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
Revenant Cavalry Regiment (Potion of the Caterpillar)
Skeleton Spearmen Regiment
Wraiths Regiment (Diadem of Dragonkind)
Necromancer (Bane Chant, Inspiring Talisman)
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)
Ironwatch Crossbow Troop
Ironwatch Rifle Troop (Jar of the Four Winds)
Ironwatch Rifle Troop
Ironbelcher Organ Gun
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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...
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.
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.