Saturday 11th March saw me attend my first tournament with my Abyssal Dwarfs army. It was a rush! Even as of Tuesday that week I barely had half of the army painted. In the end I managed to cobble together a painted force in true tournament fashion, finishing painting it with the 3 colour minimum at 2AM on Saturday morning. Being limited by the models available and the time needed to paint the army, here’s what I settled on:
(note: the Immortal Guard took the 2 handed weapons upgrade for +1 CS and -1 De.)
The idea was to have two groups in my army; infantry and cavalry. The Blacksouls and Immortal Guard formed one solid block with the Dragon Fire Teams backing them up. The two Cavalry units, the gargoyles and the Halfbreed champ and Ba’su’su would form a hard hitting flanking force. The Angkors would sit at the back lobbing their payload at any available target.
The throwing dogs were an interesting addition. I’ve not really valued them much in the past but I’ve set out to try them out, and needless to say I think they’re a key part of getting Dwarf infantry to work well.
I was not happy with the painting and still need to do a lot of work on it, however it was a good enough tournament standard.
It should be noted that this tournament was not using the 2017 CoK changes and instead was using the 2016 changes. I wouldn’t run two hard hitting individual characters under the 2017 rules because it’s a lot of points sunk into units that cannot score at all. I’d certainly take one or the other though.
Game 1 vs Alex Hadfield, Forces of Nature, Pillage
For game 1 I was drawn up against my ride, Mr Alex Hadfield. Alex fielded Forces of Nature consisting mostly of vanguarding units, with a mix of Forest Shamblers, Hunters of the Wild and a Tree Herder (with regeneration). Supplementing this he had the Green Lady, a Greater Earth Elemental, a Beast of Nature and a regiment of Salamanders.
Playing pillage, the loot counters were fairly evenly spread across the board. The two large central forests gave Alex an advantage since I would be hindered charging in and he wouldn’t I deployed my infantry group in the centre, with the flanking group on the left.
There wasn’t a whole lot to digest in this game really. I managed to clear out the units on the very right with a mixture of throwing dogs and breath attack and on the left I was able to use my superior speed to pick fights in my favour. Once we settled down into a countercharging fight in the centre, I was able to mop up very quickly.
In the end I was able to completely wipe out Alex’s army, including the Green Lady while losing just a unit of Gargoyles, a unit of Immortal Guard and the Halfbreed regiment. This gave me a solid win with 19 tournament points, putting me in joint first place with my next opponent, James Mackenzie.
Game 2 – James Mackenzie, Forces of the Abyss, Push
James was fairly new to the game and had in fact just won his first ever game in the previous round. Running Forces of the Abyss, I was very surprised not to see any Efreet in there at all! Here’s what he had from memory:
- 2 Hordes of Lower Abyssals
- Tortured Souls Horde
- Well of Souls
- Archfiend of the Abyss
- Troops of gargoyles
- 2 Hellhounds troop
- Allied Night Stalker Fiends Horde
- Allied Night Stalker Mindscreech
I set up in a very similar formation to the previous game – infantry group in the centre (carrying the two loot tokens for this scenario) and faster units on the right.
We spent the first turn cautiously advancing towards each other. I kept some impassable terrain on the flank of my infantry group, protecting its flanks from some hellhounds advancing there and making sure that James would have to hit my front if he wished to engage.
James made a critical mistake that I was able to capitalise on in turn 2. He had moved his Mindscreech up to shoot at me, but in doing so exposed it to a charge from Basusu. It would be rude not to take such an opportunity! What Basusu was able to then do was keep the Mindscreech shut down all game, preventing it from shooting, until I was able to kill it off in later turns.
I also unleashed the dogs on the gargoyles, taking them out with a single shot (god I love the dogs).
James began concentrating his units in a grinding combat in the central forest, while my infantry horde faced down the Fiends and one of the Lower Abyssal Hordes in the centre. On my right, the Archfiend got into another grinding fight, this time against my Halfbreed regiment.
Between the Breath Attack shooting and remaining dogs, I managed to take out the Fiends and Lower AByssals on the left, while I eventually mopped up the archfiend and Mindscreech on the right. This meant that I was able to turn my attention to the centre and overwhelm James’s forces there.
I was able to once again take out all of James army while he took out a very significant 895 points worth of mine. This gave me an 18-2 victory and securing my top spot for a second round.
I had a really good in depth chat with James after the game. He was convinced from the start that he would stand no chance against me and didn’t seem to believe me that I was genuinely worried around the middle of the game when I wasn’t prevailing in the middle combat. I pinned my win down to two main mistakes on his part; leaving the Mindscreech in charge range of Ba’su’su (even a single turn of shooting would have made a significant difference to the game) and sending his fast units down my right flank. He had exceptionally fast and manouverable units on the right and could have redeployed them in the opening turns towards the centre and would have been able to easily overwhelm me there. My fast flankers on the right would have been stuck moving slowly through difficult terrain to get to him, taking fire from the Mindscreech all the way and having to chew through a Lower Abyssals Horde. By the time I’d done that, he would have likely broken me in the centre with overwhelming force.
The Mindscreech was a mistake that he realised as soon as I measured Ba’Su’Su’s range, but the main lesson to take away was not to be afraid of redeploying your army if you have the speed to do so. Abandon a flank and concentrate on where the objectives are.
Game 3 – Darren Parkes, Elves, Control
Darren ran his Clash of Kings 2016 list, which goes something like this:
- Bow Horde w/Piercing
- Seaguard Horde w/+1 to Hit
- Chariot Horde
- Drakon Horde
- 3 Bolt Throwers
- 2 Bane-chanting mages
- Dragon w/Ensorcelled armour
Still being top of the rankings, I found myself again on table 1, albeit on the opposite side of the board this time. Once again I went for infantry group in the centre, flankers on the left. I put a unit of gargoyles and Ba’su’su on the right, facing down two of Darrens Bolt Throwers on the very far right of the board.
Starting from my left of the board, Darren deployed his other bolt thrower, Chariot Horde, Seaguard Horde, Bow Horde, then the Dragon and Drakons.
Darren opted for first turn and cautiously advanced towards me, with the Drakons and Dragon getting within charge range of my infantry and the rest all advancing into shooting range. The shooting phase saw me take scattered casualties, including a few points of damage on the Blacksouls horde and wavering some gargoyles.
In my second turn I moved up, getting my faster units in charge range and sitting my infantry units behind cover. Rather than going straight after the right flank bolt throwers like he expected, I instead moved Ba’su’su and his gargoyles towards the centre and facing the flank of the Dragon & Drakons. They were now invisible to the Bolt Throwers, as was the rest of my army.
In the shooting phase I got extremely lucky, scoring two out of two hits with the Angkors on the Dragon, putting around 12 points of damage on and wavering it.
From here it turned into a bit of a slugfest. I managed to take advantage of an open flank on the Seaguard with my Grotesques (Darren leaving a solid 10-15mm exposed), wiping them out in one hit before the Grotesques bought it. My infantry generally stayed in cover, lobbing their throwing dogs and the breath attack at various targets. The Dragon and Drakons died fairly unspectacularly after suffering at the hand of the various ranged attacks. Towards the end of the game I found myself with the Angkors, a unit of Immortal Guard, the Dragon Fire teams and Ba’Su’Su. Darren had just the Seaguard Horde and the bolt throwers left.
I was able to capture both of my left hand squares and the centre square on my side, while Darren controlled his centre and left hand square. This gave me 3 points to his 2, giving me a win.
In this game I was lucky with the two Angkor hits up front, but throughout the rest of the game I only had one more hit with them. Even with one of them moving for a couple of turns they were well under average overall (as they had been all day really).
Darren made two major mistakes in my mind; leaving the flank open to my grotesques and leaving the bolt throwers on the far right of the table. I think that he should have moved the far bolt throwers as soon as it became apparent that he would struggle to get much more shooting off (even if just to capture the square on my side of the table), and the flank thing is just a case of checking angles a bit closer.
With this being Clash of Kings 2016 rules, Individuals and War Engines were able to score in Control (albeit at half points). This mean that I was able to win in the end since my war engines controlled one square, my Immortal Guard controlled another and Basusu captured the last. Darren controlled one with his Bow Horde and one with the Bolt Throwers. Going by the unit strength scoring system this would have been a draw instead, however I would have taken a different build for 2017 rules. It also showed why the move to unit strength is great; on the last turn I had to ask Darren for the points cost of all his units and then start calculating which of my units I needed where in order to secure the different control zones. It would be much quicker and easier if I were able to quickly check based on unit size.
Game 4 – Elliot Morrish, Forces of Nature, Invade
At this point I was still at the top of the leader board and again on table 1 for the final game. Elliot is a regular opponent of mine and we are definitely competing on the same level. Every game I’ve had with him has been an extremely fun, close affair and I think we’re about even on wins/losses against each other. We’d actually had a practice game earlier in the week and I ended up scraping a win (by the skin of my teeth) against him. Could I pull it off a second time?
Looking at the points, we worked out that if either of us scored 11 or more points then they would win the event, since the next person could not catch up.
Elliots list ran along these lines:
- 2 Earth elemental Hordes
- Greater Earth Elemental
- Centaur Horde
- Horde of Wyrmriders
- Centaur chief
- The Green Lady
- Beast of Nature
- Winged Unicorn
- Allied Dopplegangers
My setup had the infantry to the mid-right of my setup area and fast units on the left.
The centre… did not go so well for me. I advanced, I shot and I did minimal damage. The main win for me was getting Basusu into the Beast of Nature to shut down its lightning bolt. Other than that most of the damage that I inflicted failed to rout units and the Green Lady subsequently healed them. The only ones I put significant enough damage on was the Wyrmriders, who I then double 1’d! Argh!
I was already losing the centre at that point, especially considering that I was fighting through a massive forest. The Wymriders sticking around for another turn unfortunately robbed me of a flat charge on Earth Elementals and meant one of my Immortal Guard units had to spend a turn taking the Wyrms on and taking a lot of melee damage in the process. Ultimately my infantry centre held the Nature units up, but the De6 proved just too difficult for me to break.
On the left we got into a ducking, dodging and weaving game. There was a conveniently placed hill that Elliot was standing on top of then moving back behind, blocking line of sight to his units. This blocked several charges and it took me several turns before I could really connect. By the time I’d done so, the Dopplegangers moved into a position that gave them a charge off on the Grotesques in the last turn of the game! Luckily the Grotesques held and wiped the Dopplegangers out on the counter-charge.
This was (potentially) the last turn of the game. All I needed to do was draw in order to win the event, and I wasn’t doing too well in terms of scoring units. I had the halfbreeds, Basusu and the halfbreed champion on Elliots half of the table, but the combat with the Dopplegangers had left my Grotesques standing right on the line. Elliot currently had just enough units on my half to win the game as it stood, so for my reform with the Grotesques I chose to advance. I needed to advance 3” or more in order to get onto Elliots half of the board and scrape a draw. A draw would win the event.
I rolled a 1.
Game to Elliot 😊
This was a great game and I really enjoyed it. Definitely as tough as games with Elliot always are and I suppose it was his turn to win for once! I managed to extract a fair bit of blood from Elliots army and won out on kill points, getting 7 tournament points to Elliots 13.
I don’t think there was a whole lot I could have done differently in this game – it was just one of those ones that didn’t go my way and my opponent outplayed me. Thinking back to deployment it might have helped to switch my groups around, since there was an obstacle on the left hand side of the board that I could have used to hinder some of Elliots charges.
Well the dust had settled and all games reported in. Me and Elliot knew going into our game that if one of us won that game then they would win the event; the third place player wouldn’t be able to score enough points to leapfrog the winner.
In the end, Kenny Wilson managed to get a resounding 19 point win in his last game, leapfrogging me for 2nd place. I got a very respectable 3rd place overall with 65 tournament points.
I also managed to win a spot prize in the 3rd game for having an artillery piece hit only once throughout the game but still survive.
Thoughts on the event
The event was fantastic, with a great atmosphere, great food and well run. We were running a bit behind in the middle of the day but we caught up by the end quite easily. I had a really fun time and enjoyed every single game a lot.
My opponents were all great. I want to put a special shout out to my second opponent, James Mackenzie, who got my best sports vote. He was a pleasure to play against and while he was quite down about his chances in the game due to how new he is to the system, I think he underestimates how close it was (even if the results don’t reflect that) and how nervous I was halfway through the game. Barring a few mistakes, that he likely won’t make again, he’s a solid player with a good grasp of the fundamental tactics and I think that if he gets some more experience under his belt then he’ll be a consistent top finisher at events. Regardless, he was great fun with a very nicely painted army, and I hope to see (and face!) him again in the future!
I know the TO, Chris, had worked hard on the terrain for the event and it really showed. Each of the tables was gorgeous and looked a pleasure to play on. The only bad thing is that I only got to play on two of the tables!
Since I was at the top of the rankings for 3 of the 4 rounds, I ended up playing on table 1 for 3 of the 4 rounds. This is why I’m not personally keen on having the top players play on the same table and I make sure to rotate tables at my own events. It would have been nice to try out some of the other very lovely looking tables.
The only other downside was a lack of beer!
This was the first time I took my Abyssal Dwarfs to an event, after just one practice game.
I’m pretty happy with them!
While some of the army list was chosen purely on which models I could get finished in time for the event, I’m still very happy with how it played and not sure there’d be much to change in future.
I didn’t get much (if any) use out of the Onyx Ring on the Halfbreed Champion and I think I’d much prefer giving Pathfinder to the Halfbreeds instead.
The three main things that I wanted to test were the angkor mortars, infantry units and throwing dogs. All of them were fantastic and I’m really happy with them! The infantry units did what they needed to do; form a solid base with lots of nerve and grind away. The Mortars hit less than average (I hit about 1/5 shots rather than 1/3) but were still great and still something that my opponent had to deal with. The throwing dogs are hilarious. About 50% of the time they’ll do absolutely nothing. The other 50% they’re incredible. I’ll drop them if I’m really squeezed for points, but they’re really good at giving Dwarf infantry a really effective first volley, countering their low speed.
What will shake things up is the change to the 2017 CoK rules.
The biggest hit will be to Individuals not scoring any more, though the Breath Attack change also hampers the list somewhat. At the moment I spent 480 points on Individuals and 340 points on war engines that can’t score.
The first change will likely be to drop the Halfbreed Champion in favour of a Grotesque Champion with the Inspiring Talisman. Ba’su’su makes for an excellent war engine and spellcaster hunter, and I don’t really need a second! The Grotesque Champion will be very nice to have. He has a similar melee output as the Halfbreed champ but can score flanks and rears, but more importantly he scores a point in scenarios.
The next change will be to swap the Diadem of Dragonkind on the Slavedriver for the Lute of Insatiable Darkness to give my infantry group a bit of extra oomph in combat, and swap Fire-oil for the Potion of the Caterpillar on the Halfbreeds.
This gives me a few points left over to play with (artefacts for the Immortal Guard perhaps) but is the basis of the first few changes. Later on I might drop the Dragon Fire-team, not because of a lack of effectiveness (hitting on 5+ in cover instead of 4+ is not a massive change, and I can often avoid that with careful positioning), but just to put more points into scoring units. I’d like to squeeze a horde of Slave Orcs in there somewhere but that’s subject to more testing.
Overall, I’m very happy with my performance and looking forwards to taking my Abyssal Dwarfs to more games!