This list is designed ostensibly to absorb charges, cast buff, de-buff and mortal wound magic, retaliate with ambushing units and use high movement and deployment/re-deployment abilities to make late game plays for vulnerable objectives. It will not win a protracted fight, so relies heavily on the movement side of things as well as de-buffing dangerous enemy units. Units being able to be placed in reserve will hopefully add a psychological threat.
This is also an allaince of Elves, Dwarves and Men (and even an Ent). This was quite unintentional, but pleases the Tolkien fan in me greatly.
‘Hunters of the Hidden Paths’ allows parts of this army to deploy off the field and arrive at the end of any movement phase up to and including the 4th battle round. I intend to use this to keep useful units out of harms way, and either bring the enemy on towards me so I can spring ambushes or force them into more cautious plays that allow me to have more control over movement and engagements.
‘Attuned to Nature’ is a useful ability that heals 1 wound back to every living city unit in my hero phase.
‘Strike then Melt Away’ – I have one play in mind which is predicated on this Command Ability. I will usually place both the Spirit of Durthu and the Pistoliers into reserve. When the time is right or if they’re needed, I deploy them at the end of my movement phase with the Pistoliers wholly within 12″ of Durthu. Both units then shoot and I spend 2 CP’s (this is where the extra CP comes in handy) so that they both move out of phase, closer to the intended targets. They can both then charge, and the Pistoliers can fire again once they have finished their charge move, before going on to resolve their melee attacks. This ‘counter punch’ combo might be a surprise for some opponents and if not I hope to gain the advantage of the threat it poses.
Artefacts, Command Traits & Abilities
I have given my General the ‘Druid of the Everspring’ command trait so he has access to a spell from the Lore of Leaves. More on that in the magic section.
There are no battalions, so having given this careful though I have given my one artefact choice, Ghyrestrike from the Realm of Life artefacts list, to Durthu. This is so his 3 melee attacks hit and wound on 2’s instead of 3’s, helping out his unreliable damage output a little.
My General has the ‘Captain of the Phoenix Guard‘ command ability, allowing Phoenix Temple Units wholly within 12″ of him to re-roll wound rolls (which will be himself, his retinue of 20 Guard and hopefully the other 10 of Guard assuming positioning has gone well)
The Sorceress has the ‘Command Underlings’ ability, which allows a chosen Darkling Coven unit to run and still shoot/charge but I don’t see much use for that in this list.
Anointed – Mostly taken on a Phoenix, but I wanted my General on the front line swinging and to use the Honoured Retinue ability to pass off wounds. I like the idea of doing this with Phoenix Guard (pass off wounds allocated to him to his unit, who have a natural 4+ save and 4+ DPR. Any wounds that get past this have to get past his own 4+/4+). Also, I like the thematic nod to old school fantasy, with a hero effectively adding their attacks to the output of the unit as a whole.
Battlemage – he is here to remain within 3″ of the General to be his Adjutant, hopefully to generate more CP, and as the general will be with his retinue will also benefit from their protection (again, a throw back to Fantasy where putting squishy wizards in with units helps to keep them alive). I picked Hysh for his origin as I wanted access to the ‘Pha’s Protection’ spell, which when cast on the unit he’s surrounded with makes them more survivable.
Sorceress – With the Bleakswords providing an additional 2+ to cast each turn as she sacrifices them, I see her as the main user of the Balewind Vortex. She uses this to cast 2 spells a turn at greater range whilst being protected by the 1+ save from the Vortex and shielded by the (remaining) Bleakswords.
Spirit of Durthu – I have always wanted to make this unit work in a list but his movement, tendency to be targeted early by shooting and inconsistent damage output has always let him down. ‘Hunters of the Hidden Paths’, ‘Strike then Melt Away’ and ‘Ghyrstrike’ are ways to improve this warscroll considerably and alleviate all those issues mentioned. He still isn’t a game winner on his own, but in this list, he is a genuine threat who can’t be ignored.
Phoenix Guard – This is the unit on which my anvil/ambush/hammer/out-manoeuvre strategy pivots. It has to be survivable, supported, buffed and have its enemy de-buffed to work. The 4+ DPR is an obvious reason for taking them but I wanted solid battleline that could take a punch whilst dealing decent damage. the 20 man unit is the retinue of my General, who I want on the front line. The 10 man unit has utility to be a secondary counter punch unit, added to the reserves to come on later so they have mobility or a tanky screen for any of my squishier units (The sorceress for example). Expensive but worth it.
Pistoliers – As above the most useful unit I have to take advantage of ‘Hunters of the Hidden path’, but still fantastic even if they aren’t or cant be put in reserve. If they survive past a round of combat they can take advantage of high movement to be a nuisance elsewhere.
Gyrocopters – A famously good warscroll, Ive taken the unusual step of splitting them into two units (1 of 2 and 1 on its own). I intend to use the 2x unit for screening and/or then going after squishy hordes and the lone copter for objective grabbing (either as an ambushing unit or by using its naturally high movement)
Scourgerunner Chariots – More speed, more shooting and more screening if needs be. This is a fantastic unit for its points and has loads of utility.
Tree Revenants – Here to do what they do best, use their in-built warscroll ability to re-deploy, nick objectives and generally be a nuisance.
I couldn’t find a battalion to fit in without disrupting some or all of the intended use of the army.
With Sylvaneth being allowed to be included in Living City I didn’t see the need for allies. However I haven’t really spent much time looking at allies so any hints and tips in this regard would be welcome. Fitting them in points wise whilst not affecting the effectiveness of the army might be a struggle.
Magic, Endless & Realm Spells
One of the key things I wanted to build into this army was magic, an see if I could do so in a Cities list without defaulting to Hallowheart.
The General has the ‘Druid of the Everspring’ command trait so he can take a spell and I chose ‘Ironoak Skin’. 6 to cast and he picks a friendly unit within 18″ that is visible. Subtract 1 from wound rolls that target that unit until the start of your next hero phase. I intend to use this on his Retinue.
The Sorceress has her Word of Pain (casts on 7) warscroll spell as well as Cage of Thorns (casts on 7). On the Balewind she can cast both as well as both being 24″ range rather then 18″. Word of Pain inflicts D3 MW and makes the target unit -1 to hit. Cage of Thorns reduces movement by half and does D6 MW the next time it moves. If she’s used her ability she’ll be casting both of these on 5’s.
Battlemage – He has Pha’s Protection. This grants -1 to wound on a friendly unit. If this is on the Retinue they are potentially now -2 to wound. His other spell is Lifesurge, which heals D6 to a friendly unit. Always handy to have access to healing in a list and it marries nicely with the add 1 wound a turn from the sub faction ability.
Endless Spells (all empowered as per Cities Allegiance Ability)
Geminids – (Mortal Wound dealing and – to hit and -1 to attacks de-buffing goodness)
Quicksilver Swords – (Extra Mortal Wound threat)
Palisade – (Doesn’t seem to be taken all that much but I like the idea of blocking or re-directing enemy units that are coming at me. If they’ve already reached my lines then casting this behind them but out of range of my units can add that extra – to hit to the enemy if I roll well enough.)
Balewind Vortex – (Adds so much value to the Sorceress making her more likely to cause damage and at greater range.)
If everything goes off in the right order it might be possible to have 1 of my units a -2 to wound them or otherwise two of my units at -1, whilst palisade make enemies -1 to hit, geminids gives -1 hit and attacks and Word of Pain -1 to hit also. All the while dealing a potential 9 MW.
Its an army that relies on positioning, movement and the ability to arrive from reserve. There isn’t really a powerhouse combat unit and can only really survive attrition melee, and only then if the magic phase isn’t shut down. The Pheonix Guard in particular should prove even more difficult to kill than normal, which makes a great anvil when thinking strategy. There are enough utility units in the army to adapt tactics according to terrain, opponents and battleplans.
They will struggle against new Seraphon regarding magic.
If deployment is done correctly then the various threats this army has from reserves, from range, from movement and re deployment late game should give players pause for thought and provide a psychological edge. It will need to be played with precision as it will not survive a toe-to-toe fight with a superior combat army. ‘Play the Objectives’ is the most important advice to follow.