“Plans never survive contact with real life.” were the words of wisdom from my first opponent delivered as my knights (at least what there is of them at the moment) charged into action.
He was right, of course, although the plan was pretty… erm… unique? However, at this stage in the project (yeap a whole week or so in) it’s obviously not really about the winning! It’s about trying to work out what works for me so that maybe, in the far-flung future the Knights of the Order of the Sparce Base (working title) might eek out a victory. So, what have the first couple of games taught me?
Game 1: Orcs
My first list was always intended to just throw a load of stuff on the table and see what, or how, they worked. The first game was a 2,000 point game of Loot against Orcs. It was quite a dramatic loss, 3:0 to the green dudes, and the list looked like this:
Villain Penitent Horde
Monster Slayer Paladin regiments (2)
Order of the Abyssal Hunt regiments (2) – one with Sharpness, one with Caterpillar
Villain Skirmishers troops (2)
Regiment of Initiates of the Brothermark
Exemplar Hunter – mounted, the Gauntlet, Gnome Glass Shield
Exemplar Chaplain – mounted, aura of Fury, Inspiring Talisman
High Paladin on Dragon
I think I over thought the tactics a bit and, for reasons I can no longer articulate, put the infantry on a flank and the cavalry in the centre. The Orcs were in their element and stomped all over my lovely clean MDF bases, however, despite this there were some helpful learnings to be had about the units I was using. Most importantly I had a bit of an epiphany about the sort of army I wanted to take and decided, having painted up lots of infantry, to focus on the cavalry. So, with that decision taken I started overhauling the list for my next game against Riftforged Orcs.
Game 2: Riftforged Orcs
I was quite excited about playing the newest addition to Panithor, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. They are still Orcs in their hearts and those big infantry hordes just scare the hell out of me, taking them out is currently number one on my list of things to get used to doing. We played Dominate at 2,000 points.
This was a much closer game where a couple of fluffed nerve rolls by a regiment of knights on a regiment of Legionnaires (can’t remember what type) really became the difference between a win and a loss. So, what was the list?
Villain Penitent Regiment
Order of the Abyssal Hunt regiments (2) – one with Sharpness, one with Jesse’s Boots
Villain Skirmishers troops (2)
Regiments of Initiates of the Brothermark (2) – one with Caterpillar
Exemplar Hunter – mounted, the Gauntlet, The Blade of Beast Slaying
Exemplar Chaplain – mounted, aura of Fury
Exemplar Paladin – mounted, The Scythe of the Harvester
War Wizard – mounted, lightning bolt, Host Shadowbeast
High Paladin on Dragon
Overall, I was really pleased with the way the list played and this is the list that I’ll be aiming to take to my first tournament of 2022, and will serve as the base for my 2,300 list.
But why this list?
When I look at the Brothermark army list as a whole I think there are some really great units and options to draw on. The Northern Kings review of the Clash of Kings 2022 changes talk about these with far more eloquence, experience and competence than I ever could, so if you’re considering a Brothermark army I would massively recommend their Youtube video as a starting place.
Infantry vs Cavalry
The big change between the first and second list was dropping the infantry. That’s not a comment on the infantry, but much more a comment on the direction I want to take. As an on off Basilean player the Monster Slayer Paladins are very similar to Foot Paladins. They are undoubtedly solid troops, but ones that I’ve always felt need to have a bane chant around for, or in the case of the Slayers some rallying if you go for the Crush 1 option that lowers defence from 5 to 4. It’s probably worth remembering that Brothermark do have the option to get characters that will offer Rally 2 to these troops, but that’s expensive points wise. The point for me is to really make the most of these guys some support is required, and put simply, I want to spend points on horseys. That really meant just getting rid of the infantry, but I do think there’s some really good infantry builds which I would love to explore in the future. I just need to get excited about painting legions.
I think there is a great selection of cavalry, with my favourites being the Initiates. To me they make this army work by filling a dual role of reliable support for the heavy hitters and as all important chaff. Having used Hackpaws a lot with my Ratkin I know just how irritating, and survivable, a move 9, nimble unit can be. Having melee 3 makes them more reliable in combat than the Hackpaws which is mightily welcome.
I don’t think there’s much to be said about the other cavalry options simply because they really do exactly what they say on the tin. However, what I think is really important to remember is the precarious nature of cavalry due to their thunderous charge, and the impact of terrain and phalanx. Even the Order of the Abyssal Hunt suffer from being hindered, especially against defence 5 units. So, it’s also important to watch out for the Scorched Earth spell, which can caused real problems (and did in the second game), even for the Abyssal Hunt when they’ve taken their Brew of Sharpness.
I love individuals in Kings of War. I think they add a really interesting dimension to the game, and the Brothermark individuals are no different. In the second list I beefed up my individual count with an Exemplar Paladin and a Wizard with Host Shadow Beast. Taking individuals does eat into the points for scoring units, so in some way it feels slightly counter intuitive. However, the Brothermark lack any fast moving units with a 40mm or 50mm base, think Breast of Nature or Lord on Frostfang. These models, not only score, but also provide really useful support by being able to fit into small gaps to help win combats, and creating awkward threats through side and rear charges.
Brothermark don’t have access to anything that really fills this role so the view I have is that individuals are really important to the Brothermark as a way of doing the same thing. Fortunately, in the Exemplars there are some really useful tools, but they need looking after, at least for the first few turns of the game. Of course there are pros and cons. They’re a lot more flexible in terms of directing their charges and can fit into even smaller spaces, but they don’t score and don’t benefit from the increased attacks to flanks and rears. On the plus side though, as they don’t score it does make some decisions easier where its a decision about potentially losing troops or an individual.
The Paladin is a pretty standard character, so no need to dwell on him.
The Chaplain has his obvious uses, and I think the Fury aura remains as important for a mounted Chaplain as it does for an unmounted one. One of the biggest issues I have with Hackpaw regiments is not their capacity to survive a couple of rounds of combat (because they will if it’s the right combat, in the right place), but the likelihood of them being wavered and not doing anything in the second round (I’m going to estimate this happens about 50% of the time). The Fury aura solves this problem which I expect to regularly encounter with my villeins (and have already in the game against the Riftforged Orcs).
The Hunter is probably the most challenging of them to use well, and its early days. In my first game I made the mistake of using him to hold up units, but you’re not spending loads of points for him to do that, as his profile suggests. A combination of his nerve and a lack of waver mitigation meant he got wavered and then got killed, even with the Gnome Glass Shield. My view is that this guy is all about combat support, and so I’ve tried to tool him up to do this role to the best of his abilities. I think the Gauntlet also makes sense as this gives him two more specific groups of units to target. In a way I think this, and the Slayer enhancement, make up for not having attack increments for flanks and rears. The challenge for me is that he really needs to be able to hit things without being hit back. That means thinking about the fights you put him into, such as putting him into a combat on a different side to which a target unit is already under attack. This also reduces the risk from over run.
The Wiz was a much-needed addition. A little bit of missile power can go a long way. He’s already done me proud with some rewarding end of game lightning bolt action, but I think Host Shadow Beast will go a long way with this army. I went for the eight dice version because that’s what I had points for. When I first chose it, I had the Hunter very much in mind to be the recipient of its benefit, and it certainly proved useful on the Wiz’s first outing, even without a massively spiked roll (I think on average I rolled 3 additional attacks). Its true that with Crushing 2 as opposed to Crushing 1 on the other Exemplars the Hunter will deliver the greatest value, but because all Exemplars have melee 3 and Elite they are all reasonable targets for the spell. This is also appealing so it doesn’t become an eggs in one basket situation where the only other target, if the Hunter meets with an untimely demise, is a banner bearer on foot with a magical lute.
All in all, the first couple of games have been massive learning curves, albeit highly enjoyable learning curves. I’m not doing much in the way of battle reports at the moment because, well you’ve seen the state of the army. But I’m hoping it won’t be long before I get a bit more flesh on the bones.