Topping my group in the KOW club comp stage meant I had qualified for the Quarter Finals. Unlike previous competitions the opponent wasn’t fixed based on your position within the group but was a random draw. My opponent ended up being Alex. I always enjoy playing Alex, neither of us takes our games too seriously and they are always fun. That said he is a canny player and he definitely has the edge in wins. I also suspect his son Cormac (who I had beaten in the group stage) had been giving him a heads up about my list and urging him to get revenge!
As ever with my recent KOW reports, I took no notes and so there is some poetic licence in the write ups and any mistakes are down to this lack of notes and piecing together what happened from a sketchy memory and photos.
Khazbar – Shaman – Heal, Critter Call, Amulet of the fire-heart – 150pts
Wazzock – Shaman – Heal, Shroud of the Saint – 145pts
Spirit Walkers – horde – Brew of Strength – 260pts
Spirit Walkers – horde – Blessing of the Gods – 255pts
Guardian Brutes – horde – Potion of the Caterpillar – 250pts
Stampede – horde – Brew of Haste – 275pts
Beast Pack – troop – 70pts
Beast Pack – troop – 70pts
Harpies – troop – Staying Stone – 95pts
Brutox – 220pts
Brutox – 220pts
Tribal Longhorns – regiment – 145pts
Tribal Longhorns – regiment – 145pts
Alex’s Brotherhood of Men
Villein Plowshares – Legion – Brew of Sharpness – 250pts
Villein Bowmen – Horde – 220pts
Order of the Brotherhood on foot – Regiment – Brew of Courage – 165pts
Order of the Brotherhood on foot – Regiment – Pipes of Terror – 165pts
Villein Martyrs – Regiment – 115pts
Order of the Brotherhood – Horde – Potion of the Caterpillar – 365pts
Order of Redemption – Regiment – Brew of Haste – 275pts
Order of Redemption – Regiment – Blessing of the Gods – 285pts
Forsaken Beast – Breath attack, Ensnare, Regenerate – 200pts
Devoted – mounted, Hex, Martyr’s Prayer – 110pts
Exemplar Adjutant – mounted – 75pts
Exemplar Adjutant – mounted – 75pts
In order to grab scenery before others in the club did, I got Steve to roll on the terrain chart and it came up as Terrain 3. This couldn’t have worked out better if I’d stacked the cards in my favour, as it meant we had: 3 woods, 2 marshes and 2 hills. With an almost army wide access to pathfinder (ignore penalties when moving/charging through terrain), it would allow me to use them to block the centre of the board and give me the edge.
All quarter finals were to be Ransack (page 77 from the Clash of Kings 2019 book). One marker worth 3 points was to be placed in the exact centre of the board. Each player then got three additional markers to place. One worth 2 points and two worth 1 point. The player holding the most point’s worth of markers at the end of the game wins.
The black spots on the above map represent the placement.
As with the knock out rounds, each player can pick a unit and if it survives it can roll on an experience table.
I picked the Guardian Brutes for my choice.
Alex picked his largest unit of knights (who already had +2 attacks from previously surviving).
Deployment & Plan
This was the first time I’d played Brotherhood and as such I had no idea what to expect, bar a large number of cavalry units (this is the closest Kings of War army to Bretonnia – at least in second edition). I probably should have looked at his list before getting to the club but I didn’t, so knew it would be an added challenge.
I pretty much ignored his deployment and went with my normal double horde in the centre supported by the shamans.
Having won the first turn, my entire horde moved up, ensuring they kept out of the charge range of the knights (with the exception of the dogs who were used the normal blockers). The Harpies were the only unit that didn’t advance, redirecting to support the right flank.
Khazbar cast critters call on the horde of archers opposite. The single point of damage caused was enough to disorder them and thus prevent them from firing next turn.
Seeing the aggressive advance of the herd, a number of the Brotherhood cavalry units chose to redeploy, backing towards their table edge (running away I call it!). The two exceptions to this were the Forsaken beast, who moved up and committed doggy genocide with its flaming breath attack and the archer horde. Unable to shoot and in a move that took me by surprise (and that was a very smart call by Alex), he moved his cavalry back and the archers then charged into the gap, slaying the other unit of dogs that were chaffing up his cavalry and replacing them as his own version of chaff
I was a bit worried about left flank. His horde of archers would be free to shoot next turn and was backed up by his frightening horde of knights and a regiment of foot knight. In a move that was in hindsight not the smartest (though in keeping with a horde of uncontrollable blood thirsty minotaurs and a mass of animals), the stampede and guardian brutes tore into the horde, easily butchering the poor peasant archers. In hindsight, I probably should have just flanked with the Brutes and saved the Stampede to counter the reprisal attack.
In the centre, outraged by their favourite pets being char-coaled, the spirit walkers stormed out of the woods and into the forsaken beast. For any other player, 80 attacks would have been enough to swiftly remove something. Not so for me, king of the insane courage rolls. With a double one the only thing that could stop it fleeing, of course that was the way the dice fell. Damn it! To add insult to injury (and I’ll admit to finding it very funny), Alex then gave me a taste of my own medicine (from a previous game we played) and did a little dance of joy.
Frustratingly, this then left the walkers open to being countered by the beast (who to add insult to injury, regenerated 6 wounds). He was joined by the nearby regiment of knights but with a poor bout of rolling, they easily survived, having taken only 12 wounds.
On the other flank, the horde of knights lowered their lances and obliterated the stampede. The foot knights supported the move and targeted the nearby brutes, but weren’t able to emulated their mounted compatriots success. The brutes had survived and were looking angry (if vulnerable with a whacking great horde of knights looking at their flank).
The Mid Game
The Spirit walkers counter charged the knights, their weight of numbers were too much for the knights who were all dragged from their mounts and slain. They were supported by a unit of great axe wielding Longhorns, who peeled off from the main battle line. They were ideally suited to monster slaying and swiftly put down the beast. This left a gaping hole in the centre of Alex’s lines.
On the far right flank the harpies flew into the other regiment of horse. This not only blocked his fastest unit, allowing the rest of my units to move up to put his entire line within striking distance, but the two wounds inflicted was an added bonus and meant the Knights would lose their thunderous charge if they countered.
On the other end of the table, things weren’t looking so good. The Guardian Brutes had to remove the foot soldiers to stand any kind of chance in the upcoming turn. Thankfully they did want was expected of them and thoroughly stomped the humans. The few remaining foot knights were left running for the hills.
This turn was probably where I made the biggest mistake of the game. With my second unit of Spirit Walkers unable to do anything, I had moved them to capture the 2 point objective, but I would have been better off either reforming them to support the guardian Brutes (or reforming the victorious Spirit Walkers). Obviously hindsight is a wonderful thing and I had been worried about the large number of untouched units on my right flank but I should have been more concerned with his most powerful unit.
Rather than counter the harpies with the knights, Alex again made a good move, choosing to back off with them (meaning they would potentially regain their Thunderous charge when they were next committed to a fight). He instead flanked the harpies with his Martyrs. He unsurprisingly butchered the flyers and then chose to overrun. Although this would leave this unit’s flank exposed, the aim was to block the two Brutox from engaging his knights. It didn’t quite work, as he needed a high roll to block both monsters (but it was a mart play never-the-less). flank harpies and kill them over running to try and protect knights (didn’t quite work). His remaining Foot Knights advanced at the double to block the Longhorns and the legion of plowshares pivoted to face the spirit walkers.
The other side of the battlefield was put squarely in his control as he demolished the guardian brutes. Khazbar was left feeling exposed and alone!
The Crushing Blow
The 2 Brutox bellowed as they lumbered forward. One tore into the flank of the Martyrs, scattering them to the wind. The other hit the front of the Knights and despite causing considerable damage, the reeling knights held their ground.
The Spirit Walkers and Longhorns double tapped the Plowshares. The poorly armed peasants were no match for the beasts and broke in short order.
Facing the huge horde of knights, Khazbar moved to block them and take one for the team!
At this point I had completely forgotten about objectives and had only one thing in my head and that was tabling Alex. I had completely succumbed to the blood thirsty nature of my army. Christ knows what I was thinking as doing things like leaving a unit of Longhorns lined up to charge a lone mounted character when he could easily move out of their charge arc, rather than reforming them to capture an object, was just complete stupidity!
As anyone with half a brain could have seen, he of course moved his Army Standard Bearer out of the charge arc of the Longhorns and reformed him to block the Spirit Walkers.
The Knights counter charged the Brutox but were unable to do much damage to him.
His horde of knights unsurprisingly barely paused as they rode down Khazbar.
The supporting hero’s then moved so they were closer to the centre of the board.
The Brutox continued to fight against the smaller knight regiment. The arrival of his brethren quickly sealed their fate, leaving that flank void of any opposing foe.
The Spirit Walkers crushed the mounted Army Standard but he had done his job, holding them up. The other Spirit Walkers pivoted and moved up to threaten the central objective.
The remaining units all reformed in order to move towards objectives.
The horde of knights moved up into a position between the two central objectives. I suddenly had a very bad feeling about things.
That feeling became a reality when the two remaining Brotherhood heroes (another Army Standard Bearer and the Devoted – read mage) each charged one of the hordes of Spirit Walkers. This meant that he effectively blocked both units from moving to attack the knights in turn 6. A particularly sneaky and typically underhanded and devious move!
With nothing left to do but position myself in case there was a turn 7, the Spirit Walkers closest to me countered the Devoted, easily taking her out and overran to threaten the centre next turn.
The other horde charge the remaining Standard Bearer (who could inspire himself) and again I managed to roll a double 1 (I couldn’t believe it. Bloody again. I was starting to get a reputation!!). This meant that if there were an additional turn, that unit would not contribute to the main event (the fight for the central objective) and more importantly wouldn’t get a rear attack on the knights (which they would, when they did what we knew they were going to in Alex’s final turn)!
Alex’s final turn was short and sweet. He reformed his Knight horde so it presented his flank to my unengaged horde but more importantly, bought him within range of two objectives (worth a total of 5 points between them).
With everything hinging on whether there was a turn 7, the dice was rolled and it came up a… 3. No final turn (much to Alex’s relief).
With Alex’s horde capturing the 3pt central objective and a 2pt objective and my Longhorns holding a 2pt objective and my Spirit Walkers a 1pts objective, Alex won 5pts to 3pts and would progress to the Semi Final.
What could have been?
Suckered in by Alex! He did it to me again! I’m sure his constant retreating was designed to pull me in. He knows I can’t stand the ‘cowardly’ tactics and will do my utmost to crush any unit running away (or tactically withdrawing). Hook, line and sinker.
He then played a very good game using his characters to block my two units from getting to his last remaining knights and/or the objective.
I can’t take anything away from him, he remained focussed on the game and I didn’t and so he deserved the victory. It still doesn’t help me feeling a little bit robbed by the outcome, though I can only shake my head at myself, hold up my hands and admit that I threw it away. Damn that giant sized unit footprint. With anything else, the best he would have got was 3pts and I would have won on unit strength…
Despite this, I have to say I always really enjoy playing Alex. He’s definitely one of my favourite opponents. Our games are always close, competitive (without taking things particularly seriously) and a damn good laugh and you can’t ask for much more in a game.
With 3rd Edition Kings of War on the horizon, this will be my last game of 2nd Edition. I do enjoy the simplicity and speed of the game though I find its great balance means a number of units across the armies are quite samey. I also find the army building to be pretty bland. This is mainly down to the fact that unit sizes are fixed and the lack of customisation on characters (at least in comparison to Warhammer). That said, I’m very much looking forward to see what the new edition will bring (if my hardback rulebook ever turns up…) and I’m also looking forward to reading the expanded fluff, something that, from all accounts, Mantic has worked hard on.