Or: An Exercise in how not to play the Herd.
Friday saw the first ever SELWG KOW competition game being played and I had the pleasure of being one of the competitors, as the Herd of Khazbar the Magnificent (Reborn) faced off against my old nemesis Neil R and his Forces of the Abyss.
It’s worth noting that as most of the players were new to KOW, that we were not using the new COK rules with the exception of the changes to flyers. The comp pack can be found here.
It was fair to say I was slightly apprehensive about the match for a number of reasons: it was only my 2nd game of KOW, Neil is one of the better players at the club (having won both whfb and 40k tournaments in recent years), he is already into double figures with KOW games and I hadn’t used my list before. Excuses out of the way 😉, I’ll recap my list, that I’ve previously gone over in depth here followed by Neil’s list.
The Herd of Khazbar Reborn – 2000pts (edit: added some items I missed initially)
Khazbar – Shaman – heal + Myrddin’s Amulet – 130pts
Wazzock the Renewed – Shaman – heal – 120pts
Zurrock the Mighty – Chieftain on Chariot – bows + Fire Oil – 205pts
Beast Pack – Troop – 70pts
Beast Pack – Troop – 70pts
Tribal Spirit Walkers – Horde – Brew of Strength – 260pts
Longhorns – Regiment – 145pts
Stampede – Horde – Brew of Sharpness – 305pts
Guardian Brutes – Horde – Blessing of the Gods – 255pts
Brutox – 220pts
Brutox – 220pts
Neils’s Forces of the Abyss
Winged Archfiend – Ensorcelled Armour – 335
Abyssal Champion on Mount – Mace of Crushing – 200
Efreet – Heart Seeking Chant – 165 (yellow)
Efreet – Inspiring Talisman – 155 (blue)
Hellhounds – Troop – 125
Hellhounds – Troop – 125
Lower Abyssals – Horde – Brew of Strength – 230
Tortured Souls – Horde – Chant of Hate – 245
Succubi – Regiment – Blessing of the Gods – 215 (Daemonettes)
Succubi – Regiment – Brew of Haste – 205 (Pink Horrors)
Where do I start? The Archfiend is going to be a total pain. Not only does it hit hard but it is very tough and will be difficult to pin down. It’s all kinds of worrying in one package and I supect is similar to the Herd Avatar of the Father.
Abyssal Champion is a bit of an all rounder. Has some good shooting, is reasonable tough and will hit quite well too. He can soften units up, help finish off injured units or act as chaff if required.
The Efreets are not very tough and the nerve isn’t great but they have small bases and are individual so very maneuverable. This will overcome the short range of their fireball attack and with each of them having 20 attacks and not using the CoK rules, they will always hit on 4+.
Hellhounds are like a beast pack turned up to 11. They are tougher, have far more attacks and also have nimble. They are quite expensive to be used as chaff so i’m not sure if they will be used in this roll.
The Abyssal horde are the army anvil. High nerve and average melee and defensive stats have been bolstered by the brew of strength so that they can dish out more damage.
The Tortured Souls are interesting. They are similar to my Guardian Brutes but although they have fly, they are also shambling so can only move 10″ and Neil does not have anyone with surge.
The Succubi are a very interesting unit. They are a cross between other armies elite and berserker units but have both stealthy and ensnare, making it harder to hit them.
We used Neil’s custom Terrain generator (which I’ve covered here in detail) and rolled Map Selection ‘1’, which was 3 * Buildings, 1 * hill, 2 * tree bases, 2 * Walls/Hedges/Fences.
We rolled off and I was player ‘A’ and Neil ‘B’ and we deployed the terrain as per the below instructions:
- Player A places the 3*buildings, anywhere on the table except in any DZ and at least 6” from any table edges. Also each building must be no more than 9” from each other.
- Player B places the hill in any DZ, at least 9” from any table edge.
- Player A places 1*tree base anywhere on the table, at least 6” from any table edge.
- Player B places 1*tree base anywhere on the table, at least 6” from any table edge.
- Player A places 1* WHF in any deployment zone, at least 6” from any table edge in any configuration, but all pieces must be touching each other.
- Player B places 1* WHF in any deployment zone, at least 6” from any table edge in any configuration, but all pieces must be touching each other.
We rolled loot, which wasn’t a bad thing as it was the scenario I had played in my previous game, so I actually had an idea what I was doing! One token was automatically placed dead centre, I put one token in the large woods and Neil placed one in the village.
I won the roll for sides and using my normal tactical reasoning, selected the side I was already standing on (left on the pictures, north on the maps).
After having a genius plan of concentrating on just 2 of the loot counters, one being the counter I placed in the woods, I threw it all out the window, sketched out, seconded guessed myself and decided to spread my forces all across the table making the same mistake that I had done when last I faced him with Beastmen in whfb. I really need to learn from past games and stick to the plan!
I again won the roll, this time for first turn and in another moment of indecision, chose to give it to Neil.
Turn 1 – Abyss
Under the orders of their dastardly general, the Forces of the Abyss advanced on all fronts. The Succubi moving into the edge of the village just short of the loot the local peasants had stashed. In the centre, the abyssal horde advanced ready to capture the loot token in the burial mound there. They were supported by the tortured souls and Winged Archfiend who lined up ready to flank charge any herd that were to contest the centre. On their right flank the hellhounds advanced around the wood and the one of the efreets moved up as bait. In the final act of the round, the Abyssal Champion threw a lightning bolt into the central beast pack causing 3 wounds.
After seeing Neil’s first turn of movement, I can fully understand why they use chess clocks in competitions for KOW. Although the early movement phases are key in lining up the attacks and will define most of the game, there was definitely a lot of faffing around and being somewhat of an expert in faffing around, I know it when I see it!
Turn 1 – Herd
In the first of my tactical blunders in the first turn, I totally forgot how nimble flyers were and so advanced the chieftain and 2 Brutox without covering my rear arc.
In the centre, further mistakes were made with the spirit horde advancing to get in the face of the horde, with me convinced they could withstand a charge, with 2 healing Shamans backing them up. The Guardian Brutes under threat from both the tortured souls and winged archfiend, valiantly retreated, thus sealing the fate of the spirit walkers. The central beast pack of chaff, in a move so cunning that Baldrick would have given it a seal of approval, re-positioned to the left flank to ensure it could get in the way and not do anything useful.
On the left flank the other pack of chaff couldn’t resist and charged the bait Efreet inflicting a wound and at least ensuring it could not use its obscene 20 fireball attack next turn.
Turn 2 – Abyss
On the herd left flank the hellhounds advanced at full tilt to get into the back field. The injured Efreet retreated behind the woods, as did the supporting Succubi unit, thus ensuring neither could be charged. The other Efreet moved forward and unleashed its fire breath wavering the beast pack that had hurt its twin.
Howling with glee the abyssal horde slammed into the spirit walkers (picking up the loot in the process) and backed up by the unit of hellhounds decimated the unit in a single turn of combat, leaving a gaping hole in the herd lines.
In the village, the Succubi decided they didn’t like their odds and edged sideways behind a building, whilst the Winged Archfiend moved round to threaten the rear of the Brutox contingent.
Turn 2 – Herd
One of the beast packs moved up to block the succubi, which allowed the stampede to pick up the token. The Longhorns moved up in support of them, ignoring the Hellhounds that lurked behind them. Wazzock moved up to support the flank, whilst Khazbar moved out of the woods to block line of site of the now threatening abyssal horde.
In the village the Chieftain charged the Succubi causing minor damage. One of the Brutox moved up to claim the loot counter whilst the other moved to threaten the centre. The Guardian Brutes decided they needed to do something useful and moved up to threaten the flank of the abyssal horde but being careful to ensure the Tortured souls could not flank or move behind them.
Turn 3 – Abyss
Both Efreets targeted the stampede causing 12 wounds and wavering them. The central pack of Hellhounds charged the flank of the beast pack obliterating them and lined up the flank of the Stampede. The final pack of Hellhounds moved up to threaten the rear of the herd lines.
The tortured souls charged into the Guardians inflicting substantial damage but failing to do any more than that, leaving them prime for a counter in the next turn.
In the village the Archfiend smashed aside the Chieftain and turned to threaten the loot carrying Brutox. The Succubi further backed up pivoting as they did so.
Turn 3 – Herd
The token carrying Brutox moved out of the village, avoiding the arc of the Archfiend and turned to face the inevitable charge of the Succubi. (Edit – we worked out after the match that you could not pivot when moving backwards. It the overall scheme of things it wouldn’t have made much difference but it probably would have meant that the Brutox would either be able to have charged the Succubi or wouldn’t have been facing the turn 4 charge. Note to self, learn the basic rules!).
The other Brutox, unable to charge anything advanced at the double to also ensure the Archfiend could not attack it in the rear and if it survived the inevitable barrage of fireballs, help out the left flank. As an added bonus it regenerated one of the wounds the Abyssal champion had inflicted on it earlier in the game.
The Guardian Brutes tore into the Tortured Souls but failed to route them.
In the woods, the Stampede reformed to at least prevent a rear charge against it and Khazbar threw on a heal that removed 3 wounds, though that was unlikely to help due to the impending flank and front charge and due to the number of wounds already suffered. The Beast pack moved to threaten the Efreets in the next turn, thus allowing the Longhorns to charge the Succubi, which they did to minimal effect (as an added bonus the dogs also happened to protect the Longhorns flank).
Turn 4 – Abyss
In the village, starting the trend of this turn, the Succubi charged the Brutox, slaying it and capturing the loot counter. The Tortured Souls counter charged the Guardian Brutes doing enough damage to also remove them. 40 fireball attacks from the Efreets into the central Brutox was more than enough to incinerate it. No regeneration would be helping it out in the future!
Continuing the rolling wall of pain, the Abyssal horde finished off the remaining beast pack, whilst the horde was put down by the combined 45 attacks of the two Hellhound units, leaving the third and final loot token in the hands of Neil’s troops.
In the only good news of the turn, the Succubi Regiment failed to kill the Longhorns and both Shamans had avoided combat!
(Apologies but I forgot to take any photos from this point on).
Turn 4 – Herd
At this point I decided to call it as with only one unit remaining and it being surrounded on 3 sides, there was only one way this game was going. Neil pointed out that it was worth playing the turn as it might matter in the case of a tie breaker. With that in mind, we rolled the combat between the Longhorns and the Succubi and would you believe it, they actually routed them, ensuring that although I had been obliterated, I had dodged the complete embarrassment of failing to remove a single one of his units!
And with that achieved, we did call the game.
2 points for Neil for the game win and with regards to the tie breaker point tally, 1,870 points to 205 points to Neil (one of my Shamans was in the position to potentially dodge further combats so we assumed it would have survived).
I think it’s hardly worth trying to say it was anything but a total whitewash.
So with that game over, all that is left to do is pick through the pieces of the car crash. The obvious place to start is deployment. Even more than warhammer, deployment is key in KOW and it’s fair to say I screwed the pooch here. The first mistake was not sticking to my guns and spreading my forces across the entire battlefield rather than just concentrating on two objectives. Also knowing that he had flyers, I failed to either double line or cover my rear arcs, which meant I engaged in a futile dance of trying to avoid rear charges. A prime example was on my first turn, I should have positioned one of the Brutox to threaten anything that moved round the rear of my lines. Due to the limited space in the village he was never going to do anything useful there!
I also learnt some valuable lessons about my army list, which is handy due to the lack of practice with it. The Spirit walker horde can take a beating but isn’t invincible. I’m lacking chaff, so may need to sacrifice another element in the army in that role if needed. The Brutox don’t work well in a confined space due to the incorrect base size on the models and although my reasoning for taking them was based on having 2 models I wanted to use, I am slighly regretting not taking an additional spirit walker horde in place of one of them. We shall have to see how that pans out. Even after just one game I can see that my ‘inspired’ idea of using the two Brutox and Chieftain together is looking anything but and I’ll be changing that going forward.
Already i’m feeling the lack of flyers in the list but there’s not much I can do about that at present so will need to adapt and overcome the shortfall.