Monday, 22 February 2016

If you go down to the woods today...

The Kings of War frenzy continued apace and it was time to get some games in. So, Matt, Pete and I got together to throw some fantasy armies at each other. I played Matt first, who has only had one, maybe two games, of Kings of War a few months ago and could barely remember the rules.

Matt was fielding a fairly standard looking Empire (he's not calling them Kingdoms of Men as he's still dealing with his bereavement over WFB) army:
  • General with Flying Hammer
  • Swordsmen (Foot Guard) Horde
  • Handgunners (Arquebusiers) Troop
  • Handgunners (Arquebusiers) Troop
  • Reiksguard (Knights) Regiment
  • Flagellants (Berserkers) Regiment
  • Cannon

It's all smiles now...
I decided to give my newly based Wood Elves a run out and fielded:
  • Treeman (Treeherder) - 260
  • Kindred Archers Troop - 115
  • Kindred Archers Troop - 115
  • Dryads (Hunters of the Wild) Regiment - 190
  • Treekin (Forest Shamblers) Regiment - 125
  • Eagles (Drakon Riders) Regiment with Potion of the Caterpillar - 195


We rolled up the Dominate scenario, so we'd be heading for the centre of the battlefield, which was pretty much in front of the tower. Matt deployed with his combat troops aiming directly at the centre, avoiding the difficult terrain, whilst his missile troops guarded the flanks.

Meanwhile, with so much Pathfinder in my force, I set up heading directly into the woods, partly to screen my army from potentially devastating missile fire, but also to allow me to get round the flanks of Matt's army, as I wasn't sure that I could withstand a protracted brawl with his whole force.

Prior to my first turn, my Vanguard moves allowed my Dryads, Treekin and Treeman to advance quickly up the flanks. I kept the Treekin back far enough to prevent Matt from charging them if he got the first turn. As it turned out, I needn't have worried as I got the first turn.

Turns 1&2

I advanced on both flanks, largely keeping out of charge range, but setting a fairly obvious trap for the Reiksguard with my Treekin and Treeman. The Eagles made straight for the missile troops; if they survived the inevitable hail of fire, they'd be able to put the Cannon out of commission quickly.

The Kindred Archers advanced to within range and in a surprisingly effective volley, took out the Handgunners on Matt's right flank.

In the face of such devastating fire, the Empire advanced. Matt failed to take the bait with his Knights, as he would have lost his Thunderous Charge and found himself flanked in the following turn. The Cannon fired at the Eagles and missed, but the Handgunners found their mark, and despite causing only one wound, they managed to waver the winged beasts, keeping them at arms length for at least another turn.

Turns 3&4

Unable to charge, the Eagles on my right flank backed off to the safety of the woods, offering them at least some cover from the Cannon and Handgunners. Assuming they were able to charge in the following turn, the Potion of the Catterpillar would prevent their attack from being hindered.

On the left, the Dryads moved round to threaten the flank of the Swordsmen, whilst the Archers appeared to have fired all their arrows in the previous turn and inflicted no damage.

In the centre, I realised that if the Reiksguard weren't going to charge me, I'd have to charge them. The combined impact of the Treeman and Treekin caused significant damage, but failed to rout the brave knights.

On Matt's turn, another volley of shots flew towards the Eagles, but, although another point of damage was done, they weren't wavered again and so were free to charge in the following turn.

The Reiksguard hit back at the Treeman (this was probably the wring choice as he's significantly tougher than the Treekin), causing only a single point of damage. Meanwhile, the Flagellants and the Swordsmen advanced on the Dryads, dismissively ignoring the inept Archers.

Turns 5&6

With the Empire infantry closing in, the Dryads sprang a trap of their own, and leapt out to attack the Flagellants, who were simultaneously hit in the flank by the Treeman who'd spotted a route through. Their combined attacks saw the crazed zealots routed, despite the Very Inspiring presence of the General. Both units then reformed to trap the Swordsmen, between them and the Archers, who failed yet again to cause damage.

The Treekin waded into the Reiksguard again, but once more failed to break them, whilst the Eagles finally swooped in to attack the Handgunners, routing them in short order, and bearing down on the Cannon which had initially been out of range.

Caught between the wood and a sharp place, the Swordsmen turned to face the greater threat of the Treeman and Dryads. This left the Archers in position for a rear charge, but the alternative would be significantly worse. The General heroically charged the Dryads in a bid to keep them out of the inevitable fight with the Swordsmen.

The Reiksguard went into the Treekin again, causing minimal damage. Over on the flank, in a startling display of inaccuracy, the Cannon missed the Eagles again and essentially sealed its own fate.

Turn 7&8

With the Swordsmen surrounded, the Wood Elves charged in across the board. The Eagles destroyed the Cannon and turned towards the centre. The Treekin again failed to break the Reiksguard, and the Dryads couldn't shift the General. The Treeman and Archers waded in to the front and rear of the Swordsmen, causing significant damage, but again failing to waver them.

In return the Empire pushed back, trying to force their way out of the encirclement. The stalwart Knights almost broke the Treekin, but the Treeman's Inspiring presence kept them in the fight. Again, however, the Treeman proved too tough, even for a horde of Swordsmen to cause significant damage, whilst the brave General was fighting a losing battle with the Dryads.

Turn 9&10

With the flank clear, the Eagles were able to swoop into the flank of the Reiksguard, who were finally routed. The heroic General fell beneath the rain of blows from the Dryads.

Although the Treeman and Archers again failed to break the Swordsmen, the writing was on the wall as they were surrounded, with at least another turn to go. Matt surrendered in the spirit of getting another game in.


However, before I get too gloaty, I need to clarify a couple of things in Matt's defence:

  • Firstly, lack of familiarity with the rules meant that the few things I'd picked up in my previous two games (such as the importance of Pathfinder, and the significance of robbing Knights of their Thunderous Charge) proved crucial.
  • Neither of us had any idea how tough the Treeman would prove to be; his Nerve is immense.
  • The combination of Vanguard, getting first turn and the obliteration of the Handgunners allowed me to threaten Matt's flank quickly and put him on the back foot before he'd rolled a dice.
  • The amount of difficult terrain on the board was a major advantage to me given how much Pathfinder I had in my army.
  • It turned out that Matt was 50 points short, which although not massive, might have allowed him to add a few magic items or increase a Handgunner troop to a regiment, which might have had an effect.
  • Matt later went on to beat Pete's Dwarfs, even though he was short on points and still learning the rules.

Anyway, some things I've learned about the Wood Elves:

  1. The Archers aren't great against tougher targets, or in combat (even with a rear charge), but they should probably focus on lighter targets such as enemy shooters.
  2. The Treeman has the durability of a horde and is really good against high defence targets.
  3. Vanguard can really allow you to get in your opponent's face early on, especially if you can avoid first turn charges or mitigate shooting.
  4. The Eagles and Treekin are powerful but don't have the durability or impact to take things on frontally for long.
  5. I need to remember my Elite rule.

The main thing though is that not only to these Wood Elves not suck, it's clear that this army is going to play the way I always wanted it to play. I will need to use speed and guile to get into the flanks of my opponent in order to break units quickly as I won't have the staying power for a protracted slog. Just the way I like it.

On the subject of speed, the cavalry have arrived...too late to join the battle.

First up, my Glade Riders/Silverbreeze Cavalry. I've based these on two bases as I'd bought the wrong sized bases for cavalry, and so had to make do with what I had. However, this does make packing the army away a little easier and has allowed my light cavalry to look a little less ranked up.

These chaps will add to my shooting, but their main job will be annoying the enemy, getting in the way and screening this lot... Wild Riders/Stormwind Cavalry, which were originally made from the plastic Glade Rider sprues as I was too cheap to buy the ridiculously expensive metal models (Surely you know I'm cheap? It's in the title!).

Like the Glade Riders, my basing options have been dictated by my mistake, but I'm actually glad that I've gone for a single regiment base as it's allowed me to go for what I feel is a more dynamic arrangement of them surging forwards. In my head it looks like Lady Butler's famous painting of the charge of the Scots Greys at Waterloo...

...obviously, I don't really want my Wild Riders to perform like the Scots Greys at Waterloo, as after breaking a French column, they were counter-charged and skewered by Lancers.

I digress.

I don't think it will come as any surprise that these guys will likely be the regular recipients of the Potion of the Caterpillar to enable them move quickly across the board and keep their Thunderous Charge bonus in terrain. I'm looking forwards to using them as I've been surprised at how resilient Knights have turned out to be, and this unit will be faster and slightly better (thanks to Elite) than the Kingdoms of M...sorry Matt...Empire and Bretonnian Knights I've seen in the game so far.

My Wood Elves are now fully re-based. I still have a few models to play around with, so I will see what I can come up with in terms of how to use them, but I'm in no rush, as I have more than enough to use for now.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

The Heavy Mob

More re-basing from the Wood Elf army. This time it's the metal models.

First up, my Treeman.

Yes, I know you've already seen this, but I've added a few details to the base as I felt it was a bit dull and need to match my other Forest Spirit units.

Next up, my Treekin...erm...Forest Shamblers. These guys add a little bit of resilience to my line and although they are slow due to the Shambling rule, they make up with it with a free move at the start of the game due to Vanguard, and can be Surged forward by the Treeman to get sneaky flank attacks in.

I've done three Hero models. An Army Standard Bearer to help with the inevitable Nerve tests. An Elven King/Prince, to add a little leadership and put a little extra hurt on unwary units. Finally, a Wizard, for a bit of healing and magical support.

The last model is a Dragon Lord. Which is an Elf Lord...on a Dragon! This does what you imagine a Dragon to do: fly around, breathe fire, stomp and chomp! This guy will likely only appear in bigger games, as I'd imagine he's a little unfriendly in smaller games.

I've not attached the rider so that I have the option of adding the Dragon as a 'Beast of Nature' allied unit to both the Wood Elves and my Bretonnians.

Only the cavalry to go now...

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Mustering of the Host

I've now managed to re-base roughly 1000 points of my Wood Elves into a legal force for Kings of War. I'm not sure whether it would be a particularly effective army, as it lacks any real backbone, but at least it's playable.

The units I've added are most of my favourite units from WFB. First up is my Treeman (now a Tree Herder), Steve. I can't remember when, how or why he was named Steve, but whatever the reason, it stuck. In WFB this was a solid unit, able to shoot, fight and cast limited magic; the Treeman was one of the units which didn't completely suck following the change to 8th edition, but this also made him a massive target for every flaming war machine attack in the game.

In Kings of War, the Tree Herder has lost his ability to shoot, but is still formidable in combat (especially in the flank or rear), surprisingly mobile and able to provide some limited magical support. Of most interest to me though is the fact that he lacks the weaknesses of WFB (flammable and a save that didn't work against the mountains of magic in the game), and so will not need to be as cautious. I'm looking forward to getting Steve back on the table.

Back in 7th edition WFB, when I still enjoyed the game, I had a lot of time for the humble Great Eagle. For 50 points you could hunt war machines, redirect charges and march block your opponent whilst the archers took them apart. They were phenomenally useful. Then cam 8th, and the mighty Eagles were reduced to being throwaway chaff that could do nothing to impede enemy hordes as they ran through the woods...RAN THROUGH WOODS!!! get to you.

There are no Eagles in the KoW Elf list, and although there are allied units I could used them as (such as the Pegasus from the Forces of Nature list), I've decided to re-purpose my Eagles as Drakon Riders. They are now a mobile and hard hitting unit which is ideal for getting behind enemy lines. Given what I've seen of the effectiveness of flyers from the Wraiths in my last game, I think the Eagles are about to become star performers once again.

Finally are my beloved Wardancers. I remember reading the first WFRP article in White Dwarf about Wardancers and being captured by the idea. I loved the mechanic where you could tactically choose how they would behave in each round of combat. Small units of them were vulnerable to missile fire, but extremely potent if there were able to get into the flanks of the enemy. They were a scalpel, and I was the surgeon, dissecting my enemy.

Sadly, no unit got hit with the nerf-bat quite as hard as Wardancers in WFB 8th. As skirmishers, they could not remove the stubborn rule from enemy units; it didn't matter how many hits they did (a unit of 8 was capable of 25 attacks), a large unit of the enemy would always hit back with full force, unless you used them very carefully, they'd simply bounce off the large blocks of plastic your mindless opponent was throwing forwards with the clumsy abandon of a hyperactive toddler.

Do I sound bitter?

In KoW, my Wardancers are going to become Palace Guard. They lack the copious special rules of their former incarnation, but the stat-line does reflect the Wardancers' former glory to some extent. They will be able to hit hard, but as only a troop, they won't be able to take much damage. Therefore, I'm intending to use them behind my line of archers to counter-charge any enemy breakthrough, and counteract enemy flyers. I'm not sure how effective they'll be, and I may actually need to paint a few more to make them truly effective, but it'll be interesting to find out.

So there's only a handful of units left to go. There are my characters and my cavalry...oh...and a dragon!

It's looking my my February goal will be successful.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Back From The Grave

After my rejection of the travesty that was 8th Edition Warhammer Fantasy, and the untimely demise of the Warhammer World, there has been a stirring amongst the bones of forgotten armies at the back of my cupboard. My Wood Elves continue to be repaired and re-purposed for Kings of War, last week my Bretonnians took the field against Mike's Abyssal Dwarfs, and now my first ever wargames army shamble onto the table for the first time in over two years...enter the Undead horde! 

This isn't my Undead army's first rodeo in Kings of War as I used them a couple of times when I tried out first edition a couple of years ago. Those games featured a win against Dwarfs, due to my pitting regiments against troops, and a loss against Kingdoms of Men, due to my pitting regiments against hordes. Therefore, this time, I opted to bulk up a bit and my 1500 point army was as follows:

Skeleton Warrior Horde
Zombie Horde

Revenant Cavalry Regiment (Potion of the Caterpillar)
Skeleton Spearmen Regiment
Wraiths Regiment (Diadem of Dragonkind)
Werewolves Regiment

Ghouls Troop

Necromancer (Bane Chant, Inspiring Talisman)
Vampire Lord
Revenant King on Great Wyrm

I would be facing Pete's Dwarves which, as far as I remember (although I'm sure there's a magic item I've missed), were as follows:

Ironclad Horde (Blessing of the Gods)

Ironclad Regiment
Shieldbreaker Regiment
Ironguard Regiment

Ironclad Troop
Ironwatch Crossbow Troop
Ironwatch Rifle Troop (Jar of the Four Winds)
Ironwatch Rifle Troop

War Machines
Ironbelcher Cannon
Ironbelcher Cannon
Ironbelcher Organ Gun

Dwarf King

Pete had more units and more shooting than me, whilst my units were generally either larger, or faster than his. I would definitely have to use that speed to attack quickly and negate his shooting so that it didn't wear down my hordes on the way in. This would be a classic attack vs defence match up.

We rolled up the Invade scenario, were we would need to occupy the middle of the table to win. I won the roll for the first turn, and given that I wanted to reduce Pete's ability to shoot me before I attack, I took the first turn.

Turns 1&2

I launched a general advance across my line, the fast units on my left flank leapt forwards with the aid of Surge spells, and the Revenant Cavalry rode unimpeded through the woods, making use of their magic item.

Pete's Ironguards advanced into the woods to opposed the oncoming cavalry, whilst the Shieldbreakers on my far right marched at the double towards the Skeleton Spears. The Dwarven guns opened up on the advancing enemy, causing some damage on the Revenant Cavalry and the Wraiths, and wavering the Ghouls.

Turns 3&4

The centre of the Undead line advanced again, whilst the flanks leapt into action. The Revenant Cavalry refused the offer of the Shieldbreakers' flank (I know a trap when I see one), and smashed into the Ironguard, inflicting significant damage, but failing to break the sturdy Dwarfs.

Meanwhile, the Wraiths landed in front of the Crossbow Troop and unleashed their Breath Weapon (in my head this is some kind of scream) at them, weakening the missile troops before the Revenant King used a Surge spell to send them crashing into the weakened Dwarfs, routing them and turning the flank of the Dwarf line.

The Dwarfs were faced with a significant problem, the Undead were pushing back their flanks, whilst the main line shambled forwards. One option would be to break formation and turn to the flanks to protect themselves...

Alternatively, they could stay where they were and unleash a devastating volley at the oncoming tide.

Boom! Bang! Rat-a-tat-tat!

Bang! Bang! Ka-Boom!

The Dwarven onslaught put damage on almost everything on my left flank, and although nothing was routed, the Skeleton Horde looked particularly vulnerable.

Turns 5&6

Despite the devastating barrage, the Undead were still in position to pounce on the Dwarven flank. The Werewolves charged the Rifles, the Revenant King on Great Wyrm (yes, that's my Aberration/Vargulf - hey, the profile fits!) smashed into the Cannon trebling his attacks, and the Wraiths pulled some more flying/surging shenanigans to hit the flank of the Ironclad troop. If these combats went well, the Dwarven flank would be smashed and I could proceed to roll up their line.

Meanwhile the Revenant Cavalry and the Ironguard had been engaged in a shoving match to no avail, but with the aid of a Bane Chant from the Necromancer, the Revenant Cavalry finally prevailed. Even though they'd taken significant damage, if they overran far enough, they'd be out of the Dwarven fire arc and could proceed to roll up their line from the opposite end. This was going perfectly...

Oh, and the Skeleton Spears charged the Shieldbreakers to no particular effect.

Everything was in position...and then dice happened...

Although the Ironclads broke under the flank charge from the Wraiths, the Rifles and the Cannon managed to hold their ground, and although they wouldn't be able to shoot, they were still there and the Undead couldn't continue on to other units.

To compound my frustration, the Revenant Cavalry didn't manage to get out of the Rifles' line of sight, and even though on Pete's turn their shooting only cause a single point of damage, it was enough to break them. Suddenly, the Dwarfs left flank was secure.

What's more, the Rifles on the right, unable to shoot, charged the Werewolves (Harpies) and wavered them, further holding up the flank attack.

Oh, and the Ghouls, that I'd run forwards to provide cover for the weakened Skeletons, were destroyed. But I meant that to happen...honest...

Turns 7&8

The time had come for the hordes to charge in. Both the Zombies (not sure we should have allowed that charge) and Skeletons charged the Dwarven horde in the centre, but even with a Bane Chant on the Zombies, they failed to do enough damage to trouble the Ironclads.

With the Werewolves wavered, the Revenant king charged the cannon for a second time and routed it, and turned towards the Rifles' flank as I suspected that they'd blow the Werewolves away the next time they fired.

On the far flank, the Skeleton Spears somehow managed to waver the Shieldbreakers, and so were guaranteed to survive another turn.

The brightest note of my turn was the Wraiths being able to charge the rear of the Ironclad regiment who'd turned to face the potential threat of the destroyed Revenant Cavalry. Trebling their attacks gave them enough punch to rout the Dwarfs at the first attempt, and they reformed to face the rear of the main line.

The Dwarf horde counter-charged and inflicted devastating damage on the Skeletons, whilst the Dwarf guns unleashed another volley at the Zombies and the Werewolves. The Zombies escaped serious damage, whilst the Werewolves and Skeletons were beneficiaries of really poor nerve rolls from Pete, however, the Werewolves were once again wavered.

The Dwarf king threw himself between the Revenant King and the Rifles to protect them next turn.

Turns 9&10

As things got fraught, I started to forget to take pictures. Bear with me.

The Skeletons once again charged the Dwarfs, whilst the Wraiths hit them in the rear. However, we ruled that now that the Zombies were officially in the flank of the Dwarfs, they couldn't pivot to get into combat and the edge of the Dwarf horde prevent them from charging the Rifles or Cannon. Frustratingly, they would have to sit and watch the action. Despite fighting on two fronts, the Dwarfs once again held and things looked grim for the Skeletons.

In a clash of kings, the Revenant charged the Dwarf, but failed to do significant damage. The Skeleton Spears continued to chip away at the Shieldbreakers, but failure to break them meant that their days were probably numbered.

On the Dwarf turn, the Werewolves and Skeletons finally crumbled. The Spears were finally destroyed by the Shieldbreakers, and the Horde was crushed by the Ironclads who pivoted to face both the Zombies and the Wraiths, securing their flanks...apparently...

Turns 11&12

Unable to pivot due to the proximity of the enemy, the Zombies had no choice but to charge the Rifles, and the Wraiths went into the Ironclads in another attempt to break them. They were significantly helped in this endeavour by the Revenant King, who spotted a sneaky rear charge, and ploughed into the back of the Dwarven Horde.

The Vampire Lord finally got into combat and set about trying to finish off the Rifles who'd finished off the Werewolves.

Under weight of numbers, three Dwarf units were destroyed. With only the King, a Cannon and Organ Gun and regiment of Shieldbreakers, the Dwarfs looked done for. However, Pete had kept his eye on the scenario and so held position with the Shieldbreakers as he'd realised that I'd advanced too far forwards and only had my Necromancer in the scoring zone. If the game ended this turn, despite his losses, he'd sneak a draw.

The guns fired again, but failed to make significant impact.


Turns 13&14

Fortunately, it turned out that we would get another turn. I took the opportunity to destroy the Organ Gun with the Wraiths and move my expensive characters into the scoring zone. The Zombies attacked the Cannon, but failed to destroy it. I'm not sure why I dodn't use Surge to bring the Zombie back to the scoring area, but I didn't.

Pete's turn consisted of him moving his remaining units, the King and the Cannon, towards the scoring zone, and although he made the final result closer, the 500 points I had tied up in my three heroes tipped the balance, giving me the win.


One of the things I really like about KoW is that games always feel close. My plan worked, but if a couple of nerve rolls had gone worse than they did, I could have really come unstuck. Pete admitted that he had his Ironclad Regiment in the wrong place and he lost them cheaply to the Wraiths; they should have been on the flank that I attacked.

Things I learned:

  • I need to remember the Lifeleech ability as the regained wounds could have helped some of my units survive a little longer, such as the Revenant Cavalry.
  • The Wraiths are almost filthy. This might have been exacerbated by the static natured of Pete's army, but they ran riot and had a hand in destroying five units over 7 turns. I expect them to have a massive target on them the next time we play.
  • I didn't use my Vampire very well, he kept being blocked by my own unit and so didn't get involved until the end. He could have been put on War Machine duty much earlier.
  • I shouldn't expect too much from the Zombies and Skeletons, and I need to soften up the units I expect them to hit. I possibly need a ranged threat.
  • I might need to be creative with the remains of my Undead bits box to give me some versatility in my list as there's only one way to really play my army at the moment.
I really like Kings of War. Despite being a stripped back rule set, the different armies do feel different in how they play. The game is fast, fun and takes me back to my first love of wargaming, fantasy. It feels right.

More soon!