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Slaying Ethereal Dragons - A Brainstorm

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I havenít fought an ethereal dragon yet, but the idea terrifies me. And given that about 1/4 of the folks in my gaming group play high elves, itís only a matter of time before I face one. So, Iím just brainstorming ideas, and collecting ideas Iíve seen in other threads to see what people think might work.

First off, thinking about the dragon, itís a three-fold problem:
1. Itís a goddamn dragon, whether ethereal or not. Itís hard to target because it can avoid LOS arcs and is tough as nails even when you can hit it. Whatever else a dragon slaying unit must be able to do, it has to be highly maneuverable or long ranged or have 360 LOS, or all three.

2. Obviously, you need a way to deal with the ethereal part, either using magic attacks or preventing the ethereal from happening in the first place.

3. After dealing with the dragon, you still have to deal with the rest of a potent army. This means you canít over-do it when it comes to investing in slaying ethereal dragons. This is even more true in an all-comers environment where you may not even encounter the ethereal dragon and so canít over-invest in fighting it.


Illusionist with Mace of Helstrom. Statistically speaking, without taking into account anything else happening on the battlefield, this is the strongest option for dealing with ethereal dragons. If 2d6 magic cannonballs canít take out the dragon, nothing will. But thereís a couple problems with this approach. First, itís a definite glass cannon, with only T4 and no option for getting a ward save if you take the mace plus a talisman of protection or similar. You can put him on an Imperial Griffon to get more wounds and a 5+ armor save, but itís still pretty vulnerable. And itís a lot of points for something that really only is designed to target large beasts. Put the wizard on a Pegasus and he becomes more vulnerable, but now can charge 360 which could really help, considering the Griffon isnít any more maneuverable than the dragon and may have trouble coming to grips with it. The other upside of the Pegasus wizard in this role is that he can play lone-character to avoid being targeted until the time is ripe to attack.

Illusionist with Dragon Slaying Sword. Pretty similar to the illusionist with mace, but saves 15 points on magic weapons that could be useful elsewhere. Still not enough points to pick up a ward save though. Also, much less versatile. The mace of helstrum is still useful against non-monstrous targets.

Magic missile wizard. This wizard is just trying to overwhelm the dragon with magic missiles, hoping to get a large number and roll a lot of 6s to wound. The build is a level 3 or 4 with the Arcane Familiar, Ruby Ring, and Wizardís staff. Use the lore familiar to get The Summoning and Doombolt, and of course you have the Ruby ring for fireballs. Thatís rolling with 5+ to cast on the first two and +3 on Fireball. This chap also has enough points left over for a ward save item and is useful against all kinds of other targets. He also doesnít have to perform the difficult task of getting into combat with the dragon, or trying to survive if something goes wrong and his spectral doppelgšnger doesnít go off. The downsides are that he had one or two spells that will be left up to the dice roll to determine what they are, and that it will take a lot longer to kill that dragon when depending on those 6s to wound.

Dispel wizard. This is a level 4 wizard with a wizards familiar and a dispel scroll or two. His game is to prevent the dragon from going ethereal in the first place and let the cannons do the work. This may also be a good application for the War Altarís -2 casting roll aura. Downsides are that the dispel scrolls are one-use and that when tooled up fully for anti-magic, it is impossible to get bothered the Lore Familiar and a 5+ save. But otherwise, this is probably the most versatile wizard approach to dealing with the ethereal dragon, so he should do better in an all-comers list.

Commanders + Dragon Slaying Sword. Iím going to just write off the captain for this role: two attacks just isnít enough to give him a good chance of slaying a dragon before getting wiped out in return. The general is better, but not by much. Either option is much tougher than the wizard and has the same trade offs when considering whether to mount them on a griffin or Pegasus.

Demigryph dragon slayer. Giving a Demigryph mounted character the dragon slaying sword in a unit of Demigryphs is a less maneuverable approach than the flying mounts, but is more versatile in an all-comers environment and does have a chance of tracking down the bastard. Or, the Demigryph preceptor is just as good as a captain here. Give the preceptor the dragon slayer sword, add a general to the unit with the Ogre Blade, Giant Blade, or Sword of Justice, and you can be getting some damage done even if youíre not rolling 6s to wound with the dragon slayer.

Magical Demigryphs, magical knights. This is taking one of these units and adding a WitchHunter with Suffer not the daemon. Similar issues with coming to grips with the dragon as in in the DGK unit above, but a lot more reliable damageÖ unless the dragon throws down a challenge. The good news though is that the witchhunter can sulk to the back rank after refusing the challenge and the unitís attacks are still magical, as far as I can tell. Also would be very helpful to plan for some magical buffing on these attacks with a battle list spell, or word of pain cast on the dragon, or both ideally. Downsides besides the challenge of getting this unit to the dragon is the cost of the witchhunter who really doesnít have a purpose when the dragon isnít ethereal.

Magical Outriders. Similar to magical DGKs and Knights, youíre adding a witchhunter to a large unit of Outriders, probably about 10, and hoping for sixes on your many rolls to wound. The upsides are that you can do this from range with a 360 shooting arc. The downsides are the same as for magical DGKs, with the addition that the outriders are much squishier.

Anyway, those are my compiled options plus a couple ideas. Wondering what you all might be thinking.

Demigryph grandmaster with white cloak and ogre blade / 2x charmed shield + paymaster coin + ogre blade can try to take it down, deal few wounds.

Otherwise, just lvl 4 wizards with spells that will make the dragon waste time, for example by putting a los blocking vortex in its face, or the illusion spell that forbids charging next turn.

EDIT: witchhunter can't ride barded warhorse, so putting him in an unit of demigryphs / knights makes the whole unit lose counter charge, which is at least in my book, a bad idea.

The Peacemaker:
A quick note about the Doppleganger wizard on griffin - it is not simply designed to target large beasts. This game has very limited damage output gor rank and file units, and the highest average strength Is l5 or 6, and the highest common AP is like -2. So being able to doppleganger a S10, AP5 that gets 2D6 hits means this guy chews through units. And you got the griffin attacks plus stomp even if you fail the spell, it's still going to pull it's weight against 95% of enemy units.

Now, all that said, I think it is a risky choice to send this guy against a Dragon with a 5+ regen and a 5+ ward. ....but that's hero hammer for ya. Reduced killyness in R&F but the monsters get extra defense and attacks. Heh, in T9A the dragons are capped at a 3+ armour save with very few ways to get any kind of 5+ without a drawback. And that game has R&F units with AP2 average along with FIER everywhere. Units dish out 15 attacks or people don't bother taking them, lol.

I really think these Dragons are so unbalanced that there is no real counters to them.
Then there is the Initiative problem with the elves striking before the wizard. Now a griffin wizard has lots of wound so might be able to take the first round of swings from the elf. ...but not the pegasus wizard.

I want to like the pegasus but it's just not cheap enough. For the extra 130pts you get so much more defense and combat stats. ...whats that 130pts going to get you elsewhere? 5 knights? Not even 2 demigryphs. I guess it gets you a cannon.

And a pegasus needs a cavalry unit of 5+ models to not be targeted, right?
One knight unit of 8ish knights with drilled is ok to take. But then the pegasus has to stay in range of the cav unit. It's an option but for 130pts it's just better to take the griffin.


--- Quote from: Gorim on April 05, 2024, 03:39:36 PM ---Demigryph grandmaster with white cloak and ogre blade / 2x charmed shield + paymaster coin + ogre blade can try to take it down, deal few wounds.

Otherwise, just lvl 4 wizards with spells that will make the dragon waste time, for example by putting a los blocking vortex in its face, or the illusion spell that forbids charging next turn.

EDIT: witchhunter can't ride barded warhorse, so putting him in an unit of demigryphs / knights makes the whole unit lose counter charge, which is at least in my book, a bad idea.

--- End quote ---

Thanks for the ideas!

For the withunter, yeah, either you lose counter charge, or mount him on a Pegasus which makes him even more of a points sink.

Illusion is not that bad against high eleven dragons. You should be able to survive the prince striking first, with the signature spell it's -1 to hit, griffon's Ws 5 equals being hit on 4s. That's 2 attacks on average, so it really depends on what weapon the HE has.
What i've seen so far is that usually the prince takes mostly defensive items (armor of caledor, seed or rebirth, dragon helm etc) leaving little for dangerous weapons with monster killer or multiple wounds. He usually has one so that he gets magical attacks but that's it. Some might take the dragon slaying sword (sword, talisman of protection, seed of rebirth and dragon helm) but again it's 2 attacks on average, most i've see have the bedazzling helm despite being very expensive - that does nothing for your illusionist mage.

Obviously with the mace he'll probably get to roll both the ward and regen save. Math wise it's 7 hits from the 2d6, 5.8 wounds, the. the double 5+ save which is about 55.55% so on average you should inflict 2.57 unsaved rolls, multiplying that for the expected value of a 1d6 you get a final result of 9.02 wounds, just what you need to kill the prince on dragon.

edit: i forgot the wizard's own attack, another 0.65 wounds after saves, plus the griffon inflicting 0.333 from the claws and less than 0.1 inflicted wounds fron the beak attacks. All in all another lost wound bringing the total to a nice 10.


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