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  • Greetings T9A Commander,

    Welcome to my second army blog! In this blog I will learn how to play with a list design concept I have been developing lately. The idea is that due to the synergies in our army, especially when combined with mono Nabh cult lists, we can empower our core legionnaires to such extent that they become highly cost-effective in combat. In fact, we turn them into SPARTANS.


    Through playtesting the current consensus is that Spartans in core work best in infantry lists. Therefore, if you are interested in playing infantry lists, creating that cool Roman/Greek style of heavy infantry armies, I hope I can take you with me on this tactical journey to bring our Dread Elf legions to glory!

    :: Background ::

    I have always been an immerse fan of Sparta and its elite warriors since the movie 300. Besides these ultimate bad a$$ soldiers, the professional and disciplined Roman cohorts have also been inspiring. In this army I love to combine both the Spartan and Roman way of war, with heavy infantry as its backbone. I will delve into Greek and Roman history to find tactical concepts I could apply in my own wargaming.

    :: List Summary ::

    A Spartan list is mono Nabh, has two big units of Legionnaires in core with Academy Banners and a Divine Altar. We found that the more mobile combat power is added, the more resistant and deadlier the force becomes. One of the main strengths on this list is the deadly battleline, as long as this battleline can be kept intact, it is very difficult to be destroyed in combat. The vanguarding Fleet Commander can advance on one flank with his Corsairs, who can be supported or joined by the Asssassin. The harpies can create opportunities and redirect the enemy in crucial moments.

    :: The XIII Legion ::

    Lord Drakon, Legate of the XIII Legion - Cult Priest, Nabh - 125
    Khaled the Collector - Captain, Battle Standard, Manticore, LHAS, Talisman of Shielding, Beastmaster's Lash - 500
    Captain Zlatan - Captain, Fleet Commander, Pegasus, LHAS, Death Cheater - 420
    Princip - Assassin, Bloody Murder, Paired Weapons, Bloodroot, Midnight Cloak - 400

    Core: 1136
    30 Spartans, Spears, S, Academy Banner - 490
    29 Spartans, Spears, S, Academy Banner - 476
    10 Corsairs, Vanguard - 170

    Special: 739
    10 Harpies - 190
    9 Harpies - 179
    Divine Altar, Paired Weapons - 380

    Monsters: 1170
    Kraken - 390
    Kraken - 390
    Kraken - 390

    4500 points

    :: Spartan Tactics ::

    What makes a Spartan?
    With the recent successes of the Spartan + Kraken army concepts, and increasing interest for the Spartan concept, it might be worth it to delve a bit more into makes the Spartans such deadly and reliable core. There are five potential upgrades, I have ranked them from 1 to 5.

    Display Spoiler
    1. Death Trance (+1 to wound)
    2. Spears (+2 agility, extra rank, +1-2 AP)
    3. Hatred (re-roll to hit)
    4. Academy Banner (+1-2 AP)
    5. Cult Legate (re-roll 1's to wound)

    All 5 upgrades increase the potential dead enemies: hitting first, as much hits and wounds as possible, and negating enemy saves. It are these upgrades that make simple core Elfs (who normally suck) kill the most deadly monsters, elite infantry, cavalry and characters. It transform them into Spartans, the best trained, fearsome and most disciplined warrior to have ever walked on this earth.

    Death Trance
    The first and most important upgrade is the +1 to wound. Strength 3 will suffer against the often more resilient enemy core troops and monstrous cavarly. It will absolute murder enemies with Resilience 3, but it is more effective against huge deadly models such as monsters and characters. While normal core already wound at 6+ from Resilience 5, making them wound at 5+ doubles their killing power against these units. When all their attacks also hit, and they negate the enemy save, they can often kill a monster in one go.

    The second most fundamental upgrade are the spears, which give a multitude of benefits. This is why I think only Legionnaires can really benefit from the Spartan ideology, compared to Corsairs and Auxiliaries. Before men can become trained Spartans, they first need to become hoplites and able to fight in a phalanx. They spears give 8 more deadly attacks in line formation, make the Spartans most of the time hit first with their Agility 7 (front), and always have 1 armour piercing, with is increased to 2 when charged in the front.

    So, the two most fundamental upgrades are the death trance and the spears. They make sure that the attacks of the core elves become twice as deadly in wounding the enemy, gives you a whole rank of extra attacks (same as paired weapons + AP and agility). Now you want to make sure that the Spartan alpha strike become a deadly as possible. Although elves already hit with +1 due to lightning reflexes, they only have OS4. Against parry and high DS enemies, or just a bad roll, you will miss attacks. Hatred makes this failproof, and often makes you hit 100% of your attacks.

    Academy Banner
    With a lot of attack hitting, and twice as deadly in the wounding phase, you want to minimize the amounts of wounds that can be saved. With two academy banners you bring your AP to 4 when charged in the front, while AP 3 when charged from any side. This makes the Spartan as deadly as strength 7 troops to the front and strength 6 to the side (Executioners). With this further upgrade, a unit of 10 core elfs can annilihate a unit of 10 special elite cavarly on the charge.

    Cult Legate
    Although it will have least impact to regain killer instinct, it gives you often 4 to 5 extra wounds in that crucial round of combat, and can be the difference in utter annihilation and a round of casulaties, losing a rank of valuable Spartans.

    The most fundamental upgrades to make our core strength 3 elves Spartans, is both giving them spears and turning them into hoplites/phalanx, and death trance. However, it is the multitude of upgrades that make them so deadly and cost-efficient against almost all possible enemies. Hatred and Academy Banner add a lot, and to give them the cherry on top, provide them with a cult legate. I hope this have highlighted the 5 elements of making a core elf a Spartan, and inspired you to join us in fielding several phalanxes of Spartans in your own legions.

    The Art of Powerplay - By Curu Olannon
    Powerplay is pretty much a term I'm coining for this article to detail an army concept whose purpose is to run across the table, kill the opponent's units and win big. By nature, powerplay is performed my mobile lists. We will delve more into this under the how section. It's a pushing style of play which rewards creative thinking and seeing opportunities: By nature, the aggressor tries to create situations whereas the defendor tries to deny them. One could say that a Powerplay list is the action list, whereas the opponent has a reaction list. Many lists could fall into this broad and somewhat vague description, and this article does not in any way claim it was the origin or inception of anyone's playstyle or list, it is simply a term coined for the sake of discussing a specific subset of Dread Elf army lists.

    Display Spoiler

    :: Why Should You Play Powerplay? ::

    In a singles setting you need to score big points to win. In my experience, you need to average over 15 battle points per game in a 20-0 system to have a chance at winning. Assuming you go to an event to win, scoring big points is your number one concern to reach this goal. Every list can win big, however in a typical tournament setting you need to win big consistently and capitalize on the advantages you get, either due to brilliant play or due to an opponent making a mistake. Thus, the initiative and capability of capitalizing on an advantageous situation inherently lies with the aggressor.

    Furthermore, if you're playing a defensive army you will always have some matchups where an opponent simply can push you really hard and there's nothing you can do about this. These games inevitably end up with a terrible loss, frequently 0-20 and given the nature of the army, is very hard to avoid. With a mobile, aggressive list, you almost always have the option of playing the avoidance game, making a tough matchup not necessarily go beyond 10-10. Granted, this assumes a correct understanding of the matchup as this hinges a lot on deployment, but my point is that it can be done. A defensive list does not have this option, and having a bad matchup go 8-12 instead of 0-20 can be the difference between a top placement (as ~80 battle points are easily achievable despite one 8-12 game) and a decent placement. Note that this doesn't mean that only the aggressive lists do well, or can do well: In fact many events are won by playstyles that are anything but aggressive or mobile.

    To summarize then, a mobile, aggressive list has an easier time mitigating losses if the game turns sour and it has an easier time playing a hard matchup without losing big.

    A Powerplay list is inherently about controlling the pace of the game, controlling the where and the when of battles. It thrives in a context where it can move freely without pressure. The general idea though is that the more freedom you have to move around, the greater your options and thus your chances are. This is a combination of list building, terrain, deployment and your opponent's reactions to your moves. While a Powerplay list has the initiative, it is important to remember that this is only one out of many aspects that greatly affect your standing in the metagame. Continuously evolving and developing the lists you play is a necessity to stay on top: No one list is strong regardless of context.

    :: How Do You Play Powerplay? ::

    Powerplay is all about applying pressure and playing aggressively, without losing your head completely. When you do commit to a fight, consider what the combat resolution is likely to be, whether the enemy will hold or break, what happens in both cases and, most importantly of all, what possible responses and counters does your opponent possess? Know your limits, apply the pressure, but don't go overboard.

    When you play an aggressive list you're always trying to create opportunities, however when an opportunity arises you need to consider possible responses from your opponent. Does he have a decent counter etc, as discussed previously. To make sure you jump on the right opportunities, you need to think long-term: try and visualize the moves that will happen in the next 2-3 turns and how your decisions affect that, what the situation will look like given optimal responses from your opponent and so on. This is your baseline, and it should always be clear. When you move a heavy hitting unit, the plan should always be what'll happen with said unit 2-3 turns ahead. Having tunnel vision and jumping at a poor target can be an easy way to defeat. Likewise, not moving with a plan can quickly lead to your indecision tearing you apart: an aggressive army has to play the active part. Balancing this with holding back is key: there's nothing wrong with holding back as long as there's a sound plan behind it. If you are holding back because you don't know what to do, chances are you're making (or have already made!) a big mistake. Learn to always consider multiple turns ahead and factor in the best play you can think of for your opponent

    :: Spartan Battle Reports ::

    Saurian Ancients (20 - 0)

    Again, welcome to my blog and you are very welcome to leave some feedback in the comments! To give you a bit more insight in how it feels to play with Spartans I recommend you to watch this video for a moment.

    Follow the adventures of Lord Drakon with his deadly Spartans at: XIII Legion Spartans

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