As expected Lee came to the field with his usual tactic - large heavily armoured units (Warriors, Chosen and Knights) that would march forward quickly to engage me in close combat. These were supported by a chariot, a large unit of blood hounds and the war shrine. Two Chaos sorcerers (lore of Death and Fire) completed his army.
Predicting this setup I went for a stand back and shoot defensive setup. 28 Sea Guard in 2 ranks, 2 Bolt Throwers (see Kelly I do listen) and 10 archers I was hoping would whittle down the Chaos numbers before, as our Orc enemy would say, 'da big Krunccch'. Once the Chaos broke through this line I would have 5 Dragon Princes and 18 Sword Masters waiting to show their martial prowess and slaughter these northern raiders. I also wanted to test my magic weighted army so took a level 2 Dragon Mage of Caledor and a level 4 Archmage.
In the last two battles against Lee I have taken the lore of Shadows. When replacing my 15 strong silver Helm unit with more Sword Masters and Dragon Prices I knew I had to change tactic. I expected to be facing the lore of death so took the Lore of Life (N.B. the Dragon mage has to take Lore of Fire). It seemed to make sense to have that balance.
My first turn and I advanced the Sea Guard into shooting range of the Warriors. My Sword Masters ran to the safety of the nearby building (it was the Heroes Sanctum making them stubborn if attacked). I flew the Dragon mage into the magic stone circle, thinking magic resistance (2) would help him. During my magic phase I manage to cast Throne of Vines to up the magical power of my Life spells and reduce the risk of miscasts. My Dragon mage threw several fire balls at the Knights and used his spell stored in a magic ring to no effect. Shooting was just as successful. I think we managed to kill one Knight!
Now the keen eyed observer may notice the beautiful auburn locks of the dragon mage atop of his moon dragon. Look closely they wont be there for long! The Chaos Knights fail to charge the dragon. All other units move closer to my front line. The Chaos magic phase and I fail to dispel a direct damage Lore of death spell that targets the Dragon Mage instantly turning him to dust. Nearly 200 points down in turn 1. Ouch. My dragon gets to fight on but is now rather stupid! The war shrine blesses the Warriors with +1 attacks. That's gonna hurt.
Still he passes his stupidity test and flies over the advancing Chaos ranks ready for a rear charge next turn. Shooting is a little more successful, the Sea Guard wipe out the hounds and the Bolt Throwers start to whittle down the Knights and Warriors. I cast Stone Skin (+4 toughness - remember my archmage was on his Throne!) on the sword masters hoping to dissuade the Chaos from storming the building.
The Chaos continue to advance on my position. With most of my arrows bouncing off his armour it was to be expected. Magic sees the Dragon princes surrounded by a flamming cage, this fries one on the spot and has the added benefit (for Lee) of preventing me charging the approaching Chosen next turn. All other spells as dispelled easily by the level 4 archmage.
Turn 3 and my dragon passes another stupidity test and gets to charge the Knights in the rear. My Sword Masters come out of hiding as they are now in a position to charge into the warriors flank should they fail the charge against my Sea Guard (which with Lee's luck at charge roles would be a safe bet). But just in case I fast reform the sea-guard into a 4 rank block. More ineffective shooting leads us into the first close combat. The Dragon takes 2 wounds but dishes out some damage back. Even with the rear charge the combat ends in a draw. The chaos hit me back hard.
The Warriors charge the sea guard, the chosen charge the Dragon Princes and the war shrine charges the Sword Masters:
The Dragon finally wins combat but the Knights Hold. The Princes do extremely well against the Chosen and combat is drawn. The sword masters manage to do something good for the elves breaking the shrine and chasing it down to wipe it off the field. Now for my secret weapon my Archmage, I challenge the champion of the warrior unit. Lee has a smug look on his face unit I tell him my Archmage is wearing robes which means he can only be wounded by magical attacks! With the champion out of the way the entire Sea Guard unit fight on to draw combat.
My turn and I rotate the sword masters to pressure the rear of the large chaos warrior unit. I cast stone skin on the sea guard to offer them a little more protection against the warriors. Shooting with one bolt thrower at the only unit not in combat, the chaos chariot reduces it to 2 wounds. Time to face another round of close combat. The Dragon Princes are finally wiped out. The warriors break the Sea Guard (failing a leadership 9 test by 1) and they flee to safety. The warriors pass a leadership test to hold and reform to face the Sword Masters:
Then comes a big turning point in the game. My dragon is facing the 3 remaining Knights. It has 1 wound remaining. With lower initiative I sense the death of my dragon coming, but the Knights are demoralised and fail to wound it. I attack back killing another Knight. 1 Knight and the mounted sorcerer (looking suspiciously like an Elf) left with a Thunder stomp to come. I'm smiling... that is until one of the horses bites my dragon and kills it! Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
The two remaining Knights reform to enter the battle. Another Chaos turn and the Chosen charge one Bolt Thrower the chariot the other. Neither lasts very long. The warriors fail to charge the sword masters.
I retaliate with a charge against the warriors. We make it in. My archers rotate to shoot at the advancing chosen. My Sea Guard reform and I cast Stone skin on the Sword Masters. With stone skin protection the sword masters draw combat against the terrifyingly strong warriors.
Another chaos turn and the chosen charge the archers the chariot charges the sea-guard. The archers realising they don't stand a chance against the chosen flee through the gap between the chaos warriors and the sea guard. Still with their stone skin the sword masters again hold their own against the warriors.
The final turn sees the Sea Guard unit succumb to the chariot. They are run down as they flee. But Sword Masters finally win combat and in turn run down the remaining warriors and slam into the chariot. This is all that remains for both side:
Even though I outnumbered the Chaos in the end, both his characters were still alive while mine were making compost. That was a difference of 500 points so I lost the battle! Again!
Lee played a great game and I really enjoyed the battle. Playing with a new magic lore (life) did raise some questions though:
1) When I cast throne of vines can my mage still move while 'sat' on the throne?
2) The Throne of vines increases the abilities of some of the spells. For example stone skin starts off as +2 to unit toughness, but if cast from the throne increase to +4 toughness. The question is, if I cast it from the throne (to get the +4) but the throne is later dispelled does it reduce to the normal +2? The rules state that it offers +4 toughness when cast (therefore it suggests it would hold). We played that it doesn't hold!
I'll probably play lore of life again. I might even make a throne vine to put my Mage on! That will be Octobers project!