In hindsight, rushing the Lich wasn’t the best idea. (And okay, we had like five 5th level guys, but two 1st level players for whom this was their very first B/X session.)
In previous posts, I’ve discussed how a lone spell caster type enemy can be taken down with a dedicated rush. We took out Strahd that way. We took out Devil Guts that way. We took out the Necromancer of Were-Tiger-opolis that way. But sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, the bear eats you.
Some of our problem was bad luck. We got hosed on some important initiative rolls, our archer couldn’t hit anything to save his life, and we had several rounds of unlucky saves against confusion.
Some of our problem was smart play on the GM’s part. The Lich initially took to the air, so our (too few) melee guys couldn’t get to him. The Lich was also somehow protected against holy water (protection from normal missiles?). The persistent confusion effect made it impossible to plan anything beyond the immediate round, and was arguably more effective than cloud kill would have been.
Some of it was just the design of the Lich as an enemy. The “see and flee” effect is a tremendously useful passive defense that applies against the entire party, and there aren’t a lot of ways to remove fear on several guys at once running at max speed. Though the Lich doesn’t level-drain, it paralyzes foes in melee, which means the party has an ethical dilemma about retreating and leaving valuable allies behind. The Lich’s ultra-low AC, by B/X standards, at least, means it can probably avoid conventional attacks long enough to get a spell off.
But mostly it was dumb strategy on our part, mostly mine. I blew my only dispel magic getting past an enchanted trap. We couldn’t bullshit his Iron Statue long enough to regroup and form up. The silence 15 foot radius was a lucky break, but after that our only real plan consisted of sniping a levitating Lich and trying to find a way to drop a chain of undead binding on him. Which should have worked, but for some very bad luck. Meanwhile the rest of us were too confused or fear-stricken to adequately help out. It was all we could do to retreat, though apparently we dished out some hefty damage.
I pushed for attacking again the next day before it had a chance to heal up, but got outvoted. Next time, pal. Next time.