THE HALLOW 13: FORCES OF THE ABYSS

Alright, last game of the 2021 Crossroads GT. Middle tables, nothing at stake, opponent is a buddy from our sister club and, crazily enough, I almost played him and this army in my third game ever with Herd, before we swapped the Ratkin player over to me. Call it fate.

Forces of the Abyss 2300
Lower Abyssals Horde – CS1/De3
Abyssal Horsemen Regiment
Abyssal Horsemen Regiment
Abyssal Horsemen Regiment
Flamebearers Regiment
Flamebearers Regiment
Flamebearers Regiment
Gargoyles Troop
Gargoyles Troop
Gargoyles Troop
Abyssal Fiend
Manifestation of Ba’el
Abyssal Warlock
Seductress

I really appreciate no item lists, especially when there are units that so often are ‘fixed’ with the same items – looking at the Horsemen without pathfinder or strider here. As my opponent said, what would he drop to get them? Personally I’m not a fan of De3 on Lower Abyssals, with so much P1 shooting in the game, but he doesn’t have the points to make them do work otherwise, so trade-off it is.

Game Five is Plunder, the green tokens are worth 2 points. I scout and lamentably he takes first turn.

BATTLE

Herd 0: Scouting phase! You can just make out the Tribal Spear regiments to left and right of frame. The rightmost Forest Shamblers scoop up a 2 point token.
Abyssals 1: The demons power forward on the right and creep into range in the center with their shooting elements (Ba’el is the morghast / winged skeleton thing in the field). Note that that field is flat terrain, not that I really have shooting that he’s not getting cover against.
The central Forest Shamblers take 7 damage and I really question what I’m doing with them 😅
Herd 1: The Hallow, freshly regrown from its scrum with the Orcs, collectively shrugs and leans on in once more! Double Forest Shamblers charge the Lower Abyssals, while the Brutal Herder scoots his 50mm base into some Abyssal Horsemen. The Druid runs up on the right to be inspiring (just behind the rightmost Tribal Spears). The rest of the tree things push up the rest of the board, with the Beast taking up position to jump into the fire base and the gently smoldering Shamblers picking up a token. Of note, the Centaurs couldn’t become relevant thanks to the obstacle stopping at the double, and the Tree Herder over there wasn’t able to both turn and put his leaderpoint into the forest, so he can’t see anything.
The Lower Abyssals are pounded to jelly and the Forest Shamblers reform in their forest sanctuary. The Brutal Herder manages to waver the Horsemen, which in a moment will be more relevant than I thought.
Abyssals 2: Strap in, big turn ahead as carnage blossoms across the field. Horsemen charge the Beast over a wall (I missed this, good eye!), Gargoyles charge Tribal Spears (hindered), more Gargoyles charge damaged Forest Shamblers, Seductress charges Centaur Chief, Ba’el charges Forest Shamblers (hindered) with Horsemen in the flank (hindered but off a hill), Horsemen counter the Brutal Herder (because Fury doesn’t allow for charging, so they couldn’t cycle to his flank), and the other Gargoyles charge the Druid because wow it’s hard to protect individuals from flyers.
All shooting goes into the central Tribal Spears, who hold on 6 damage. After a flurry of dice, the combats end up with the Beast holding on 3, the Tribal Spears on 1, the central Shamblers back to 7, the Centaur Chief on 5 (even after the duelist buzz-saw), Ba’el’s Shamblers routed, the Brutal Herder on 3, and the Druid it looks like on 1 but definitely disordered.
Herd 2: The Hallow reaches that glorious state where Everybody Is Fighting (Except the Druid). Beast + Tribal Spears (hindered, also carrying a token) charge the left Horsemen, Tribal Spears + Centaurs charge some Gargoyles, Tree Herder + Forest Shamblers charge some more Gargoyles, the central Tribal Spears make contact with one of the Flamebearers, the Centaur Chief spends his one charge of the game sitting Ba’el down (which may have been a mistake, shutting down the fire base was likely more impactful but I wanted to limit Ba’el just in general), the Brutal Herder + Forest Shambler friends charge the damaged Horsemen, Centaurs charge the third Horsemen, and the Tribal Spears on the far right go up and over the hill and into the Abyssal Fiend. Whew.
The left Horsemen don’t rout (maybe wavered?), both Gargoyles down the middle scatter (with the Tribal Spears sidestepping and nabbing a token), the Flamebearers take frustratingly little damage, the Centaur Chief flubs his rolls against Ba’el, the damaged Horsemen are smashed to bits, and the Abyssal Fiend and other Horsemen cop some damage but whatever.
No, you’re adorable!
Abyssals 3: Shooting removed the central Forest Shamblers and Tribal Spears so rapidly I didn’t catch a before shot! Charges see the left Horsemen back into the Beast, the right Horsemen into the flank of the last Forest Shamblers (hindered) with Ba’el in the front (hindered) for a bit of deja vu, the Abyssal Fiend countering the Tribal Spears on the right and the surviving Gargoyles into the rear of the Centaurs. Oh, and the Seductress into the Centaur Chief for another round.
The Beast is pushed to 7 damage but stays frosty, the Centaur Chief whipped to 7 and wavers, the Forest Shamblers to 7 too for all the good it does, the right Tribal Spears to 6, and the Centaurs shredded by hideous Gargoyles.
Herd 3: This game is wildly too close to call, but I do know that the fire base needs to break if I’m keeping my tokens into the late game. To which ends the central Tree Herder powers into the central Flamebearers (couldn’t reach the right ones) and Centaurs charge the left ones. On the left, the Beast counters the Horsemen with Tribal Spears in their flank (hindered forever). On the right, the Forest Shamblers counter the Horsemen after a very long think, and Tribal Spears counter the Abyssal Fiend.

Meanwhile, Tribal Spears move down the center line, intent on scooping up another loot token. The Centaur Chief doesn’t move at all, which seems bad when I think how just backing up 5″ makes the Seductress make more of a decision, but it’s not game ending with how fast she is. Finally the Druid bane chants the Forest Shamblers.

Those Horsemen rout! But it’s a slog across the rest of the combats, with no standout performances. Here at the midway point it’s 4-0 in the Hallow’s favor, and at the time I certainly felt like I might get away with it …
Abyssals 4: The fire base prepares to deal with its Centaur problem, as the Seductress ends the Centaur Chief and Ba’el and the Horsemen flank-n-front the Shamblers. Classic! The Abyssal Fiend counters the Tribal Spears again and the Gargoyles fly as far as they can into the woods, gunning for that 2 point token.
The Centaurs cling to life on 4 damage, however the Centaur Chief, Forest Shamblers and Tribal Spears are all consigned to the flames. RIP tree bois. Ba’el picks up the 2 point token, tying the loot score.
Herd 4: The game is slipping away from me, so time to overthink things I guess? Tribal Spears grab a second token, but they do so in a way that puts them within 12″ of where the Gargoyles will be when they grab the 2 point token. I forget that you can only charge 10″ with a token, despite the Tribal Spears on the left moving 5″ off of that fence. And I also discount that the Seductress exists and can very easily block them. 100% should have barely grabbed the token and turned to disappear behind the wood.

The Centaurs re-charge the left Flamebearers (I’m pretty sure they didn’t flank the Warlock because the Flamebearers have double the shots, tho future me definitely thinks they should have, as it inspires / might actually die), the central Herder corkscrew charges the right Flamebearers (largely so he can look to the right), and the Brutal Herder ramps off the hill into Ba’el. For vengeance. The Druid tops him off with a little healing.

Let’s cut right to it: the Brutal Herder one rounds Ba’el 😀 Double 10+ Nv rolls banish the demon back to the pit from whence it came. The Herder stays where it is, presenting flanks and glaring at the field of Flamebearers. Speaking of which, some Flamebearers get slapped around but whatever, this thing is a regenerating glue trap that shoots.
Abyssals 5: You know things are getting serious when nobody deigns to shoot. The Centaurs are countered by Flamebearers and flanked by the Warlock (hindered), the Tree Herder is double flanked by Flamebearers (hindered), and the Brutal Herder is charged by the Seductress (hindered) and flanked on either side by the Abyssal Fiend and Abyssal Horsemen (hindered). The Gargoyles grab a 2 point token and turn around, bringing the token score to 5-2 in the Hallow’s favor.
The Brutal Herder is torn down, in an unexpected turn of events hot on the heels of an even less expected turn. The Horsemen take the 2 point token (4-3 Abyssals). In the field, the Flamebearers do 1 damage to the Tree Herder and waver the Centaurs on 5.
Herd 5: Dire straits as I’m now playing for a high loss. The Beast flanks into the left Flamebearers (could have done the middle but given that the Tribal Spears are still in the wood, it’s a moot point), and the remaining Tree Herder powers into the Abyssal Fiend as he can reach it. The Druid prepares to zap the Gargoyles with lightning, cover be damned …
… and she pops them with 1 damage! They drop their token, conveniently right in front of the Horsemen 😐 Neither the Beast nor the Tree Herder can rout their targets.
Abyssals 6: The Flamebearers caper out of the field with a clear mission to burn down the Hallow token carriers, bereft as they are of inspiring as well. But also the Horsemen nab the second 2 point token (4-3 Abyssals once more). The Abyssals engaged in combat counter / charge their targets.
The Centaurs finally die to the Warlock, the Beast goes up to 9 damage but holds, and the Tree Herder takes 2 from the Fiend. But more importantly the two Flamebearer regiments do reduce the two token Tribal Spears to cinders, thanks to being both very visible and not 50% in cover, when either of those could have not been the case (4-1 Abyssals).
Herd 6: Gonna need a miracle if this goes to Turn 7 … The last Tribal Spears lug their token over and pick up the two fallen ones in the forest (4-3 Abyssals). The Beast goes into the Flamebearers again, and the Tree Herder grimly prepares to smash the Fiend down at last.
Well, the Tree Herder makes good anyway. The Beast kicks a couple Flamebearers for no meaningful result. But you know, I’ll take a 3-4 token loss, that feels good aft—-
Abyssals 7: The Flamebearers roast my 3 token Tribal Spears, and because we thought it was the end of the game – you can see my big die got messed up after Turn 4, so we reset according to his top-n-bottom round dial – he didn’t bother escaping the Tree Herder looming within inches of his 4 points having damaged Sp 5 Horsemen -_- Possible the Beast as well, if she isn’t wounded?

I’ve got some weird feels about that omission, as Turn 7 ruined me here, for zero upside despite my power pieces. However I had a great back and forth game up to here and as far as I knew we had the turns correct, so either way that’s am …

ABYSSAL VICTORY (4-17)

I won’t say I wasn’t weirdly disappointed at playing so hard, pushing through some terrible luck (like everything to do with the Flamebearers), having some insane luck (the Ba’el dunk!), and then walking away with next to no points for it, but that’s how the cookie crumbles in a game where scenarios score at the end #progressivescoringnowplz It was a helluva match against an honestly better player, and a great way to cap a great tournament. It’s becoming passe to say this, but in person gaming again has been amazing, and a tournament is like the best way to do it. Minus the lack of sleep thing, tho that probably won’t ever change.

Nor will my placement I reckon – I landed 34 of 52, which I swear I’ve gotten before 😓 2-1-2 (but 49/105 battle points) and average paint will do that. I did get 1 favorite army vote from somebody tho! And played great dudes along the way, many of them for the first time since 2E.

Before signing off on this Crossroads series I did want to comment on Turn 7 being a thing. I’m all for its existence, and I’m fine with it at tournaments as well, but 4+ is far too often for me. I’d like it to be a special thing that maybe happens a third or a sixth of the time, but absolutely shattering a game on 50% – or creating a win-more scenario with the same likelihood – is pretty lame and a little too Games Workshop for me at this point.

Part of this thought was sparked by Saturday night’s discussion with a new KOW player but Warmachine vet, who was enjoying herself but scoffed at KOW’s claims that it’s designed for competitive play. To her, 50/50 Turn 7 and the ability to fabricate situations where units must charge an arc but are not allowed to charge that arc both invalidate the competitive design stance, and I agree on the first point, while shrugging on the second and calling it one of KOW’s NPEs.

I think Turn 7 has the potential to guide comp in a way (speed / shooting / survival in that order) and possibly force more conservative play, so maybe that’s why it always seems to wreck me so badly? As I very rarely have anything left in the late game, either to capitalize on Turn 7 or, more often, to survive it. Hence my feels about Game Five here, as I actually had meaningful tools in position for it, but wasn’t allowed to use them. Honestly, Turn 7 on a 50% would be less of an issue if 90% or so of the scenarios weren’t end scoring only. With progressive scoring, you’re awarded for scenario-minded play along the way, which my Herd basically have to do, in the hope they’ll currently be around to reap the benefits at the very end.

Thanks for reading! I’ve just got a couple more games in with the Hallow, so stay tuned.

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