THE HALLOW 18: EMPIRE OF DUST

Happy new year! Got my first game of 2023 in this week against Mike, a newer local player I’d never met until that night. He rocked up with EOD, a faction I haven’t faced in quite a while, and possibly never with Herd?

Mantic Shobik looking regal af, with Monolith and Soul Snare / Well attending.

Empire of Dust 2150

Skeleton Spearmen Horde
Mummies Regiment
Mummies Regiment
Revenant Chariots Regiment
Revenant Chariots Regiment
Scavengers Regiment
Scavengers Regiment
Skeleton Archer Cavalry Troop
Bone Giant
Soul Snare [1] – Drain Life (9)
Monolith [1] – Surge (8)
Idol of Shobik [1] – Heal (5)
Ahmunite Pharaoh – Eternal Guard, Knowledgeable [1], Surge (8), Host Shadowbeast (2)
Cursed High Priest – Surge (8)
14 (20)

Apparently Mike usually runs a more monster mash style EOD list, but he dropped the various wyrms to give chariots and a different hero mix a shot. We talked after the game about how to crank the list down a bit while still keeping the chariots in but bring back some of the punch he might be missing in this list – Mummy troops instead of Scavanger regs, for example. Minor spoiler there.

Herd 2150

Lycan Horde – Brew of Strength
Guardian Brute Horde
Guardian Brute Horde
Minotaur Chariot Regiment – The Stampede [1]
Tribal Warrior Horde – Brew of Sharpness
Tribal Warrior Regiment
Tribal Warrior Regiment
Centaur Bray Striders Troop
Centaur Bray Striders Troop
Lycan Alpha
Centaur Chief – Blade of Slashing
Druid – Conjurer’s Staff; Bane Chant (2), Heal (2)
Great Chieftain
13 (24)

Savvy readers will note that I’ve brought back the Centaur troops as dedicated chaff. I’m not really in love with the Sp 6 or the De 2+ of the Woodland Critters, on top of not really posing much of a threat to anybody, especially compared to the Centaurs’ Sp 8, De 4+ and punchy handful of Me 3+ attaks. The cost was losing some extraneous items and downgrading a Centaur Chief into a Great Chieftain, which is a fairly even trade all told. Less speed but a little more fight and the same mighty annoyance.

We decided to play Plunder for this game, one of my favorites as well as one of the missions for our upcoming 2150 tournament at the end of the month. Mike won the roll for first and had me take it away.

BATTLE

Battlines! The EOD are (left to right): Spearmen with Scavengers and Cursed Priest; Chariots with Bone Giant to the left, Shobik to the right, Horsemen to the front and Monolith behind; Soul Snare with Scavengers; Mummies to either side of the wood with the Pharaoh straddling them; Chariots hard right. The Herd are (left to right): Centaurs (off shot to left), Stampede, Warriors, Chieftain, Brutes, Alpha, Warriors, Brutes, Druid, Warrior horde, Centaurs, Centaur Chief, Lycan hard right.

Herd 1: I think for a moment, having not gone first in a long time, and then punch it forward. Tribal Warriors grab the center three tokens, with Brutes mounting the hill in support and hammers otherwise lurking. We don’t crest the right hill to see what the Chariots are up to, tho the Lycan blender has LOS and range around the side of the little hillock.

Empire of Dust 1: Scavengers swoop down on both loot-bearing Tribal Warriors, and otherwise the dry undead shamble forward. I realize about now that he has Surge (16) into almost any unit he wants, with the exception of the right Chariots, who are outside the Monolith’s 24″. Speaking of surge …

… it scoots the Spearmen, the central Mummies and the right Chariots 4″ forward each. Mike had just bought a new dice block and it was rolling aggressively average. The Soul Snare rips 4 damage into the central Brutes, the Archer Cav tag a wound onto the Lycan Alpha that she will never regenerate, and in combat the Scavengers do 1 damage to the left Tribal Warriors and 2 to the central ones.

This is a really long battlefield still, so here’s the left side (the green tokens are worth 2 points) …
… and here’s the right, moments before the blending begins.

Herd 2: It’s all claws on deck as everybody charges who isn’t a square-based individual! The Stampede crashes into the Spearmen’s waiting embrace (losing TC2 and taking a -1 to hit that I shouldn’t have but forgot about chariots not counting for phalanx), with the Alpha pouncing on their flank. The left Centaurs flank the Scavengers harrying the left Tribal Warriors, while in the center the left Brutes help the other Tribal Warriors out with their carrion problem. The central Brutes juke past the Scavengers and Mummies in the middle and power into the central Chariots, and the Tribal Warrior horde tests their mettle against the central Mummies. Mummy regiments are the business, but with the power of bane chant and sharpness behind them maybe I can cook the dice that hard? On the right, the Lycan, the Centaurs and the Centaur Chief pile on the Chariots.

A storm of dice later and so many undead have been returned to the dust from whence they came, though arguably his anvils and real hammers are still kicking so it’s not necessarily as bad as it looks. But about those anvils, the Spearmen take 11 damage, 8-9 of which is from the Alpha going absolutely bonkers, and the Mummies are pushed all the way to 13 damage by the Tribal Warriors. I can’t seal the deal sadly, so I fully expect them to heal back down to nothing in short order.

Empire of Dust 2: The Empire of Dust are looking a little downtrodden but there’s still work to do. Shobik lines up an easy surge flank on the Tribal Warrior horde with the Mummies countering in the front, while the right Mummies try their hand at the Centaurs, on the theory that if they can break them, they can turn and grind out the Lycan horde. 12 attaks on hindered 5+ is a tall ask but very slowly trying to slink away is a worse feel. On the left, the Spearmen counter the Stampede and the Archer Cav I think were supposed to shoot-n-surge into the damaged Brutes but he left them behind the tower, blocking their surge but at least meaning their shooting suffered no negatives.

Easy surge is easy! The Soul Snare whips the winged Brutes up to 7 damage, wavering them (the Archer Cav I think failed to wound after all that). Shobik lays into the horde, delivering a solid beating and pushing them up to 15 damage. The Tribal Warriors manage to waver, which is awkward but real bad for Shobik’s idol.

Meanwhile the flanks are uneventful. The right Mummies don’t even wound the Centaurs, elite or no, and the Spearmen do a single wound to the Stampede, striping their TC2 again.

Herd 3: Listen, I came here to roll dice and chew bubble gum, and I was all out of bubble gum at this point (fittingly because I was chewing it during this game 😅) The Stampede hits the Spearmen again, with Alpha flanking support. The wavered Brutes rotate in place enough to allow the other Brutes to flank Shobik. The Lycan flank the right Mummies, with Centaurs in the front. And the Great Chieftain solos the Archer Cav troop like a boss. Far on the left, the other Centaurs go grab a 2 point token.

*a chorus of blenders can be heard in the distance* The Empire takes another round of heavy hits as Spearmen, Mummies and indeed Shobik all fall. Plus the Great Chieftain one rounds the Archer Cav with a perfect 5 of 5 damage. At this point both Mike and I are wondering the same things: Is the Soul Snare that good? Will the Mummies out tough the whole Herd army? Can the Bone Giant recapture his former glory days as the EOD hammer? Or most importantly, when will this face melting end??

Empire of Dust 3: Despite running low on tools, the EOD have some moves left. The Bone Giant strides into the Lycan Alpha as the better of two options, with the Cursed Priest charging in along side because it’s that kind of game and he’s only got surge anyway so YOLO! The central Mummies charge the Tribal Warrior horde to finish them off, while the Pharaoh chooses discretion and slinks off toward the EOD backfield.

The Tribal Warriors are shattered by the Mummies, who take their 2 point token and lifeleech off their last damage, healing to full. Woof. Shortly before this, the Soul Snare punches the winged Brutes up to 11 damage but flubs the Nv roll. Speaking of flubs, the Bone Giant bops the Lycan Alpha up to 5 damage, for no result.

Herd 4: There are still EOD on the table, so I just keep that pedal to the floor. The Stampede hits the Cursed Priest, with an easy overrun into the Bone Giant’s flank, currently being counter-charged by the Lycan Alpha. The Great Chieftain continues his journey through the EOD DZ, charging into the Soul Snare. However the real carnage is the middle, where the Mummies cop Brutes and Tribal Warriors in the front, both off the hill, and Lycan in the rear, possibly also off a hill but I didn’t remember at the time, plus they were bane chanted anyway.

The Stampede pulverizes the Cursed Priest then delivers ~20 damage into the Bone Giant. The Lycan Alpha blows on him and he crumbles away. The Mummies similarly are devastated down to the molecular level before routing. The Soul Snare takes a hearty hit from the Great Chieftain but holds together, albeit disordered.

And with that, Mike graciously concedes, which combined with holding all the tokens makes for a …

HALLOW VICTORY

Pun and all 😐 We talked for a while after the game, and Mike’s feel was that he was too spread out and his army couldn’t support itself like he’s used to – the Pharaoh being pulled away from the Mummy regiments, for example, and having to choose one. I did deploy quite broadly, except my stuff is fast and can reinforce itself as needed, plus isn’t trying to win through combined arms. I do feel like the EOD suffered in list building, not quite having the hammers to dig themselves out, as well as probably misused the Scavengers, who could have helped get the Chariots some charges where they could have done some work. I quite like the EOD Chariots after the bows were made optional, -/16 De 4+ isn’t terrible and I had assumed they hit on 5+ like other skellies (in fact Me 4+). Sounds like Mummy troops are inbound, which I hear are great and punchier than I think.

I keep wondering how this game snowballed so hard, and giving me first was probably the first mistake. Yea, I got to grab early objectives so scenario-wise it was a misplay, but really I was able to crest the center hill immediately plus mobilize my chaff up, staggering them with hammer support as is my general plan. I can see why Mike let me go first – indecision as a new player and desire to be reactionary as a Dust player – however it did feel quite decisive quite quickly.

As for my list, the Hallow continues to feel strong, or at least fun. Brutes are terrifying with me behind the dice, the Lycan blender is a menace (and should be at 300 points) and I really dig the ‘cheap’ item-less Stampede. Funny to think of it as one of my anvils but at 16/18 and De 5+ it kind of is!

I’ll catch you next week with another report, I should be getting another game (or two?!) in this weekend as we continue tournament prep. Until then, merry gaming in the new year!

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