Sigmar League Round One: Death vs. Seraphon!

 Hello everyone! Long time since I've written a proper Battle Report, so consider this my apology :)
We just fired up my second Age of Sigmar League at our local FLGS, and I'm tackling it with a (at last!) fully-painted Death army!
 The photo above is the first scenario, it's played at 1000 points on a 4' x 4' table.

 I've been tinkering with lists, but so far haven't found one without glaring weaknesses. One of the biggest of which is a total lack of non-magical Ranged attacks, so this time I brought out a ten-man unit of Skeleton Horse Archers (!)
 They're custom, old-school Black Knight chassis with heads from the Shattered Dominion bases set (who knew that came with so many skulls?) and Mantic Mounted-Archer arms. Without further ado, here's the full list:

 Count Mannfred (General, riding Barbed Nightmare)
 Heinrich Kemmler, the Lichemaster
 Skeletons (20x, Shields/Swords, Musician, Banner)
 Skeletons (20x, Shields/Swords, Banner)
 Skeletons (10x, Shields/Swords, Musician, Banner)
 Skeleton Horse Archers (10x, Banner, Musician)

 The idea is maximum bodies, since this scenario requires minimum five-models to hold an Objective, and Skeletons are fragile in small units, so I opted for MOAR Skeletons! After those, I was low on points, so I filled in with my Archers - in part, because I want to take them out for a spin, and in part, because I'm expecting a Hero or Monster that will need a bit of pin-cushioning before it reaches my more vulnerable units.
 I also made Count Mannfred my General because his "target Friendly unit re-rolls 1's to-hit and to-Wound" is a godsend for inaccurate units like Skeleton Archers, or makes massed Skeletons hit like a ton of bricks ;) and more generally, I took Mannfred because he's cheap, hits hard, and his signature spell (Wind of Death) gives me a second Arcane Bolt (ish) per turn. Kemmler I brought because I like him, and because he's astoundingly durable if surrounded by Skeletons.

 I got to the table for my match, and saw the Lizardmen in all their glory-
 ...Sorry, sorry, Seraphon :P

 Saurus Scar-Veteran on Carnosaur (General, Relic Blade, stock Trait)
 Saurus Cavalry (5x, Champion, Musician, Standard)
 Saurus Cavalry (5x, Champion, Musician, Standard)
 Saurus Warriors (20x, Champion, Musician, Standard)
 Razordon (1x, 3x Skink Handlers)
 Chameleon Skinks (5x)
 Chameleon Skinks (5x)

 Yikes. I've fought mixed Seraphon before, but in 2k games where they were backed up by Frostheart Phoenixes, and Elf Battleline. It was a blob of Veterans/Oldbloods on Cold Ones too, so I was *really* scared of those Cavalry units, and had to consciously remind myself that these were the basic/Battleline version and nowhere near as scary. The Carnosaur I knew to be scared of, there was one of those in the previous list and it tag-teamed me with the Phoenix. What a mess!
 The Razordon was new, my opponent had printed out lovely full-color copies of his Warscrolls, which was a great resource. It was enough to see that, left unchecked, that Razordon would be a serious problem.
 The Chameleon Skinks are able to enter-play anywhere on the play area in any Movement phase, and able to go back into Reserves in any Hero phase. It was immediately apparent that these little buggers are there to poach (or hold/contest) Objectives, so I knew right away that I would have to keep close watch on them.

 I won the roll-off for Sides/Deployment, after we'd set up terrain, and opted for the side I was on already, for both our sakes so we didn't have to move our various boxes. This was a risky choice, since as you can see in the photo above, *all three* of those Terrain features in the lower-left are Mystical. That means, at the start of every Hero phase, a player has to roll a D6 for each unit within 3" of one or more Mystical terrain features. On a 1, they can't move, use abilities, cast spells, or attack until the next Hero phase. But, it was a calculated risk, because on a 2-6, that unit gets to re-roll to-Wound rolls until the next Hero phase. I hoped to use those re-rolls and lure enemy units in with my Archers, and do as much damage as possible or get them to run afoul of a few 1's

 The other Terrain pieces matter less, the ones on the top left and bottom right are both Deadly (any Model finishing a move on, or Running or Charging through is removed as a casualty on a D6 roll of 1), while the Realm Gate in my zone causes Fear (-1 Bravery to enemy units within 3" of a unit that started within 3" of a Fear terrain feature). The skull puddle in the upper middle is Arcane (+1 to Casting rolls) and the forest is Inspiring (+1 Bravery to units within 3")

 In my first turn on Round 1, I was relatively aggressive. My Skeletons, Mannfred, and Archers all passed their Mystical roll, and Mannfred used his Command Ability on the Archers, who Ran and shot (which their Musician lets them do!) and re-rolling 1's to-hit and re-rolling to-Wound, that managed to snipe three Saurus Warriors. Enough to force a Bravery/Battleshock check. Not that 17 Saurus are going to fail Bravery, but it's enough to make an opponent nervous!
 My rightmost Skeleton unit (one of the 20x's) moved up to the Fear gate. The intent of both moves was to move up, weaken the Lizards, then pull back and lure them into my lines.

 In the Seraphon turn, my first-shot worked wonders, and a very nervous unit of Warriors hid behind the Deadly Serpent Gate, hoping to close without being too exposed, but also since the gate was Deadly, not wanting to stand in it for the Cover bonus, just in case of 1's.
 His Cavalry Marched, both units trucking down the right-side of the table at double-speed, followed closely behind by the Razordon (eee...)
 The Carnosaur, also made a bit gun shy by my scary, scary arrows, promptly hid in the bushes. Which made me oh so happy!

 In slightly worse news, the first unit of Chameleon Skinks deployed to the lower-left terrain, and let loose with an unsettlingly accurate volley into Mannfred's backside, dealing two Wounds through the Armor of Templehof and my atrocious saves. That was bad.

 Fear Mannfred, he is unconcerned with your piddly blowdarts! Even if they do seem to be hurting rather a lot!

 At the end of the Round, we rolled off for Initiative, and I held on to it! Woohoo! First things first, I hit the Archers again with my Command Ability, and then let Mannfred's true power shine a bit. I fired off both Wind of Death and Arcane Bolt straight at those pesky Skinks. With near-perfect rolling, I could wipe them entirely, which was the hope. They'd been deployed for that 3+ Cover save, but since Magic deals Mortal Wounds, a Wound was a kill. I'd kind of hoped they would deploy early and in range of my spells so I could eliminate them early, get those Kill Points, and hopefully not worry about them later.

 Huzzah! Not perfect, but nicely above average. 4/6 possible Wounds means but one lonely Skink survives!

 The above photo is in the middle of my turn, my Archers laid-into the Razordon. I had been just out of its range on Round 1, and I didn't want to find out just how scary it could be. So my Archers, again re-rolling 1's to-hit and all to-Wounds, laid into it and were able to kill the beast itself, leaving a piddly unit of three Skinks. My scary unit of Skeletons charged the nearest unit of Saurus, hoping to deny them the Charge, and to whittle them down a bit before they got to swing back. Sadly, I play WYSIWYG, and I only have two Musicians, so my "Always charge 6" minimum even if you roll less" didn't apply to that unit (sad!) but luckily, they did pass their roll. Hooray!

 ...Although, also sadly, I rolled *terribly,* and I only did a single Wound. In return, they killed three Skeletons.

 Fast-forward a bit, I was into the game and forgot to take pictures. The second unit of Skinks popped out of the shadows and hit Mannfred again, doing a single Wound this time, but bringing him down to two (!!) The Saurus hiding in the ruins came out and charged Mannfred, including the Archers in the charge, and the Carnosaur came out and joined the charge against the Archers. The second unit of Cavalry charged my embattled Skeleton unit.
 I was doing... All right, but this was a bad charge at a bad moment. The Carnosaur did predictably awful things to my Archers, and the Saurus swung but failed to break through Mannfred's defenses. He killed two in return (enough to get a Wound back) and eight Skeletons of the larger unit went down to bring down one Saurus. That skirmish was not going as well as I'd hoped.

 Worse, we rolled for Initiative again, and the Seraphon won Initiative. Yikes! Of all times to get a double turn!

 That was a critical moment, because had I gotten a good roll, my Skeletons and Archers would have gotten D6 and D3 models back respectively, and Mannfred would have had time to cast some spells. But, getting a double-turn allowed the Seraphon to hit me first without any of my buffs or fresh units. Ouch!
 Had I gotten the first turn, my Archers would have taken whatever reinforcements that got and Run as close to his Objective as they could get, then shot at whatever target seemed squishiest. With a great reinforcement roll and a good Run roll, I could have taken his Objective and, at worst, gotten him to send a unit back to deal with them. At best, I could have taken both Objectives in Round 3 and won!
 As it was, his Saurus/Carnosaur were easily able to mop up my Archers and poor Mannfred, and put a serious dent in my Skeleton unit, taking maybe one Cavalry model in return. His Skinks popped back into ongoing reserves.

 This was a very critical moment. Bottom or Round 3, I'd lost my Archers and my General, who was also my "beatstick" Hero. Or, as close as I had to one in this list. So, at this point, I was looking at losing one of my biggest Skeleton units, and being hit with two relatively-fresh units of Saurus Cavalry, and an angry Carnosaur (unhurt, no less). Plus, a Saurus Warrior unit Marching would easily be able to back up the Carnosaur and force me to double-Charge them, even if they couldn't initiative the Charge on a March.
 So, I made a choice. Hit hard, hit fast, plan to pull back to my Objective ASAP. At this point, he'd returned that one surviving Chameleon Skink to his Objective, but it was otherwise unclaimed. I was sitting pretty with thirty Skeletons and Kemmler on mine, but in the case of a tie (which seemed likely here) I was losing Kill Points and needed to make up ground, fast.

 My Skeletons rolled to get some of their models back, and rolled an almighty 1. Shit. Kemmler fired off Mystic Shield on my now much-depleted 20-man Skeleton unit, and nailed the Carnosaur with Arcane Bolt, hitting it for two Wounds. Then he used his Cloak to teleport 2D6" and got as close to the Carnosaur as I could.
 This put me dangerously exposed, and more than 10" from my two weaker Skeleton units, denying them their 6+ Death save (uh oh).

 My second 20-man unit of Skeletons passed their Mystical roll, so they're now re-rolling to-Wound, and rocking two attacks each because they're a 20-man unit. And, with their Musician, they were almost certainly going to make the Charge (I needed 5" to reach him and would go 6" minimum).
 The ten-man unit went after the nearest Cavalry, hoping to reinforce them and keep the Cavalry off my home Objective.

 I hit that Carnosaur, and hit it hard. Knocking it down to a mere six Wounds with my Skeletons. In return, it swung at Kemmler, who shunted all but one Wound onto the Skeletons, killing quite a few of them, and saving the one Wound he'd taken with a 6!
 Them Kemmler himself struck back, with some lucky rolls bringing the Carnosaur down to a mere two Wounds!
 My Skeletons also started doing some work on the Cavalry, finally. But, the loss of my Death save hurt, and hurt bad. Even the 4+ save on the smaller unit was no replacement for a double-save. Both units survived, but I lost quite a few more than I would have otherwise, and that hurt.

 This is the last in-game picture I took, this is the top of Round 4, and I'd lost Initiative. Again. Just after I took this, the Chameleon Skinks (the full-strength unit) Deployed directly onto my Objective, while the smaller Saurus Cavalry Marched back to his Home Objective and the Skinks ran, getting all of them within 6" to allow him to Control that Objective.

 That was a brilliant move. It was the top of Turn 4, and he controlled both Objectives, uncontested. I had been expecting that - the plan was to finish off the Carnosaur, then retreat at maximum speed back towards my Objective.
 What I hadn't figured on was that the rules say "At the end of ANY turn..." for the Major Victory condition. And I'm so used to thinking of a "Turn" as being both players complete actions, but in Sigmar, a "Round" consists of one "Turn" for each player. So, that was game! Gah! I'd been thinking the whole time, that I would be able to pull back and recover my Objective, but I was left flat-footed out of position. I also hadn't counted on March getting his Cavalry that far, that fast. That's an incredibly powerful ability!

 This last photo is mid-cleanup, sorry about that. But it shows the final position of his Objective holders.
 We finished off our combats just to see how they went. Kemmler did me a solid and first-thing nuked that Carnosaur for those last two Wounds. Hilariously, he did so with his Tomb Blade, so I got to add a free Skeleton to my unit (I guess he found something to animate in the Carnosaur's massive gullet?) and most of my rightmost Skeletons did fine, and killed off two more Saurus Cavalry, but took a lot of casualties in return. The leftmost skeletons killed a couple Saurus, but didn't do anything exciting.

 Endgame Analysis:
 I knew what was the Mission was and exactly how those Skinks were going to play it, but the confusion between Round/Turn was obnoxious :P also, the reliability of March made a big, big difference several times during this game, as did the Seraphon's "Ignore Rend -1" shields - that nerfed Mannfred in his desperate battle, but Kemmler was lucky enough to do the damage anyway. Seraphon are an unusual force in that they actually are very points efficient, durable, surprisingly mobile, and above all, reliable. March is better than Run, especially on Cavalry, and their shields, high Bravery, and high volume of Attacks all combine to mean that they're forgiving to command and difficult to put on the wrong footing. In a match like this one (or any one where Objective grabbing is key and can be done with small non-Hero units), Chameleon Skinks are incredible. Yikes!

 For my part, I got overconfident (as usual), and still haven't quite gotten the knack of positioning. Skeletons are quite something in combat, but they're slow, and to make up for that I've been stretching out units to make sure they make their charges. But, the downside is that means only a fraction of the unit gets the Alpha strike, and then the unit gets depleted in return attacks before ever hitting with their full strength. Also, because they're slow, I haven't quite gotten the knack of getting my units in the same combats at the same time.
 The Archers, I really, really like. They're a great unit, and add a ton of speed and flexibility that I'd been lacking before. As their first run, that was very impressive, but I now know (which I should have already) to keep them the hell of away from face-stomping monsters :P with their ability to shoot first, then run, that should be easy, but I underestimated how fast the Carnosaur caught them and ate the whole unit. Shucks. Better next time!
 The next round is also 1000 pts, but with a different scenario, I'll have to look at it and see if I want to change up my list.

 But, sidebar, kudos to Kemmler! Little scamp did a full *eight* Wounds to a Carnosaur!

 All in all, a good Round 1. I'll come back in Round 2 ready for sweet vengeance!