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!

THE HALLOW 11: FORCES OF NATURE

Day One ends with a rare treat on the bottom table, as no fewer than five Tree Herders gather to see whose grain will reign supreme 🌳

Forces of Nature 2300
Forest Shamblers Horde – Brew of Sharpness
Forest Shamblers Horde – Brew of Strength
Scorchwings Horde
Hunters of the Wild Regiment
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Tree Herder – Wiltfather, Surge (8)
Tree Herder – Surge (8)
Tree Herder – Surge (8)
Unicorn – Lute of Insatiable Darkness, Wings, Heal (5)
Kapoka, The Hidden Savior – Heal (4), Weakness (3)

It’s an interesting list, that really pays for that third Herder by not having any chaff to speak of. He’s clearly not done well either (poor trees), but the match into me is neat. Nature has shooting and dad on their side, I’ve got raw unit strength and chaff to help control the match. Which is fitting as …

Game Three is Control! We have a pretty involved scouting phase, out of which I win initiative but give it to him – because he has Heartpiercers who I want to screw over / make come closer to me, also because it’s control.

BATTLE

Nature/Herd 0: Scouting phase! I threw off his usual scouting plans for his heavy trees, thanks to my flanking force. The Wiltfather is the Herder in the middle of his lines (with a mustache, naturally).
Nature 1: The Forces of Nature move up into line, with the Scorchwings the most relevant movement as they work the left flank. (That proxy base is how far my Centaur Chief can charge.)
Scorchwing shooting slams a respectable 8 damage into my leftmost Forest Shamblers, and that’s turn.
Herd 1: Tribal Spears and Centaur Chief threaten charges on the left (the Hunters are distressingly Sp 5), Centaurs move into scoring position on the right as the Beast moves into terrorize-the-center position, and I mobilize chaff into the center. I don’t really know what to do with my mangled Forest Shamblers so I shuffle them back and hope some Tribal Spears look tastier.

The Druid whips 1 lightning bolt’s worth of damage into the Scorchwings, tho she probably should have healed the Shamblers. I don’t begrudge her.

Nature 2: Fuuuuuuu– the Scorchwings grab a tasty flank on those damaged Shamblers. I’m also reminded that 3x Tree Herders come with a total of Surge (24), as his strength Shamblers are powered into my Centaurs and the sharpness ones miss my Tree Herder by ~2″. But not before he cops 3 damage from Heartpiercers.
Nature punishes the Hallow for its impudence, devouring both the Shamblers and the Centaurs.
Herd 2: Double Tribal Spears mob the Hunters of the Wild (with some bane chant behind them), the Centaur Chief jumps on the Scorchwings to at least sit them down (as much as that will do), and Herder + flanking Shamblers hit his sharpness Shamblers. I press in with my right flank, making that Tree Herder make a decision, as the Beast hops into a shadow zone between Herders. Those central Tribal Spears turn to face the Scorchwings, in what might have been too reactive of a play.
The Hunters are ripped apart by smaller, spikier tree things and his sharpness Shamblers are smashed. The Centaur Chief gauges 3 damage into the Scorchwings, grounding them … except they’re still Sp 10 Nimble :/
Nature 3: Scorchwings rear my Tree Herder, with the Unicorn in his flank and another Tree Herder in the front. My central Forest Shamblers are combo-charged by the Wiltfather + strength Shamblers. On the right, his other Tree Herder decides to whomp my other Forest Shamblers.
Then everything changed when the Fire Owls attaked.
Heartpiercers combine to drop one of the incoming Tribal Spears, moments before the Tree Herder and Forest Shamblers are pulverized, releasing their spores into the surrounding field to regrow in time. The Herder on the right also stomped 6 damage into his Forest Shamblers. Looks like the Brutal Herder has weakness, courtesy of Kapoka, that scamp.
Herd 3: It feels like a bad trade, but I need to stop the Scorchwings’ path of destruction, so I hop the Beast into the hole where the dead Herder was, with the Centaur Chief hitting the horrible owls in the rear as well. Tribal Spears flank the first Heartpiercers, central Spears turn to face the strength Shamblers (…), and the Brutal Herder (weakened) flanks his Herder fighting my Forest Shamblers, who counter. The Druid at the doubles over to lend her inspiring.
Scorchwings and Heartpiercers rout, with the Beast facing the rears of the Herders right in front of her (she maybe should have faced the Shamblers instead, as they were clearly surgable into her flank as is). Weakness helps keep the other Herder alive on 8 damage.
Nature 4: The Unicorn hurtles into the flank of my right Shamblers, with the Herder countering them. The Wiltfather mobilizes and the free Herder prepares to mastermind a 1″ surge.
Surge (8) is enough to send the strength Shamblers into the Beast’s flank. Other shooting puts 3 damage on the Tribal Spears marauding through his Heartpiercers, and Kapoka heals his right Herder a bit (5 damage left).
The Beast and the last of my Shamblers are battered and broken. His Unicorn overruns, possibly to block for the Herder?
Herd 4: Not a lot left of the Hallow, but what I have is pretty great for the scenario, so time to flex those Tribal Spears. Spears charge the Heartpiercers, the strength Shamblers (with the Centaur Chief and bane chant), and the Unicorn’s flank. My Brutal Herder charges his right Herder again.
The Heartpiercers (7 damage) and Unicorn (6 damage) waver, but Great Doom-Owl be praised, the strength Shamblers are dropped. Whew. His Herder is also still standing, on 9 damage. (Looks like the Centaur Chief accidentally picked up the 1 damage die from the left Tribal Spears :P)
Nature 5: The Wiltfather goes to clear up this nonsense on the right next turn, as the other Herder faces the bloodthirsty Tribal Spears, and the other-other Herder charges the right Tribal Spears. He gets them to 7 and wavers. (I don’t think he rolled regen on his Heartpiercers, and admittedly they did just look like elven archers.)
Herd 5: Tribal Spears plow through the Heartpiercers, the Brutal Herder rears his right Herder and shatters it, and the Centaur Chief (bane chanted) chomps 1 damage on the left Herder, but is convincingly in the way. And after 4 turns, the Centaurs on the right turn to face the action. Thanks, me.
Nature 6: The Wiltfather charges the Brutal Herder, the Unicorn snaps out of it and charges the mangled right Tribal Spears, and the left Herder stomps on the Centaur Chief.
Literally.
The Centaur Chief is flattened, but the Brutal Herder and Tribal Spears survive (on 5 and 8 damage respectively).
Herd 6: Things are looking good for the Hallow, with 5-0 control points. Just a little light murder and we should be good. Tribal Spears charge the left Herder (bane chanted) for 4 damage, the Brutal Herder hits the Wiltfather back for 2 damage, and more Tribal Spears aim to finally drop the Unicorn but fall far short with 3 damage. Ah well, good game, nice to get a wi—
Nature 7: The left Herder fails to rout his Tribal Spears (even with the extra pip of damage the Centaur dragged away, that’d be a rerollable 9), but Wiltdad + Unicorn finally kill the Spears on the right, costing me the lower right section.
Herd 7: My ace in the hole Centaurs come ripping off their hill into the Unicorn, but fail again to drop her. Wow. The Wiltfather hangs on, thanks in part to Kapoka’s weakness, and the other Herder withstands the Tribal Spears’ bane chanted jabs. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but whether the score was 4-1 or 3-0, this was a …

HERD VICTORY (14-7)

Those Scorchwings! Doing work, and thanks to a flank I didn’t need to give them. Smart play by my opponent, with some very competent surging (Fun Game: Take a shot every time I surge a unit this tournament! Safe to play at work!). I feel like I won this in the army building phase? Even just splitting the Hunters into troops would give him more to work with, though they’re just flat out-classed by my Tribal Spears. Which is a good feel, as the reason I chose Herd and not Nature is because I really like Herd’s infantry options, while I’m really not interested in Nature’s. It was also instructive to see how little Kapoka does – my opponent admitted she wasn’t turning out great – as I’ve been interested in her if I ported sideways to Nature.

Having gone 1-1-1 on Day One, I was content to drink, play some board games, and talk about Warmahordes into the AM. What a day.

NEXT UP: Orcs!

THE HALLOW 10: DWARFS

After my Game One drubbing, I plummeted down to the bottom table and got to face one of my favorite people to play, and a dude I very often play somewhere around mid-tournament for score-related reasons 😀

Dwarfs 2300
Bulwarkers Horde – Staying Stone, Throwing Mastiff
Earth Elementals Horde
Earth Elementals Horde
Earth Elementals Horde
Berserker Brock Riders Regiment – Potion of the Caterpillar
Berserker Brock Riders Regiment – Boots of Striding
Sharpshooters Troop
Sharpshooters Troop
Sharpshooters Troop
Mastiff Hunting Pack Regiment – Throwing Mastiff
Mastiff Hunting Pack Regiment – Throwing Mastiff
Berserker Lord on Brock – Blade of the Beast Slayer
Berserker Lord on Brock – Mournful Blade
Stone Priest – Conjurer’s Staff, Surge (8), Bane Chant (2)
Dwarf Army Standard Bearer – Lute of Insatiable Darkness

I’m always happy to fight Dwarfs, as I very reliably out-threat them, so get to play the more control oriented game I prefer. His list seems legit? And looks great on the table. I dig the double Brock Lords, and this would be the first time I’ve faced Earth Elementals with my squishier Forest Shamblers.

Game Two is Salt the Earth, and the Herd wins and takes the initiative.

BATTLE

Herd 0: Scouting phase! It’s hard to see, but the seventh token is on that hill back-right, guarded by double Sharpshooters. My fourth Tribal Spears are hard to the right just off shot.
Herd 1: The Hallow rolls out, mobilizing chaff on the left, tempting the Brocks in the middle, and blitzing the hill on the right. Some Tribal Spears take up residence on the token in the fountain, content to never move again.
Dwarfs 1: On the left, the pathfinder Brocks jump on the chaffing Centaurs and the BotBS Brock Lord charges into the Tree Herder, while the Earth Elementals maintain their menacing wall of rock and grind towards that flank. In the center, the Mastiffs (+ Bulwarkers) trot forward and prepare to unleash themselves / bees, and the Sharpshooters hold their ground on the right.
The storm of tossed dogs shreds the central Forest Shamblers (!!!), and Sharpshooters put 2 wounds on the left Tribal Spears and 1 on the Centaur Chief.
The Centaurs are torn apart by angry badgers, but the Brock Lord fails to damage the Herder. And then those Sharpshooters on the hill to the right burn their token 😐
Herd 2: Despite that, the Hallow chooses murder, as is their want. Beast and Centaur Chief charge into a Sharpshooter troop each, while their Tribal Spear escorts go be useful elsewhere. In the center, the Brutal Herder holds the boot Brocks in place to give the Centaurs and Shamblers time to clear the Mastiffs (except the Shamblers have to plow through a fence, hindering them). On the left, Shamblers (bane chanted) and Tribal Spears combo-charge the pathfinder Brocks. I spend a ton of time deciding what to do with the left Herder – because the Brock Lord failed to wound him, the Herder could walk over him if he wanted, tho the 1″ rule makes things weird around the Brocks and etc, etc, and so I just turned him to face the wall of rocks headed in … and forgot I could just charge him. It totally won’t come back to haunt me that I didn’t put 9 3+/2+ swings into that Brock Lord. No chance.
Happily, the pathfinder Brocks pop! And on the right, the Beast kicks her Sharpshooters to death, while the Centaur Chief is content to gnaw his down. The center is less conclusive, with neither Mastiffs breaking (5 and 6 damage respectively, which is pretty superb considering the odds involved), and the Brocks taking 5 damage.
Dwarfs 2: Rock meets Wood as the Earth Elementals crash into the left Shamblers and Tribal Spears. The beast slayer Brock Lord takes another swing at the Herder disrespecting him. In the center, Mastiffs counter the stick-things assaulting them and the Brocks counter the Brutal Herder. And on the right, the duelist Brock Lord goes in to sit down the Beast as the Sharpshooters strike at the Centaur Chief with their rifle butts.
The leftmost Shamblers are pummeled into goo by ambulatory stone statues, but other charges just result in damage – or not in the case of the Herder, who is just too tough for the slayer Brock Lord! The Tribal Spears go up to 6, the Centaurs to 5, the central Shamblers to 2, the Brutal Herder to 6 (!), and the Beast is indeed sat down with 2 damage. The Centaur Chief escapes without damage as well.
Herd 3: My positioning with the left Herder pays off, as it powers into an Earth Elemental flank, with (bane chanted) Tribal Spears in the front. Everybody counter-charges in the center, however the twist is the Beast using her Sp 7 + Nimble to juke the duelist Brock Lord and flank charge the Brocks. The Centaur Chief takes another bite out of the right Sharpshooters. You can see the Tribal Spears making a cautious play for the center objective – at this point I’m doing some math and realizing I need another token to pull a win off, despite my tight grip on two of the objectives.
All combats go the Hallow’s way, such is the fury of the dark fae. The left Herder is facing that way to swing the Earth Elementals into his front if they charge or use up a surge if he wants a flank, and in the center the Centaurs jam the Bulwarkers with an overrun. The duelist Brock Lord on the hill is faced with a choice: sit the Beast down again or prepare for glory. Also I burn the token on the left.
Dwarfs 3: The left Earth Elementals are surged into the Tree Herder flank (the follow-up bane chant must have worked, with the Conjurer’s Staff on hand), with the slayer Brock Lord charging in for a third round. The Bulwarkers make to clear out the Centaurs so they can address the incoming trees, and the duelist Brock Lord, well …
He chooses glory 😤
The Centaur Chief is mulched under those 14 attaks, and the Centaurs don’t fare too well either, but both of their missions are complete. The Tree Herder astoundingly only takes 6 damage (my opponent historically has terrible dice, and the tradition has continued here).
Herd 4: The grind continues! On the left, the Tree Herder + Tribal Spears (bane chanted) hit the Earth Elementals in the front. In the center, Shamblers + Brutal Herder + Beast combo-charge the Bulwarkers … and I realize later that the Beast is probably better used trying to kick the ASB to death, removing the reroll. I also don’t turn the rightmost Tribal Spears to face the duelist Brock Lord, despite them having phalanx and him obviously being cavalry.
8 damage on the Earth Elementals isn’t bad, but I can’t reach that -/18 Nv. Likewise the 12 damage on the Bulwarkers is solid enough, with a ways to go. Note that I’ve been watching his movement in the center, and those Tribal Spears are 16″ away from those Earth Elementals, to make him walk the whole way and not give a speed boost thanks to charging.
Dwarfs 4: Let’s just tear the bandage off – the slayer Brock Lord drops the left Tree Herder 😦 Well fought, tiny dude on badger that I ignored all game. The Earth Elementals bash the Tribal Spears up to 7 damage (wavering them), the Bulwarkers (bane chanted) stab the Brutal Herder up to 9 damage, and the duelist Brock Lord puts 3 on the right Tribal Spears desperately holding a point with no inspiring to be seen. The central Earth Elementals begin to crest the hill.
Herd 5: The wavered Tribal Spears back up to protect the Druid / expose the Earth Elementals to her lightning bolt (!), the Bulwakers receive another round of Brutal Herder + Forest Shamblers, the Beast pounces on the Dwarf ASB, and the right Tribal Spears counter the duelist Brock Lord (but most importantly point their sharp bits at him).
The Druid does wound the Earth Elementals with her LB(2), getting them up to 9 damage … but I can’t manage the double 9 to rout. Still awesome. The Bulwarkers are smashed into the dirt and the duelist Brock Lord takes a shocking 6 damage from small pointy tree things.
Dwarfs 5: Tiring of this grind, the left Earth Elementals trundle away to sit on a token, letting their compatriots take the hill and the token there. The Brock Lords both charge Tribal Spears … and do 0 damage on the left and 1 on the right O_O The ASB tries to ground the Beast but misses her.
Herd 6: Those left Tribal Spears rear the Earth Elementals who dared leave them to their fate, and the right Tribal Spears stab the duelist Brock Lord again. Really though it’s about mobbing the central Earth Elementals to pull the game away from his 3-2 token lead. I also punch the Beast forward in preparation for a Turn 7 run on the Sharpshooters’ token.
The Tribal Spears shatter their Earth Elementals, overrunning to take a point from the Dwarfs. The right Tribal Spears don’t kill their Brock Lord. Magic doesn’t happen in the center and the Earth Elementals hold … and we measure and discover that the Forest Shamblers are 4″ from the point thanks to combo-charge sliding. I can’t burn the point, and my 3-1 lead isn’t long for this world.
Dwarfs 6: The slayer Brock Lord ends those Tribal Spears, and the Earth Elementals swing hard and kill the Tribal Spears on the hill (a tough ask for his dice!) The duelist Brock Lord can’t rout his point-holding Tribal Spears, putting the game at 2-2. With no Turn 7, this is a …

DRAW (10-10)

Attrition put us at less than 500 points apart, for a true draw, which is apparently possible in Blackjack Scoring. It felt a little bad to have things slip away like this, as I had taken an early lead and had a lot of control – and some luck – in my favor, but even during the game I was seeing places where I simply was forgetting to do things (turn to face the Brock Lord on the right) or choosing obvious things (Beast putting a few wounds on Bulwarkers instead of kicking the ASB to death OR threatening the Sharpshooters on a point a turn earlier) rather than smarter things. In retrospect, I think could have won by not charging the Tribal Spears in on the center, as the fresh Forest Shamblers would have slide over fully to a) contest the point and b) block the Tribal Spears from the Earth Elementals, allowing them to score in safety or at the least contest, either of which would have done it for me, without a Turn 7. Instead I tried to punch for the stars per usual, and lost that win by an inch.

NEXT UP: Nature!

THE HALLOW 9: OGRES

After missing last year due to the raging global pandemic, the Crossroads GT returned in 2021 as a 2300 point singles KOW tournament – the past two Crossroads have been team tournaments, and 2022 is slatted to return to that format, but the feeling this year was that most of us haven’t played much if at all in 18 months so why complicate things? Brilliant, I say. I took my Hallow Herd, knowing full well that they aren’t strong and even my usual tournament goal of going 50% could be hard.

The Herd 2300
Forest Shambers Horde
Forest Shambers Horde
Forest Shambers Horde
Tribal Spears Regiment
Tribal Spears Regiment
Tribal Spears Regiment
Tribal Spears Regiment
Centaur Bray Striders Troop
Centaur Bray Striders Troop
Beast of Nature – Wings, 7 Attaks
Tree Herder – Pipes of Terror
Tree Herder
Druid – Conjurer’s Staff, Heal (2), Bane Chant (2), Lightning Bolt (2)
Centaur Chief

Eight games in, here’s where this version of the Hallow landed. I made a last minute decision to give the Druid LB(2) in place of the Centaur Chief’s duelist, and we’ll have to see how that played out!

Ogres 2300
Warrior Chariots Legion – Potion of the Caterpillar
Siege Breakers Horde – Chalice of Wrath
Siege Breakers Horde – Dwarven Ale
Boomers Horde – Piercing Arrow
Hunters Horde – Brew of Haste
Berserker Braves Regiment
Berserker Braves Regiment
Red Goblin Scouts Troop
Sergeant on Chariot – Blade of Slashing
Ogre Warlock – The Boomstick
Ogre Warlock – Inspiring Talisman
Ogre Warlock – Conjurer’s Staff
Army Standard – Lute of Insatiable Darkness

Yep, that’s a rough place to start! But Ogres (along with Undead) were very well represented at this tournament, so I suppose if I’ve got to take it on the chin from Ogres I might as well do it first game against a good dude I haven’t played since 2E. Going list to list, I have next to no chance, except …

First round is Invade, and my tree things do that pretty well, right?? Unfortunately he wins first turn, so that tightens that screw just a bit further.

BATTLE

Herd 0: Scouting phase! The other Centaurs are hard to the left.
Ogres 1: Rollout! The Warlock conclave is just behind that left hill (currently deploying lasers).
Centaurs cop 7 damage and waver, which could have been a lot worse against 19 lightning or whatever.
Herd 1: The Hallow derdles up, presenting some sacrificial Tribal Spears in the middle and otherwise trying to make charges awkward for the Warrior Chariots and stuff on the right.
Ogres 2: Speaking of charges, here we gooooo! From the left, that’s Braves deep into Tribal Spears, Siege Breakers into the bait Spears, Chariots into the Forest Shamblers hugging the building, Hunters into the rightmost Shamblers and Scouts tripping over an obstacle into the right Tree Herder to get out of / be in the way. The other Braves jammed in to block me from charging something.
The Warlocks pour lightning into the Druid and the wounded Centaurs, disintegrating them both. In the Warm Liquid Good phase, the center is reduced to green jelly but miraculously the Hunters only land 4 damage on their Shamblers, so that flank is alive. The plucky Scouts stab their Herder for 1 damage.
Herd 2: The Hallow strikes back as it can, with an aim to at least not get zero points. The Brutal Herder fronts the Chariots with the Beast just grabbing a flank, with the central Shamblers charging some Braves as they couldn’t fit in the Chariot charge. The Centaur Chief zips in to help them out. On the right, the other Herder counters those Scouts and Shamblers flank them for murder purposes (also hitting on 5+ vs Hunters is fairly pointless and freeing up the Herder is more important). Far on the left, the Centaurs decide to threaten the Warlocks, rather than hiding behind that building and waiting to be bolted off later.
The central Braves take a little damage and hold, the Chariots only take 12 damage and hold, but the Red Goblin Scouts are obliterated. I’ll take it.
Ogre 3: The second big green hook lands. Siege Breakers charge central Shamblers, Braves counter the Centaur Chief, more Braves flank the Brutal Herder with the Chariots in the front (as they couldn’t turn and hit the Beast), and the Hunters have another go at the right Shamblers. The Warlocks fry the left Centaurs.
Dice get weird this turn: The Brutal Herder is wrecked, but somehow everything else holds?! The central Shamblers take 6, the Centaur Chief 3, and the right Shamblers are up to 7.
Herd 3: Time to capitalize on still having models! The left Tribal Spears charge the Siege Breakers (I hate it but it means they get to swing and, hey, it’s invade), the central Shamblers counter their Siege Breakers, the Centaur Chief + Beast charge the Chariots, the other living Tribal Spears bomb in to the Braves what killed the Brutal Herder, and the other Herder flanks the Hunters as the right Shamblers grudgingly hit them in the front.
The left Tribal Spears bounce off Siege Breakers, the central Shamblers punch 5 damage into theirs (for nothing), the other Tribal Spears poke 4 damage onto Braves, the Centaur Chief + Beast wreck the Chariot legion at last, and the Herder + Shamblers do 13 damage to the Hunters but I only waver them 😐
Ogres 4: The Warlocks dash for the Herd side of the table and the Sergeant prepares to charge into the right flank once it clears up, but otherwise it’s business as usual. Siege Breakers counter their Spears, other Siege Breakers counter the central Shamblers, Braves charge the Centaur Chief, more Braves counter the other Spears, and the Boomers charge out of the forest into the Beast.
The Siege Breakers pulverize their targets, while the Braves slap theirs around (Centaur Chief is wavered on 9, the Tribal Spears hold on 5) and the Boomers ground the Beast with 3 damage.
Herd 4: Needing to finish things off to walk away with any points, the Beast + Tribal Spears combo the Braves on the hill, and the Herder + Shamblers prepare to tidy up the Hunters.
The hill Braves die … but I snake eyes the Hunters on the first roll 😦
Ogres 5: The Ogres push deeper into the Herd’s zone, crushing what’s left of the Hallow. Siege Breakers crash into Tribal Spears, Braves go one more round with the Centaur Chief, the Beast takes a second charge from the Boomers, the Herder is flanked by the chariot Sergeant, and the Hunters shake it off and swing on the Shamblers again.
Everything but the Herder dies (and he only takes 4 damage).
Herd 5: The Tree Herder plows into the mangled Hunters, pulverizing them and attempting to overrun off the board. Same feel.
Ogre 6: The burly green lads fully invade the Hallow’s territory, scouring the Herder up to 10 damage in the process.
Herd 6: The Tree Herder turns to face his destroyers, radiancing down to 9 damage and scowling as hard as possible.
Ogres 7: The Herder burns down under the full force of the Ogre shooting, for a very convincing …

OGRE VICTORY (20-1)

It’s hard to remember the last time I was tabled? But I was happy to walk away from a very tough match-up with a point. With normal dice – or not going to Turn 7 – that might have been 1-2 more, however I was never going to win this one, which is what it is. Anyway, Operation: Race to the Bottom was in full effect!

Next up: DWARFS

INCOMING CRABS 🦀

Or rather, they arrived a while ago, but haven’t been batrepped for unknown reasons … Bloodfire is still on hiatus while I explore fresher avenues, however I wanted to give some coverage to my current army, plus those that come after this one, and this seems like a decent, agnostic place to do it.

So welcome to the new, expanded, ad-free blood-fire.com!

CRABS (FEB 2020) – Big boys by Mierce, tiny lads by Khurasan, token Hadross dude by CMON

Late September 2019, I finished up a new crab-themed Trident Realm army, just a couple days before the Crossroads GT (which was a 2250 point KOW 2E team event). I played a practice game the night before against a team mate, crushing his new Nightstalkers with the fury of a bunch of crustaceans (GAME 1: NIGHTSTALKERS). And with practice out of the way – I had literally never played the army before! – we got a few hours sleep and headed into the event. The list I took for that first outing:

Trident Realm 2250 (2E)
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Naiad Heartpiercers Regiment
Gigas Horde*
Gigas Horde*
Kraken
Kraken
Kraken
Naiad Envoy – Aura of Heroism (2), Banner of the Griffin
Depth Horror Eternal – Inspiring Talisman
Depth Horror Eternal – Orcish Skullpole
Naiad Wyrmrider Centurion – Fire-Oil
*King Crabs

As captain of Team Cuddle Time II, I was vaguely in charge of working out which armies would go up against each other and/or what scenarios they would play, so I had some control over who and what my crabs faced. My goal for the team was to put myself into harder armies but ideally with better scenarios for my Trident … which was total conjecture since I didn’t really know what they could do! Here’s the briefest of recaps:

GAME 2: ELVES

NWC and Kraken doing terrible things to Elf Archers!

 

Couldn’t tell you what the mission was or how things broke down, but holy hell I won! Biggest revelation was that massed heartpiercers are really good at killing big monsters, as his dragon was deleted in a couple turns as it tried to harry my flanks and rear.

GAME 3: KINGDOMS OF MEN

Kraken resolutely face-tanking a charge from a Knight horde!

Knight-heavy (like 2x hordes + regiments + flying heroes) men largely controlled this game, however through the magic of ensnare + hindering the crabs were able to bog down his momentum and smash their way to an inconceivable draw.

GAME 4: BASILEANS

Another fast army, this time 2x Elohi, 2x Uh-Elohi, 1-2x Knights, token foot troops, Gnaeus Sallustis annnnnd the mega-dragon (who is now just the normal dragon). I should have gotten wrecked, however he was extremely caught up in the dance a Kraken and his dragon were having in some woods, where I kept turning or stepping into and out of wood templates and he had to keep over-analyzing LOS and what was going on over there, all while taking continual Heartpiercer damage. Preposterously I won this one too!

GAME 5: UNDEAD

Crabs busting ghosts!

Dawn of Day 2, and while Team Cuddle Time II wasn’t doing stellar (our Varangur player was getting paired up against very hard armies, and pretty consistently getting smashed for his troubles), my Trident Realm was on a real tear! Up against Undead next, a rather standard 2E affair with some hordes, some knights, some wraith troops, some barrow wights, a dragon, etc. Lowlight was a Kraken getting trapped by Wraiths and dismantled – one troop to the front, then more to the flank, then another to the rear! But otherwise the dragon was shot down and the punchy crabs punched hard, with a somewhat lucky Gigas + Gigas + Eternal charge into a fresh horde that helped me roll his flank up and maul through the rest of the Undead line. Another win!

GAME 6: UNDEAD

“Craaaaaab meeeeeeaaat”

Final round of the tournament, and another Undead grinder for me. Main difference here is the abundance of zombies and zombie trolls. I was in control of this game early on, thanks to shooting, but I still remember how, instead of waiting for Turn 3 to engage, when the zombie trolls had been shot off, I jumped the guns and sent the Kraken all in Turn 2, which got most of them killed – including one to multiple wraith troop charges, again. Once the big hammers were down, I scrabbled as best I could but was overrun, earning the armies first loss.

All told, it was a pretty heartening first six games with the scuttlers! Really quite unexpected … although a bit tarnished as the 3E changes for Trident Realm had been previewed the day before the event, and it was clear that almost all the units I was using were going to lose their COK19 bumps. I had a feeling 3E was about to get bumpy for my new army.


Some KOW-less weeks later, the new edition hit, confirming some particularly distressing developments:

  1. Heartpiercers became irregular, making my 2E list illegal and ensuring I will always hurt for unlocks
  2. Heartpiercers lost ensnare, pathfinder and 2 attaks, for the benefit of steady aim, which gutted the reason I based an army around these little, mobile tarpits happy to grab a 24 attak flank when able
  3. Gigas went up to a larger base, making them unwieldy but more importantly meaning I had to paint more of them and rebase the unit (they also lost 1 CS but gained 1 Def and kept their King Crabs Sp, so meh; the added nimble has yet to matter for me)
  4. Kraken lost 3 attaks, severely hurting their abilities as hammers, ironically at the same time as they gained +D3″ charge range

At first I added a Wyrmrider horde for a third hero unlock, but man they suck now. In my first 3E game I lost against Ogres (GAME 7: OGRES):

Then over Wintermas I leant my brother my Ratkin, who brutally beat me at dominate (GAME 8: RATKIN), but then the next day I narrowly squeaked out a win in raze (GAME 9: RATKIN):

With a 3E win under my belt at last, I took on my clubmate’s Abyssals (GAME 10: FORCES OF THE ABYSS), losing again but at least keeping it close:

Meanwhile, my buddy had finally relented to my arm twisting, picked up a load of Mantic minis and smashed through a Northern Alliance army in record time. In short order he hit 2300 points and found himself facing crabs every other week or so. While I won the first match (GAME 11: NORTHERN ALLIANCE), and his first game of full size Kings –

– Trident’s pillowy fists would come up to haunt me, as I lost both of the next two games (GAME 12: NORTHERN ALLIANCE & GAME 13: NORTHERN ALLIANCE). Including this gem:

Aye, that’s a Kraken (with 2 loot tokens) being flanked by Huscarls (with 2 loot tokens) and Half-Elf Berserkers. While the Kraken is in that predicament because I rolled double ones, the North did not repay the favor 😥 Nor did I ever get those 4 loot tokens away from the Huscarls.

Which brings us up to last week! February 22-23 was the US Masters here in New York, and there was a side GT called the Best of the Rest for, well, the rest of us who wanted to scrum and soak up that Masters vibe. I took my freshly reduxed crabs with me and ended up taking a lot of photos with the intent to blog. So strap in, tournament report inbound!

Side Note: Since I’m covering reports for different armies on this blog now, you’ll be able to use the new Category feature >> to more easily select which army you want to follow. Though I do tend to avoid bouncing between armies, it could happen!

GAME 35: FORCES OF NATURE

Team Cuddle Time finally slumps its way to the final round, beaten and bruised but still kicking. Team MERC greets us with open arms and one last fist to the gut. I end up paired vs a Nature player who I’’ve played three times now at each GT Bloodfire has gone to. In that time he’s learned a lot about target prioritization, scenario play, and so on, and his list is much more tuned now than it was a mostly Wood Elves legacy force.

And let’s admit it, I just wanted to put Fire up against Water ;D

CROSSROADS GAME 5: TEAM MERC

– Forces of Nature vs Salamanders
– The Herd vs Orcs
– Ratkin vs Night-Stalkers
– Orcs vs Ogres

BLOODFIRE GAME 35: FORCES OF NATURE

Forces of Nature 2250

Salamanders Horde – Scrying Gem
Water Elemental Horde
Water Elemental Horde
Water Elemental Horde
Winged Unicorn – Heal (7), Lightning Bolt (5), Bane Chant (2)
Winged Unicorn – Heal (7), Lightning Bolt (5), Bane Chant (2)
The Green Lady – Heal (8)
Beast of Nature – Lightning Bolt (6), Fly + Sp 7, Vicious + At 7
Beast of Nature – Lightning Bolt (6), Fly + Sp 7, Vicious + At 7
Beast of Nature – Lightning Bolt (6), Fly + Sp 7, Vicious + At 7

Yep, spammy min/max Nature, but I can’t fault him. I can fault Mantic for not nerfing Beasts yet (COK19 plz!), there’s something wrong about a unit that can literally do anything it wants and is always fielded in pairs or trios. I have fought a lot of Beasts, and I guess my suggestion would be -1 De if you select lightning (ala the shooty Death Engine) or flatout only being able to select two upgrades. Flying laser turret? Awesome, you don’t get to flank the living hell out of things too. Rampaging combat missile? Fantastic, you don’t get to also have amazing shooting on demand. Plodding laser turret looking for late game beatdowns? I love it, but you’re not gonna see that until flying is really nerfed.

Anyway, fifth round ended up Control, which is rough against those flying US1 shooting things. I think I chose to go first, out of a burning desire to get shot less and get into his zone at some point.

BATTLE

The Bloodfire rolls out over hill and dale!

Nature virtually doesn’t move, content to gather the lightning and let the fire come. Lasers blast away the rightmost Ember Sprites and singe the central regiment.

The red tide flows forward, with the charred Sprites enjoying a martyr’s prayer and tossing some chip damage on the central Water Elementals. Meanwhile a misdeployed Fire Elemental horde surges across the backfield to be relevant later.

Nature again barely moves at all, with just the Beasts working some angles. The Green Lady knows what the Bloodfire wants, and that her troops outrange them in both combat and shooting. With a contemptuous flick of her wrist, the Lady has her pets direct all their lightning at the towering Fire Drake on the hill. He explodes in a shower of molten gore!

Gritting her teeth, the Herald of the Bloodfire has her charges force the issue, moving into charge range across the line. Ember Sprites vomit on the central Water Elementals or secure the field for the late game score.

Suddenly released, two of the Water hordes crash into one Fire horde, as the pack of Beasts hop the Salamanders and enter the danger zone.

Lightning pounds into the Fire horde on the left flank, but 5 damage isn’’t enough to stop their advance. In combat the Water hordes pummel 10 damage into the Fire Elementals however they retain their forms.

Already in Turn 4, Bloodfire can finally strike back, but will it be enough? The flanking Fire horde makes it into its watery counterpart (and is prayed down to 1 damage and bane-chanted as this is a tough ask of them), with Sprites providing flanking support (lulz). One of the central Water hordes is hit in flank and front by Fire hordes, while the courageous Fire Elementals tackle the other Water horde.

Bloodfire dice roll cold and all of the Nature targets stand. Agnes speared some damage onto a Beast but likewise to no great effect. This is especially disheartening knowing the level of regen and heal available to the enemy . . .

The Forces of Nature properly tighten the noose with a bevy of charges: Water + 2 flanking Beasts into the leftmost Fire horde (!), Unicorn into their Sprites’ flank, Water hordes into the undamaged central Fire hordes.

The Beasts smash apart the flanking Fire Elementals and the Unicorn scatters the Sprites (*golf clap*), however the center holds better than expected, including the damaged Fire horde holding despite the lightning barrage of the central Beast. Unfortunately a lot of damage is pulled off of the previously damaged Water horde.

Bloodfire 5 is as violent as ever, with the grind continuing in board center and an overwhelming amount of firepower aimed at the undamaged Beast on the left . . .

That Beast is decimated with extreme prejudice by Agnes’ death ray and 20 elite fireballs, followed by both central Water hordes being boiled off. There’s a whole hell of lightning still on the board, but fakk if that didn’’t feel good.

The Green Lady sends her horde of Salamanders into the courageous Fire horde, as the Unicorns swoop into the flank of a smoldering Fire horde (*double golf clap*) and Beasts prepare to exorcise the mangled Fire Elementals.

It’s super effective! Or at least the Unicorn hooves and Beast lightning is. The Sallies bounce.

Bloodfire Turn 6 feels like the redementals are well out of this one, yet there’s violence to be had. Agnes and the tall Priest cook a Unicorn for reasons and the Fire Elementals bash 10 damage into the Salamanders.

The winged elements of the Forces of Nature scatter to their designated scoring zones as the Salamanders bounce off the fresh Fire Elementals. With no Turn 7 it’’s a solid . . .

BLOODFIRE LOSS

It was cool to go up against this player again and see how far his skills have come, and also pretty neat to have an Elemental Off, and in fact a Reaper-minis-painted-basically-one-color-on-tan-bases off XD


RED VS BLUE

I do think Beasts of Nature are OP and really unpleasant to play against, and I sort of wish Nature armies weren’’t so often this min/maxed affair were you just take the best things, and multiples of them if they shoot lightning. But then again I’’ve also played against non-min/maxed fluffy Nature and consistently torn them to shreds, so who knows. Maybe the Beast is just the crutch of the army? And one you gradually work out? Again ala Death Engines for rats.

Anyway, while I don’t know the final standings for Crossroads 2018 I’m sure Cuddle Time was quite far down there, given our in-game performance at the very least. All the same, it continues to be a great event with great players and I’m happy I could make this year. It sounds like next year is teams again, which I’m grudgingly ok with – I totally prefer the simplicity of single player tournaments and the clarity of how matchups are done, but the increased camaraderie of team tournaments is fun, and I enjoyed making swag for our team (CUDDLE TIME t-shirts, DTC wristbands, cutesy display boards).

GAME 34: LEAGUE OF RHORDIA

After taking another full house of losses, Cuddle Time came up against another incestual team made up of the rest of our club and Unplugged’s (and named after one of our clubmates). Pairing into double Varangur was rough, especially as they put up both at once! So a couple dudes got tossed under the eevil Viking steamroller while I played one of my favorite guys and his fabulously painted Rhordia, which has been transitioning towards Halflings and away from its Empire roots for a couple years now.

CROSSROADS GAME 4: TEAM JOHN HOLST HAS A POSSE

– League of Rhordia vs Salamanders
– Varangur vs Night-Stalkers
– Abyssal Dwarfs vs Ogres
– Varangur vs Orcs

BLOODFIRE GAME 34: LEAGUE OF RHORDIA

League of Rhordia 2250

Halfling Braves Regiment – War Bow
Halfling Scouts Troop
Halfling Scouts Troop
Crossbow Regiment
Household Knights Regiment – Cat Potion
Household Knights Regiment – Mace of Crushing
Halfling Ranger Cavalry Troop
Honor Guard Horde – Brew of Haste
Halfling Volley Gun
Halfling Iron Beast
Duke on Horse – Diadem of Dragonkind
Duke on Horse – Hand Grenades
Duke on Ancient Winged Aralez – Heal (4), Blade of Slashing
Wizard on Horse – Fireball (6), Lightning Bolt (3), Bane Chant (2), Inspiring Talisman
Halfling Master Sergeant – Banner of the Griffin, Bow

Beautiful army with a lot of neat stuff going on. Not built to tear faces off but loads of tools, which I respect.

I send us into Dominate yet again, because Bloodfire? Pretty sure he made me go first, for plenty of good reasons.

BATTLE


Battlelines!

Bloodfire slops forward, burning through the forest sheltering it.

Rhordia rolls out, with small arms fire raining into the Ember Sprites and wavering the ones to the right and left of the tower. The Volley Gun realized it should have scooted up to the wall messing with its LOS but deigned to do so retroactively.

More ebbing from the red tide, with the wavered Sprites gumming things up a little bit. The little Mage-Priest prays the wounds off the Sprites to the left of the tower, and the leftmost Sprites start chipping at the Iron Beast.

Rhordia’s fierce war against short things continues, with minimal movement but lots of aggression directed towards Ember Sprites. The Duke on Aralez scatters the Sprites to the right of the tower while those to the left are shot down, the central Sprites are wavered and the leftmost regiment simply mangled a bit.

Bloodfire’s response is limited but, well, incandescent. The line moves up as much as the wavered Sprites allow, preparing as best as possible for the Aralez lurking on the right flank. The little Priest pulls the wound off of the leading Fire Elemental horde, but the real player to watch this turn is Agnes toeing into the central wood. After taking the usual token damage from the Ember Sprites, the Honor Guard are rocked by a full power death ray, taking something like 10 damage from Agnes! The rout check goes well and the Rhordian chocobo hammer is one-rounded. Damn.


Fweeeeeem!

With a collective intake of breath, the Rhordian line backs up from the legendary fire elemental. Shooting strafes the front of the Bloodfire line, dropping the central Sprites, wounding the leading Fire horde and the last of the chaff.

Turn 4 means we stoke the fires and get aggressive. The wounded Fire horde launches out of the red crescent, intent to do some damage to the Iron Beast and bring the enemy into range of the rest of the inferno. The surviving Sprites block at least some of their flank (or something), the little Priest prays them down to 2 damage and the tall Priest heals the little Priest to 4. Agnes cooks some damage into the Knights on the left flank (who I’m pretty sure did not have pathfinder, despite the woods they’re headed into), followed by the central Fire Elementals doing a pretty terrible job of hurting the Iron Beast. Ah well.

The Duke orders a charge from the back of his Aralez, sending Rhordia’s finest crashing into both ends of the wall of living fire, including daring flank charges by Halfling infantry (https://imgur.com/Hhfj8Mk).

Damage splashes across the Bloodfire battleline, but shockingly only the last of the Ember Sprites are routed (and presumably eaten by Halfling Scouts ). Yes, the Aralez flubbed its flank charge pretty badly (I’m told they do that? Tis a weird beastie), and the triple-charged Fire horde was snake eyes’d!

Bloodfire retaliation is brutal, if somewhat intentionally short-sighted (more on that later): Agnes counters her knights, the Fire Elementals to the right take on their blocking Duke, the smoldering Fire horde and the courageous horde double-charge the other knights, the next Fire horde tackles the Volley Gun that finally set up on the wall and the final horde counters the Aralez (with the help of bane chant from the tall Priest). The CLOFD vomit-cannons the Duke near the Volley Gun, wavering him, and the little Priest pulls a tight 6 damage off of Agnes.

After a lot of pummeling, the Aralez is mangled, the Volley Gun is dead, the central Knights are embarrassingly fine (some very sad rolling), the blocking Duke is wavered, but Agnes steals the show again by hammering her Knights into molten scrap with ~8 damage off of 9 attaks. Sweet hell’s teeth, girlfriend!

It’s Rhordia Turn 5 and things are a bit of a mess, but the Halflings are in command more than it may seem. Wavered Dukes scoot around backwards as another round of mass charges is declared: Aralez + flanking Halfling Cav into the right Fire horde, surviving Knights into the courageous Fire horde, Iron Beast + flanking Halfling Braves back into the rapidly-dissipating Fire horde, and the true heroes, Halfling Scouts into Agnes.

On the whole, things don’t go super great damage-wise, but that’s almost not the point this late in the game. All the Fire hordes stick around and Agnes is not disrupted.

Turn 6, Bloodfire is light on options so chooses violence, knowing that this is going to come down to a Turn 7 roll off. The right Fire horde counters the Aralez, the obstacle-riding Fire horde hits the blocking Duke (with no angle for overrun), the CLOFD + courageous Fire horde take on the central Knights, the central Fire horde hits another blocking Duke, and Agnes deigns to charge the Halflings, preferring to shoot them [Mistake? Because of their stealthy, math suggests she does more in combat, as well as I guess disordering them if that mattered]. The little Priest pulled the 3 damage off the central Fire horde, knowing their Target #1 for scoring the zone. Tall Priest bane changed the Fire Elementals fighting the Aralez.

With the exception of Agnes, who couldn’t laser off some Halflings despite obliterating multiple heavy knight units this game, things go well: the Aralez is roasted, the Knights are baked and one of two Dukes is dispatched (the important one in the center). I possibly made another mistake here, as I didn’t even try to overrun into the Braves, which would have been a significant swing in unit strength and not preposterously far away. Although a failed overrun would have left the horde flanked by the Iron Beast and out of a Turn 7 contest.

Rhordia mobilizes for the center, double-charging the central Fire Elementals with those accursed Braves + Iron Beast.

Shooting drops the courageous Fire horde, but combat can’t put paid to the Bloodfire units in the dominate zone . . .

. . . but they’re not enough to overcome the swarm of Halflings! However, Sallies are well-placed for a Turn 7 sweep, if only the turn die had been as well. So that’s a . . .

BLOODFIRE LOSS

This was a great game that I felt shifted firmly into my hands with that snake eyes and then fell out again when I lost all that momentum the next turn with the combo-charge into the Knights flubbing. All the same, Peyton is one of my favorite opponents, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love every second of Agnes being a gods damned legend.

PS: Here’s a better shot of the Aralez ‘Dirty Birdy’ (https://imgur.com/odzvXlu) and some adorable Halflings riding goats (https://imgur.com/PlhnKpF). Bless.

Up Next: MERC

GAME 33: ABYSSAL DWARFS

Coming off that big win we were up against one of our sister club’s teams, which included our club’s fearless leader by a cruel twist of fate! We were probably going to get creamed again but at least it would be at the hands of great gents with pretty armies.

CROSSROADS GAME 3: TEAM UNPLUGGED RADIO

– Abyssal Dwarfs vs Salamanders
– Night Stalkers vs Night Stalkers (YESSSSSS)
– League of Rhordia vs Orcs
– Forces of the Abyss vs Ogres

BLOODFIRE GAME 33: ABYSSAL DWARFS

Abyssal Dwarfs 2250

Blacksouls Horde – Brew of Strength
Decimators Regiment*
Decimators Regiment*
Slave Orcs Horde
Gargoyles Troop
Gargoyles Troop
Abyssal Halfbreeds Regiment – Dwarven Ale
Abyssal Grotesques Horde – Brew of Sharpness
Dragon Fire-Team
Angkor Heavy Mortar
Angkor Heavy Mortar
Angkor Heavy Mortar
Overmaster* – Wings of Honeymaze
Slavedriver – Lute of Insatiable Darkness
Ba’su’su the Vile
*Heralds of the Black Flame Formation

I put myself against Abyssal Dwarfs because a) this dude is the last of the Unplugged Gamers I haven’t played; and b) I rarely face AD and we more or less do similar things, so should be a proper grind. Also I made the Night Stalkers face each other because I could ;D

We ended up playing Eliminate. Abyssal Dwarfs took the initiative.

BATTLE

Battlelines!

Turn 3 as our flanks swirl into each other. His fast wing is pretty gummed up behind stuff, including Gargoyles that refuse to die, while my heavy right flank has little to do until it crashes into his hordes and obliterates them. Along the way I scoop up a token and he grabs one of mine and sits on the middle, currently giving him the win.

Here’s the setup as we go into my Turn 6. The Grotesques in the middle have a token and are sitting on the central objective, however Agnes is my only real active piece since my last Fire Elementals are blocked by individuals. But Agnes is one hell of a piece, and my Mage-Priests are unengaged and ready to rock as well.

As the hordes pummel the individuals, the girls descend on the Grots. Fireballs are nice and all, but it’s Agnes’ death ray that brutalizes the mega cav up to 16 damage.

Yep. Snake eyes and I’ve lost the game despite the hail mary. BUT THEN THERE’S A TURN 7!

This is after his turn – the lower Fire horde is so far forward because it ate the Overlord and overran. The Grots toppled Agnes and backed up, while the units try to mess with the Elementals for no luck.

In response the lower Fire horde murders the Halfbreeds out of spite, the upper ones faff against the Decimators and Ba’su’su absorbs the CLOFD’s aggression and continues to be a beast.* While I gained some needed points in that Turn 7 it was still a . . .

BLOODFIRE LOSS

*The reason you’re not seeing the CLOFD + surviving Priest blast the mangled Grots (12 wounds after regen) is because I stupidly corkscrewed past the Halfbreeds into the Grots with the lower Fire horde and proceeded to smash them in combat, winning the game UNTIL another Unplugged dude asked WTF I was doing and I realized Fire Elementals can’t fly :’( And were disordered if they could 😛 So we rolled that combat as against the Halfbreeds, without backing the game out to shooting, which would have given me another shot at the Grots, although if I’m remembering Eliminate scoring right it wouldn’t have mattered as I couldn’t put a model on the center point nor one-round the Halfbreeds.

Up Next: JOHN HOLST HAS A POSSE

GAME 32: ABYSSALS

After our beatdown at the hands of STG we plummeted down to the bottom and faced Beef & Wings, a crew of 40k players with limited KOW experience, great attitudes and plentiful margaritas ❤ A wonderful follow-up all told.

CROSSROADS GAME 2: TEAM BEEF & WINGS

– Forces of the Abyss vs Salamanders
– Night Stalkers vs Ogres
– Night Stalkers vs Orcs
– ??? vs Night Stalkers

BLOODFIRE GAME 32: ABYSSALS

Abyssals 2250

Gargoyles Troop
Gargoyles Troop
Gargoyles Troop
Gargoyles Troop
Abyssal Guard Regiment
Abyssal Guard Regiment
Abyssal Horsemen Regiment – Blessing of the Gods
Abyssal Horsemen Regiment – Cat Potion
Abyssal Horsemen Regiment – Fire-Oil
The Lord of Lies – Lightning Bolt (7)
The Well of Souls
Archfiend of the Abyss – Drain Life (6), Brew of Haste, Wings

A weird list with some truly frightening flying monsters. As you’ll see I continually underestimated the Lord of Lies . . . Worth noting that this was the player’s second game of KOW using physical minis. Respect.

Second round was Push (1 token), and whoever won initiative the Abyssals headed out first.

BATTLE


Battlelines! Lord of Lies = white GUO, Well = swirly mutalith vortex, Archfiend = Belakor! Salamander push token is on a central Fire Elemental horde and Abyssal token is on the Well.

Abyssals roll out! Lord of Lies and Archfiend pound down the right flank as the cavalry gallop in towards the flank of fire.

Bloodfire sludge forward, Sprites voyaging out for a proper chaff-off with all of those Gargoyles.

The Abyssals close further, while some Gargs pounce on the rightmost Sprites, doing 5 damage and wavering them.

Sallies pounce on the Abyssal chaff, sending Fire + Sprites into one, Fire into another and dispatching Agnes to laser off the ones harrying the Sprites. Yet more Sprites scoop up the central push counter as the rest of the red tide flows forward.

The Gargoyles do not survive ;D And the little Mage prays all 5 wounds off of those Sprites.

The Abyssals strike back, Guard charging Sprites and more Guard combo-charging the extended Fire Elementals with some Horsemen, while the final Gargoyles swoop down on those same Sprites on the right flank. Off shot the Archfiend starts to round the building in the Bloodfire zone, tagging the little Mage with his lightning and popping her.

The Guards drive off their Sprites, however the Gargoyles do a single damage to theirs and the Fire horde absorbs 10 damage and holds – possibly without inspiring in range!

The pummeling intensifies as the left Abyssal Guard are slammed by two hordes of Fire Elementals, the Guard next to them are counter-charged by the wounded horde, and the last of the Gargoyles are plowed into by Agnes and those besieged Sprites. The Sprites give their token to the courageous Fire horde. The CLOFD gets double bane-chanted and vomits on the left Horsemen for a few damage.

Combat is fairly expected, with the double-charged Guard melted, the counter-charged Guard relatively fine and the Gargoyles snatched from the air and splattered by Agnes and her tiny friends.

Abyssal Turn 4 starts with the Well pulling the damage off the wounded Horsemen, who flank the wounded Fire Elementals as the Guard head back into their front. They drive their elemental foes up to 17 damage but snake eyes the rout! The Lord of Lies tackles Agnes for 2 damage and the rightmost Horsemen finish off those accursed Sprites.

Fire Elementals mob the Abyssal Guard, reducing them to a whiff of brimstone. Agnes and the courageous Fire horde slam the Lord of Lies but can’t even manage to waver him (8 damage?), and the Fire horde who was lucky enough to charge the Archfiend smash a sterling 9 damage into him but again can’t even waver. In less violent news, the big Mage heals Agnes for 1 damage and the CLOFD pukes a few more wounds into the same Horsemen from before.

Turn 5 begins with the Well cleaning up the Horsemen again . . . and my heart dropping as Agnes is flanked by the Archfiend and counter-charged by the Lord of Lies. The healed Horsemen charge into the mangled Fire Elementals and the courageous horde takes a charge from a fresh Horsemen regiment.

Agnes doesn’t make it. Nor does that Fire horde up top, although the courageous horde is fine.

Fire Elementals rage, swarming those Horsemen up top, counter-charging the central Horsemen and heading into the Archfiend for vengeance. The Well comes under fire from the CLOFD and the big Mage bane-chants the horde about to slag the Archfiend.

The Archfiend and the surrounded Horsemen get pulped. The central Horsemen merely get batted around.

Abyssal Turn 6 sees the Well absorb the central Horsemen damage and charge the token-holding Sprites (who picked it up from the courageous horde at some point), looking to tip the objective game. The Lord of Lies scoots his little base into the flank of the courageous horde (!) as Horsemen charge their front

A thrilling success: Sprites are eaten, healing the Well in the process, and the Lord + Horsemen disperse the Nv 19 Fire horde.

Bloodfire snaps shut on the remnants of the Abyssals, CLOFD + flanking Fire horde grabbing the Well, another Fire horde flanking the Horsemen, and yet more Fire Elementals charging the Lord for another round.

*boom*

Turn 7 happens! The final Horsemen charge the Fire horde with the Well’s token, doing a respectable 8 damage but bouncing. They get flanked + fronted by Fire Elementals and melted to slag.

BLOODFIRE VICTORY

And big wins for all of Team Cuddle Time, thanks Beef & Wings!

Up Next: UNPLUGGED RADIO