Monday, 2 October 2017

Reflecting on the Summer Campaign 2017



With the Edge of the Abyss Summer Campaign drawn to a close, I thought I'd best get down my reflections before I get stuck into the next thing.

Overall, my feelings about it are positive. I had a lot of fun playing and tracking games, and I'm really grateful to Mantic for giving this a shot. I feel confident that they'll want to do another in the future. As with all first attempts there are lessons to be learned, and without any claim to any form of expertise in the matter (be it programming, business management, whatever) I'd like to offer some feedback purely from a player/participant's personal perspective.

While a lot of this may seem like criticism, I just want to re-emphasis that I really enjoyed the campaign overall.

Timing

The "summer" campaign needed to be more comfortably placed in the summer period. For my part, my brother and I were planning at least one game every two or so days during the summer, however the bulk of the campaign being in September meant fitting participation around university. I'm sure we can't have been the only ones who'd have been able to get more out of it were it even a month earlier.

Interaction

I loved the special rules being added for limited windows, but I think that easily could have happened more than twice in the campaign. I'd have thought once a week at least once the BoW site was up.

This is actually related to another aspect that I feel could be improved: updates and communications from Mantic/the warconsole. At first I was logging onto the warconsole every day during the campaign, but during the last two weeks I only did so to upload battles or occasionally to read some other reports. I really, really think the campaign site needed daily updates. The temporary site that was up before the BoW site actually had this, and it was PERFECT. 150ish word narrative updates on key movements and battles from the day before. A large part of what seemed to be the point of the campaign was to give more of a sense of narrative investment to KoW players, and something as simple as those little daily updates really delivered that.

In comparison, the BoW site, while having many great features, felt robotic and disconnected. Many players did a great job writing some excellent fluff into their reports, but the lack an official, overarching "narrator" voice was really noticeable.

Also, during the first week of the campaign (I believe) Mantic had a blog post highlighting some of the best/most interesting battle reports they had received. This was never repeated as far as I can tell, which is hard to understand given the ease with which they could have linked to "best of the week" battles, or something like that.

Bugs

This one is clearly not Mantic's fault, but the BoW site had some irritating bugs. Rather than discuss all the ones I read about, I'll stick the ones I experienced myself.

One I'm sure many players came across is that the gallery function seemed to put the pictures in reverse order, and this would often result in players submitting battles that seemed to move backwards (I know this isn't technically a bug but you know what I mean).

Also, if you submitted two different pictures, to two different battle reports, that happened to have the same name ("Elves Turn 1", say) the site would freak out and start either not loading one of the images or load the image from the other battle. I even had this happen across two separate accounts (I had one for Ratkin and one for Elves), and so on one of my Ratkin battles, if you clicked one of the pictures to fullscreen it would appear as a picture of my Elf army after deployment.

Click this image...
...and get a fullscreen of this image!

Achievements

A great idea, and mostly good ideas for the achievements themselves. The massive points given to writing on message boards on the site and for leaving lots of comments seemed like an odd priority, when you consider that there wasn't an achievement for getting a draw, for example (or for getting four draws, "Drawn and Quartered" they could've called it! Eh? Nobody?). I think there was room for more wacky achievements that would be hard to engineer winning, maybe for something like getting a Pyrrhic victory, or losing by 1 objective point etc.

And back to the good

The opportunity to play a part in shaping the narrative of the game world is something I absolutely loved, and I can't wait to see what Mantic do next. Locally the campaign got my brother and I playing a lot more in our FLGS, where we may have been able to spread a little of the KoW bug around.

So thanks Mantic! Get to dropping that sourcebook so I can give you more money.

Long live the Kings of War!
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Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Prince, the Cat, and the Mage

Since I recently finished my elf prince (and his cat), I thought I'd do a post with the characters so far for the army. This post is a little late, as they've already started leading the Sea-kindred elves in the Edge of the Abyss campaign.

First up, Prince Ingemon himself:

 The sabre-toothed pussycat, Orchal:
And, finally, the Mage Iólon:

I'm currently working on two troops of palace guard, so they'll be the next additions to the army, bringing it up to 1000pts.

I'm also working on part 3 of my brother and I's narrative campaign (part 1, part 2). The game has been played, and now I just have to put it all together as well as write the narrative sections, which is to say, it may take a while! Most likely not as long as some of the silent periods on this blog though, so there's that at least.

Thanks for reading.
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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

New Tallspears Regiment - The Moon Shields

Two posts in two days? This will certainly NOT be a trend :p

Finally finished a new unit for my Sea-Kindred, and it's another unit of kindred tallspears built from the old and out-of-production GW High Elves Spearmen kit. I'm calling these the Moon Shields, in contrast to my already completed Star Shields, both of which making an appearance (to very different extents) in yesterday's narrative campaign batrep.


Expect to see these chaps actually joining the battle in future installments, led by Prince Ingemon, who I am working on right now, and should be up on here by the end of the week if all goes well.

As far as how the unit turned out... I'm glad it's done, but I'm not entirely satisfied. I don't think they represent my best work. But that's the last of my old GW elf kits finished, and I expect the future units to be more fun, and much less fiddly.

Thanks for reading :)
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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

1st Mittelerdian War: Game 2 - A Plague On Both Their Houses


This game follows on from our last, Ambush at the Border. With this game and the next we want to segue into the summer campaign, so that come the end of September we can return to our story here and have lots of fresh new narrative to play with. And now, to set the scene (after all, this is a narrative campaign!):

Prince Ingemon of house Enneiros stepped off the boat and onto the peer with practised ease. Walking along the recently-restored masonry, his stride was at once detached and focused, bearing him swiftly toward his goal. Soldiers were disembarking behind him, golden crescents resplendent on their helms, while dock labourers tethered the small landing craft. In the distance a larger ship could be seen. It was an elegant vessel, whose slim form suggested the capacity for great speed. Its sails displayed the head of an eagle, the symbol of house Enneiros. Mere feet off the starboard bow lay the diffused point of a great shadow, projected to the north-west by the early morning sun. Even in its semi-ruined state, the tallest tower of the island-fort Tiriant Dalath stretched towards the heavens, dominating the horizon. Signs of repair were visible on many buildings as well as on the outer walls, with patches of clean stonework blending into weather-worn, and wooden scaffolds attesting to the ongoing work.



Captain Sæwon stood ready to greet Ingemon at the harbour. He made a quick assessment of the approaching prince and noted that, despite his youth, he wore his battle-armour with confidence. Whether or not such undeniable self-possession is deserved, Sæwon thought, remains to be seen. The captain had fought in many campaigns, and served under all sorts of characters drawn from among the nobility of his kin. Self-belief is a vital trait for leadership, and far from lacking among the ruling class, he thought wryly. The hint of a smile touched his lips, and then was gone. Prince Ingemon had almost reached him.



“My Lord Ingemon, we are honoured to receive you. I am Sæwon, captain of the fort's garrison, it is a pleasure to...” Ingemon strode past him, his pace unchanged. Frowning, Sæwon followed just behind, attempting to lock step with the prince's determined rhythm. So the prince was that sort. “I am sorry that we are unable to provide a more befitting reception, but as you can see, we are still in the midst of rebuilding the fort. Perhaps, my Lord, if we had received word-”



“Word was sent when we departed Walldeep.”



This surprised Sæwon, as the communications of their kin rarely lost their way. He recovered quickly.



“Of course, my Lord, only we have received no messages of any kind for almost four months, nor responses to our own. When Master Iólon ran out of birds to send, he-”



“Where is the mage? Set up in the tower I expect?” They had passed through the main square and were swiftly making their way towards the steps leading up to the keep. Along their path elves paused in their work to watch the pair stride by. Others had come to visit the island-fort since it had been reclaimed six months past, but Ingemon was the first royal to do so.



“Not presently, my Lord, no. Master Iólon left Tiriant Dalath just over a week ago.”



Ingemon, who had just begun to mount the steps, stopped. It was clear this had been the last thing he had expected to hear. He turned to face Sæwon, who braced himself to receive the prince's ire, but Ingemon's eyes showed only alarm.



“Where?” The word was spoken with concern, and the captain realised he may have to revisit his earlier assessment of the prince.



“North, to the lands of men. As I was saying, my Lord, he sent numerous requests to the King's court asking for permission to make contact with a populace calling itself the League of Rhordia, and once he ran out of messenger birds, well...” Sæwon wasn't sure how to end; it did not bode well to discuss the matters of mages, nor nobles for that matter.



“I see. So he decided to go anyway.” Ingemon resumed climbing the steps, but more slowly, apparently deep in thought. Sæwon followed, content to await the prince's next words. He did not have to wait long. At the top of the steps and before the great door, Ingemon stopped.



“He has left me no choice.”



He turned once again to Sæwon.



“I shall have to pursue him. My men and I will need supplies for the journey, as well as all the information you have on the local territories.”



“At once, my Lord.”



Ingemon inclined his head appreciatively, and turned towards the door. Folding his arms, he looked up at the building before him. At around six hundred feet, the tower at Tiriant Dalath was an uncommonly large structure this far north, but was as an ant to a mammoth when compared to Therennia Adar, in whose shadow rests the great city of the Sea-Kindred.



“I shall also require half your garrison.”



Now it was Sæwon's turn to be alarmed. “But my Lord, that would make the fort near indefensible!”



“Nevertheless, it is what I require.” He turned to face Sæwon. “Do not worry yourself, captain, I am reasonably certain that the fort will be untroubled by the war.”



“The war, my Lord?”



Ingemon nodded. “A great war. Perhaps the greatest since winter's rage itself.” He paused. “A war of change at the very least, although what kind of change remains to be seen.” He turned and pushed open the door. “I shall be in the mage's study, alert me when my men have been supplied with what we will need.”



“As you wish, my Lord.”



Before he began his descent, Sæwon noted that Ingemon once again moved with focus: the prince was confident of his decision.



***



Unbeknownst to Prince Ingemon, he was not the only one in pursuit of Iólon. Far to the north, goblin biggit Grotti-khan had rallied a handful of his mounted gits and set off in pursuit of the elf. Even carrying the wounded mage, Iólon's tallspear soldiers covered ground quickly, and by the time Grotti-khan got the gits together they were beyond sight. No matter, he thought, Rip-fang has them. His wolf knew the stink of elves well, and would not lose their trail.



Among his assembled crew were two other wolf-mounted goblins, and three riding great spiders. Good enough for raiding a lone merchant, perhaps, or even an ill-prepared convoy, but Grotti-khan had his doubts about rushing head-on at this group of elves. That said, the mage-elf had burned him. He had burned his wolf. His eyes narrowed. That had hurt. Nobody hurt him and lived, not this elf, and not those orcs. They had beaten Grotti-khan, many times, and he had killed them, killed them all, knife in the throat while they slept...



He shook himself from the memory. Besides, the elves had loot, good loot, and we never lets good loot go, no no no. They outnumbered him now, it's true, but many more goblins followed him. He just had to keep tracking the elves, and wait for the moment to strike.



Rip-fang stopped for a moment and began investigating. Grotti-khan stroked his mane. This was not so much an act of affection as it was respect. While the biggit felt the sting of fear about as much as the rest of his kind, this wolf was near fearless, and Grotti-khan drew on that, found steel in it.



They pressed on, and soon enough a small farming settlement appeared on the horizon. Smoke rose from a number of buildings, and the fields too showed signs of having been burned. While some might have mistaken this for the aftermath of a raid, Grotti-khan suspected that, like many of the other settlements they had come across, it was committed by the population itself as they abandoned their lands.



Suddenly Rip-fang's head shot up, sniffing at the air. With a whimper it shrank back, its ears flat. The two other wolves displayed similar agitation. A new smell had been carried by the wind, one that had struck fear into the beasts, even into the near-fearless Rip-fang. Grotti-khan stood up in his saddle and looked around, straining his neck for any hint as to what might have provoked them.



“There!” cried one of the gits, pointing west. Grotti-khan looked, and for a moment saw nothing, until he realised that the dark cloud emerging over the horizon was not natural. Nor was it the dust of an army marching. It was far faster, and far worse. Pestilence.



He looked again at the settlement. There was one building, a large hovel, that was unscathed by the flames, and was almost certainly where the elves had established themselves. To have them right there, only for those things to interfere... Slowly, a malicious smile began to form on his face. The death the mage-elf is going to suffer at their hands will surely be terrible beyond imagining, and though neither the revenge nor the loot would be his, this at least was a comforting thought. He turned Rip-fang away from the settlement.



“We're done here.”



***



Inside the hovel, Sergeant Pennor woke from sleep. The twenty-five elves shifted positions like clockwork, some taking up sentry posts at various vantage points while those relieved of this duty prepared to rest. They did not actually need to sleep – they could remain awake for several days if necessary – but since the situation demanded they stay put, there was no reason not to take advantage of it. The small building provided little room for comfort, especially for so many, but it was undamaged and had good lines of sight to the surrounding area. Pennor inspected the men. In their flight from the goblins his tallspears had managed to join up with the surviving kindred archers. While spirits could not be described as high, their discipline and determination remained firm. They would get their charge to safety. His gaze shifted to the mage. Iólon had been placed on the only bed in the building, and it was there the elves had patched his wounds as best they could, removing the vicious goblin's arrow from his chest. The bleeding had stopped quickly, and his heart had slowed to a crawl. One would be forgiven for thinking the mage at death's door, but Iólon's lack of consciousness was actually a meditative state, an act of self-healing, common enough among those elves educated in the ways of magic.



A sharp whisper broke the silence of the homestead: “Sergeant!”



Pennor moved swiftly to the elf that had spoken. “Movement?” The elf nodded, and moved aside. Pennor peered through the small window. He could see a narrow path between two hovels, and a heavily damaged stable on the other side. He watched for several seconds, but there was nothing. “Where did you-”



A small arrow leapt from the shadows of the damaged stable, and stuck fast in the window frame. “Goblins!” yelled Pennor, and the elves were up in an flash, tallspears making ready to pour out of the single doorway with precision, the archers preparing themselves at the windows.



There was a shout from outside. The language sounded harsh to Pennor's ears, but it was also unlike any goblin tongue he had ever heard. The elves stood ready, and for a moment there was quiet. Then the shout came again, repeating its demand (it certainly sounded like a demand). Pennor was sure now; whoever they were, they were not goblins. He decided to yell back, tell them to show themselves, but before he had begun filling his lungs he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to find the mage had awoken, and was standing at his side.



“They want us to identify ourselves,” Iólon said, before releasing a great length of syllables through the window, sounds that closely resembled the newcomers' speech. There was a pause, and then a single word was returned. Before Pennor realised what was happening, Iólon had opened the door and stepped outside. Inwardly cursing the mage, the sergeant signaled his men to follow quickly. They flowed through the doorway like water in a stream, and moved to form a defensive formation. When they attempted to interpose themselves between the mage and the source of the voice, Iólon flung out his arms, yelling “Back! Keep your weapons down!” before once again addressing the hidden speaker.



Slowly, a group of very short, human-like men emerged. Pennor blinked. It was as if they had been hiding in plain sight, so obvious should they have been in their chosen hiding spots, but even his keen elven eyesight had missed them completely. They carried bows that were knocked with arrows, although undrawn and pointing to the ground. They wore uniform blue coats that were dirty from mud and navigating rough terrain – they were clearly scouts. Their faces bore looks of total astonishment. It was clear that not one among them had ever seen an elf in the flesh before, not to mention a regiment of Sea-Kindred soldiers, resplendent in their gilded, ruby-inlaid armour.



One of the halfmen stepped forward. Unlike the others his coat was a deep green, although he wore a blue broad-rimmed hat with a long white feather, fastened to it by a bronze pin in the shape of a skull. In place of a bow he carried a sling, which he held casually and without threat, though Pennor had the sense that this could change in an instant. Focusing on his face he saw that, while the halfman was clearly surprised by what had emerged from the dwelling, he was not so much awed as amused. He spoke, addressing himself to Iólon in what sounded like polite, if somewhat informal tones. They began to converse, the conversation remaining friendly despite the occasional difficulty in communication; it appeared the tongues were close but not an exact match. More halfmen began to emerge from behind the scouts, these ones being equipped with a variety of melee weapons. Some men (full-sized) also appeared, hefting great polearms on their shoulders. Men and halfmen alike wore a variety of blue garments, and Pennor realised that this must be a militia.



The dialogue stopped and both turned back to their men. Iólon approached Pennor, “Well, we have found men of the League at last. Specifically a band led by Master Sergeant Gotthard Zeeman Visser-” on hearing his name the halfman turned to the elves and bowed low, “they are marching to join forces with their duke, and have been checking settlements on the way, both for survivors and to make certain that nothing has been left to the goblins. Although the word he used was closer to 'vermin', which works just as well I suppose. He spoke of a war, which I assume is the one being inflicted on them by the 'vermin'. He also mentioned that they are being rallied to 'the wall', which I assumed was some sort of fortress but he said no, and then nothing much he said after that made sense. Regardless, we shall join them. They will take us to this duke and I will begin discussions with him.”



“But Master Iólon, begging your forgiveness, these lands are utterly blighted! What value could there possibly be in-”



Iólon waved him silent, and was about to say something when a commotion broke out among the League militia. Iólon turned, and (Pennor presumed) asked what was wrong. Gotthard spoke rapidly, and turned back to the men, by the looks of it giving them orders. They began to gather in formation, facing west. “Master Iólon?” Pennor asked.



“He says the 'vermin' are coming fast, into the village square. Get your men ready, sergeant.”



In a matter of moments the elves were arranged into fighting formation. Pride swelled in Pennor's heart upon seeing his Star Shields arrayed before him. He hefted the regiment's banner, and gave a blast on his horn. They began to march.

We decided to play a 650pts game of Dominate, which would introduce the Ratkin and League of Rhordia to our campaign. Since we were playing at a small points level we used a smaller board, although we still kept the deployment zones 24'' apart.

The Ratkin raiding force consisted of:

Regiment of Blight
Regiment of Brutes w. Helm of Confidence
Regiment of Warriors
2x Regiment of Vermintide
Blight Lord w. Soul Drain and Weakness

In the Elf/League Alliance, we had:

Regiment of Kindred Tallspears
Troop of Kindred Archers
Elven Mage w. Inspiring Talisman

Regiment of Halfling Braves
Troop of City Militia
Troop of Halfling Scouts
Halfling Master Sergeant w. Bow

Deployment Overview

Elves & League Turn 1:

Seizing the initiative, the elf/man/halfling alliance moved to defend the settlement.


The melee forces pushed up while the archers readied a volley.

The troop of militia circled the house, hoping to catch the enemy's flank exposed.

Leaning over the obstacles, both the elf and halfling archers targeted the two vermintide regiments. The swarm targeted by the elves shrugged off the hail of arrows sent their way but the others, despite receiving only 2 damage from the halfling scouts, panicked and broke for the hills (double 6 on the nerve roll!). 

Ratkin Turn 1:

The verminous horde moved forward, careful to maintain formation. 

The surviving vermintide pressed towards the elven archers, who would have one last turn to halt their advance...

Elves & League Turn 2:


As he led the Star Shields into the square, Sergeant Pennor was finally able to take in the enemy that was pouring towards them. Disgust clawed at his mind – these were not the goblin hordes they had encountered many times before. Walking on two legs in a mockery of the higher races were huge rats, equipped with an assortment of weapons and shields. They were descending upon the square with horrifying speed. Around half of them appeared loaded with disease, their eyes bleeding and their mouths frothing, in frayed yellow-green rags and carrying rusted armaments.



Gotthard began shouting, making sure he had Iólon's attention. When he was done Iólon gave a nod, and turned to Pennor.



“We are going to draw them in and surround them. The halfmen are the bait, get ready!”



“Understood!” Pennor cried, “Star Shields, wall!” The tallspears formed a phalanx around the sergeant, and awaited the order to advance.

On each flank the trap was set. The militia prepared to catch the blight off-guard, while the tallspears readied to spring on the warriors. True to their name, the halfling braves boldly claimed the centre, moving into the charge range of the ratkin and daring them to attack.


The elven archers once again targeted the vermintide, and this time were able to waver them. The halfling master sergeant and the scouts combined their fire into the blight, and despite the noxious cloud shrouding them the blight suffered 2 damage, although it was not enough to deter them.

The halfling master sergeant and the scouts combined their fire into the blight, and despite the noxious cloud shrouding them the blight suffered 2 damage, although it was not enough to deter them.

Ratkin Turn 2:



Plague Lord Festeek was hungry. They were all hungry. The pink-things had burned everything. They had burned the food! It made no sense, it was total insanity. But it's fine, he thought, totally fine. Because pink-ones are delicious.



Especially the little ones.



And here they were, on a platter. A big, square platter. He didn't even have to give the order, his ratkin had surged forward with famished glee. As he ran behind them, however, he spotted something out of the corner of his eye. Taller pink-ones had appeared from behind one of their surface-boxes and were preparing to attack the ratkin flank. It was a trap!

There was no use trying to alert his kin, so all consuming was their hunger for what stood before them. He tried to cast magicks at the sneaky pink-ones, but it was rushed and clumsy, and the spell failed to materialise. This could be bad.


Charge! The warriors and the blight descended upon the halflings with glee. The wavered vermintide on the flank made good use of their nimble to hide behind the tower, enough to claim cover at least.


The brutes moved to join the fray at the earliest opportunity. The blight lord attempted to cast Weakness on the militia, but the spell failed.

In the combat the ratmen underperformed, causing only 4 damage, but with a decent nerve roll were at least able to waver the braves.

Elves & League Turn 3:


The trap was sprung, with the tallspears and militia charging into flanks. The halfling scouts spied the brutes over the combat and managed to inflict 1 damage, which the brutes ignored. The elven archers hopped the obstacle and put another volley into the vermintide, which was enough to send them scurrying. 


In the combats, the tallspears inflicted 11 damage on the warriors and broke them, while the militia managed 7 on the blight and sent them packing. With the ratkin front line collapsed, the men and elves turned to face the remaining rats.

Ratkin Turn 3:


The brutes charged into the tallspears, failing to regenerate their 1 damage in the process. The blight lord moved to protect the brutes' flank from the militia, casting Soul Drain into the tallspears as he did so. He only managed to inflict 1 damage, but was at least able to heal the brutes in the process.


There was no time for celebration. As they scattered the rat-filth before them, a grotesque roar sounded to the Star Shields' left. “Left!” ordered Pennor, and he gave a blast on his horn. In a flash, the phalanx reformed to face the source. Pennor had barely a second to process the nightmare before their eyes. The brutes slammed forward, and the formation was shattered.

The brutes rolled well in the combat, inflicting 5 damage on the elves. They then rolled high for nerve twice, getting a 9 the second time which with the help of brutal forced a rout! With the elves scattered before them, they turned to face the inevitable counter charge.


Elves & League Turn 4:

Once again true to their name, the halfling braves charged past the fleeing elves into the brutes. The militia decided to try their luck with the blight lord, in the hopes of at least shutting down his magic, while everything else closed in on the centre.

The militia scored 3 damage on the blight lord, disrupting his magic. The halfmen put 3 damage on the brutes, which was not enough to halt their rampage.

Ratkin Turn 4:



Both the blight lord and the brutes counter charged, the brutes regen bringing them back to 1 damage. The lord only managing 1 point on the militia, which they ignored. The brutes rolled abysmally, managing only 1 damage, bringing the halflings up to 5. Some lucky rolls on the nerve combined with brutal was once again just enough to send them fleeing, however.

Elves & League Turn 5:




While the militia continued to trade blows with the blight lord, the rest of the army had lined up to combine fire on the brutes. Through combined fire they inflicted 6 damage, bringing the total to 7 and, despite the Helm of Confidence, routing the unit. The militia brought the blight lord up to 6 damage but were unable to remove him.



 
Festeek dodged another swing from a taller pink-one. Grabbing the polearm, he pulled its owner toward him and sunk his teeth into his neck. Deliiicious. He ripped back, taking as much flesh with him as he could. As the pink-one fell gurgling to the ground, his comrades were frozen for a moment by the sheer horror. Festeek surveyed the battle. His kin were in disarray, dead or in full flight. For a moment his sheer rage at defeat wrestled with his fear of death, but eventually fear won, as it always did with his kind. He uttered a quick incantation, and a noxious cloud flooded the air around, causing his enemies to back away coughing. He made his escape.

At this point my brother decided that the blight lord would no doubt cut his losses and high-tail it (probably with a little help from pestilent magicks). Elves and League win!


As soon as he realised what was happening, Iólon cast a blast of air at the green cloud. It seemed to resist pulling apart, but began to disperse nonetheless. Their leader was gone.



The halfmen scouts ran forward and began cutting the throats of wounded rats, shooting arrows into those that still looked like they might have fight in them. Gotthard approached the mage.



“Well fought, Master Iólon. I see the tales of elven valour are not exaggerated.” His tone was respectful, but there was just a hint of mockery in his eyes. Behind them Sergeant Pennor's horn could be heard as he rallied the surviving tallspears.



“And well fought to you, Master Sergeant. I take it you have encountered these creatures before?”



He nodded grimly. “I first heard word of them last year, but I didn't believe any of it. Their attacks began several weeks ago. Add that to the recent upsurge in goblin numbers and, well, let's just say we've seen better days.” The scouts were finishing their work, and the elves were occupying themselves with the wounded.



“Your wounded are in good hands,” said Iólon, “I will see to them myself. I hope we have sufficiently demonstrated our good intentions.”



“Of course, Master Iólon.” He scanned the battlefield. “We will need to burn the dead. They'll return to eat them if we don't.”



“I'm sure. We, however, will deal with our own.”


Gotthard nodded. “I understand. We'll leave when the wounded are ready. I will take you to see the duke.” Iólon followed the halfling's gaze to the statue standing in the square. The mage realised that this was Primovantian in origin, likely a rendering of Mescator, Celestian and God of Justice. It was smeared with ratkin blood. When he turned back to Gotthard, the halfling was looking at him. He wore a curious smile. “You'll like the duke, I think. He is... an interesting man.”
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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Chillcon & Chills of War 2017


Now that I have a moment, I thought I'd reflect on my trip south to Chillcon and their Kings of War tournament that I played in. Long story short, it was great. I had a blast in the tourney, got to pick up some nifty stuff at the convention, and even got a slice of cake at the end of the day. I definitely plan on attending next year, and will recommend that others do too.

I figured it'd be good to reflect on how the tournament went, so I'll give some thoughts. My memory won't allow for anything approaching detailed battle reports, and I didn't manage to snap any pics (other than the cake above), so I've pulled the following from the Chillcon facebook events page.

The tournament was 3 games at 1500pts. My list was:

Horde of Blight w. Caterpillar Potion
Horde of Brutes w. Brew of Courage
Horde of Shock Troops
Horde of Warriors
Horde of Spear Warriors w. Healing Brew
Horde of Vermintide
Weapon Team
Death Engine w. Vile Sorcery
Swarm Crier w. Healing Charm
Swarm Crier w. Lute of Insatiable Darkness

Hooooordes! The basic plan for this list was to eschew chaff and massed shooting for overwhelmingly high nerve, moving in tight formation and layered. The warrior horde would be front and centre, their demise inevitable, with the shock troops behind for counter punch.

Game 1: Undead
Game 1 was Push, and against an interesting (and great looking) undead list. I don't have any of my opponents' lists, but from what I can remember David's list included:

Horde of Revenants w. Hammer of Measured Force
Horde of Werewolves w. Helm of the Ram
Regiment of Soul Reaver Cavalry w. Wine of Elvenkind
Troop of Revenant Cavalry
2 Troops of Wraiths
Mounted Revenant King
Mounted Necromancer


This is the only in-game pic available, and it looks like the end of turn 1 I believe. You can see the formation that would be essentially the same in my 3 games, varying only slightly in response to my opponents drops. David put his token on his Soul Reaver cavalry, forgetting that it would drop their speed and nimble, so was forced to abandon it early. I was able to maintain my formation, 'push' the two tokens onto his side of the board and stay there. I think I played this well, but must admit the dice were pretty hot for me in this game. This was my first game against undead, although given how popular an army it is in youtube battle reports etc. it didn't feel that way - despite this David was still able to catch me with a few wraith-to-flank surges, ouch! Lesson learned. David was a great opponent and, as with everyone I played, I hope to run into him again.
Win.

Game 2: Ratkin


It's a rat-off! As far as I remember, Ian's list included:

Horde of Spear Warriors
Horde of Brutes
Mutant Rat-Fiend
Death Engine w. Vile Sorcery
2x Scurrier Troops
Weapon Team w. Storm of Lead
Demonspawn
Warlock

Quite a different list (gotta love that Kings balance) that went for the Ratkin's great shooting potential while still packing a punch. Game 2 was scour, and we rolled up 6 tokens. This was a close game, possibly the closest game I've played. Aside from the odd error, we were both playing a tight game. Ian caught me with a corkscrew charge from his demonspawn on my brutes that took them out early. From here we traded pieces, and by the end of turn 6 it was draw, with both of us holding 2 objectives and 1 being contested. We rolled for turn 7, and yes, there would be one final turn. I had won the 1st turn dice off and elected to go second, and so with his turn 7 Ian nabbed the uncontested objective. I had a dilemma, my blight were very likely going to finish off his spear warriors and claim the contested objective, which would put us back to a draw. I could charge my own spear warriors off of an objective into the flank of his Death Engine and, if I beat it, hope not to roll a 1 on the overrun in order to take that objective and win. If they didn't kill it, or if I rolled that 1, it would be a loss. Throwing caution to the wind I went for it - the blight cleared out the spear warriors, the swarm crier threw a bane chant on the spear warriors, and they overwhelmed the death engine. Now for the overrun... a 2. Phew! Thanks for the close game, Ian.
Win.

Game 3: Rhordia

Tom's list included:

Horde of Dogs of War w. Brew of Strength (I think)
Horde of City Militia w. Healing Brew
Horde of Honour Guard w. Caterpillar Potion
Regiment of Halfling Knights w. Holy Hand Grenade
2x Halfling Volley Gun
2x Halfling Sorceror w. Soul Drain (1 mounted, 1 w. Griffon Banner I believe)
Duke on Winged Aralez

So at this point in the day, the hall was boiling, and I was pretty drained from how close game 2 was, so even after the lunch break I had no idea how to think of Tom's list, and I just started doing my thing. The game was Control, but with the board in quarters instead of sixths, so the plan I had worked on involved pushing up the centre with my killers looking to take the two point square on the right and my 'blockers' just holding up the left. This immediately began to fall apart: my positioning was sloppy in the extreme, whereas Tom was playing an effortlessly tight game. As I began to make major errors, such as forgetting to move key units, my frustration (with myself) grew, and my grasp of the rules slipped, revealed by my bizarre questions to Tom ("Can I touch that obstacle to gain cover?" among others haha). By the end of his turn 3 it was clear that it was over, so I decided to just enjoy the pasting and see what I could learn. I believe I was wiped in turn 5, it may have been 6 but either way it was a total rout, the worst defeat I've thus far received and a lesson in humility! I felt bad that I hadn't even presented a challenge in this game, however I later learned that (as of writing) Tom is the no.1 ranked UK player. Fair enough!
Loss.

By the end of the day, the table was as follows:

So 3rd place! Not too shabby methinks for my second ever singles tournament, and the second time taking 3rd too. Clearly there is much for me to learn in this game, but if the learning is always as fun as it was at Chillcon then that's no bad thing.

Thanks to Hal for running the event, which despite starting late due to folk getting delayed in arriving still ended ahead of schedule. All the armies looked great, and thanks again to my opponents for the games.


See you next year, Chillcon!
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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

1st Mittelerdian War: Game 1 - Ambush at the Border


On the far-flung frontiers of the Grand League of Rhordia lies a province known to its inhabitants as Mittelerde. Once a rolling, green land of peaceful folk, men and halfmen alike enjoyed a life largely untroubled by the outside world. However, recent incursions from goblin and ratkin raiding parties have rendered this a distant memory, with the slow response of the League to the growing threat leaving the residents of Mittelerde desperate and fearful. At times they have taken to hiring ogre mercenaries to defend their lands, but the itinerant nature of the great tribes makes them an unreliable source of safety.

Fortunately, the goblins and ratkin have been equally occupied with fighting each other as with terrorizing the locals, with warlords vying for ultimate control of raiding rights. This has bought Rhordia time, and there are signs that a response may soon be marshaled, but the question remains: will the armies of the League arrive in time to save them, or merely to avenge them?

Into this tense situation comes a new element: the elves of the Sea-Kindred seek to reassert their presence in the world. Outposts long abandoned are once again garrisoned and undergoing restoration, and emissaries of King Ariandaras are sent to establish or reaffirm links among the many Kingdoms of Men.

Iólon, Mage of Therennia Adar, is one such emissary, and is on his way to establish relations with the Rhordian Schools of Magic. Signs of devastation become increasingly apparent as he leads his escort through the abandoned fields of Mittelerde. The wind changes direction, and the smell hits: goblins! Within mere moments the sounds of many vicious cries intermingled with the roars of beasts reach elven ears; to battle!

Welcome to this blog's first battle report! My brother (blog) and I decided to start a narrative campaign to give some context to our many battles, as well as allow us to play around with some of the less competitively-minded possibilities in KoW (although we both love competitive play). We have a lot of ideas for it, and while it won't have anything coming close to a regular update schedule it should hopefully grow into something pretty epic.

We started off with the "Flanked!" scenario from Destiny of Kings, a pretty small game with 500 points for the defenders and 750 for the attackers. The game lasts 7 turns, if defenders are wiped out then attackers win (obviously), if defenders kill 60% of attackers before being wiped out it's a draw, and if any elves survive the game then defenders win. Normally it's if 20% or more of defenders survive then it's a win, but at this points level, and with elves, that means it's wipe to win for the goblins.
This shows both deployment and our lists. The goblins went for units over artifacts, whereas the elves brought a few toys to the field. The compass is there to indicate which flank of the battlefield I refer to throughout the report.

A close up of the goblins to the east:
And to the west:
Elf deployment:
The rules for this scenario seem pretty harsh on the defender. Not only do they have to deploy everything first, they go second too. With that in mind I put the tallspears so that they weren't facing either enemy zone, so that they could have the option to pivot 90 degrees and move to where they were needed.

Goblins turn one, on the east flank the rabble go at-the-double and the spitters hop into the woods. The sharpsticks only move a little to prevent blocking line the spitters line of sight to the elves. The war trombone stays behind the hill to prevent any chance of being targeted by elven archers.
Similar story to the west, sniffs inch forward to get in range while trolls and fleabags move forward together, the biggit keeping them in his inspiring bubble. Goblin shooting failed to damage.
Arrows whistled through the air, leaping from woods both east and west of the elves. Ducking behind walls and shields, the children of Walldeep moved to ready their defense.

Seeing the oncoming fleabags and trolls as the most pressing threat, the tallspears shift west. I hadn't measured the distance exactly when I deployed and it turned out that, as the deployment zones are 20 inches apart in this scenario, the goblin rabble regiment was going to get a turn 2 charge on my archers. In hindsight it would probably have been a smarter play to leave them where they were, but I elected to back up an inch and suffer the -2 for moving and now shooting over the obstacle. I also put Iólon in range to fireball while keeping him inspiring to all units, as well as outside of a turn 2 shot from the war trombone.
As it was, my decision to back up the elves didn't go too badly, as I rolled well enough that, combined with the fireball, the rabble took 5 damage. Not enough for even a waver unfortunately.
Despite not moving, the western archers only put one point of damage on the sniffs, but managed a cheeky waver!
The goblins push forward on both flanks, the war trombone getting on the hill and readying a shot at the archers...
...and score seven damage, enough to send the elves running!
Ears still ringing from the blast, Iólon was momentarily blinded by the wave of smoke that washed over the elven position, product of the foul goblin contraption on the hill. Behind him he heard sergeant Pennor give the order to charge. Turning to look, he spotted an authoritative looking goblin barking orders at the trolls from the back of his wolf.

I decide to put the tallspears into the fleabags; playing it safe wasn't going to cut it in this scenario. I side-stepped the remaining archers a couple of inches to prevent a flank charge from the trolls - once again I should probably have left them and had a better round of sniff-sniping instead, as they fail to score any damage. Iólon moves to fireball the biggit...
...and scores 5 points, but after a re-roll only manages a waver. His inspiring isn't enough to save the fleabags though, who rout before the elven phalanx. I reform the elves to face the trolls.
Turn 3 for goblins, my brother continues to push up, with the trombone now in range of my mage.
The spitters move up to just within range of the archers and score 2 points of damage, which clearly came as a shock to the elves as they routed!
The war trombone scores 5 on the mage, but he maintains his cool.
Being hindered really hurts the trolls, as they only manage 2 points on the tallspears, who remain steady.
Turn 3 for the elves, and things are looking dicey. My mage was lucky to survive the shot from the trombone, and so tries to make it count, but a fireball only wavers the war engine.
The tallspears do 3 points to the trolls, who're unconcerned.
Having finally put out the flames in his wolf's fur, goblin biggit Grotti-Khan cast his eyes across the battlefield, eager to get revenge on the knife-ears who had scorched his beast. Spying further bursts of magic beyond the brawl of elves and trolls, he spurred the wolf into action, skirting the combat and lining up his shot. Iólon never saw it coming - the arrow pierced his ribs. His vision fading, he saw Grotti-Khan, malevolent pleasure evident in the goblin's smile. He blacked out.
Uh oh. Just the tallspears left. Fortunately they hold firm against another round of attacks from the trolls.
Breaking formation briefly, two elves hauled Iólon's limp body back to the regiment and behind the shieldwall. Sergeant Pennor gave a blast on his horn, and the tallspears pushed hard into the trolls, determined to see their charge to safety.

Feeling motivated (no doubt by goblins pressing in from all sides) the elves manage to break the trolls, who Grotti-Khan had left out of inspiring in his eagerness to shoot my mage. With the rabble closing in, I gamble on an overrun to get the hell outta there. They go a healthy 5 inches, running along the obstacle.
Perhaps sensing my plan, my brother moves his units to block me in...
...but puts the sniffs too close, allowing the tallspears to chase them off!
Goblins turn 6, and unless his biggit can shoot me there is no way for him to catch me in combat. Grotti-Khan does manage a wound, but it isn't enough.
The elves continue to leg it, and the goblins remain in pursuit (mainly for cinematic purposes). The biggit has one last chance to force a nerve check, and he scores another wound...
...but it's not enough, and the elves get outta there. Elves win!
Howls of frustration issued from the goblins as the elves settled into a steady pace, easily out pacing the greenskins and leaving them to cast blame among themselves for the failure. Pennor knew that Iólon would need medical attention soon or he would perish. On the horizon he spotted what appeared to be a small farming community. They would regroup there, and plan the next move.

That was not the result either of us expected! I should say that, so convinced were we that the elves were screwed, I planned every move obsessively while my brother was far more casual. Roleplaying goblin confidence a little too well perhaps?

Will Iólon survive his wounds? Who will the elves find in the farming community? Will the Goblins get their revenge? Find out next time, in the unfolding events of the 1st Mittelerdian War!

Edit: Click here for the next game.
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