Road to Cologne – the Twilight Kin march to war

It’s been quite a while since I last posted anything on here. In between an international global pandemic and much more mundane real life stuff, I haven’t had as much time to sit down and write out a blog post for a couple of months now.

But in 10 days time I’m going to be setting off to an actual real life Kings of War tournament. And not just any old tournament, this is going to be my first trip abroad for Kings of War (or any wargame for that matter) – I’m going to Cologne, Germany.

The Kings of War scene in Germany has been slowly growing pace over the past few years with several one day tournaments taking place across the country. The Kings of War Germany GT, run by The Privateer Poza Boyz wargaming club is going to be the country’s first two day GT style tournament which is a massive milestone in growing the game.

The tournament is 5 games at 2000 points using the blackjack scoring system.

As this is my first tournament since the start of lockdown and my first international tournament, I’ve decided to keep a of record of the build up and the event itself here on my blog.

In this first post I’m going to go over how I came up with my list, including a bit of a breakdown of each unit I’ve taken.

Then in future posts I’ll show you updates on my painting (I’ve currently painted 2/19 units…), some of the ‘cultural exchange’ gifts I’m putting together to take with me and finally photos and reports from the tournament itself.

My List

I always knew that I wanted to paint a brand new army to this event because weekend GTs have always been my main motivator to get painting – sadly that motivation hasn’t really kicked in this time so now its more going to be a panicked rush to the finish to get them all done.

I started thinking about what army this would be months ago and decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to take the Twilight Kin off Universal Battle and proxy bases and into a real physical army.

The list I’ve gone with is the current iteration of my constantly evolving Twilight Kin. You can see some similarities to my first few Twilight Kin lists but I’ve actually moved the bulk of it around.

The biggest change for this tournament is the inclusion of the Shadow Hounds. To fit them in I’ve had to drop a troop of Gargoyles and the Bolt Thrower – the Bolt Thrower was an easy decision in the end, the Gargoyles I may live to regret.

The list isn’t designed to be uber competitive and there are definitely a few unit choices that are in there more because I think they’re cool rather than being the ‘best’ choice. But its a good solid all round mixed arms list that I have a lot of fun using and showcases Kings of War at its best in my opinion.

Bolt Throwers (that have now been dropped)
I still believe in Bolt Throwers, I think they’re incredibly reliable damage dealers that can be fairly well trusted to do a couple of points of damage every turn. They’re best suited to either picking off chaff or piling in with other shooting to tip nerve checks over the edge.

But there were a few things that held them back in my list.

The two Tallspear hordes mean that I have two very wide foot prints blocking the Bolt Thrower’s line of sight. As most chaff is height 2 (Gargoyles, Gur Panthers, Snow Foxes etc) this meant that the Bolt Throwers couldn’t effectively do their chaff clearing role without me having to position my entire army in a way to give them clear shots.

The Bolt Thrower also couldn’t do its second role of adding on to other shooting, because I haven’t really got that much shooting in this list. At least not above 6-12″.

I haven’t fallen out of love with Bolt Throwers and I’m sure I’ll add them back in future Twilight Kin lists, but for now they’re out.

Kindred Tallspears & Army Standard Bearer w. Lute
Who needs Palace Guard hordes when you can have Tallspear hordes with Brew of Strength?!

I love these two units they’re absolute work horses in the list acting as both hammer and anvils. Thanks to phalanx and high nerve they can absorb a charge from pretty much anything (so long as they’re not too badly multicharged) and backed up with Bane Chant and Drain Life, there isn’t much in the game that they can’t kill in one go.

Combine that with Speed 6 and between them they can threaten a huge area of the board at a time. I’ve bundled them together with the Army Standard Bearer with the Lute because they’re pretty much always going to be together – Bane Chant tips these hordes over the edge in terms of killing power.

These two units form the battle line that the rest of my army plays around, so they’re probably my most important units in terms of deployment.

Abyssal Horsemen
Two regiments of Abyssal Horsemen are the only thing that has stayed completely consistent in every Twilight Kin list I’ve used, I love these units that much.

The two Horsemen regiments are the main mobile punch in my list. They can’t take a charge anywhere like as well as the Tallspears, and at 14/16 they’re surprisingly vulnerable to shooting. But when they get an unhindered charge off they hit like a train. Yet again when stacked with either Drain Life, Bane Chant or the Soul Bane these units can one shot pretty much any threat – notice a pattern emerging?

I’ve gone for the Brew of Sharpness and Blessing of the Gods on mine, rather than the usual Pathfinder/ Strider you see on a lot of cavalry options. The reason for this is that I like to get the maximum efficiency out of my items, especially when using Twilight Kin because they’re usually so out numbered. Sharpness/ Elite do something for you every single combat you’re in whether you’re hindered, counter charging or charging ‘cleanly’. Pathfinder/ Strider are both excellent rules but you’re paying points for something that only works some of the time – I prefer to take something that works all of the time.

I tend to run one regiment alongside the Tallspear hordes and one out on the flank with the Soulbane. I’ve had quite a few games where a regiment of Horsemen and the Soulbane have managed to hold a whole flank down on their own the entire game – even if not they tend to take a lot of stuff down with them.

Soulbane
A slightly more paired down Soulbane than I’m used to because I didn’t have any points left for the bells and whistles. But even without any artefacts or upgrades he’s still one of the best mounted individuals in the game.


He’s just an all round solid and reliable combat character. The best part about him is definitely his Dread special rule, letting him contributes to multiple combats at once. Like lots of stuff in this army, he’s all about being as efficient as possible.

Twilight Assassin
I love the Assassin, I think it might be more heart than head, but I love them.

Fitting with the theme of being an incredibly point efficient unit the Assassin has the very real possibility of doing a consistent 2-3 damage for 7 turns of the game. That’s if I can learn to use them properly and keep them out of harms way!

The turn 1, 14″ Scout charge is very tempting but it is usually the wrong tactical decision…

Summoner Crone
I absolutely love Summoner Crones. In terms of game play and fluff wise they’re one of my all time favourite units in Kings of War.

In previous lists I’ve had as many as three fully tooled up Crones, but I’ve paired that back considerably here, simply because I’ve reduced the amount of Cronebound units in my army.

The value of the Summoner Crones is directly proportional to the amount of Cronebound units you’re taking and when I was running three Summoner Crones, I also had two Cronebound Butcher hordes and a horde of Cronebound Fiends.

I’ve talked in the past about how the Summoner Crones can cause ‘list design funnelling’ for the Twilight Kin, pushing you away from the Elf choices in the list. Who knows, maybe that’ll change in the next Clash of Kings book…

This time round I’ve gone for one Crone with the Sceptre of Shadows (for Drain Life (9)) and the Boots of Levitation. I always find it a fairly 50/50 toss up between the Boots or the Wings of Honeymaze on the Summoner Crone. I went for the Boots this time because the extra 2″ range and +1 Defence is nice, and I already have a decent amount of Inspiring in the list so I’m less likely to need to be flying 20″ in order to Inspire an at risk unit

Cronebound Shadowhound
These are a brand new unit for me so I’m not sure how they’ll work. On paper I really like the look of them.

I added them into my list to try and solve a problem. All of my units are very very killy but also very expensive – this means that I’m constantly outnumbered and have to use expensive units to kill cheap ones. The Shadow Hounds are there to go chasing after the stuff that isn’t worth the Horsemen’s time but is too important to ignore. I’m thinking of things like a Zombie regiment sat at the back of the board on an objective, or a troop of archers that are plinking wounds off here and there. Add in to that the potential for a cheeky 18″ nimble flank charge and the fact that they’re unit strength 3 – I think these may be a really helpful addition to my list.

Gargoyles
Probably still the best chaff in the game – what else can I say about them that hasn’t already been said.

I’m going to regret dropping down to one troop, I know I am, but I really wanted another combat unit in the list and the Gargoyles were the only ‘spare’ points I had without totally compromising the list elsewhere.

But I know there’s going to be a moment in the tournament where I’ll kick myself for not having two troops…

Cronebound Mindscreech
I’ve included one Mindscreech in the list to act as a chaff/individual hunter – one Lighting Bolt (6) isn’t going to do anything to a regiment/ horde but is just enough to pick off some key targets.

The biggest strength of the Mind-screech isn’t actually its Lightning Bolt, its the flying unit strength. The Mindscreech is able to fire pot shots all game and then fly out at the end and claim an objective – yet again very efficient unit that is adding value every single turn.


So that’s the list. Hopefully I’ll be back in a few days time with a painting update – wish me luck!


Battle Report – Kings of Herts UB tournament – Round 1 – Twilight Kin vs Varangur

I’m back with another Kings of War battle report. This time its my round 1 game of the Kings of Herts online Universal Battle tournament. This is a four round tournament at 1995 points.

I decided to bring Twilight Kin as I’ve been having a lot of fun using them lately and I’ve just taken the plunge and ordered a load of models for them. They’re going to be my first 100% Mantic army!

My opponent was Minor Internet Celebrity and Benevolent Overlord of the Kings of War Fanatics, Jonathan Faulkes. For those of you that don’t know Jon (shame on you!) he’s been around in Kings of War since the very beginning.

Jon brought his Varangur with a couple of allied Nightstalker Butcher regiments for ‘thicc chaff’ – he’s clearly been taking notes whilst doing the commentary on Dash28.

The scenario for this round was a slightly modified version of Raze, where the tokens on either board side were woth 2VPs and the one in the centre is still only worth 1VP.

Jon livestreamed the game on the Four Foot Snake YouTube channel. I’ve linked the video below and if you have the time I really recommend you give it a watch. Seeing as there is a video record of the game, I’ve gone into less detail in this battle report than I normally would – instead I’ve focused more on why I made the moves I did.


The Twilight Kin


The Varangur


The Battlefield

For this tournament, every game in the round uses the same battlefield map that has been designed specially by the TO. I really like this idea as it lets the TO be a little more inventive with terrain whilst making sure that it is balanced for the scenario.

Its a concept that we’ve discussed introducing at a Northern Kings event, but Universal Battle lends itself to the idea very well.

Because of how objective markers are deployed in Raze, you’re always going to have at least one objective on both halves of the board (left to right). What I really liked about this map was the double forest in the middle of the board as it pretty effectively splits the table into two corridors of play – I’ve labelled them Zone A and Zone B. I knew that there was going to be two tokens in one zone and one in the other. I needed to make sure that my two tokens weren’t in the same Zone as Jon’s two tokens.

Jon has a fairly small elite army, so my hope was to engage the majority of it in one Zone and use my numerical advantage to capture the objectives in the other Zone relatively unopposed. The hope was that the double forests would keep units from being easily able to cross between Zones.


Deployment

I placed my two objectives in the opposite Zone to where Jon placed his. This allowed me to take advance of the higher number of units I had over Jon.

I was nervous going in to this game, Jon had four hammer units each of which could one-shot every single unit in my army. I knew that the game wouldn’t be decided in a grind (which is where my Butchers, Horseman and Drain Life usually excel), it was going to be decided in head on charges and exchanging units in one round of combat.

As Jon started to deploy his army, I came up with a plan. It became clear early on that he was planning on dedicating the majority of his forces on the right of the board (Zone B) opposite two of his objectives. I therefore did the same, deploying most of my army in Zone B facing off against him- however I made sure to hold back enough units to guarantee that I could quickly grab the two tokens on the left in Zone A.

The plan was fairly simple;

Zone A, capture my two tokens on the left as fast as possible. Even if he moved his units up to contest, the Impalers had more unit strength (US) than the Draugr and the Fiends and Gargoyles together had more US than the Fallen.

Zone B, I planned to throw my entire army at him one unit at a time to delay him as long as possible to make sure that he wouldn’t have enough time to cross into Zone A and grab the 3rd token in the top left corner. I also planned to hold the Gargoyles back in reserve and if he ever left his bottom right token undefended, they were going to swoop in and take it.

Don’t forget that in this modified version of Raze, the tokens on the 6″ line are worth 2 points and the one n the middle is worth 1. So if I could capture all of the tokens on Jon’s side and defend just one of mine, I could still win the game without worrying about taking the middle token.


Top of Turn 1

Jon won the roll for first turn and opted to pass it to me.

On the left I moved up as far as possible whilst staying out of 16″ range of the Fallen.

On the right I was more cautious, moving up slowly. I placed the Abyssal Horsemen in 20″ range of Magnilde.

This was a risk because if she charged, she would pin the Horsemen in place and allow them to be charged (and most likely killed) by the Mounted Sons next turn. But I was nervous about how I was going to deal with Mags – I had no plan for taking her out and left unattended she could be a real issue for my plan to hold the Gargoyles in reserve to grab the objective late game.

So I left the Horsemen there as bait – 265 point Horsemen bait to protect Gargoyles! I was fairly confident that between the Horsemen and Drain Life I could kill Mags in one turn on the counter charge, so at least they’ll get some of their points back.


Bottom of Turn 1

Mags took the charge on the Horsemen, doing a couple of points of damage but more importantly blocking them in place for the Mounted Sons to come finish off next turn.

The Magus’ Lightning Bolt did a couple of points of damage to Butcher horde (2).


Top of Turn 2

Jon had left his bottom right token unprotected – the Gargoyles we’re going to have that! On the left, the Impalers moved forward to capture the far left objective.

I charged both Butcher hordes into once of his thicc chaff regiments, which in hindsight was a mistake. I made this charge so that I could hold him up in the corner as long as possible – I would have been better to charge one horde in and held the second back for a further turn of delaying.

The Abyssal Horsemen killed Magnilde on the counter charge (woo!) but the Horsemen’s sacrifice was no longer needed because the Gargoyles had been able to grab the token much sooner than expected.

The Gargoyles on the left charged the Fallen and the Fiends moved up behind them. I put the Fiends in a position so that the Fallen couldn’t corkscrew charge the Fiends without being hindered over the wall.

Abyssal Horsemen w. Elite damage count: 1

End of turn score: Elliot 4 – 0 Jon


Bottom of Turn 2

The turn of pain!

Boom, boom and boom! Both Butcher hordes, both Gargoyles and the Abyssal Horsemen with Brew of Sharpness were routed – just a mere 825 points gone!

This highlighted my mistake with the Butcher hordes, I needn’t have lost both hordes and could have had a spare horde ready to keep the Frostfangs stuck in the corner.

The Draugr charged the Impalers and did a couple of points of damage, but they held.

Abyssal Horsemen w. Elite damage count: 1

End of turn score: Elliot 4 – 0 Jon


Top of Turn 3

The Abyssal Horsemen with Elite had their choice of charge targets and seeing as everything in front of them was ‘only’ 15/17 they had a fairly good shout of killing any of them in one go.

I decided to stick with the plan – I charged the Mounted Sons so that anything that came after them would be drawn as far away as possible from the top left objective. Thanks to Drain Life the Horsemen killed the Mounted Sons in one and turned to face their inevitable doom.

The Fiends charged the Fallen and between Dread and Drain Life they almost managed to waver them but fell one short.

The Impalers killed the Draugr and turned to face the last objective.

End of turn score: Elliot 4 – 0 Jon


Bottom of Turn 3

The Fallen killed the Fiends in one- it wasn’t unexpected but still a shame. I knew from the very beginning that I couldn’t expect to survive a single round of combat against any of Jon’s units, but in practice it was really hurting.

The Magus wavered the flying Crone with a Lighting Bolt, taking her Drain Life out of the game for a turn.

Other than that nothing much of note happened this turn…

Other than the Horseman taking 18 damage from the Frostfangs and rolling double 1s! While this was a pain for Jon, it wasn’t the end of the world. He’d blow through them next turn and be in a position to capture the top right token after the reform, so it shouldn’t impact him too much.

Abyssal Horsemen w. Elite damage count: 19

End of turn score: Elliot 4 – 0 Jon


Top of Turn 4

The Soulbane charged the Fallen and in combination with Drain Life finished them off. The Impalers moved forward and captured my remaining objective.

The Abyssal Horsemen regiment, flush from their miraculous survival counter charged the Lord on Frostfang. I picked the Lord simply because it was the choice that put me the most in the way to block both units from easily walking on to the top right objective.

End of turn score: Elliot 6 – 0 Jon


Bottom of Turn 4

Jon finally started to move the Butcher (2) and the Lord on Frostfang towards the centre of the board, ready to cross into Zone A and the top left objective that the entire game would swing on – en route they captured the middle objective.

The Frostfang horde with Elite moved into the trees. They were going to make my life much more difficult as it meant Jon has three units that could threaten the top left objective and I only had two units left that could easily block them – the Impalers and the Soulbane (who is Mighty).

Out on the right the Frostfang horde flanked the Horsemen, doing another 22 damage to them! Now all he had to do was not roll another double 1….

You can guess what happened next – poor Jon.

This double 1 was a much bigger deal. It not only opened up a rear charge on his other units, it meant that the Frostfang horde with Vicious would need another turn to grab the top right objective, effectively taking them out of the game.

Abyssal Horsemen w. Elite damage count: 41

End of turn score: Elliot 6 – 2 Jon


Top of Turn 5

The Abyssal Horsemen (who had absolutely no business being alive at this point) rear charged the Frontfang horde in the woods, along with the Soulbane in the front. Despite being hindered and devastated they managed to break them in one.

The flying Crone put a couple more damage on the Lord on Frostfang – I was in a decent place to finish him off in Turn 6 if both Crones focused their Drain Life on him.

The Impalers moved up to defend the top left token.

End of turn score: Elliot 6 – 2 Jon


Bottom of Turn 5

Jon pushed the Lord on Frostfang forward as far as possible making a last push for the top left token. The Frostfang horde with Vicious side stepped into range of the top right objective.

The Magus fired his Lightning Bolt 7 at the HEAVILY damaged Abyssal Horsemen unit… and did zero damage to them!

End of turn score: Elliot 6 – 4 Jon


Top of Turn 6

This turned added a bit of insult to injury. The Soulbane moved up to put himself in range of the Lord on Frostfang with his Dread – thanks to Dread the Drain Life managed to break the Lord.

The flying Crone put four damage on the Magus and wavered him as well – it looked like the Horsemen were going to live!

To really cement just how invulnerable the Horseman were, between two turns of regeneration and Drain Life heal they ended the turn on 9 damage – that’s 32 damaged recovered!

All I had to do now was survive a Butcher regiment charge and the game was mine.

End of turn score: Elliot 6 – 4 Jon


Bottom of Turn 6

The Butcher regiment charged the Impalers but for the first time in their history, the Impalers held.

And that was the game!

End of game score: Elliot 7 – 4 Jon


After Game Thoughts

So I think this game can be quite nicely summed up in one convenient meme that I made just for this occasion…

I’m not going to be self deprecating and say that I would have definitely lost if it wasn’t for the double 1’s, but they really REALLY helped.

Looking back through the game whilst writing this battle report, I think that if Jon hadn’t rolled two double 1’s I might have had a chance of winning on turn 6, but I would definitely have lost if the game went to turn 7. It would have entirely depended on how well I could block his units getting into Zone A with the few units I had left – either way it would have been much closer than it ended up being.

For the most part I stuck to the plan – I took all the objectives in Zone A and managed to delay Jon’s army in Zone B. I made a big mistake by sending both Butcher hordes in early and that should have cost me much more than it did – as it was, the double 1s gave me back the turns of delay I’d lost through my mistake with the Butchers.

All in all it was an excellent game and if you watch the live stream you’ll see that we’re both laughing all the way through it, exactly how a good game should go. Jon is a brilliant opponent and was a pleasure to play against – if you haven’t already I strongly recommend you watch the FFS live stream of the game and check out Jon’s other live streams.


Keep an eye out for more Twilight Kin battle reports coming soon as I play the next round of the Kings of Herts tournament. Or check out my other Twilight Kin articles below-


Elliot’s Beer Fund

If you've enjoyed the blog and you're feeling generous, you can buy me a pint. Please dont feel any obligation to do so, I've started this blog because it's fun, not to make any money. Any money received will go towards hosting costs. Or my beer fund... ok mainly my beer fund.

£3.00

Battle Report – Free Dwarfs vs Ratkin – 24/05/2020

I’m back with another Kings of War battle report. This time it is my Free Dwarfs vs Si Brand’s Ratkin – we played Push at 2000 points. Si was practicing for his Call to Arms game so we used the fixed two tokens each, plus one in the middle.

My track record with Free Dwarfs so far has been… patchy.

You can read about my initial impressions of the Free Dwarfs here.

You can watch Dash28’s live stream of my Call to Arms game using Free Dwarfs here.

I’m up to 12 games with them now and my win rate is holding at a respectable 50%. But this is still lower than I would usually expect with other armies – in the 2018 Masters season I had a 75% win rate at tournaments and I’d say that I can usually hold that level of win rate or above regardless of the army I play.

In all my games with Free Dwarfs so far, I feel like I’ve been playing with one arm tied behind my back. Every other army just seems to have better tools than the Dwarfs in every category – I can’t really think of anything the Free Dwarfs do better than anyone else.

I know I’m not using the more optimised list that I could. In V2, competitive Dwarf builds lent heavily on Brock and Rocks style lists with a wall of Def6 backed up by loads of Brock Rider. I’m sure there is a competitive Free Dwarf list down that path, but I want to try and include some actaul Dwarfs in my Dwarf list.

I also admit that I’m still fairly new with the army and its possible that my win rate is due to my inexperience. Although in the other new army I’ve started playing with recently (the Twilight Kin), my win rate has already exceeded 75%. Twilight Kin don’t have trouble winning, they have trouble with variety – Free Dwarfs have lots of variety, it just doesn’t seem very good!


So why am I bothering with them? Because they’re damn fun.

For all of their limitations and challenges, I’ve had a really good time playing the list. Its fun and its different to anything I’ve played before – for now at least, that’s enough to keep me engaged with the stunties.

This is the current iteration of my list. Its developed over time as I’ve started to get to understand the Free Dwarfs – I certainly don’t think I’ve cracked it yet but I’m happier with this list than I was with the previous iterations of it.

The two Ironclad hordes have replaced the Shieldbreaker hordes. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Shieldbreaker hordes are a bit of a trap, one of those units that looks great on paper but just doesn’t deliver on the tabletop for one reason or another. They have excellent combat potential and Pathfinder and Scout are great rules, but their low speed prevents them from being able to utilise that potential.

Ironclad hordes with items have a fairly similar damage output, but they maintain the Def5 and the Headstrong. Seeing as these hordes are so rarely going to get the first charge off, I decided to value the defensive stats higher than the offensive stats.

I’ve really enjoyed the two Ranger troops. They’re a very flexible unit with a good damage output in both shooting and combat. I was initially put off by their relatively low defense and 10/12 nerve, but I’ve found that they’re small enough to go largely ignored by most opponents.


The Ratkin

Si’s Ratkin list is really interesting – Ratkin without a single infantry horde.

Overall its a really tough list with several hammer units and a good amount of Rally and support pieces. I’m out sped and out gunned in combat, so I need to ensure that my shooting thins out some of his units before we get into combat or else I’m going to be outmatched.


Top of Turn 1

Because I’m an absolute amateur at this, I once again forgot to take a screen shot of deployment, but I only shuffled my army forward so you can pretty much see where it started.

I experimented with splitting the tokens across two unit this game – its something I never normally do so wanted to give it a try to see how it ‘feels’. I worry sometimes that things become the norm just because everyone does them, not because its necessarily the best way to play.

The Berserker Lord flew up in to the woods to ensure that the Night Terror couldn’t use the trees to hide out of line of sight. Everything else shuffled forward, preparing themselves to receive the incoming wave of rats!

Both Cannons fired at the Tunnel Runners but all their shots missed. However, the Rangers made up for it doing an impressive 6 damage to the Tunnel Runners between them – they failed to waver so on to Si’s first turn.


Bottom of Turn 1

The Night Terror moved up around the forest, putting itself in a position where it could see the Brocks, but they couldn’t see him – sneaky rat.

The majority of Si’s mainline moved up slowly. The Tunnel Runners turned 90 degrees left and gave themselves some cover from the Rangers.

The Tangle put Weakness on to the Berserker Lord – limiting what he was likely to do next turn. The Broodmother Drain Life’d the Vermin Tide, healing 4 damage back on the Tunnel Runners.


Top of Turn 2

Cry havoc and let slip the Mastiffs of war!

I decided to target the Shock Troop regiments with the Throwing Mastiffs as their def4 and relatively low nerve made them fairly soft targets. Between all of the throwing dogs, Rangers and cannons I had a fairly solid chance on wavering or killing two of the three units, which would seriously help me to even out the odds in future combats.

Both Cannons missed again, but with all the other combined shooting I managed to put 7 damage on both middle Shock Troops, wavering one of them.

On the right, the Berseker Lord charged the Tangle and the Brocks backed up, trapping the Night Terror (or so they thought). I charged the Berserker into the Tangle, not expecting to kill it but hoping that the Berserker would be in a good spot next turn to finish off any units that were damaged by my shooting.


Bottom of Turn 2

Between Radiance of Life and Drain Life, the Rats managed to reverse a good chunk of the damage I had done the previous turn.

The Tunnel Runners turned the face the centre of the board and everything else shuffled forward slightly.

On the right hand side of the board, the Night Terror managed to use his speed 9 and nimble to barely squeeze out of the Brock Rider’s arc by just a few pixels, threatening the flank of my army and my cannons!


Top of Turn 3

At the start of Turn 3 I was fairly happy with the way the game was going. I hadn’t been too outmanoeuvred (except by the Night Terror but he could see too much of my army) and my plan to thin his line had started well. Between the Ranger, Cannons and remaining throwing dogs, I should quite comfortably break two of his units this turn leaving me in a good place for the inevitable combat.

I did decide that I needed start putting pressure on his token carriers – in hindsight this was a big mistake and at least a turn too early.

I made (what later proved to be the mistake) of putting both Brock Rider regiments into their respective forests. I knew that this meant that they could both be charged, but in my mind they were still tanky units that can adsorb charges…

I fired two more Mastiffs and a troop of Rangers into Shock Troop regiment (2) but only managed 3 damage (That’s 16 shots on 4s and 3s and 10 shots on 4s and 4s – I’d hoped for more like 8 damage). To make matters worse they didn’t even waver. The rest of the shooting was tied up trying to stop the Night Terror hitting my flank – the plan to thin him out before combat was suddenly not going so well.

In an effort to save themselves, both Cannons fired at the Night Terror. One of them finally managed one hit (it only took 12 shots!) and did a not very impressive 2 damage. But the BSB with the Diadem and the Rangers pulled it back doing another 4 between them, wavering the Night Terror.


Bottom of Turn 3

Look at all those charge lines! I always knew that I was going to take the first charge because I was out sped everywhere, but I had at least hoped to have taken out one of his units with my shooting first!

The Hawpacks and the Brute Enforcer charged the Brocks on the left, doing 9 damage between them. That hurt but it wasn’t too bad – the Brocks should mince the Hawpacks on the counter charge and then would only be threatened by a hindered 3 attack Brute. In order to pull off this double charge he’d needed to drop his tokens so I was happy with the exchange.

The Mutant Rat Fiend charged the Brocks on the right and did 9 damage to them. This was entirely expected and to be honest I have no idea what I was thinking exposing them to that charge! Unlike on the left flank, I wasn’t putting any pressure on tokens and had no counter charge planned.

The biggest hit was in the middle though. By less than a millimetre, Si just managed to get the Nightmares AND Tunnel Runners with Brew of Sharpness into the right hand side Ironclad horde, blowing through them in one go. This was very good play from Si – I’d assumed that there was no way that he would be able to create a clear path for the Tunnel Runners, I was wrong.

Losing the Ironclad horde was huge because not only had I lost the unit, I had very little way of stopping those units steamrollering through my lines.


Top of Turn 4

Rangers (2) on the hill charged the Tunnel Runners to block them charging the other Ironclad horde. The Ironclad horde with Elite charged and killed Shock Troop regiment (3).

The Berseker Lord decided to disengage from the Tangle and charge the Shock Troop regiment (2) that was on 9 damage. My thinking here was to start killing as much unit strength as possible that was hanging around the two loot tokens in the bottom left corner.

The right Brock Riders did a very respectable 10 damage to the Mutant Rat Fiend but he held. I’d made a silly mistake with them and was going to lose them next turn as a result.

The left Brock Riders should wipe out the Hawpacks and then be in a position to cover the tokens, effectively pinning them on Si’s half of the board. With my remaining shooting, I was pretty confident that I could finish off Shock Troop regiment (1) that was on 7 damage.

Best laid plans….

Between the Brew of Sharpness and a Bane Chant the Brock Riders did 14 damage to the Hawpacks… and rolled double 1.

The Rangers (10 shots, 4s and 4s) and Pack Master (6 shots, 4s and 3s) shooting at Shock Troop (1) managed to do a combined… zero damage.

Bugger. I was now definitely going to lose both Brocks, had no way to put pressure on the tokens on the left and all of my shooting units were in range to be charged next turn.

Just to add to how well this turn went, both cannons missed with all their shots -again.

Ignoring the ineptitude of his comrades, the Banner Bearer with the Diadem of Dragonkind continued to set fire to the Night Terror, putting two more damage on him and wavering him for a second time.


Bottom of Turn 4

Not many surprises this turn. Both Brocks inevitably died allowing the Hawpacks and the Mutant Ratfiend to turn inwards, pincering my lines.

The Tunnel Runners killed the Rangers in their way and healed up some more damage through Drain Life and Radiance of Life. They turned to face the remaining bulk of my forces.

Shock Troop (1) that had managed to dodge all my arrows (and throwing dogs) last turn charged and killed the remaining Mastiff pack, backing up onto the tokens for good measure.

The Nightmares holding the two tokens slipped past the Ironclad horde, taking themselves into my half of the board and to safety.


Top of Turn 5

Things were looking very grim and I knew at this stage that I was unlikely to win the game. I decided therefore to try and score as many points as possible while putting myself in a position where I could win if everything suddenly starting going my way with ridiculous dice rolls.

I turned the Rangers (1) on the hill to look at the Nightmares carrying the tokens and opened up on them with everything I had left. One of the Cannons hit with one of their shots (taking them up to two hits out of twenty shots!), doing 2 damage the Rangers and Diadem each added one more and…

Double 6 -boom! Too little too late, but still nice to see!

The Berserker Lord charged the Tunnel Runners to delay the inevitable.

The Packmaster had another go at shooting off the token carrying Shock Troops (1) but despite doing a couple of points of damage, he failed to waver or break them. The Standard Bearer charged the Hawpacks on 15 damage. He managed to hit them… but failed to damage.

It was pretty much all over by this point.


Bottom of Turn 5

Look at all those routed units…

The Hawpacks nimbled around into the rear of my Rangers (1), taking them out and reforming to face the rear of the Ironclad. The Berserker and both Cannons were picked up on the right hand side.


Top of Turn 6

I knew I had pretty much no chance now, but never one to give up entirely I went for the only plan I could.

The plan was; move the Ironclad horde so that it was facing left and across the half way line. Use the Packmaster to finally finish off the Hawpacks and pray that the little shooting I had left could waver the Tunnel Runners. Then if the Standard Bearer could break the Shock Troops (I did say it was an unlikely plan) I could potentially charge and grab the left tokens on turn 7.

It was a very last ditch plan, but I do think its always worth doing something, even if its very unlikely to succeed.

In reality, the Diadem did amazingly and managed to waver the Tunnel Runners and the Packmaster killed the Hawpacks (finally!).

It wasn’t a good situation, but it was probably the best I could have reasonably asked for.


Bottom of Turn 6

The Night Terror rushed to the middle of the board to grab the two tokens that were out in the open and the Shock Troops (1) that had survived so much shooting casually walked across the half way line in front of the Ironclad horde.

If there was a turn 7, I now couldn’t even pull it back to a draw. But mercifully the game ended at turn 6.

Free Dwarfs 1 – 8 Ratkin


So What Went Wrong?

I got a fairly sound thrashing there, so I thought it’d be helpful to break it down into what went wrong. I’ve boiled it down to three parts;

  • Si played very well
  • I played very badly in parts
  • My shooting failed to even the odds in the centre of the board

Si played an excellent game, especially in the movement phase. He managed to pull off a couple of moves and charges that were millimetre precise – full credit it to him for this. I thought that he was being over cautious at first and perhaps he was, but I made the mistake of not letting him make a mistake… if that makes any sense? He was playing very cautiously but I pushed my Brocks up and forced him to engage – I should have held back and shot until I had absolutely no other option.

I made a couple of silly mistakes, but the biggest one was my use of the Brock Riders. In my mind, Brock Riders are still tanky units that can absorb a lot of damage and then do a mountain of damage back.

I need to keep reminding myself that THIS IS NOT TRUE.

Now their nerve has reduced to -/18, their Def4 means that they’re actually one of the softer cavalry options in the game. Equally 26 attacks on 4s is roughly equivalent to 18 attacks on 3s (very roughly, don’t yell at me!), which is good but not great, especially with only TC1.

In my next game I’m going to use my Brocks as more of a close support unit, rather than think they can hold a flank on their own.

With the exception of the single Double 6 at the end of the game, my shooting really let me down this game – especially in the middle of the board. The cannons hit 2/20 shots and those Shock Troop regiments just refused to die! I did a good amount of damage early on, but this didn’t translate to any routed units all game. In future I need to remember to focus all my fire on one unit until it is definitely dead and then (and only then) move on to a new target.

The day after this, I played another game using the Free Dwarfs this time at 2300 points. Look out for that report coming in the next few days to see if I learnt anything from this game.



Twilight Kin – First Impressions Count

Twilight Kin are an army that I have always liked the look of, simply because they’re just plain cool. But I was a little put off in version 2 because I didn’t want to build an army that was likely to be completely redesigned in version 3, so I never got round to actually playing any games with them.

By the time V3 finally rolled around, I’d forgotten all about Twilight Kin because I was enticed by the shiny new Order of the Green Lady. However, after playing my round two game of a Call to Arms against Kyle ‘Master Crafted’ Przenenski and his really nice Twilight Kin list, I was reminded of just how cool the army is and decided to have a go at making a list myself.

I’m now seven games in with Twilight Kin (thanks to Universal Battle, I can basically play a game whenever I like at the moment) with 5 wins and 2 loses, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share my initial impressions on Twilight Kin.

This is where I’m currently at with my Twilight Kin list. I’ve tweaked it slightly in each game and each time I’ve slowly ramped up the investment in Drain Life – so far its been worth it every time. The downside with taking three Summoner Crones and investing all those points into Drain Life, is that it basically means that the bulk of my army has to be made up of Cronebound units. Otherwise, I just wouldn’t be getting the value out of all the special rules the Summoner Crone pays for in her rules – more on that later.

The Good

Pick n’ Mix Unit Combinations

Twilight Kin have access to some of the most solid units in the game in a combination that isn’t available anywhere else (without relying on allies). Butcher, Fiends, Abyssal Horsemen, Gargoyles, Mindscreeches and Silverbreeze are all excellent choices in their parent army and the ability to take them mixed together in one list is a real strength of the Twilight Kin.

Dark Magic

One excellent unit unique to Twilight Kin is the Summoner Crone. Drain Life is an incredibly powerful spell and in my opinion no Twilight Kin general should leave home without at least one source of it – preferably more. Due to their high average unit cost, Twilight King armies are almost always going to be outnumbered. Drain Life is an incredible force multiplier as it lets you keep your precious few units alive for longer, whilst also damaging your opponent.

Check out my battle report against Steve’s Goblins to see Drain Life in action. It tipped the odds of half a dozen combats in my favour, letting me break units in one round of combat so that I didn’t need to endure the counter charge. The unit of Abyssal Horsemen that won me the game took almost 20 points of damage over the course of game, but thanks to Drain Life and Regeneration they ended the game without a scratch on them.

The Crone comes with built in Inspiring and the ability to throw her Drain Life heals 18″ which is massive. This does only applies to Cronebound units though – see the section on ‘List design funneling’ below.

Add in to that the fact that she’s Stealthy and has a really solid 11/13 nerve and you have an all round excellent unit.

Compared to similar spellcasters, I would say she is a little under costed. However, as Cronebound Nightstalker units lose the Mindthrist special rule for only a pitiful 5 point discount, I see any undercosting in the Crone as recompense for the greater discount Twilight Kin should receive for losing Mindthirst.

The Bad

Unlocks, unlocks and unlocks

It is seriously hard to get unlocks in this list – at least if you want to build a list that is at least semi-competitive.

More than any other army in Kings of War, Twilight Kin feel like they’re paying an ‘unlock tax’ being forced to take subpar units in order to unlock the ones that actually do some work. I would say that this amounts to at least 300 points you’re having to pump into suboptimal unit choices. If you happen to come up against an army that has an abundance of excellent unlock choice (Undead for example) and hasn’t had to pay the ‘unlock tax’ then you’re effectively starting the game ~300 points worse off than your opponent.

And to make matters worse, the units that can unlock are pretty much all regiments so are only providing one unlock slot each.

AND they’re all so bloody expensive, so each regiment you add in to provide some unlocks takes up a significant proportion of your overall list.

To give a comparison from another army, I know that in V3 Orcs were given the Young Ax regiments because there was a concern that their cheapest unit available to provide unlocks was a standard Ax regiment at 130 points.

The cheapest unlock that Twilight Kin have access to that can actually contribute to combat is 140 points.

This means that Twilight Kin players have to decide – use Kindred Archers as your unlocks but accept that you’re going to have to ‘dilute’ your pure combat army and resign yourself to the fact that ~10% of your list is going to have to sit back and stay out of the way all game. Or, invest heavily in Kindred Archers and go for a gunline. Or, use Kindred Tallspears as your unlocks and accept that you have the most expensive unlocks in the game (10 points more expensive than the Orcs, that were deemed so expensive they had to introduce a whole new unit to fix the problem!).

There are a few armies that struggle with unlocks in the game at the moment, (Ratkin Slaves is the other big one that springs to mind) but none have it quite so bad as the Twilight Kin. The problem is so bad at the moment that it almost completely invalidates the first good point about the army – their pick n’ mix nature. Twilight Kin have solid options in every unlock slot; heroes, monsters and war engines. But there is little chance to bring any of that to the table without hamstringing yourself elsewhere.

All these restrictions and lack of viable unlocks options inevitably leads to…

List Design Funnelling

When your unlocks are limited to the extent that Twilight Kin’s are, then the inevitable result is list design funnelling.

Put simply, this is where a player is forced to take a list in a very particular direction. It doesn’t mean its the only possible direction you can go, but if you want to build at least a semi-competitive list than its the direction you’re forced in to.

A really good example of list funnelling appeared in Trident Realms at the end of V2. 90% of lists you saw were some variation of-

  • Fury of the Sea formation
  • 2x either Depth Horrors or Gigas
  • Eckter and the Siren
  • 2 x Knuckers

There was lots of adjustments within that basic formula, but the core look of the army was exactly the same every time. That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t other Trident Realm builds available, but they were just no where near as good.

Twilight Kin feel like they’re in a similar spot at the moment.

The list building conversation I have with myself-

“The Summoner Crone is an excellent unit and one of the few units unique to Twilight Kin. Plus her Drain Life it pretty much essential for keeping valuable units alive. Ok, I’ll take two and put upgrades on them make sure that they can make the use out of their Drain Life. But I’m paying all those extra points for special rules that only effect Cronebound units – I better take Cronebound Abyssal Horsemen regiments as the unlocks for the Crones, that way I can make the most of her special rules.

Ok, I need some more heavy hitter to make up the centre of my battle line. I could take some Elf units, but if I did I would need to spend points on another source of Inspiring, because the Crones only effect Cronebound units… guess I’ll take Cronebound Butchers instead seeing as they’re just as killy as Impalers, more durable than Kindred Tallspears and benefit from all the great special rules of the Summoner Crones.

Oh and a couple of troops of Croneboun Gargoyles for chaff…”

So that’s… 1420 points spent with not a single unlock slot remaining.

And I get to this point every single time I try and write a Twilight Kin list – 65% of my list looks pretty much identical and then its fill in the blanks around it. I have a solid core of four combat units, 2 support casters and some chaff. In any other army this would be the point where I start looking at some monsters, or war engines – other pieces to play around the core of my army.

But I can’t do that, because I have no fecking unlocks!

You might argue that its just me and that I have no imagination in list building or that I’m too focused on building a certain style or list – you might be right. But what really brought home to me just how funnelled an effective Twilight Kin list is, was a conversation we had on the Northen Kings’ group chat.

I mentioned to the guys that I’d really enjoyed my game against Kyle and that I was going to build a Twilight Kin list to try out on Universal Battle. I went away to EasyArmy and started list building, eventually coming up with the list I took against Mark’s Ratkin Slaves.

Turns out my fellow Northern Kings had also gone to EasyArmy to try their own hand at building a Twilight Kin list. By pure coincidence we all shared the lists we’d come up with in the group chat within seconds of each other. And they were… pretty much identical. Three lists, built completely independently by three players with wildly different playstyles – more than 90% of the elements were identical across all three lists.

The Elves (well… some of them)

Impalers are fine I guess. They’re Palace Guard by another name, and how often do you see Elf players taking Palace Guard regiments? They’re a decent enough unit that I might consider if I really get fed up with taking the Archers for unlocks, but Twilight Kin have other units that do combat better and at 170 points they’re an expensive way of getting unlocks into your list.

If they could be taken in a horde, now that would be a different matter.

Blade Dancers are a very poor unit in my opinion. They’re just simply no where near as good as Nightstalker Reapers or Orc Morax (I just went to check EasyArmy to look at Blade Dancers and Morax side by side. I’d assumed they were a similar price and I still thought Morax were better. But no – Morax are 30 points cheaper!).

I can see a use for troops, but yet again you fall into issues with unlocks. Every time I’ve thought about adding Blade Dancers into my list, I take one look at Fiends and change my mind. Fiends fill the exact same role in the list (lots of attacks, good at chewing through high nerve, low defense and good speed) but they’re just better at it… and they can be healed from 18″ away by the Summoner Crone.

Summary

I’ve really enjoyed my games with Twilight Kin, and they’re definitely an army that can win games. I’ve won 5/7 games with them so far, and the games I lost were down to player skill (or lack of!) not because of the list.

I’m going to keep on with them and try and bring in more Elf elements into the list. The shame is that I think this will make the list worse not better.

Twilight Kin are definitely a cool army, but at the moment they feel like a fairly one dimensional army.

What Would Make It Better?

I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in playtesting for the last few Clash of Kings books and the 3rd edition rule book (I even have my name in the credits of the rulebook – how cool is that!). One of things I’ve learnt from playtesting and putting suggestions forward for ways to improve armies is that small changes tend to have big impacts and that often a small nudge here and there can make a massive impact on how an army plays.

So, with that in mind I have put together a few suggestions for how I think Twilight Kin can be pulled right up into the mix as a competitive army, and far more importantly open up a much greater variety of feasible builds.

Regiments are fine, horde are incredible

Goodie two shoes Elves get Palace Guard hordes, hippie Elves get Forest Guard hordes, so why don’t the bad boys of Pannithor get Impaler hordes?

Giving Impalers a horde option would have a massive impact on the range of lists that Twilight Kin could build. No only would it give them an actual powerful Elf option that can’t be found elsewhere in the Cronebound sections of the list, it most importantly gives them an infantry horde worth of unlocks that doesn’t feel like an ‘unlock tax’.

This one change alone would have a huge positive impact on the variety of lists that Twilight Kin could build.

A cheap unlock, a cheap unlock. My kingdom for a cheap unlock!

Lets give the Twilight Kin the Orc treatment and give them a brand new unit that is cheap and cheerful and can be used to provide unlocks.

Call them something like Twilight Initiates and a stat line like this-

These would be a really interesting addition to the game. They’d be something unique to Twilight Kin, and no other ‘Shieldwall’ equivalent unit in the game comes with built in Elite. And again, a unit like this would unlock so much of the potential currently locked in the Twilight Kin list.

Also Mantic, you know how you added in Shield Watch to the Elf list so that people would buy more hand weapon and shield Elf models? Well… Twilight Initiates would be an excellent way of encouraging people to buy a horde of them *hint* *hint*

Black Magic Woman

As I’ve said , the Summoner Crone is an excellent unit for the Twilight Kin. But when you take her you’re forced to take your army down a very particular path – or accept that you’re paying for special rules that you’re not able to use.

I agree that there should never be a unit that can do everything all of the time, but it would be great if the Crone could be ‘upgraded’ to benefit either Elves OR Cronebound.

My suggestion would be to add the following:

“The Summoner Crone may choose to replace the Wicked Miasma special rule with Aura: Stealthy (Elf only)”

Boom – she’s instantly a fantastic support piece for the Elf element of your list, but doesn’t push your Cronebound units over the top at the same time. Plus a stealthy aura would be very in keeping with the Twilight Kin’s background lore.

I’d still say to keep her Inspiring limited to Cronebound only – I think spell casters that Inspire entire armies should be kept to a minimum.

This last one if probably the most wishlisty of my three suggestions but I still feel that it would be a subtle enough change to boost certain elements of the list without going over board.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

So here’s my promise to the Rules Committee, Matt Gilbert, Kyle Przenenski and the other guys at Mantic – make the changes above in the Clash of Kings 2021 book and I promise to buy, build and paint and entirely 100% Mantic Twilight Kin army and bring it to Clash of Kings 2021 – spindly Elves and all!

C’mon guys, Twilight Kin are so close to being awesome, lets unlock their potential!

What do you think? Have I been overly critical on the Twilight Kin or am I being over optimistic about them?

And do you think my suggested changes would make them a more rounded army?



Call to Arms 4 – Round 2 – 19/04/2020

I’ve been wanting to have a go at writing a Kings of War battle report for years, so I thought that while I have some more free time on my hands, now would be the perfect time to start.

To add a bit of extra pressure, I’m going to be doing my first battle report on the game I played against ‘Mr Battle Report’ himself, bone fide internet celebrity and Mantic employee – Kyle ‘Master Crafted’ Przenenski.

Yes that Kyle – from the videos

This was round 2 of a Call to Arms, the tournament being held over Universal Battle which has 146 players from across the world. The scenario for this round was Pillage and all players are using a set six objective makers. The event is using the Northern Kings scoring system (because its the best scoring system in the world).

My list

Kyle’s list

Deployment

Seeing as I’m new at this, I forgot to get a screen shot of my deployment, but you can sort of see what it was based on my turn 1 moves. I changed my plan for deployment half way through because Kyle put the Fiend horde down quite early on. That made me decide to put both Order of Redemption Knights on the left flank, hoping that their combined might along with the Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (1) could hold the left two objectives on their own.

It did mean that Kyle had a much stronger right flank than me, so I would have to use my faster speed to keep him boxed in and delayed as long as possible. The hope was that I could kill everything on the left and centre and hold off the right flank as long as possible.

Top of Turn 1

Top of turn 1

I moved up fairly cautiously across the board – I knew Kyle would have to move towards me because he had no long range shooting and a stand off would suit me in long run as it would give me more time to get my flying Redeemers behind his lines.

I out sped him with pretty much all my units, so the plan was to get in a position where I could get multiple charges off against a single target. Kyle had a nice second row set up with his Fiend hordes and Impaler regiments, meaning that when I committed I needed to try and get charges off with as many units as possible to clog up his lines and block his units and try to avoid getting flanked.

The Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (1) on the left flank moved up, putting himself in range of the Soulbane but nothing else – if the Soulbane did charge he would be charged by the Knights next turn. If Kyle pushed up fast on the left, I was planning on flying the Redeemer 20″ behind his lines to threaten the middle Spearmen horde (2) the next turn.

Bottom of Turn 1

Bottom of turn 1

Kyle’s movement was quite cautious as well. He moved the Gargoyles (1) up to block my Redemption Knights and moved the Spearmen (1) and Impalers (1) behind them, but not far enough to allow my Redeemer space to land behind them.

The Spearmen (2) in the middle moved up slightly and the two Shadow Hulks moved into the forest (I’m guessing Kyle’s plan was to make the most of their Strider while keeping them safer from charges).

His right flank moved up and turned towards the centre of the board to start putting pressure on my units. He sensibly moved the majority of his army into charge range all at once. I see a lot of people try and stay out of charge range for as long as possible, but when you are slower than your opponent this is often the wrong move as you just find yourself backed into a corner. Better to push forward, take the initial charges and then counter attack.

Top of Turn 2

Top of turn 2

I thought about my charges for quite a while – pretty much my entire army was in range to charge something, but there wasn’t a single charge I could make where there wasn’t a risk of being flanked or counter charged by something nasty.

In the end, I opted to go for what was probably the riskiest charge, but that had the greatest reward if it succeeded. I triple charged the Kindred Spear Horde (2) with the Waters Elementals (1), Exemplar Redeemer on Horseback and the Order of Forsaken Knights. Quick maths told me that even against phalanx they should do a combined 15 damage on average (Waters Elementals 6, Order of the Forsaken w. bane chant 6, Exemplar Redeemer 3), and using Nick Williams excellent rule of thumb that explains why averages aren’t always helpful I knew that I would most likely do -/+2 damage to the average, so roughly 13-17 damage. So with top estimate, I should have been in with a good shot of routing them.

I thought it was worth the risk, because if I managed to break them I would control the centre of the board and effectively split Kyles army in two – taking control of another objective maker and forcing Kyle come to me. Plus, I could reform all of my units in a way that meant I wouldn’t take any charges the next turn.

The Water Elementals (2) and Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (2) backed up out of charge range. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, and I’ve lost games in the past by being too rash and charging units in when you’re unsure. So I decided to hold them back and if I did manage to break the Kindred Spearmen, the Water Elemental (2) horde could help keep Kyle pinned on the right hand side of the forest.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go to plan.

I failed to cast Bane chant, even with the re-roll from the Conjurers’ staff and the Exemplar Redeemer only managed to do 1 damage after rolling 3 ‘1’s to damage. In all I did 12 damage to horde.

Even though I knew I would now most likely lose the Forsaken Knights to the Shadow Hulks in their flank, I felt putting a good amount of damage on the Kindred Spears (2) was still a positive.

Both Redemption Knights on the left flank double charged the Gargoyles and unsurprisingly routed them. The left ones backed up first and rolled a ‘1’ which kept them in charge range of the troop of Impalers who were in their flank. This meant I couldn’t risk backing up the right regiment as if I rolled more than a 1 it would expose left regiment’s flank. This meant that the Kindred Spears and Impaler troop were both in range to charge the Redemption Knights with Brew of Sharpness in his next turn, but they would at least both be hindered.

The Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (1) moved out of arc and into the flank of the Kindred Spearmen horde (1). I knew he was in charge range of the Soulbane, so I made sure to position the Redeemer in such a way that if the Spearmen did charge the Knights, I could pivot past the individual and charge the Spearmen’s rear even if I did lose my fly.

I flew the Pegasus out from behind the building and turned to face the flank of his Spearmen horde (1). The hope was to use him to harass his Crone for a turn for two before flying off to score an objective in later turns.

Bottom of Turn 2

Bottom of turn 2

As expected the Kindred Spearmen (1) and Impaler troop (1) both charged the Order of Redemption Knights with the Brew of Sharpness. Luckily they were both hindered and so only did a combined 9 damage, although this was still enough to waiver the Redemption Knights.

The Soulbane charged the Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (1) and only did 1 damage.

The two Shadow hulks flanked the Forsaken Knights and the Crone Hag Drain Life’d them doing 4 damage and healing 4 on the Kindred Spearmen horde (2) (I hate Drain Life with an unholy passion, it is massively overpowered compared to all other spells in the game, is only available to a select few armies and just does too much with very little downside). The Shadow Hulks easily routed the Forsaken Knight – one turned to face the left Water Elementals (1) and the other turned to face the other Water Elementals (2).

The Kindred Spearmen horde (2) counter charged the Exemplar Redeemer on horseback, hoping to kill him and be able to overrun into combat with the Water Elementals (1). Luckily for me, even with the help on Bane chant they only managed to do 6 damage to the Redeemer and waivered him, saving the Water Elementals (1) from taking damage.

The Gargoyles (2) moved to protect the Spearmen horde (2)’s flank.

Top of Turn 3

Top of turn 3

Showing how indifferent they were to these bothersome pointy ears, both the Redemption Knights and Exemplar Redeemer shrugged off their waiver with successful Headstrong roll (both on a ‘6’, they really didn’t care!).

As I’d set up earlier, the Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (1) was able to disengage and pivot past the Soulbane to charge into the rear of the Kindred Spearmen (1) – The Redemption Knights with Brew of Strength joined him in the front.

The Redemption Knights with the Brew of Sharpness counter charged the Impaler troop (1) and only managed 5 damage – luckily I rolled a 10 on the nerve and killed them. They also regen’d 2 damage back this turn (keep an eye on how much damage they regen this game).

The Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (2) on the right charged the Fiend regiment. I was really hoping I wouldn’t kill them as they were much more helpful to me a road block, holding up his Fiend horde. I did 3 damage and failed to waiver – pretty much perfect.

The Water Elementals (1), Exemplar Redeemer on horseback and the Pegasus all charged the Kindred Spears (2) in the middle doing another measly 6 damage between them. Thanks to the healing from Drain Life and a low nerve roll, I only managed to waiver them. This didn’t look good for the Water Elementals (1) who now had a very angry Shadow Hulk looking straight at their flank.

Bottom of Turn 3

Bottom of turn 3

On the left flank, the Impaler regiment (1) charged out of the woods into the Redemption Knights with the Brew of Sharpness. Unfortunately for Kyle the hindered charge only managed to put another 3 damage on the Knights, taking them up to 10 – he did at least manage to waiver them again.

Incredibly, the Shadow hulk (1) only managed 9 damage in the flank of the Water Elements (1) and they held! The Crone Hag cast Drain Life on the Exemplar Redeemer on horseback but thankfully only managed 1 damage this time and he also held.

The Impaler regiment (2) on the right charged the Water Elementals (2) and the Fiend regiment counter charged the Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (2) doing a very respectable 6 damage. Luckily both units held.

The Soulbane decided he’d had enough of this flank and went his full 18″ taking him out of arc of the Order of Redemption and putting him in range of the Men at Arms (1) who up until this point had been sat on an objective minding their own business. The Gargoyles (1) also turned 90 degrees and moved up to threaten the Men at Arms (1). He moved the Gargoyles (1) into charge range of the Men at Arms (1) which I personally thought was a mistake because he could have easily kept them out of range of any of my unit – but as it turns out, it ended up working out for him!

Top of Turn 4

Top of turn 4

The Redemption Knights with Brew of Sharpness failed their Headstrong roll this time, so instead of counter charging they disengaged 1” and spun 180 degrees to cover the Men at Arms (1) and the top most token. They also regen’d 7/10 damage taking them down to 3!

The regiment next to them flanked the Impalers (1) and killed them. They over ran but only rolled 1”. If they have rolled a 3+ they would have been in range of the Shadow Hulk (1) in the centre of the board and it would have been a very different game – sadly it was not to be.

Keen to avoid anymore Drain Life, the Pegasus charged the Crone Hag who had been cowering behind the Shadow Hulk (1). It did the all important 1 point of damage but failed to waiver/kill her.

The Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (1) moved across from the left flank into the centre of the board by charging the flank of the Kindred Spearmen (2) that had survived so much punishment so far. An Exemplar Redeemer in the flank proved to be too much for them and the Redeemer picked up his second Spearmen horde of the game, forever gaining himself the moniker of “Spearbane”.

The Water Elementals (1) that I had expected to be killed in the previous turn countered the Shadow Hulk (1) and the Exemplar Redeemer on horseback did a 360 to also join in. They did a respectable 7 damage but with Def5 and -/20 I knew that they were unlikely to kill it. The plan was to do as much damage as possible and hopefully pick it up later with a late game charge.

I got incredibly lucky on my right flank, and for once it was actually a plan not just blind luck! I moved the Druid over to Bane Chant the Water Elementals (2) so that they were damaging on 2s for their counter charge against the Impalers. I knew that if I could waiver or fail to kill the Fiend regiment, I could use it to protect the Water Elemental horde’s (2) flank if they killed the Impalers (2). This would keep the Fiend horde out of combat for yet another turn.

I rolled the Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (2) combat 1st and waivered the Fiend regiment – so far so good. The Water Elementals (2) then proceeded to do 6 damage to the Impalers which was the bottom end of average, but rolled a 10 on the nerve and killed them! Because I already knew my flank was protected by the waivered Fiend regiment, I turned to give the Shadow Hulk a front charge feeling quite smug that my plan had actually come off.

The Men at Arms (1) charged the Gargoyles (1) and did 3 damage, waivering them.

Bottom of Turn 4

Bottom of turn 4

This turn despite having front not flank charges, and despite all my clever plans to keep the Fiends out of combat both Shadow hulks decided that they’d had quite enough of the Water Elementals and proceeded to easily kill both units- I suddenly felt a bit less smug!

The Crone Hag valiantly counter charged the Pegasus and was even supported by a Bane chant from the Army Standard Bearer. It was all set to be the upset of the centaury… but sadly she missed with her 1 attack.

Unable to make it into any combats (thanks to my cunning plans that turned out to not matter anyway!), the Fiend horde side stepped to give itself better positioning for the next turn.

Top of Turn 5

Top of turn 5

At the top of turn 5 I started to really think about how I was going to score scenario points. The left half of the board was clear of enemies so I decided to ‘bank’ the two tokens I had over there and leave the rest of my forces to fight over the rest of the objectives. This wasn’t an easy decision because leaving a 280 point regiment of Knights to do nothing but hold a token did mean that I was going to struggle elsewhere.

I spun the Order of Redemption with the Brew of Strength 180 degrees to that they could take the far left token on turn 6. I also turned the Pegasus around and flew it 10” towards the other left hand token. The Crone Hag would survive – this time.

The Men at Arms (1) charged the Gargoyles (1) again and the Brew of Sharpness Redemption Knights charged the Soulbane.

The plan was for the Men at Arms (1) to kill the Gargoyles (1) and then turn so that they could move at the double to capture the middle objective on turn 6 – using their superior unit strength to take it from the Shadow Hulk (1). The Redemption Knights had a very good chance at killing the Soulbane as they had 20 attacks hitting on 2s and damaging on 3s. This would free them up to move onto the top objective in turn 6. If it all went to plan I would have a fairly comfortable win – and there was no reason it shouldn’t all go to plan…

It didn’t quite go to plan – the Knights did a very respectable 10 damage to the Soulbane but only managed to waiver him. Far more importantly the Men at Arms (1) did 5 more damage to the Gargoyles (1) and rolled… a double 1!

The right Men at Arms (2) moved forward, keeping just out of range of the Shadow Hulk (2). The hope was that the Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (2) would kill the Fiend regiment this turn so he could over run out of the Shadow hulk (2)’s arc (he only needed 1″ to get out of arc). It shouldn’t be took hard to kill the Fiend regiment, they were already on 8 damage and weren’t Inspired. This would force the Fiend horde to commit or else risk the Men at Arms (2) capturing the right most objective unopposed.

Sadly it was not to be – the Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (2) only managed to do 1 damage to the Fiends! He did waiver them again, but this time he was going to get a Shadow Hulk (2) in the flank next turn. Worse of all, it meant that the Fiend horde could safely move left toward the objectives in the centre of the board without having to worry about being charged in the flank by the Exemplar Redeemer (2). My plan to keep them pinned had been scuppered.

In the middle of the board the Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (1) and the Exemplar Redeemer on horseback charged the Shadow Hulk (1). It was already on 7 damage so if they could do average damage to it (between 4-8) then they would be in a good position to kill him and take another scoring unit off the board. Again, sadly not. They managed to do 4 damage between them but rolled a 3 on the nerve check.

I was starting to get quite nervous at this point – I’d flubbed three very important and fairly easy combats and my comfortable win had been flipped on its head. It was going to be a mad dash for the objectives at the end of the games.

Bottom of Turn 5

Bottom of turn 5

To add injury to the insult of the double 1 the Gargoyles (1) regen’d 6/8 of the damage on them and then proceeded to do 6 damage to the Men at Arms (1) on the counter charge and killed them! Oh bugger!

As expected, the Shadow Hulk (2) flanked the Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (2) killing him easily. The poor Men at Arms (2) now had to deal with a Shadow Hulk (2) and a Fiend regiment on their own.

The middle Shadow Hulk (1) counter charged the Exemplar Redeemer on Winged Unicorn (1), he needed a 10 to kill him (with a re-roll) and he got it! He reformed to face the middle objective.

The Fiend horde moved into the woods to make a late game move for either the bottom or middle objective.

That had not been a good turn for me!

Top of Turn 6

Top of turn 6

The Men at Arms (2) charged the heavily damaged Fiend regiment and with the help of a Bane chant, finally killed them. They turned to face the Shadow Hulk – all they had to do was surive one charge from him and they if the game ended on turn 6, they would hold that objective.

I had a big decision to make with the Exemplar Redeemer on horseback. He could either charge the damaged Shadow Hulk (1) and try and kill him, or charge the Fiend horde and block them from moving onto a token in the bottom of turn 6. Statisitcally speaking I should kill the Shadow Hulk (1) but by this point I was pretty nervous of combats I should win! So I decided to forsake the extra tournament points for killing the Shadow Hulk (2) and charge the Fiend horde as I knew I could definitely block them getting to a token this turn (the Redeemer is Mighty so even if he failed to damage he would block the Fiends).

The Redemption Knights with Brew of Sharpness finished off the Soulbane and reformed so that they were just out of 12” of the Shadow hulk (1).

The Redemption Knights with Brew of Strength and the Pegasus moved onto their objectives, effectively taking them out of the game but ensuring that those points were safe.

I’d done all I could and put myself in as strong a position as possible – so long as the Men at Arms (2) survived the charge, I would win the game if it ended on turn 6.

Bottom of Turn 6

Bottom of turn 6

The Fiend horde counter charged the Exemplar Redeemer on horseback and did 8 damage to him, killing him in one! Clearly they didn’t appreciate being blocked! They over ran but rolled a ‘1’ – this would be big later on!

The Gargoyles (1) flew on to the top objective.

The Shadow Hulk (2) charged the Men at Arms (2) – the ones that needed to survive in order for me to win on turn 6. His to-hit rolls were pretty bad and he only did 5 damage, definitely the lower end what he should have done.

He needed a 10+ to kill them… and rolled a 10! Boo!

At the end of the Turn 6, losing the Men at Arms (2) meant that the game had shifted from a win to a loss. I really, really needed a turn 7….

Salvation!

Top of Turn 7

Top of turn 7

There was a turn 7!

The Redemption Knights charged the Gargoyles (1) in the rear and killed them. I held my breath before rolling the nerve check on them, I was sure it was going to be another double 1, but thankfully not!

My Druid valiantly threw himself under the Fiend bus. He managed to position himself in such a way that the Fiends couldn’t move through him and still leave a 1” gap at the end of their move. So their only chance to get within 3” of an objective was to charge him and over run.

I really took my time moving my Druid and got out spare units to triple check that the Fiends couldn’t make it past. I would say don’t ever be afraid to use spare units to double check things like this. Its one of the great features of Universal Battle, but I’ve found that by doing this online, it has also made me think more about where my opponents units can move on the table top as well.

At the end of my turn 7 my Redemption Knights had taken then top token off the Gargoyles and my Druid had valiantly taken the place of the Exemplar Redeemer as “Chief Fiend Blocker” – preventing them from being able to grab another token.

Bottom of Turn 7

Bottom of turn 7

The Fiend horde charged the Druid and as expected killed him easily. They over ran…. 1”!

We actually checked and even if Kyle had rolled a 6, he would have been out of 3” of the objective by milimeteres (remember when I said it was really important that he only rolled a 1 on his over run against the Redeemer?).

At that was the end of the game!

I won 3-2 by the absolute skin of my teeth! Kyle played an absolutely fantastic game and was a brilliant opponent. The game was incredibly close and really did come down to whether or not there was a turn 7. You can see how close it was by how many points we both killed – I killed 1480 and he killed 1470.

So we both scored +3 for kills, I scored +3 for scenario and Kyle scored +2. The final score was 21-10.