Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Arkhan's Asylum: Undead Legions vs Legions of Chaos

I've done a fair bit of moaning about the new End Times Magic system, so I thought I would actually try and play a game, so I would be able to moan from a more informed perspective.

Kasfunatu was kind enough to host a SkypeBoot and furnish me with an army. As it happened, we picked the two most magic-heavy lists he had, so I was really going to find out how it worked.

You picked, I rolled randomly from the other four. 

I went with Arkhan the Black, mostly because I remember reading about him in White Dwarf 169 and was quite impressed with the Liche King's fluff. Thus, I chose him for my first foray into the undead.

Go get 'em, boys.


Undead Legions

  • Arkhan the Black, Mortarch of Sacrament - Zefet-kar, the Tomb Blade, Khenash-an, the Staff of Spirits, Lore of Death, Lore of Undeath
  • Vampire - Level 1, Heavy Armour, Staff of Damnation, Lore of the Vampires
  • Vampire - Level 1, Heavy Armour, Dispel Scroll, Lore of the Shadow
  • 29 x Crypt Ghouls
  • 20 x Skeleton Archers
  • 25 x Zombies
  • Corpse Cart
  • Hierotitan
  • Casket of Souls
  • 5 x Hexwraiths
- 2,000 points

Legions of Chaos (same as game against Reinbowarrior)

  • Kairos Fateweaver - Staff of Tomorrow
  • Chaos Lord of Tzeentch - Mark of Tzeentch, Halberd, Chaos Armour, Enchanted Shield, Talisman of Preservation, Soul Feeder, Hideous Visage, Third Eye of Tzeentch, Disc of Tzeentch
  • 5 x Forsaken of Slaanesh - Chaos Armour
  • 5 x Forsaken of Slaanesh - Chaos Armour
  • 10 x Marauder Horsemen of Slaanesh - Musician, Mark of Slaanesh, Javelin, Shield
  • 10 x Marauder Horsemen of Slaanesh - Musician, Mark of Slaanesh, Javelin, Shield
  • Chimera - Regenerating Flesh, Venomous Ooze
  • Skull Cannon of Khorne
  • Skull Cannon of Khorne
- 2,000 points


Without much of a clue, my skeleton crew castled up on the hill, hoping to fling out magic on the oncoming legions. Skeleton Archers in the centre, screening Arkhan and the Casket of Souls. The Hierotitan nearby for extra magic power, the Corpse Cart nearby to take advantage of the Invocation bubble, with the Zombies and Crypt Ghouls protecting the flanks. The Hexwraiths on the extreme left, hoping to sweep through their chaff.

Kasfunatu deployed both Skullcannons on the opposite hill, screened by the two units of Forsaken with the Marauders on the flanks. The flying circus of Disclord, Kairos and Chimera were on the left flank,

In vanguard, the right flank Marauder Horsemen vanguard up to block Hexwraiths, who can only nudge towards them at the 12" limit. The left flank Marauder Horsemen edge forward towards the centre.

Actually they were a mirror of that and facing into the centre but by the swamp.

Well, if everything was topsy-turvy, that *would* explain certain tactical moves I made later in the battle.

Undead Legions - Turn 1

Arkham moves close enough to allow the Hexwraiths to march, but it proves moot. Hexwraiths are too far to sweep through the Marauder Horsemen, so have to settle for sitting on their flank. The Skeleton Archers walk forward, and the Corpse Cart keeps pace. Everything else holds steady.

Winds of magic rolls 20:10. I get through the Casket of Souls' spell Light of Death on the Chimera (who I thought I would pulverise, not realising he could use Kairos' Ld and avoid all damage). The spell then bounced over to Kairos, who did suffer a wound. Serve him right.

After that, the only spells I got offer were vortices: Purple Sun of Xereus - which just about clipped one of the Marauder Horsemen and killed him; and Winds of Death - which flew just short of the other Marauder Horsemen.

The Skeleton Archers pick off three more Marauder Horsemen and that's that.

Legions of Chaos - Turn 1

No charges, but the two Marauder Horsemen ride forward. The Forsaken slowly advance, the Skullcannons jockey for firing position. On the left flank, the three flyers swoop around by the building.

The magic dice are allocated 13:9. Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma is cast on the Skeleton Archers, turning their BS2 into BS1. Kairos then used the lore attribute to switch places with the Chimera and gets in a better position to cast another Purple Sun of Xereus, with a lot of dice, but not irresistibly. This would have been a good point to remember I had a Dispel Scroll, but I don't and the damn thing scythes through my Ghouls (taking off half) and Skeleton Archers (taking off all but 3). The Corpse Cart somehow survived, but the Sun did a total of 31 wounds. Sunburn!

With a lot more dice in his pool, Kas cast Steed of Shadows to bring the Chimera into my rear, then Withering Heat to slow down my whole army (how does an undead desert army get heatstroke?). Finally Fulminating Flame Cage is cast against my Heirotitan, who shrugs it off. The resulting miscast nearly sucks Kairos into the warp, but he uses his reroll to take a S10 hit instead, which he saves.

Both Skullcannons are on target: one hits the Hexwraiths, but only removes 1. The other Skullcannon hits the Casket of Souls, and takes it out immediately.

End Times fire spell gave me reroll to wound on flaming attacks and made all units flammable. The skullcannon smiled.

"I'm gonna blow up the Ark, Rene!"

Undead Legions - Turn 2

Second turn and already things are not going well. I charge the Hexwraiths into the flank of the Forsaken, and the Zombies into the Marauder Horsemen. The rest of my backline flaps around like a wet hen: the Ghouls reform to face the flyers, the Corpse Cart shuffles back, the Hierotitan faces west, in case a flyer flanks them, and Arkhan faces east, in case a flyer stays put (it all makes sense, see?)

Winds of Magic roll 19:12. I fail with all the early spells I try (such as Invocation of Nehek) but manage to bring back a paltry 2 Skeleton Archers with Breath of Darkness (I thought Undead armies were meant to regrow units like dragon's teeth! Where are my legions?). Arkhan takes 2 wounds off the Chimera with Spirit Leech, which is rendered pointless when he lobs Purple Sun of Xereus at him and kills it outright

(keep an eye on that Purple Sun...)

In combat, the Hexwraiths kill a couple of Forsaken, winning combat enough to run them down and crash into the next unit of Forsaken. The Zombies lose a couple of their number to the Marauder's javelins, and a few more to attacks, but the vampire kills two and the zombies account for a couple as well. The break the Horsemen, but do not pursue and reform to face into the battle.

Legions of Chaos - Turn 2

The Skullcannon charges the flank of the Hexwraiths, the Disclord charges the Ghouls, the Marauder Horsemen charge the Skeleton Archers. Meanwhile, the other Horsemen rally, the other Skullcannon lines up for a shot and Kairos flies around for a more central position.

In magic, we get 19:11. Karios casts Penumbral Pendulum, doing 2 wounds on the Hierotitan and 2 wounds on Arkhan. This is followed by Infernal Gateway, which does 7 wounds on the Hierotitan (it also miscasts, but to no effect).

In combat, the Disclord issues a challenge, and the vampire suddenly remembers an urgent appointment at the back of the unit. The Ghouls can't penetrate his armour/ward and lose a total of 9 to wounds and crumbles. The Marauder Horsemen take out half the Skeleton Archers and crumble the rest. The Skullcannon whiffs its impact hits, but the crew still do enough damage to wipe out the whole unit of Hexwraiths.

Undead Legions - Turn 3

Turn 3 ... I'm hanging in there. I charge the Marauder Horsemen with the Zombies, move the Corpse Cart so its area effect will reach the Ghouls, and fly Arkhan somewhere central where he can cast some spells.

Casting spells proves a bit of a problem, as I roll 12:10 dice. I get off Invocation of Nehek against the Ghouls, adding 3 more and trigging the Corpse Cart's Rigor Mortis, but every other spell is countered. Crucially, I forget to dispel Purple Sun.

The magic phase ends, and the Purple Sun moves. Right over Arkhan. Killing him instantly.

Oh Arkhan ... you big, dumb doof.

In the combat phase, the Zombie kill enough Horsemen to break them, pursue and run them down (you can tell what kind of game I'm having when the sodding zombies are the MVP!)

Even with Always Strikes First, the Ghouls' attacks bounce off the Disclord, who kills and crumbles another 7, leaving the vampire nowhere to hide.

Legions of Chaos - Turn 3

The chaos forces move straight for the kill, and we're off to the magic phase with no further ado!

Kasfunatu rolls 17:11, and with my high-level caster gone, he can force through quite a bit. Flock of Doom pecks away 3 zombies, Spirit Leech kills the vampire leading the zombies, Fate of Bjuna fails to take wounds off the Corpse Cart, but a mid-level Fireball wipes it out. Finally, the Cascading Fire Cloak on the Disclord takes out 2 more Ghouls.

In combat, the remaining vampire bravely steps up (having nothing left to hide behind), promptly gets squished and the last of the Ghouls crumble.

With only 19 Zombies left, formidable as they are, I decide to concede defeat.

Result: 17:3
(2,020: 635 in old money)

Notes from the Boneyard

Hmm... my assessment of the End Times Magic is going to have to filter out my incompetent generalship - and that's going to take a lot of filtering. On first assessment, however, I don't like it. At all. Not at all.

So, you'll be opting for it in all your WBIX games?

This may have been extreme example of the number of spells at one's disposal (I had to juggle four lores and three bound spells - most of which I'd never encountered before). With a more robust knowledge of the spell decks it might be workable - but when both you and your opponent have such limitless options, the phase quickly loses focus, especially when...

I found myself reusing a handful of spells, I am sure that there are better combos (or even just better casting order!) that could be done; but I don't want to spend too long looking at cards and so end up sticking to old favourites.

Rolling a die to see how many dice you can roll to cast or dispel is the absolute worst part of this new system. You can't allocate resources to important spells, you can't force your opponent to drain his dispel pool. I found myself lobbing five or six dice at random spells, just because I may not get the chance to do anything, and yet I was powerless to emphasise the spells I really needed. As you can see from the galaxy of Purple Suns flying around, the magic phase became a lot more powerful, and yet tactics went out of the window. I couldn't really worry about what my opponent might cast, or what I might cast.

I do tend to agree having played a few games now, there is less strategy without the control of when you can cast and draw dice. 

The increased power pool was okay, and the removal of broken concentration was good (essential, in fact, given there were at least a dozen times when either Kas or myself weren't allowed to use enough power dice to cast, so it became a case of "right: spell failed, throw away a power die").

I am happy to keep tweaking. We've already cancelled repeats, I know Kraken is interested in removing the random winds roll. I think if we were try that we would have to remove the inability to attempt to dispel the uber-end-times spells. 

On a more general point about generalship: I was a shambles. Fumbling around like an octopus trying to unhook a bra. I saw enough of the Tomb Kings to be interested by them, and this was my first outing with Vampire Counts too (although I was expecting hordes and hordes of undead footsoldiers, not a couple of bunkers and a few monsters). So the best that can be said was that I've left myself lots of room for improvement.

I would say I was surprised by the lack of summoning, but having played two games myself with undead, one with Nagash, I still have yet to summon a unit using the undeath spells.... so maybe I should not be surprised. 

Congratulations to Kas on the win, and thanks for hosting - he certainly had a tougher job managing Karios' 72 spells!

Actually, I only bothered using one head, so only had 40 to worry about. 

... after two games, we still don't know what those woods are...


  1. 1. I strongly agree that, when this battle makes it to Hollywood, Harrison Ford is the obvious casting for a Skullcannon of Khorne.
    2. Going forward, can we refer to WBIX as Weetabix?
    3. I very much agree with the idea of playing our next outing, Kas, with End Times magic spell decks and power dice with the standard 8th Ed rules for dispelling! It ought to be a total pile of snakes, but a very enjoyable one.

    1. A malapropism of an already-mispronounced phonetic? Hell, yes we should call it the Weetabix tournament!

      (and that decides dinner plans too)