I've been theory-hammering a lot about the Vampire book. My style has always been one of a back-line support-type vampire...but they're prohibitively expensive now. Since I seldom used him in a fight, it's far more point-effective to use a Lvl 4 Necromancer as the big-boss. However, the fighting prowess of the Vamp Lord and Vamp Heroes was improved, so I had to include some...so instead of the net-typical support Necros I went with two vampires. Here's the list:
Lvl 4; Rod of Flaming Death; Black Periapt
-Vampire Battle Standard Bearer
BSB; Heavy Armour; Enchanted Shield; Sword of Might; Book of Arkhan; Red Fury
Lvl 2; Heavy Armour; Shield; Staff of Damnation; Dark Acolyte
-30 Grave Guard
Full Command; Banner of the Barrows; Great Weapons
Spear; Unholy Lodestone
So my theory behind all this...
The Necro and Vampires will all be deployed such that all three are in IoN range of the Zombies. The first two turns will focus on making the zombies huge...some theoretical numbers, if magic is in a vacuum, in two turns both zombie units will be about 80 strong. I'm sure my opponent won't let me do that, but I suspect I can get them pretty beefy, particularly with some other spells to pull out dispel dice.
To that end, I've included the Book, the Staff, and the Rod...sounds almost biblical! All of these I'll happily throw one die at, if they go, great, the enemy has to try to dispel. If not, great, I get awesome benefits from them:
The Book will allow me to shuffle the corpse cart up (remember, I'm thinking early game) so it can keep up with things that can actually march. If not the Corpse Cart, I'm sure there's something else that can benefit from an extra 8 inches of movement...even just being able to nudge and align a spirit host or direwolves so that an enemy charge will leave him exposed will be of value.
The Staff makes the Graveguard or Hexwraiths really formidable. 40 S6 attacks from the graveguard (if the enemy is wide enough) is really scary! Who wants to charge in to that? I mean, other than anything with Mindrazor and an Init higher than 3...sigh, stupid Dark Elves.
The Rod can completely shut a big unit down. If it moves, a T4 unit should lose nearly half it's strength. A T3 unit should lose nearly 2/3. This is for those stupid Corsair units!
So I should have on average 9 dice for my magic phase (7 dice rolled, 2 from the periapt). I've used 3, and hopefully pulled 2-3 from the enemy, leaving me 6 dice to cast invocations with 2 dice each with each of my wizards.
With the Mortis Engine, the Master Necro should get an average of 13 with his 2 dice...a level 4 enemy wizard then needs to throw 3 or 4 dice to have a good chance of stopping it. This should leave the enemy out of dice.
The Level 2 also averages 13 on his 2 dice...yes, Dark Acolyte makes his IoN as hard to dispel as a Lvl 4, sometimes even worse!
Then there's the level 1, who by this time should be unopposed.
The Zombies then get their 2d6 extra bodies...and the Corpse Cart is kind enough to allow me to reroll a shitty result...I figure I should average 8-9 zombies + level from IoN on these guys.
The Zombies have flags and music...I don't expect the flag will do much for them but it will help me not lose Blood and Glory...and the Musicians are there for Swift Reforming...the idea of zombies doing any kind of swift military formation change is a bit of a stretch, but what the hell.
The Ghouls are probably not big enough. They'll still dish out a ton of damage, especially if I can get Danse on them...rerolling to hit with Poison is great! But they'll still die by the handful. Hopefully the Mortis Engine will give them a weedy little 6+ Regen save! It's better than nothing!
I'm not really liking the Dire Wolves, but they are Core, cheap, deploys, and can suck up a charge and die gloriously. I have them painted already, too, so what the hell.
I still think the Grave Guard with Great Weapons are an awesome, formidable unit. Who needs Mindrazor when you've got these guys chopping off people's heads left and right? :) +1 to hit, killing blow S6, T4 with 5+ and 6+ Regen (Thanks, Mortis Engine!), and super easy to replace as they die...what's not to like?
I'm loving the Corpse Cart. The rerolls to the IoN roll from the Lodestone has been very well worth it (for a points-efficiency perspective, consider that if JUST ONCE in the game you reroll a 1 to a 4 when fixing up ghouls, or grave guard, and it's paid for itself!). Even more fun is the ASF. Letting the Grave Guard swing their head-choppers at I3 isn't all-powerful, but it sure ups the potency of that unit! Similarly, the Ghouls aren't going to get to reroll a lot with their ASF, but it sure is nice! Since any IoN cast anywhere near the Corpse Cart is likely to trigger this effect, it's almost always in play. Moreover, now that it's a Chariot and it's S got bumped up for the 2d6 attacks, it's got a bit more bite than it did before! I put a spear on mine because I had a point...why not!?
The single-model Spirit Host units have been compared to Great Eagles. Well, they're not quite that maneuverable, and can't flee, but they are ethereal and will tie things up for a bit...great charge blockers!
Ditto for the Hexwraiths. They're a bit pricier, but not only can the tie things up but they can dish out some damage too, AND they have their spiffy drive-thru attack (which I've not yet used...but it looks good on paper!). If nothing else, they're really awesome models!
And speaking of awesome models, I can't refuse the Mortis Engine. It's in-game effects are subtle but add together to be quite scary: 6+ regen to nearby units; +2 to casting for my vampires (note that all my magic plans revolve around using only two dice, minimizing the miscast effect on my guys), and a big Miscast FU to all wizards. It's not horrible in a fight, able to do some impact hits and dish out a ton of S3 attacks. I'm not sure if it will really be worth its points *in my list*, but it's too cool to not take. I think it will be money with Crypt Horror blocks. It can also generate some damage with impacts, 2d6 +4 S3 attacks, and the Banshee scream...though I think having it scream d3 times would have been more appropriate and not game-breaking at all: it's awful damned expensive!
On a tangent here, I want to air my thoughts on the "stacking" of the Mortis Engine effect. Some seem to believe that multiple Mortis Engines will stack to provide +2 to a unit's regen (5+ regen for those without). I do not interpret the rule that way. The rule says, paraphrasing, to roll the range...friendly units in range get a marker. Units with a marker have +1 to their regen until start of their next turn. There is no mechanism for multiple markers, or their effects to be additive. A unit either has a marker or it does not. Sorry, internet...I don't think they'll stack. Still, having multiples would look really cool, and really extend the range at which your units can be affected...but since everything has to stay so close to the general, you'll likely not have much problem with that anyway.
Enough babble about my army...Rodrigo had a lot of big greenskins. Nary a goblin to be found! I don't have notes, sadly, but form memory he had:
Orc Warboss on big pig
Orc Big Boss BSB
Goblin Shaman Lvl 2 on a Wolf
Savage Orc Shaman Lvl 2
5 Wolf Riders
5 Spider Riders
~30 Black Orcs
~30 Orcs (xtra hand weapon)
~20 Savage Orcs (xtra hand weapon)
and a Goblin Doomdiver
We rolled the Watchtower first, but I hate that mission so exercised my veto and rerolled, getting Blood and Glory...glad those Zombies have their Flags! For Spells I got IoN, Danse, Vigor, and Curse of Years on the Necro (who still needs a name...any ideas?); the Acolyte got IoN and Raise Dead; and a big surprise, the BSB got IoN.
His Goblin Shaman had a Magic Missile (with which to attack the darkness) and the spell that makes me reroll 6s; I don't remember what the Savage had...I think he had a Magic Missile also, not sure.
We did the rolling and the side-picking and did our deployment:
|The Ghoul and Grave Guard hordes front and center!|
The Corpse Cart is proxy for Mortis Engine...on order!
|Doom Diver on the hill, everything else ready to smash in to me!|
|Ian was not impressed!|
I won the roll to go first, and sped forward as fast as ghoulishly possible. I didn't like how vulnerable my Hexwraiths were to his Goblin's Magic Missile, so they shuffled backwards towards the General...I'd hoped to be able to march with them on next turn. Everything else was pretty much straight ahead, Spirit Hosts getting set to be charged or charge something juicy on my next turn. I used the Book to get the Cart up forward a bit, but the magic phase was a bust, as he dispelled my first IoN; he Scrolled my second; and I rolled snake-eyes for my 3rd!
On his turn the Black Orcs failed their Animosity test. * Yes, we realized three turns later when talking about how much that screwed him that they shouldn't have taken one!* They were forced to try to charge something, so went in to the Ghouls with Dretchen the Dark, my ultimately evil and sexy BSB. He Magic'd down a spirit host, leaving it with one wound. The Doomdiver tried to take a chunk out of the Grave Guard, but killed only a handful of easily replaced wights. His Giant went in to the Wolves on my Left, killing them all and reforming to face the Ghoul's flank.
The Ghouls got their first taste of orc-blood, as Dretchen went bat-shit crazy and killed four; the ghouls then pulled down another half-dozen. Grimgor did 5 wounds to the Ghoulish Champion in a challenge, and the rest of the Black Orcs killed 9 more. I lost combat by just a few, and lost a few more models. That's how I like fights with this unit to go!
|Grimgor is a beast!!|
|Black Knights pretending to be Hex Wraiths assault the Giant!|
|The Corpse Cart hard at work making dead things a little more lively!|
On my second turn, my spirit hosts charged. The leftmost, with one wound left, went in to his wolf-riders (with shaman); the ghosts on the right went in to the savage orcs (with the shaman). I had to do something about the Giant too, so the Hexwraiths just charged it. I think I would have been batter to march through the giant and get ready to roll his flank next turn...mathhammer says: on charge, 4 HW in BTB, 2 hits, 1 wound. On march, reform so all 6 auto-hit, 3 wounds, and lined up behind for more fun next turn.
I moved up the rest of the shambling horde, and went to magic. It was a pretty pedestrian Winds roll, but I was able to IoN some ghouls back, which gave ASF to everyone and added a few Zombies. I also got Rod of Flaming Death on his unit of Boyz!
In melee I did a wound to the Giant, as predicted. The Host on the left did nothing, tie combat (he had flag, I had charge). The Host on the right put all it's attacks on the Orc Shaman and killed him! The Ghouls and Dretchen, now with ASF granting rerolls, went crazy and killed every single Black Orc, and Grimgor was left alone! He took some Ghouls down with him, but failed his break test and stepped out of combat...I tried to pursue, but couldn't catch him!
|Grimgor the beast runs to safety!|
He was in a pickle now...the Savage Orcs were tied up with Ghosts, the Boyz couldn't move from the Flaming Death, Grimgor rallied but blocked up everything. He sent the trolls in to the ghouls fine, and tried the Boar Boyz in to the Hexwraiths (they had his General with some magic weapon), but they failed to get in. On the right the Spiders went in to my last Direwolves.
With Magic he put Gork'll Fix It on the Ghouls, which I failed to dispel (I was trying to save dice for my next magic phase). What a great spell! The Trolls took a big chunk of ghouls down with them, and between the troll's regen and Fix It, I did only a handful of wounds, losing combat and crumbling a bit. The Direwolves died to Spiders, and they overran ready to be in my backfield next turn.
|The Zombie Horde grows!|
|The Graveguard say, "Charge me...if you dare!"|
I had little to do on my turn 3 but cast some IoN, getting ASF on the Graveguard and Ghouls, as well as the Mortis Engine (which had taken a wound from a Doom Diver last turn). I also used the Staff of Damnation, getting ready to get charged next turn. The Ghouls still struggled to do wounds to the trolls, 4 of them were still left standing after the combat round. I shuffled the Necromancer in to the right Zombies, and did a swift reform on the left to get them set to tie up the Giant or Boarboyz that looked to be aiming that way. Both my spirit hosts died to Crumble this turn.
|The Graveguard take the charge, as the foul spirits of the Mortis Engine consume the Spider Riders!|
Finally free of vexing ghousts and fiery cages, the remaining Orcs slammed in to the Grave Guard. The Spider riders bravely went in to the side of the Mortis Engine. The Boar Boyz got in to the Hexwraith's flank. Grimgor went back in to the Ghouls.
He got Gork'll Fix It on IF, taking a wound for the trouble, but causing lots of difficulty for the Ghouls. Again that combat was a losing one for me, as between Grimgor and the Trolls handfuls of Ghouls died for minimal loss. The Hexwraiths lost 3 models to the Warbosses charge, and lost three more to static...all dead. The Spiders all died to the random attacks of the Mortis Engine before they could attack (thanks to ASF). The Graveguard, though, went to town, killing huge handfuls of orcs. He needed snake-eyes to not run...the Savages ran away, but the Orcs refused to run!
|The Trolls kill giant handfuls of Ghouls at a time!!|
|The Savages run for it!|
|Goblin-zombies charge the Boarboyz, while Ghouls struggle against the Trolls!|
|The Mortis Engine supports the Graveguard and Ghouls|
In melee the Zombies actually killed 2 Piggies, losing several, but winning combat somehow! The Piggies didn't run, though...the Orc Boyz were wiped out. The BSB ran, dieing, and the Grave Guard pursuit killed the Savages as well. This took him down below the Break Point, as all he had left was his General and one Flag. We didn't know that at the time, so finished out my melee phase, where the Ghouls took down Grimgor but still couldn't finish off those blasted trolls!
I had a great time playing with Rodrigo, as always. I'm really excited we're both getting back involved with Fantasy, and look forward to seeing what kind of beautiful stuff he'll put on the table. His Ultramarines are incredible looking, I'm sure whatever he picks will look awesome. There's a rumor he's looking at using Dark Elves...how exciting!
I'll post soon my post-game thoughts on what worked and what didn't tomorrow.