BLOODFIRE 44: VARANGUR

It feels like it’s been forever since I last played Kings of War, but in that time Clash of Kings 2022 has slammed into the game and we’ve just begun feeling the weight of that impact. Add to all the new units and armies feverishly being born all the new players starting the game and it all adds up to exciting times in Pannithor. Personally, I’m adding loads of new stuff to the Hallow right now, partially because I already had expansions in progress and partially because COK unlocked quite a few units for the faction that otherwise were just hard to justify on the tabletop – including stuff I took in the beginning and kept passing over, like the Great Chieftain. Welcome to every game going forward, bud!

Since the Hallow is on the hobby desk, I commemorated my first COK22 outing by busting out Bloodfire: The Pre-Rebuild edition:

Salamanders 1995
Fire Elementals Horde – Diadem of Dragonkind
Fire Elementals Horde
Fire Elementals Horde
Fire Elementals Horde
Ember Sprites Regiment
Ember Sprites Regiment
Ember Sprites Regiment
Ember Sprites Regiment
Greater Fire Elemental
Clan Lord – Effigy of Fire, Raptor
Clan Lord – Effigy of Fire, Raptor
Mage-Priest – Fireball (10), Surge (8), Scorched Earth (3)
Battle Captain on Rhinosaur – Inspiring Talisman

This doesn’t take huge advantage of COK22 – there are no Scorchwings (yet) – but the shattering on the fireballs and the Me 3+ on the GFE certainly don’t hurt. I knew I wanted to take one of the new mega spells on the Mage-Priest, so went with Scorched Earth as I rate it the most meta-warping of the library. Yes, I do happen to have two very mobile combat individuals in the list as well. We’ll talk about changes at the end 😛

Varangur 1995
The Fallen Horde
The Fallen Horde
Snow Trolls Horde – Staying Stone
Huscarls Regiment – Brew of Haste
Mounted Sons of Korgaan Regiment – Guise of the Deceiver?
Night Raiders Troop – Bows
Cavern Dweller
Lord on Frostfang – Snow Fox
Lord on Horse – Snow Fox
Magus – Host Shadowbeast (8), Lightning Bolt (4)

Speaking of juicing up combat characters, the Varangur obviously went that route, with the 7 attak base mounted Lord prepared to receive all the shadowbeast he could handle. Apart from that, business as usual, with elite fast hammers, a token chaff unit, and one beautiful beastie.

Adorable baby boy!

We rolled up Invade, which felt a little bit too lopsided for Bloodfire’s triumphant return, so we rerolled to Push and kept it. Bloodfire scouted then won and took first!

BATTLE

Salamanders 0: There’s no escaping the Scouting Phase! Trolls (the toads to the right of the Cavern Dweller) have two tokens and the Huscarls (right of tower) have one; second-from-left Fire Elementals have one token and the horde to their right has two.
Salamanders 1: The red tide rolls out, with Clan Lords on the flanks looking to intercept and Ember Sprites mobilizing to be a nuisance. I do not pick up the center token, per nuisance guidelines.
Varangur 1: The monstrous barbarians advance to outside of the worst of the Bloodfire danger zone. Night Raiders shoot a damage onto the rightmost Ember Sprites, to no avail.
Salamanders 2: Clan Lords punch out left and right, holding up Fallen on one flank and Mounted Sons on the other. Ember Sprites, diadem Fire horde and Greater Fire move up into toasting range, as the left Fire hordes prepare to avoid combo-charges and then strike back.
21 Ember shots into Fallen in cover results in 2 damage (1 after Iron Resolve), but the Huscarls take 5 non-trivial points of damage and Scorched Earth. (Of my three options, they were probably the worst of them – they’re already hindered into the Fire Elementals in the wood or will be killing Sprites regardless. Making the Trolls hit on 5+ against Sprites could have actually been pretty gnarly, and as for the Dweller, I’ll admit I thought he hit on 4+ base so discounted him as a target. Whoops.)

The Clan Lords rolled well, doing 3-4 damage each at the cost of the left one’s effigy.

Varangur 2: Welcome to Murder Town, Ember Sprites! Leftmost Fallen counter their Clan Lord, other Fallen charge Sprites, the Horse Lord solos Fire Elementals, the Cavern Dweller scoots his tiny base into more Fire Elementals (I think he was blocking the Horse Lord’s LOS so they couldn’t go in together), Trolls waddle into more Sprites, Huscarls drop their token and hit the wounded Sprites, and Mounted Sons counter their Clan Lord. The Night Raiders tag a startling 3 damage on the Rhino Captain (hard right), and then the Magus hosts 4 attaks worth of shadowbeast into the Horse Lord. 11 attaks doesn’t seem so bad, right?
The Fallen stab 5 damage into their Clan Lord, the Horse Lord blends 4 into Fire Elementals (10 hits -> 4 wounds), the Cavern Dweller pounds a tidy 6 into his horde, and the Mounted Sons likewise deliver 6 damage to their Clan Lord in the joust to the right. All the Sprites die, leaving just one that is frustratingly in my way.
Salamanders 3: I can’t get those Ember Sprites out of the way of my Fire Elementals that want to murder the Trolls, so grudgingly the Sprites take that charge. Two more Fire hordes sandwich the Cavern Dweller in the name of overkill (my opponent may have egged me into it, then talked loudly about double ones the whole time …), and the overkill continues with the banged up Huscarls copping a Fire horde, Greater Fire and Rhino Captain to the face. I was vaguely aware of not needing to go this ham and maybe keeping the Captain back, but eh! The Clan Lords counter-charge their targets.

And then I come to terms with having nothing to do with my 150 point Mage-Priest. I wanted to Scorched Earth those waiting Fallen, but she really is quite short. I find myself missing Heal, which my Priests have had for like 43 games straight. Sigh. (It’s almost nothing, but she could have surged in the Ember Sprites if they held and shot the Trolls. I’m not really used to Sprites being shambling!)

Huscarls and Cavern Dweller are both devastated then routed. Wheeeeew. Fallen, Mounted Sons and Trolls take token damage.
Varangur 3: Alright, alright, deep breaths, let’s push these eevil vikings back. Fallen charge some Fire Elementals (4 damage), the Horse Lord sneaks his base into more Fire Elementals (6 damage), the last of the Sprites prepare to be devoured by Trolls, the Rhino Captain is combo-charged by Frostlord and Night Raiders, and the Clan Lords are counter-charged. The Magus pumps 4 attaks into the Horse Lord again, bringing him back to 11 attaks.
Red goo splashes across the battlefield as everything bar the left Clan Lord falls in combat (and that Clan Lord wavers). I’m reminded how bonkers the Frost Lord is, and taught another lesson in what a shadowbeast Horse Lord can do to a real unit ™.
Salamanders 4: Wow that fell apart! But um, tokens and stuff? I rocket the diadem Fire horde into the Mounted Sons, the other Fire horde (2 tokens) into the central Fallen, and the Greater Fire chooses to murder Night Raiders rather than grind the face of the Frost Lord (she was in his front arc, by design). The Mage-Priest has several Scorched Earth targets, but chooses to try to dunk the damn Magus pumping up the Horse Lord.
Fireball (10) on 5s (elite) and 5s manages to waver the Magus, thanks to shattering! All the combats go to Bloodfire as well. The token-bearing Fire Elementals try for a hardy overrun to pressure the Fallen into grinding with them, but 3″ only gets them just into range.
Varangur 4: Unable to escape the GFE’s wrath, the Trolls decide to charge her first (hindered), as the Frost Lord blocks the diadem Fire Elementals from flanking them. The Horse Lord charges the Mage-Priest, with his puny 7 attaks, and the Fallen prepare to end their Clan Lord’s reign of terror. The Magus, meanwhile, pats out his smoldering robes.
The second Clan Lord falls! But nothing else does, tho the Mage-Priest is indeed disordered. The Fallen back up just out of a Fire Elementals charge range.
Bloodfire 5: The diadem Fire horde and the Greater Fire pound damages into the Frost Lord and Snow Trolls respectively (up to 5 and 7 each). On the left, the token horde strains forward 5″ while the Mage-Priest limps after them in the name of inspiration.
Varangur 5: The grind continues on the right, while on the left the Varangur try a new tactic – what if Fallen and blender lord at once? Said Horse Lord receives +3 attaks from the Magus, for 10 total. Pedestrian, I say.
Turns out it’s still super effective! The Fallen + Lord one-round the Fire Elementals, giving the Fallen their 2 tokens. Both fire units on the right cop a hiding but somehow cling to the mortal plane – most notably the Greater Fire on 14 damage!
Salamanders 6: The right counter-charge their targets, and as spoiled above, kill them both, with the Frost Lord going down before the Trolls (as you do). Crispest of high fives for the GFE and her 3+ to hit, which felt great. On the left, the Mage-Priest uses her last cast of the battle to … reach for the stars and nuke the Fallen, dropping their tokens and ensuring the Varangur can’t hold any to come. The odds are pretty terrible (rerolled 10+ Nv checks on slightly above average damage) but the payoff is huge. Anyway, she does 1 damage and the double box cars doesn’t happen. (Ironically, the Frost Lord died on 12 rerolled into 11, and the Trolls died on 10-11 as well.)

The Mage-Priest’s other option was to choose violence and wreck the Magus out of spite. It would turn out that spite isn’t always the wrong option …

Also the GFE is holding the Trolls’ 2 tokens, tying the game 2-2.

Varangur 6: The Magus crests the hill and lightning bolts the Greater Fire Elemental back to whence she came, her loot falling in front of the feet of the Fire Elemental horde. 2-0 Varangur.

Salamanders 7: The Fire Elementals scoot forward and pick up the tokens, unable to turn and bring the Magus into their diadem’s arc. 2-2 draw.

Varangur 7: The Magus saunters forward, raises his other hand and explodes the Fire Elementals with another blast of lightning. That will teach those meddlesome eternals from scorching his robes. (Also the Fallen pick up 2 more tokens.) With a score of 4-0, that’s a convincing …

VARANGUR VICTORY

Obviously I’m smarting from not choosing to kill the damn wizard, but I feel like that’s the moral of this story (and possibly COK22): Kill. The. Wizard. You used to more or less be able to ignore casters, as they were heal bots or bane chanters or boomstick operators, but that’s going to be less and less the case. Flipside, the reward for taking these tools out is higher than before, both points and cost to the enemy, so well worth it.

Host Shadowbeast feels kind of bad to play against, as I thought it would, but I guess it’s here until 4E hits. Honestly I’m inclined to just join in, especially when it comes to the build I ran here. Lizards don’t have a 7 attak blender like a few of the factions, so I’m just juicing up 5 attak beaters and rolling dice, which hey, is the point. It largely gives combat characters more options than speedbumps or sitting down flyers, which is on the whole good. On the counter point, Scorched Earth I still think is the most important spell of the new library for the meta, however with double mounted heroes and so much chaff, it feels less necessary here. It might be best in lists that a) have ensnare, so it’s extremely punishing, but don’t necessarily have pathfinder so aren’t lurking in terrain (I’m saying Trident Realms, ok?); or b) are really elite and don’t have the usual tools to ground flyers.

Which is to say, here’s the redux for whenever somebody wants to play 1995 again:

Salamanders 1995
Fire Elementals Horde – War Bow
Fire Elementals Horde
Fire Elementals Horde
Fire Elementals Horde
Ember Sprites Regiment
Ember Sprites Regiment
Ember Sprites Regiment
Ember Sprites Regiment
Greater Fire Elemental
Clan Lord – Axe of the Giant Slayer, Raptor
Clan Lord – Blade of Slashing, Raptor
Mage-Priest – Crown of the Wizard King, Fireball (10), Surge (8), Host Shadowbeast (8)
Battle Captain on Rhinosaur – Inspiring Talisman

165 points seems a bit preposterous on that Mage-Priest, but 18″ surge and shadowbeast feels good for how slow she is compared to the more aggressive parts of the army. I 100% miss the healing I’ve used for basically ever, however I’m thinking leaning into aggression might be good, rather than pretending I can be a counter-attak attrition force.

Oh, also Effigy of Fire continues to feel pretty bad. More attaks or more rerolls please.

I’ll probably get another game or two in before the new year! Until then, happy Clashing!

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