It isn’t just the ancient adversaries that have lines in the Book of Grudges. Indeed, the younger races can do plenty to earn the ire of dwarfs. Lately, the humans have drawn the attention of the dwarf king through several border skirmishes that show their artillery has improved over the years. Have played three games of Kings of War by Mantic Games in the last week all against my friend, Ryan, and his Kingdoms of Men army.
I’d already faced Necron_99’s Basileans once in past so thought I had an idea of what humans were like but Kingdoms of Men have hard hitting, armored cavalry, cheap hordes of pike (+20 attacks!), ogres, and artillery that hits on 5s with neither range nor cover modifiers. Ouch, and they are so much cheaper than dwarfs.
The first two battle were fought back to back with the first as a Kill scenario and the second as a Kill and Pillage scenario. When playing Ryan it is imperative to get the first turn because if he does, whatever army he’s running, he is unloading ranged death. His artillery proved accurate numerous times while he deftly skirted hills to avoid mine. Very frustrating for one who’s army relies on its guns.
Ryan was able to keep pounding my forces with accurate artillery while moving his forces forward behind hills and forests. I was able to take out one unit of knights before the other crashed into my Berserker lord on brock. When the infantry units finally closed on one another the bloodshed began in earnest. The game went to twelve turns and ended with a close victory for the humans. Hurrumph, upstart races.
The second battle found us trying to end with units closer to objective markers as well as kill each other. That seems to be a recurring theme in our games, no matter the genre’, now that I think about it. This one was much closer even with his horrifyingly accurate artillery fire raining death from on high. I swear, I don’t understand how the humans get so many indirect fire weapons. I’m just glad the dwarfs finally got one in the form of the Jarrun Bombard. Typical of dwarfs, it is very expensive (100points) so I haven’t added one yet, not yet.
Since he blasted apart my long range artillery on his first turn (did I mention it sucks when he goes first?) it all came down to the combats on my left flank. I was able to kill off just about every scoring unit he moved into the village square but he kept dropping rocks with such accuracy that he even took out the army standard bearer (rolled a six!). My berserker lord was able to take out the rocket team holding an objective and the game ended in a draw. Now, in hindsight, if I had trusted in my Headstrong and not used my Inspiring to make Ryan reroll the Wavering result the unit wouldn’t have been wiped out when he rolled an eleven. Sigh, if I had a dollar for every time I miss judged that I could pay for the next pizza.
I decided I needed a few changes in my force after those last two close ones. We have been playing 1000 points a side and I have really been struggling with whether the regiment of Brocks is worth the points. It is nice to have a high Nerve(20/22) and 30 Attacks but it eats up a lot of points (280 with Brew of Strength) and really needs another fast unit or mounted character to back it up. Again, a lot of points for a 1000 point force. In the end, paint jobs won and the regiment of brocks stayed. I switched to two cannons, dropped the army standard bearer, and traded the crossbows for rangers while kitting out some units with magic. Still felt like way too few units when I saw his army.
Despite getting the first turn, Ryan, rather uncharacteristically, rolled poorly for his artillery, barely wounding one cannon and leaving some wounds on the rangers. Just to show what a fair player I am I also rolled poorly with all my shooting and his knights slammed into one of my cannons while artillery finished off the other. Another game where I would have no long range shooting after my first turn. Meanwhile his other knights charged the rangers. This time he rolled really well on his attacks and Nerve so they routed. My infantry did take some revenge on both units of knights but knew they were all just sitting targets now. The Berserker Lord tore one apart by himself. Everything had to advance or be blasted where they stood. By the end of turn nine I had my Bulwarkers, my Brock Riders, and the Warsmith remaining, everything else was dead or routed so I advanced, The Brocks closed the distance so the artillery couldn’t target them while the Bulwarkers moved forward to face the pike horde.
Ryan’s Priest and my Warsmith went one on one, neither able to score a wound, the two phalanxes faced off, and the Brock Riders, carrying over 15 wounds at this point started laying waste to artillery. At the end of 12 Ryan rolled a five and the game went another two turns. His Priest was just able to reach the Brocks, scored a single wound then rolled and eleven on their Nerve, finally wiping them out. Damn, they were about to charge the sole artillery piece, the rocket launcher. To add insult, the pike block skewered the Warsmith, guaranteeing I had nothing to do on my final turn. My entire army was gone and it looked like and overwhelming defeat until Ryan pointed out he had less than 300 points remaining on the field, those pike horde are cheap, so it was only a close loss. Still, it’s going into the Book of Grudges because my short warriors are going to need some pay back.
In conclusion I must say I am really enjoying Kings of War. It is fast paced, simple, and a lot of fun. We played two games in one afternoon. The time to set up, play twice, and put all the tables and terrain away was just over four hours and that includes lunch. I just have to find a better balance to my army construction. I will have my revenge, Mr Ryan, rest assured. I will have my revenge. Now, back to painting more dwarfs…
In addition to the prehistoric figures and terrain Carmen does it is his amazing illustrations (http://carmensminiaturepainting.blogspot.com/2014/06/when-dinosaurs-rode-earth.html) of dinosaurs that really got me going. He is right up there with Bill Waterson in his ability to blend realistic anatomy, movement, and whimsey. These wonderful pieces gave me the impatus to take on the Hasslefree Miniatures (http://www.hfminis.co.uk/shop?product=dinosaur-%231~hfm028&category=miniatures~fantasy-monsters-%26-animals) that have been in my “Unpainted” collection.
I only have one of each but can tell I will need to build up my herd of herbivores eventually. I like the analogous greens but may still add a compliment. The base hasn’t been finished yet as I want to get a layer of mat sealant on the figure before I start adding on foliage.
The predator needed to be in warm colors, in my humble opinion, because red goes faster after all. After I got his base colors down I feared he would look too much like a tiger if I used stripes. Besides, the hadrosaur was already sporting her own bands. Thinking of them laying in the shade, watching for prey, I decided to go with a dappled pattern. I added a little black to blue green then highlighted with blue green. I finished it off with spots of yellow white. Fun figures that I think I will want more of even though I have no idea what game I would ever use them for though Crom comes to mind. I’ll post some more pictures once the ecosystems have been created.
The dwarfs return to the field of battle in a Kings of War grudge match. Really anything Ryan and I play is a grudge match anymore but his high elves and my dwarfs have been fighting from the time we first met. Our own, personal, War of the Beard one might say. Similar if not as ancient as the three way Porridge Wars though certainly as hard fought. Because I love the pieces so much I had to include the skull road and guard rail when Ryan asked me to set up the table, thus we find our brave forces back on the Road of Death. One of the signs, in my opinion, of a good game is that you continue to think about it and tinker with details long after the battle is over. Another is an eagerness to get in there and try it again. Both were present so Ryan and I couldn’t wait to throw down. Of course, the excellent battle report in Black Cavalier’s blog (http://twotharksonecup.blogspot.com/2014/08/my-friend-skrapwelder-i-played-our-1st.html) really had me amped and ready to remember my racial trait of shrugging off Wavering at the beginning of my turn with a die roll of 4+ this time around. I had made some minor changes to my army mostly because I wanted to field my freshly painted dwarf flame cannon (more on that in another post) but also because I felt the troop of Shieldbreakers wasn’t what I needed for the points. I also wanted to try out the flaming artillery rules as I only knew what it was like to be on the receiving end thanks to Ryan’s Dragon Breath artillery last game and the dwarf one is tougher! I was hoping for a little revenge for the way he roasted my brave Ironwatch last game, if truth be told.
So the ten Shieldbreakers were out even though I knew I would miss them as soon as I saw Ryan’s elves and their armored cavalry. Fresh paint and the priceless gift of Elite from the Warsmith made my Flame Cannon pretty much a requirement and an Army Standard Bearer signed up as well. One of the very first campaigns my fledgling dwarf army fought in required an Army Standard Bearer figure, so I converted an extra figure into one. At the time I was living far from my OGs (Original Gamers) and desperate for inspiration I threw myself into the effort. Somehow, working on the army but especially converting figures, made me feel more connected to my distant friends and this stubborn little banner carrier became sort of a talisman of that in my mind. So for over twenty years this figure has almost always been my Army Standard Bearer. Just a little history there because we dwarfs do love our history.
Ryan had also been tinkering around with his force and as soon as I saw the second unit of Stormwind Cavalry I did miss those ten Shieldbreakers with their Crushing Strength(1). He had dropped the Dragon Breath artillery piece because the crew objected to having to move it so far forward before firing it. With a range of twelve and the dwarf Move of 4” they got impatient and spent much time pushing it forward before getting close enough to turn my archers into ash. So he had another troop of cavalry and I knew there were some sneaky magic items trickled in there as well. This was not going to be easy.
We set up our forces and I immediately saw the pincer Ryan had me in. He knows I like to keep my dwarfs close to support each other and wasn’t going to let me refuse flank. They may be small units but they are fast, armored, and hit with a Crushing Strength (2) add in the elves Melee of 3+ and one has to take them seriously. Having played Orcs and Goblins many times in the past, Ryan can be a sneaky git and kept his cavalry out of my Brock commander’s line of sight (Line of Sight, shooting range, and charge range are all from the front middle figure of the unit. Very simple). Fortunately his shooting left me with a few wounds and no Wavering units but he was about to charge both my flanks and his Palace Guard were already closing in the center. I was beginning to wish I had swapped the positions of the Ironwatch and the Bulwarkers while I brought Gar Dreddaxe and his Brock, Ripper, around to bolster the right flank. The Ironbelcher Cannon and Organ Gun, both Elite thanks to the presence of the Warsmith, blasted one unit of Stormwind Cavalry down to it’s horse shoes while the Flame Belcher moved forward with the Bulwarkers, looking at those Palace Guard with their Crushing Strength(1). The Ironwatch had to move to keep the remaining unit of horsemen out of the flank so were unable to shoot.
Despite the loss of one of his Stormwind units, Ryan pressed the attack, hitting the Ironwatch with the remaining cavalry and pressed in with the Palace Guard, threatening to charge the Bulwarkers soon. Meanwhile, his horde of Sea Guard and the Bolt Thrower, shot so many arrows and bolts into my Ironbelcher Cannon in retribution that the poor lads didn’t have a chance even with the Warsmith’s Talisman of Inspiration. Ouch. Despite taking an impressive number of wounds the Ironwatch held their ground, with Ryan, uncharacteristically rolling poorly (double ones), but would be unable to shoot due to being Disrupted after hand to hand combat. No worries, being dwarfs they are probably better at hand to hand than shooting anyway and so the Ironwatch counter charged the cavalry supported by Lord Dreddaxe but were unable to do more than Waver them. With no enemy horsemen remaining on the flank the Brock Riders moved toward the Sea Guard, clearly forgetting (as I had) the problems with charing spear blocks with cavalry. The Organ Gun wounded the Sea Guard but the horde hardly noticed. My Brocks were in trouble. While I had foolishly set my Bulwarkers up so they were unable to help the Ironwatch in their combat fate granted me the gift of the Palace Guard being 1/4 of an inch in range of the Flame Belcher. Also most uncharacteristic of my opponent as any who have played him will attest. the Breath Weapon (22) melted armor and my fortunate dice roll sent the unit off the table. Some things were looking better for the dwarfs.
The Stormwind Cavalry were forced to back up, in part to reduce the number of charges I might be able to get but also to give his Bolt Thrower line of sight on my beleaguered Ironwatch. This time he was able to roll well in shooting, number of wounds, to wound, as well as an eleven against my Nerve. Sadly the nearby Army Standard did force him to reroll that but not the snake eyes he had rolled the previous turn and that was all that would have kept them around. The Ironwatch left the field without ever firing a shot. The Brock Riders, on the other hand, took the hail of arrows in stride before charging the wall of spear points known as Sea Guard. The Phalanx rule means cavalry and flyers have a -1 to hit when fighting in the unit’s front flank and so I didn’t do enough wounds to even get close to rolling a Waver result but they are Berserkers and might survive a counter charge. So is Lord Dreddaxe and he wasn’t about to let the last Stormwind Cavalry threaten the flank of the Bulwarkers so he slammed into the armored horsemen alone. Unable to break them he and Ripper prepared to take their inevitable charge. Disrupted but angry the Sea Guard charged the Brock Riders but despite mounting wounds were only able to Waver them. The Stormwind Cavalry found much the same difficulty when rolling against the Nerve of Lord Dreddaxe.
We were closing in on the last few turns and that horde of Sea Guard were not going anywhere. The Brock Riders blew their roll (I remembered every time a unit began Wavered but failed to ever roll a four or higher-sigh) so were unable to do much more than back up. The Flamebelcher and Bulwarkers moved forward, closing range on the Sea Guard, while the Organ gun fired into them, just trying to add more wounds against that Nerve of 21/23. Lord Dreddaxe, on the other hand finally beat the Stormwind unit, Ripper pulling riders from their mounts, and advanced toward the Bolt Thrower. With his last turn (unless we rolled a 4+ at the end of mine) facing him Ryan did the math in his head, he does that a lot and is annoyingly good at it. Either he realized his best chances for some victory points or he hates giant badgers because his Bolt Thrower was able to just beat Lord Dreddaxe’s Nerve roll and his Sea Guard charged the Brock Riders finally rolling enough to beat their Nerve of 20/22. Double Ouch! I moved my Bulwarkers forward but was out of charge range to the Sea Guard. Again I had to put my faith in the power of dwarf artillery (and the Warsmith) firing the Organ Gun and Flamebelcher into the elven phalanx. I was able to roll high enough on the Nerve Check to destroy them, twice, since his prince was Inspiring and standing right behind them. Ryan then rolled a three so there would be no extra turns the game ended. He had done 590 points of damage while I had caused 805, pulling a victory by 15 points. Whew, what a nail biter it had been and oh, so much fun.
We played 1000 point battle in less than two hours and that includes taking a break to grab pizza. If I didn’t have to leave we were both ready to set up and play again. It reminds me of Warmaster in that regard. I am already planning some more artillery units as well as mulling the possibility of more Berserkers while Ryan is trying to decide how many Drakon Riders he is going to need in future. I think we’re both considering how much larger we want to go next time. Of course, as soon as I got back I wanted to download the photos and write up the battle so I know this is a game (and company) that’s got me inspired. With Black Cavalier, Skrapwelder, and Necron_99 already playing I feel confident our group will embrace this system. Looking forward to trying multiplayer games soon.
So I had my zombie fighting Scooby Gang, found a suitable Mystery Machine upgrade, and I had some maskless ghosts and zombies. Time for a base. I did some sketches, moved the figures around a piece of paper before finally heading down to the local craftstore, reasoning it would be easier to plan out if I knew what I was going to build on. Tom (http://www.skullncrown.com/store/) always says to buy the storage box before building the terrain so you know where it needs to all fit into. Words I have repeatedly found the wisdom in the older I become. So with that in mind I found a wooden plaque template that was big enough to hold all my parts and I liked the varied edge. I had played with a number of ideas, the runner-up being the parking lot of the ruined malt shop but in the end I decided on a simple crossroads because I wanted to make the wooden sign as much as any symbolism. At this point I drew the overall shape onto a piece of foam core as well as circles where the bases would be inset, cut everything out (careful right angles for the circles tapered outer edge), and glued it down to the board with some Elmers White Glue.
I built up the area around the road with lightweight spackling and painted the road with Golden Course Textured Medium mixed with deep brown acrylic paint as a base color figuring I might as well save a step. I ran an old flat brush, frequently moistened in water, along the road to simulate ruts and old tire tracks. Once I liked the look, I pressed the tracks of the Mystery Machine against a wet sponge repeatedly between pressing them against the still moist roadway, up to the point I wanted the vehicle to be parked.
I painted the finished roadway with a watered down gloss medium to make it look wet and flocked the rest of the areas with Woodland Scenics materials, finishing them off with some tufts of grass to break up the solid horizontal planes a little. I built the sign post out of bits and pieces laying around my table.
The resin kit I picked out (GZG41 Snow Cat at http://www.daemonscape.com/contents/en-uk/d5_01.html) has some nice detail, is a clean cast, and has wonderful flat panels to paint that 70’s detail onto. I do recommend washing resin kits with a little dish soap, rinsing very well before drying them with paper towels. Otherwise I find my hard work comes pealing off the mini AFTER I’ve completely finished and usually right before I want to show it off. The only issue I had was with the turret as it didn’t have more than a slightly raised cylinder to show where to place it and then the gun hit the vehicle’s ventilator/snorkel (yes, they might have to cross flooded out roadways on their way to “Old Man Brown’s Farm” looking for the zombie of Don Knots) and my gang would need clear arcs of fire. All I needed to do was build a short base to raise the height of the barrel a bit and I found that the trigger block from a can of Montana Gold spray paint was perfect. The hole in the trigger block was almost exactly the same size as the placement cylinder and even tapered into the middle so I didn’t have to sand it off the original. What I did have to do was build up the bottom of the turret and add a plug so it could rotate. I used two part epoxy, or greenstuff, to roughly shape the bottom before pressing it into place, the surface of which was liberally covered in water to prevent sticking when I then removed it. This provided a nice, custom fit plug. After it dried I test fit and sanded it to get a smooth, tight connection and it was time to paint.
Other than the Cosmonaut Horrorclix figure where I wanted to keep his transparency, I primed everything white. Still not made the jump to airbrush I do everything by brush, including my vehicles.
I try to keep my base coats clean as it makes everything else so much easier and is worth the effort once I start putting down washes and stains.
After the base coats the figures receive said stain and washes. While I will coat every bit of a 10mm Warmaster figure (strip of figures?) a solid wash of brown (Agrax Earthshade in Games Workshop colors) for these I prefer to mix it up and tailor the colors more. Secret Weapon Miniatures (http://www.secretweaponminiatures.com/) not only make my favorite washes (huge range of colors made out of high quality materials), my favorite bases (nothing less for Hasslefree Miniatures) but also an incredible line of dry pigments I swear by for weathering. The tutorials on the website are wonderful.
The gang were simple enough as reference materials are everywhere online. I did find a great “print and fold” your own Mystery Machine on Deviantart.com that showed the details on EVERY side of the vehicle. That was wonderfully helpful. It was really a straight forward job of base coats, washes, blend, and highlight on the figures. I was working off of cartoon characters here after all. I mounted all of the Scooby Gang figures on Secret Weapon Corpse Fields Beveled bases with the original plan of adding some water effects afterward. The “Rombies” were all based on simple round bases I didn’t do more than add some texture to. Heroes should stand apart on multiple levels after all. I still haven’t added the water effects because I’m not really sure they need it. Might be a bit of overkill but with zombies that might not be a bad choice.
Such a fun project and I’m rather proud of myself for getting results so close to my original vision. That happens so rarely in any creative endeavor it’s worth savoring. All that’s left now is to figure out a game to use them in.
From the start, artillery pieces seemed a natural choice for turning into dioramas when basing for Kings of War. I had some wooden circles I’d picked up at a craft store years ago that I thought would be a good size. I figured since war machines have no flanks but attackers always triple their own attacks against them basing them differently made sense, sort of like characters in Warmaster (an old Games Workshop 10mm fantasy wargame). I also had a couple of “bone catapults” that had been part of a collection I had purchased on eBay even more years ago. They seem to be bad copies of very old Citadel figures, lost detail, multiple mold lines, and cast in tinny metal so they have rattled around my bits boxes for a while. While digging out the pieces to assemble them I also found gravestones, bone piles for flavor, and various skeletal body parts. I have wanted a reason to use the two torsos carrying skulls (Mantic Games Balefire crew sprue) since I picked them up. My original thought was ships’ crew but we haven’t played Pirates! in way too long and this project was in front of me.
After testing that the size and shape of the bases looked good with the machines I assembled my crews. I painted everything separately before building the units. As I worked on them, I decided that the two crew per cataplt Mantic shows just wasn’t enough. So I added another, finding three to have better visual balance. I used Golden Textured Medium to add texture for dry brushing and hide the individual bases. I built up the color from a dark brown to a light buff before sprinkling on some of the Woodland Scenics materials I mix together to base my other Undead figures. That way they will tie in visually even if they are based on circles. Now, back to the Flame Cannon and crew I’ve got part way through this same process…
Dwarfs and High Elves Clash in a Kings of War Battle
Travel along the lane paved with skulls is always eventful, dangerous, and often high speed as the bone guard rails will attest. Probably worse in bad weather and in chariots, but I digress. Not surprising that it is where we find the ancient adversaries, Dwarfs and High Elves, facing each other over shields and drawn weapons. Ryan and I, also long time adversaries, threw down with some Kings of War at 1000 points a side. Still a very new game for me, all new for him and while we were playing armies we have used in other systems we were both learning our forces as well. If I recall correctly, his army consisted of a horde of Sea Guard, a regiment of Palace Guard, a regiment of Stormwind Cavalry, a Bolt Thrower, a Dragon Breath flame thrower, a mounted Army Standard, and a mounted Prince. Brrrr, lots of accurate shooting things.
The Dwarf host was anchored by the regiment of my stalwart, though unbloodied, Bulwarkers, a regiment of Ironwatch with crossbows, a cannon. an organ gun, a troop of Shield Breakers, a troop of Brock Riders, a berserker lord mounted on a brock, and a Warsmith (so worth every point he cost even without the Talisman of Inspiration). Building this force was a lot of fun because I got to field a number of newly painted units as well as reacquaint myself with some old favorites. The regiment of crossbows, for example, was made up of veterans of countless past battles, including the holding of the Stone Forest against chaos warriors but, again, I digress.
Typical of Ryan (he cheats by using strategy, experience, and better die rolls), he rolled higher so took the first turn. The elven line moved forward en masse and began unloading feathered death. Fortunately not enough to cause Nerve checks but it would add up. My shooting was less accurate but it was a bit of a rush being able to move units in a dwarf army up to 16″. Turn three and his cavalry slammed into mine while his prince challenged my berserker lord on my left flank and his center continued to close the distance. Seems the Dragon Breath has REALLY short range. The Brock Riders took the hits and counter charged, supported by the Shieldbreakers routed the horsemen and advanced toward the Sea Guard. Much the same happened between the two heroes with the victorious Berserker Lord rounding the hill. Just to balance things Ryan shot my poor cannon crew to death.
Knowing I would lose a shooting match, my dwarfs moved all of their units forward except the organ gun who were busy becoming unwavered. Twice I forgot about the Dwarf ability to shake off the condition and both times cost me. Yes, I realize they only have one trait to remember. The second, and worse, was as my Brock Riders crested the hill, preparing to join the Shield Breakers in charging the Sea Guard. Those pointy eared gits, again, filled my poor badger riders with fletched death. That, with the earlier damage, and Ryan’s roll gave a result of Wavering. I remembered that the lord, who was in range, Inspired Berserkers so Ryan had to roll the Nerve test again, this time getting a Destroyed result. See? I told you he cheats. I should have remembered I would get a 50% chance at the start of my turn to shake off Wavering (and if not they would still be on the field!) but instead I learned a lesson.
At this point the units in the center had reached one another as the Palace Guard slammed into the rookie Bulwarkers, spilling blood but bouncing off those heavy tower shields. The Bolt Thrower wounded the crossbows but they stood their ground, preparing hand weapons for a flank charge and the Dragon Breath moved into range. That did not sit well in my bearded gut. In part to avenge their fallen brothers, the Shieldbreakers charged into the Sea Guard, cutting several elves down before bouncing off the superior numbers. The Berserker Lord finished moving around the hill so he would have something in his line of sight while the Bulwarkers engaged the Palace Guard in the center and the crossbows hit their flank (doubles my attacks!). The heavily armored elves were cut down to a man.
After the elves had skewered the Shieldbreakers and we learned the devastating power of the Dragon Breath I was left with the last turn and decidedly fewer units than I had started with. The Bulwarkers, blooded and bloodied, advanced past the smoldering remains of the Ironwatch but were too far away to charge anything. The Berserker Lord moved around the Sea Guard to kill the Bolt Thrower crew (and grab me a couple points). The sun set, the fighting ceased and we were 100 points apart, a draw and another footnote in the Wars of the Beard.
In summary, it was a closely fought battle with lots of back and forth in a very playable system. Ryan and I have a long history of facing each other over cards, boards, and battlefields so close fought is common enough for us despite his recent habit of beating the snot out of me at Dominion. We have also learned a lot of games together so feel we can fairly judge these things. Not only was he playing and not learning by his third turn but we both wanted to set up and play again afterward. I am sure we be playing a lot more Kings Of War in future. I decided that a Horde of spear and bow armed High Elves are not to be taken lightly, Brock Riders Rock, and the Warsmith’s ability (makes them Elite) to let each artillery piece to reroll one miss each turn is priceless. Now to name my heroes and paint more Dwarfs!