First Foray Into the Ninth Age

The Ninth Age

Battle Report – 2,400pts, Dwarves (Chad) Vs Warriors of Definitely-Not-Chaos (Jason)

                 The Ninth Age is upon us! Or at least, those of us who are trying out the fancy fan-made rules that were cooked up by a group of gamers based on the Fantasy rules. For those of you who don’t know, because you were busy not hanging out with friends playing with toy soldiers and sulking that ‘true line of sight’ doesn’t make sense philosophically, Games Workshop declared last year that they are not releasing any new rule sets for one of their flagship games/product lines, Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Partly I feel this may be due to the dozen metric tons of hate mail they receive any time they do change the rules, but mostly the fan base has marked it as ‘selfish’, ‘lazy’ and a ‘terrible business decision’. This is the same group of people who continued buy from a company which, over the last twenty years or so, has increased its prices by somewhere between three and four hundred percent; possibly not the best group for opinions on ‘business decisions’.

                Either way, I have played the game on and off for about twelve years, and stopped buying things from GW after about five (I was a teenager with a part-time job, price hikes hit me hard, then I went to university and found out that becoming an alcoholic is expensive). I have personally enjoyed every iteration of the rules I’ve played and while I don’t always agree with everything GW did, I was never massively up in arms about it. Even when they made the declaration for the discontinuance of W:FB I was okay with that – I play plenty of PC games that no longer get patches or updates, I’m okay with never having to buy a new rule book or army book.

                No, I’m not a massive fan of Age of Sigmar. I am okay playing 8th instead.

                But now there’s the Ninth Age rules! Worked out by a group balance-afflicted gamers and they’ve done a pretty good job – or so it looks from the impressive documents they’ve thrown up on the internet. I got together with a mate to trial some of the rules and see what had changed – apart from the (sometimes entertaining) name replacements.

                Jason suggested 2,400 points so we got to try a lot of things and for my Dwarves – who normally go out in 1,500pt formations – this meant they had to drag out a couple more people. Or did it? I experimented with a list that ran all the more ‘interesting’ (read: costly) units and found myself about 300 points over. Rather than cutting numbers or war machines I made some infantry downgrades and then still had to slash some runes and numbers to make it fit. The list came in as:

Lords:

(General) Dwarven King, Shield, Runic Armour with Mountains, Runic Weapon with Fury, Craftsmanship, and Might, Runic Talisman of Dragon’s Breath.

Demonseeker, Runic Weapon with Fury, Might and Quickening (because he’s a Highlander) and Oaths of Grim Resolve and Magic Resistance.

Runic Master, Runic Arcane Item with Rune of Devouring, Runic Spells of Reckoning, Resilience and Resolve.

Heroes:

Thane, Shield, Battle Standard Bearer, Runic Standard of Shielding.

Core:

20 Clan Warriors, Shields, Throwing Weapons.

24 Greybeards, Great Weapons, Throwing Weapons, Champion, Standard & Musician.

Special:

14 Forge Warden.

15 Deathseekers, Vanguard, Champion, Standard & Musician.

2 Steamcopter, Flame Culverin.

Rare:

Field Artillery (Cannon) Engineering Rune.

Tunnel Artillery (Organ Gun) Engineering Rune.

Tunnel Artillery (Organ Gun) Engineering Rune, Rune of Fire.

 

                When I put the models down I thought it looked a bit small for over two thousand points. I considered dropping the Steamcopters or Forge Wardens for more troops, perhaps some Quarrelers, but stuck to my guns (ha ha). I wanted to try out the Demonseeker as in 8th he upgraded the Slayers from a speed bump to an expensive speed bump worth killing and not much else. Strategic? No. Scientific? Yes. Ish.

                I scrapped the idea of running a smaller, more elite unit of Kingsguard or the Definitely-Not-Ironbreakers in favour of a larger Greybeard unit because I figured ablative wounds were better than a slightly improved armour save. The Clan Warriors were really just a cheap bunch of bodies to huddle about the Battle Standard with shields and throwing weapons to ward of charges or survive them until back up arrived. I opted for Forge Wardens over a larger unit of Quarrelers because their guns are just so much better. I normally ran a gun line with two mediocre combat units the deal with stragglers but Jason knew that – so I made a much more aggressive army with some high-power ranged support to cover the ‘light’ assault units against particularly large beasties. At 2400pts I fully expected a Dragon or some other hideously large thing.

 

The Game

Deployment:

9amap

Key:

Warriors Dwarves
CK 5 Chaos Knights, Mark of Lust GY 2 Steamcopters
CH Chimera FW 14 Forge Wardens
CW 25 Chaos Warriors, Mark of Lust C Cannon
DO 3 Dragon Ogres FO Organ Gun (Flaming)
G Gorebeast Chariot (Lust) W 20 Clan Warriors
C Chariot (Lust) DS 15 Deathseekers
FA 10 Fallen (Wrath) NO Organ Gun
    GB 24 Greybeards

Forgive my MS Paint ‘artistry’ – I’m hoping this might hold some slight nostalgia for anyone who read White Dwarf before it was re-imagined sans battle reports. Jason won deployment and chose what I’ve dubbed the North side of the field mainly because his stuff was already on it. He deployed his chariots and Fallen in the North-East corner with a straight run at my lines, the Warriors on his central hill with a straight shot at me as well with the Dragon Ogres taking some cover behind the ruins there (we ruled that all of our Lustria-style ruins blocked non-flying movement and line of sight). His Chimera and Knights took a gamble and deployed on the West flank, looking a bit lonely.

Normally I would have set up a gun line on the hill and a hammer line in front of it but, lacking a real gun line, decided to set up the Deathseekers and Clan Warriors facing his Warriors and my Greybeards covering their flank. The normal Organ Gun nestled down between them while the other artillery set up on the other side of the line, far away from the chariots while not being too far from support. The Steamcopters and Forge Wardens set up on my centre with the former planning to fly over and harass something while the latter planned to close the box and use their shorter range firearms in the enclosed fighting box I was hoping to create. I then vanguard-ed my Steamcopters to the ruined wall and the Deathseekers the full 12” straight up the field, just managing to cover their flank with the Eastern ruins so they didn’t fulfill their oaths early on the scythes of the chariots.

My King & Rune Master went in the Greybeards, Thane in the Clansmen, Demonseeker in the Seekers. All his characters (A herald, two level 1 wizards (Alchemy and Fire) and a level 4 wizard (Lust)) went in the Warrior unit so I through my Ancient Grudge on that and we were ready to begin!

 

Turn 1:

I won the roll for first time, briefly considered lettering Jason take it so I was in range then remembered I didn’t have any mid-ranged firepower this game. I marched the Clansmen straight up the field to support the Seekers, who sidled forwards a bit to tempt a charge from the Chaos Warriors – the Mark of Lust (Definitely-Not-Slaanesh) in 9th allows the bearer/unit to re-roll all charge and pursuit rolls. My Greybeards made a conservative move forward, essentially to look fierce and scary and further dissuade flank charge on my central line, but I was careful to leave Line of Sight from the Organ Gun onto the normal Chariot; Jason had once got bother to hit a unit at the same time, resulting in a lot of dead dwarves. I didn’t want that to happen again. The Forge Wardens swung around to get a line of fire on something while the Steamcopters jetted over the wall and almost into the Warriors’ deployment zone and prayed the Chimera didn’t fancy a snack.

My Magic phase was eventful for the mere fact that it happened. The Seekers got endowed with Resilience but that was it. My shooting phase was notable because it was basically ineffective by my normal standards. The cannon misfired and blew up on of its crew, the flaming Organ Gun killed two Warriors and the regular one took a single wound off the normal chariot. Neither the Wardens or Copters could shoot so I set down my dice and handed Jason the tape measure. He asked me what I wanted to check and almost had to sit down when I told him that it was his turn. “That’s usually much, much worse,” was his official statement, only

The Chimera ignored the Copters and advanced down the West flank with the Knights. His Warriors also ignored the Copters and marched towards my line, confident that the normal storm of black powder was in fact just a squall. The Dragon Ogres repositioned ready to follow the Warriors while the chariots and Fallen sped up the East flank – the fallen moved a lot faster than I liked! In his Magic phase the only thing that got cast successfully was a fireball which slew two Seekers despite the Magic Resistance of their leader, who I named Ivor because Jason made a comment about how he probably wasn’t important.

Turn 2:

After a small amount of debate I issued a charge with the Seekers – they needed an eight but only got a seven, so moped forwards a bit with the Clansmen in tow – I’d remembered the banner of Shielding at this point so was willing to have them around to make the Seekers last a bit longer, even if it put both units deep in the Warrior lines. My Copters strafed towards the rear of the Warriors while the Wardens moved forwards a bit so a few could actually shoot this turn. My Greybeards marched in front of my own Organ Gun, exposing their flank to the chariots but just giving the artillery piece sigh on the weaker one. I was hoping to shift them with a Rune of Resolve so they both covered the rear of the other two blocks while facing the invariable chariot attack next turn.

Magic kicked off with me throwing some dice at my Rune of Resolve and Jason making the tactical decision to throw more dice at dispelling it. This worked and my Greybeards were left grumbling about my bad tactics and the Neolithic technology involved in chariot construction. The Seekers got both Resilience and Reckoning on them, expecting a charge from the Warriors and that was that. Shooting was for more impressive this time. The Copters began by double dousing fifteen Warriors in flame, killing an impressive seven (Jason’s face was a picture when he counted up his armour saves) and the Wardens popped off two more. The Cannon fired this time but Jason revealed his Battle Standard Bearing Herald had a banner that gave 5+ ward saves to him and his unit – then didn’t need them when the Cannon failed to wound. The flaming Organ Gun took two more warriors out and its regular counter-part blew the light chariot away with a mighty 20 shots!

I couldn’t help being a little smug as I handed the measuring tape back to Jason. Then he declared three charges and my smile went missing; the Gorebeast Chariot was a pathetic 14” from my Greybeard’s flank and his Fallen were about 15” out. The Warriors ignored the souped-up Seekers and went for my Clansmen – this was terrible! If they succeeded my Seekers would be out of combat and facing the wrong way for a whole turn! And the Clansmen had traded in their hammers for some fancy throwing axes (stupid, stupid, stupid!); the Chaos Warriors would chop them apart like kindling!

But they failed their charge – then I was reminded about the Mark of Lust’s reroll! They only needed a nine and my confidence in Jason’s bad luck was waning. Luckily it held out and he rolled another three, meaning that not only did the Warriors fail their charge but they blocked the Dragon Ogres in AND one died to my stand and shoot charge reaction! Much rejoicing happened in the Clansmen unit as they realise they weren’t all about to be butchered.

The Gorebeast chariot also failed its first charge – on three dice! – and I feverishly rubbed my beard in prayer to the Dwarven gods for more luck as Jason rolled again. He managed a mighty six! It had failed! Even though the Fallen managed to sprint across the distance to the Greybeards (who forgot to stand a shoot, probably grumbling about the idea) I was elated. The Knights flanked the West Ruins while the Chimera flew over them, belching flame over my Forge Wardens. I laughed this off, despite all fourteen of them being covered in fire, but two of them still failed their 2+ fire-fighting ward save. Glorious. Still, I was happy.

Until I failed to dispel Jason’s one Alchemy spell which reduced my Greybeard’s armour save by one (he almost cast it on the Seekers, which we both had a good laugh about when he realised how bad an idea that was). And then another seeker failed his ward save, despite me (finally) revealing my Banner of Shielding. And Jason also managed to cast his big ridiculous spell from the Lust book – 2D6 hits wounding on 4+ with Armour Piercing (6), and if anyone died from that onslaught the unit was afflicted with Initiative Zero (Read: Was turned into a Dwarf) and random movement D6. After an internal debate which lasted roughly 0.04 seconds I threw out my Rune of Devouring so it would never be a problem again.

Then we got to combat. Jason rolled one dice for the number of attacks the Fallen got, then added one for the Mark of Wrath. This gave them thirty attacks S5; ouch. My Greybeards weathered the assault and only four of them grumbled their way into their graves. Between the unit and my King six Fallen were cut down. The remainder fled due to combat resolution – with only four left, they weren’t enough to disrupt my Greybeards and the ranks and standard mangled their Leadership. The old Dwarves clearly had an argument about whether to pursue or not, going a heroic three inches, but were left with an arc on the Gorebeast Chariot.

Turn 3:

The Seekers charged the Warriors, my Wardens turned around to face the Chimera and my King took his Greybeards on a rush towards the slightly shocked Gorebeast Chariot. The Steamcopters took one look at the Dragon Ogres, who had turned to face them last turn, and hit full reverse, flying sixteen inches directly away. Magic gave a miserable showing, the Cannon failed to wound the Chimera but the Wardens literally blew it away in one volley – Quick to Fire, S5 Armour Piercing and Flaming shots basically put an end to any tricks the Chimera had up its sleeve. The Flaming Organ Gun took out three Knights while the other missed spectacularly with eighteen shots at the Fallen – I told Jason it was about sending a message. My King and the greybeards dismantled the Gorebeast Chariot for the loss of one of their number and reformed to face the still fleeing Fallen.

Then the main event; the Deathseekers versus the Warriors of the Wasteland! For the first time ever I got to pick up attack dice first with my Initiative 7 Demonseeker – who wielded a massive nine attack dice between his base profile, runes and weapons! Rerolls off my Ancient Grudge and strength bonus from Thunderous Charge and his Rune of Might meant seven of the elite Chaos infantry were crushed under his frenzy! The remaining Warriors died as they ripped into the Seekers, killing four but being slain in turn by their Deathblow attacks. The characters had an equally hard time of it, being reduced to a single wound each by their effort to remove the Seekers and the Dwarves’ return attacks. At the end of the combat, there were still eight Seekers and Ivor (the Engine). Jason’s leaders legged it but were caught by a massive 11” pursuit move, leaving the Seekers looking at the sunshine on the far side of battlefield and listening to the angry roars of the Dragon Ogres. Perfect weather for Seekers.

Jason asked if I wanted to call it their – my third turn had brought so much good luck for me that I’d basically wiped him off the board. I felt somewhat bad for him but at the same time he’d braved it stoically and in good humour. I did ask him if he wanted to let the Dragon Ogres tear the Seekers apart.

Yes. Yes he did want the Dragon Ogres to tear the Seekers apart.

One short charge later and Ivor was in a challenge with the Dragon Ogre Champion. Ivor managed three wounds (after I remembered his Grim Resolve) and the mutant champion managed two – not enough for either to die! But then it stomped, flattening Ivor who managed must have chewed its leg off to cause a last wound with his deathblow. What followed was a circular saw of dying Seekers and furious Dragon Ogre; the oath sworn Dwarves threw themselves at the hooves, claws and axes of the demonic cross-breeds while they in turn were struck down with hate and feral fury. After the hillside was stained red with blood and the dust settled, two lonely Seekers stood atop the corpses of the Dragon Ogres.

Epilogue:

We shook hands and sat down to chat about the Ninth Age rules. Seekers/Slayers are significantly more useful with Swiftstride and a 6+ ward (not that I passed many). There were lots of little things, and lots of rules that changed names or effects slightly that we had to check but none of them felt particularly powerful or overwhelming as changes. Magic seemed to be much more modular – there were apparently several power levels in the book to choose from for most of the spells – which I liked, although over all the spells seemed more subtle and less atomic than in Fantasy 8th.

The disruption rules meant that flanking units need to be larger or more hardy so that they make a meaningful impact on their combats. Personally I like this, as Dwarven light cavalry is about as common as golden rain and if I get a flank charge with less than ten dwarves it’s probably more like Picket’s Charge rather than a strategic manoeuvre. The changes to Volley Guns misfiring (only on a roll of a natural 6) and not cancelling the shot makes them gloriously good fun. Dwarf Volley Guns also get 2D6x2 shots, so that’s nice if you’re short, bearded and a grumpy alcoholic.

Overall it seems to be a lot of little tweaks to rules and units that will take some time to get used to. Oh well, I’ll just have to play a few more games…poor me… 😉

 

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