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I recently played in a small local Age of Sigmar tournament. While the impending General's Handbook will no doubt change some things the list as a whole will likely benefit from the horde changes and point reductions previewed for Death. I thought that my observations might be helpful to players interested in coming over to the Death faction or to Age of Sigmar in general.
Prior to the event I was not actually able to play with the army as it was still being assembled and starting to be painted. Final assembly was finished the night before. I was able to get in a few skirmish games but had not otherwise played in the fantasy rules since 5th edition or so. Death plays very different in skirmish (or at least this list does) so that was more useful for practicing the basics a few times. That and familiarity with the new 40k rule set was enough to get by.
Arkhan The Black Mortarch of Sacrament
- Mount: Nightmare
- Artefact: Sword of Unholy Power
Wight King with Baleful Tomb Blade
- Mount: Steed
- Trait: Ruler of the Night
- Artefact: Tomb Blade
2 x Morghast Harbingers
10 x Black Knights
***A note on the skeletons if you intend to play a list like this***
All skeletons are magnetized on Litko trays. Right now I am using one 5x2 for the non-spear unit and two 5x4 trays for the 40 skeleton spear units. Whatever solution you use, have one in mind before you try and run this army. The trays can be a bit limiting as far as reducing area denial and sometimes making it hard to get every model into combat range but I really doubt that you can play this army in a time-limited setting without this. There is just no comparing moving five trays 4" twice a turn plus charges vs. moving 90 models individually the same way.
10 x Skeleton Warriors
- Ancient Blade & Shield
40 x Skeleton Warriors
- Ancient Spear & Shield
40 x Skeleton Warriors
- Ancient Spear & Shield
10 x Grave Guard
- Great Wight Blade
Legion of Death
Thoughts on specific units
Arkhan - Curse of Years was just enough of a threat to make my opponents do one or both of these: cede board position in an 18" bubble around Arkhan or dedicate disproportionate resources to his removal. He is just survivable enough that he lived all three games.
For his cost I am happy with my opponent ceding me board control and any objectives there, funneling themselves in a more limited area for the benefit of less mobile parts of the army, or pumping their best abilities into the distraction Arkhan. As an improvised distraction carnifex and accidental tank I would put him down as the day's MVP.
Necromancer - Because of the potential attention on Arkhan it was important to have another cast/unbind source on the table. The Danse Macabre has plenty of potential but I got it off maybe once over three games due to some bad dice rolls. His ability to shift wounds to a nearby unit made him an unattractive target.
Wight King - He was generally not needed in combat so he stood back and handed out his command ability and the battalion benefits. I was running the Infernal Standard but the battalion occupies a lot of table space and the restriction that the slain model be within 9" (not in a unit within 9") meant that I was not using it very much. I will try the Standard a bit more but generally I think the shield would be better to bump up his lifespan against shooting or increase his durability if I bring him into melee.
Harbingers - They did not necessarily make their points cost back every game but the ability to quickly get across the table was a huge help, especially against shooting.
Black Knights - Basically a different version of the Harbingers, with some benefits and drawbacks. Fast, but not quite as versatile with that speed vs 18" summon +3D6 charge. Some offense, but no rend was limiting at times. Having more wounds than the Harbingers and the standard returning slain models made them harder to remove once they got into combat though-the unit finished near full strength every game.
Grave Guard - Potentially quite scary with the King's command ability and Danse on them. I mostly used them like Arkhan, creating a distraction in the middle of my battleline or a zone that looked intimidating. Pretty fragile but not that expensive for what they bring. I might try the shield option but that seems like a fairly negligible change. 1 wound models are just going to die.
Small unit of 10 skeletons - I used them to sit objectives or escort/wound soak for the Necromancer.
40 skeleton blocks - Somewhat slow and not necessarily able to get completely into combat with all models against every foe. Surprisingly resilient with lots of attacks though.
Legion of Death - I am not sure how this army would work without the free movement, especially against a fast or predominantly ranged opponent. Even if the Wight King dies after the first turn or two that bonus movement should be enough to get where you want to go.
Most battleplans were from another event's tournament packet. I have tried to summarize them as best as possible for each round.
Round 1 - Seraphon
My opponent was also coming back into fantasy after an absence and did not have much playing experience. Either mutual ignorance or the rule set allowed for a mostly smooth game all the same.
As I remember his list included Kroak, a Saurus on Carnosuar, a Bastiladon, a unit of Ripperdactyl riders, a large unit of Saurus knights (10 or 15), a unit of Saurus guard and a couple units of Saurus warriors. The battleplan had four objectives that you controlled by getting a Leader or Behemoth within 3", two in each player's territory.
The middle of the table was a storm front that did mortal wounds to crossing units and which could be moved if you controlled more objectives.
Without much shooting or ranged magic our armies advanced towards each other. I gave him first turn to try and get a double later. His Bastiladon and Ripperdactyls manned the one flank facing my necromancer and a skeleton block just within 9" of the Wight King. Another 40 block, the King, grave guard and black knights stood opposite the Saurus knights and a unit of Saurus warriors. The Saurus on Carnosaur, Kroak and the remaining foot Saurus were opposite Arkhan.
The necromancer summoned in the Harbingers who tore through the Ripperdactyls before holding up the Bastiladon for the rest of the game. Arkhan's spells got through most of the carnosaur Saurus and some foot saurus, who were collectively wiped out by Arkhan and a re-positioned unit of skeletons.
In the center the Saurus knights were charged by skeletons, Black Knights and grave guard who killed them over a couple of turns. The skeleton block was then free to help the Harbingers with the Bastiladon.
We got a little close to time but my opponent conceded as he had taken far greater casualties. We played out a few rounds of Arkhan chasing Kroak to determine minor or major victory based on the scenario and in the end Kroak was not going down so I walked away with a minor victory.
Round 2 - More Seraphon
The battleplan featured one objective in each player's territory. If you had more models within 6" you controlled it and scored points equal to the turn number.
The Seraphon army included a battalion (sorry do not recall which one) with three units of 10 Saurus warriors and a Sunblood. Other units included three Bastiladons, chamleon skins, Saurus character on Cold One and a skink priest (the one where the opponent guesses a dice and you or they get that many rerolls for a turn). He also had a human priest with a heal order units ability.
Most of my army is clustered in the middle. I have the Black Knights behind my main line to reinforce either flank. The Grave Guard and the two big blocks man the middle in front of the Wight King. The necromancer and his 10 skeletons secured one objective while Arkhan was standing on a forested hill on the other flank.
His three saurus units were spread out loosely while the Bastiladons were concentrated towards Arkhan and a block of skeletons. The skink priest and order priest were in his backfield. The Sunblood was in the middle and the Saurus rider was out in front of the Bastiladons.
I give my opponent first turn and he advances forward, although staying out of any likely charge ranges. I reminded him about the skeleton's battalion ability for extra movement so he pulled back a few extra inches. His 10 chameleon skins show up to harass Arkhan. One of his Bastiladons may have been in range as well. Arkhan takes some wounds but on the whole not much action.
Arkhan and the Black Knights wipe out the skinks while the skeletons and grave guard advance up the middle.
I get the double turn . . . and then lose when the skink priest forces a reroll. This actually works out to my advantage however. He moves a couple of saurus units into charge range while the Bastiladons shoot at Arkhan and skeletons. Even with rerolling some 2D6 shot counts the damage is sub par. The Saurus on cold one also charges into Arkhan to try and finish him off, but is killed instead.
The real action is in the middle though as the skeletons take a handful of casualties before wiping out 18 or so of the 20 saurus before them. This was pretty much the game as he lost any chance of being able to claim the objectives. One of the Saurus units was his first selection to attack in melee-I picked the other skeleton unit in combat and it wiped out all 10 saurus before they had a chance to swing. That was a little different then I was used to coming from the new 40k/old fantasy chargers strike first setup.
I got the Turn 2/3 double turn and was able to finish off the Saurus units and the Sunblood (pretty resilient with some magical buffs). The Bastiladons were able to get the Wight King but this allowed my injured units to regenerate (at one point the grave guard were down to 3 but they were full strength by the end of the game). Arkhan hid in some woods but no one wanted to come near him so he was able to cast away off of his 4 remaining wounds. At the end of the last turn we played out (4) I got 8 VPs for the two objectives and the score was some 17-3 or 14-6 with no chance for my opponent to catch up (he only had single model units left and pretty much all of my 115 models outside of the Wight King were still on the board, no way he was outnumbering me on an objective) so he conceded.
I actually forgot to use the Harbingers during the game, but in the end it did not matter. It was pretty encouraging to get a major victory after handicapping myself by 240 points though.
I wandered over to another table that would determine my next opponent. As the game went to time it came down to one player outnumbering another by one model on one objective to get the win by a point. Out of the two (Sylvaneth vs. Wood Elves) my highly uninformed prognosis was that I might fare better against the Wood Elves. I did get that opponent for the final round.
Round 3 - Wood Elves
Straight victory points.
My opponent deploys a lord on forest dragon and the rest is the battalion that deploys on the first turn. The three optional characters are the Way... with rapid shots as an option. The cavalry are 5 each Sisters of the Thorn and Wild Riders. The infantry are x20 Glade Guard, x10 Glade Guard, x10 Eternal Guard and x10 Sisters of the Watch.
He gives me first turn. Most of my army is in the middle and I redeploy better to face possible threats. I move Arkhan up to give Curse of Years range on his dragon if it comes any closer to me.
His stuff comes on, split between the opposite long edge from me (the Glade Guard and two Way...s). The rest is in a corner near my deployment, including the Sisters, Eternal Guard, cavalry and remaining heroes.
His turn is dedicated to getting rid of Arkhan. Glade Guard do their -3 rend alpha strike in bulk, all characters shoot at him, every other once-per game shooting ability is thrown his way, etc., but he finishes the turn (and battle!) with 4 wounds remaining. Meanwhile his Wild Riders and dragon assault some skeletons.
In my turn 2 Arkhan shaves some critical wounds off of the dragon using Cure of Years before retreating to cover and hiding out of range of the elf arrows. My Black Knights advance towards his Glade Guard. Grave guard and skeletons battle with the dragon and Wild Riders.
His turn 2 is some more shooting at skeletons, a few more shots at Arkhan I believe that do not do much. Whatever elves were left of the dragon/wild riders conflict die off.
Fortunately I win the roll again to start turn 3. Unfortunately he will get a double turn so this is my last meaningful play of the game before it hits time. Black Knights and Harbingers assault his Glade Guard (Harbingers might have been the turn before, memory is a bit hazy). Skeletons move towards corner deployment. The grave guard get in but with bad rolls his eternal guard finish off a couple and they do less than they should (unfortunately the Danse Macabre roll narrowly failed here). Harbingers and Black Knights are very slow about munching through the Glade Guard in front of them so there are minimal casualties on both sides.
His turn 3/4 is an exercise in using his battalion ability to try and finish off a skeleton block to win the game. While this goes on the Harbingers wipe out Glade Guard but are themselves killed by the characters on that board edge while the Black Knights and Glade Guard are mostly ineffective against each other. Black Knights are winning the attrition but the elves will not die before the game ends. They do however keep the big unit (what is left of 20) from getting in range of the 40 man block he is focusing on. The grave guard do get wiped out as well against the eternal guard.
Besides shooting at the skeletons the Sisters of the Thorn also charge in against the skeletons on Turn 4. We are not going to be able to finish out his turn due to time or get to my Turn 4 so it comes down to whether or not the skeletons can survive the melee attacks. There are a handful left. Between bad rolls for the Sisters, good saves against the mounts and a pile of 5+ faction saves three skeletons out of the original 40 defiantly gaze up at five stags and their riders as time is called.
I net a minor victory as the only completely destroyed units were grave guard and the Harbingers while I wiped out the dragon, the wild riders, a unit of glade guard and possibly some other stuff I am forgetting.
I finish as the only 3-0 player on the day. My army is still being painted (maybe 30% done) so my opponent from the last game does take 1st overall on that.
Age of Sigmar thoughts
In each game I played the player who finished deploying first chose to go second. This was as disappointing as 40k where the no brainer call is to take the first turn so perhaps this could be addressed in a future General's Handbook or AoS v2.0 in some way. It is a GW system though so I was not terribly surprised, just hoping that game play would show a tad more nuance there.
I know that there are some strong views on the whole double turn thing. I was not all that impressed with how it played out or with what it added to the game but the current system did not kill my enjoyment of AoS. Because the Age of Sigmar system, as with GW as a whole, does not quite work with being able to time limit individual player turns it does create some meh experiences where the majority of the game (in terms of actual time used) is spent sitting around watching the opponent roll ranged attacks. Fine in 40k, really odd in a fantasy setting.
I doubt that the kind of rewrite it would take to limit that will happen with the core rules but that does mean it should not be called out.
The shooting in/out of combat and no protection for characters against being singled out are also taking some getting used to.
With all of that having been said...
It was a system where I could get a quality game in against someone else new to it and later keep up with more experienced and competitive players using a list that I had not play tested and had finished assembling the night before, out of a faction that has not gotten love in a few years and seems to be perceived as relatively weak/not at the cutting edge. When you can get results like that there is certainly promise in the system and I look forward to getting in more Sigmar as the 40k 8th edition release high cools off a bit.
Just a note, if you are running Arkhan then you should drop the harbingers from the list and reserve the points to summon them instead. It's one less deployment drop and with a 3d6 charge they can reliably succeed in charging a unit they were summoned 9" away from. Particularly useful if you opponent goes second (note; you are right that chosing second is generally auto-take because of double turn advantage) because it lets you hit a battleshock-vulnerable unit before they can receive inspiring presence.
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I was thinking about a very similar list, except of squeezing a Mournghul into it. I was going to drop the 2nd skeleton-blob for it. It's quicker, hard to kill, give his aura and is a high priority target, so it seems worth a try.
nice to read you had a successful run, though.
I was planning to get movement trays and probably drop them for a charge / important game situation. Once the unit is in combat you dont have the problem with moving it and you can get yourself a better position.
* Did you actually know that Arkhan can cast 2 spells and knows every spell of a friendly model within 18"?
I would use him as a reliable sorce of CotY and Vanhels during a game.
This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2017/08/15 13:24:18