Thursday, 9 October 2014

Wizards' Cup: Sudden Death

We'd established that out of the Eight Lores of Magic, Shadow ruled supreme. You'd think that would be enough. All the wizards, pals once more, settling nicely in the pavilion to analyze the flow of play over a mug of ale.


For a new Lore has recently arisen, the Lore of Undeath, and with it, a whacking great big model to wield it. 

What better for our heroic wizards to face than a group challenge? For 1600 points (give or take), we decided to serve them up a last battle.

This coincided with the guest presence of General Kasfunatu, holidaying in sunny Sweden for the weekend. As a collector and master of the Vampiric undead, he'd fallen prey to the temptation of the new model. Although it hadn't made it over, being in bits back home, we could field a proxy easily enough. 

See? An uncanny likeness. 

[Nagash Fans, watch this space - I'll be converting and painting the Lord of the Undead in due course!]


The original plan was eight Empire Wizards to be pitted naked (with bonus mounts if desired) against a lone Nagash. After a bit of back and forth, we changed this to 1600 points a side. General Stylus and myself got 800 points each on Empire troops, allowing us to field our four Wizards' Cup Wizards plus some troops to hide in. 


8 Order Knights with full command
Lvl 4 Light Wizard Lord, warhorse, Talisman of Preservation, Sceptre of Stability
Lvl 2 Metal Wizard, warhorse
Lvl 2 Life Wizard, warhorse
Lvl 1 Shadow Wizard, Dispel Scroll

Left to Right - Metal, Life, Shadow and Light


8 Inner Circle Knights
Lvl 4 Amber Wizard Lord, Talisman of Endurance, Van Horstmann's Speculum, Blade of Anti-Heroes, barded warhorse
Lvl 2 Shadow Wizard, barded warhorse
Lvl 2 Celestial Wizard
Lvl 1 Bright Wizard

So my eggs were firmly in one basket. Slap as much magical boost on the Amber Chappie as possible, then ram him into a challenge with whatever giant bad guys he could reach. We agreed before the fight that the Speculum swaps your basic stat line, not including any magical boosts from spells or items (depending on precise wording of the spell or weapon). Anyone know if that's officially right? 

Left to Right - Amber, Death, Celestial and Bright
Order and Inner Circle Knights. Clearly. 

This meant, of course, General Kas got to bring some Nagash Pals, in the form of Manfred von Carstein and his big skull horse.


Manfred von Carstein

Nothing says 'undead' like a headless hydra

...and that's it for 1650 points. We realised afterwards we'd given Kas those extra 50 points as a edge that he'd desperately need during the battle to come.

We also decided that Manfred was there as a Herald. Nagash could arrive as reinforcements from the second turn onwards. In true cinematic style, our heroes could deal with apparent big bad, mop their brows and then have to face the true master moments afterwards.

Spells and Deployment

Swamps - the new basic green flock tabletop

A fairly calm battlefield, although we decided on having the statue on the left flank as an Arcane Ruin. After all, what effect could a few extra channelling dice have on the fight? 
We rolled our spells as follows:

Shadow - Okkam's Mindrazor
Metal - Enchanted Blades of Aiban, Searing Doom
Death - Doom and Darkness, Fate of Bjuna
Light - Banishment, Speed of Light, Pha's Protection, Shem's Burning Gaze
Bright - Fulminating Flame Cage
Life - Dwellers Below, Earth Blood
Heavens - Wind Blast, Urannon's Thunderbolt
Beasts - Savage Beast of Horros, Pann's Impenetrable Pelt, Wyssan's Wildform, Amber Spear

Nagash took a selection from his eldritch smörgåsbord:

Death - xxx,xxx
Undeath - Call of the Grave, Hand of Dust, Dark Riders, xxx
Nehekaran - Signature Spell
Vampire - Invocation of Nehek, Dance Macabre

And Manfred stuck to Amethyst snipery:

Death - Fate of Bjuna, Spirit Leech, Purple Sun of Xereus
Vampire - Invocation of Nehek

Kas won the rolloff for deployment, which meant we had to deploy our entire armies first. The plan was to keep our cavalry fairly close for buffing ranges, but not too close that a single spell might get them all. "Put a vortex-sized gap between them," General Stylus instructed me over Skype. That left our footsloggers heading for the tower with a lone wolf Metal wizard guarding the flank. 

Manfred landed opposite the knights. Right where we wanted him.

Turn 1 - Nagash

Unless, of course, General Kas got the first turn. Manfred leapt gleefully across the battlefield in a single flying march, landing directly in the vortex-sized gap between the knights. Moments later, the Purple Sun of Xereus ripped it's full potential movement right along the Empire line, leaving both the Empire Generals facepalming enthusiastically. 

Amazingly, the wizards came out fairly unscathed. Only my Celestial Wizard copped it, the rest made their saves. The same was emphatically not true of the Order Knights, five of whom were swept away.

It didn't all go Carstein's way, though - he'd cast it unstoppably, and rolled the joy of a dimensional cascade for his miscast. Would he vanish into the realms of chaos immediately?

Of course not. And of course, our unit failed its panic test...

Turn 1 - Empire

...and left the field, deciding that this whole sorry match-up was a terrible mistake. The Lore of Light, with the Banishment spell we had a lot riding on, left with it. 

The remaining wizards were left with a geometrical puzzle - how can you deploy four individual units so that you can't draw a line through more than two of them? Answers on a postcard with diagrams, please. 

The Inner Circle Knights turned to face, the Death Wizard escape podding out of the side of them, but we all knew they'd never catch the Carstein menace. 

Predictably, our magic phase netted us a very minimal number of dice. After a heated debate on which of our arcane armoury to deploy, we settled on a boosted Amber Spear. It hit! It hurt! It wasn't ward saved! Neither of us wanted the responsibility of rolling for a d6 wounds, though,

I got that task in the end, it was my wizard after all.

One down, nine to go.

Turn 2 - Nagash

Nagash, fearing for the very life of his herald after that single wound onslaught, came hurrying to save his feeble Mortarch. As Manfred whipped off to the flank of the knights, brewing another Purple Sun no doubt, his enormous master clomped over the field towards the enemy.

And got shut down, hard, in the magic phase. Despite a decent Winds of Magic. And despite being a whole specially-invented wizard level higher than anyone else around. Not a single spell slipped through the Empire net, although the Shadow Wizard's dispel scroll did get used up.

Now we had him.

Turn 2 - Empire

The Inner Circle Knights declared their charge, passed their Terror test and made the distance. The Amber Lord was in place, bringing our best hope for a win with him. The Shadow Wizard hid in the tower, in case we got a chance to stick Mindrazor on someone, everyone else whizzed about like panicked ants.

Kas very sensibly spent most of his dispel dice in shutting down our attempts to buff the Amber Lord with Savage Beast of Horros. This gave us the chance to sling an unopposed Searing Doom at Manfred, who lost a handful of wounds to it.


The inevitable challenge came, and was reluctantly accepted. Suddenly, my Wizard Lord had sevens across his stat line - attacks, WS, S and T. The latter two with an extra point from the sword of Anti-Heroes. Ward saves or no, Nagash was in trouble here.

But luckily, it was me picking up the dice. Six missed attacks later, Nagash only took a single wound. And then took one off me in return with his single attack.  Upgrading my knights to Inner Circle meant I hadn't had points for a musician, which meant we drew the combat. At least Nagash was still locked in a challege.

I only now realise I forgot that vital warhorse kick! Dammit!

Turn 3 - Nagash

Manfred was still angling to throw a Purple Sun across the knights, so he jumped back towards the fight. When he tried, we chucked all our dispelling efforts against it and managed to hold it back. Sadly, that let Nagash soup up his lone melee attack with Hand of Dust.

Once I'd finished whiffing a second round of attacks (more hits and wounds, but all four were ward saved), Nagash calmly reached up and plucked the Amber Wizard from his horse, turning him into a dessicated corpse in seconds. Recalling urgent dental appointments, the Inner Circle Knights gladly fled towards the rear.

Turn 3 - Empire

The Inner Circle Knights rallied, remarkably enough, realising they'd got the dental appointment written in on the wrong day. The Bright Wizard tried to get in the way enough for a redirect if needed, the Metal and Death Wizards rode around as though trying to shuffle themselves into invulnerability, like a horseback Find The Lady game.

A boosted Searing Doom brought Manfred even lower in wounds, but that was our lot.

Turn 4 - Nagash

Nagash charged. The Bright Wizard legged it out of the way, but Nagash managed a redirect to the Knights anyway. They realised that no, the dentist was definitely right now, and followed their fellows off the field.

Various magical effects knocked wounds off the Death and Metal Wizards, I forget exactly which. The Metal Wizard ran out of wounds at this point - I think he'd had a miscast feedback on a Searing Doom in a previous turn. Nagash concentrated for a mere second or so and wiped the Shadow Wizard out of the tower with a Death spell. But we somehow stopped him summoning anything, which considering he had seven summon tokens in hand, was probably massively frustrating for General Kas.

(It was... master summoner did not manage to summon once!)

Turn 4 - Empire

We continued our efforts to chip Manfred away. The Mortarch had only a single wound left by this stage, the barrage of Bjuna and Searing Doom had taken a pretty heavy toll. Not a heavy enough toll, of course, that would have been silly and unfair.

Unlike, say, having ten wounds in the first place.

Turn 5 - Nagash

Manfred finished the Death Wizard off with the Fate of Bjuna, and somewhere far away, Alannis Morissette wrote a new verse of 'Ironic'. Even with the extra dice this gave them, a meagre Winds of Magic meant there was still no summoning.

Turn 5 - Empire

Billy the Bright Wizard, our last best hope for peace, heaved a deep sigh of contentment. He'd come all this way tooled up for the job, knowing the Lore of Fire was really the best out of all eight. Now was his time to shine.

He cast Fulminating Flame Cage on Nagash, and Nagash failed to dispel it. Hah! Take that! With his foe pinned in place by the terrifying walls of fire, all Billy had to do now was set up a flank charge and finish the job.

Turn 6 - Nagash

Inexplicably, Nagash opted to move through the fire! Stylus and myself collected our collectively dropped jaw from the floor and shook our heads. Surely a master tactician wouldn't really risk a lethal S4 hit on his general at this crucial stage of the game? 

But Kas was adamant, and through some dark manipulation of chance and fate, somehow survived the resultant flame-pocalypse. Truly, the dice are fickle. 

No more so than when the Bright Wizard got Spirit Leeched right through the floor and out the other side in the magic phase. 

Somehow, we'd run right out of Wizards. 

Results - 1850:0 Plus The Total Disbelief of All Concerned


To say it went about as well as we expected is an understatement. Of course we were going to get wiped out! Nagash and his Mortarchs are a typical display of GW's marketing synergy at the moment, smashing models with ludicrously OP rules and price tags (real and list) to match. 

Mind you, we at least gave him some sweaty moments with the Speculum. It was always going to be dicey (ho ho), but it took my special ineptitude with crucial rolls to stuff up our best chance. 

It also felt sort of like a mini-win that despite being Supreme Lord of the Undead, Nagash got repeatedly shut down in the magic phase. Not a single lowly skeleton made it up through the earth, let alone epic units of Blood Knights. So much for you, Boney. 

[Special Thanks go out to the excellent folks at Kiwihammer here - their recent End Times painting competition awarded my Warshrine conversion with a pack of Lore of Undeath cards! They arrived just in time for General Kas to get them as a consolation prize for not raising anything, so he just about got over his sorrow. - I am very grateful thank you very much


  1. By our rules, you would actually get 325 for getting Mannfred below 50%. You should get something for taking 9 of his 10 wounds off him

    1. I did get something: nervous exhaustion.

    2. Actually, the wobbly camera added a new dimension of 'steadicam reality' (like the opening of Saving Private Ryan, only bloodier).

    3. It was much worse if you were there in person. I threw up several times.

  2. As soon as we rolled Banishment and Dwellers Below, I thought we had a fighting chance.

    Makes me wish I'd found 5pts to buy a Gleaming Pennant really.