Well, it’s been quite a while since I posted and even longer since I’ve played a solid “Ranks and Flanks” miniatures war game so now seems a good time to change the former as I had a great afternoon doing the latter. Despite not actually playing Kings of War for ages I’ve been working away at various units for different armies. New units (a regiment and troop of archers) had me tempted to run Undead especially as I haven’t done so since the second edition rules came out. The fact that the rest of the army is still based individually for Warhammer and scattered between three Army Transport boxes made it clear that I really wanted to run Dwarfs. Besides, I had three finished units that hadn’t been used in a game yet. Only two of those made it into the final army list, a Troop of Berserkers and a Regiment of Sharpshooters.
Okay, truth be told, I don’t often use Berserkers, other than Brock Riders, in my armies but I keep assembling units because I love painting them. Speaking of the crazed badger riders, I am busy doing some conversion work on a unit of them at the moment. I am planning on posting the step by step in the near future.
A long running grudge match on the Road of Death is between the Kingdoms of Men (led by my buddy Ryan) and my stalwart Dwarfs. It is always a close fought thing with today being no different. I believe it says something about Kings of War as a rules set when we haven’t played for almost two years and remembered how. Sure we had to look a few things up but not as many as I would have expected.
The forces were 2200 points a side and we went with a straight Kill scenario for it’s simplicity. I have to admit to some serious horde envy whenever this army gathers across from me, especially when it’s a cavalry horde. The far right of the human line was a war machine sporting a nasty ballista and a wizard both looking to crush some Earth Elementals. Next to them was a horde of Foot Guard, a HUGE ballista, a regiment of Heavy Pike Block, a mortar, the Army Standard, and the General.
To make matters worse for me, the rest of his line consisted of a horde of Pole Armed soldiers, a troop of Mounted Scouts with carbines, a horde of Arquibussiers all screening a horde of Knights. Yes, a horde of Knights (32 attacks at 3+, Thunderous Charge of 2 OUCH!). A Siege Artillery unit watched over the left flank and I was sure there were plenty of magic items scattered throughout the force. I would be proven correct in my assumptions.
Facing this lethal nightmare was my humble army of bearded warriors. A troop of Ironwatch Rifles secured the far left beside a Greater Earth Elemental, a horde of smaller Earth Elementals, a Berserker Lord on Brock, a regiment of Brock Riders, and a regiment of Bulwarkers. In the woods in the center were Bugman’s Rangers.
A bombard team set up between the woods and my own horde of Ironwatch Crossbows. The Army Standard was close beside as were my regiment of Ironwatch Rifles, and the Sharpshooters. Another Bombard anchored the right flank while the troop of Berserkers and Lady Ursula were held in reserve. In the end I didn’t have enough points for a troop of Berserkers and magic items, a common enough dilemma and why I rarely run the orange haired buggers. However, these guys have been finished in the last couple of months and really deserved a chance to prove their worth. So I went with no magic.
The first turn went quietly for both of us as neither seemed able to roll decently in our shooting phases. Almost my entire gun line emptied their weapons into the advancing horde of pole armed troops for a total of five wounds. The Greater Earth Elemental, known as Stompy took some wounds from the ballista on the war machine but we were both in solid shape as the second turn opened.
A second turn of bad shooting rolls was uncharacteristic of Ryan but the left of his line advanced steadily. My rolls were considerably better and saw away the horde of pole armed men while the troop of berserkers and Lady Ursula destroyed the scouts in a single charge. This left the knights open to charge my line. Crap.
Turns out Ryan could have skipped the shooting all together as that horde of knights was a steamroller. It slammed into my horde of crossbows and ran them down in one round before pivoting to face the regiment of rifles. The math worked out better if I charged them with everything I had left but my dice didn’t agree and I only inflicted five wounds on the armored ruffians. Following turns would see the troop of berserkers blasted apart by cannon fire along with one of my bombards. Somehow Ryan can always roll a six when he really needs it with his artillery. Mine were failing to hit anything. In the end the knights accounted for many more points in damage than they cost, destroying the Rifles and Lady Ursula before the last vestiges of the gun line could finally do enough damage to destroy them. It took the one hit my cannons scored to tip the balance.
On the dwarf left things went a little more to plan with the Brock Riders and the Earth Elementals weathering some fire before closing with the enemy. Really missed my Stone Priest with his Surge ability but they made contact with the horde of foot soldiers and helped Stompy break them in a turn. The Brockriders crushed the war machine and moved around the woods hoping for a flank charge. This came on turn six while the heavy pike was defending itself from my spear block. Fortunately for the badger riders neither Phalynx nor Ensnare work on a unit’s flanks and they helped bring down the pike block. Stompy was quite heroic in his contributions but in the end succumbed to one of those sixes Ryan rolls for his artillery and was blown to rubble at the top of the final turn.
As the miniature sun was setting on our 28mm battlefield there were considerably fewer units standing on either side than when we commenced. The horde of human arquibussiers were wounded but standing on the hill overlooking the few remaining dwarf gun units who in turn were aiming at them. The human right flank was all but gone with the army standard bearer still refusing to give up, continually firing that damned Boomstick. I’ve got to get one of those for my own army. Final score saw the Kingdoms of men inflicting almost 1100 points in casualties while the dwarfs took down over 1600 points of their enemy. Hard fought and close to the end but the dwarfs pulled off a victory. I do love how often a game of Kings of War comes down to the last turn. Considering how consistently Ryan has been beating me at cards (Dominion is another addiction of ours) for the last six months, I really needed a win to maintain any gamer cred.
So next time I will need more bulwarkers painted, my own mobile war machine, and a Boomstick. Oh, and the new regiment of Berserkers really needs to make an appearance.
“Trolls? They’re hiring trolls?”, asked the Dwarf king incredulously,” I find that hard to believe even for this human oath breaker.” In response the wizened Ranger said,”All our reports show them camped near the orc village. What else could they want there? Doubt they want anything to do with those pig riders and there’s been no sounds of fighting.” The king didn’t like it, didn’t like this at all. If it wasn’t undead clawing at the borders it was orcs and goblins terrorizing villages. Now, to make things worse, the fractious human kingdoms, who had previously been happy to peacefully kill each other, had been united by an upstart prince with dreams of conquest and his sites on dwarf lands. Rinn Ursula had clashed with his forces more than once already so the dwarfs were keeping their eyes on him. Unfortunately she was busy elsewhere as were much of her cavalry so fast recon was out of the question. No, if he was going to get any answers it was going to be handled the old way; Guns, Stone, and Steel. Besides, it sent a clear message. The king turned, looking his old friend in the eye, “Alright, here’s what we’re going to do…”
I recently took advantage of a day off, packed up my dwarfs, and met my buddy, Ryan, on the field of battle (okay, his living room). Once again we chose Kings of War by Mantic Games as our rules system and picked forces of 2200 points simply because we had heard that is a popular tournament choice. I was excited to be fielding TWO newly trained units, my new Greater Elemental from Reaper Bones and Regiment of Hasslefree Miniatures Ironwatch armed with crossbows. The latter looking much more complete with the two more minis recently glued to the base.
With a new Elemental to field there were fewer points for mounted dwarfs so Rinn Ursula and some of her Brock Riders were patrolling the northern borders instead of investigating this rumored alliance. What this force lacked in speed it made up for in bang, fielding two bombards and an Organ Gun. Despite claims of the scouts, there were no trolls in the human force. In fact, the entire orc village at the river’s fork had been cleared out for some time. There was some strange, smoke belching machine parked among the trees but no greenskin mercenaries. Oh good, nothing to worry about. The two armies lined up facing each other across the river which was relatively low this time of year.
Once the troops had deployed the Rangers used their Vanguard rule to move up into the woods. While this gave them a commanding view of the ford it also made them a prime target for the human guns. On the first turn they were wavered, ducking down as mortar shells burst overhead, shredding the tree tops, and the second turn they routed off the table. Sigh, not a good start for my bearded force.
They were around long enough to report seeing a strange contraption in the enemy lines. Ryan was running a Citadel Steam Tank as his Kingdoms of Men Beast of War unit. I just call it the Beast.
There seemed to be a tank in the human army and I was worried it was going to take more than two Greater Elementals to deal with. It would take a lot more in the end and take even more down with it. Beast.
Both sides moved their flanks forward to engage the enemy and fired every cannon, mortar, ballista, handgun, and crossbow at each other any chance we got. While the human Mounted Scouts scored some early wounds it was the Brock Riders and Elementals that scored the first kills with Mounted Scouts and Heavy Infantry crushed in the opening turns. The cannon, Ironwatch with handguns, and organ gun blasting the regiment of knights in the center helped soothe the pain of my poor Rangers shelled out of the forest by mortar and gun fire. The fifteen attacks of the organ gun got a lot of unwanted attention even without a Warsmith to make them elite. A unit of Mounted Scouts charged straight up the hill to try and silence the deadly war machine. Now they were in my deployment zone!
The Greater Elementals on the dwarf right flank proved why they are to be feared taking down the heavy infantry in their charge only to see the new guy crushed beneath the steam powered wheels of the Beast. Duane charged it in retaliation only to bounce off, bracing for the counter charge. The Arquebusiers kept the Ironwatch Wavered which their Headstrong roll failed to shake.
Being just inside their charge arc the Mounted Scouts found themselves charged in the flank but the rookie Ironwatch were only able to Waver the accursed riders. and the Berserker Lord was too far away to help.
The Beast crossed the river, crossbow bolts bouncing off its armored hull and cannon balls flying overhead. It quickly ran down the crossbow wielding dwarfs before backing up to home in on the regiment of gunners. Now they were in two of my flanks. Arghhhh!
The human infantry on the dwarf left flank, unshaken by the deaths of the Mounted Scouts in front of them, crossed the river and slammed into the Brock Riders destroying them. The Shieldbreakers and IronGuard charged the two human units in retribution hurting them but not worrying them in the least. Thus began the back and forth on the river’s edge, neither side seeking nor offering quarter. We were both able to roll well in combat but seemed unable to do more than Waver the other (Ryan’s Nerve Checks were uncharacteristically bad) and I actually made my Headstrong rolls so we just slammed back and forth.
In the end the combined efforts of the Ironguard and Berserker Lord were just able to take down the Elite, Ensnaring Phalanx regiment while the Shieldbreakers went down fighting. They inflicted almost a dozen wounds on the horde of heavy infantry before succumbing to their superior numbers.
After he survived the Beast’s counter charge (Ryan rolled a three!) Duane charged into the Arquebussiers mostly to keep them from shooting him and did astounding damage. To give me hope I rolled boxcars on the Nerve Check! I was so excited, glad it had at least caused the Waver not realizing it was actually enough to destroy them. Unfortunately, Ryan’s Standard Bearer caused a reroll which was just shy of even the Waver. Crap, at least they wouldn’t be firing those Piercing(2) handguns at point blank range.
Meanwhile, in the center the horde of Bulwarkers advanced across the river under a steady hail of fire from the horde of arquebusiers and sporadic cannon fire. They were saved some grief when their own artillery took out the enemy mortar while the human canon had to focus on the organ gun whose crew had just reloaded and were preparing to enfilade the stubborn cavalry. Sadly they never got to fire the shot as an enemy shell landed directly on them leaving nothing but their boots. Damn, change of plans…again. Despite mounting casualties (and my own forgetting they could Move At the Double at the ford) the dwarf Phalanx horde slammed into the human horde and another back and forth began. As with Duane, the Bulwarkers were just glad to slow the gun fire.
The Beast was able to run over the dwarf hand gunners, again few shots could wound it and I couldn’t roll well. The damage 12 Attacks with Crushing Strength(2) AND Thunderous Charge (2) is overwhelming. Even Ryan’s low rolls (though stubbornly not double 1’s) couldn’t fail. In the end, literally on the bottom of turn Six the Bombard crew was able to blast the thing to pieces. Fortunate as the game went to seven turns and they would have been left as wheel ruts. The rookie Ironwatch regiment took down the Mounted Scouts before being overwhelmed by the badly wounded horde of Foot Guard who in turn were killed by the remaining Ironguard who had to go it alone as the Beserker Lord had finally succumb to the wizard’s fireball spells. Really making it Blood Hill. The Stonepriest Surged Duane into the Standard Bearer out of spite more than anything. He was running away after all.
When turn Seven closed it was far easier to count the survivors especially as the Kingdoms of Men were left with nothing but characters. Of course there wasn’t much more left on my side either, a horde, some guns, a Stonepriest, and Duane. The difference was just under 500 points giving another very narrow victory to the dwarfs. What a blast. The more I play Kings of War the more I like it. That all the rules and army lists are in one book mean we only have one place to look up questions and really don’t anticipate much of that in future given the simplicity of the system. What I am seeing a lot of is trying out new forces. The subtle differences in stats plus the scattered special rule really makes for characterful units and races without needing completely separate tomes.
The king took another long pull on his tankard while re-reading the battle reports. It had been a close run affair, probably closer than any of his commanders wanted to admit. The Stonepriest and his rocky friends had again proven their worth as had the retooled organ gun. It was the drawings of the steam powered human contraption remains that intrigued him most. Even the broken and blasted bits showed amazing promise on the part of the human engineers. They had missed, in the eyes of the king, a wonderful opportunity. He finished off the stein of cold beer and reached for the speaking tube attached to his desk. “Call in the Master Engineers,” he commanded his assistants on the other end,” tell them I have an idea I want explored immediately.” The noble dwarf turned to the Stonepriest who had delivered the reports from Blood Hill. ” Tell me more about your friends the elementals. I have some ideas for them as well.”
Not only did I just get to try out the Kings of War second edition rules but I finally got to field several of my completed dwarf units for the first time. These included the general (Lady Ursula on bear), a troop of gunners, a troop of crossbows (with back up to form a regiment), a Stone Priest, his buddy the Greater Earth Elemental, the Ironguard, and the Hasslefree Miniatures Shieldbreakers Regiment I had just finished. While one can’t expect them all to survive their first encounter with conflict or even win the day, I just hoped they looked good and held their own. The dice always have their own say of course.
Hordes really come to the fore in second edition army construction. They are the key to diversity in your army as each Horde taken allows four Troops units and one of each Hero, Monster, and War Machine. Whereas each Regiment opens up only two Troops and one of Hero, Monster, OR War Machine. As always seems to be the case with my miniature collections, adjustments would have to be made. So my two Regiments of Bulwarkers became one Horde despite being of two different manufacturers (yes, it hurts the eyes) while a movement tray and ten figures helped my Troop of Crossbow become a Regiment.
Doing this allowed the right combination for me to field all the new units I had painted especially the Earth Elemental and the bear riding hero. This meant I only had one artillery piece but they had all been bloodied before so weren’t a priority anyway.
Ryan, being far more pragmatic, wrote a force containing two siege artillery pieces and two cannon, two heavy cavalry, and blocks of troops armed to crush dwarf armor. To make matters worse, he got the first turn and his cannon were painfully accurate. Must have had fresh powder because all four hit their targets, wavering my gunners and wounding the Shieldbreakers and Brock Riders. Ryan doesn’t like giant badgers.
The Headstrong rule worked for the gunners even if they couldn’t shoot and dwarf army advanced. The Rangers on the far right were able to Waver the archers facing them, the crossbow armed dwarfs wavered a troop of men armed with the same but the cannon crew were wishing for some of Ryan’s powder because they couldn’t hit anything.
On the dwarf right flank the wounded Brock Riders found themselves brought down by the Thunderous charge of knights on barded horse while the Shieldbreakers, braced in difficult terrain, barely held against the other mounted unit. This was already proving to be a fast and bloody game.
With the Brockriders gone there was plenty of room for the EarthElemental and Berserker Lord to charge into the knights, stone fists and rune hammers breaking open plate mail leaving the knights Wavered and backing up, quickly. Lady Ursula lead her Ironguard and the Shieldbreakers against the second unit of knights and wiped them out (even with a reroll from his Army Banner). The Rangers, moving up the flank, routed the archers with bowfire while the Bulwarkers moved forward through difficult ground preparing to face the Horde of pike advancing toward them.
Then things went berserk, no really, the human berserker unit charged the dwarf berserker lord wounding him but not wavering him from his goal of chasing down the knights that had killed his lads.
The human infantry with polearms attacked Lady Ursula while a human hero stepped around the unit of spear to blast the Shieldbreakers with his Boomstick. The cannon behind him did the same for emphasis. That was enough for the dwarfs and despite the re-roll provided by their general they fled the field, carrying their wounded with them. Lady Ursula fared better repulsing the charge but was left wavered and unable to make her headstrong roll. Fortunately the Ironguard and gunners were able to come to her aid engaging two units and holding the left flank.
The berserker lord, stone priest, and earth elemental took down the knights then pushed toward the cannon, dreading the shot they could see being loaded all while under fire from the siege artillery on the hill. The Berserkers turned around and prepared to charge the Bulwarker horde in the flank even while the crossbow unit of dwarf poured down the hill to do the same to them. Even taking a cannon ball to his granite chin (Ryan rolled one point under-whew) the elemental took out the cannon crew with the berserker lord then turned to support the mayhem transpiring in the center.
The human horde charged their dwarven counterpart with the support of their insane brethern causing wounds but not shaking them. Thus the pitched fight to control the center began. The battle shifted back and forth, massive piles of dice flying with all the flank attacks but the disordered charges from difficult terrain and Ensnare of the human horde made for a smaller percentage of hits. Even then, miniature blood was flowing.
Despite the loss of the handgunner troop Lady Ursula and the Ironguard were victorious if bloodied as were the Bulwarkers and crossbows. Unfortunately with their opponents dead or routed the wounded dwarf spearmen were an obvious target for the remaining siege artillery which saw off the survivors, routing them from the field with well aimed shelling. The characters from both armies then squared off while the berserker lord charged toward the reloading crews on the hill. While his massive badger mount was able to move out of their minimum range he wasn’t able to defeat Ryan’s ability to roll a six when needed and the tattooed dwarf was blasted off his mount by the lone cannon left on the human right flank. A truly epic shot. Did I mention that Ryan hates my badgers?
In the end the human artillery on the hill saw their general killed by a female dwarf riding a bear and the Ironguard take down the Boomstick wielding hero in revenge for blasting apart the Shieldbreakers. The dwarf crossbows and rangers had moved into range and were taking aim at the mortar crews when, at the end of turn six, Ryan rolled a three indicating the game was over. Dwarfs had taken the field.
We had chosen to play the straight forward Kill scenario and there was plenty of killing on both sides. It was an absolute blast with the battle lines shifting, great narrative moments, and much laughter. I really like the new rules and can’t wait to play again. Now I’m really going to have to name more of my units and characters, especially the elemental. He rocks, literally!
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…
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.
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!
Met some friends at Game Kastle in Fremont a couple weeks ago for Peanut Wars. Two whole days of miniatures gaming in a huge game store. It was the first of what I hope becomes a regular event because I want to attend both days next time. I saw some big games Sunday that were quite impressive.
The first in that list and first I played was Starship! built, painted, and run by Thomas Foss (http://skullandcrown.blogspot.com/) who, of course, had also written the rules. He is the creator of the highly entertaining Wooden Wars (http://www.skullncrown.com/store/index.php?main_page=index) which I have written about in previous posts. In addition to glorious minis and easy to learn rules the game is designed with three dimensions in mind, it is space after all. So it may be easy to understand why I’d been looking forward to this. It really helped that Tom had provided all the ship stats for the players.
Necron99 joined me in running the brave human fleet in defense of a colony under alien attack. Tom and another good friend, Nils (http://twotharksonecup.blogspot.com/2014/04/dungeon-in-box.html), faced us across the void (well, the table actually but, again, it is a space game) and commanded the scarlet ships of the alien fleet. Now, the aliens have a name but I forget it at the time of this writing so bear with me.
I took command of the Battleship Yarmoth and her escort the Hussar while Necron99 commanded two carriers packed full of fighters and missiles. Another friend, Brian M, commanded the orbiting station, bravely facing the bulk of the invaders single handedly as we took the fleet around a small moon to attack from the flank to engage them piecemeal. He was able to inflict some devastating damage on our opponents before overwhelmed by swarms of Mecha, who tore holes in the hull and exploded the engines.
Meanwhile, under constant fire, those aliens have some nasty long range Disruptors, I brought the massive broadside power of the Yarmoth into position. In addition to range and speed, the alien ships boasted liquid shield technology that allows them to shift damage around. If it wasn’t for the Hussar’s continual barrage and the clouds of fighters we launched I know the battleship would never have survived long enough to bring its powerful, short range guns to bear. Between those and the previously mentioned fighter wings we brought down both of our targets before turning back toward the main enemy fleet.
It was at this point that the relentless volleys of Mecha, missiles, and torpedoes took their toll, finally overcoming the defenses of the battleship and the valiant Yarmoth exploded. A pyrrhic victory as the humans were able to claim victory at the end. A very fun game made all the more so by the gorgeous toys Tom provided. Now, back to the painting table because KublaCon is coming…
In the spirit of lifelong learning, Necron99 and myself headed to the local game store (House of Games in Danville), our toy soldiers in hand, to try out the fantasy miniatures battle game Kings of War by Mantic Games. I’ve been interested in trying out the rules since I first read that they were designed for large armies. When last year’s Kickstart campaign hit and unloaded hundreds of cool new figures I knew I had to learn these rules. That they are supposed to work well for multiplayer games was very exciting, given the style of my group of friends but the fact you can download them for free (http://www.manticgames.com/free-rules.html) meant it would be easier to get said friends to try should they prove fun.
Having a solid collection of painted undead figures (many of which are Mantic) I opted to try running them. Delighted to learn I could use a Liche King as my general I immediately put one in charge of my zombies, skeletons, and werewolves while Necron99 fielded his beautiful Brettonians using the Basialian army list. This is a long running grudge match between us though nothing to compare to our two thirds of the Porridge Wars but that’s really for a future post or posts. I digress.
While I love learning new games, new miniatures systems can be complex and sometimes frustrating until you get a couple games under your belt. Not Kings of War. By the end of each of our second turns we had the basics down and were already playing as opposed to figuring out. Now we kept it simple but it speaks volumes that we are both excited to not only play again but add more of the rules and troop types.
Game play was fast and simple with each player doing all the moving and dice rolling in their turn before handing it all over to the other player. Figures aren’t removed from the unit rather damage points build up as the game goes on. Two rounds of bow fire was just too much for my werewolves and they ran away. When any damage is caused through shooting, fighting, or magic the attacker rolls two dice adding both the damage just caused and the damage the unit is already carrying. The total determines whether the damaged unit is routed, wavering, or holding. Clean and simple.
While my shambling undead forces were able to kill or rout every human unit by the end the twin sisters leading the Basilian force focused their very limited resources on the final turn on my most wounded units and make some good rolls to squeeze a tie from what was looking like a loss. Another sign of a solid system, in my opinion.
Now we are both determined to play again with bigger, more complex armies as well as share this system with our friends. In addition, I’m planning several new units that are all based as one piece vignettes. Skeletal archers in a graveyard to begin with but my mind is already spinning over a regiment of twenty dwarf rangers moving through the frontier.
Strange how life can lead one full circle. As a child I was entranced by the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for reasons both numerous and varied but one of my favorite scenes is at the very end with the two old fathers crawling around on the floor, toy soldiers lined up beautifully on both sides, throwing pots and pans at each others’ forces. Oh, but I wanted to play that and would set up my plastic army men to experiment with various missiles from marbles and rubberbands to cylinders fired from a Lego cannon (there is always room for Lego) but nothing really seemed to satisfy. Once I began painting metal and plastic figures even the idea of dice bouncing off them brought shudders and my old dreams quietly crept back to my subconsciousness.
A couple years ago my friend Tom had an idea for a game, called Wooden Wars, he wanted to play with his kids. Now, like a fair number of my friends, Tom (http://skullandcrown.blogspot.com/) is a game designer, both computer and actual, so this is nothing out of the ordinary for him. I hope he forgives me for showing the earliest test pieces. Its all part of the process after all.
Add the fact that he is also an amazing artist and one gets games that are as beautiful to play as they are to look at. What he described, rubber balls bouncing across the floor to strike lines of flat, wooden Napoleonic soldiers, instantly brought back my dreams and had my inner five year old itching to go.
That it was the very same movie scene that partially inspired him (OK, H.G. Wells was the major inspiration-for so many things) convinced me to paint my forces as the Army of the Free Republic of Vulgaria. Obviously my troops would have to be proud volunteers of the post-Bomburst revolution, clad in the emerald and violet of their homeland.
Being a long time war gamer it should be of no surprise that a fair number of my friends are into Napoleonic miniatures of various scales. While I had studied the general history of the era (birth of Nationalism and all that), had a great appreciation for the amazing spectacle a full minis battlefield can be, I had no interest in painting any of my own, let alone doing further research into the particulars.
Once Tom had handed me the first “sprue” of cannon and crew that all changed and I couldn’t get enough details of the uniforms, units, flags and stories of individuals. That Tom’s excitement for anything can be highly infectious is not to be denied (anyone play Pirates!?) and he kept steering me toward new resources.
All my ravenous interest is ironic, really, as my army is that of an imaginary country but it really crystalized my theories of lifelong learning being fueled by play and pushed me to start blogging, or pontificating as some would have.
That is a brief look at the early days of one of my favorite games. Soon I’ll be showing newer units, convention games and even exploring other planets with Queen Victoria’s Robot Wars. Until then, I leave you with a couple of convention shots in order to convey a hint of the enthusiasm this game seems to generate.