DE Infantry Help... and balance response?

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  • DE Infantry Help... and balance response?


    So I just played my third or forth ever 9th age game with my DE that I have collected for over twenty years. I wanted to give my feedback and make sure I understand the situation correctly or if I am missing something. I'm mostly a lurker on these forums, but I think I have kept up and read every post under DE on the 9th age and sites (it only takes a couple hours every couple months :) ). Here is my experience playing Dark Elves and my response about the armies external balance.

    First I enjoyed every game, and as an aside, thank you all! The 9th age community and leadership have made many difficult, tricky decisions, especially regarding balance and I am so impressed. Impressed not only by the effort, but these are decisions made by smart people. This is not a 'homebrew game' but a community driven game that competes in lore and competitiveness with private products.

    Oh golly, thanks all.

    When the community was originally asked bout what kind of army dread elves should be, the response to the poll was: "a mobile infantry glass cannon army, especially in the first round of combat." However, the 'glass' weakness of the army seemed to be too significant during the shooting and magic phase against certain foes. The army is always playable. There are neat builds with monsters and chariots! But overall I believe the goal of being an infantry driven army has not been achieved...yet?

    The few games that I have played, my opponents designed their list in part expecting elves. These armies had war machines and magic that destroyed my blocks. I wonder how the games would have been different if I had not lost so many models before combat. Not that I recommend it, but imagine a 100 point banner that mitigated (halved?) the direct damage hex spells or war machine damage for a single turn for infantry units? How would my experience have been different?

    There are gripes about specific unit costs, improvements to the cult system, comparison to units in other armies, and lack of power of certain characters, best choices in core etc., but I don't think these discussions hit the crux of the DE 'power' problem. The problem that certain other armies have access to options that do too good a job at killing expensive glass cannon infantry and DE does not have enough mitigation tools. Who cares which infantry models you bring...they all pretty much work. The problem is if your opponent brought a unit that is going to wipe half of them out before combat. If there is an Army rework, I'll bet I bring whichever core and special unit is the cheapest per model...I just want to get it into combat with a couple ranks.

    EDIT: My solution: I would keep offensive buffing to dark elves in combat, but add a few defensive buffs for out of combat.



    The post was edited 10 times, last by DragonArmy ().

  • Hi @DragonArmy
    welcome to The Ninth Age. I think your post is really well written and you describe in a few words things that all Dread Elves players experience at least once, especially when trying to play the style you mentioned above. As I experience a lot of the project for quite some time, let me expand on some things you mentioned or hinted at, bring in my own point of view and maybe an outlook.

    Topic #0: The Grand Army Book Rework
    To understand the current state of DE you have to know the history of army book reworks. Initially the T9A team had a more aggressive plan for bringing those out. Four at a time (or at least in rapid succession) were envisioned. WDG, DL, ID, and DE. Of those DE even seems to have one of the earlier spots. This meant, that the current DE book started to get into "do not change so much anymore"-status than other books, because "Rework is around the corner". I would say the current book is significantly less polished than others because of this, because as we know, the rework has been pushed back in the priority list and timeline.

    Topic #1: To be or not to be Dread
    A topic that came up in many discussions, especialy between V1.3 and 0.200 Beta was the discussion how Glass Cannon our troops should be and how pronounced the First Turn Damage strength should be. Many players on the forum were asking (or better demanding) more killyness, since we are so susceptible to shooting. Defensive abilities and ideas were often disregarded as "doesn't feel Dread Elf-y enough". However, it was (IMO correctly) pointed out, that this leads to bad game play. If the units become more and more pronounced in their strengths and weaknesses, the game becomes a coin toss: Either the enemy kills them in shooting or mitigates 1st turn damage or the elves break the enemy after the first combat turn. I think we should not be so hit and miss, too. In the end, I got the impression, that this discussion somehow limited the teams eagerness to discuss what "defense" meant for the DE.

    We can also see this in the change of the army strength and weaknesses (abbreivated as ASAW). The original ones of the community were:
    Strengths (in order, strongest first): Combat 1st turn dmg, Mobility (raw speed), Mobility (maneuverable), Ranged Shooting (small arms), Leadership (independence from general).
    Weaknesses (in order, weakest first): Defense (resilience), Defense (strength in numbers), Ranged shooting (heavy), Combat (continuous), Defense (armour).

    → You can already see the same argument as above. How would you give the army a defense strength, with three defense categories already very prominent on weaknesses. Also Combat (continuous) would have to be implemented, as the Elven Elite Infantry is quite capable of dishing out damage turn after turn (as long as they survive, but that is covered in defense).

    In Ninth Age Scroll #3 you can see a more textual representation of what the team uses as the new DE ASAW (but they changed the categories, because the old ones were honestly ridiculously bad designed):
    Strengths: Support (Characters), Mobility (Maneuver & Speed), Leadership (General Bubble), Combat (1st turn), Ranged (Maneuverable), Magic (offensive).
    Soft weakness: Defense (Resilience), Defense (Special Saves), Magic (Defense), Ranged Shooting (Medium).
    Hard weakness: Ranged Shooting (Long Range), Defense (Strength in Numbers).

    → The conclusion the board's community drew from this is, that in order to implement defense the options "Avoid Hits" (feels most elvish, but hits a strange and illogical aversion by the Rules Team) and "Armour" are still open. Many also say the weakness Special Saves needs to be dropped as the only open avenue available, especially if you want to diversify the elves among defense (SE=avoid, HE=armour, DE=?).

    Topic #2: During any time of day, to a shooter DE Infantry is always grey
    Imagine you are a shooter (of any kind). You draw your bow, arm your handgun or light the fuse of your trusty mortar. No matter which Dread Elf you are aiming at, if it's an infantry model, chances are they look all the same to you. Tower Guard (Res 3, Arm 2), Legionnaire (Res 3, Arm 2), Dancer of Yema (Res 3, Arm 2), Dread Judge (Res 3, Arm 2). Then we have the huge exceptions of Blades (Arm 0), RA (Arm 1 or 2) and Corsairs (Arm3 ). For any shooting with AP, even more entries become equal. Now compare with Highborn: Blademaster (Res 3, Arm 2), Flame Guard (Res 3, Arm 2, Aegis 4+), Lion Guard (Res 3, Arm 4). You can immediately see which army is better designed on their elite infantry. Additionally the only difference between DJs and TGs is how fast they kill specific enemies. This is why you come to the conclusion "if I get my infantry into CC in meaningful answers, I am fine". Because it not only feels that way, it is that way: You have 0 options in our book concerning remediating enemy shooting within our infantry. There are some, just not in infantry: Chariots, Knights, Monsters and the Altar. The Altar and the Ring are the only things in our books able to make our stuff more resilient to the enemies' shooting. Needless to say, having a book around "infantry", but with no good options to remedy the armies biggest weakness (i.e. not able to actually get into CC because of enemy shooting and magic), is not an "infantry book".
    My blog with battle reports and painting gallery:
  • Hi Dragon army. Happy you are having fun. I will share my list maybe it will assist you in combating the ranged threats from the enemy. Please share any feedback. The knights are an experiment at the moment. I may very well just give the dancers the banner of speed and switch the knights for Dread Judges.

    ++ Dread Elves (Dread Elves 2.0 Beta) [4500pts] ++

    + Characters +

    Oracle [345pts]: Cosmology, Wizard Adept
    . Special Equipment: Amulet of Spite - Wizards only, Book of Arcane Mastery - Dominant. Cannot be taken by Wizard Master.

    Oracle [495pts]: Army General, Divination, Wizard Master
    . Special Equipment: Talisman of the Void, Wandering Familiar - Dominant

    + Core +

    Blades of Nabh [200pts]: 10x Blade of Nabh

    Corsairs [200pts]: 10x Corsair, Repeater Handbow (4+)

    Dark Raiders [200pts]: 5x Dark Raider, Repeater Crossbows (4+)

    Dark Raiders [200pts]: 5x Dark Raider, Repeater Crossbows (4+)

    Dread Legionnaires [325pts]: Champion, 21x Dread Legionnaire, Spears, Standard Bearer

    + Special +

    Dancers of Yema [528pts]: Banner Enchantment, 24x Dancer of Yema, Standard Bearer

    Divine Altar [385pts]

    Dread Knights [507pts]: 9x Dread Knight, Standard Bearer
    . Banner Enchantment: Banner of Blood

    Medusa [135pts]: Halberd

    Medusa [135pts]: Halberd

    Tower Guard [675pts]: Champion, Standard Bearer, 24x Tower Guard
    . Banner Enchantment: Banner of Gar Daecos - Cannot be taken by Core units

    + Raiders +

    Raven Cloaks [170pts]: 5x Raven Cloak

    ++ Total: [4500pts] ++
  • @DarkSky

    Your explanation makes sense for, "how we got here:" the community asked to be an infantry army that could be 'hard countered' (hard weakness) by range and it might have been a little bit of design mistake on our part (thinking of it this way encourages not seeing the other army entries as too good). Most importantly this situation feels well understood and fixes are in the pipeline. In the mean time, there are neat builds and monsters and chariots etc. that mitigate some types of magic and shooting if I so desired. The situation is not dire, rather opportunistic.

    I mean, I voted in in the poll several years ago for army direction...

    I'll go read the 9th age scrolls. This is the information I missed:

    DarkSky wrote:

    In Ninth Age Scroll #3 you can see a more textual representation of what the team uses as the new DE ASAW (but they changed the categories, because the old ones were honestly ridiculously bad designed):
    Strengths: Support (Characters), Mobility (Maneuver & Speed), Leadership (General Bubble), Combat (1st turn), Ranged (Maneuverable), Magic (offensive).
    Soft weakness: Defense (Resilience), Defense (Special Saves), Magic (Defense), Ranged Shooting (Medium).
    Hard weakness: Ranged Shooting (Long Range), Defense (Strength in Numbers).

    Neat list. I have a similar list I want to try and but if we play a second game I'll give this one a shot; I need to find Medusa models. Your list also has a little bit of everything. I'll need to track done some players, but I will look to report back.

    Thanks, DragonArmy.

    The post was edited 1 time, last by DragonArmy ().

  • I also want to point out the "grey comment" as I hadn't considered it: Most troops are Res 3, Armor 2 outside of combat. While this obvious in hindsight, I'm not sure how I feel about it...a special infantry model that is Armor 3 or 4 (or a res 4 infantry model...yuck?!) feels...

    I also realized that I would be ok with models being more expensive if it meant that my opponent could not shoot them as easily.

    What is the right defense for dread Dread Elves?

    The post was edited 4 times, last by DragonArmy ().

  • Reach CC as fast as possible, or block line of sight for mass shooters.
    Some magic can help, but oponent will propably dispell the important spells that hinder his shooting.

    It doesn´t help to increase Reslience or armor, because both has to be paid with the models point costs. In additon there already is a R4 elf unit in the game...the cavalry. There are also a lot of monsters/chariots that have more resilence in the army. And the altar already can give a 6+ Aegis safe in 12". I doubt that any effect would become better than this.

    I would like to see the cult priest to have the altar buffs for his own unit, would perhaps make it viable to play this charakter as BSB on foot or even as additional cheap on foot character instead of the omnipresent altar BSB.
  • @DragonArmy
    I think the community (as a whole) surely contributed to the current state, by making demands which led to the current state. However, some aspects are solely the fault of the teams (various ones) over the time (please do not confuse this with me blaming them, we are only human after all). My previous post tried to go back a little in order to understand better how we arrived at where we are. Also I didn't want to go into the "solution space" immediately, because I always like to make inventory of what isn't working and why it isn't working.

    Regarding ideas of how to make DE infantry lists work better. The main points for me are:
    1. Make infantry more diverse. Key offenders are the pairs of Legionnaires/Corsairs and TG/DJ
      1. My solution for Corsairs is detailed here:…sairs-where-is-the-arrrr/
      2. Tower Guard and Dread Judges are basically only filling one role (in HE book, covered by Swordmasters): Supreme, killy, paperthin Elite Blenders. I do not see any reason to have two of those. They perform a little bit different against certain enemies and the DJs are generally favoured, because their strengths are harder to come by with other, especially core units (e.g. you can get many small str attacks with Blades, but you can't get high str attacks with any core unit). My idea would be, to put some "Guard" into Tower Guard, e.g. give them Off 4, Def 8, Att 1, Arm 3 and Parry (just a very rough idea, basically they would/should be unable to deal tons of damage, but at the same time deny any meaningful combat result from enemy troops).
      3. I know I am stepping on the toes of many players who love this unit, but from my point of view the Dancers of Yema are a complete design failure. I do not question their comparative strength and they are probably our best elite infantry for a centre block. But the way they win fights (kill a few enemies, suffer close to no damage yourself, win on combat result or grind them down), is exactly the opposite of all ASAW that were designed. Additionally giving the least killy elite unit the skirmish option, is like a bad joke. What are you supposed to do with a unit, that can't deal damage and can't generate static CR?
    2. Some form to mitigate ranged damage
      1. First thought is: Weakness in defensive magic is more pronounced than Weakness to shooting, so nothing should be done there. Pyromancy will still remain as the main weakness.
      2. Second thought is: Ranged damage can be mitigated outside of classical stats (hard target, arm, res, numbers, aegis). Some existing ways to pressure shooters are: Additional cover on the table (see SE forest), deployment (ambush & scouts → see my Corsairs idea) and raw speed (is a little bland). New ideas can evolve around: Enchantments or abilities to draw fire elsewhere (e.g. Banner of Fractured Sight (scoring infantry only): All shooting attacks which declare this unit as the target must randomized their target between the targeted unit and all other scoring infantry within 8'' of that unit. → idea: The elves create magical illusion to make all units look the same to the opponent, so their shooters do not know what they are actually shooting at. This maintains the paper-thin quality of the Elves, but also captures the Witchcraft-Hex-Feel: When you are fighting the Dread Elves you are cursed and you can't trust your own senses anymore). Other ideas through special rules are plenty, from defensive cover fire from Auxiliaires, to faster movement if shot upon, so sacrifical slaves in units, etc.
      3. Third option and already discussed: Use the support (characters) strength and transform the Cult Priest into a buff character (already made a few first steps into that direction with the Cult Legate rule). A cool idea (but not necessarily good against ranged damage) was that a Nabh Priest can prevent one wound for each wound she deals herself (this was before her offensive was gutted). The general plan is to open more styles through characters, by supplying not only the Caster/Assassin-style fighter options, but also a defensive support choice.
    My blog with battle reports and painting gallery:
  • I feel a bit frustrated recently trying to play infantry.

    Specially vs armies like Lizarmen, (old) Deamons, Dwarfs... because their magic. Vs other armies like EOS, SE... because their ranged attacks.

    IMO, we are still a bit far from have this weakness balanced, if you play with infantry. If you check tournaments success lists, normally the only infantry units that you will see are spearmen in basics, small units, to fill core and try to reach objetives.
    I used to be Suddenwind... :)
  • I agree (surprise!) with @DarkSky that Dancers are a great unit totally at odds with the theme of the book, made worse that they are also the cheapest elite option, which is important when cheaper = more models (either in the unit or more toys to offset a core tax and bizzare legacy points costs - looking at you, elf characters).

    I summarised before that the problem with DE is that the cannon element isn’t anything to write home about (compared to the equivalent damage of other armies), and in some cases is distinctly underwhelming, while the glass is both too fragile and too expensive, and exacerbated by a strength that doesn’t exist (m5 is NOT fast these days). It’s like the perfect storm of why something isn’t good.

    Although the beta book is in a much better position than other points in the past.
  • Maybe one key to help us could be give us more options to control the movement phase (ambush, vanguard...) this kind of rules.
    With weak and expensive infantry our control in this phase is still a bit poor (only cauldron bless help now, maximizing dices to charges)
    Cults redesign could be focus for this, like Yema is doing now.
    Refering to ranged attacks weakness, some rules like hard target to the unit if marches...rules like this could help us to suffer less from normal ranged attacks, pushing the army to move fast to reach combat. Refering to magic missiles, I don´t know how to balance example... recently games agains DL and SA... I really suffer against their magic missiles and focused ranged damage spells.
    I used to be Suddenwind... :)
  • DE Infantry Help... and balance response?

    HE player here.

    Here's an idea:
    Slave Screen: 6++ aegis vs shooting for infantry units.

    This could even be an upgrade for infantry perhaps so you pay for it where you want it.

    Cauldron could increase this aegis to a 5++ vs shooting on one unit as it's blessing or provide a 6++ aegis vs shooting to a unit that doesn't have Slave Screen.
    Maybe remove the cauldron 6++ aegis for cc. DE should be using aggressive blessings in combat anyways.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk

    The post was edited 3 times, last by TowerGuard712 ().