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Real Tactics in Age of Sigmar

Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
45
#26
I just played my first game of Age of Sigmar. Were playing the Watchtower mission in the recent book. My opponent was using the contents of the Stormcast Eternals part of the starter set. I was using:

Mannfred Von Carstein, Mortarch of the Night.
1 Necromancer
1 corpse cart
10 skeletons
10 zombies
8 Grave guard

Basicly what happened is that I used my magic to bolster my army greately. In the end it numbered about 30 skeletons and over 50 zombies. Not that it ended up mattering that much in the end because these units was so slow they got to the watchtower late. Mannfred however managed to charge the garrison turn one (Consisting of one unit of Liberators and the Lord Relictor) and managed to slaughter both at the end of the second combat round. Mannfred also fended of the assult of the Lord Celestant (Who rolled tripple snake eyes on his wound roll, lol). Mannfred killed the Lord Celestant as well, feaster of souls healing most of the damage he had sustained, just in time for the charge of the units of Prosecutors and Retributioners. The retributioners did manage to inflict a few wounds on Mannfred, but he pretty much whopped their ass when it was his turn to attack. The end result of this battle being that Mannfred had wiped out almost the entire enemy force by the time the shambling horde actually arrived.

Lesson to learn here, Mannfred is incredibly powerful, either I was lucky here or I did not actually need an army to fight this battle. I think one mistake my opponent did was that he pretty much fed his units to Mannfred one by one, maybe with a more focused effort he would be able to take him out. I think the Lord Celestant had the best change, but cause to really bad rolls he did not inflict much damage. Turns out my gamble by sending my general ahead of my army payed off.

In a very objetive based game though it seems the undead has one great weakness, their speed. It can be challanging to complete scenarios which require a fast capture. It was fortunate I did have one fast flyer as otherwise I would have wasted several turns just reaching the tower.

So, what do you think my opponent could have done differently to avoid such a crushing defeat? Or did I just misjudge the power of my forces and ended up fielding a force far more powerful than my opponent. Though that concluson would mean a single Mortarch is more powerful than 50 wounds worth of Stormcast.

I did use a mixed formation on the skeletons though, with hand weapons in the front and spears in the rear. Too bad I did not get to test them in action.
 
Joined
Dec 2, 2014
Messages
187
#27
How did he have liberators and a lord relictor in the tower, that is two seperate units? Characters, unless you house ruled it, can't join units. but ya some characters are going to hurt, did he remember to add +1 to hit since you had over 5 wounds?
 
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
45
#28
How did he have liberators and a lord relictor in the tower, that is two seperate units? Characters, unless you house ruled it, can't join units. but ya some characters are going to hurt, did he remember to add +1 to hit since you had over 5 wounds?
The scenario allows for 1 unit and 1 hero to serve as the garrison. You can read it for yourself if you have the book.

I sure hope he did remember to add it, but since he was a beginner I cannot be sure he did not forget a whole bunch of rules that might have helped him. I do remember the Retributioners causing a severe lack of mortal wounds, this were either being unlucky or he forget they had that rule. When I really think about it I think he did have really crappy rolls both on the offensive and when it comes to saves. While I somehow succeeded with multiple 5+ saves. It is possible you could attribute this to luck. Mannfred does still seem to be a powerhouse though, feaster of souls makes him so much more durable than he would be otherwise and that makes it hard to inclict damage on him combining it with Mannfreds armour.
 

Macarian

Vampire Insomniac
Joined
Jan 19, 2014
Messages
114
#29
Following up my earlier post here, I got some games in with the Deathrattle Horde and boy, do I like it. I spend my afternoon yesterday writing down my ideas and tactics for the army. I'll post it here for you all to take a look at, I tried to tidy it up a bit but I do apologise for any grammatical errors and the slight rambly nature of it. I'll make a proper guide after my exams in August :)

Comments & critiques are wecome ofc!

The Deathrattle Phalanx
The Deathrattle Phalanx is term by which I would like to describe a new archetype of Vampire Counts army. It is built upon the new option in Age of Sigmar to create combined arms units and the tailor-made formation, the Deathrattle Horde.

What is a Combined Arms Unit?
A Combined Arms Unit is something I heard first from Najo, it is quite simply a unit of units. You take several units, put them in a formation base-to-base and move them as a single entity. Age of Sigmar allows this. The units can fight even if the outer unit (the shell) is charged since as soon as a model is within 3” of an enemy in the combat phase, it can pile-in and attack. Weapons having range helps here since you can attack over your own models so long as you have the range. A big problem for a Combined Arms Unit is the fact that running and charging is random, however the Deathrattle Horde deals with the running problem by locking the roll at 4.


Sample Formation, sorry for the bad lettering

The components
Grave Guard with Crypt Shields
These guys form the outer shell of the Phalanx, using their improved armour to take the brunt of enemy hits. They fight, they die, they come back, that’s their job here. Keep them single rank and tightly packed. Cast your defensive spells here, Mystic Shields and Neferata’s Dark Mist to keep them going. With both buffs we are talking 3+ saves with re-rolling 1’s against non-mortal wounds. And should a wound get through, 1 in 6 still get blocked (see below).

Skeleton warriors with Spears and Crypt shields
These guys form the main form of damage coming out of the phalanx, attacking over the heads of the Grave Guard in safety. I would advise making this a single large unit to take advantage of the Skeleton Legion Rule for maximum damage.

Wight King with Infernal Standard
The Infernal Standard is great in itself and makes the Phalanx more durable. Being a Death Hero, he buffs the Skeleton Warriors as well. He stays in the middle of the phalanx behind even the Skeleton Warriors with spears most of the time to keep him safe from enemy attacks. Do however keep him just within 3” of the frontline, this will let him be in combat and through removing casualties smartly you can create a hole for him to pile in to and attack at the very end of a combat so he can still swing his sword.

Skeleton Warriors with Swords and Tombshields
The other two units of Warriors are going to be sword and board warriors. Keep these units minimum sized, as they are meant to be roadblocks and roadblocks alone. Hold one of them on each flank. One of main disadvantages of the Phalanx is it’s inflexibility in manoeuvring and it’s relatively large footprint. A canny opponent will block your marching Phalanx by attacking/threatening the flanks with trash units, which can mean annihilation for the Phalanx as it is strongest on the front and you now need to turn to either face the trash, opening your flanks to the enemy elites or move to avoid the trash, which is bad since now the opponent is dictating your movement. Intercepting such units with trash of your own allows the Phalanx to march forward to its objective. If at all possible use only normal movement and stay within 6” of another Deathrattle unit and within 9” of the Wight King.

Alternatively hold these back in a rear guard position, an opponent might use fliers to get over the Phalanx and charge the exposed rear, defeating the purpose of the Phalanx. By using Zone of Control (the 3” bubble around every model where enemies can’t come) the units can start base to base, the main phalanx can move 8” and the Warriors can move between 2-4” to maintain a zone of no-landing. This way the warriors still get the extra save and all the extra bonuses, but more importantly the Phalanx is secure.

The Black Knights
As has been said above, the Phalanx is very inflexible and large. This presents a problem with terrain. The opponent can block areas off or set up ambushes using scenery. This would force us to abandon our formation which is obviously something we do not want. Luckily we have a solution here, again made to fit, in the Black Knights’ Spectral Steeds! They can clear out enemy ambushers or set up counter ambushes of their own. Alternatively, use their superior speed to claim good ambush spots before the enemy does and use the zone of control to your advantage again, allowing the Phalanx to march through safely.

If Scenery isn’t a real issue, Black Knights are still usefull, they can ride ahead to be something of a picket line against opposing trash units, you can also keep them on the far flank for a flank charge after the enemy has engaged the phalanx.

Also, don’t forget to plant the Infernal Standard when the Phalanx is in an advantageous position, this allows the Black Knights to circle around the enemy line while still having the advantage. Expanding on this, use the Warriors with swords to create a 6” chain for the Black Knights to keep the save buff. Remember Scenery is no obstacle and therefore no safe haven for enemy backliners. Hit those cannons hard!

Necromancer
Necromancers are AMAZING (and almost an integral part of the Phalanx) for the Phalanx, cast Danse Macabre on the Spear Skeletons, first combat they bash one front, then they run 3” the other way and fight in the other fight. So long as Grave Guard take the beating, the warriors should stay in good numbers for hefty damage. Keep these guys away from all of the fighting though, they drop like flies even with their pass on wound ability. These guys also go way at the back of the formation, so they don’t disrupt the formation if they fall a bit behind (don’t worry they’ll catch up and the spell has plenty of range). I don’t like to put them on a horse because then the enemy will be able to spot them and snipe them at range.

General thoughts
· Don’t rank these guys in a square formation, that’s Oldhammer thinking and will cost you attacks in a multiple combat. I feel a wedge works well to present two fronts for the enemy to attack while creating maximum Grave Guard frontage for protection. Remove models from the back to preserve the outer shell.

· Speaking off removing models, a normal unit like this would be ground down eventually, since we are the living dead we get our stuff back every hero phase!

· Make good use of Pile-in moves, surround the enemy while keeping your own formation intact. Use this to reinforce a pressured front as well. Wight Kings can dish out quite the pain when push comes to shove!

· Focus attacks on one unit at a time, preferably a unit that hasn’t attacked this turn to burn them down quick.

· Do not charge with the phalanx, The units will not have the same charge distance and so will get split. The strength is in the synergy of the components. Use the phalanx as an area-denial tactic. March them right down the middle, take position and force your enemy to either get slapped or cram himself tightly while moving around the phalanx.

· Tomb Banshees can be hidden inside of the formation, keeping them safe. When an good opportunity arises pop them out and scream at the enemy! Worst case scenario they roll a 1 on the run and slow the formation down by 1”.

· Have units to punish the enemy when they overextend to get around the phalanx, Blood Knights are great here, as well as strong combat heroes like Neferata. In a pinch and when you have a clear advantage you can break up the phalanx for this, but be careful when doing so.

· Shooting can be problem for this army, I use Neferata and Bat Swarms for defence here, sneak your Black Knights around some terrain to hit enemy shooters.

· Special shout-out to Neffy: she is amazing in every sense of the word and a great general for this army, reducing enemy attack against the phalanx even further and dishing out the pain against overextenders.

Hope you liked this write-up (review?) of the Deathrattle Horde :)

Final Disclaimer: everything above is my opinion and my opinion alone, I tested it in 3 different games and it worked out for me. This by no means enough testing to call it good or competitive so take it as you will, your mileage may vary ;)
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 10, 2014
Messages
56
#30
I really like your ideas for the formation @Macarian . I recently played a game with that formation (not set out like your phalanx, but similar). However, the player I was against insisted on summoning more and more units every turn and I didn't have the models to keep up, so the game turned sour pretty quickly. I'd like to give it another go without the summoning and see if these tactics really do work. Combines arms gives a new dimension to undead infantry, it seems. Skeletons act less like a wall of fodder and more like actual soldiers now, which is nice. Also I definitely agree about the wight king with infernal standard. Very handy in a pinch. I'm so willing to give AoS a try but up until now my experiences of it have been less than fun.
 

Malisteen

Master Necromancer
True Blood
Joined
Sep 23, 2009
Messages
2,137
#31
That 'run 3" the other way to bash the other front' under necromancer only works if the first target is wiped out so that the second target becomes the closest enemy.

In fact, even putting all of your attacks after the first target is iffy, since each individual model must move towards the closest enemy model to it (while maintaining coherency with their own unit), so if you're engaged on both sides, then the left side will pull left to attack the left target and the right side will pull right to attack the right target, resulting in two split combat rounds with vanhels, rather than two focused rounds.
 

Banat

Varghulf
Joined
Jul 13, 2014
Messages
791
#32
Undead are slow yes, however, we have an 18" summon range, which means potentially a lot of board control. Summon a balewind vortex and that increases to 36" range into which to summon your units, which is HUGE board control potential.

Did the relictor and the celestant remember to use their shooting attacks? D3 mortal wounds from the Relictor's LIIIIIIGHTNING! attack and the Celestant's Drakoth has a breath weapon. Sounds like the Celestant was unlucky with rolls as well, it could easily have gone the other way.

I think the Necromancer AS WELL as Mannfred was probably a bit much, especially when the starter box Eternals don't have a wizard of their own (just the Relictor who is a priest, not a wizard).
 
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
45
#34
Undead are slow yes, however, we have an 18" summon range, which means potentially a lot of board control. Summon a balewind vortex and that increases to 36" range into which to summon your units, which is HUGE board control potential.

Did the relictor and the celestant remember to use their shooting attacks? D3 mortal wounds from the Relictor's LIIIIIIGHTNING! attack and the Celestant's Drakoth has a breath weapon. Sounds like the Celestant was unlucky with rolls as well, it could easily have gone the other way.

I think the Necromancer AS WELL as Mannfred was probably a bit much, especially when the starter box Eternals don't have a wizard of their own (just the Relictor who is a priest, not a wizard).
Well, the Lord Relictor was stationed at the top of the tower and only got a single round of attempting his miracles until being slain by Mannfred. I think the Celestant did wound Mannfred by using the lightning breath, but only inflicted a single wound.

I might have gone a bit overboard in using Mannfred though, but just imagine how bad it would be if I had used Nagash. I think I will run Vlad as my general next time, that will probably give me a chance to test out my infantry as well. Though I did realize I might actually need some past flyers to compete, maybe some morghasts can serve as elite shock troops as well.
 

Alabaster427

Minister of Thriftiness
True Blood
Joined
Dec 9, 2013
Messages
1,315
#35
@najo This video and the one about comp were really helpful. I still have yet to play a game because none us players can get schedule together, but this has me going in a lot less perplexed and I have shared these videos with some of the other players and they found it helpful also.
 

najo

Mortarch of the Dark Soul
True Blood
Joined
Dec 23, 2012
Messages
2,047
#36
Following up my earlier post here, I got some games in with the Deathrattle Horde and boy, do I like it. I spend my afternoon yesterday writing down my ideas and tactics for the army. I'll post it here for you all to take a look at, I tried to tidy it up a bit but I do apologise for any grammatical errors and the slight rambly nature of it. I'll make a proper guide after my exams in August :)

Comments & critiques are wecome ofc!

The Deathrattle Phalanx
The Deathrattle Phalanx is term by which I would like to describe a new archetype of Vampire Counts army. It is built upon the new option in Age of Sigmar to create combined arms units and the tailor-made formation, the Deathrattle Horde.

What is a Combined Arms Unit?
A Combined Arms Unit is something I heard first from Najo, it is quite simply a unit of units. You take several units, put them in a formation base-to-base and move them as a single entity. Age of Sigmar allows this. The units can fight even if the outer unit (the shell) is charged since as soon as a model is within 3” of an enemy in the combat phase, it can pile-in and attack. Weapons having range helps here since you can attack over your own models so long as you have the range. A big problem for a Combined Arms Unit is the fact that running and charging is random, however the Deathrattle Horde deals with the running problem by locking the roll at 4.

View attachment 56535
Sample Formation, sorry for the bad lettering

The components
Grave Guard with Crypt Shields
These guys form the outer shell of the Phalanx, using their improved armour to take the brunt of enemy hits. They fight, they die, they come back, that’s their job here. Keep them single rank and tightly packed. Cast your defensive spells here, Mystic Shields and Neferata’s Dark Mist to keep them going. With both buffs we are talking 3+ saves with re-rolling 1’s against non-mortal wounds. And should a wound get through, 1 in 6 still get blocked (see below).

Skeleton warriors with Spears and Crypt shields
These guys form the main form of damage coming out of the phalanx, attacking over the heads of the Grave Guard in safety. I would advise making this a single large unit to take advantage of the Skeleton Legion Rule for maximum damage.

Wight King with Infernal Standard
The Infernal Standard is great in itself and makes the Phalanx more durable. Being a Death Hero, he buffs the Skeleton Warriors as well. He stays in the middle of the phalanx behind even the Skeleton Warriors with spears most of the time to keep him safe from enemy attacks. Do however keep him just within 3” of the frontline, this will let him be in combat and through removing casualties smartly you can create a hole for him to pile in to and attack at the very end of a combat so he can still swing his sword.

Skeleton Warriors with Swords and Tombshields
The other two units of Warriors are going to be sword and board warriors. Keep these units minimum sized, as they are meant to be roadblocks and roadblocks alone. Hold one of them on each flank. One of main disadvantages of the Phalanx is it’s inflexibility in manoeuvring and it’s relatively large footprint. A canny opponent will block your marching Phalanx by attacking/threatening the flanks with trash units, which can mean annihilation for the Phalanx as it is strongest on the front and you now need to turn to either face the trash, opening your flanks to the enemy elites or move to avoid the trash, which is bad since now the opponent is dictating your movement. Intercepting such units with trash of your own allows the Phalanx to march forward to its objective. If at all possible use only normal movement and stay within 6” of another Deathrattle unit and within 9” of the Wight King.

Alternatively hold these back in a rear guard position, an opponent might use fliers to get over the Phalanx and charge the exposed rear, defeating the purpose of the Phalanx. By using Zone of Control (the 3” bubble around every model where enemies can’t come) the units can start base to base, the main phalanx can move 8” and the Warriors can move between 2-4” to maintain a zone of no-landing. This way the warriors still get the extra save and all the extra bonuses, but more importantly the Phalanx is secure.

The Black Knights
As has been said above, the Phalanx is very inflexible and large. This presents a problem with terrain. The opponent can block areas off or set up ambushes using scenery. This would force us to abandon our formation which is obviously something we do not want. Luckily we have a solution here, again made to fit, in the Black Knights’ Spectral Steeds! They can clear out enemy ambushers or set up counter ambushes of their own. Alternatively, use their superior speed to claim good ambush spots before the enemy does and use the zone of control to your advantage again, allowing the Phalanx to march through safely.

If Scenery isn’t a real issue, Black Knights are still usefull, they can ride ahead to be something of a picket line against opposing trash units, you can also keep them on the far flank for a flank charge after the enemy has engaged the phalanx.

Also, don’t forget to plant the Infernal Standard when the Phalanx is in an advantageous position, this allows the Black Knights to circle around the enemy line while still having the advantage. Expanding on this, use the Warriors with swords to create a 6” chain for the Black Knights to keep the save buff. Remember Scenery is no obstacle and therefore no safe haven for enemy backliners. Hit those cannons hard!

Necromancer
Necromancers are AMAZING (and almost an integral part of the Phalanx) for the Phalanx, cast Danse Macabre on the Spear Skeletons, first combat they bash one front, then they run 3” the other way and fight in the other fight. So long as Grave Guard take the beating, the warriors should stay in good numbers for hefty damage. Keep these guys away from all of the fighting though, they drop like flies even with their pass on wound ability. These guys also go way at the back of the formation, so they don’t disrupt the formation if they fall a bit behind (don’t worry they’ll catch up and the spell has plenty of range). I don’t like to put them on a horse because then the enemy will be able to spot them and snipe them at range.

General thoughts
· Don’t rank these guys in a square formation, that’s Oldhammer thinking and will cost you attacks in a multiple combat. I feel a wedge works well to present two fronts for the enemy to attack while creating maximum Grave Guard frontage for protection. Remove models from the back to preserve the outer shell.

· Speaking off removing models, a normal unit like this would be ground down eventually, since we are the living dead we get our stuff back every hero phase!

· Make good use of Pile-in moves, surround the enemy while keeping your own formation intact. Use this to reinforce a pressured front as well. Wight Kings can dish out quite the pain when push comes to shove!

· Focus attacks on one unit at a time, preferably a unit that hasn’t attacked this turn to burn them down quick.

· Do not charge with the phalanx, The units will not have the same charge distance and so will get split. The strength is in the synergy of the components. Use the phalanx as an area-denial tactic. March them right down the middle, take position and force your enemy to either get slapped or cram himself tightly while moving around the phalanx.

· Tomb Banshees can be hidden inside of the formation, keeping them safe. When an good opportunity arises pop them out and scream at the enemy! Worst case scenario they roll a 1 on the run and slow the formation down by 1”.

· Have units to punish the enemy when they overextend to get around the phalanx, Blood Knights are great here, as well as strong combat heroes like Neferata. In a pinch and when you have a clear advantage you can break up the phalanx for this, but be careful when doing so.

· Shooting can be problem for this army, I use Neferata and Bat Swarms for defence here, sneak your Black Knights around some terrain to hit enemy shooters.

· Special shout-out to Neffy: she is amazing in every sense of the word and a great general for this army, reducing enemy attack against the phalanx even further and dishing out the pain against overextenders.

Hope you liked this write-up (review?) of the Deathrattle Horde :)

Final Disclaimer: everything above is my opinion and my opinion alone, I tested it in 3 different games and it worked out for me. This by no means enough testing to call it good or competitive so take it as you will, your mileage may vary ;)
Solid use of the tactics in the video. I'm really impressed with what you've done here. I think this is exactly the style of tactics in AoS. Fairly awesome!
 

Demian

Vampire Count
Joined
Oct 28, 2011
Messages
1,248
#37
@Macarian Glad to see you put to good use those shield Grave Guard there in such formation!

I used a similar tactic, with 40 spear Skeletons and 20 Grave Guard with great wight blades. However I used Ethereals as damage absorbers, spread out in front of every deathrattle unit I had, so that the would receive a charge, and take some wounds, then the Skeletons could pile in and attack on their fullest (using the shield that always gives +1 to Saves while they did not run or charge).

For the Grave Guard, I placed them on a strong flank, and forming a "V" along the Skeleton's flank, so that I could lure in and trap any potential chargers, while protecting my other flank with Black Knights and the edge of th board.

For the last touch, since Bretonnian Knights approached fast, I summoned a 10-man zombie unit blocking the Grave Guard's front/flank and to bait a charge.

20 GG with 3+ 3+, Rend 1 and potentially dealing 2 wounds could cleave through a 11-man Knight unit with terrifying ease, almost wiping them off in a single turn (+ Battleshock tests), and they weren't even buffed by Tomb Kings / Krell / Vampires or Danse Macabre. All of our buffs, I've found are better used with our massed units, like 40 Skeletons or Ghouls.

But yeah, Zombies and Ethereals as roadblocks, I recommend!
 
Joined
Feb 12, 2011
Messages
2
#39
Why don't you check the Azyr Comp on Warseer made by Auticus? I can't post the link for the board rules don't allow me...
 

Alabaster427

Minister of Thriftiness
True Blood
Joined
Dec 9, 2013
Messages
1,315
#40
Why don't you check the Azyr Comp on Warseer made by Auticus? I can't post the link for the board rules don't allow me...
I checked it out because there's a tournament running with that comp next month, but it definitely needs work. For example, it's designed so that your units only have multiples of 5 or 10 models, which I don't like. Under this comp, I couldn't bring 7 blood knights or black knights, it would either be 5 or 10. Additionally, there's nothing in there about summoning.
 

Malisteen

Master Necromancer
True Blood
Joined
Sep 23, 2009
Messages
2,137
#41
Azyr comp makes the fundamental mistake of most AoS comps so far - starting and ending with restrictions on the armies you deploy. IMO, any effective Age of Sigmar comp will instead start with restrictions aimed at the collection you bring to the table, with the understanding that only a set portion of that collection will be deployed, with the remainder left in reserve. This preserves the side-board-esque dynamic list construction allowing players to respond to their opponent's choices during deployment which is one of AoS's most engaging elements, while also placing a natural limit on the models available for summoning - instantly resolving all the various balance problems thereof.

It also makes a number of other rules changes apart from the comp rules, many of which feel at best premature and at worst reactionary and detrimental, imo.


It is the best presented system I've seen, and the people working on it have obviously put a lot of effort into it, but I feel they would benefit more from playing the vanilla game as it is to gain an appreciation for its better aspects and distinguish real problems from imagined ones before coming up with house rules to reign in its perceived excesses.
 
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