Game 1: Beginner Shattered Peaks (Normal)
Open with Lich into Vampyre. Haven't played the Lich in a long time and screw up his positioning (he was distracted and thus not able to teleport around). Pulled a Berserker out of the font and slapped a plague on him, dropping the Pit Wolf in one one round Pummel+Basic Attack. Lich and Vampyre remove the Cyclops Youth. The game moves so quickly I don't really get a chance to test out a lot of my new runes, and I may need to think about doing the trials missions rather than the beginner missions.
Game 2: Beginner Sundered Lands (Normal)
I lead with the Utterdark, which is a poor choice because his speed is low and he has no form of special movement. Turn two I make up for it with a cheap Skeletal Berserker, so I'm only a turn behind the ideal on the first font. I confirm that Delay doesn't work, which is a shame. Otherwise things proceed swimmingly; I overextend with the Utterdark but have a Reanimate for when he goes down. The Utterdark and the Mute Stalker are the big MVPs this game, though a Wandering Zombie also helps. The Zombie basically ignores everything that's thrown at him thanks to his physical resistance, while the Mute's Evasion-granting ability cuts down on the damage from the Draksar Archer and Skeezick Netter. I do try making the Netter ethereal, and he apparently just hangs out right where I drop the spell; he's stealthed as soon as the first turn ends but he was in pretty much the same space when he became solid and attacked.
Playing the beginner stuff on Normal is definitely too easy; I move on to try the Trials.
Game 3: Trial of the Savage Tundra (Normal)
The Eternal Lich is unlikely to remain Eternal, since the Tundrabot spams Arctic Wail and the Lich's little urn only has 10 hp. Turn 3 the Wail hits, but the Lich is already earning its keep with ranged attacks. I pull both Shadestalkers and put them both on the board, hoping to screw with the Bot's action points and survive as a result. Things fall apart quickly once the ranged wave of attacks hit though, and my shadestalkers tangle up in each other's robes and stop the rest of my folks from progressing. Things look grim.
Bless the AI tho; it wastes two full creatures blowing up the Eternal Lich's urn when my Reanimate kicks. Still, once the fulcrum tips it's that familiar old wave of ranged attackers beating up on my shrine. I manage to muddy things up with the Zombie and a Shadestalker, but not nearly by enough. By the time things wind down, I still haven't killed the Bot's stealthing first spawn, largely because I lack detection and started with too much in the way of ranged attackers.
Game 4: Trials of the Shattered Peaks (Normal)
Going into this I'm both optimistic and nervous. Optimistic because the wide-area attacks my guys pack should do well on the swarms, but nervous because I don't think I do enough damage fast enough to kill the late game G'hern. My opening hand is Lich King, Eternal Lich, Shadestalker, Wandering Zombie, Reanimate- I lead with Lich King because he has the highest speed, though I expect him to get hit by the Distract and lose teleport; luckily he doesn't. I'm able to take out the G'hern scarecrow with the Lich King, which does give me hope for the game. I follow that up by Essence Draining the G'hern Sustainer and shooting him twice with the Lich King, meaning he's down to 8 hp before he even reaches my font. Then I plant an insubstantial Shadestalker in the way, ready to soak up his AP. Deprived of their leadership, the moga are much easier to deal with and I debate whether I should play aggressively or hang back at my font and pick off the moga with my ranged liches. I decide to mix both, and then have a tense moment as my 0 ap Vampyre is left by a cliff edge and I worry about an avalanche. I leave my Shadestalker in range of the Slinger as well, because I struggle with sacrificing ap to him from my other champs.
I also forget how Festering Wounds works (I really, really don't play FW much) and there's a round where I expect to clear the board and most certainly do not. However, when the gravedust settles it's a win for Team Diaphanous. Being able to kill each G'hern at extreme range with the liches means that the moga fall quickly, and in the whole game I suffer very few losses.
With four games down I settled into the Forge to tweak my runes. I buy the unleveled Seductress disease immunity and one level of Charm. Eternal Lich, who has no impressed me, picks up Dark Favor- so each time he's summoned he hits all of my enemies with a 3 life loss. Between his own ability and Reanimate, I can conceivably do this up to four times in a game, not counting his shortened cooldown. I'm holding off on picking up Exertion for both of the Shadestalkers, but I do up their speed; when a Champ has Energy Thief it's nice to have a big speed base to store all those stolen points.
The Utterdark is an interesting upgrade choice, because he can either pick up Phase Shift or Stealth, for the same price. Phase Shift has a survivability element, and he would automatically stealth the same turn he shifted; but being that my opponent would know exactly where he was, I don't know that it would necessarily disguise his position, and imagine someone would make an effort to destealth him immediately. Stealth would give me an active invisibility and an immediate boost (due to the Surge-Shadows ability) but it's an expensive ability and I've been playing the Utterdark as more of a brawler than a sneaker. I pick up Phase Shift. I boost the Wandering Zombie with better starting stats to Speed 9 and 40 hp.
I'm going to stick with the Dark Enchantresses for the moment, even though they've seen absolutely zero active use. However, I'm dropping the Disturbed Spirit and one of the Ghostly Visages; the latter would be better if I had an option of dropping insubstantial sooner, but as I don't I hardly ever used it.
In the place of those two runes I add in a pair of Animated Blades. The Blades are different than the last time I used them, as they no longer have Dodge. However, their Defense and HP both seem to have increased, so the hope is that they'll prove less fragile now. I buy one up to Multiattack 3 and Rend 1, and the other Multiattack 3, Rend 1, Speed 9. The intent with the Blades is to have some more melee options, a little bit more damage, and some quasi-range in that they're quick fliers able to pick a far target and engage it. They also give me anti-equipment options, and I will probably want that at some point.
With those changes made, I'm ready to run through four more Trial games. However, I probably shouldn't do so at 2:40 in the morning.