SCUTTLIN’ REALM 23: NIGHTSTALKERS

End of day one and I’ve clubbed my way up to one of the higher tables, despite my expectations. I’m up against my clubmate Jason, who wasn’t signed up until his wife made him the night before. He’s rocking his Nightstalkers army from 2019, which coincidentally is possibly the last time he’s played. Nice.

Nightstalkers 2100
Fiends Horde – Potion of the Caterpillar
Butchers Horde
Butchers Horde
Spectres Horde
Phantoms Troop
Phantoms Troop
Terror
Shadow-Hulk
Planar Apparition – Icy Breath (8), Heal (7), Mind Fog (2)
Mind-Screech – Lightning Bolt (6), Mind Fog (6), Wind Blast (6)

Dread-Fiend
Horror – Lightning Bolt (3), Bane Chant (2)

This is actually 10 points under and I can’t confirm that his Horror has bane chant, but it would make sense to take it. I know the Planar Apparition has icy breath, since he commented about giving it even more spells despite coming with some serious ones already. If somebody has an item, he didn’t put a slip out for it like he did for Maccwar’s, so I’m guessing there might be some forgettable 5 pointers he filled with? Anyway, check out that horde of Spectres! That apparently had been doing work despite being a junk unit he chose for unlock purposes.

Third scenario is Loot, with him going first either by choice or because I made him.

BATTLE: GAME 3

Battlelines! The ghostly thing is the Planar Apparition, snake girls on the left are Fiends of various sizes. I’ll admit that I immediately felt like I really misdeployed those Heartpiercers on the left. They were sort of a bait drop but with the heal and the Fiends’ speed and stealthy, they were unlikely to do anything of note beyond die. At least the Depth Horror Eternal could make a solid delaying act or even hack his way to the loot with the power of ensnare.
Nightstalkers 1: The shadowy horrors shove up the field, especially on the left unopposed field. I’m terrified of the Me 3+ Shadow-Hulk with its new slayer (D6), and my general approach to Terrors is to never touch them at all ever beyond delaying them or grabbing a lucky flank. So consider me shook. His Phantoms do advance just a smidge too far, and toe the woods in the middle … The Horror lightnings the rightmost Heartpiercers for 1 damage.
Trident 1: Release the Kraken! I burn clock deciding how little my shooting is going to do on 5 or 6+ at best, confirm that the Phantoms are in, and punch it way too early. Bastion goes up on the central Kraken and I can’t guarantee that the right Kraken is even inspired.
But after rampaging those Phantoms I think he is on the rotate. The central Kraken pounds 7 damage into his Phantoms but fails the double 5 rout. Heartpiercers put 6 damage into the Spectres and 1 into the right Butchers.
Nightstalkers 2: The living nightmares descend, with Fiends already hitting those left Heartpiercers and Butchers joining the dance with the right Kraken. Phantoms counter the central Kraken. The Dread-Fiend picks up the left loot token.
I’m sorry my crabby children!
Once all the sizzling and crunching has subsided, the crabs have taken damage but weathered the first wave. Fiend’s deal 8 damage to Heartpiercers, Spectres pour 7 damage into the central Hearpiercers, the Mind-Screech and Horror lightning the Centurion for 3 damage, and the Kraken take 1 and 5 respectively. Everybody keeps their cool, placidly blinking in crab. The Planar Apparition heals a couple damage off the Spectres.
Trident 2: I decimate my clock figuring out what to do in the center, and end up sidestepping the Placoderms against the building so they can’t be triple charged, offering up the wounded Heartpiercers, and preparing the Water Elementals to go to work against anything that engages. The other Placoderms flank the Butchers fighting the Kraken, the central Kraken prepares to clear out some Phantoms and prepare for incoming terrors, and the Eternal on the left helps out with the Fiends, tho he contemplates leaving them to their fate and sprinting for the Dread-Fiend (and loot) on the hill. Oh, and the Centurion jukes forward to shut down the Mind-Screech.
The Trident of the Drowned Sea, plus a bunch of Heartpiercer shots, bleeds the Mind-Screech to 7 damage (and disorders it). Bastion goes on the Placoderms by the house. In combat, the Eternal (and maybe some Heartpiercers) chunk 5 damage on the Fiends on the left. The Kraken and Placo flank on the right does 2 damage to those Butchers because they’re all hindered and/or idiots. The central Kraken does wreck those Phantoms at last and turn to face his new cuddle buddies.
Nightstalkers 3: The monstrous center ends up seeing the Shadow-Hulk and Butchers combo-charge the Placoderms, the Terror wades into the wounded Heartpiercers (picking up the central loot token in the process), and the Mind-Screech float into the Centurion. It only occurs to me now that he might have been angling to pop him and overrun into the Placoderm flank? The Centurion is a brick, but he is on 3 damage … The Fiends counter the Heartpiercers on the left and the Butchers hit the Kraken on the right.
Both Heartpiercers are devoured, as are the Placoderms. RIP lads. The central Kraken takes 7 damage from shooting (and is frozen by the Planar Apparition’s breath), shortly before the right Kraken is pushed to 4 damage by his Butchers. The Mind-Screech successfully bops the Centurion, turning his laser trident off 😦
Trident 3: I really do not want to fight the Terror if I can help it, so the Water Elemental horde goes into the central Butchers and the Kraken sees how fast he can tear down the Spectre horde – rampage don’t fail me now! On the left, the Dread-Fiend has wandered into charge range of the Eternal, so he absolutely leaps on the chance to carve that loot out of her talons. Otherwise stuff counter-charges on the right, including the Centurion into the Mind-Screech for murder purposes but also to disorder it.
Bastion goes up on the Water Elemental horde, what shooting there is misses the Horror and just tickles the Planar Apparition. In combat, the Eternal gets started on the Dread-Fiend, the Water Elemental does a sizable 6 to the Butchers, the central Kraken gentle cuddles the Spectres to 6 damage, the Centurion routs the Mind-Screech, and the right Butchers succumb to their crustacean executioners.
Nightstalkers 4: The Terror ejects its loot and oozes through the woods into a fresh batch of Heartpiercers as the Butchers counter-charge the Water Elementals. The Fiends round the house and the Shadow-Hulk prepares to slayer the Kraken if he can’t carve through these damn Spectres first (who also counter the Kraken this turn). The Dread-Fiend counters the Eternal, and the Planar Apparition picks up the central loot.
The Spectres are healed down to 1 damage by the Planar Apparition (!), and then a lot of damage is spread around. The Eternal takes 2, the Water Elemental horde takes 8, the central Kraken takes 5 (!), and the Terror chomps 7 into the Heartpiercers. What a grind y’all.
Trident 4: The Nightstalkers have left some flanks open, which I capitalize on: Kraken into the flank of the Spectres, Placoderm into the flank of the Terror (hindered but picking up the token). The other Kraken disengages and faces the Shadow-Hulk, less because I trust the other Kraken and more because I expect the Krakens to flub and I want to point ensnare at the monster killing titan. Water Elementals and Eternal counter-charge their dancing partners.
The Centurion spikes 1 damage into the Planar Apparition, sitting it down, and the bastion Envoy bastions himself for great straddling justice. The highlight of combat is the Water Elemental horde ending the Butchers; it stays where it is to face the oncoming Fiends. The Kraken flank into the Spectres yields 14 damage and I think a waver, while the Terror wears its 6 damage without concern, and the Eternal fails to waver/rout the Dread-Fiend.
Nightstalkers 5: Even. More. Fighting. The Fiends make crabfall with the Water Elementals (who are on 6 damage with Rally (1)), the Shadow-Hulk does front charge the waiting Kraken, with Planar Apparition in the flank, and the Dread-Fiend and Terror counter-charge.
The Shadow-Hulk and Planar Apparition drop an 18/20 Kraken on 3 damage! And the Fiends likewise slam right through the -/18 Water Elementals. The Terror finishes off its second unit of Heartpiercers, turning to face the Placoderms, and the Dread-Fiend wavers the Eternal. But he’s got fury, everyone, we still got this.
Trident 5: The surviving Kraken charges the Planar Apparition to end its reign of terror / steal its loot, moments after the Centurion charged the Shadow-Hulk to hold it in place mere inches from the Kraken’s flank. The Placoderms charge the Terror (hindered :X) and the Eternal fury counter-charges the Dread-Fiend. Bastion goes on the Kraken.
The last of the Heartpiercers shoot down the Spectre horde, putting the MVP to bed at last. The Kraken enjoys some bastion, before completely whiffing on the Planar Apparition (listen, ensnare sucks). The Centurion however beasts 4 damage into the Shadow-Hulk. The Eternal likewise chunks the Dread-Fiend but again even a waver eludes me. The Placoderms somehow get the Terror to 4 damage, despite 6+ to hit, but that thing has been regening like a thing that regens (4+). Rude.
Nightstalkers 6: The game is drawing to a close but the slaughter is sill raging. The pathfinding Fiends flank the Placoderms with the Terror in the front, the Planar Apparition counters the Kraken, the Shadow-Hulk the Centurion, and the Dread-Fiend the Eternal.
The Placoderms shatter, with their loot absorbed into the Terror’s gooey folds. Looks like everybody else pulled through tho.
Trident 6: With 4 minutes left on my clock, I’m desperately hoping the last of my smashy dudes can fight their way out of this mess.
I furiously roll dice for 3 minutes but I just can’t drop the Planar Apparition or the Dread-Fiend, tho the latter finally wavers. With no turn 7 and with 3 tokens to 0, that’s a …

NIGHTSTALKER VICTORY (3-18)

So close to a 6-15 if only the Eternal could ever pass that rout test and grab the Dread-Fiend’s loot! It was quite the game, where I felt weirdly in control and yet totally behind the eyeball the entire time. If I had to blame something, I’m content to blame my Nv dice, which were horrendous when I needed them to spike to keep my momentum up. Jason would go on to make an unexpected run for the top table.

UP NEXT: Basileans!

SCUTTLIN’ REALM 22: FORCES OF THE ABYSS

Second game of the first day and I’m up against Bill, a new local player who picked up Kings of War late last year. He’s got a largely Mantic Abyssals army with a pair of enormous worms for his Fiends, which I’m 100% here for and look forward to wrassling with.

Forces of the Abyss 2100
Molochs Horde – Despoiler Champ, Sacrificial Imp, Blade of Slashing
Abyssal Ghouls Horde
Abyssal Ghouls Horde
Abyssal Horsemen Regiment – Staying Stone
Flamebearers Troop
Flamebearers Troop
Gargoyles Troop
Abyssal Fiend
Abyssal Fiend

Manifestation of Ba’el – Lightning Bolt (7)
Despoiler Champion
Zaz’u’szu the Betrayer – Lightning Bolt (4+), Bane Chant (2+)
Abyssal Warlock – Alchemist Curse (2)

Looks the business to me, although he wasn’t sold on Zaz’u’szu. I’ve only seen him used in batreps myself, but then Abyssals is one of those armies where I tend to just face them at tournaments. Maybe not any longer, welcome to the scene Bill!

Second scenario is Control, with me making the Abyssals go first, largely to mess with his Flamebearers.

BATTLE: GAME 2

Battlelines!
Abyssals 1: The demonic line pushes forward in the middle, hampered by terrain on the left, while the Abyssal Horsemen rapidly redeploy away from the crabby right flank. Lightning strikes some Heartpiercers with no significant impact (apart from 6 damage).
Trident 1: Crustaceans scuttle forth in response, using the Abyssal retreat on the right to push hard down that flank. Harpoons rout a Flamebearer unit, skewer Ba’el for 3 damage and the war-bow Envoy tags the left Abyssal Fiend (WAR-BOW). Bastion goes up on the rapidly regenerating Heartpiercers (down to 2).
Abyssals 2: The bulk of the Abyssals continue trudging through the terrain down the center of the board, as the Horsemen have a change of heart and face the oncoming crabs on the right. Significantly more fire is brought to bear this turn, wavering Heartpiercers on the left (6 damage) and wounding the Depth Horror Eternal (3 damage) and right Placoderms (2 damage). Zaz’u has started to significantly hurt his Gargoyle battery at this point (7 damage) as well!
Trident 2: The sound of the grind revving up can be heard as the right Kraken is released upon the poor Abyssal Horsemen, smashing 5 damage into them. The right Placoderms make contact with Zaz’u, pinching 4 damage into him. The Eternal charges the right Ghouls horde to block them up (2 damage caused), shortly after Heartpiercers stick 2 more damage into Ba’el and lucky waver the big bad! Also the other Flamebearers start to take Heartpiercer damage and the war-bow Envoy tags that Abyssal Fiend again (WAR-BOW)!
Abyssals 3: We’re getting danger close now! The Eternal takes a combo-charge from Ghouls and Abyssal Fiend, while the right Kraken is countered by his Horsemen. The other significant movement is the Molochs moving to reinforce the right flank, but otherwise it’s murder time.
The wounded Heartpiercers on the left are dunked by the Abyssal Fiend and/or Flamebearers and/or Warlock, and some combination of those also does 4 damage to the left Kraken. In combat, the Eternal takes 8 damage and wavers (with bastion on him), while the right Kraken goes up to 7 damage and wavers on a 10+. Touche, Abyssals, touche.
Trident 3: Crabs up the ante this turn, diving into combat across the board. Placoderms charge the left Ghoul horde, and the other Ghoul horde is flanked by a Kraken and fronted by the Water Elemental horde. The Eternal fury counters the right Abyssal Fiend, the right Placoderms aim to pop the betrayed Gargoyles, and the right Kraken furiously regens in place. Real Talk: I need a couple of these combats to go my way or I’m in a bad place. I mean, they totally should, but anything can and will happen with my dice 😐
The Centurion spikes Zaz’u off the board with his laser trident, removing the Gargoyles inspiring and helping the Placoderms rend the stony bird girls to gravel and face the Molochs. The central Ghoul horde is evaporated, allowing the left Kraken to reform out of the left Abyssal Fiend’s LOS and seriously menace the Abyssal lines, along with the Water Elemental horde. In other news, Ba’el takes a couple damage from Heartpiercers (bad dice!), the left Fiend is shot to 6 damage, and the left Ghoul horde snipped to 5 damage. The Eternal must have hacked some damage into his Fiend too.
Abyssals 4: Ba’el kicks things off by diving some Heartpiercers far away from the giant crabs staring at him, comboing with the Despoiler Champion. The Molochs hit the right Placoderms, the left Fiend helps the Ghoul horde out with the other Placos, and the right Fiend counters the Eternal. Shooters in the center prepare to waver or kill the central Kraken.
And waver him they do, rolling that spicy 8-9. In fact, everything the Abyssals touch wavers this turn – EVERYTHING. My scuttlin’ realm for a fury aura!
Trident 4: You know what isn’t wavered? The Water Elemental horde charging the rear of the Molochs 😬 Also the Centurion, who hits the Horsemen to help the Kraken grind them out, since the big guy keeps wavering. Loads of regening happens as well.
The Molochs are brutalized, the Water Elementals turning to eat an Abyssal Fiend next turn. Heartpiercer shooting punches more damage on the left Abyssal Fiend (9 total I think) and a little more on Ba’el. Bastion goes up on the central Kraken.
Abyssals 5: The left Placoderms are again charged by Ghouls and Abyssal Fiend, as the Centurion is countered by the Horsemen and the Eternal prepares to be eaten by his Fiend. Ba’el disengages from the Heartpiercers, preparing to style on me, tho the Despoiler Champ charges them again.
Kings of Hills: The Revenge
Instead of shooting or fighting, Ba’el shouts ‘From the Pit I Curse Thee!’, disordering both Heartpiercer units and the bastion Envoy! Bravo. In more violent news, the left Placos are once more wavered in combat, as is the central Kraken from shooting. WTH. The Eternal falls to the right Fiend, the Centurion takes some damage and the Despoiler Champ nibbles on its Heartpiercers.
Trident 5: Crabby vengeance will be ours! The Water Elementals and Placoderms plow into the Eternal’s Abyssal Fiend, as Centurion and Kraken hit the Horsemen, and Heartpiercers go aggro on Ba’el’s flank and the Despoiler Champ’s front. The wavered Placoderms disengage and the Kraken furiously regenerates (9 of 9 damage!)
Horsemen and Abyssal Fiend are routed, but no such luck elsewhere, with token damage at best from the Heartpiercers (although that left Fiend is at like 10+ damage now).
Abyssals 6: With his mind on the scenario, the Abyssal general eases up on the gas on the left and jockeys units into zones. Ba’el and the Despoiler Champ however do hit those Heartpiercers in the bottom right again.
And dunk them pretty hard. Alchemist curse from the Warlock pressure cooks the right Placoderms as well (and was doing a number on the central Kraken all game).
Trident 6: Things are pretty well in hand (claw) for me, especially once the central Kraken eats those Flamebearer’s in his sector. Some other violence happens, but the Ghouls hold and the Water Elementals can’t finish of Ba’el. Check out that clock at this point, with Bill up 20+ minutes over me 😀
Abyssals 7: The Ghouls overwhem the Placoderm, taking the lower left sector from my Heartpiercers. The Water Elemental thankfully holds Ba’el and the Despoiler Champ in place.

Trident 7: I melt the last fragment of my clock thinking about where to put the central Kraken, in the end deciding to gamble on shooting the Warlock and getting +2 points rather than walking into the upper left for a sure +1 point and then possibly denying him a point. The Centurion does not drop the Warlock, however the Water Elemental horde sends Ba’el screaming back to the pit with my last seconds of clock, which is always a good feel. With 3 sectors to the Abyss’ 1, this is another …

SCUTTLIN’ VICTORY (15-6)

I came close to getting an 18-3 on this and sort of gave it away on a gamble, but whatever, it was great to play Bill and I look forward to more games with him. His indecision with the Abyssal Horsemen early game was saved by hot waver dice keeping the right Kraken from rampaging his line, but then that Moloch rear was pretty catastrophic and let the Water Elementals decimate his hammers into the late game. Mad props on using Ba’el’s Curse all the same!

UP NEXT: Nightstalkers!

SCUTTLIN’ REALM 21: ELVES

The last weekend of February 2022 was the inaugural Dead of Winter GT held by my club here in Albany, NY. By all accounts it was a thrilling success, and I certainly had a great time getting five solid games of Kings of War in while also being able to get some sleep Friday and Saturday night. Sure, I drank considerably less and played none of the usual board games with the lads, but life is full of tradeoffs. On to the tournament report!

Trident Realm 2100
Water Elementals Horde – Brew of Strength
Placoderms Regiment
Placoderms Regiment
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Kraken
Kraken

Naiad Centurion – Trident of the Drowned Sea
Depth Horror Eternal
Naiad Envoy – Bastion (2)
Naiad Envoy – War-Bow of Kaba

The crabs came out of hibernation, saw my old double Gigas rebased to double Placoderms, and I finally finished up my Centurion, giving him the shiny new shooting attak to help him in his mission to mess with every big flyer he could get his claw on. Didn’t have high hopes for my performance but great to see the tiny/huge lads together again. Somewhat unexpectedly, I was the only Trident player!

Elves 2100
Forest Shamblers Horde – Brew of Strength
Stormwind Cavalry Regiment – Quicksilver Lancers, Potion of the Caterpillar
Stormwind Cavalry Regiment – Helm of Confidence
Palace Guard Regiment – Banner of Eternal Darkness
Kindred Gladestalkers Regiment – Fire-Oil
Kindred Gladestalkers Regiment
Silverbreeze Cavalry Troop – Piercing Arrow
Hunters of the Wild Troop – Blood of the Old King
Hunters of the Wild Troop

Tydarion Dragonlord
Elven Archmage – Inspiring Talisman; Surge (8), Lightning Bolt (5)
Elven Archmage – The Boomstick; Lightning Bolt (7)

Speaking of coming out of hibernation … I haven’t played Jim since Fantasy times, if ever, but I’ve seen him at the various events he runs in the Northeast. Certainly a welcome first opponent, even if Tydarion gave me pause. Now that is a dragon! The rest of the list seemed solid: meaningful shooting, solid fast hammers, handful of competent chaff pieces.

First scenario is Pillage, with the Elves going first, either because they wanted to or because I made them.

BATTLE: GAME 1

Elves 0: Trees scout up!
Elves 1: The loathesome Elves sally forth into shooting range on the left or shelter behind their screens on the right. The Quicksilver Lancers advance slightly ahead of their cohorts, no doubt preparing for nimble shenanigans / because there was a wood to prance through (they have the gold banner).
The Gladestalkers, especially the fire oil unit, pin cushion the uninspired Heartpiercers on the left, routing them for first blood. Elsewhere lightning strikes the non-regenerating Depth Horror Eternal for 3 damage.
Trident 1: The crabs scuttle forth, preparing for violence on the right and suffering some trepidation on the left. The leftmost Placoderms begin their long, long trek through those woods 😐
The fire oil Gladestalkers to the left take token harpoon damage but hold fine. The blood Hunters of the Wild on the right (slip of paper unit) take significant damage from Heartpiercers and the Centurion, but the low rout test is frustratingly failed. The Water Elemental horde (giant crab) enjoys the cool caress of bastion as it awaits the violence.
Elves 2: Gladestalkers back up on the left as their Forest Shamblers power forward into long surge range of the left Kraken. On the right, Hunters of the Wild charge Heartpiercers and Kraken to clear the way for the Quicksilver Lancers into the Water Elemental horde. Tydarion looms.
The Gladestalkers chunk 5 damage into the left Kraken, before the Forest Shamblers fail their ~7″ surge by a couple inches. Importantly, they’re blocking the Kraken’s ability to pivot and go ham into the Gladestalkers next turn. On the right, the Depth Horror Eternal is wavered by lightning, and shortly afterwards the blood Hunters waver their Heartpiercers (taking even more damage from the blood of the old king), the Water Elemental cops 10 damage and holds, and the other Kraken takes token damage from its Hunters.
Trident 2: Crabs join the grind, as is their want. On the left, the Kraken charges the Forest Shamblers, unable to skirt past them, but also protecting the surviving Heartpiercers in the process, who advance to keep the fire oil Gladestalkers in their range (coping a -1 to hit in the process). On the right, Placoderms hit the disintegrating blood Hunters, the Water Elementals counter the Lancers, and the Kraken counters the other Hunters. The Centurion meanwhile limbers up and prepares to sit a dragonlord down. Also there’s a lot of regening.
Damage is liberally applied to the Elf army, including the Stormwind on the hill soaking Heartpiercer shooting, but only the blood Hunters are vanquished. Yes, the right Kraken barely tickled its Hunters. Tydarion however is successfully tagged by the Trident of the Drowned Sea and disordered 😤
Elves 3: The filthy Gladestalkers back up on the left and the Archmages hover about, however the rest of the Elves put their natural inclinations aside and join combat. Of note are the Stormwind charging the Placoderms, despite their phalanx, and Tydarion galloping his dragon into the waiting claw of the Centurion.
Kings of the Hill, more like!
The Gladestalkers claim the other Heartpiercers on the left, and the Archmages flash-fry the Depth Horror Eternal with their 13 lightning shots. In combat, the Heartpiercers on the hill are blended by the Palace Guard, but all the other crabs weather the Elven attention, including the Centurion parrying Tydarion down to 5 damage and holding. (You’ll see a waver marker on him, but Jim’s math was better than mine, he actually missed wavering by 1, even with brutal.)
Trident 3: The Placoderms on the left escape the tyranny of the woods, now free to advance menacingly on the Gladestalkers shooting their friends. Krakens, Elementals and Centurion regenerate and counter-charge their dancing partners, while the central Placoderms simply counter-charge.
The war-bow Envoy routs the fire-oil Gladestalkers (GO WAR-BOW!), the last of the Heartpiercers shoot the Palace Guard point blank, and bastion goes up on the central Placoderms, then crab-flavored vengeance is served to both the Quicksilver Lancers and the last of the Hunters of the Wild. The Centurion grounds Tydarion once more, and the central Placos continue nibbling at their Stormwind.
Elves 4: The Gladestalkers can’t escape their Placoderm executioners, so prepare to make them pay along with the Archmages. Everybody else counter-charges or charges in the case of the Palace Guard into the Water Elemental horde (which has 6 damage). Also, the Silverbreeze exist on a point back there.
Apart from the Centurion being eaten by a mega dragon, the crabs are once again able to soak the Elven aggression. Of note is the Placoderms on the left taking 4 damage – without heal, every pip counts and they’ve got plenty of work to do still.
Trident 4: Speaking of Placoderms going to work, the left regiment scuttles into the remaining Gladestalkers at long last. The right Kraken powers gleefully into Tydarion, and the three ongoing combats grind on.
The Gladestalkers are dismembered by the Placoderms, their delicate Elven limbs gribbled up by horrible crabby mouths. Everything else is a slog – Tydarion is grounded by a Kraken, and the Palace Guard waver. The Heartpiercers punched some damage into the surge Archmage, out of spite.
Elves 5: The Forest Shamblers, Swordwind and Tydarion all counter-charge. Meanwhile, the Palace Guard disengage so the Water Elemental horde can be dealt with by the Silverbreeze …
… which they do, dropping the big crab with just their puny bows. The Archmages combine electrical powers again, wavering the Heartpiercers. The Swordwind also turn on, pushing the central Placoderms to 9 damage and wavering them as well. The Kraken, however, are resolute.
Trident 5: The Placoderms on the left menace the Forest Shamblers and prepare to grab a point, while I prepare to lose the center. Tydarion is however comfortably within routing distance now, if the right Kraken can just do a couple damage.
Sadly, the big goofus can’t land a single wound, meaning Tydarion is free to fly away after all that work 😦 The other Kraken is vaguely more competent, finishing off his Shamblers after 4! turns of swinging at them.
Elves 6: Tydarion Dragonlord flits away to go breath on Heartpiercers, while the Swordwind charges the central Placos (who still have phalanx despite the waver :P)
Hill update!
Skewered and/or smoked, the crabby center crumbles at last.
Trident 6: Buuuut both Kraken are alive and well, and are swiftly unleashed into the rear of the Swordwind (!) and the front of the Silverbreeze. The Placoderms claim a point at the war-bow Envoy prepares for glory.
No dice on that war-bow, but the cavalry are messily slaughtered by towering crab titans, which certainly feels nice. With no Turn 7 and 3 objectives to 1, this is a solid …

SCUTTLIN’ VICTORY (15-6)

While the grind on this first game was very real, I was happy to take that over getting shot and lightning bolted more than I had to be. It was great to play Jim at last / after so long, and a nice way to be eased into Elves post-COK22. I really wish I could have dropped Tydarion, but I’m not going to complain too hard after neutering maybe the biggest dragon in the game for almost an entire game 😀

UP NEXT: Abyssals!

SCUTTLIN’ REALM 20: UNDEAD

My club is hosting its inaugural Dead of Winter GT this weekend here in Albany, NY and I’ve decided I want to bring the crabs out for it. Mostly because I’m interested in the various tweaks they got from Clash of Kings ’22 but I also miss shooting and needed an excuse to rebase my Gigas into Placoderms. I hear practice is important, especially when running an army you’ve only played maybe once since February 2020?

Trident Realm 2100
Water Elementals Horde – Brew of Strength
Placoderms Regiment
Placoderms Regiment
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Kraken
Kraken
Naiad Centurion – Trident of the Drowned Sea
Depth Horror Eternal
Naiad Envoy – Bastion (2)
Naiad Envoy – War-Bow of Kaba

The GT is a nifty 2100 points, so naturally I took the 1995 point list I’ve been brewing and added an Eternal to it 😛 Although I’m not 100% on it being a) good or b) a thing I understand how to use, I really wanted to bring the Centurion with his new laser trident. For those not in the know, it’s a 5 shot 12″ Piercing (1) shooting attak that hits on 3+ and disorders if you wound. So adds to the combined arms thing going on but also extends his flyer sit-down from 12″ to 18″. Very groovy … although it comes at a heavy cost, as he’d be an Aquamage with some amazing support spells otherwise. We’ll have to see if it was worth it! This also marks the first time I’ve run Trident without a Lute, choosing instead to just bake it into the Elementals, who very often were bane chanted anyway. I kind of miss it already, as the Lute helps a lot of the list do work (like Placos).

Undead 2100
Wights Horde – Maccwar’s Potion of the Caterpillar
Wights Horde – Brew of Haste
Wights Horde – Sir Jesse’s Boots of Striding
Soul Reaver Infantry Regiment – Staying Stone
Zombies Regiment
Zombies Regiment
Zombies Regiment
Soul Reaver Infantry Troop – Skirmisher’s Boots
Ghouls Troop
Vampire on Undead Pegasus – Surge (4), Torc of Dissonance
Vampire on Undead Pegasus – Surge (4), Blade of Slashing
Necromancer – Surge (6), Bane Chant (2), Inspiring Talisman

My clubmate’s 2300 list with the extra Ghouls removed. I think it hurts for chaff, tho as he admitted, what he really needs is Wraiths and he doesn’t have those painted anyway. So hammers it is. Personally, I’d turn most of those items into a second Ghoul troop, but he was apparently burned repeatedly at the last GT when his Wights were hindered all the time, so really wanted terrain mitigation.

We chose Raze, as we wanted a token game but not too involved of one. I won the roll but made him go first because 18″ guns.

BATTLE

Battlelines! Slash the first seconds of Undead 1 … My Depth Horror Eternal is hard right, hoping to punch up and burn my rightmost token.
Undead 1: Shamblers shamble forward, with the Vampasuses maneuvering on the flanks and the Soul Reavers preparing to scrum around the central hill. The Ghouls mount said hill, possibly against their better judgement.
Trident 1: The crabs cautiously skitter up, with only the left Placoderms moving into range of the Haste Wights + Slashing Vampasus if he wants that hindered, phalanx charge. On the right, the Eternal cheekily puts the Torc Vampasus into his flank, but without enough room to land.
Harpoons fly into the Undead lines, only doing ~4 damage to the Caterpillar Wights on the left and removing the Ghouls. The Soul Reaver regiment received some attention as well but no damage made it through cover. Finally, Bastion went up on the Water Elemental horde.
Undead 2: The deadites avoid going in piecemeal and advance the batteline together … with the exception of the left Zombies who are surged 3″ forward most likely as bait. The Soul Reavers have put their leaderpoints on the hill as well. The Vampasuses continue working the flanks, with the left one burning a token and putting the Undead on the scoreboard (1-0).
Trident 2: Despite knowing better, I punch it and engage Turn 2 😐 Kraken whip into the Haste Wights on the left and Soul Reaver troop in the middle, and Placoderms get saucy and waddle into the Zombie bait, their terrible crabby mouthparts twitching. Everything else prepares to shoot or counter next turn, including the Eternal on the right who scoots up within 3″ of the right token to see just how tough he is …

And here’s where I was sure I must have missed an after photo, but nope, nothing died 😦 Shooting did not kill the Caterpillar Wights (10 damage) or waver the Soul Reaver regiment (? damage), Bastion failed on the forward Placoderms, and all the combats were decidedly tepid – tho I did remember rampage against the Soul Reaver troop (+2 attaks)! Oh, and the Centurion’s trident hit the Strider Wights 3 times and then rolled 1-1-1 for damage, failing to disorder them.

Undead 3: Yep, that checks out. The Undead hammers smash down on our squishy crab bodies as one might expect.
Caterpillar Wights + Zombies + flanking Vampasus shatter the Placoderms; Soul Reavers in the front and flank deal the central Kraken 25 damage and turn him into a crab smoothie; and the Strider Wights dunk some Heartpiercers and are decidedly in my lines. In other combats, Haste Wights do 6 to the left Kraken, central Zombies scratch 1 on the other Placoderms, and the right Vampasus begins grinding damage on the Eternal. The other two Undead tokens are burned this turn (3-0).
Trident 3: All guns point at the Soul Reavers on the hill, while bigger crabs fight things, most notably the Water Elementals into the mangled Caterpillar Wights and the Centurion into the Strider Wights.
The Soul Reavers are shot up to 9 damage but are unmoved, although the bait Zombies are ventilated in the process (I’d like to say the Envoy’s War-Bow did the business but that thing missed all game). The Water Elementals boss out the mangled Caterpillar Wights and prepare to menace the Undead’s hold on the center. Everything else grinds.
Undead 4: The Soul Reaver regiment charges off the hill into the central Heartpiercers, dicing up a tasty crab gumbo with the help of the Slashing Vampasus.
In less decisive news, the Placoderms are wavered by the Soul Reaver troop + Zombies, the right Heartpiercers are wavered by hindered Zombies alone (!), and the Kraken, Centurion and Eternal all take a beating but keep on kicking.
Trident 4: The Water Elementals zip into the flank of the Soul Reaver troop, tidily dismembering them and preparing to murder the Soul Reaver regiment next, which has been wavered by the 11 harpoon shots I’ve got left at this point. The surviving Kraken finishes off the Haste Wights (all told this is pretty impressive!) and turns to face the action. The Eternal continues chunking just enough damage into the Torc Vampasus that she can lifeleach it back each turn (…), and the Centurion completely fails to wound the Wights, leaving them free to fly around and be a menace next turn. Bro, come on.
Undead 5: The Slashing Vampasus descends upon the War-Bow Envoy and messily devours it, as the Eternal and Centurion are both torn limb from delectable limb by their assailants (the Wights having decided to end the wrath of the Centurion’s trident before it could truly power up). The Placoderms are again wavered, this time by just the Zombies and their shocking ability to roll 5+/6+. Note that the left Vampasus is out of the Kraken’s arc and facing the Heartpiercers.
Trident 5: The Water Elemental horde-crab continues its reign of terror, eviscerating the poor cowering Soul Reaver regiment, while also receiving Bastion. The left Heartpiercers fire at and miss the Necromancer, as the right ones jab at their Zombies, and the Kraken sidesteps within 3″ of a token and finally puts the crabs on the board (1-3).
Undead 6: The Deadites aim to clear out the right side of the board, with Placoderms receiving a flank from the Strider Wights and the right Heartpiercers a visitation from the Torc Vampasus. The Slashing Vampasus nimble turns and punches it 20″ away from the Kraken’s affections.
The Placoderms are scythed down, the Zombies overrunning to block for the Wights. The Heartpiercers waver but somehow stick around.
Trident 6: The Water Elementals immediately rear charge the Slashing Vampasus (!), shortly followed by the Kraken powering up the hill and into the Necromancer loitering near the central token.
The combats are, well, decisive to say the least. Also the central Zombies are cleared out by the left Heartpiercers. Also the Kraken enjoys some Bastion in case the Wights want to get froggy in Turn 7.
Turn 7: The Wights blow their boots, charge the Water Elementals and one round them, because of course they do. The Heartpiercers on the right also succumb to the Vampasus’ dark ministrations. In the Trident half of the turn, I don’t move the Kraken – without pathfinder on the Heartpiercers in 3E, I can’t move them up to the center and the Kraken off to another token, even if the distances worked out. 10 shots into the Wights yields 1-2 damage and that’s game. With a score of 2-3, that’s a decisive …

UNDEAD VICTORY

If you’ve read my other Trident reports, you’ll see I did what I too often do, engage a turn too early instead of letting my shooting do one more round of work to give my mediocre combat units a leg/claw up. The play with the Eternal seems a bit dumb as well – he’s a great piece that can do many, many things – however keeping a Vampasus entirely occupied for 5 turns is nothing to sneeze at! I’m also not that discouraged by the result. We’re using Blackjack scoring, so despite my impatience and cool dice, I’m thrilled to get 7 points off of a ‘bag of hammers’ Undead list!

Doesn’t look like I’ll get another practice match in before Saturday, so stay tuned for a tournament report next week 🦀

BLOODFIRE 45: EMPIRE OF DUST

Happy new year! Hope it’s been good, or at least relatively free of plague. This last Saturday we had a (masked + vaxxed) Learn to Play Kings of War day at the very new gaming center in town, and had great turnout with quite a few people interested in the game and in minigaming in general. Plus a few members of our club came out who haven’t been spotted in the wild in years, which also bodes well for the future of KOW in our area. Exciting times ahead, pandemic-willing!

After the first couple rounds of intro games, there was a free table so I challenged a clubmate to a fast little game of Kings:

Salamanders 1000
Fire Elementals Horde
Fire Elementals Horde
Ember Sprites Regiment
Ember Sprites Regiment
Greater Fire Elemental
Mage-Priest – Fireball (10), Surge (8), Heal (3)
Herald – The Boomstick

I have some regrets about not taking Scorched Earth instead of Heal and giving the Herald the Shroud instead, but not a lot else to say. In theory, LB(3) should be great for clearing chaff and adding to the general firepower of the list. In practice though …

Empire of Dust 1000
Skeleton Spearmen Horde – Brew of Sharpness
Mummies Regiment
Mummies Regiment
Bone Giant
Sebekh-Rei the Accursed – Heal (5+), Surge (5+)
Revenant Champion – Surge (5)

Chaff? What chaff? Solid EOD package, although he really wasn’t feeling Sebekh-Rei (agreed!). Rev Champ is a real workhorse however, giving them surge option is so good for the army.

We chose to play Dominate, since all the intro tables were running either Invade or Dominate and we had just helped run an Invade game. Bloodfire scouted, won the roll for first, then gave it away.

BATTLE

Salamanders 0: Ember Sprites scoot up the field to get ready to spit and to tempt him to engage.
Empire of Dust 1: The dry undead shamble forward, maintaining their frontage on the left and surging a couple inches forward on the right.
Salamanders 1: Ember Sprites advance and angle a bit, as Fire Elementals hover behind them and prepare to counter (the left horde has been surged up to close its frontage off from the Bone Giant, forgetting that it could probably walk up and surge into their flank). Ember Sprites spit at the Bone Giant, doing 3 damage. The Boomstick Herald tries the same and fails.
Empire of Dust 2: Mummies descend upon the Ember Sprites! The left regiment is driven off but the right holds on 5 damage (given how few attaks Mummies have on 4+, holding was a distinct possibility). The Skeleton Spearmen continue their inexorable flank, the Bone Giant plays it cool while Sebekh-Rei fails a 5-6 dice heal on the big guy 😐
Salamanders 2: As planned, the Sprites have left at least one of the Mummies with their flank open, which a Fire Elemental horde cheerily plows into, with Greater Fire in the front. The other Fire Elementals head off to slowly burn down the Bone Giant. The surviving Sprites had to disengage and sidestep to make space for the Fire Elemental charge, but have been surged back into the Mummies at this point. Finally, the Herald tried to lightning bolt Sebekh-Rei but failed.
The left Mummies are incinerated, the right Mummies take 2! damage from enraged Ember Sprites, and the Bone Giant takes an anemic 4 damage from his Fire Elementals (up to 7). Yikes.
Empire of Dust 3: Gentle readers, we’ve entered the grind. The Mummies regen their 2 damage then corkscrew the looming Fire Elementals. The Bone Giant counters his Fire Elementals, rolls max attaks and pummels 8 damage into them. Double yikes. Between heal and lifeleech he returns to 3 damage. Meanwhile, the Skeleton Spears flank and skewer the poor little Ember Sprites.
Salamanders 3: At this point, it’s pretty obvious that the Bone Giant fight isn’t going to go my way, and the Skeleton Spears are going to be a problem very soon, as well as a scenario winner in themselves. My only option is to punch harder!

Smoldering Fire Elemetals head back into the Bone Giant, again doing a terrible 4 damage (7 is average) and getting him back to 7. Central Fire Elementals counter the Mummies, but not before the Greater Fire steps into surge position, hence the strange alignment (the big girl couldn’t combo-charge with them, due to not having Nimble. Also I just realized she could have toasted Sebekh-Rei out of spite before surging in!) While they do damage, it isn’t enough to rout the Mummies in one go. Also the Herald tries and fails to lightning Sebekh-Rei.

Empire of Dust 4: The Bone Giant stamps out his Fire Elementals, the Skeleton Spears stab the other Fire Elemental horde up to 10 damage, and the Mummies bap 5 damage onto the Greater Fire. Everybody lifeleeches, regens or heals as is their wont. Looking like Bloodfire’s best option is to punch. even. harder.
Salamanders 4: One of my favorite things about playing Sallies is the late game shooting that happens when Mage-Priests are called upon to rain elite fireball (10) down on fools. To whit, the Mage-Priest roasts the Bone Giant back up to 7 damage (the Herald probably tried to help too but I’m not giving her any credit), but the rerolled 9 rout test doesn’t come through. In combat, the Greater Fire Elemental burns up the Mummies and faces the rampaging Bone Giant, while the Fire Elemental horde continues to be terrible, dishing out 6 damage to the Skeleton Spears (of 9 expected). RIP, fire boys.
Empire of Dust 5: The Bone Giant powers into the Greater Fire Elemental, in the kaiju big battle I know I was waiting for (the Rev Champ gets in on the action as well while Sebekh-Rei lets them fight). The duo chunks her up to 12 damage. The Skeleton Spear horde meanwhile dissipates the Fire Elementals. A bunch of healing happens.
Salamanders 5: Hear me out – if the Greater Fire can wreck the Bone Giant and hold against the Spears, I might actually pull this out … The Greater Fire gets the Bone Giant to 11 damage but can’t land the double 6 rout (4 on the first roll, actually). The Mage-Priest and Herald try to dunk the Skeleton Spears but roll very poorly, taking them up to 7 damage.
Empire of Dust 6: The Greater Fire Elemental is torn down by the combined aggression of the Empire, to simmer until she may once again scorch the mortal plane.
Salamanders 6: I’ve got just one plan left – pop the horde with the Mage-Priest and tip the Bone Giant over with the Herald. While the Mage-Priest slams the horde up to 13 damage and the Herald actually manages 1 damage on the giant, neither of the rout tests come through for me. With no Turn 7 (which would see both Bloodfire casters surge-charged anyway), that’s a resounding …

EMPIRE OF DUST VICTORY

In a game that revolved almost entirely around rolling 4+s to hit, the Bone Giant far outperformed, reminding me of my 2E games where Bone Giants were easily the best thing in the EOD list and caused me endless pain. On the flipside, my Fire Elementals were aggressively poor this game, and the Herald’s Boomstick was laughably bad, with I believe 1 damage dealt all game. Being 1000 points makes these sort of dice skews stand out all the more, I suppose.

All told a fun romp, thanks for reading! Hope to get some more games in, likely at 2100 points as my club is running its own GT at the end of February and we’re all chomping at the bit. Stay tuned.

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!

THE HALLOW 15: UNDEAD

We’ve got a new local player who’s pretty new to wargaming in general but is really loving painting and KOW as a whole. He’s still chasing that first win, and I’ve been shopping most of his lists for him, although he’s hamstrung a bit by what models he has available. In this game he borrowed some cav so would have a chaff unit for the first time!

Undead 2300
Werewolves Horde
Werewolves Horde
Wights Horde
Wights Horde
Soul Reaver Cavalry Regiment – Staying Stone
Revenants Horde – Undead Giant Rats
Zombies Horde
Revenant Cavalry Troop
Vampire Lord on Undead Dragon – Icy Breath (10), Surge (8)
Necromancer – Inspiring Talisman, Surge (6), Bane Chant (2)
Lykanis

He actually took the first version of this army to Crossroads last month, playing his first game the night before the tournament and then staying up all night finishing painting, like a Real Gamer. Anyway, he didn’t like how many hordes he had, but did like the Wights and Werewolves, so he’s doubling down on the Me 3+ hammers. I’m happy to see the Werewolves, they seem weirdly absent in Undead lists? Maybe because Wights and Soul Reaver Cav exist. He could definitely use another chaff unit – I’d likely downgrade the Revenants to a second Zombie horde, as much as he hates them, to get points for a second Rev Cav troop.

The Herd 2300
Forest Shamblers Horde
Forest Shamblers Horde
Forest Shamblers Horde
Tribal Spears Regiment
Tribal Spears Regiment
Tribal Spears Regiment
Tribal Spears Regiment
Centaur Bray Striders Troop
Centaur Bray Striders Troop
Tree Herder – Surge (8)
Tree Herder – Surge (8)
Centaur Chief
Centaur Chief
Moonfang

Same list for me, double Centaur Chiefs, no upgrades, etc.

We rolled up Control, which suits me but he’s no slouch at, with 25US and plenty of speed. The Herd scouted and then lost first turn.

BATTLE

Herd 0: Scouting phase! The plan, somewhat foolishly, is to grind through the center while somehow holding off the brutal Undead pincers. That’s 2x Wights + Dragon on the left and 2x Werewolves + Lykanis + Soul Reavers on the right.
Undead 1: The Undead center shambles up, as the Wights apparate through the forest on the left and the Werewolves absolutely punch it down the right, forming a second, very close battleline. He’s intentionally going ham, and given our comparative combat stats that might not be all that crazy.
He needs 10″ or more to surge those Zombies into the left Tree Herder, but he tries for it all the same. The VLoUD’s Surge (8) results in 1″ 😐 His Necromancer then switches to the Revenants, maybe to keep them abreast, and shoves them like 5″ with a Surge (6). Yikes.
Herd 1: The Undead want to dance and the Hallow is happy to oblige. Two Forest Shambler hordes plow into the over-extended Revenant horde (one of them managing to leave the hill for that sweet TC), as their Herder long bombs into the VLoUD – I pointed out in his turn that he had landed 12″ away from the Herder, but he either wanted to wear it or felt like it wasn’t a thing to be worried about … On the left, Centaur Chief and Centaur troop charge Wights to gum them up. On the right, the other Herder hits some Werewolves while more Shamblers charge more Werewolves, with Centaurs in their flank.
*sound of tree limbs slamming into flesh / ghosts* Quite a lot of damage is splashed across the Undead line but everything keeps it together.
Undead 2: The second wave of Undead crashes in, confirming that we’re in the grind now! Zombies heave into some Tribal Spears (hindered), Rev Cav flank the right Herder with Werewolves in the front, Lykanis fronts and Soul Reavers flank the right Centaurs, and otherwise it’s a lot of counter-charging. I convince him to disengage, nimble pivot and GTFO with his dragon, as he’s not going to out-grind a Tree Herder, especially with 5 damage already. The Necro probably bane chants the Revenant horde.
The Centaurs and Chief on the left are torn apart by angry ghosts, and the Centaurs on the right are dismembered by petulant vampires and a rowdy dog man. Otherwise it’s another round of damage dice hitting the table – of note is the right Tree Herder on 7 damage and nearby Shamblers on 8.
Herd 2: The Search For More Violence. On the left, some Wights are flanked by Tribal Spears and fronted by the other Centaur Chief, while the Tree Herder menaces in their general direction. In the center, Tribal Spears + Moonfang take on the Zombies and the two Shambler hordes hit the Revenants again. On the right, Tribal Spears flank the Rev Cav (off the hill), Tree Herder counters the Werewolves, and Shamblers counter their own Werewolves.
Everything but the Zombies routs, which is particularly gratifying when it comes to both Werewolves in one turn. If he had alpha’d me, instead of allowing me to punch first, I’m quite sure I would have lost that grind. Also you know, another gold star for Tribal Spears, wrecking Wights on a flank with a little help from Centaur friends.
Undead 3: Wights take that charge on Tribal Spears and Zombies counter their own Spears, but otherwise the Undead put their speed to work. The dragon gets away from the vampire slaying Tree Herder on the left, while the Lykanis and Soul Reavers continue their flank around the tower on the right.
Wights explode their Tribal Spears and the Zombies waver theirs. Just too damn spooky!
Herd 3: The left Tree Herder goes to bust some Wights, Forest Shamblers flank the Zombies (off the hill for that 0+ to damage) with Moonfang in the front, and Centaur Chief sits down the dragon. The other Shamblers and Herder turn to see if they can trap the fast stuff rounding the tower. A Tribal Spear unit also begins its voyage into the upper right Control section.
The Zombies are pulverized into a rich slurry and the VLoUD is wavered. Also the Wights get punched.
Undead 4: Wights counter the Tree Herder, the dragon turns to face the incoming Tribal Spears, and the Lykanis / Soul Reavers prepare to use their speed to leap out of hiding next turn. The Necromancer also charges some wounded Forest Shamblers, but spoilers, misses his one bop.
6 damage against a Herder isn’t bad!
Herd 4: Tribal Spears + Centaur Chief charge the VLoUD, Tree Herder + Moonfang charge the Wights, Shamblers counter the Necromancer, and Tribal Spears continue their pursuit of scenario glory.
Moonfang + Herder tagteam the Wights to re-death, the Necro wavers and the dragon gets poked (and sat down).
Undead 5: The VLoUD counters the Tribal Spears (phalanx’d!), the Lykanis scampers into the Shamblers on the hill, and Soul Reavers take on the vaguely wounded right Tree Herder.
Lykanis and dragon have a rough time of it (1 and 2 damage dealt respectively), and despite getting the Herder up to 11 damage, the Soul Reavers can’t work magic either. The Undead general concedes at this point, so that’s a …

HERD VICTORY

While the list certainly has the hammers it needs to smash the hell out of opponents, it really relies on getting that alpha, especially with so few control elements going on. So a match where he surrendered his speed advantage and let my #slowherd strike first probably wasn’t going to go well for the deadites :/ I was happy to finally play him, as lopsided an affair as it turned out. I’ll probably ask him to play again soon and maybe bring a more traditional army to slam into.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

THE HALLOW 14: OGRES

A couple weeks after Crossroads, we got a bunch of the club together to keep the hype going and throw down some 2300 and/or 1995 games. With the way things shook out, I ended up playing my usual Ogre sparring partner, with my new (but not too new) Herd list:

The Herd 2300
Forest Shamblers Horde
Forest Shamblers Horde
Forest Shamblers Horde
Tribal Spears Regiment
Tribal Spears Regiment
Tribal Spears Regiment
Tribal Spears Regiment
Centaur Bray Striders Troop
Centaur Bray Striders Troop
Tree Herder – Surge (8)
Tree Herder – Surge (8)
Centaur Chief
Centaur Chief
Moonfang

Zero upgrades. The gamble is that Moonfang’s Primal Savagery will vaguely equate to the Druid’s bane chant, and her damage output and maneuverability take the place of the Beast. Double Centaur Chiefs make me happy, especially in November when Clash of Kings makes their inspiring unconditional!

Ogres 2300
Siege Breakers Horde – Chalice of Wrath
Hunters Horde – Brew of Haste
Hunters Horde – Crocodog
Boomers Horde
Warrior Chariots Regiment
Berserker Braves Regiment
Berserker Braves Regiment
Red Goblin Rabble Horde
Red Goblin Scouts Troop
Red Goblin Blaster
Ogre Warlord – Crocodog
Nomagarok – Bane Chant (3), Heal (4), Lightning Bolt (4)
Boomer Sergeant – Inspiring Talisman
Kuzlo & Madfall – Enthral (5), Hex (3)

There’s a chance he swapped some items around from the last time we played, but I can’t remember and/or it doesn’t really matter.

We rolled up Push, and after scouting the Hallow won and took first turn, because getting past the center line + nabbing the center token are things to do.

BATTLE

Herd 0: Scouting phase! Herd tokens are 1 in the leftmost Tribal Spears and 2 in the Shamblers who didn’t / couldn’t scout. Ogre tokens are 2 in the Goblin horde and 1 in the Siege Breakers. I forget to scout the right Tree Herder but he allows it post first turn roll. Also Kuzlo is hard to the right.
Herd 1: The Hallow rolls out, grabbing the central token with Shamblers in the process. I’m genuinely at a loss on the right, everything out-ranges and out-fights me … Moonfang, by the by, is the sluggy thing in front of the Shamblers with tokens. I’ve got a new, much more visible one in the pipe, promise.
Ogres 1: Goblin Scouts rip through that giant forest into some Centaurs as Braves rush forward into the 1 token Shamblers. The left Centaurs take 6 damage from Boomers (wavering), the central (and obviously chaff) Tribal Spears take 2 damage from Noms / maybe the Goblin Blaster, and the right Centaur Chief takes 1 from the Boomer Sergeant.
Goblin Scouts poke 2 damage on the Centaurs, wavering them! And the Braves slap 4 into their Shamblers.
Herd 2: Time to jam for time and clean things up. Left Tribal Spears ditch their token and charge the Ogre Warlord, left Centaur Chief charges Boomers to disorder / jam them, wavered Centaurs sidestep away from the Scouts (while the other wavered Centaurs do nothing at all …), Moonfang + Tree Herder hit the Scouts, central Tribal Spears charge the Siege Breakers, double Shamblers charge/counter the Braves, and on the right I waffle some stuff forward and send the other Centaur Chief after the Hunters there. IDK.
The Scouts and the Braves detonate, with Moonfang and the token Shamblers backing up as their compatriots stand firm. The other jamming combats result in token damage: 3 to the Warlord, 3 to the Boomers, 2 to the Shield Breakers, and nothing to the right Hunters because ensnare 😐
Ogres 2: Jamming units are counter-charged, but there’s plenty of fresh aggression to go around. Left Hunters spot the toe of the left Centaurs in the woods and slam deep into my lines (!!), and Rabble horde drops their token for Noms to hold and charge into the other Centaurs in the woods. On the right, Braves charge off the hill into Tribal Spears (phalanx’d tho!), while everybody else menaces or prepares to lick things.
Super frustrating :/ I never moved those Centaurs far enough up to get anything from the forest (including LOS), except make them visible to enemy chargers. Hunters are a nightmare for my army, and they’re about to spin and stare down my line.
Noms heals up the Boomers (and gives them vicious), while the Boomer Sergeant and Kuzlo put 5 damage on the right Tribal Spears and drag them out of the Tree Herder’s inspiring! Thankfully they just waver. In combat, both Centaur Chiefs are dropped, as are the Tribal Spears fighting Siege Breakers and Braves. The Warlord smashes 5 damage on his Tribal Spears, the Rabble waver their Centaurs somehow, and as predicted the Hunters detonate their dumb Centaurs, becoming A Problem (TM).
Herd 3: I spot some position mistakes by my opponent and leap on them. Left Tribal Spears abandon the Warlord to corkscrew charge the Boomers, and the left Tree Herder long bombs into 2 token-holding Nom-nom. The Hallow then mobs the Rabble, in a bit of a gamble given all the flanks being shown and that damn wall mucking up an otherwise sweet Shambler flank. The 1 token Shamblers and Tree Herder near the thatch-roofed cottage back up to be within 6″ of each other. Finally, the wavered right Tribal Spears just sidestep even closer to Kuzlo, as delaying is the name of this game.
The Rabble are messily strewn across the forest, allowing Moonfang to face the left Hunters and the Shamblers straddling the wall to fave the Ogre heavy hitters to the right. More amazingly, the Tribal Spears ace the Boomers, inspiring and all! They face back at the Warlord. The Tree Herder only boops 3 damage into Noms but I can’t be mad.
Ogres 3: The Warlord has another go at the Tribal Spears, the left Hunters clear out the annoying Centaurs, Siege Breakers power into the wall Shamblers (hindered), Nom-nom disengages from the Tree Herder, the right Braves charge the right Tree Herder, and Kuzlo tackles the right Tribal Spears in the woods. Murder Town, here we come.
Many little tree things die 😦 The Siege Breakers only manage 7 on their Shamblers tho, and both Herders are doing alright (0 damage from the Blaster’s bombs, 3 damage from the Braves).

At this point opined about how rough this match up is for my army, and wondered if I’d ever beat Ogres with #slowherd …

Herd 4: I’m feeling a bit out of the running at this point, with only heavy stuff left and all my control pieces dead, but you know, at least I’ve got the punchy parts, so let’s punch. Shamblers + Moonfang charge the left Hunters, Shamblers counter and flank the Siege Breakers (blessedly neither hindered), and the Herders hit Nom-nom and Braves, respectively.
Siege Breakers shatter the old-fashioned way while the Hunters are routed with the power of rolling one hot Nv test! Nom-nom is pushed to 8 damage, leaving the left Tree Herder to brace for a Blaster flank, and the right does like 4 damage to his Braves. Tokens are now 4-2 Herd.
Ogres 4: Despite taking a body blow from the Hallow last turn, the Ogres come back swinging. Warlord flanks token-less Shamblers, the Chariots slam into the 2 token, damaged, right Shamblers (hindered), the Blaster flanks the left Tree Herder (Noms backs away), and the Braves on the right have another go at their Tree Herder as Hunters line up for a flank next turn.
The Warlord detonates his Shamblers, but the Chariots can’t land the single 7 to rout their Shamblers, and the Blaster brutally fluffs, doing 3 damage out of a potential 18. Meanwhile the right Herder holds firm at 4 damage.
Herd 5: Shamblers charge the Warlord, other Shamblers counter the Chariots, left Herder hits Nom-nom again and the right Herder pummels the Braves further. Moonfang nimbles into a spot to the flank of the Chariots and in 6″ of the Shamblers.
Nom-nom is spiked at long last, the Tree Herder gathering his two tokens and bringing the score to 6-0 Herd. The other Herder ends the Braves as well, preparing to receive Hunters to the face. The Shamblers slap some damage around but eh.
Ogres 5: Kuzlo flanks into the Chariot-Shambler combat and Hunters do engage the right Herder. Warlord counters.
Kuzlo and Chariot friends shred those Shamblers, with Kuzlo scooping up the 2 tokens. The Warlord chunks 2 damage on the other Shamblers, and of course those Hunters drop the Herder on their first charge, because Hunters. 4-2 Herd now.
Herd 6: I once again find myself hoping for no Turn 7 … The Tree Herder rears the Ogre Warlord with Shamblers in the front, while Moonfang flanks the damaged Chariots. (My opponent gave me no hindering, tho it was certainly close enough to warrant a 4+ roll.)
The Warlord is turned to mist, but Moonfang’s spicy 13 damage flank is stopped short by snake eyes.
Ogres 6: Kuzlo ditches the tokens for the Boomer Sergeant and dives into the 2 token Shamblers, as the Chariots round on Moonfang. Neither combats result in much, and with no Turn 7 rolled up, that’s a …

HERD VICTORY

Holy hell y’all, I beat Ogres! Fittingly in the same game where I complained about never beating them. There were certainly some positional errors I was able to capitalize on, but I also had my share of them (stupid, stupid Centaurs). I actually think it was putting so much stuff on the right, then playing it so passively (out of indecision mostly), that helped get the dubya. Significant, murderous parts of his army couldn’t round that house fast enough to help actually fight for tokens, which was huge.

As for the list, I dig it, but am wondering about taking a Forest Warden instead of the second Centaur Chief. Another chaff piece but one that can do different things, like hold tokens and scout up with the boys, and grab those occasional flanks / rears. A Warden would also give me 20 pts to play with, and I do like me brutal on a Herder.

Right after this I played a second game against a very new Undead player, so stay tuned.

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.

THE HALLOW 12: ORCS

Day Two of the 2021 Crossroads GT dawns, bringing with it Skull Face and the Orcs of ORC TOWN. The last time I faced Skull Face was back at the Orc Town GT with my fire elementals, and maybe the biggest change this edition is that Skull Face has lent his slasher to Orcling and deigned to stomp the yard on foot:

Orcs 2300
Greatax Horde – Orcish Skullpole, Potion of the Caterpillar
Greatax Horde – Orcish Skullpole, Boots of Striding
Morax Regiment – Orcish Skullpole
Morax Regiment – Orcish Skullpole
Morax Regiment – Orcish Skullpole
Morax Regiment – Orcish Skullpole
Orclings Regiment
Orclings Regiment
Orclings Regiment
War Drum
War Drum
Krudger on Winged Slasher – Pipes of Terror
Skull Face [Krudger] – Orcish Skullpole, Gakamak’s Bloody Banner, Mead of Madness
Ulpgar the Mad – Bane Chant (3+), Fireball (7+)
Krusher on Gore – Blade of Slashing
Krusher on Gore – Mace of Crushing

As far as I can tell, this list has all the tools Orcs can get, maybe with the exception of springing for Ulpgar at the expense of spamming another 1-2 punchy individuals. Skull Face has had another tough run of things to be down here with me, to be down here fighting me, but as the only Orcs and only Herd, it seems fitting.

Game Four is Dominate, which suits us both fine. I scout up and take first.

BATTLE

Herd 0: Scouting phase! Skull Face is behind the left horde, Ulpgar behind the right.
Herd 1: The Hallow brings its chaff up to bear, including Centaurs on the right tempting his Orclings to get frothy.
Orcs 1: The Orclings both pounce on the Centaurs, doing 2 damage and gumming up my lines a bit. The central Orc brick marches forward several inches as the flanking Slasher and Krushers tentatively move forward.
Herd 2: Embracing the Herd side of the Hallow, I floor it in an attempt to trap the Orcs in their tight formation, and mostly in difficult terrain as well. Left to right, Centaurs charge Morax, Forest Shamblers charge Orclings, two Tribal Spears combo-charge Morax (with a bane chant), more Shamblers charge more Orclings with the help of a Tree Herder, and the wounded Centaurs charge the last of the Orclings. The left side of my army gets away from the Slasher, while the Beast speed walks away from the incoming Krushers.
The left Morax take token damage, but otherwise everything dies! One Tribal Spears regiment sidesteps to block in the left Greatax horde, the other hung out since they were forcing a big weird flank from the other Greatax / blocking the next Morax in the chamber. I’m not sure why the right Centaurs didn’t overrun? But reforming caused problems enough.
Orcs 2: The only way out is through! Morax counter the left Centaurs with Slasher in the flank, left Greatax flank their blocking Tribal Spears, Skull Face shoots the gap left by them to charge some Forest Shamblers, the second wave Morax charge their blocking Tribal Spears, the right Greatax gingerly sidestep to make room next turn (his mega base I don’t think fit anywhere? I feel like he could have flanked those Tribal Spears? But he tried a few things and called it), and a Krusher zooms into the right Centaurs.
The left Centaurs and Tribal Spears explode into sap, but other combats are not as conclusive. Skull Face rips 3 damage into the Shamblers, the Morax do 11 to Tribal Spears but can’t stick the 4 needed to break (didn’t use skullpole), and the right Centaurs are only wavered by the Krusher.
Herd 3: The Hallow begins the heavy lift of the game – grinding out two Greatax hordes while the rest of the Orc army looms. A Shambler horde + Tree Herder go into both Greatax, with the left pair getting bane chant (+ the Brutal Herder’s brutal). The Centaur Chief goes to sit down the Slasher (hindered tho), the central Tribal Spears count their blessings and swing into the Morax who didn’t kill them, and the Beast hops across the field and into the flank of the leftmost Morax who killed the Centaurs.

The Slasher takes 3 damage, the Beast savages her Morax up to 13 damage but can’t break them, the left Greatax take 11 and waver, the central Morax take 4, and the right Greatax take a hearty 15 but hold. So much violence, but the grind is well and truly joined!

Orcs 3: The Orcs strike back, in what we both know is a pretty do-or-die turn. Slasher counters the Centaur Chief, the Beast’s Morax charge (hindered) away from her into some Forest Shambles alongside Skull Face (hindered), a backup Morax unit flanks the Beast (hindered), the central Morax aim to finish off their Tribal Spears, the right Greatax swing into the right Forest Shamblers, and the Centaurs are double-teamed by Krushers. Ulpgar gives the right Greatax bane chant + lifeleech (2).
Both Forest Shambler hordes are one-rounded, those blocking Tribal Spears are axed, the right Centaurs are crushed, the Centaur Chief is wavered, but miraculously the Beast survives being flanked with only 5 damage (bless you, oh might swamp!)
Herd 4: Speaking of do-or-die, the Hallow winds up and swings a second time. The Beast flanks the Slasher, Tribal Spears scramble over an obstacle to charge the mangled Morax (hindered), Forest Shamblers (bane chanted) + Brutal Herder go another round with the left Greatax, and the right Tree Herder sees if he can pop 13 damage Greatax. With such a small base, he might even get another swing.
Yesssssssssss – the Slasher, the Morax and the Greatax all rout. The other Greatax are pounded up to 16 damage and I think wavered. Whew.
Orcs 4: Despite the carnage, the Hallow isn’t wildly ahead on US, so a couple good swings from the Orcs could reverse things, and Morax certainly have a lot of swings. Morax charge the last Forest Shamblers (hindered) with Skull Face assisting, as the other Morax charge the Brutal Herder with Krusher assisting. Ulpgar may have tried to bane chant + lifeleech them but failed.

Neither unit routs, although the Shamblers hit 11 damage and the Brutal Herder 6.

Herd 5: The green fist of the Hallow squeezes. Tribal Spears (bane chanted) flank the left Morax with Forest Shamblers in the front and Centaur Chief in the rear. Brutal Herder counters the right Morax as more Tribal Spears hit the Krusher, routing him and overrunning to flank the Morax as well. The Beast flanks a War Drum and the right Herder plows back into the Greatax.
The broken bodies of the Orcs join the rest of the throng killed in the swamp earlier.
Skull Face and his few remaining lackeys prepare to sell their lives dearly.
Orcs 5: Skull Face charges the Forest Shamblers, getting them up to 9 damage. The remaining Krusher + War Drum (in the rear!) boop 2 damage on the right Tribal Spears disrespecting them. Ulpgar fireballs the Beast back to 5 damage but can’t nail the double 12 rout.
Herd 6: Skull Face is mauled by the Hallow and sent screaming back to hell! The War Drum is sandwiched between Beast and Tree Herder flanks, instantly popping. The Krusher takes 1 damage from the Tribal Spears counter and Ulpgar survives the Centaur Chief’s affections unmolested.
Orcs 6: Ulpgar and the Krusher charge the last of the Forest Shamblers, because YOLO m’right?
The Forest Shamblers rout! And sink back into the swamp that helped me pull this one off.
Herd 7: The rout continues, with maybe 10 seconds left on my clock O_O The Brutal Herder flattens the Krusher and the Centaur Chief does a sterling 4 damage to Ulpgar but doesn’t seal the deal – yes, the other Herder could have charged in but I was melting the last of my time down. I pass on 1 second.

Ulpgar swings on the Centaur Chief but misses, ending a dominating …

HERD VICTORY (20-1)

Holy hell, what a blood bath. My plan going into this was to trap him behind his chaff, which has worked before for Orcs / similar infantry grind lists, and that sorta happened, except it was more killing his chaff and trapping him behind my thicc chaff. Deciding early on to just punch it forward was obviously the deciding moment, and it was gratifying to see that my army has enough small or fast (or both) units to buy my grinding units time to do their thing. Tournament-wise, I’m 2-1-1 and happy with however the last game ends up.

UP NEXT: Abyssals!