Saturday, 28 February 2015

Say Hello To My Little Friends: Legions of Chaos vs Undead Legions

I'm a Loremaster (Light)!
It's All-Skype Fight Night!

March already? Well, time for a skype battle, and no mistake. With the End Times verging on actually ending, what better than to hurl powerful magic at one another using the medium of dice?

I, Kraken, bring you a lavish offering of unfluffed nonsense courtesy of the Legions of Chaos list!

And I, Kasfunatu, had been neglecting my undead recently... and upping from 1600 to 2000pts for this session meant the lure of Nagash could not be ignored.

We're using a modification of the End Times that allows normal control of power dice and gets rid of the awful random power dice thing. To balance that, you can't cast a spell more than once per phase and End Times spells can be dispelled normally.

And yet to claim we'd found magical balance might be premature - reader beware, and read on!


Legions of Chaos

When I was a pitiful teenager, I remember (in the absence of willing or genuine friends) coercing my little sister to play a game of 3rd Ed against me. I explained the points system, gave her some pointers that included a description of the Bloodthirster as 'the most powerful and most expensive thing you can get, but that means your army will be very small' and went to choose my list.

I took a Bloodthirster, of course. That's why I'd planted that mean-spirited warning against the very power I coveted. With my winged demon, her puny balanced mortal army would be dust in no time!

Sensible person, my little sister. She completely ignored my advice and took two Bloodthirsters, which ganged up on my one, ate it and then crushed whatever else I'd bothered to bring as padding. I have never mentioned this battle since for shame; I do so now as an intro to the horrific tale that's about to unfold, with a list I like to call...

The Unlikely Buddy Movie

Big Red, a Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirster
Wee Pink, a Chaos Sorceror Lord of Slaanesh - Dispel scroll, Talisman of Preservation, Barded Chaos Steed, Mark and Lore of Slaanesh
Burnax Clangwell, an Exalted Hero BSB with the Mark of Khorne
Chaos Chariot - Mark of Khorne
20 Chaos Warriors - Mark of Khorne, shields, Champion, Standard Bearer with Banner of Discipline
5 Marauder Horsemen - Spears
a Skullcannon of Khorne
a Hellcannon

The pile of tentacles is clearly a Skullcannon; the trio of dwarves guarding an octopus in a well is distinctly a Hellcannon; the black dragon is plainly a Bloodthirster. After that, I get confused. 

I think, by any standards, this is a beardy list. The fluff is obviously out the window in favour of filth, particularly because I'm fielding a Black Dragon (currently undergoing a repaint) on the wrong sized base as my horrific general. Still, as the saying goes, 'when in filth country, wear filth shoes.'

The WoKthirster is insanely mobile, with 3" extra movement when charging anything with characters in it. Expensive, true, but one of the better combat monsters around with a high chance of getting where it wants to be. Plus a S5 breath weapon, an excellent stat line and the shiny/new factor that occasionally can throw an experienced opponent.

Backed by his (er, enslaved archnemesis? does that cover the fluff?) slaaneshi sorceror for obnoxious spellcasting value, the rest of the list is a fairly solid combination gun-and-axe line with the comedy last-minute inclusion of some throw-away marauder horsemen as chaff.

Secret Boast - King of the Castle! I reckon Kas won't expect me to try and nab scenery. Okay, my list isn't very optimised to do that, but that's part of the secret joy. If I can't sneak the sorceror, the marauders and the warriors into more woods and swamps than him (and I love that swamps are scoring for this purpose, what tactical genius), I'm doing something wrong. 

But what's this coming over the hill? Is it the predictable Pair of Bloodthirsters...?


Count Serrys, Vampire lvl1 Shadow, enchanted shield, heavy armour, dispel scroll, aura of dark majesty and fear incarnate
Casket of souls
28 Skeletal Warriors full command and screaming banner, and spears
20 Skeletal Archers musician
18 Crypt ghouls

Skeletons, Heirotitan and Naggers

Ghouls and Archers

Nagash was in, and a dispel scroll caddy was required. 

Figuring a varied setup of core, I would opt for favourite block of skellies with a fearsome vampire and a fearsome banner. (3dice discard lowest for fear tests, and at -1 and reroll successes). 

I knew I wanted a casket (bound spell and extra d3 power dice) and hierotitan (extra d3 to casting if close to it - it allowed a spell to be cast using one dice and getting 14). 

I could not fit anything else in.... but I knew I could pull from the swiss army knife of the graveyard and pull a variety of units based on need (if I could get the right spell off at the right time).

Secret boast: assassinate. If I had known it was a bloodthirster I was targeting, I may have chosen something else, but I didn't and didn't!

The Bridges of Madmen Country - Terrain

A big river right down the middle, with two bridges. Each bridge can fit 125mm worth of models across it (i.e. five ranks of larger infantry, six of smaller); anything bigger means they all fall in. The river isn't mysterious, it's a Raging Torrent - so Dangerous Terrain, but +3 Initiative if you're standing in it or crossed it (on foot!) this turn.

The woods are Mysterious, as usual.

The north side has a bit more cover, with two mysterious woods and a hill. There's a Dreadstone Blight that is also a Wizard's Tower (except I reckon it gives ET wizards Loremaster instead of the listed value), but there's a huge and totally impassable rocky spike directly to the North of it, and the only access is over two large Mist-Wreathed Swamps.

The south side is a little more defensive in nature, with two hills. The obstacles are walls (hard cover for shooting, -1 to hit hand to hand).

There's also a Memento Mori on the hill between the bridges (Anyone within 6" must reroll successful Ward Saves, I made this one up based on the Sigmarite Shrine) and the two impassable buildings in the South deployment zone are the same as Haunted Mansions (anyone within 6" takes d6 S1 hits with no armour saves at the end of the shooting phase), which balances out the defence.


The more I play totally blind deployment, the more I enjoy it. We'd picked lists before knowing what each other was bringing, and even after I knew I was facing the Undead, I picked my starting line without knowing the specifics of what was in the army! Tense decisions needed to be made.

Kas gets pick (as I designed the field), and takes North. I decided to huddle up in a corner and hide behind my guns, more or less - the Bloodthirster should be able to redeploy quickly to wherever I need it, so it can loom at the back just in case there's a ton of fast attack (or Bloodthirster triplets) heading for it. I'm also, let's be honest, hiding from the scary ghost mansions and the ward save debuffer. What idiot chose these rules?

That tower was too tempting, checking wizard's tower rules you only needed to be near it (I was worried as Nagash was not going to fit inside) and so I took the north side to be as close to it, and then everything else lined up next to him in a close formation.

The two core fighting units are aligned to the bridges, the archers are ready to shoot anything approaching the bridges and the hierotitan can offer Nagash some combat protection as well as boosting his arcane prowess.

I dither a little over whether or not to vanguard, then decide to risk it. The Horsemen are never going to last long, I may as well try and sweep them forward asap, so they nip out on to the nearest bridge.

Legions of Chaos Turn 1

I get first turn, so my vanguard gamble has paid off! The Horsemen zoom round to the ghoul flank. Everything else bar the Hellcannon moves up too - the chariot to cover the other bridge, the warriors and skullcannon to follow the horsemen, along with the sorceror and the Bloodthirster.

Now, maybe this is an early error. Maybe Big Red should be running hard towards Nagash. But I'm actually figuring to sweep through his army first, basically using it as cover against some of his many nasty magic missiles. No point getting hit with a Banishment, for example, before I'm within striking range.

Magic! And the Sorceror summons himself a magical fulcrum in the middle of the opposite wood, then hops on board. That's a good start for my terrain grabbing! It's a fairly small phase (by ET standards), so I chuck all the rest of my dice at the End Times Slaaneshi spell, Song of Seduction.

Unstoppably, I take command of the Skeleton unit and everyone in it. Hah! Kas can take Ld tests at -2 at the end of every magic phase to get them back, and with Nagash nearby it probably won't take long. But it still holds them up for a turn. In exchange, the sorceror takes a S10 hit, but it's clearly the kind of punishment he likes and he's unwounded.

Terrifyingly, the shooting phase also goes well. The Skullcannon kills the Casket of Souls with a single shot, the Hellcannon clips Nagash and the Heirotitan and chips the latter's paint. Not literally, that would be awful.

Ouch. I thought that war machine was going to be a little more stable. I suppose 3 wounds is only 3 wounds even if you are toughness 10.  I had not noticed this: but on a 4+ all units would take d6 s6 hits when it dies.  Sorry. 

Mine as well? Ouch!

Rolling: 3 skellies would have died (which as they did not play in game, would not make any difference and did not take them below half strength) and five archers bought it; but they died quick enough that that that probably did not make much difference and even if this prevented the wound on the BK, the ushabti more than did enough on the round he was removed to balance. (I think).  

I've never had luck this good! With such a good first turn, I'm absolutely guaranteed a loss. Surely.

Undead Legions Turn 1

The ghouls charged for the fulcrummed slanneshi sorceror; ward save or not, I was going to have a lot of poisonous chances to get him! Oh wait, no, 1v1 on a fulcrum challenge... oops. And even if combat res goes my way (which it should) he'll still be stubborn! Didn't think this through! Predictably the sorceror is unhurt, but maybe he too was expecting all the ghouls to clamber on to his pedestal, and he jumps from his magical perch and runs from the woods.  

Ah - I didn't remember stubborn! Silly fickle Slaaneshi sorceror.

Nagash eyed up the tendrils of magical energy emanating from the tower and drawn by their arcane temptations headed towards it.

The skellies look between masters and just sit still whilst Nagash glares at them. The archers twist ready to start taking pot shots and the hierotitan keeps up with Nagash.

Nagash called forward to the grounds and tried to summon cavalry, beasts and infantry. The beasts were stubbornly buried too deep and the infantry dispelled, but finally some minions obeyed his call and a unit of blood knights with magic banner appeared on the rear of the warriors. 

Legions of Chaos Turn 2

The Bloodthirster charges the Ghouls, undaunted by the angry wood they're hiding in. Seeing Big Red apparently coming for him, Wee Pink keeps running.

Hmm. I reckon the Warriors of Khorne can probably handle the vampires, but it's going to cost them. They turn to face anyway, and the skullcannon moves back to cover their flank. The Marauders were going to charge the archer flank, but forget, so move round the back instead. The chariot heads for Nagash's flank, although it's unlikely to reach him before he can hide in the swamps.

No magic phase, my sorceror is running. Shooting isn't quite as kind to me, although the Skullcannon manages a decent bounce through the Blood Knights, killing two.

Would have been five without the Banner of the Blood Keep. 

Would have been seven if the cannon could shoot right.

In combat, I ponder whether to vent the Bloodthirster's breath weapon on the ghouls, or carve them up the old way. The guaranteed hits are probably the best way to go against a large unit, I decide, and when I roll 11 of them, this is another well-paid gamble. Although I take a wound to poisonous scratching, after Thunderstomps I've got the resolution to wipe the unit out. Now the Bloodthirster holds the wood! Come and get me!


Undead Legions Turn 2

[Rules note - I reckon fleeing wizards can still dispel as normal, as I can't find the rule that says otherwise, so I did better in the magic phase than I perhaps deserved. Worth checking?]

Lances ready the blood knights crash into the warriors; the BSB challenges, and due to their martial honour one of vampiric elite horsemen steps up. A mistake for the BSB as failing to wound the vamp, the warrior is impaled on the knight's lance. 

I totally should have had this. Four hits, no wounds. The buffoon deserves his impaling.

A couple more fall to the lances, and all told the knights lose one more to crumbling. (Why did I back Nagash up so much)

Oh yes, I know why - now is a loremaster of five lores. 

The archers take aim at the sorceror and as they draw back, eight ushtabi with great bows appear with WoKthirster in their firing line. They instead let arrows fly at the daemon and combined with the constructs great bows the daemon is hurt.

The titan stares its burning gaze at the chariot and the white light from the statue's eyes pushes the chariot back into the river where it is torn asunder by the dangerous current.

Other unit summoning is dispelled or failing, although I do manage to hide a Tomb King in the skellie fear bomb. (if only the army was not scary, crazy or immune).

Legions of Chaos Turn 3

Aa! Stop summoning things!

Even more determined to hide the Bloodthirster in combat, he charges the archers. The horsemen back him up from the other side. The Skullcannon charges the Blood Knights in the side, much to the relief of the Warriors.

The sorceror rallies, leaving him standing alone behind the Ushabti. Hmm. At least the Bloodthirster is going to draw the flak for now.

Magic is another low-dice squib, and Kas handily dispels everything I try with dice or scroll. To make up for this, the Hellcannon splashes a good shot right in the middle of the skeletons, taking nine or so out.

Combat is predictably in my favour. High impact hits wipe the Blood Knights out. The Bloodthirster embarrasses himself, though. The Marauders actually contribute the more to the fight than it does!

Four kills with their spears, plus banner and rear charge, outdoes his total of three even after stomping. The skeletons kill a pair of horsemen in revenge, but still pop rapidly out of existence. That's two wiped core units in two turns, I can feel Kas's concern even from Sweden.

Undead Legions Turn 3

I am not sure I actually want my hierotitan in combat, especially if he then gets a flank charge when he can't kill the chariot, but I definitely don't want to be charged, so go for it. 

The ushtabi shift slightly to eye up the WoKthirster. 

This time it is a unit of eight chariots that answer Nagash's call and turning up as a threat behind the daemon. 

The skellies turn to face, just in case. 

With a miscast withering the bloodthirster is looking like a good target and already bloodied by great bows the ushtabi fire their tree trunk arrows and skewer the thirster's wings. Down he goes. Denied their target the chariots shoot the remaining marauders.

[I put the Vampire's miscast on the wrong turn -  it's mapped to turn 5 later]

Chariots that can shoot? Eight chariots that can shoot? And some kind of hideous Tomb King spell that doubles the Ushabti's shots just before the WoKthirster gets Withered? Eesh.

At least combat sees the Skullcannon force a stalemate with the Heirotitan, with nobody hurting anybody and the Bloodletters losing a mere wound to resolution.

Legions of Chaos Turn 4

Hmm. At least all those chariots have nothing left to charge. That's something.

The Warriors pile into the side of the Heirotitan, looking to save their skully pals. The sorceror can't quite make it to the other side of the wall from where he is, so he settles for lurking at the back of the Ushabti. The Hellcannon gibbers on the hill.

The magic phase brings me an unexpected boon - a unit of ten Pink Horrors, who I stick down next to the Wizard's Tower so they can be Tzeentch Loremasters. They get stuck into Nagash straight off, very nearly nicking a whole wound off him with a Bolt of Change. Nearly, but not quite.

After that, I try and whip the Ushabti around with various Slaaneshi odds and ends, but Nagash is feeling ornery and won't let anything go off. The Hellcannon shoots the river, nearly hitting the Horrors. Nice.

Combat sees the Heirotitan knocked down to a single wound and then crumbled in resolution, although it mashes up a fair few Warriors before dying. That's a bit of luck, another round being stomped on would probably have gone poorly for my core troops.

Undead Legions Turn 4

The chariots reform on the bridge two abreast so that they can cross it in safety... well relative safery I suppose.

The ushabti swiftly reform to shoot the hellcannon.

Nagash ignores the pink horrors and the arcane mysteries and heads to the bridge, and summons back the ghosts of the slain blood knights as a ten strong unit of Hexwraiths.

Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?

Great bow shots hurt the cannon and kill a crew member and that's it.

Legions of Chaos Turn 5

Hexwraiths? Surely you jest? Okay, well, I could charge them with the skullcannon. His magic attacks will probably murder enough to get resolution. But they could just as easily beat him up with their high strength hits, and the cannon ball is still the method of choice for dealing with Nagashes. So he trundles off round the side to get shooting.

The Warriors of Khorne plunge into the river and charge the chariot flank. It's a really big flank, too, just too tempting to avoid. I do consider sending the Hellcannon towards the Ushabti, but it's a bit too far for him to reach. The Horrors go and hide in the tower, getting my terrain count back up.

The sorceror, now hiding properly behind a wall, tries and fails another Song of Seduction. After that, I try to hurl a bunch of Tzeentchian fire at the skeletons, hoping to reap a few VPs from them, but Nagash is easily on top of that.

Combat proves that chariots are brittle pansies when charged in the flank. The warriors kill one and smash another one and two-thirds in resolution, taking a lone wound from the dangerous terrain in the process. If only the damn things were worth any points!

Undead Legions Turn 5

With chaos protection reduced the ethereal knights skip through the skull cannon ripping souls from the bloodletters and the living daemon bike they are riding. 

Nagash moves up staying a careful distance from haunted mansion and statue (you think he would like the mansion, but he too is scared of it).

No successful summoning this turn. 

The ushabti repeat their efforts and take a wound and a Hellcannon crewman out.... do I want to know what happens if I kill the crew before I kill the cannon??

In combat the chariots fair badly and several are smashed, the remainder crumble.

Legions of Chaos Turn 6

A Warrior of Chaos's work is never done. Even knowing I can't hurt them, I reckon a flank charge into the Hexwraiths is infinitely preferable to having them skipping about overhead, bashing skulls with their ethereal scythes. So it's back over the river, drowning another warrior on the way.

The sorceror runs with open arms towards Nagash, pleading for a big hug.

He gets one! I slap a Phantasmagoria on him, for extra leadership penalties. Then Song of Seduction goes off irresistably in the magic phase, turning the big lug over to my team for a bit!

I'm quite tempted to have Nagash throw a Banishment into the back of the Hexwraiths, but of course I've gone and tied them up in combat and so can't. Instead, the Horrors try and fail to cast Infernal Gateway on the Skeletons and then the Hellcannon misses again.

Combat sees my Warriors laughing in the face of Hexwraithy death. I win by two, which ordinarily Nagash would be close enough to negate. Kas cheerfully decides that Nagash doesn't care right now, he's too busy getting it on with Wee Pink, so I kill a pair of the ghostly horsies.

But then that's all I wrote.

Undead Legions Turn 6

With both spells in effect, Nagash elects to stay playing on the chaos side and so stands still doing very little. 

He getting it on with Slaanesh, baby.

The skellies move forward and through spell attempts at the wizard trying for a lucky shot, but fail to take him out. 

I don't remember doing another wound to the hellcannon, so either I forgot to shoot or he saved everything.. either way it was not going to make much of a difference now. 


1706 vs 720

I got my boast! I claim the tower in the name of Khorne! Or Slaanesh, or Tzeentch, or whoever it is I'm actually currently serving. Matt Ward!

So, yes, everything paid off just fine.

Locker Room Chat

Great game! Best End Times match I've had. The modified magic might make the game a little magically rich for my taste, but it doesn't feel cheesy and broken any more.

Indeed - great game

Even with lower Winds of Magic, you could still see results like we got in this battle, so I'm down with this version. I still want to try normal 8th Ed with ET spell selection thrown in, though, I suspect that will be my Happy Place.

The Bloodthirster? Well, I really should have sent him hard and fast after Nagash. MR 3 could probably have coped with a Banishment or two, in retrospect, but I didn't remember that's what he had. At it was, I got blindsided by the hideous power of those Ushabti bows, but even without them I'd probably have accrued enough wounds by ploughing through the undead core to hit the deck.

Undead Summoning is very nasty when it works. I must remember to try it myself sometime.

Second game using Nagash (the first being the wizard's cup final). This was far more successful. Only 5 summonings in the game and Nagash proves an interesting tactical challenge... I was upset losing casket and titan, but summoning them would limit Nagash's summon potential. Is it better to summon a 130pt casket or 450pts of ushtabi? If you are not Nagash it is 130pt casket or 150pt of ushtabi... so very different choice. 

There's a horrible bind between knowing you can't ignore the sudden blocks of very powerful undead and knowing that if you pause to deal with them, even if you know you can, you're not scoring anything from them!

Yes, 1800pt of summoning! Chariots were pointless, but I was trying to be varied; and tomb king was not needed. 

My Chaos Warriors are totally the MVP for the match from my side. Blood Knights, Hexwraiths, a ludicrous shit-ton of chariots - nothing was too much for them! They probably dealt with almost enough points to make a whole army. Robbed!

They were tough... very tough. Probably too obvious to say MVP was Nagash.

Nah, credit where it's due. Although he was still on my team at the end, so perhaps a close second to a mundane core unit.

Still, with End Times: Destination Archaon lining up in the gate for a galloping finale, the Great Nag can't stay ahead of the pack forever...


  1. Nice report, and good to see how Lore of Undeath works (how on earth did you proxy that massive unit of chariots - with a doormat?)

    Would it have been unsporting to target Nagash with the Hellcannon and Skillcannon from the get-go? Or just not as effective as it sounds?

  2. The Hellcannon generally fired at him, it just missed most of the time. I probably should have taken more cannon shots at him too, but then the Blood Knights needed dealing with and the Warriors needed rescuing - very effectively played chaff summoning!

    Naggie has a good ward save, so even if I was shooting at him a lot he'd have good odds of surviving. And if you don't kill him in a single round, he can regenerate with his Lore abilities very fast. He's well worth his thousand points.

    The chariots were proxied by a large section of unconstructed movement tray material. Kas does actually have that many Tomb Kings chariots, so it's not as ludicrous as it sounded!