Monday 1 October 2018

Game 97 - Forces of the Abyss - 2018/10/01


In the next game against Jeff (7th and counting!) I had a new force to try and defeat. This time it was to be the army from the Forces of the Abyss faction. 

I must say that I have not had many opportunities to play against this faction so far. It is quite interesting because it is one of the iconic Mantic force, with a selection of original Mantic models to choose from. However, it seems that, at least among the potential opponents, it is not popular. 

Combine that with Jeff's ability of designing unique army lists anyway, I expected something unexpected! Jeff was kind enough to let me know what the army is going to be some time before the battle took place. And indeed, I was not disappointed at all, the army was not what I could think of as a possible Abyssals force. Here are the details:

Forces of the Abyss - Army List

6 Tortured Souls, Horde, Large Infantry, Crushing Strength (1), Thunderous Charge (1), Fly, Lifeleech (2), Shambling
- The Well of Souls[1] , Hero (Monster), Crushing Strength (2), Fly, Inspiring, Lifeleech (5), Shambling, Soul Drain

6 Tortured Souls, Horde, Large Infantry, Crushing Strength (1), Thunderous Charge (1), Fly, Lifeleech (2), Shambling
- Chroneas,  Monster, Breath Attack (20), Pathfinder, Piercing (1), Tempus (cannot be Disordered)

3 Tortured Souls, Regiment, Large Infantry, Crushing Strength (1), Thunderous Charge (1), Fly, Lifeleech (2), Shambling
- Efreet,  Hero (Infantry), Boots of Levitation, Fireball (20), Individual, Pathfinder

3 Tortured Souls, Regiment, Large Infantry, Crushing Strength (1), Thunderous Charge (1), Fly, Lifeleech (2), Shambling
- Abyssal Harbinger, Hero (Infantry), Firebolt, Individual, Inspiring, Piercing (1), Regeneration (5+)

20 Fleshlings, Regiment, Infantry

20 Fleshlings, Regiment, Infantry

20 Fleshlings, Regiment, Infantry

20 Fleshlings, Regiment, Infantry

20 Fleshlings, Regiment, Infantry

20 Fleshlings, Regiment, Infantry

When I saw the army for the first time I thought that Jeff have just redefined MSU concept. In this case MSU stands for Multiple Scoring Units! There are only 2 infantry heroes that cannot claim objectives and combined Unit Strength of the army is 20 with 14 elements total. By comparison, I have 15 elements but combined Unit Strength is 15. It made me wonder if that is something I should be worried about and how to overcome that disadvantage.

The army also had units I have never faced before, which added to the challenge. To start with, the Fleshlings seem to me to be that type of an interesting unit that does not really seem to be dangerous. But simply cannot be ignored. Nerve value and defense are exactly the same as for Elven Tallspears but at significantly lower cost. Fleshlings may not be great at dealing damage but if they slow the enemy down and/or keep the objectives, then they fulfill their role perfectly. There are 6 units of these so going through them will take time. Even if I can managed to do it, there are other, more dangerous units in the army to consider too.

Second type of a unit in the army is flying large infantry in the form of Tortured Souls. They may seem to be slow due to shambling and not so well protected as some counterparts in the other armies. But the fact they fly means they can still project the threat at long distance and I definitely expected Fleshlings to work as a cover for the Tortured Souls. Another advantage is that they cannot be wavered so they will always behave. And lifeleech (2) will help in getting that damage done healed as long as they can choose the right fights.

What makes this army even more dangerous is the fact it has quite potent shooting in the form of Chroneas and Efreet. Chroneas is a beast that cannot be easily routed and cannot be disordered either. 20 shooting attacks is bad already but these are also Piercing (1). I faced the beast once before and could inflict enough damage by shooting before I caught it in melee. I would definitely need to do it again or accept the fact that whatever it looks at - dies. 

Efreet has the same number of attacks but lack of piercing (1) is balanced nicely by speed 7, further augmented by Boots of Levitation. It means that Efreet can move at a double and still shoot. Which gives it an effective radius of attack of 26". It can thus easily pick and choose any targets it wants.  My plan to counter it was with the use of my flying prince, whose role would be to intercept the Efreet and disorder it.

And last but not least, another new element for me to fight against, The Well of Souls. I was very intrigued about this hero. It has a very interesting ability to take away damage from nearby units. However, it can only take so much and because it is a Monster it cannot hide well. It means that it is possible that when it does accumulate some, a bit of ranged attacks can destroy it. On the other hand, Lifeleech (5) does allow it to heal some of that damage back. It seems that to prevent that from happening I need to keep damaging nearby units and do not allow it to get into fights. Or at least not something that guarantees that it will inflict 5 points of damage on the charge.

In general, I was still not sure if my plan to fight this army would work as there seem to be too many targets. And it was not easy to prioritize which one to focus on first. I decided to try and do damage by shooting against Tortured Souls first. So that I could have a better chance to rout them once fight begins. That was based on the assumption that my units would be able to hold against Fleshlings for a turn or two on their own. 

If I could disorder the Efreet, damage Tortured Souls, hold against Fleshlings and then gain air superiority to bring Drakons to help the units fighting enemy infantry, perhaps there was a chance for me to gain the upper hand.

Here is my army list for the reference:

Outcasts - Army List

3 Drakon Riders, Regiment
- 5 Silverbreeze, Troop

- 5 Silverbreeze, Troop
- Drakon Rider Lord, Hero, Large Cavalry, Staying Stone

3 Drakon Riders, Regiment
- 5 Stormwind, Troops 
- 5 Stormwind, Troops
 - Elven Prince, Hero, Mounted, Inspiring Talisman

3 War Chariots, Regiment
 - Elven Prince, Hero, Wings of Honeymaze - 100
20 Palace Guard, Regiment
- 10 Palace Guard, Troop
- 10 Palace Guard, Troop 
- Army Standard, Hero 
20 Sea Guard, Regiment


Terrain details and scenario objectives placement.

Deployment and Scenario

Forces of the Abyss vs Elves - Deployment of the Armies.

As soon as we rolled the scenario it occurred to me that I actually did not play Take and Hold before. My first impression was that it is a very interesting scenario as one can generate victory points without the necessity to hold onto the loot tokens or similar. In theory, one can lose entire army and still win the game! 

The tricky part is that you place on marker in the middle as mandatory location and then your own in your opponents half. I decided to place mine on the left, as close to the middle line as possible. I thought that if I also placed it on the extreme flank it would allow Jeff to avoid being outflanked so I decided against it. However, I realized that with three objectives close to each other it may be difficult to prevent Jeff's units to get there. On the other hand I knew they would need to move towards them so I wanted to use it to let them move in and try to win on the flanks. The plan to shoot at the Tortured Souls would be implemented too, because it would mean better chances to rout them and finish the envelopment.

The concern was if I can do it quickly enough to start generating victory points on my own. And if that would be enough to shift the balance into my favor after inevitable early victory points Jeff would generate with his units.

I won the roll off and chose the first turn.

Outcasts - Turn 1

The shooting starts.

The Elves moved forward but only to get into shooting range. The units on the left flank failed to do the damage to the massive Chroneas. But the nimble Silver Breeze were successful and wounded the Tortured Souls.

Only the units on the right flank moved back a bit to avoid being attacked by Efreet lurking among the Forces of the Abyss army.

Forces of the Abyss - Turn 1

The Forces of the Abyss move forward at a double.

Unlike their Elven foes, the units of the Forces of the Abyss moved forward as fast as they could. They all focused on controlling the objectives. With the exception of the Efreet that picked the lonely figure in the forest. The damage Elven Prince sustained was not high but it still unnerved the Elf who was busy putting down the flames and completely forgot about his important mission.

Outcasts - Turn 2

Defensive actions by the Elves.

Elves still kept the distance to the enemy and continued shooting at their chosen targets. This time Chroneas got first scratches on his armor and Tortured Souls sustained more damage too. 

Forces of the Abyss - Turn 2

First casualties among the Elven units.

The Forces of the Abyss slowed down the advance to park around the objectives and to protect from the possible attacks of the Elven units. 

The Well of Souls begun its unholy rituals and restored Chroneas to full strength. In the meantime, Efreet chose another target and this time Silver Breeze cavalry was destroyed.

Outcasts - Turn 3

Elven army charges in!

The Elves had to commit eventually, as the enemy got very close to the objectives. It was not an ideal situation but it seemed like waiting is a worse option.

Many Elven units charged but unfortunately, neither could rout their chosen enemies and the Elves could not wrestle the control over the objectives from the Abyssals.

Forces of the Abyss - Turn 3

Powerful counter charge.

Forces of the Abyss counter attacked and at the same time exploited the mistakes Elves made. The Well of Souls smelled the opportunity to heal its damage and charged the War Chariots from the rear. At the same time a unit of Fleshlings counter-charged and it looked like the Chariots are doomed. However, they held against the all odds.

Unfortunately, neither Storm Wind nor Sea Guard managed to hold their ground and both units perished. 

The situation on the right flank looked a bit better as the Drakon Riders and flying Prince managed to repel counter attacks by the Tortured Souls.

Outcasts - Turn 4

Some much needed successes.

Although the left flank was dominated by the enemy, the units on the right kept on fighting. Palace Guard regiment got rid of the unit of Fleshlings. Unfortunately, nearby Storm Wind cavalry was not able to capture enemy standard and as a consequence, not in position to assisst the Drakon Riders in their attack against Tortured Souls. It meant that not only the Abyssals were not routed but also the control over the objective was still in their hands.

On the extreme right flank Drakon Lord and the Prince managed to get rid of the horde of enemy flying unit while the Palace Guard charged another unit of Fleshlings.

Forces of the Abyss - Turn 4

The Abyssals increase their advantage.

As the left flank was under control, the Abyssals shifted the Tortured Souls towards the center of the battle field. Efreet claimed yet another victim while the units on the right flank kept fighting hard to maintain the control over the objective there.

Outcasts - Turn 5

Elves keep on fighting!

The situation became quite desperate for Elves, who tried to gain back at least some control over the objectives.

It started well on the left as Drkon Riders and the Prince routed the Fleshlings. At least they were now contesting the objective. Then on the right the Drakon Lord and Palace Guard routed two more regiments of the enemy.

Unfortunately, Storm Wind cavalry still could not rout the stubborn Harbinger and Drakon Riders once again failed to destroy Tortured Souls. Although Elves managed to take control over that objective, it was clear it is only momentarily and not for long.

What was worse, Palace Guard failed to capture the Efreet and advance into Fleshlings. They hoped to avoid the attention of the Well of Souls and reclaim the control over the center of the battle field. But that was not to be.

Forces of the Abyss - Turn 5

Abyssals attack the right flank.

Chroneas and Fleshlings both controlled the objective on the right. What is more, at this important moment the wounded Drakons wavered! They were really needed now but were grounded instead.

The Well of Souls claimed more Elven lives while Tortured Souls groups descended upon remaining Elven units. 

Outcasts - Turn 6

Desperate fight.

Elves had no hope to win now but they were determined to inflict as much damage as possible upon their enemies.

Silver Breeze cavalry attacked wounded Fleshlings and claimed the objective for the Elves at this stage.

On the right flank Elves tried to defeat their foes too but neither coordinated attack of Storm Wind cavalry and Drakon Lord managed or Palace Guard managed to inflict enough damage to rout their foes. 

Forces of the Abyss - Turn 6

More losses for the Elven army.

The Forces of the Abyss pressed the advantage. On the left flank, Chroneas and Efreet attacked the Elven units caught in the open. Silver Breeze and the Prince were still fighting though.

On the right flank Elves also lost units. Both Storm Wind and Drakon Riders perished.

Outcasts - Turn 7

Last attacks.

There was very little that Elves could do now and they committed to the last charges. Unfortunately, even despite the substantial damage inflicted, the enemy units from hell kept on fighting!

Forces of the Abyss - Turn 7

Almost no survivors.

Battered Elves were attacked one more time. On the left, they were burned to ashes, on the right, they were defeated in melee.

Only single Army Standard was allowed to live only to spread the tale of terror and destruction that awaited anyone who would oppose Forces of the Abyss. 


Turn-by-turn animation summary.


Ouch! Yet another great game for Jeff and yet another crushing defeat for me! It was a valuable lesson, however and I am really impressed by Jeff's play.

I really liked how he kept his Tortured Souls nicely protected but at the same time they were always in good position to threaten my units. So I either kept the distance or had to receive counter attacks.

Another element that was very good is that Jeff kept his eyes on the objective right from the start. And he exploited my mistake of going for passive defense too. 

It was very intriguing to observe how he used special ability of the Well of Souls to reduce damage taken by the units while using every opportunity to attack and restore that unit to full strength.

My plan obviously failed. First of all, I let Jeff claim the victory points from the objectives first. It meant that despite the fact he was second in this game, he got 3 points straight away for a good start. I was not even in the position to claim the same in my turn, let alone prevent him from doing it again.

I didn't have contingency plans in place when things did not go well. For example, I pulled back my units on the right and then the flying prince got wavered. I had no unit to use instead of him to hunt down the Efreet. 

Or when I attacked in turn 3 to try and reclaim, at least temporary, control over the objectives, I had no reserves to back up the units in the fight. Not to mention that I did not move my Prince on the left to inspire Storm Wind and Sea Guard and exposed War Chariots for rear attack.

However, these are minor mistakes in comparison to the main idea where I decided to keep the distance and allow the enemy to take control over the objectives first. In fact, I think that I did not choose well in terms of placing my objective to start with. All of them were just too close to each other and I could not wrestle them back from the enemy. 

When we discussed the outcome of the game and alternative approach, Jeff mentioned that perhaps better idea would have been for me to be more aggressive this time and try to stop his units from reaching the objectives early. If I had a second line in place as well, I would have had a chance to generate victory points first. 

And that also leads to another conclusion that I should probably try and come up with a bit of a generic plan on how I want to play particular scenario and then modify it depending on the terrain and enemy. I noticed I do it the other way around. It means that, especially if chess clocks are involved, I may not come up with a good idea for the scenario in the first place. 

Thanks for reading!


  1. I've really noticed this conclusion is something I have to work on in my own gameplay as well. I really have to have a halfway former idea of how my Army is going to tackle any scenario, before I even get to the table. If I'm making my battle plan entirely in reaction to the enemy, then I'm already surrendering crucial control and momentum.

    1. Hi Steven,

      Thank you for your comment. I noticed that I tend to react more to the enemy if I don't have a plan for the scenario as well. Or deploy with the goal to rout the enemies and then worry about objectives later. Which is not good because it often means I still take casualties and may simply run out of units and time to claim anything.


  2. Yes he played like some around here play goblins. Chaff you to death keeping good stuff behind a screen. I think the only way to counter this is to stay back and shoot the chaff ie fleshings off the board before you try to engage. Goblins use Rabble regiments like he used fleshlings.

    1. Hi there! Thanks for the comment!

      I noticed that Jeff does not take units that can do a single thing only. Sure, Fleshlings are expendable but I am sure he would gladly sacrifice horde of Tortured Souls if that netted him a victory on scenario.

      His cheap regiments of infantry, however, are mainly scoring units. Because he has six of them, it means that he has nice redundancy and there will be more to claim objectives, carry the loot etc. At the same time, they cannot be ignored and it is not that easy to chew through them either.

      What I would also like to point out is that while Jeff used Flashlings as the first line and a screen for Tortured Souls, he did very well with other elements of his army too. Note how he distributed damage points to the Well of Souls and how he used its ability to heal itself. I was always impressed how he places his Tortured Souls to limit the opportunities to be attacked and at the same time they were always in the right position to counter attack. Often together with Fleshlings!

      I would definitely prefer to buy more time and inflict as much damage as possible with the shooting. However, here is where scenario had an impact. I did play defensively at first and that allowed Jeff to start generating points first. He gained enough after 2 turns to secure at least a draw and that was my main blunder in this game.

      Let's just hope I will learn fast enough to come up with good ideas next time! :)