The start of the year of the Kraken: Dread Elves vs Vermin Swarm

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  • So with the first September rains, this blog is back in action!

    Since the ETC,my gaming focus has changed. Some of you may have followed my list building thread for Dread Elves (link here), where I try to explore how to best put some of the cool concepts of DE to use. So 2019 will probably the year of the Dread Elf, since it will allow me to use a nicely painted army that I acquired a while back!
    This first report is from a game I played against our local Vermin Swarm expert and fellow ETC Belgium team mate @valmir. It turned out to be such a great game, that I decided to make diagrams on UB and share it with you!

    Our lists:

    SmithF wrote:

    Prince of Yema, General, Dragon, Repeater Crossbow, Paired Weapons (Hero's Heart), Beastmaster's Lash, Lucky Charm (860)

    2 x 22 Dread Legionnaires w/spears, Full Command, Rending Banner (405)
    2 x 5 Dark Raiders (160)

    17 Dancers of Yema, Musician, Standard, Banner of Speed (444)
    2 x Medusa, Halberd (150)

    5 Dread Knights (255)
    5 Yema Dark Acolytes, Champion (375)
    5 Dark Acolytes, Champion (355)

    2 x Kraken (390)
    You can find the reasoning behind the choices in the list-building blog, but the main idea is to make use of fast and hard hitting elements in the Dread Elf book. The list doesn't have any shooting, focusing instead on maneuverability and the ability to focus close combat force in a small frontage. The Acolytes and Medusas provide something to do with the dice in the magic phase, and often they end up helping a bit.

    Valmir wrote:

    Vermin daemon (general), divination: 800
    Chief, bsb, binding scroll, ratlock pistol, shield :230
    Magister, thaumaturgy, binding scroll : 255
    Rakachit Machinist, ratlock pistol, scurrying veil : 230

    45 rats at arms, standard, musician, legion standard : 445
    25 rats at arms, standard, musician, champion : 280
    10 footpad 120

    20 giant rat : 140
    20 giant rat : 140
    5 jezzail: 190
    4 jezzail: 150
    Dreadmill: 290
    Dreadmill: 290
    Meat grinder: 150
    Rat swarm: 90

    13 plague disciple: 255
    6 vermin hulk :445
    So looking at the lists, two things were clear: I couldn't win this game from afar, and I would have to be very careful of my movement due to the Dreadmills.
    We got to play Counterthrust and Capture the Flags. After exchanging some drops, I decided to grab the first turn and put some pressure on the vermin early on.

    For magic, my yema acolytes got Pentagram of Pain and Grave Calls, the non-marked acolytes got Crippling Fatigue and Ice and Fire, while my adversary picked an array of close combat buffs (Scrying, Stars Align, Smite the Unbeliever) and magic missiles (Vermin Hereditary, Hand of Heaven, Fate's Judgment and Unerring Strike).

    Our deployment ended up looking like that:

    Vermin deployment, left to right: Dreadmill, Jezzails, Giant Rats, Vermin Daemon, Rat Swarms, Rats-at-arms with Meat Grinder and Machinist, Rats-at-arms with BSB and Magister, Jezzails, Dreadmill, Vemin Hulks, Giant Rats, Footpads (back), Plague Disciples (front)
    Dread Elf deployment, left to right: Medusa, Yema Acolytes, Dancers of Yema, Dragon, Dark Acolytes, Raptor Knights, Dark Raiders, Legionnaires, Kraken, Dark Raiders, Kraken, Dread Legionnaires, Medusa

    Not knowing where my opponent would deploy the bulk of his forces, I opted for a central deployment, putting my fast units in a position where they'd be able to rapidly relocate if the vermin abandoned the left flank. The piece of impassable terrain and the house close to my opponent's zone acted as flank guards for his units, but also gave me a unique opportunity to box in the rats from turn 1. So in vanguard I pushed both my raider units forward.

    TURN 1 - DE

    Normally I'm averse to sacrificing redirectors early on, but the long range potential of the vermin meant that I had to be aggressive. So both dark raider units moved up, effectively blocking the entire vermin battle line and leaving no room for redirectors to cross the cavalry line and redirect my hard hitters. The kraken both took cover in the woods, to make the most out of their Hard Target rule: now Jezzails and the Dreadmill would need 6's to hit. With the center pinned down, I pushed the entire army aggressively, relocating the Prince on Dragon towards the center.

    In the magic phase I managed to cast the Pentagram of pain on the left jezzails, killing one.

    TURN 1 - VS

    My adversary responded to my screening tactics by charging! The Vermin Hulks charged into the right Dark Raiders and the Meat Grinder solo-charged out of the Rats-at-arms unit and hit the flank of the second unit (this was something that I could have avoided, by placing my Dark Raiders closer to the rats!). The Disciples took the Medusa bait, and the giant rats closeby turned tail and moved back into the vermin deployment zone and too far from my units for second turn charge purposes. The vermin daemon relocated to the left, right in front of my Dancer unit. The Rackachit machinist used his Scurrying Veil to move behind the same unit, ready to use his breath weapon.
    In magic, a big casting roll left me unable to dispel the 2d6 version of Unerring Strike on the leftmost kraken: the Vermin Daemon took a wound from a miscast, but the kraken took three unsaved wounds in return. Shooting saw the Machinist and left dreadmill kill three dancers of yema, while the right dreadmill managed to hit the Kraken in the forest once, wound and do three wounds on it, leaving both of my big monsters with 2 wounds remaining!
    The footpads on the right took pot shots at the Legionnaires, killing three of the elves!

    In combat the Vermin Hulks easily killed the Raiders and pivoted a bit, but the Meat Grinder underperformed, leaving two Raiders alive. The buggers proceeded to pass their break test, shielding the meat grinder from retaliation and causing a major headache for my forces! The plague disciples killed the medusa, but not before suffering four wounds in return! Hopefully this would make the unit more manageable for the Legionnaires.

    (there is an error in the picture, the right dreadmill actually backtracked and was next to the jezzails. Also, the machinist was in a position where charging him was not possible)

    TURN 2 - DE

    With the kraken getting very weakened on turn 1, I decided that I had I'd have to be even more aggressive to make the most of them before they succumbed to magic and shooting. So both Kraken went into the small rat at arms unit, housing both the BSB and the Magister. The dancers of yema and medusa combo charged the vermin daemon, hoping to pin him down for a while, denying my opponent his magic missiles. The medusa sadly failed, denying me some s5 attacks and the flank bonus. The dragon moved up inside the forest, the dread legionnaires in close support. I threw my acolytes right in front of the Vermin Hulks, part redirectors, part hoping that their Aegis save would help them hold the line. My left acolytes failed their march check, which meant that they were unable to move far enougn behind enemy lines. Finally, the right Legionnaires moved past the Vermin Hulks' arc of sight, tempting the disciples to charge.

    In the magic phase I got the Grave Calls off onto the left Dreadmill. My opponent failed to dispel, but I proceeded to only cause an unsaved wound out of 9 hits! The right acolytes also cast an ice and fire on the right dreadmill, causing an unsaved wound.
    In close combat the Dancers failed to wound the Vermin Daemon, and only took two wounds in return, staying in combat. The Charging kraken targeted both Vermin characters, killing them instantly. Their stomps killed 7 rats, too. The buggers held their ground on a ld9 check. The meat grinder made short work of the dark raiders this turn, reforming to face my acolytes and dragon...

    TURN 2 - VS

    My adversary responded in kind: the plague disciples charged the legionnaires, the dreadmill and rakachit machinist piled into the dancer combat (I tried but couldn't reform them out of the Dreadmill's arc of sight), and the Vermin Hulks and Meat Grinder combo charged the Acolytes. Finally, the big rats at arms charged into the middle legionnaires. The dreadmill opted not to charge the wounded Kraken, instead going for a close range shot at my dragon.

    With the adept dead and the vermin daemon in combat, the only spells available to cast were Scrying and Stars Align: I let through Scrying, stopping a bubble Stars Align. Shooting put a wound on each of the Kraken in combat, while the footpads managed to kill another four Legionnaires with their slings! Finally, the Dreadmill supercharged and shot at the dragon, but still couldn't manage to wound it.

    Combat saw the Vermin Daemon and co kill six dancers in total, while the elves couldn't manage any wounds on the daemon and only wounded the machinist once. They promptly ran, getting caught by the machinist who fell into the Raptor Knights. The Vermin Hulks and Meat Grinder hacked the acolytes apart, my elves killing a vermin hulk before succumbing. The Meat Grinder managed to overrun long enough to clear the path for the Hulks' overrun into the dragon!
    In the disciple/legionnaire combat, the toxic grind attacks took their toll, only leaving 10 elves alive to strike back: I rolled well, killing four of the disciples, giving cause for a glimmer of hope. Unfortunately, the combination of hatred with battle focus meant that out of four attacks the remaining disciples managed to kill five elves! The legionnaires held on steadfast, but this was going to be a losing combat...

    Finally, the Kraken stomped the Rats-at-arms to the ground, causing them to flee off the table. The jezzails behind also panicked and fled, and the kraken reformed to help out the rest of the army. Finally, the Legionnaires fighting the big rats at arms performed great and managed to kill 10 rats for only three casualties back! The rats held on a steadfast 10 roll, and the combat went on.

    TURN 3 - DE

    Here I was faced with a dilemma: both Krakens were free to charge, but only one of them could hit the rat at arms, meaning that it would get stuck there and be open to a countercharge by the Dreadmill. The Dragon Lord was charged by the Vermin Hulks, and with Battle Focus I didn't fancy his chances in that combat all alone. So I opted for a double Kraken charge into the Vermin Hulks, leaving the Legionnaires to fend off for themselves against the 35 remaining Rats-At-Arms. The Medusa moved up to block the left dreadmill from charging into my Raptor Knights.

    Finally, the acolytes moved up behind the Vermin Daemon. In the magic phase the Grave Calls was stopped, leaving me with the possibility of a boosted Pentagram of pain. Unfortunately, no wounds were caused on the primary targets (Daemon/Dreadmill/Machinist in combat). In combat the Raptor Knights killed the machinist before he got to strike, reforming. The Dread Legionnaires in the middle once more outdid themselves, killing 8 rats with the help of their Rending Banner. The rats still held their ground. The Dragon Prince struck before the Hulks, killing one of the beasts. The hulks put a wound on the dragon and managed to sneak the final wound on the rightmost kraken. In retaliation, the Kraken killed all of the vermin hulks. The remaining Kraken overran into the Meat Grinder. On the far right, the disciples and the legionnaires still fought it out: the disciples managed three kills and suffered two back, for a tied combat.

    TURN 3 - VS

    The Vermin Daemon flanked my Legionnaires, as did the Dreadmill. The Giant rats on the right charged into the Legionnaire/Disciple combat. The Dreadmill on the left moved up to zap the dragon, also serving as a redirector for the Dread Knights.
    In magic the Daemon cast Scrying once more. Shooting was uneventful, the Dreadmill failing once more to hit the Dragon.

    Combat was brief and brutal: the Kraken and Meat Grinder slaughtered each other at the same agility step, the disciples finally dealt with the last legionnaires, and in the main combat the combined efforts of the Vermin Daemon and the Dreadmill helped break the dread elf spearmen. They were cut down in pursuit by the Vermin Daemon, whose path took him straight into my dragon!

    TURN 4 - DE

    To say that "I had the Vermin army just where I wanted it" was at this point an overstatement. But still, I saw the opportunity to snatch victory: The yema acolytes spotted the rear of the charging vermin daemon and countercharged. The Dread Knights and Medusa combo charged the Dreadmill.

    In magic I went for a 5-dice casting of the Grave Calls on the right Dreadmill, which forced my opponent to use all his dice to stop it. This let the Deceptive Glamour through on the vermin daemon.
    In the ensuing combat, the daemon challenged and the Prince took the duel: thanks to the lightning reflexes*, the daemon managed 3 wounds on the dragon, leaving it on 2 wounds. In retaliation, the combined efforts of the Prince and the Dragon took the vermin Daemon down to one wound! I had won combat by 5, leading to a Discipline 4 Unstable test. Aided by Guiding Light, the daemon rolled double 2's and stayed alive!

    The Dread Knights made short work of the Dread Mill and reformed
    *I later noticed that the VD has lost its LR in the v2.04, which means that we misplayed it.

    TURN 4 - VS

    The Rats at Arms flank charged my Acolytes, and the Giant Rats charged the medusa. In magic a couple of very high rolls meant that both Scrying AND Stars align went off! The combat was heart-wrenching: the vermin daemon hit and wounded enough to kill the dragon. However, due to the Deceptive Glamour the Prince was still able to attack! Two wounds were scored, and it came down to the Aegis saves...

    My opponent promptly made his two 4++ aegis saves, keeping the Daemon alive!
    The Acolytes broke from combat but outran their pursuers, leaving me one last chance at a cheeky magic missile to kill the Daemon.

    TURN 5 - DE

    The Acolytes failed to rally and fled. This left me with no options for the late game, so the game was called!

    Counting points, it ended up an 2-18 defeat for the Dread Elves. Victory for Valmir's Vermin Swarm!


    This was one of the most fast-paced, intense and amusing games of T9A that I've played in a while, which is why I decided to make a report out of it! There were so many moments where a single dice roll could have changed the outcome, that I did not feel at all bad about losing!

    My opponent played a great game, focusing on the scenario by keeping his scorers relatively safe. In contrast, I had to risk mine to gain the tactical advantage, which cost me the 6 scenario points. So, what could have gone better/differently?

    - The Kraken charge: in hindsight, putting one of the kraken into the flank of the rats-at-arms on turn 3 would have been a far better choice: this would have kept the Rats pinned, and might have even been enough to break steadfast with a good stomp roll. I underestimated the combat power of the Legionnaires, thinking that there was no way I'd get enough wounds to break steadfast on time. On the other hand, I overestimated the impact the Vermin Hulks could have, although the only reason that the Dragon got off so lightly was that the supporting attacks went into the Krakens instead.

    - The early maneuvers with the dark raiders: I despise using chaff that early, since you're left without redirectors during the late game. However, I felt that it was justified in this game, since it pinned down both the BSB and the Magister. Without BSB rerolls the probability of failing panics/steadfast Ld is big enough to be of consequence. I could have held off the Medusa on the right, and played less aggressively with the rightmost Legionnaires: the downside to that would have been that the Giant Rats would have been free to relocate to the center and redirect my krakens.

    I've always had trouble dealing with Vermin Swarm with my aggressive elf builds, simply because the Dreadmills are such good counters to the combat threats: in this instance the lightning shots "only" put 3 wounds on my kraken on turn 1, but it was enough to cripple my shock units. The only thing that kept me in the game against them was the fact that one of them was far from the action, and that the kraken and dragon were able to claim the forest and benefit from its cover. The agility 4 of the Meat Grinder/Dreadmills/Vermin Hulks also means that charging into them with the Kraken is very risky business.

    So, how would you have approached this game as the DE? What would you have done differently?

    Until the next time


    965 times read

Comments 7

  • Cultivator -

    The forest will remember your betrayal(s).

    Thanks of the report :p

    • SmithF -

      Hahaha, I'll come back to the forest...someday!
      I'm simply excited because this is the first time that I come up with a unique combat Elf list using the DE book: up until now I could always find a better equivalent using the SE.

      Truth be told, one could play a similar SE dragon list and have several advantages over the kraken/dragon variant (better spears, stubborn - yet slower - monsters, druididsm magic to heal, better fast support troops).

      Perhaps it's time to dig out the Sisters of Twilight and give them a coat of paint? hmm... :)

  • Marchosias -

    Very good report as usual, thank you very much!

    I wonder what would have happened if your opponent didn't charge the DR Turn 1. Do you think he could have manoeuvred in a way that would have made your charges in the centre impossible? And if so, do you think it would have been a wise choice?

    • SmithF -

      I think it would have been very difficult for him: the dark raiders could have still charged something (ie vermin hulks or giant rats) to get out of the way. He could have managed to force the krakens to charge the Hulks instead of the character bunker, or gained some time to move the characters around.

      Judging from the aftermath, he played it well: I should have seen that meat grinder solo-charge coming and avoided it by moving the raiders closer to the unit.

      Had he stalled, he'd have gotten another turn to shoot at the krakens, although I consider that the 3 wounds on each was a very lucky occurrence when you take into consideration the Cover and Hard Target.

  • Ursa06 -


  • Skarloc -

    I remember passing by your table and Franck showing his VS graveyard: ".. T2 DE.. my Magister: DEAD!! .. my Chief BSB: DEAD!!.. this game is already 20-0 for the DE.."

    The Franck Show!!

  • PrinceCharming -

    Seems like a nice game u guys had! While i fully agree with your aftermath, it seems u got ‘francked’ hahaha!