SmithF's 9th Age Battle Reports 88

MSU battle reports, as first seen in TWF.

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  • New

    For the fifth and final game of the weekend we were going to face the second Swiss team, made up by past ETC members mixed with new prospects. Given our catastrophic fourth round, we’d need a very solid performance with maximum points gained if we were to get a decent placing. So we decided to go for it, and the general order was: go get points.

    For my part, I was once again thrust against Vermin Swarm, albeit a different type of list than the previous one:

    Michael wrote:

    So mostly a shooting/magic heavy list with a couple of big combat blocks and decent chaff. Thanks to the fact that I had no big monsters, I was not very afraid of the Naphtha launchers, but the overall magic and the presence of the lightning cannon meant that I’d still need to respect the rats. This time we drew Refused Flank as a deployment, and the secondary objective was Secure Target.

    I won the roll for sides, and gave my opponent the side with the Hill and Water feature. The reason for that was that I anticipated the Vermin castling in a corner and shooting me, so I figured that it would benefit me if the fight took place close to terrain pieces that could boost my Druidism ranges. That meant picking the side with two impassable terrain bottlenecking the Beasts, but thankfully the footprint of my units is smaller than it used to be, and if everything went ok I’d be able to move past them quite fast. I put my Secure Target token close to the upper left corner (the Vermin “weak” side), a move that usually guarantees a draw in the objective since the enemy cannot bring enough scoring units to bear on that side. Then my adversary surprised me by placing his token near the center of the board and exactly 24” from mine. After a few alternating drops, he dropped his army for the first turn, and in another surprising move he went for a central/aggressive deployment!

    For spells, I picked Healing Waters, Master of Stone, Summer Growth and Stoneskin. The magister went for Awaken the Swarm, Wrath of God, Smite the Unbeliever and Trial of Faith, while the Patriarch picked Hand of Glory and the Pentagram of Pain.

    My counter-deployment was based on the following thoughts: I didn’t want to face the Pendulum with my general’s block, nor with the BSB’s centaurs, but I also wanted to make it more difficult for the Vermin to claim battlefield space in the center of the board. I also needed my general’s unit to be relatively intact in order to threaten the Vemin Guard block.

    So I paired up my Minotaurs, Centaurs with Lances and the Chariots in the center, making sure that if the Naphtha throwers wanted to shoot at my Minotaurs they’d be exposed to charges by the faster elements. I then placed the GW centaurs along with my Wildhorn unit on the left flank, and scouted my Gargoyles near the unprotected lightning cannon.

    TURN 1 – Vermin Swarm

    I had vanguarded my Centaurs near the Abomination, giving it a 13” charge on purpose: due to its positioning, it would have to either take it or risk getting charged by the Centaurs on my turn. It fell an inch short, stopping right in front of the beasts. The rest of the units moved slightly forward, with only the Pendulum pushing aggressively forward.

    The magic phase started with a high roll on the Awakened Swarm on my leftmost centaur Lancers, that I had to let through: 11 hits later, my unit evaporated, causing the mongrel raiders to panic. Thankfully, my feral hounds passed their discipline test. The magister then attempted to cast Wrath of God on 4 dice. He got it off with triple 6’s, so I let it through and watched as the ensuing miscast took the Vermin caster into the void!

    Shooting was largely ineffective due to the Dark Rain and my units’ positioning, with the leftmost minotaurs just suffering a single wound from the Naphtha thrower.

    TURN 1 – Beast Herds

    My leftmost minotaurs failed their frenzy check and had to charge: thankfully a weapon team was within range, so I opted for the long charge instead of the shorter one into the Pendulum: they failed and stumbled a bit forward. The GW centaurs fell upon the Abomination. The… [Read More]
  • The ones paying attention will have noticed that there is no report for game 3. The reason for that is that in the third round I got paired against one of my Team Belgium teammates using Dwarven Holds, with a list that I had helped him write. He promptly offered me a small win (12-8) in exchange for a open training game: the result of the game was closer to 16-4 for the Beasts, but it was a nice experience for both of us, the perfect way to end a long and tiring day.

    The team did well in their games, so on round 4 we would play on Table 2 again. Our adversaries were the Swiss Roots, a collaboration between some of the most capable players of ETC team Switzerland (Bronze Medallist this year) and two of the best German players, including Australian ETC team member and WTC orga Frederick.

    Our pairing matrix was looking particularly sad against such opposition: I wanted to avoid playing against the Scourge list Frederick had lined up, so gladly accepted the alternative of playing the team’s captain @Xavier , using the following Vermin Swarm list:

    Xavier wrote:

    850 - Vermin Deamon, General
    770 - Magister, Wizardmaster, Doom Bell, Witchcraft, Light Armour, Binding Scroll
    543 - 33 Vermin Guards, MCS, Lightning Rod
    150 - 2x20 Giant Rats
    220 – 25 Rat at Arms, Musician
    120 - 10 Footpads
    525 - 7 Vermin Hulks, Champion
    340 - 2x1 Dreadmill
    235 - 6 Jezails
    115 - 3 Jezails
    140 - 1 Rotary Gun
    Choosing to face Vermin Swarm is the definition of being between a rock and a hard place, I’ve found that they are very difficult to deal with, and generally have a negative record against them. The only saving grace was that the scenario this round would be Breakthrough.

    Looking at my opponent’s list I was surprised to see Witchcraft instead of Thaumaturgy, and I welcomed the lack of a BSB: even with the Vermin Daemon’s Discipline 9 and the Divination attribute, I could hope to force some panic or march tests to help my cause.

    My opponent won the roll of sides, and made sure that terrain wouldn’t help my Druidism ranges by giving me the side with the Water feature and the hill. Our deployment type was Encircle, and Xavier gave me the big flanks. He got the option to drop all for the first turn after I’d placed my Feral Hounds, and he took it: The VS ended up with a denied flank deployment, with a piece of impassable terrain somewhat protecting their flank, the Vermin Hulks and Vermin Daemon guarding the center and then the two big rat units offset to my right.

    I put almost all of my hard hitters, including my Wildhorns, as close as possible to the bulk of the Vermin troops, keeping my chariots in the center, and only the GW Centaurs with the BSB in the weak flank: these used their Vanguard to push up around the impassable terrain, while the scouting Gargoyles reinforced that side.

    The game plan was simple: use my wildhorns as a battering ram, protecting their flanks with the chariots. I’d have to use the GW centaur unit to occupy the VD and Hulks, so that they wouldn’t come crushing into my general’s unit. By putting the pressure on the Vermin early on, I’d also be able to claim the secondary objective uncontested. For magic I got Healing Waters, Entwining Roots, Summer Growth and Stoneskin. The Magister took Deceptive Glamour, Wheel Turns, Will O’ the Wisp and Raven’s Wing, while the Vermin Daemon got Know thy Enemy, Scrying, Stars Align, Unerring Strike and the Hereditary:an impressive array of spells for every occasion!

    TURN 1 – Vermin Swarm

    As predicted, the Vermin Hulks, Vermin Daemon and Giant Rats to my left turned around to prevent my Centaurs from completing their flanking maneuver. The rest of the units advanced a bit, the Dreadmills staying back to deal with my ambushers.

    The magic phase started with a failed attempt at Unerring Strike against my Centaurs with GW (first and only time during the tournament that the Aether Icons did something!), which put a damper on the magic phase: I dispelled Awaken the Swarm on them, letting through Will o’ the Wisp on my rightmost Lance Centaurs.

    Shooting was largely ineffective due to the Dark Rain.

    TURN 1 – Beast Herds

    With the left flank effectively shut off due to the positioning of the Vermin Hulks and Daemon, I maneuvered the BSB and retinue around the impassable and back towards the center of the board. The accompanying Gargoyles pushed up the flank, ready to charge the Jezzails if the VG didn’t use their Lightning Rod (spoiler: they did). The Wildhorns pushed forward, claiming the hill, with both minotaur units in proximity.

    For the first time in the tournament I also opted to use my Hunting Call: both ambushing units appeared, each threatening a Jezzail unit: I figured that this way I’d be buying some time for the main forces and forcing the Vermin to turn around and deal with them.

    My Lance Centaurs stumbled 10” forward towards the Vermin[Read More]
  • After our big round 1 victory, we would be facing another familiar team: Les enfants du Sud, a French team hailing from the (surprise!) south of France, contenders for this year’s ETC qualification and France’s 2019 representatives at the ETC in Serbia. Some of you may remember my games against Benji, BatCat or Vince, all of which are members of the same group of players.

    This time team strategy had me pitted against Undying Dynasties, led by Stephen @Ezekiel57 : a multiple ETC veteran, Stephen has often a unique take on the UD. This time he didn’t disappoint, with an MSU army:

    Ezekiel57 wrote:

    460 - Death cult hierarch, wizard master, binding scroll, talisman of the void, evocation
    310 - Death cult hierarch, wizard adept, general, hierophant, book of arcane mastery, scroll
    of desiccation, divination
    470 - Pharaoh, skeletal steed, GW, Godslayer, death mask of teput, destiny's call
    225 - 17 skeletons archers, MC
    396 - 23 skeleton cavalry, MSC, aether icon
    252 - 2 x 26 skeletons, MSC
    290 - 2 x 6 scarab swarms
    200 - 3 x 3 shabtis archers
    320 - 2 x 3 tomb cataphracts, M
    315 - 4 sand stalkers
    Total : 4500

    On paper, this was an open match: the scarab swarms can be very annoying for my unarmoured units and the pharaoh represents a danger for my characters. Add to that very good combat buffs from Evocation and Divination, and you’ve got a list that can seriously hurt the beasts. Our secondary objective this round would be Capture the Flags, and that’s the detail that would dictate the way the game would be played.

    For spells I picked Healing Waters, Regrowth, Stone Skin and Entwining Roots, while Stephen picked Know thy Enemy and Stars Align from Divination and Spectral Blades, Ancestral Aid, Touch of the Reaper and Hasten the Hour from Evocation. Right away he turned the only Water feature on the map into a DT(1) terrain piece, denying me some crucial range for the Druidism spells.

    Deployment (Counterthrust) was very tactical and long this game: with 13 drops for the UD vs 11 for the BH, we went back and forth for a while. My goal was not to give away the position of my small scorers too fast, but also to avoid being outdeployed very heavily. At about 7 units in, I noticed that the UD were cornering quite heavily around the building to my right, and that gave me an idea.

    Deploying directly opposite the Stalkers/Shabti Archers and rushing in would play right into the UD’s plan, since it would give easy targets for snipes, which meant potentially VPs, while also expose my fragile scorers to S5 shots. So I went for the long game instead: I placed my chariots centrally to keep the Pharaoh honest, kept my Wildhorns close enough to the center (3 turns away from combat), and went for a flanking maneuver with my Centaur BSB and retinue. Oh, and I gave my opponent the first turn:If everything went well, I’d avoid snipes for the first couple of magic phases, and limit the UD maneuvers thanks to the chariots’ zoning ability.

    TURN 1 – Undying Dynasties

    The undead maneuvered very cautiously. My chariots performed their role, keeping the Pharaoh and Cavalry back and protecting my Lance centaurs in the process. In the middle, a lot of shuffling took place so as to provide lanes of fire for the Shabtis. In the magic phase I let Know thy Enemy through on the Pharaoh’s unit: I wasn’t planning on charging them just yet, since I feared that it would only serve to pin my chariots (and beastlord) down long enough for the Cataphracts to countercharge.

    Shooting was particularly ineffective this turn, bouncing off the minotaurs and chariots respectively.

    TURN 1 – Beast Herds

    I opted not to use my ambushers: as long as the rest of the troops hadn’t closed in, they’d be easy pickings for the undead. The GW Centaurs moved deep into the enemy deployment zone, and the minotaurs and Wildhorns started the long slog towards the middle. The Chariots moved a bit back from the horsemen, as did the centaurs. Finally, the Beastlord on Chariot repositioned towards the main UD forces.

    In the magic phase range meant that I could only give Stone Skin on the GW centaurs, hopefully protecting them from any Shabti shots that might come their way.


    TURN 2 – Undying Dynasties

    My opponent declined the feral hound charge, backing his unit a bit in the center. In his weak flank he pushed the Sand Stalkers towards my GW Centaurs, chaffing them in the process. The Pharaoh and Co moved up a bit, careful not to give me a combo-charge with the chariots and the centaurs.

    In the magic phase I dispelled the Stars Align on the Stalkers, letting through both Know thy Enemy and Ancestral Aid on the Pharaoh’s unit. Disaster struck on the shooting phase, however: the Sand Stalkers took aim at the GW Centaurs*, killed 4 of them and I promptly failed my rerollable panic and ran away, stopping a few inches short of the table edge! The rest of… [Read More]
  • Greetings, dear reader!

    Welcome to another series of Battle Reports, this time recounting the battle stories of yours truly at the Luxembourg Bash Masters (LBM for short). Long time followers of this blog already know what I’m talking about, but in case you’ve stumbled in here by accident here’s all that you need to know about the LBM:

    It is a 5-player team tournament of T9A, played at 4500 points and taking place in Luxembourg every February for the past four years. It is organized by @kiri @falanor and co, and has become our go-to winter tournament thanks to the quality of the event itself but also due to the (always increasing) level of teams attending. This year they managed to attract 120 players (24 teams) from all over Europe: France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Portugal,Switzerland were all represented, as well as Luxembourg of course.

    This year our team (the Belgian Chocolates) aligned the following armies:

    @IHDarklord with his trusty UD in an MSU approach (is it MSU if three of your “multiple” units are actually R8 sphinxes?)

    @Talandria with the denizens of the forest (SE) and an agenda to prove that shooting is much better than magic.

    @Chosen of Sigmar with as many Vampire Knights as one can fit in a VC list

    @logick with a Knight and Forlorn-heavy KoE list

    And finally yours truly with the Beast Herds. I’ve been accused of playing every army I get as if they were Beast Herds (including SE, DE and DH), so for this year’s tournament season I decided to give the real deal a try. You can read all about my various lists and tests HERE.

    For this tournament I opted for the following list:

    So quite character-heavy, but with most of the characters intended to bolster my units rather than deal with the enemy on their own. I hadn’t been able to play much for the past 3 months, which meant that I added the Beastlord on chariot on a hunch more than based on playtesting. Other than that, the Wildhorn and the big Centaur blocks have been staples of my list since October and always solid performers.

    Lack of experience with the list meant that I was not as optimistic about my pairings, especially in a field such as the LBM, where lots of opponents had brought very aggressive lists (DL with Scourge, chariot spam lists and so on). So I knew going in that I wouldn’t always get a favorable matchup, but could probably avoid the worst of them.

    For the first round of the tournament we got to play team Portugal: we’ve been coming across @Donotask and his team mates almost every time we play in Luxembourg, and it’s always a pleasure. This time I was paired up against Erikson and his Lustrian-themed Dwarven Holds. He had taken variations of his list to two ETCs before the LBM, so this was clearly not his first rodeo!

    The army looks great close-up, with lots of cool conversions (Steam Copters = dwarves carried by Pteradons, all of the Dwarven Equipment looks Saurian-like and the characters are riding giant tortoises/crabs!) and attention to detail in painting with NMM and good-looking bases. I hope that he can send me more pictures of it, so that you guys can enjoy the eye-candy.

    His list:

    Komikaz wrote:

    So a very compact push list, based on 3 vanguarding blocks that are hard to shift and occupy/kill the opponent while the small scorers do the scoring. Having played a DH push list for an entire season, I knew how effective it could be, but also had some ideas on how to counter it. So I had estimated this to be a good match for the beasts. Things became a bit more complicated due to the Scenario, which would be Hold the Ground.… [Read More]
  • 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:

    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

    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

    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:

    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

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

    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:

    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)

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

    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:

    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

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

    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]