SmithF's 9th Age Battle Reports 84

MSU battle reports, as first seen in TWF.

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  • Greetings, dear reader.

    It's this time of the year again, where old and forgotten armies are dusted and re-glued and taken to the battlefield. The Belgian T9A scene has been booming lately, with two tournaments per month on average and as many game nights if you're up for it. So it was the right moment to bring something new: a Beast Herds army!

    I have had the idea to try out the Beasts for some time now, seeing as I normally avoid shooting and offensive magic anyway. So after finding a good deal online I took the plunge and bought an army, that I'll be trying to touch up and complete over the coming months. With the modelling side of the project decided, I had to come up with a suitable list for tournament play. I did not want to go down the netlist route for various reasons, so I thought I'd try out the army "from scratch" and see where it got me.

    You can read all about this journey here: Pack Tactics 2020! MSU musings and list discussion

    After playing some test games with various MSU lists, I settled on the following based on the models that I had:

    SmithF wrote:

    CHARACTERS:
    Beastlord, General, GW, Destiny's Call, Blessed Inscriptions, Crown of Horns, Dragonfire Gem
    Minotaur Chieftain, BSB, Greater Totem Bearer, HA, Shield, Willow's Ward, Talisman of Shielding, Eye of Dominance
    Soothsayer, Adept (Evocation), Dark Rain


    CORE:
    2 x 8 Feral Hounds
    25 Wildhorns, Shields, Full Command, Banner of Speed, Gnarled Hide Totem
    30 Mongrel Herd, Spears, Full Command, Banner of the Wild Herd


    SPECIAL:
    18 Longhorns, Musician, Champion, Blooded Horn Totem
    2 x 10 Longhorns, Ambush
    2 x 5 Centaurs, Lances
    5 Minotaurs, Paired Weapons, Musician, Champion, Blackwing Totem
    2 x 3 Minotaurs, GW
    1 Razortusk Chariot
    Key points:
    - Wildhorn Bunker with Shields: combined with Gnarled Hide you get a very tough block, whose fighting ability is bolstered by the Beastlord.
    - Medium-sized Longhorns and Minos; whether this is the ideal size remains to be seen, but so far it has worked ok.
    - Magic: instead of trying to render naked beasts more survivable, I decided that my magic would focus on making them killier. Evocation has two spells perfect for the occasion (Spectral Blades and Whispers of the Veil), and the added veil token will help with channel.
    - No good targets for cannons and magic targeting single models.

    I took the list above to one of the biggest local tournament, the 14th Challenge in Roeselare. The tournament is run by friend and teammate @IHDarklord and has over the years evolved to be a staple in my T9A calendar: good venue, always a good crowd of very strong players, plus barbeque for lunch and excellent local beer to drink.
    Here are some short reports for your enjoyment:

    Game 1 - Ogre Khans



    For the first game I got to play Robin @Haemoglobin and his (WiP) Ogre Khans with a greenskin theme.
    This was a difficult game on paper, the Ogres had the range for charges and superior chaff. To have the upper hand, I needed to play first and luckily I got this option (the deployment was Marching Columns and the scenario is Flags, always bad for me).





    TURN 1 - Beast Herds

    My opponent used the hunters and cats very well to limit how much of his army my Feral Hounds could redirect. I had to settle for both Aurochs (hoping for a failed frenzy) and the Trolleater Hunter. The rest of the army pushed forward, wary of the big block with Swiftstride on the hill. In magic I lowered the Discipline of the left Aurochs to make failing the Frenzy check more probable.




    TURN 1 - Ogre Khans

    Both of the Frenzy checks were passed, and my opponent elected not to commit the aurochs: the tribesmen to my left spotted the flank of the hounds and charged in, while the free hunter charged into the Mino Conga, hoping to overrun behind my lines.

    Turn 1 magic and shooting was not enough to wipe out or panic my unengaged Feral Hounds thanks to Dark Rain, leaving them alive for another turn. The Hunter got Children of Umi cast on him though. In the ensuing combat he killed a minotaur and got 3 wounds back, but I then failed my break test and had to flee: the Hunter rolled high enough to get out of my Razortusk chariot's arc of sight, deep behind my lines. The tribesmen broke the feral hounds on the charge, but failed to catch them in pursuit.




    TURN 2 - Beast Herds

    With both of my chaff still alive, I could now take some risks: I used my general's block to clear the way (tribesmen and sabertusk sent fleeing), meaning that I had a 10+ with Centaurs into the right Auroch, 11+ with a mino conga and 11+ with my BSB's unit into the same target. If one got in, I'd probably kill the Auroch on the charge, while if two got in I'd have the option for overruns into the trolleater hunter's flank and into the Bruiser bunker flank.
    As luck would have it, both the big minotaurs and the Centaurs made it in!



    The fleeing hounds rallied… [Read More]
  • Game 6 – Orcs and Goblins (Team Mexico)

    The big loss against Germany saw us plummet to the mid-field, but our Top10 finish was still within sight! Between us and our goal we would find another team we had never faced: Mexico!

    Team Mexico is the labour of love of @Warboss Tooth, who has been putting together teams and leading them to battle as their captain for the past 3 years. Most players are from the USA (But of Mexican descent), with a few mercenaries to fill out the roster. They have been steadily improving for the past two years, and in this year’s tournament they had already had a very decent run, with wins against Australia, Norway and Argentina.

    Curiously, they were one of the teams that had posed me the most problems in terms of matchup evaluation: with an avoidance Sylvan Elf list, Second Awakening/Double Dreadmill Vermins, Triple Hydra/quadruple chariot DE, Double Cannon ogres, and Infernal Dwarves with an Onyx Core lord on Great Bull, my pairing matrix was a sad one. Funnily enough, James would let on afterwards that nobody was very keen on facing my list; I do believe that it was pure intimidation, since any of the above would give my Krakens a run for their money.

    So our pairing master used me as an opening drop in the pairings: it would give me the pick between two options, and the ones presented to me were the Ogre Khans and Orcs and Goblins. Whenever I try to think of what Ogres can do, I picture our own Ogre player @PrinceCharming guiding them: having played this game during one of our trainings, we pretty much figured it was up to who gets the first turn. The OK were bringing double cannons, which are not the most effective tool against Krakens or the Midnight Cloak prince, but they would give my opponent a chance to win the game on a single die roll, no matter what the tactics involved were.

    The second option was none other than Cap’n Mexico, Warboss Tooth with his Orcs and Goblins! We had previously gotten a training game with our lists on UB, which had ended in disaster for me: so he was willing to give it a go again, and challenged me to a rematch. So I picked up the gauntlet, and prepared to do better than the last time!

    He had brought the following:




    For this game we had the Secure target secondary objective, and the deployment was Frontline Clash. James placed his objective marker near the impassable in the middle, and I opted for the far right side of the board.
    The reason for that was to tempt the orcs to split their forces: all of the orc units have a considerable footprint, which means that keeping units within the general and BSB bubble would be a challenge for the greenskins. By having the objective markers more than 30” away from each other, I made the bet that the units trying to contest one of the two wouldn’t have good discipline support: in contrast, my scorers are Fearless or have good leadership on their own, and would be able to function independently while I focused my forces wherever needed.

    Yet again my adversary won sides and picked the one with the hill, which allowed me to drop my army for the first turn: with the hill giving a huge threat range to the movement 9 wolf chariots, I couldn’t risk losing my chaff to shooting and magic before they could do their first turn work. My deployment was fairly straightforward, keeping one unit of blades near each objective, the krakens centrally and one flying character on either side of the battleline, ready to move wherever they were needed most. The orcs countered by claiming the hill with the Savages and chariots (impact hits galore!), and then the flaw that I was hoping for: the Iron orcs off to one side, near my secure target marker, and the goblins with BSB and Pyro mage to the other, next to the Gnashers and the goblin archers. Finally, the gargantula went next to the BSB’s unit to dissuade any of my monsters from rushing the goblins.




    I then used my vanguards to move as far forward as possible with all 3 of my units, while the wolves repositioned a bit on the right flank.





    For magic I went for the usual Crippling Fatigue/Ice and Fire and Grave Calls/Breath of Corruption combination. The pyromancer got… [Read More]
  • Day 3 of the ETC, and for the first time in team Belgium’s ETC history we’re sitting at three wins in four games. So, inevitably, we’d be facing another big team. This time it would be team Germany, who (spoilers!) would go on to win the entire event!

    Contrary to our day 2 opponents, we know the Germans quite well by now: we’ve been meeting them and facing them in various tournaments over the past 3 years: Luxembourg Bash, Herford, while some of them even made the trip to Belgium for one of our tournaments a couple of years back! They are good opponents and have -more often than not- gotten the best of us in team play.

    Their lists were what you’d expect from a top team, stable and tried builds overall, but they had an advantage when it came to game practice: their preparation was excellent, with several training weekends in the months leading to the ETC. And that would show…
    My adversary for this round ended up being Yannic : those of you who have been following this blog might remember him from my reports against his EoS and Peasant KoE from a couple of years back. He is one of the best german players, a good vision of the game and a very tactical approach with few -if any- risks.

    He had brought a Kingdom of Equitaine list that was causing trouble to a lot of our players: having played the game twice (once against Xavier from team Switzerland and once against Wales’ Hugh ), I knew it would be a complicated chess game!

    (And yes, this was the Lego Army that everyone has been talking about. To set things straight, this army looked way better than many others that I’ve seen over the years in the tournament circuit. A lot of work went into it, and I personally didn’t think that it influenced my immersion in the fantasy world or my enjoyment of the game!)



    Yannic wrote:

    CHARACTERS:
    Questing Duke on Pegasus, Genera, Shield, Lance, Virtue of Might, Divine Judgment, Fortress of Faith, Basalt Infusion, Potion of Swiftness
    Questing Paladin BSB on Warhorse, Shield, Bastard Sword, Alchemist’s Alloy
    Damsel on Unicorn, Wizard Master (Druidism), Storm Clarion

    CORE:
    15 Knights of the Realm, Full Command, Banner of the Last Charge
    6 Knights of the Realm, Musician

    SPECIAL:
    13 Knights of the Quest, Full Command, Flaming Standard
    6 Knights of the Quest
    2 x 5 Yeoman Outriders, LA, Shields
    5 Pegasus Knights, Loose Formation, Champion, Standard, Banner of Roland

    So what has been dubbed as “the Italian List”: Three big threatening units, one housing the Might/Judgment Duke on a Pegasus, supported by Druidism magic and some small units for scoring and redirection.

    Our secondary objective for this round was to be Breakthrough, and the deployment was Frontline Clash.

    Going into the game I knew it would be hard to get the scenario: my scoring units were small and footslogging, while the KoE had fast units who could be in my deployment zone by turn 2. The Pegasus duke was a big issue, since he can single handedly kill any of the models/units in my list on the charge. Even worse, the Storm Clarion can ground my two expensive characters for a crucial turn, potentially exposing them to enemy charges.

    So my approach was the following:
    1. Try to outdeploy my opponent so as to get the best matchups possible for my krakens, and protect my scoring units as much as possible.
    2. Zone the Knights and claim battlefield space as soon as possible, therefore denying Yannic the opportunity to push very aggressively early on.
    3. Try to take advantage of the “no bonus for the first turn roll if you pray” clause of the KoE to potentially force him to waste a turn of magic by making him play first.

    Once more, my opponent won the roll for picking sides and picked the one with a hill in the deployment zone. He placed 6 Questing knights there, who would be able to zone my krakens’ advance on that flank quite effectively. We alternated drops until Yannic had almost ran out of options, at which point he finally placed his Pegasus unit and declared that he wanted me to start the game. Bythat time I had practically only a couple of monsters and the scoring units left, so I benefitted by the KoE’s central deployment to gain an advantage for the scenario: The scoring units all went huddled up in the left corner, where only a unit of Realm Knights could stop their advance: with a kraken and my Prince in a position where they’d threaten said Realm unit, I felt confident about at least drawing the scenario since the only other unit that could get to the blades (notoriously bad against 2+ save knights) was the Pegasus Knights. I was hoping to keep these otherwise occupied, anyway…



    While Yannic would force me to play first, I was still hoping I’d be able to make him waste his first turn if I won the roll. For that reason, I didn’t vanguard too aggressively with my Dark Raiders, wary of giving the knights turn 1 charges.The Yeomen to the right moved up a bit, repositioning towards the… [Read More]
  • Game 4 – Team Russia

    I’ve mentioned if before, but one of the great things about attending the ETC is that you get to face players that come from a different gaming culture, and whose local tournament scene is nothing like your own. In the same way that fighting against the USA gave us some insight about how things are done across the pond, the next round would give as a peek at the way the game is played in the Eastern European countries. Contrary to, say, German or French players, we rarely get to play the Russians, since travelling that far to play a game of toy soldiers is usually a once-per-year experience for all of us.

    Whenever I get the chance to look at Russian (And Belarussian, by extension) lists, I am left puzzled: some choices don’t make sense to me, some of the obvious combos are not there. And then the tournament results come in, and the armies in question end up in the top spots. That says something about the players first and foremost, but also that they train in an environment where things are done differently and where things such as a Quatl with Protean magic might be considered a competitive choice.
    To give some more context, team Russia is comprised of eight VERY competent players. Four of them travelled back in early 2019 to Poland’s team championship and became the first ever foreign team to win a Polish championship. So we knew we were in serious trouble when we found out we’d be playing them.
    One of these veteran players would be my next opponent: Kirill @SpeLLie and his Warriors of the Dark Gods. He had brought a rather compact WDG list, full of tricks and potent combos:


    SpeLLie wrote:

    CHARACTERS:
    Chosen Lord on War Dais, General, Envy, Idol of Spite, Trophy Rack, Dusk Forged, Burning Portent, Potion of Swiftness
    Sorcerer, Wizard Master (Alchemy), Veil Walker, Binding Scroll
    Sorcerer, Wizard Adept (Evocation)

    CORE:
    20 Warriors of Greed, Full Command, Zealot’s banner
    19 Barbarians, Shields, Musician

    SPECIAL:
    9 Chosen of Envy, Halberds, Full Command, Banner of Speed
    5 Chosen Knights of Pride, Full Command, Flaming Standard
    2 x 5 Warhounds
    Hellmaw, Two Ominous Gateways


    So a three-block list, with considerable point denial potential and the flaming/flammable synergy from Alchemy. The Veil Walker makes Hellfire and the other Alchemy spells particularly threatening, while Evocation brings some rerolls to hit in the mix to counter the only weakness that the non-envy units might have.
    Our objective for this round would be spoils of war and the deployment type was Counterthrust.

    I had originally rated the game as a positive matchup for my Dread Elves, but upon closer inspection the ranged pressure from the Alchemy magic and the high agility attacks of all the units meant that I would have to be very careful when choosing my fights. My estimation changed when I saw how Kirill used his Gateways before deployment: he placed one near each of the flank Spoils of War tokens, and it suddenly became apparent that he was planning to use the Hellmaw to pick up tokens with his beefy units and teleport back into the fray. He won the roll for sides, and picked the one with the hill inside the deployment zone. This allowed me to claim the center with my fast cavalry and deploy pretty much on the 16” line with my monsters. After seeing where his Warrior unit would go, I dropped the entire army pretty much opposite, positioning the three scoring units in such a way that would allow me to potentially pick up all 3 of the spoils over the course of the game.

    The Warriors replied with a Refused Flank deployment that curiously saw both heavy hitters on the same flank and the Hellmaw rather exposed in the middle.
    For magic, the Alchemy Mage had Hellfire, Corruption of Tin, Quicksilver Lash and Silver Spike while the Evocation Mage took Spectral Blades and Ancestral Aid. My combo remained the same: Grave Calls/Breath of Corruption and Ice and Fire/Crippling Fatigue.



    The battle plan here was simple: Hunt the Hellmaw with my Acolytes, push my monsters right in the face of the Warrior battleline and try to get stuck in favorable combats as soon as possible. That meant that I would be taking less hits from the magic missiles, but also giving my scoring units time to claim the objective marker while the monsters and characters kept the enemy occupied.

    TURN 1 – Dread Elves

    Both Dark Raider units rushed forward, blocking the entire Warrior line, with the krakens positioned to assault the Chosen Knights as soon as possible. I went to great lengths to block the enemy chaff and also ensure that the Chosen Lord wouldn’t be able to charge my redirectors: if he wanted them gone, the chosen knights would have to charge them. In the middle the Acolytes approached the Hellmaw, trying to stay out of Terror range. The middle Blades moved on top of the Spoils of War token, ready to pick it up on turn 2.
    In the magic phase the Grave Calls… [Read More]
  • GAME 3 – USA

    The second day of the ETC 2019 we woke up with high spirits, and were really looking forward to facing our round 3 opponents: the USA! What is impressive about the 9th age community is that thanks to Youtube, the T9A forum, twitter and the such we feel like we have a better idea of what the US gaming scene looks like than, say, the Austrian or the Spanish one. So it was exciting to get to play against the guys that we so often hear about in the Wargaming from the Balcony podcast and the such! To top it off, the US players have a reputation of being fun, fair and also very competent generals: reading this report you’ll find that they didn’t disappoint!

    The gaming scene over at the US is quite different than ours, with a lot less MSU elements way chunkier units. That said, there were the exceptions to the rule (for example Ryan Capps’ Ogre Khans monster mash). Nevertheless, my Dread Elves were looking at some very juicy targets in all possible games, with relatively little room for counterplay. Out of the eight possible matches the only one that I wasn’t looking forward to facing was the Vermin Swarm, due to the fact that it would be a match depending on how well my opponent rolled for his shooting more than anything else.

    So I let our pairing master do his magic, and in the end I got to play against none other than the all-time top scorer of team USA, Chris @eggsPR . Now, for the uninitiated, Chris has the reputation of being a very strong player, and the list of his T9A-related accolades is so long that it would probably require a separate blog post to enumerate them. He has been playing Vampires for a long time and has attended several (all?) of the past ETCs. So going into the game I was looking forward to a hard-fought game. What I wasn’t expecting was what a fun and jovial opponent Chris would be. If I had to describe his player demeanor I’d say that you could get massacred by his army and would still be happy to have played him anyway! In any other tournament he’d get my “best opponent” vote, but here he’ll have to share it with another 3 players; that’s how lucky I was at this year’s ETC!

    Chris had brought a Vampire list with several of the usual suspects, but also a very personal touch:


    The most important parts of the list were the character duo, and namely their magic combination: Just like the first game opponent, the combination of Evocation and Occultism with extra range meant that the VC were not hard pressed at all to get into combat. His was a very stable list that could take its time, position the units correctly, claim objectives and gain points by sniping single models, small heavily-armoured units and expensive characters. Could you guess what I had brought in abundance?

    The secondary objective for this round was Hold the Ground, which provided a challenge in itself: if I allowed the vampires to march onto the center of the board I’d have a really hard time getting them off the objective marker. The map we played on was Frontline Clash, and my adversary won the roll off for table sides and promptly picked the side with the hill right in the middle. That decision influenced my plan even further: if that swiftstride barrow unit got on top of the hill, it could easily zone a huge part of my list while sniping monsters away.

    So I deployed my entire army to claim the initiative, with the Kraken at a central position, my general with corsairs a bit off to the one flank along with the Yema Acolytes and the other acolytes guarding the right flank with some help from the Blades of Nabh. The plan was to push forward aggressively, deny space to the vampires while also trying to perform an enveloping maneuver in the flanks. Chris replied to this by deploying centrally and deep: he used his Vampire Spawn wisely to cover one flank, and anchored the other with his Barrow Guard. In between, his Ghouls, Vampire Knights and chaff were ready to pop out of their hiding spot to threaten my monsters.






    For magic, the Occultism Vampire took Hand of Glory, Breath of Corruption, Marked for Doom and the Grave Calls, while the Evocation wizard went for Touch of the Reaper, Spectral Blades, Whispers of the Veil and the Hereditary. I took my usual mix of Ice and Fire/Crippling Fatigue and Breath of Corruption/Grave Calls.
    With the first turn secured, I rushed all of… [Read More]
  • GAME 2 – Austria

    After the success of the first round we found out that we’d be facing team Austria! That was great news, as in last year’s ETC we faced them in a very memorable round. The Austrians are not only great guys to play with, but they often come up with very personal and “against the current” lists. Fighting against such armies is refreshing and challenging at the same time.

    This year it seems that real life had an impact on the roster of their team, with @Sir_Joker and @Clef being notable absences. While I was a bit sad that I wouldn’t get to chat about all things elves with the aforementioned gentlemen, we were more than compensated by the Norse Mercenaries (or should I say Varangian guard?) that brought even more craziness when it came to list building: a glimmering host of no less than 300 Highborn Elves and a battle-crazed mass of OnG (or Norse raiders as you’ll see) featuring almost 100 Gnashers, 100 Orcs and some change!

    Who would be the mastermind behind these lists, you ask? Well, none other than @Herminard, of former Balance team fame and a Battleline enthusiast. The wonder of the internet is such that I've been actually chatting and playing with Hermund almost for a decade before actually meeting him at the 2016 Athens ETC. So getting to play against him (and share drinks afterwards) was like meeting an old friend. This was to be our first battle on a real tabletop, and I was looking forward to it. On a sidenote, his list and his mate’s Hallvard’s were so outside the box that none of my teammates actually wanted to face them.

    Hermund lined up the following list:

    Herminard wrote:

    CHARACTERS:
    Common Orc Shaman, General, War Cry, Shamanism Master, Crown of Autocracy, Skull Fetish
    Forest Goblin Witch Doctor, Thaumaturgy Master
    Common Orc Chief BSB, Aether Icon, Banner of Discipline, Obsidian Rock
    5 x Forest Goblin Chief on Huntsmen Spider

    CORE:
    3 x 20 Common Orcs, Spears, Musican
    2 x 20 Common Orcs, Spears

    SPECIAL:
    3 x 24 Gnasher Herd
    1 x 23 Gnasher Herd

    2 x Git Launcher
    1 x Skewerer

    I had rated this game as Neutral, meaning that it could go either way, with a good probability of ending up in a draw. The reason for that is double: the magic and shooting of the Orcs was considerable and could easily drop a kraken per turn if dice went their way. Secondly, the entire army was potentially Swiftstride with a movement of 5 or more. Meaning that the Krakens lost their range advantage and could end up in very precarious positions if I wasn’t careful. So I expected to bleed points while grinding the enemy units down.

    The scenario for this round was King of the Hill, and the deployment on table we got to play was Counterthrust. My adversary picked sides, getting the one with the hill in the middle of the deployment zone. That would make things more difficult for me when it came to assaulting the Viking lines. In spell selection the Shamanism Master took Awaken the Beast, Swarm of Insects, Break the Spirit and Bring the Pain while the Thaumaturgy Master took Hand of Heaven, Smite the Unbeliever, Cleansing Fire and Trial of Faith. My acolytes took the usual Grave Calls/Breath of Corruption and Ice and Fire/Crippling Fatigue combo.

    I must say I was relieved when Hermund didn’t pick the Comet, as it was the one spell that I couldn’t afford to let through: a well placed comet can influence the army’s movement far too much, making me lose momentum. That’s not something that you want to do with an angry mob staring at you.
    For the scenario purposes we did not get much of a choice: the Forest in the middle of the table was the only eligible terrain for both of us, which turned the game in a modified version of Hold the Ground, essentially.

    We alternated deployment drops as dictated by the scenario, and once three units were down * (Hermund placed his centrally, so as to not reveal his deployment plans), I placed the rest to grab the first turn: against such a list I needed to be the one selecting the fights and I also needed to keep the enemy scorers into their deployment zone for secondary objective purposes.

    *Here I should mention that I accidentally misled Herminard: he started by deploying a warmachine, but I pointed out that the first three drops couldn’t be characters or warmachines. It turns out that the warmachine restriction only applies to Marching Columns for some reason, so I’ll use this space to apologize once more for the misplay!

    The Viking Orcs (Vikorcs? Orkkings?) went for a denied flank approach: using the hill as an anchor (with a big gnasher unit on top to make sure I didn’t get too close too fast) they extended to my left up to the board edge, with the Git Launchers safely behind the lines. The empty space to my right was then occupied by three goblin chiefs on spiders, making sure that I wouldn’t be able to vanguard past them to threaten the infantry’s flank.






    TURN 1 – [Read More]
  • Game 1 – Team UN

    For the first round we got to play team UN which, as I mentioned before, had several players from our Belgian tournament scene. Some of them had participated in our pre-ETC training weekend, so we were a bit worried that we’d get some rematches: that can be good (you know what you did wrong) but also can be bad (your opponent knows what he did wrong/right). In any case, I was lucky enough to play one of the non-Belgian players of team UN: Marcos, a very friendly Spanish player from Madrid.
    We got around chatting a bit and it turns out that he plays in the same clubs and events as the players from team Spain and Argentina, so I made a point of not underestimating him!

    He had brought the following Vampire Covenant list:


    Marcos wrote:


    So all in all a well-rounded vampire list based on a very powerful magic combination, with several single models that could cause headaches to my army. Our deployment was Frontline Clash and the first scenario was to be Capture the Flags, which meant that I’d have to try and go behind enemy lines to reach the zombie units that would probably hang out in the back.

    Going into the game, I had estimated this match as favorable for my Dread Elves: with no shooting and a vampire lord that is not a particularly good fighter, all I had to worry about was the magic. When I saw the spells that my opponent chose I kind of reconsidered my initial optimistic outlook: He had all the snipes (Touch of the Reaper, Hasten the Hour, Marked for Doom), and then Grave Calls, Pentagram of Pain, Breath of Corruption and Spectral Blades! The only upside was that the dreaded Necromantic staff was nowhere to be seen, so I’d only have to worry about two invocations.

    We rolled for sides and I won, opting for the side that had a small hill just outside the deployment zone. I figured that it would be a decent place to park a Kraken or a flying monster and threaten the advance of the varkolaks and the such.Marcos seized the opportunity to drop everything for first turn. This gave me a lot of options in counter-deploying, and I organized my battle line with two things in mind:

    a) I had to keep the Barrow King away from my Blades of Nabh. I had faced this build in a tournament before and he managed to munch through all of my core infantry without so much as a scratch. With the scenario being flags, I’d have to try and avoid that at all costs.
    b) I needed to avoid the Varkolaks going behind my lines with their 28” initial move.

    So this is what I came up with.






    TURN 1 – Vampire Covenant

    My vanguard move managed to bring the middle dark raiders within range for frenzy-baiting the Vampire spawn. These were turned sideways and too far away from the generals Ld, but they still managed to pass the test on their own. Then the Barrow King declared a charge on the offending fast cavalry. Not willing to draw him near my lines that fast, they fled and got away.On the flanks the varkolaks maneuvered carefully, staying out of charge range of my fast support. The vampire’s unit surged forward, with the Vampire Spawn in close support. The Dire Wolves moved up and redirected my two central krakens.
    In the magic phase I had to use all of my dice to stop the Grave Calls on the Kraken. This allowed my opponent to get off a boosted Hasten the Hour on my corsairs, but the Pegasus prince saved the wound allocated on him. Finally, the vampire raised a new unit of zombies and then raised around 10 skeletons from his unit.




    TURN 1 – Dread Elves

    One of the krakens took the dire wolf bait, while the rest of the army maneuvered into position. The fleeing Dark Raiders rallied and moved up to block the Barrow King and the Vampire’s unit. I then set up a trap using my Manticore as bait; I moved him forward towards the Vampire Spawn, but keeping the Blades of Nabh in a position where he’d only get 10 attacks from the spawn due to the unit’s alignment. On the flanks I continued denying the varkolaks any space, while the remaining krakens moved up, one occupying the hill, thus zoning the Dark Coach.Finally, the Prince relocated towards the center and the corsairs did an about turn and moved backwards towards my deployment zone.
    In the magic phase I only managed to get a Deceptive Glamour on the vampiric spawn, lowering their agility. The kraken predictably killed all of the wolves.




    TURN 2 – Vampire Covenant

    The [Read More]
  • Greetings, dear reader !

    The biggest T9A gaming event of the year has come and gone, and everyone who attended will tell you we had a wonderful time. In the following blog posts I will try to take you on the same journey, by recounting the tales of the Belgian ETC team, and my Dark Elves’ exploits in particular.

    For those of you who do not follow the tournament circuit that closely, the ETC stands for European Team Championship, and it is a yearly get-together of some of the most competent generals from all over the world. The tournament lasts 6 rounds, and these are fought between teams of 8 people representing a nation. The scores of all the games are added each round and this gives a total team score between 0 and 160. To prevent any team from escaping too far by crushing weaker opposition, each round’s score is “capped” at 100 points, meaningthat the worst result a team can get is 60 and the best is 100 points. Now that the T9A rules have been stable for some time the level of competition hasn’t stopped rising: all of the teams had very well constructed lists, and several players from each team have been consistently scoring well in local and international tournaments.

    This year 36 teams participated in the event, for a grand total of 288 players! The level of painting and modelling was also very high, I suggest that you take a look at the photos the Lens Viking took while walking around the venue.

    As far as team Belgium is concerned we aligned the crème de la crème of our gaming scene, players who had distinguished themselves in team and single events over the 2018-2019 season. These were as follows:

    @gregor , our trusted captain and multiple ETC veteran, aligning an army of fast Daemonic Legions based on Fiends and Succubi with poisoned attacks.
    @PrinceCharming with aggressive Ogre Khans: Double hunters, double Aurochs, triple Kin-Eater, plus change.
    @IHDarklord with Undying Dynasties. He played a list similar to everyone else’s but at least he can claim he was on the bandwagon waaay before anyone else noticed it!
    @Mallak with an infantry-based Orc and Goblin list aligning no less than 72 Gnashers, 28 Feral Orc Eadbashers, 25 Iron orcs, along with double Git Launchers and Pyro magic.
    @valmir and his Vermin Swarms. Fun fact: Valmir tested the entire year a list with Vermin Daemon, double Dreadmills and the such, then 2 months before the event decided that people had adapted to the netlist and went to the drawing board once more! He probably gets the prize for the most innovative VS list, although the competition was not exactly stiff.
    @Artur , our resident Highborn Elf player. He lined up a list with some very heavy shooting and magic capability, designed to take on difficult matches and not yield too many points or even come out on top.
    @strauss , a new addition to the team and the best Infernal Dwarf player in Belgium (on a totally unrelated note, he also happens to be the only one :) ). His list combined all of the usual ID suspects: Kadims, Titan, Onyx Core, Pyromancy with the Icon of the Inferno. His personal touch was the Rocket Battery as well as a block of Sword and Board Citadel Guard.

    And, finally, yours truly with the Dread Elves that I’ve been using for the better part of this year. You’ll find the list discussions that led to my final list here, but essentially the list evolved from a double kraken/Dragon list towards a variant that favored speed and force concentration over more traditional choices.


    SmithF wrote:

    CHARACTERS:
    Dread Prince on Pegasus, Fleet Commander, HA, Shield, Lance, Basalt Infusion, Transcendence, Midnight cloak
    Captain on Manticore, BSB, Beastmaster, HA, Shield, Lance, Alchemist's Alloy, Talisman of Shielding, Dragonfire Gem


    CORE:
    2 x 13 Blades of Nabh, Musician, Champion
    10 Corsairs, Paired Weapons, Vanguard, Musician
    2 x 5 Dark Raiders


    SPECIAL:
    5 Dark Acolytes, Champion
    5 Dark Acolytes, Yema, Champion
    1 Medusa, Haberd
    1 Medusa, Paired Weapons


    MENAGERIE:
    3 x 1 Kraken
    Before the tournament we spent a certain amount of time theorizing and estimating how our armies would fare against the opposition. Doing so for 280 lists is a daunting task, but it was made easier by the fact that most factions were represented by one or two list archetypes.
    For example, most Ogre Khans lists involved double Mammoth Hunters, double Aurochs and a deathstar with BSB and the ubiquitous Shaman Master. All of the KoE lists were almost identical (Pegasus Duke with Might/Judgment combo, Druidism support, some questing knights and variable core) .
    When doing estimations one thing became apparent: where my team mates were estimating a potential score (for example, against X I can score 10 points minimum), I found that I could only give an estimation of the probability of winning. (ex. Against Y I have an 60% chance of winning). Thus became apparent what we called the Unstable condition: with such an aggressive list you… [Read More]
  • After the first four rounds, we’d had a couple of big wins, one marginal win and one marginal loss as a team: this put us still in first place, and in a position to fight for the top spot. Our opponents were yet another French team, one made up by ETC veterans: They had brought Orcs and Goblins, Dread Elves (a brilliant list with 6 chariots, an altar and two krakens!), Dwarven Holds (Shooting MSU variety), Sylvan Elves (full shooting with Wild Huntsman counterpunch) and, finally Vermin Swarm.

    Followers of this blog might know by now how much I hate facing the Vermin Swarm. It doesn’t help that our resident Vermin Swarm player is one of the best Belgian players of all time, one who consistently ends up in the top3 of tournaments, from the 7th edition Warhammer days until now. Having played against him several times I’ve learned that elves hate the Vermin, but on the other hand I had a secret hope that not all vermin swarm players would be as talented as Valmir when playing the army. Said hope was shattered when I saw who the player I’d be facing for our last game was: Thibault @ANKOR , also known as the French Mercenary, is a well known face in the European tournament circuit, as the former captain of team France ETC and a very able general.

    He had brought the following Vermin Swarm list:


    ANKOR wrote:

    Characters:
    Vermin Daemon, general
    Plague Priest on Pendulum, Plague Flail, Putrid Plate, Occultism Adept
    Chieftain BSB, Warplock Pistol, Binding Scroll

    CORE:
    2 x 10 Footpads, musician
    10 Footpads, musician, Vanguard
    2 x 20 Giant Rats
    25 Plague Brotherhood, Full Command

    SPECIAL:
    6 Vermin Hulks, Champion
    8 Plague Disciples

    TUNNEL GUNNERS:
    2 x Dreadmill
    2 x Plague Catapult


    So your run of the mill Vermin Swarm tournament list, with all the tricks: Vermin Daemon for reliable Discipline bubble, Divination magic and an almost unkillable general, the Pendulum unit to keep things honest, two Dreadmills to get points from the big targets, two catapults for whittling down the R3 elves, and a smattering of scoring and chaff. The objective for this round was Secure Target, and we got Counterthrust deployment.

    For spells, I went with the usual Ice and Fire/Crippling Fatigue and Grave Calls/Breath of Corruption, while my opponent picked the VS hereditary, Fate’s Judgment, Unerring Strike, Scrying and Stars Align for the Vermin Daemon. The Plague priest took Pentagram of Pain and Hand of Glory.

    Going into the game I knew that coordination of the attack was key to standing a chance: if I allowed the dreadmills and the magic users enough time to kill my big targets one by one I’d go down fast. I won the roll for sides and gave my opponent the side with the impassable terrain, placing my Secure Target token to the far left: that side of the board had enough covering terrain to ensure that if my adversary wanted to go for it he’d have to give me a lot of hiding spots. Thibaut countered this by placing his token diametrically opposite, right next to the eastern table edge.

    We started alternating deployment drops: the vermin swarm used the Disciples and the vanguarding footpads to deny me space in the left and the center respectively. I used my medusas and dark riders to bide my time, not revealing my intentions. The vermin did the same, but then I noticed an opening: the Plague Disciples had been deployed facing towards my opponent’s table edge to avoid getting frenzy baited on the first turn. Due to the scenario this meant that I was able to deploy my Yema Acolytes at exactly 20” away, giving me a 10+ first turn charge and an opportunity to take out a very annoying combat element. So I went for it, dropping the entire army in the process:
    I placed one Blade unit on either side, careful to prevent any easy firing lanes to the catapults (they had been placed already). The krakens and manticore went off-center to the left, and the general with Corsairs deployed dead center so as to be able to threaten either side of the board. My opponent replied to this by completely abandoning the left flank, and deployed in a denied flank using the impassable terrain to protect his flank.







    This approach meant that I was all but guaranteed a draw objective-wise as long as I managed to deal with the disciples early on. But storming the Vermin battle line and winning the secondary would be a totally different story. Predictably, the Footpads vanguarded forward to block my prince’s vanguard, and I moved up with both fast cavalry units.

    TURN 1 – Dread Elves

    My first action of the game was to declare that Dark Acolyte charge against the Disciples: they made it in, while a Kraken forced the central footpads to flee due to Terror. With the disciples locked in combat my army pushed up aggressively, careful to stay 26” away from the rightmost dreadmill. The dark raiders to the right spotted a mistake in the vermin deployment and moved… [Read More]
  • Right after wrapping up the first day of the tournament, Kiri and friends had organized dinner and drinks in the center of Luxembourg: so the following morning we weren’t exactly fresh! It certainly didn’t help that our opponents were some of the best players in Europe: TG Play is the team of Frederick and friends, bringing together three of Germany’s best players along with two of team Switzerland’s best players!


    As you may imagine, our predictions for that round were quite pessimistic as all the usual suspects were present: full shooting/magic Vermin Swarm, an EoS gunline, full construct UD, Frederick’s 16-unit WDG MSU army and, finally, Kingdom of Equitaine led by the usual Might Duke. It was the latter that I’d have to face, in a round where the secondary objective was Breakthrough!

    @Xavier had brought the following list:

    Xavier wrote:


    Duke, Barded Warhorse, General, Questing Oath, Virtue of Might, Shield, Lance , Divine
    Judgement, Basalt Infusion, Potion of Swiftness, Fortress of Faith
    Paladin, Barded Warhorse, BSB, Questing Oath, Shield, Alchemist Alloy, Crown of the Wizard King
    Damsel, Barded Warhorse, Wizard Master, Divination, Storm Clarion

    12 Knights Aspirants, Musician, Standard, Banner of the Last Charge
    9 Knights of the Realm, FCG, Flaming Banner
    2x5 Yeomen Outriders

    Green Knight
    11 Questing Knights, FCG, Aether Icon
    2x3 Pegasus Knights, Vanguard, Loose Formation

    The deployment we got was Encircle, which is always tricky against KoE: luckily, I won the roll for sides and elected to give the big flanks to the knights, kind of forcing them to pick a side instead of plonking everything right in the middle of the board.

    Spell selection was the usual for me (Ice and Fire/Crippling Fatigue and Breath of Corruption/Grave Calls) while my opponent got Evocation for his Crown of the Wizard King (= Spectral Blades) and a mix of buffs and damage spells from Divination (Scrying/Know thy Enemy/Fate’s Judgment/Unerring Strike).

    I think that the most challenging part of this battle was deployment: my DE army is designed to rush the enemy and break through the lines with superior force concentration, before the adversary’s support elements can move into position to help out. But that’s exactly what KoE excel at doing, too! The main difference was that the knights had enough staying power to ensure that my Krakens wouldn’t be able to punch through before the support (Read: Might Duke and Green Knight) could come to the lances’ aid.
    As a plus, the Questing Knights and the Duke both projected a huge threat zone thanks to the Questing Oath. Simply put, if I allowed Xavier to kill my redirectors early on I’d be in trouble. If I committed my units in the fight and failed to break the knights, I’d be in serious trouble. Finally, I had 3 scoring units that could simply not fight 2+/6++ knights, could be frenzy-baited into said fights and had little to no armor. With all this facts in mind, I elected to not place my entire army when my opponent gave me the opportunity, but to play the deployment game instead:


    The knights had four units that could rapidly redeploy, and placed them one after the other near the middle, so as to avoid giving away too much information. I replied with my fast support, with the same plan in mind. At that point my opponent dropped all 3 of his lances to my right flank and elected to force me to play first. And that’s where things got complicated for me: normally, getting the first turn with an army as fast as mine is a boon since I’m able to close the distance and can assure that my chaff won’t be killed before they redirect. But here I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to directly confront the KoE, since it would give them a lot of time to reposition and get my softer units if they won the initial fight. On the flipside, giving the first turn to cavalry that can move 16” means risking getting charged on turn 2, which can be worse.
    So I did what I thought was best: I took my time-out (in team tournaments you’re entitled to a 3-minute discussion with a teammate/coach once per game) and let someone else decide for me! :D I ended up deploying in a cautious manner, one would say against my nature:






    So the scoring units as far away from the action as possible, the Manticore BSB nearby to keep the Pegasus knights honest, then my redirectors and heavy hitters in the center to try to prevent the knights from relocating towards the scorers.
    The knights prayed, meaning that the first turn would depend on a dice roll. I won the roll, and forced the KoE to play first!

    TURN 1 – Kingdom of Equitaine

    The knights didn’t take the fast cavalry baits that I had set up for them, opting instead to push up my right flank, and keeping the Yeomen close to the general and far from my units, to my disappointment: as long as the fast cavalry was in range to redirect my kraken, I would have a hard time committing.… [Read More]