So, with that bout of the emoes over: on to the nerdy stuff!
My first game was against Alun Davies, a Welshman who fears not the unknown, nor the unholy, nor the after-effects of overusing the word “cracking”. Alun fielded Grand Exemplar Kreoss (okay, I have lots of experience blowing him up) with a lot of Exemplars – an awful lot. Full unit of Errants (spellproof! argh!) plus the Errant Seneschal, full unit of Bastions (argh!), and the good old Knights. Like me, he’d counted his ‘jack points and spent them on one ‘jack; a Crusader for Kreoss to hide behind. I was running “the bent Deneghra list” (rejigged slightly to include the full unit of Mechanithralls) and promptly began swarming forward.
Alun responded with a more cautious advance to entrench on his side of the shallow water in the middle, opting to pick off a few of the foremost Mechanithralls with crossbow bolts (pew!) and place a spell on them that increased their armour to ludicrous levels. Fie on him! Fie!
I wasn’t going to stand for any of that, of course. The Mechanithralls received Ghost Walk and pelted it over the water to engage, while Admonia of the Withershadow Combine attempted (emphasis on attempted) to dispel their sorcerous defences. It didn’t work; can’t remember if that was because of Purity or just because she was out of range. Everything else made a more cautious advance, ready for the counter-punch.
Alun’s response was short and to the point. The unengaged Errants advanced and chopped up the three foremost Mechanithralls, and freed up their comrades to shoot deeper into the Cryx lines, racking up an impressive kill-count and even catching a Bane Thrall or two. The Bastions advanced around the edge and chopped up a few more, and the Knights Exemplar ploughed into the other flank – mostly, their charges fell short, but one of their number chopped Admonia into tiny lichy bits.
Retaliation was swift and brutal. Deneghra advanced, used The Withering, cast Crippling Grasp on the Knights Exemplar and Ghost Walk on the Bane Thralls, and prepared to deliver whacks. Said Banes charged the Bastions and Errants, chopping many into small squashy bits. The Necrosurgeon reanimated some Thralls, and then the Withershadow Combine chopped up the Knights engaging the Skarlock, who was free to put Ghost Walk on the Mechanithralls, allowing them to charge willy-nilly across the water. Result – another dead Bastion, a dent in the Errant Seneschal, and most of the Knights Exemplar turned into fodder for the Combine’s soul cages.
Countering Deneghra’s feat with Kreoss’, Alun barged his Menites forward the short distances available to them and started auto-hitting his way toward combat resolution. Despite the quite horrific penalties to STR suffered by many of his models, he racked up a fairly impressive kill-count including all the Bane Thralls except the Officer and many of the Mechanithralls.
I had Deneghra transfer Crippling Grasp to the Crusader and put Parasite on the Bastions; the Necrosurgeon churned out three more Mechanithralls, the Skarlock slapped Ghost Walk on them; and they went to town, pounding down the last Knight Exemplar and the Bastions and freeing up the Bane Thrall Officer and Brute Thrall to chop up more Errants. The Combine moved up to give Gorman a re-roll, and he bunged a flask of Black Oil over Kreoss to keep the grubby Menite honest for a turn.
Alun edged the Crusader forward and hid Kreoss behind it, and on my turn I Black Oiled them both and piled the Mechanithralls around, but couldn’t quite kill Kreoss, despite a few good blows. Surrounded, the Crippled Crusader edged forward, took the free strikes from the Mechanithralls – which wrecked it, and left it a non-line-of-sight-blocking wreck. Kreoss forfeited his movement and blasted Deneghra inna face with a dual-boosted Cleansing Fire that left her on half health, not to mention on fire.
She continues to burn. Needing nine to kill her, Alun rolls a seven – picks up his charity reroll slip – rerolls a double one – curses all rerolls everywhere – throws down his dice in rage – and a mighty nine peers up at him.
Game times out before I can execute the kill, but Kreoss is the only man standing and Alun knows defeat when he sees it. Still, a cracking game, proper nailbiter, and I was so full of adrenaline that I physically shook. Or maybe that was my breakfast coffee kicking in. I am unsure. A good start, nonetheless.