Clash of Kings 2017

Last weekend Mantic Games hosted the Clash of Kings 2017 event at Firestorm Games in Cardiff. A two day, six game Kings of War tournament in the UK. I attended last year and had a great time and as such decided to fly over once again. Having only won one game last year with my Elves, I set myself the target of at least two wins. In order to give myself the best possible chance I painted up a new army, which I had never played before and contained sub-optimal choices. It’s the price one pays for being a hobbyist first and gamer second!

Team Map Pack™ with Ronnie Renton - I'm second on the right.

In addition to the singles event there was also a pseudo team event. It was not a separate event, simply an aggregate score of all four players in the team. This however, provided a huge amount of fun and I really hope they repeat it next year. I was the fourth member of Team Map Pack™, which consisted of 3 Norwegian Vikings and a rather dapper half English, half German chap (myself) - for those people I played/met at the event, for clarity, my name is Pete, but on Facebook I go by my german name Max Hoffmann - send me a friend request if you’d like to keep in touch!

Anyway, my army for the event was 2000 points of The Herd. I simply love this army in Kings of War. In Warhammer Fantasy I played (among others) Beastmen, because I loved the animalistic, tribal feel of the army. However, I never really liked the idea of them belonging to Chaos and being evil. I always imagined them more as a representation of nature, a nomadic tribe whose sacred lands had been taken away by evil humans. In Kings of War this is, I feel, exactly what The Herd represents. I love the name and the fact that they are neutral in allegiance (not that I ever use allies). It just feels right.

Team Herd ready for battle.

2000 point Army List:
  • Tribal Hunters - troop - Bows
  • Tribal Hunters - troop - Throwing weapons
  • Harpies - troop
  • Tribal Chariots - regiment
  • Lycans - horde - Blood of the Old King
  • Lycans - horde - Helm of the Ram
  • Stampede - Dwarven Ale
  • Giant Totem
  • Chimera - wings
  • Avatar of the Father - heal(6)
  • Centaur Chief - Lute of Insatiable Darkness
  • Shaman - heal(5)

This list is a mixture of units I like from a modelling perspective (Chariots, Totem), a gaming perspective (Lycans, Stampede) and what I could sensibly fit into hand luggage. It’s far from optimal, but ho-hum.

Friday Evening

I arrived in Cardiff on the Friday evening and headed down to the venue before going out for food and drinks with Team Map Pack™. Firestorm Games is a large venue with a huge gaming hall and plenty of tables. There wasn’t many people around on the Friday, but it gave me a good chance to acclimatise. We were all of the opinion that the tables were somewhat lacking in terrain…

Welcome to Cardiff.

The calm before the storm.

Who ate all the terrain?

Saturday

Game One - Ogres - Chris Lewis - Invade

After some motivational chit-chat with Team Map Pack™ and a quick coffee, I was all ready to play my first game. Having discussed our lists the night before, I was of the opinion that my preferred opponent would be Ogres. Slow moving, high defence, relatively low nerve and lots of crushing strength is exactly what I wanted to face and that’s exactly what I got.

Ogres are an ideal opponent for The Herd, because I have the speed advantage, their high defence is irrelevant with all the thunderous charge and crushing strength I have and the Ogres’ crushing strength is somewhat wasted against my low(ish) defence army. The scenario was Invade, which made my life a little more difficult as I do lack unit strength, but it just meant I was going to have to kill some Ogres.

Go get 'em lads!

Our deployment was a bit lop-sided with me favouring the left side and Chris the right. I had a chariot horde on the right to keep him honest and some harpies who decided Ogres were big and scary and flew away. On the left I had my whole army, the idea being to win that flank as quickly as possible, before then dealing with the other half. As it turned out, it took a bit longer than I expected, by which time Chris’ Ogres were totally on my half of the table on the right side. At this point the game was nicely balanced, my Harpies had flown all around the board in order to not die and get into a scoring position, which meant the scenario was tied. I didn’t realise this and proceeded to charge my Avatar back across the table into my own half and engage a regiment of uninjured Ogres in the front.

The Ogres are a comin'

Despite my ineptitude, I rolled amazingly, dealing 8 damage with only 9 attacks and routing the Ogres, thus granting me a last turn victory. Not really deserved, but gladly accepted.

16-4 win.

Game Two - Ratkin with Abyssal allies - Martin Dinsley (Best in Race for RK 2017) - Loot

My second game was against Martin Dinsley and his Ratkin army. Martin was an excellent opponent and super friendly. His list was typical Ratkin: Shock Troop hordes (2), Blight horde, some shooting, some chaff and some flying allies to season. It was a strong army and a pretty good counter to my Herd list. His plan was simple; shoot off as much as he could, survive the charge and then eat what’s left. My plan, was to deploy well and focus on half of his army with my speed advantage, before engaging the other half.

Unfortunately this is exactly what I didn’t do (note to self - do not charge a horde of blight, in the front, with an unsupported Stampede, it doesn’t work). I simply spread out too thinly at deployment and fed Martin my army piecemeal.

2-18 loss.

I forgot to take photos - was having too much fun - but here’s a pic of Martin and one of his army.

Loadsa Rats.

Martin Dinsley.

Game Three - Night Stalkers with Abyssal allies - Jorge Cuerva - Control

With a record of one win, one loss, I was hoping to meet someone in the third round who wasn’t super strong. Someone on my level. Someone with a semi-fluffy list. However, I met Jorge and his super-tuned Night Stalkers list. Jorge was part of the Spanish contingent (apparently there was about 8 of them in total) and his list was simply the most evil creation I have ever faced in Kings of War - Breath Weapons, Fireballs and Lightning bolts across the board and three flying Void Lurkers just for added fun. It was fast, it was evil and it packed a lot of shooting. I was very scared.

Deployment. Orange vs. Blue.

The silver lining however, was that Jorge was anything but evil, being a very friendly chap and a super relaxed and chatty opponent. Once again I deployed fairly badly, spreading my army out far too much (something which I would correct on the Sunday) and failing to line up optimal unit match-ups. For some reason, I ended up placing my Lycans opposite his flyers, which was not only silly, but affected the whole game. Having realised my mistake, I spent the first 2 turns running away towards the center, keeping them out of line of sight thanks to a tall building. This would have been fine, and in hindsight was probably the correct decision, except that the scenario was control.

Run to the hills, run for your lives.

With a strong middle of Avatar and Stampede supported by a healing shaman, I managed to win the central portion of the table. My left flank of Chimera and Chariots crumbled and with my Lycans playing chicken with some Void Lurkers, the game, despite my best events, was actually relatively close. I managed to take out all of Jorge’s slower units and destroy his lightning bolt Tyranid things (yes, they were Tyranid Warriors), but having taken my eye of the ball and ignoring the scenario, I ended up sacrificing both flanks.

Marc Cox vs. Nick Williams to the left of us. Marc was rather excitable and loud.

Jorge had won the roll to decide who goes first and as such had the last turn, which was decisive, because it meant he could spread out in turn 6 and take all four corners. I had the middle and ended up losing 4-3. Poorly played on my part, but I did manage to kill more than he did and still got 6 points.

6-14 loss.

Saturday Evening

Saturday evening in Cardiff was an interesting experience. Having left my hotel reservation rather late, I ended up in a hotel 20 minutes drive from the center, as such, I took a taxi into town to meet with Team Map Pack™ and the rest of the cool kids.

We went out for a curry and half the restaurant seemed to be full of Kings of War players, which was nice. Team Map Pack™ had a round table, next to the loos, behind a big long table full of all the important players. What was rather pleasant was that we had a spare seat and throughout the evening it became a sort of free-for-all hot-seat for all and sundry to come and chat with us. As soon as it became vacant another misfit would plonk himself down and inform us about how well he was doing. It was jolly fun.

Our lovely round table with spare chair currently occupied by a man who loves yellow.

After the curry it was off to the pub and into the world of sticky floors (even the pavement in Cardiff is sticky). We were offered tickets to the big boxing match in Cardiff that night (70,000 people in a stadium watching a fight - the reason it was so difficult and expensive to find accommodation), but we politely declined and Ronnie Renton showed up to impress us all with his huge hair.

Off to the pub, looking all suave in my leather jacket (which I nearly lost).

The whole evening was a great success until it was time to head back. I needed a taxi and walked with Lars and Thomas to their hotel, because the taxi rank was right outside. However, as we arrived, it became apparent that the fight was over and 70,000 drunk welshman were flooding onto the streets. It really felt like a zombie apocalypse as the masses swarmed down the narrow streets directly towards us. I would have taken a photo, if it weren’t for the fact that I was panicking. I needed a taxi. So did 70,000 other people. All of a sudden all the taxis were booked and with people everywhere I literally ran down the road tapping on every taxi window until one agreed to let me in. In hindsight, I got lucky, as I just beat the mindless hordes. Another pint and I would have been stuck.

Sunday (Day of the Dwarven Ale)

Game Four - The Brotherhood - Kevin Honeysett (Best in Race for BH 2017) - Push

Going into game four I still needed to pick up that elusive second win and time was running out. Kevin had introduced himself to me the night before by shouting across tables in the restaurant. In my opinion, he wasn’t drunk enough.

I had only played against The Brotherhood once before and never with The Herd, but I fancied my chances as I felt they would be a good match-up for my army. As it turned out, this game was one of the best. The scenario was certainly not ideal as I had no obvious units to place my tokens on. I considered being really gamey and hiding them all in a corner to be forgotten, but ended up splitting them between the two Tribal Hunter units. These guys never achieve much anyway and I could easily hide them behind larger units and march along behind.

Once again, I forgot to take photos, so here's my lovely wooden tray...

My deployment wasn’t bad, I skewed to the left with my Lycans on the flank. The Stampede and Avatar more central, with one Tribal Hunter unit hiding behind the Lycans. On the right I hid the other Hunters behind my Chariots and added the Chimera for support. Kev’s deployment was similar, with all his cavalry lined up opposite my Lycans, infantry in the middle and flyers out alone on the far side. To all intents and purposes it was a straight fight, with us both jockeying for position in the early turns.

With a neat nimble charge using his light cavalry, Kevin took the initiative against my Lycans and I, with the speed advantage in the middle charged with my Stampede and Avatar into his infantry horde. On the far side Chariots and flyers were staring at each other, biding their time.

In the middle Kevin had all of his tokens on a Forsaken Beast with ensnare. All I had to do was push through and reach him for the win. Unfortunately my Stampede and Avatar completely fudged their attacks and couldn’t break the infantry, thus exposing flanks to flyers and Cavalry. This proved disastrous and I got somewhat sandwiched in the middle. However, whilst my army crumbled, one of my Lycan hordes managed to break free and on the last turn I could nimble charge around his entire line and into the token carrying beast at the back. He managed to kill the beast and steal not only the 3 tokens, but also collect the one from the middle of the table. 4 tokens - enough for the win! - except that Kevin had the last turn…

Here's a Man-O-War poster that adorned one of the walls.

What felt like his entire army charged my Lycans on his last turn in order to save the game and they piled loads of damage on. I was however, stood next to my Totem, so Kev still needed to roll more than double 1 twice to win the game. First roll was an 8. Ok, second roll. Let’s be seeing those snake eyes. He rolled and there was a one! ...and a two! Oh well. 3 was enough and my Lycans went down. Although even Kevin said at first glance it looked like a double one. Great game with a nerve-racking finale.

2-18 loss.

Game Five - League of Rhordia - Harris Dewsnap - Dominate

Having had a super game against Kevin in the previous round, I discovered that in round 5 I was due to play one of his team mates (Nick Harris of The Four Horsemen). We had already chatted a bit and were both really looking forward to the chance to play. However, as we were getting set up an organiser came over and requested that we changed opponents, because two other players had already played against each other. It was obviously not meant to be.

As such, I ended up against Harris. A great young lad and apparently the UK’s ex-junior Warhammer Fantasy Champion. With a pedigree like that I certainly had my work cut out and no less due to the fact that he was playing a very shooty League of Rhordia list. The scenario was dominate, so I had no choice but to charge head first into the gunline and hope for the best.

A lovely looking army.

Harris castled up a bit in the middle and placed all of his faster units on one flank, leaving the other empty. I was also heavily deployed to one side, but I did have my Chimera and harpies on the empty flank, ready to fly around and threaten charges later in the game. The table had a few large pieces of impassable terrain, which I used to block line of sight as I advanced and this combined with some terrible shooting from Harris (his dice really let him down) meant that I was able to get across to his lines pretty much unscathed. His Hobbits (actual tiny retro hobbit miniatures) put up a solid defence and I still needed two 4+ headstrong rolls on my stampede to keep the attack going, but I ultimately won the center of the board.

Tiny little Hobbits - I loved playing against Harris' army.

Whilst my flyers came around the far side and helped out to win the center, Harris had more luck on the other flank and eventually broke through my Lycans and Chariots and was able to turn his heavy Cavalry unit to face the center. With turns running out, neither of us had much in the dominate zone and the key move ended up coming from my harpies who flew across and landed right in front of his cavalry, thus preventing them from entering the dominate zone and handing me the victory.

Harris played really well and just got rather unlucky. I was very pleased to hear that he won his last game (even if it was against my team mate Lars!).

17-3 win.

Scary napoleonic heavy cavalry.

Game Six - Abyssal Dwarfs - James McIntyre - Pillage

With my second win secured and thus safe in the knowledge that I had beaten my record from last year, I went into my last game with a clear head and happy smile. This contentment continued as the game turned out to be superb. My opponent was James and his great looking Abyssal Dwarf army (once again, I forgot to take pictures - the curse of having too much fun!), but his army was a real treat to look at.

James had two large flyers; an Overmaster on Dragon and a Caster on Great Winged Halfbreed along with some Golems and lots of breath attack shooting Decimators. I was worried, as I felt he had the stronger list and could easily shoot me off the table. The pillage markers were heavily weighted to one side and James deployed the majority of his army on that side, with only his Golems on the other flank. I skewed my deployment to one side as well, leaving once again my Chimera and harpies to take the long route around the far side.

I forgot to take photos again, so here's some chaps looking all serious.

I felt James was a bit too cautious and concerned about me getting charges, even though his flyers out-ranged a lot of my army and he remained compact and static for a lot of the game. This allowed me to take the initiative and I was able to surround him and line up decent charges, including getting some cheeky flanks. The game seemed to be going all my way, until turn 4 when I rolled 3 double ones in a row, all on units that had taken more damage than they had nerve! - We were both somewhat dumbstruck.

The inevitable counter-charges evened things up a bit, but once again, thanks to the Dwarven Ale on my Stampede, I still had the upper hand. In the end, in order to force a draw, James needed the game to go to turn 7 (which it did) and then somehow kill my Lycan Horde that was holding a key objective. His only chance to do this was to fly his Overmaster on Dragon towards the Lycans and then shoot with Breath Attack. However, I went first and could charge his Dragon with my Chimera. I had seven attacks and all I needed to do was one damage to disorder him and strip his flying ability. The Chimera hits on 3’s. I rolled 7 one's and two’s. My Dice had deserted me and James could still pull it out of the bag!

He flew over, turned to face and let rip. A good volley meant he needed 7 twice for the draw. First roll was 11, but the second a 4, giving me my third win!

15-5 win.

Conclusion

At the end of a great tournament and 6 brilliant games I ended up 3-3-0 with 58 tournament points (68 with painting), 6730 Attrition and 47th place from 84 players. So roughly in the middle of the pack. I wasn’t the best Herd general, but I also wasn’t the worst, which was nice.

My army performed pretty much as expected. Leading up to the tournament I had been experimenting with various combinations of artefacts and I feel the choices I ended up making were quite correct. Helm of the Ram on the Lycan horde is brilliant, because you most often get the charge anyway and Blood of the Old King is probably the most cost efficient artefact there is and worked brilliantly on the second horde. However, the big win for me was Dwarven Ale on the Stampede. Sure, you can go all in and use an expensive item like Brew of Sharpness, but I feel that is somewhat overkill. The biggest problem I find with the stampede is the 4 point waver range (18-22), which is huge. This proved to be true as the Stampede became wavered on no less than 5 occasions during the tournament. A 50/50 chance to shake that off and kill a unit is pretty good and in one game I made the 4+ roll twice in a row!

Best unit in the army - Lycan horde, no doubt. They’re amazing. Most fun unit - probably the Avatar, he’s just a beast, but very expensive. Worst unit - the Chariots. It was to be expected and I only used them because they look cool, but seriously, Chariots need a rethink. 8 attacks for such a large imposing unit is a joke.

Make these better please RC.

As far as the team tournament was concerned, Team Map Pack™ had somewhat mixed results. Thomas did really well and was 5th overall going into the last round with a record of 4 wins, 1 loss. Unfortunately, in the last round, he ended up playing against the only player who had beaten him (it was possible to play a player for a second time in the last round). Annoyingly he lost again and fell to 4-2-0, but still ended up 9th overall! Fred ended up 63rd, with a record of 2-3-1 and Lars was 81st (not last!) with 0-5-1. @Lars - combat goblins don’t work! Overall Team Map Pack™ were middle of the pack, but at least we didn’t come last. Congratulations to House Stark for winning overall and to ‘In Rowntree We Trust’ for having the funniest name! - even Ronnie had a chuckle in his speech.

Which brings me nicely on to the Award ceremony. Ronnie Renton once again regaled us all with his public speaking prowess and congratulations to Nick Williams for taking the top prize. I’m sure it wasn't rigged!

"...and here's what you could have won"

Thanks to all the people I met and all of my opponents. As ever, an event like this is not really about the game, but rather the people and I feel we are somewhat blessed to have the friendliest community in all of wargaming. Thanks to all the people who complimented me on my army. Martin Dinsley seemed to fall in love with my Avatar (Ogroid Thaumaturge miniature), Nick Williams said it looked awesome, although I sadly didn’t really get a chance to chat with him and even Ronnie came over and said it looked great, even though it had 0% Mantic miniatures! (I felt a bit ashamed). After spending 6 months painting an army, it’s really nice when people seem to appreciate the effort.

I also spent a little bit of time speaking with Dan King, Marc Cox, Chris Welsh and many others. I believe I failed to introduce myself, so the majority of people had absolutely no idea who I was - something to work on for next year.

But most of all I’d like to thank the other members of Team Map Pack™ (apart from Lars). Being part of a team really made the event special and I truly hope they do it again next year.

Check out the Giant Dwarf Podcast we recorded at the event here: https://giantdwarf.podbean.com/e/011-live-from-clash-of-kings-2017/

I’ll finish up with a picture of the car I hired. Although spelt incorrectly, I was delighted to have such an appropriate number plate for the weekend!

Silly Firefly car rental - it's spelt Orc, with a c.

Team Map Pack™ forever!
May the fjords be with you!

Ghorros - aka Max Hoffmann - aka Pete

2 comments:

  1. Very nice write up on what sounded like a great event! I enjoyed the podcast as well. Your army looks fantastic, and should offer up the last bit of motivation I need to finish my own herd list!

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Dan, glad you enjoyed it. Good luck getting your army finished!

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