the Steam Tank slammed into the flank of the Briar Maidens and the lone Flagellant was relegated to redirector duty in front of the Thicket Beasts.

    Magic went into buffing the Altar and Arcane engine, but I finally used my Dispel Scroll to block all of it. Shooting managed to hit the Thicket Beasts once, getting three wounds through my Shepherd’s ward save. The White magic counter saved one, leaving him at half wounds.

    The altar suffered a wound from the charging kestrels, then the prelate killed on of the birds and reformed. The Arcane Engine broke the Blade dancers despite their 3+ ward save, ran them down and pursued into the Forest Guard, while the Steam Tank only managed a single unsaved wound on the Briar Maidens, who held their ground.

    TURN 6 – Sylvan Elves

    The closing round of the game involved me trying to kill the pegasus captain with a Redwood shaft and rolling a 1 to wound, the thicket beasts charging and killing the last flagellant and the last remaining kestrel surviving in the fight against the Prelate. The Arcane engine survived the Forest Guard hits and stood its ground thanks to the combat resolution generated by the impact hits. Finally, the Steam Tank did a further wound on the Briar Maidens, who yet again passed their Break test bringing the game to an end!

    Tallying up the points, we had a VP difference of around 200 points, but getting the Spearmen meant I had achieved the Secondary Objective!

    End Result: SE 14 – EoS 6

    Sylvan Elf Victory!


    This was a tight game, against a good opponent: the way he deployed gave me no easy flanking options, and the Steam tank placement meant that my entire left flank was brought to a halt. What contributed to the win was the fact that he didn’t have double Banishment, and also that he risked miscasts by 4-dicing Bound Spells. This way I could get rid of the Thunderbolt and eventually the Banishment, without even using my scroll.

    I was obviously very happy with my result, especially since I had rated the Empire as a bad matchup. The rest of the team did their best, but the Danes were better: we ended up losing 60-100, and would be facing the Swedish on the next round!

    Stay tuned for the next installment!


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Comments 7

  • Borgio -

    Nice Battle report, very detailed. Just one thing: The Germans won the Warmup tournament in Denmark ;)

    • SmithF -

      Ooops! I guess my informants were wrong (or for some reason I interpreted "the Danish did well in the Warmup" as "the Danish won the Warmup").


  • Yekar -

    I loved!
    Great story of the game, and very good photos.
    thanks for sharing!

  • nantuko -

    Very good match, you played it perfectly!

    However I feel your opponent made a big mistake by waiting for you just to defend his war machines, as cannons wouldn't make a big difference against your army. Probably if he had advanced in a compact line he would have put you in big troubles denying multiple charges and putting pressure on you combat units.

    Looking forward to seeing the next battle report!

    • SmithF -

      Thanks man!

      We discussed this after the game, and he told me that in his experience letting kestrels in his backfield is a bad idea. I agree, since you'll see that in games where my opponent let me break through his lines with the flyers things went bad for him really fast.

      I think one of the main issues was the scenario: I could potentially get his scoring units with my fast support, while he couldn't do the same as long as I kept them far from combat. This was the reason I chose the big spearmen instead of the small swordsmen as my target: I didn't want him to be able to use his big block with impunity.

      The problem this kind of Empire list has is that the Flagellants can be taken out of action for two turns if needed, and that the rest of the army depends on magic, Steam tank and the cannons to keep my fast support honest.

      So advancing in a compact line is all well, but the Flagellants can not only be redirected, but also suffer a lot of wounds if they charge into the Bladedancers. Had he advanced, the path to his bunker and warmachines would have been open for me.

  • PrinceCharming -

    U played it tight mate!

    But i finished my game first :D