King in the North 2018 Writeup

Yesterday saw my new army have its inaugural games at the King in the North tournament.

I’ve had a Brotherhood army on the cards since early last year and after buying all the bits I needed for it… it sat on the shelf for 10 months. I kicked myself into gear at the start of this year with #hobbystreak – committing myself to carrying out at least 30 minutes of hobby related activity per day. This led me to start steadily building up the army over the course of January. I’d also rolled over a weeks worth of annual leave from last year and was under pressure from work to take the time off sooner rather than later. So, I took the last week of January off.

Over the course of this week, the army flew together and I finally reached that wonderful stage where it could actually take to the tabletop, even if it wasn’t completely finished yet. While everything had at least 3 colours on it, some of the models just had their basecoats rather than any highlights. Still, it was more than enough for the tournament.

The List

This is the list that I settled on:

  • Water Elemental Horde*
  • Water Elemental Horde*
  • Order of the Brotherhood Regiment w/Brew of Strength**
  • Order of the Brotherhood Regiment w/Maccwar’s Potion of the Caterpillar**
  • Villein Reconnoiterers Troop
  • Villein Reconnoiterers Troop
  • Forsaken Beast w/Breath Attack & Ensnare
  • Exemplar of the Brotherhood**
  • Exemplar Redeemer*
  • Exemplar Adjutant w/mount, Lute of Insatiable Darkness
  • Tsunami Formation (*)
  • Undaunted Crusaders Formation (**)
  • Allied Basilean Elohi Horde

This is an alpha strike list which relies on fast, hard hitting units with the Elohi and Order of the Brotherhood, then there was a second wave of Water Elementals and the Forsaken Beast (also a convenient Loot carrier).

Now I knew this list had some significant weaknesses. Namely being short on bodies and no healing abilities (except for Iron Resolve on the Elohi). I was also keenly aware that I had very little grinding ability and masses of nerve could ruin my day. I was hoping that the initial punch would be enough to break through lines and allow cheeky Elemental surge and Elohi flank and rear charges.

Game 1 – Undead/Nightstalkers

For game 1 I was drawn against Jonathan Luke with his Undead and Nightstalker allies (which were just 3 hordes of scarecrows). This army was not what I wanted to see opposite me…! He had an incredible number of hordes and regiments, a shedload of nerve, backed up with plenty of surge that would stop my Elohi from reaching their maximum effectiveness.

The good news for me was that he had absolutely no fast units, with just some ghouls and zombie trolls being the fastest at speed 6. This meant that I could pick fights, though if I weren’t careful I could very easily find myself surrounded and forced to pick fights.

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The scenario was plunder, with 5 loot tokens spread out across the centre of the board. I would be able to get to the tokens first, but grabbing them too early would leave me way too vulnerable to a counter-attack.

Instead I held back for a couple of turns, angling for the best way in, however with the undead horde slowly shambling towards me and with a lack of attacks for chewing through units, eventually I was forced to start hitting. Sadly my attacks were largely ineffective and it soon became what I feared most – a steady grind against vastly superior numbers. I had completely lost momentum.

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To compound matters even further, I fucked up.

I had managed to land my Elohi behind Jon’s lines, facing right down his flank and near a horde of Skeleton Archers. Luckily their landing position had been made safe by tying a potential surge-flanking unit with my Forsaken Beast, preventing them from pivoting and being surged into the rear of my Elohi.

Jon did charge my Elohi with the Skeleton Archers and despite being hindered and only hitting on 6’s, they managed to cause a staggering 5 wounds! We settled in for a bit of a grind, me being confident that I could kill the Archers in 2 rounds of combat and then be free to hit some flanks and rears on my right hand side of the table.

Only, it took me 3 rounds of combat.

Want to know why?

I completely forgot to roll attacks for them. We didn’t realise until way too late to go back and sort it out so yeah. 5 damage from Skeleton Archers in combat. 0 damage from Elohi on Skeleton Archers.

It got to turn 6 and Jon held the majority of objectives. However, I’d actually managed to grind my way out of the bad situation (including a flank charge on the Elohi from some Revenants, since they had taken an extra turn breaking the Archers…). I’d cleared out the units on the left flank with my water elementals and I’d significantly wounded every unit on the right…

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It would all come down to a turn 7 (and I would have first turn)…

Which there was.

I actually managed to clear out most of Jons units in that final turn and took 4 of the 5 loot tokens, including my bonus target token.

In the end I was happy with the result, given the army I was facing.

I was a bit perplexed by Jon’s decision to include Nightstalker scarecrows in his army. They offer little benefit over Zombies (stealthy, which is nice) but very importantly can’t benefit from his Undead spells. He had Surge and Bane-Chant a plenty, and the units could have been greatly enhanced with those spells multiple times throughout our game.

How to play an overheard conversation…

Not long after the start of the round, me and Jon overheard the next table talking amongst themselves about the objective markers and one player saying they weren’t Loot tokens so couldn’t be picked up (well, I say talking/saying – it was Simon Clifford so the entire room could hear him animatingly and bombastically proclaiming that they were objective markers, not loot tokens – I think the whole of York could hear him…). We were both unfamiliar with the scenario, so looked at each other quizzically and then re-read it in the CoK19 book. The book definitely stipulated loot tokens, not objective markers, so the table next to us were definitely playing it wrong.

How to play this situation?

20181013_102827
It was this dick…

I mean, it’s very bad form to interfere with a game if you’re not to the TO and not asked, even if you spot something wrong. You could be seen as taking sides, you could point something out that both players had been playing wrong all game, anything.

However, the difference between a loot counter and objective marker is massive. Either way could be a benefit to some armies and a loss to others.

I decided (with Jon’s permission) to pause the clock and inform the TO, Carl (who somehow had not heard Simon, despite being within 1km of him…). Carl should be the one to make the call whether to inform the players or let them continue with the wrong rules. In some circumstances if players have been playing the scenario wrong and their decisions have been made on the (same) incorrect rules, the best thing for a TO to do is to decide to let them continue playing it wrong. In this case Carl decided to correct them.

Game 2 – Trident Realms

My second game of the day was against Alan Pratt with his Trident Realms list and the Invade scenario. I wish I could list what he had but I’m honestly not very familiar with Trident Realms. I know he had a couple of Giga hordes, some Heartpiercers, a Kraken, a Knucker and various heroes.

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While I am lacking in Unit Strength in my list, I did feel that this seemed like a fairly good matchup for me. His army was mostly slow and I felt that I would be able to control the board to a good degree.

Initially the game seemed to go my way too, with my units encircling him. A slight mistake (maybe?) allowed one of my knight regiments to charge his war engine, allowing them to turn around and face the flanks of his units. They initially weren’t able to charge the war engine, but Alan cast Sirens Call on them and accidentally pulled them into range.

In the centre, my Elohi were able to jump over his lines and start threatening his flanks and rears there, too.

20190202_132233.jpg

And then it all fell apart.

Alan used the new teleport spell to place Eckter in front of the knights behind him, and he was able to start shooting up the Elohi. The Knights were facing a combination of Ensnare and Phalanx and my Bane-Chant failed to go off, so they were unable to beat Eckter despite several rounds of combat.

I messed up with my Elohi, running from the shooting units to a place of what I thought was safety, but actually was within rear-charge range of the Knucker… They didn’t last long…

Altogether I lost the grind on my right flank and was slowly being ground down in the centre.

I also committed a huge, embarrassing mistake on the left flank. I’d deployed a troop of reconnoiterers hidden behind a hill and left them there all game. My plan was to either use them to block anyone trying to get over the line on the left flank on the last turn, or to run over the halfway line in the last turn for +1 victory point (and +1 tournament point, since you got +1 for every victory point you earned).

It got to the last turn. I triumphantly measured their move, glad that I was going to at least get +1 tournament point for getting them over the line.

And they couldn’t make it.

I’d deployed them too far back by half an inch.

Luckily we did have a turn 7 (again) and I was not only able to get the reconnointers over the line but also an Elemental horde, for +4 tournament points. Alan got most of his army across and secured the win.

Game 3 – Orcs

My third and final game of the day was versus Rich Tomlinson who was toting his Orc army. I have to say I was a bit disappointed with this – he’s played Brotherhood both times that we’ve played in the past so it would have been fun to have a Brotherhood-off! Sadly it wasn’t to be, and I was facing my 2nd shit-ton of nerve army of the day – only this time with some heavy hitting backup!

Rich was running two big hordes of Orcs, a horde of trolls, two gore rider regiments, THREE troops of sniffs, the new uber-giant and various supporting characters.

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This was an… interesting game. It became obvious halfway through the game that every attack was either succeeding wildly, or failing comprehensively, with nothing in between.

  • Gore Riders. Hindered. 5 damage to a Water Elemental horde. Double 6 on the nerve test and routed them in one hit.
  • Sniffs. Shooting a Knight Regiment. 6 damage. Wavered it.
  • Exemplar Redeemer. Charges a Gore Rider regiment. 5 damage from 5 attacks. Wavered them. Next two turns? Zero hits each turn.
  • Another Water Elemental horde on 6 damage. Regenerates 5 in a single turn.
  • Forsaken Beast into the flank of the uber giant. 1 damage.

This game again solidified a real problem I’d been having all day – a lack of units meaning that every hit hurt. There was no unit I could really afford to lose and even small amounts of damage were enough to put the few units I had into the danger zone.

In the end, Rich held four of the Pillage objective markers to my one, giving him a very strong win and leaving me on 1 win and 2 losses for the day.

When the dust had settled I found myself down in 10th place out of 16. This was my joint worst placing at a Kings of War tournament – matched at King in the North 2017 where I also came 10th out of 16!

Needless to say I have some work to do…

The Event

The King In The North is always a great event and a good start to the year.

The venue has always been quite pleasant, being a large hall in a suburb of York. It had been redecorated since we were last there and it now sported quite modern and well kept decor. Definitely a great venue!

Carl who ran the tournament was a lovely host, as ever.

It is a great event and definitely one I will be returning to next year (along with any other events that are run throughout the year).

Reflections

It’s a touch frustrating to put a ton of work into an army and end up having something that doesn’t quite gel on the tabletop. While I did primarily build this army as a hobby project, intending to step up my miniature game this year once again, I did hope that it would be able to get me towards the upper tables. Sadly not.

While I made several major tactical blunders throughout the day, I think the problems were exacerbated by the list.

I simply don’t have enough staying power on the board. I have nothing that can truly bury a charge and nothing that can hold down an objective area. All of my units have to be attacking all the time for me to make any kind of headway, so I just can’t leave a unit camping on an objective. This was most apparent in my last game of pillage where I had to abandon objectives that I’d secured in order to keep hitting at Rich’s army.

The other problem with an army that is as elite as this is that small points of damage rapidly start to add up. I have very little healing in the army, asides from Regenerate(5+) on the Water Elementals and the Elohi’s Iron Resolve. Any damage that I take sticks.

By comparison, my teammate Elliot Morrish is running a very similar list but with Basileans. However, he has a large amount of healing flying about with Phoenix’s, so units taking a decent chunk of damage but surviving will heal back very quickly. In my army, if that regiment of knights takes 5 damage then that 5 damage sticks around.

After discussing the list with the rest of the Northern Kings, I’ve decided to drop the Water Elemental formation. It requires that I take an Exemplar Redeemer which comes with Surge. While the Surge is situationally useful, I found that I rarely actually used it throughout the day. The character was nice, but in an army already struggling for units, 170 points on an individual (plus 35 for the formation) is a huge expense.

After discussions, we decided that a couple of cheap hordes of infantry would greatly benefit my army – giving me a solid wall to break enemy charges and then flank with the rest of my units – as well as hold objectives! By dropping the Exemplar Redeemer and a Reconnoiterer troop, I was able to take them no problem.

Now, will I have this ready for my next event? Will I bollocks.

No way I can build and paint two hordes of infantry before the FFS GT less than 3 weeks time. I’ve still not finished painting what I currently have – and I haven’t built any of the other pieces I want to take to FFS. To rush the infantry hordes would lower the quality of the army as a whole, and I don’t want to compromise the quality I’ve been able to achieve so far.

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No, I will have to stick with the original list, or a slight variant of it for FFS. Afterwards? Well, I actually have to paint an Ork army.

I’m sure I’ll get around to those hordes eventually…

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