Battle report: Witch Hunters vs. Necromancers

The story so far…

After the last kick starter arrived it was only a matter of days before dates were in diaries for a game of Witch Hunters vs Necromancers. With another friend keen to get their lockdown project on the table, a wild beasts clan, we decided to run a little campaign and test out the new factions.

It’s fair to say that after two games the Witch Hunters haven’t been doing well. The first game against a necromancer warband was a bit of a slaughter, which resulted in the team heading into their next game a man down. The next game, against the wild beast clan didn’t go particularly well either. So whilst I have a full compliment of troops returning to the table they weren’t able to feed themselves so are all starting one wound down.

Undead rules

What’s definitely added some extra interest into the campaign is that the rules for the undead have been iterating as the campaign has progressed. My opponent has played three games with his undead, each with a different rule set. That means both of us have been adapting as we progress.

Because of that I thought it would be helpful to pull out a couple of the more important undead rules for this report:

Necromancy now works on Fortitude, it previously worked on Presence, this is a bit of nerf for my opponent because his warband was set up for Presence based casting. That means he shouldn’t be able to summon as many mist ghasts (absolutely no one should feel sorry about this).

Stable ghasts operate basically as normal beasts, but they have now become fearsome. That means one of my opponents stable ghasts gets a buff (the other is a wild cat so is already fearsome).

Mist ghasts get summoned by the necromancer. When I played them last time they were very tough to take out, they could attack and you could also have up to ten on the table in addition to all your warband members. If you chose a bit of a gamey necromancer (which my opponent did) summoning was pretty easy and you quickly found yourself having to deal with lots of multiple combats. Not masses of fun. Mist ghasts have now had a few changes, the biggest being they no longer make attacks, but any of my models in base to base contact with them at the end of a turn will lose a wound for each ghast they are in contact with. Additionally they still contribute to multiple combats. This is a little unhelpful given that my warband was unable to feed itself after the last game and starts with each member already down a wound! However, they are a much easier prospect to deal with.

The scenario  – Witchhunt

Additional rules:

5 turn limit – having had some experience of necromancers we decided to limit the game to 5 turns. This gave me a target number of turns to survive, helpful because the additional models the warband can create means lots of multiple combats. In the past these have meant that the turn the route test is called most of my beasts are out of action which then impacts the campaign rolls as there is no one to do any wandering or labouring!

Random movement for the witch – we decided to randomise the witch’s movement rather than have her move directly towards which ever side controlled her and wanted to kill her.

Random events – this campaign we have been going out of our way to introduce as many new rules from the journals as possible, these look fun.

Mercenaries – as my warband is starting the game hungry I decided a mercenary was necessary, using the rules in the Warren Percy Affair. I decided to go for the big guns and called up Necalli, the armadillo, given I was expecting a lot of multiple combats his melee master and tough 4 was expected to come in handy.

Warbands

Lists only include things in addition to base stats and skills.

The Witch Hunters

Secondary objective – Secure

First – Otter with hand weapon, light armour, light shield, Maleus Malificiarum, burst of speed

Second – Fox with double handed weapon, slippery, fearsome, killing blow, holy zeal

Weasel with double handed weapon

Mouse with spear, healing hands, blessing

Attack grubs (3)

Necalli, the Nine-Banded Armadillo (See The Warren Percy Affair for details)

The Necromancer

Secondary objective – Loot

Necromancer – Toad with gifted, weak, delicate, invocation, hand weapon

Apprentice – Rat with tough, weak, delicate, mage focus, magic staff, doom bolt

Thrall – Shrew with one handed weapon, light shield, weapon skill

Thrall – Shrew with one handed weapon, light shield

Stable Ghast – Wild Cat with double handed weapon

Stable Ghast – Otter with one handed weapon and light shield

Rat with master smithed sword, crossbow, light armour, tough

Captain Dies (pronounced Dees) and his band of the faithful had tracked the witch to the abandoned village. The attack grubs had been hot on the evil beast’s scent, and now they had her cornered somewhere in what looked like an old mining village. The witch hunters spread out to search the buildings and soon they had spotted their quarry. As they closed in a dark bolt of magic flew through the air, striking Necalli. Knowing the magic could not have come from the witch Captain Dies looked up to see a recognisable rat in the distance with a smirk and a ridiculously oversized hat. Clearly the necromantic warband Dies had been chasing for some months were also interested in getting to the witch. The race was on…

Turn 1

Random event: Drifting Fog

The mist hung low in the village as the warbands moved forward searching for the witch. Conscious of the enemy, most clung to the side of buildings with the exception of the mercenary who spied the witch cowering behind the central building and made for her. As he advanced the apprentice necromancer unleashed a dark bolt of energy at him, hitting him squarely on the chest, fortunately his toughness saved him from serious injury.

The necromancer used the calm before the battle to summon 2 medium mist ghasts in front of him. Unnerved by the approaching armadillo the witch made a break for it, running for the edge of the broken-down village. Through a gap in the buildings, she spied a shrew warrior and cast a fireball at him, injuring him but not taking him out of action.

End of turn 1

Turn 2

Random event: Nothing

The fog cleared and the shrew who had been hit by the witch retaliated, charging into her wounding her, but failing to kill her. Seeing the witch and the shrew fighting Necalli decided to take advantage of the situation and steamed into the combat which he won, decisively, killing the witch and giving the scenario win to the witch hunters.

Despite the fight that had erupted in the town centre the witch hunters continued their search of the town cautiously, avoiding immediate confrontation. The mouse, however, seeing the mercenary had left himself exposed called on the old gods to bless him and the mercenary would be granted a +3 to his next roll off. Seeing the mouse in prayer and concerned where it might lead the rat with the crossbow took the opportunity to fire at him, hitting and wounding him. The toad summoned another small ghast. Finally, the wild cat ghast charged the armadillo swinging his double handed weapon at him. The armadillo took a hit, but fortunately the blessing from the mouse staved off the worst of it.

End of turn 2

Turn 3

Random event: Nothing 

The undead took the initiative and the stable ghast wild cat took another hack at the armadillo using up a few fate points and getting a critical hit for its troubles. The creature’s axe made quite a mess of the poor beast, well and truly taking him out of action.

With the mercenary out of the picture so soon Captain Dies could no longer hold himself back from his trademark act of stupidity and used his burst of speed to reach the necromancer. The tough old toad took some damage, but unlike so many wizards before him failed to back down and returned an attack once a mist ghast and the crossbow rat had been charged in for support. Between the three dastardly beasts the noble, yet foolhardy captain was left badly injured.

In the ruins with the shrine another melee erupted as an attack grub charged the stable ghast otter, followed up by the weasel. The stable ghast survived the onslaught and fought back against the weasel, dropping it with a single blow. Finally, the fox moved in against the nearby shrew. Wounds were traded, but no decisive blows landed.

In a final act of aggression the necromancer’s apprentice shot a doom bolt at the mouse who took damage, before muttering a prayer that saw much of the damage undone.

End of turn 3

Turn 4

Random event: Old Tunnels

As the beasts exchanged blows they could not help but notice the village had undoubtedly seen better days. Badly injured Captain Dees made a heroic sacrifice in an attempt to rid Northymbria of the old toad. Unfortunately it did not go quite to plan and the toad survived as the otter went out of action. As the necromancer knelt down to pick over the body of the unconscious captain the crossbow rat charged towards the melee in the ruins, keen to lend a hand. As he ran the ground suddenly opened up. He fell, and with no way out took to nosing around to see if there was any hidden treasure to be found.

Cracks were now opening up across the village and whilst the mist ghasts were oblivious to the dangers their altogether more corporeal cousins, the stable ghasts, found themselves disappearing next. Reinvigorated by the sudden disappearances the witch hunters redoubled their efforts attacking whatever was left.

The mouse, uncertain what the best direction was to move in decided to support his brothers and charged the shrew, jabbing at her with his spear.

End of turn 4

Turn 5

Random event: Collapsing Terrain

With the ground opening up around them it wasn’t long before the buildings started to shake. With the witch dead, the original reason for coming to the town, both warbands decided discretion was the better part of valour and started to run from the crumbling village. As masonry thudded into the streets the attack grubs’ training took over. One attacked the mist ghast closest to the building they had to secure whilst the other bolted for the door completing the witch hunter’s secondary objective.

In one last act of zealotry the fox saw the necromancer stuff Dies’ belongings into his pouch. The heretic would die. He ran, dodging falling rubble, raised his mighty flail and brought the weapon down on the toad. The evil beast crumpled as the village finally collapsed and the warbands retreated.

The aftermarth

Over the course of this campaign we’ve used as many of the new rules as possible in a bid to stop the games becoming melee traps around the objective, as well as using lots of scenery. This was a really fun, and inadvertently narrative driven game, thanks to the random events. The collapsing village really impacted decision making and outcomes, admittedly more for the necromancer. Its something I really love in campaign games because it elevates the overall fun level. From my point of view it also meant I had a much higher survival rate than usual and the scenario win means the warband gets to eat. Obviously, I’m not going to get too smug about this as next time I might be the one who has half my warband disappear, random is as random does!

Getting an early blow in against the necromancer really helped stem the flow of mist ghasts and their impact on this game was pretty minimal. I did, however, completely forget that my fox had killing blow, which was a shame but given the sink holes wasn’t really an issue.

Necalli definitely helped no end in this game. I think getting someone in to deliver the decisive blow to the witch without the extra body would have really caused my warband problems. Of course, the downside was that my lack of funds meant I had to pay with fate points and choosing such a powerful character meant my warband rating rose well over the necromancer’s rating. This meant I had a grand total of 5 fate points whilst the necromancer had 13, and they played a part in quite a few combats.

What’s next

The story will continue… Captain Dies made a full recovery whilst the weasel lost a dice level of speed. The little wandering I managed resulted in some fairly unimpressive knowledge being attained about future scenarios, whilst the necromancer warband managed to get a cheap shrew knight on a stag beetle to enlist in one of the shrews’ home towns and found a magical bow in one of the old tunnels!

There are plenty of experience advancements to be had though, and I’m planning an extension to the town house which should help sort out the finance issue. Excitingly, the next game is already planned. The necromancer has been making a lot of enemies and there are rumours abroad that the witch hunters are already in discussions with a local wild beast clan about where, and how best to visit a painful vengeance on the evil wizard.

If you want to find out more about Witch Hunters read my first impressions here.

Event review: UK Clash of Kings (and the final steps of manticisation)

It’s been said so many times in so many places, but there’s no harm in repeating it:

It is so good to get back to face to face gaming.

This year’s UK Clash of Kings unfolded at Firestorm Games in Cardiff. It played host to almost 100 excited Kings of War types with as many fantastic armies on display (and of course in action).

Excluding lockdown, I’ve only really been playing a couple of years, and this was my fifth tournament. The previous four were all comparatively small events with no more than 20 to 30 players, so this was a massive step up in terms of numbers. It definitely felt a bit daunting going into the venue on Saturday morning.

Add to that it was my first event with the new edition, not to mention an increased points limit on armies of 2,300. I was all set for an interesting weekend.

This weekend also marked a completion of some personal hobby goals as well. At the beginning of the year I decided to scrap my GW rats and replace them with the new Mantic range. As part of that project I decided to try and do a bit of fancy (for me) multi-basing and a display board (a definite first). Painting a new army from scratch always has its challenges, but all was completed and ready to go a couple of days before the tournament.

Time well spent completing a couple of hobby goals.

My army list:

Warlock with Boomstick

Warchief mounted on fleabag with Blade of Slashing

Master Scurrier with Boots of Levitation

Scud

Mutant Rat Fiend

Shock Troops Horde with plague pots and Brew of Sharpness

Warrior Horde with plague pots

2 Hackpaw Regiments

2 Weapons Teams

Vermintide Regiment

The games

Saturday

Game 1

Varangur – Pillage – win

This game really set the tone for my weekend. My opponent was friendly, welcoming and had a great looking army.

Varangur are a hard-hitting army, and this was no exception with plenty of punchy units, some hard as nails individuals and a couple of Magus Conclaves for support. My shooting served me well this game keeping a horde of snow trolls wavered which allowed Scud, the Tunnel Runners and a unit of hackpaws to creep around the back whilst my centre did its best to fend off some heavy hitters.

The body count was high and in the end the Tangle and Scud held the winning objects in an excitingly close game.

Game 2

Northern Alliance – Plunder – loss

This army was essentially an Ice Elemental build with four hordes of the things, a giant, a couple of Frostfang Lords and a Chimera (with a couple of extra bits thrown in). My first discovery was how annoying Ice Elementals are. Eighteen breathe attacks with surge creates the need for some serious thinking time.

As a result, for my part, the game could best be described as cagey. The rat advance was slow, but it kind of happened after a fashion, and it worked well, after a fashion. My army controlled the board and the areas where 4 out of 5 of the loot tokens were… but… my mind was not on the scenario until the end of turn 5 when I realised (only because my opponent picked one up) that these were Loot Tokens and not objectives. Consequently, by turn 6 not only had I not picked any up, I also had no chance of picking any up. Fortunately, for my opponent, he had a full working knowledge of the scenario and the presence of mind to pick up a token and take the win.

Game 3

Twilight Kin – Fools Gold – win

It was good to see some Twilight Kin over the weekend and this was a really beautiful army. It was a good mix of Elves, Nightstalkers and Abyssals and had a fair amout of punch. Unfortunately, this was one of those games where things just didn’t go well for my opponent from the start.

Shooting claimed an Abyssal Horseman regiment before it had done anything. An Archfiend lost its life after some charge shenanigans against my Warlock ended up with him getting charged by Hackpaws to the front and Tunnel Runners to the flank (you can guess how that ended).

My Shock Troops one shotted a Shadow Hulk, and another regiment of Abyssal Horsemen. Scud went through a regiment of Impalers in one, whilst another regiment was lost to shooting. By the end of the game the Kin had no scoring units on the table.

All in all, I think it’s fair to say the Twilight Kin have had better days.

Sunday

Game 4

Free Dwarfs – Invade – loss

With two wins under my belt I felt cautiously excited about what Sunday would hold. My enthusiasm waned somewhat when it became apparent it held badgers – lots of badgers. Dwarf Brock riders pack a huge number of attacks and have loads of threat range so the poor old rats simply couldn’t respond quickly enough. It all fell apart when the Tangle accidentally offered a flank charge to one of the regiments and the rat lines dissolved quickly after that.

It was a really fun game, but there weren’t many rats to pack away by the end.

This game has given me quite a lot of food for thought because its the first time I’ve seen an army made up of pre-dominantly defence 4 cavalry. I’ve always fancied playing with a Hackpaw army, and this morning that seems several steps closer.

Game 5

Salamanders – Push – draw  

This was my very first game against Salamanders, and I couldn’t have hoped for a better opponent. Playing a wide range of armies is one of the best things about events, especially when you haven’t played them before.

Push, being a Loot Token scenario was never going to be a great one for me. I think this might be the first time of played it and I just had no idea where to put the Loot Tokens. Consequently, they spent most of the time in my deployment zone trying to avoid Tyrant Hordes. Eventually a path was cleared, but despite reducing my opponent’s forces to a single unit of Ancients I just couldn’t get two of the three tokens I ended up with over the halfway line. His Loot Tokens were on the surviving Ancients regiment that managed to cross the line fully in the seventh turn equalling our points. All in all, it was a really hard fought, fun game and a great introduction to playing Salamanders.

Game 6

Undead – Dominate – loss

This had to be the perfect way to round it all off, facing a fantastically painted, fun undead Halfling army.

The game took some interesting turns. My shooting dice, which had all but deserted me in the previous game were now exhausted. Add to this general tiredness and a lot of silly mistakes were made. However, my opponent also made at least one error which occurred around turn 4 when he took one of his werewolf hordes off the table thinking it had died. Knowing there was no way I could have reached or damaged the horde to that point in the game I reminded him they weren’t dead, just forgotten, and they rejoined the game and promptly wiped out my warrior horde!

Despite everything this game turned out to be really close with the Tangle and a Revenant Cavalry regiment sharing the circle whilst my Tunnel Runners were stuck just outside with a wavered Vampire in front of them!

Rat of the Match

This honour absolutely has to go to the Hackpaws. They get thrown at every kind of nasty alpha strike unit going and whilst they usually die, they generally hold out long enough to keep big nasties at bay for a couple of turns. What was great about bringing two regiments is that I got the opportunity to see what else they could do.

Their nimble movement really helped to get them where they needed to be and they have (on a good roll) enough in the tank to do some real damage. Their stand out performance was against the Salamanders where they managed to one shot a horde of Tyrants and a regiment of Lancers, as well as carry one of my Loot Tokens over the half way line.

Final thoughts

It goes without saying I had a great time. Kings of War has a great community around it. Incredibly talented artists, gamers, and just all around great people. I’m hoping to get out for more tournaments next year knowing that where ever I manage to drag the rats along to will reflect this experience.

Tournaments are always a great place to improve you’re gaming, but seeing so many fantastic armies on display has also given me bags of inspiration for my next project.

And Finally…

All in all this was a massively fun event. My thanks go to the lovely people at Mantic for putting on a generally slick event and my super relaxed opponents who put up with my faffing around. I have to mention the little trinkets as I’m especially proud to now have a Troll Dojo Gate in my work area, as well as an impromptu present from the lovely Steve Hildrew of the plague pots from his Ratkin army. Very gratefully received. And a final question for the Moonrakers – if anyone manages to get a trophy from each of you at a single event is there a bonus achievement trophy on offer?

Great mementos of some great games.

How the rats came to be:

Part 1 – Introduction

Part 2 – A brief discourse on why Nightmares aren’t like Boomers

Part 3 – What’s the difference between a Skaven and a Ratkin?

Part 4 – Getting back to gaming

Kings of War Battle Report: Ratkin Vs. The Order of the Green Lady

With Clash looming in the UK I managed to squeeze in one last practice game. This is my third game with clocks, which I need because I am horrendously bad when it comes to timing. Fortunately, I’ve managed to get through the last two games without timing out, so practice has indeed resulted in progress. That means I just need to work on plans, tactics and strategies!

Points: 2,300

Scenario: Raze

The armies

Ratkin

1 – Warchief on Fleabag with Blade of Slashing

2 – Master Scurrier with Boots of Levitation

3 – Warlock with Boomstick

4 – Warrior horde with Plague Pots

5 – Shock Troop horde with Brew of Sharpness and Plague Pots

6 – Hackpaw regiments (2)

7 – Vermintide regiment

8 – Tunnel Runner regiment with Caterpillar Potion

9 – Weapons Teams (2)

10 – Mutant Rat Fiend

11 – Tangle

12 – Scud

The Order of the Green Lady

1 – Unicorn with Lightening Bolt and Heal

2 – Unicorn with Lightening Bolt and Heal with Boomstick

3 – Beast of Nature with wings and extra attacks

4 – Men-at-Arms Retainer hordes (2)

5 – Order of Redemption

6 – Order of the Forsaken (2 – one with Helm of Confidence)

7 – Order of the Brotherhood regiments (3 – one with Mead of Madness and one with Brew of Haste)

Set up and objectives – Ratkin are in red, Brotherhood are in dark yellow.

Turn 1

I won the roll off and decided to go first. Facing such a fast opponent I felt I needed to if I was to have any chance of getting into his half to start scoring. With the exception of some lightening bolts from the Warlock and Scud at the knights facing them the rats managed nothing more than a slight shuffle forward.

The Order of the Green Lady sallied forth in a guarded way, but with so many long charge ranges there wasn’t much required to start putting pressure on my little bundles of cuteness. The Beast of Nature predictably flew up to growl down my flank, however I had intentionally positioned the Hackpaws and Warchief so they could benefit from rallying and use their speed to respond to a wider variety of threats.

End of turn 1

Turn 2

Alpha strike armies tend to get you thinking hard from the very beginning of the game, and already the left flank was giving me a bit of a headache. My Hackpaws could either charge into the Order of the Brotherhood or the Order of Redemption. I knew they weren’t going to be able to kill either, but they are intended to be a delaying unit, and on that basis the most important unit to delay was the Redemption Knights. I charged them into the Order of Redemption hoping to hold them up for a turn to allow my Shock Troops to move forward without being in too many charge arks. With the Beast of Nature staring at me down the flank there was only one response, so the Warchief charged in wounding the Beast, preventing it from flying. The Vermintide charged into the Men-at-Arms, whilst the rest of the units in the centre ordered themselves to make receiving charges from the Foresaken as comfortable as possible, with the Shock Troops dropping their pots to really discourage any charges at this early stage in the game.

The Master Scurrier charged into the Unicorn and managed 4 wounds, failed to kill it, but disordered it ensuring there would be no casting from it in its next turn. Finally, the Warlock and Scud zapped away at the same unit of Knights.

The Brotherhood’s response was rather limited. On the left no chances were taken with the Warchief. Knights and the Beast of Nature charged into him and took him out. The Order of Redemption struck back at the Hackpaws, showing just what a difference knocking thunderous off a knight unit makes, and failed to even waver them.

The Unicorn with the Boomstick plinked a couple of wounds off the closest Weapons Team and the other Unicorn backed away from the Master Scurrier to allow the last knight unit to charge him, killing him instantly.

End of turn 2

Turn 3

This turn started with one of those very painful moments where you realise you’re likely to end the turn offering rear charges on a couple of your best units. Fortunately, luck smiled briefly (I want to take credit for this next bit, I really do).  My Shock Troops and the Mutant Rat Fiend charged the Men-at -Arms and routed them. I decided to move my Fiend forward, and fortunately rolled sufficiently high so the beast could, with some tactical wiggling of the Shock Troops, block the Foresaken’s line of sight to them. The tactical wiggling extended to a turn that meant the knights on the left flank now had a front charge which would be hindered (for good measure I had also cast weakness on them using the Tangle) and unlikely to go their way. Sighs of relief were breathed by the rat warriors.

On the right flank one of the Weapons Teams fired at the Men-at-Arms, further chipping away at them, and Scud moved up to cast an eye on the centre. The knights on the far right had moved up slightly to bait the Hackpaws, and as they were now quite badly wounded from the shooting the mounted rats went for it, but only managed to waver them. Finally, the Warlock chipped away at the remaining unit of knights with his lightening bolts.

On the left and in the centre the Brotherhood now went in for the kill. The Redemption knights finished off the Hackpaws, turning to threaten the flank of the Shock Troops and Fiend. The Brotherhood Knights charged the Shock Troops and managed a grand total of 2 wounds. The two hordes of the Foresaken launched themselves at the warriors and tore them apart, whilst the Beast of Nature charged the Tangle, determined to shut it down. The Unicorn with the Boomstick again lashed out at the Weapon Team, wavering it once again. On the right the unengaged knights repositioned to be able to offer support to either the Men-at-Arms or their wavered bretherin.

End of turn 3

Turn 4

The rats turn to do some damage (kind of). The Shock Troops destroyed the Knights and turned to face the Order of Redemption in such a way that if the knights charged them they would be hindered. The Tangle struck back against the Beast of Nature but failed to wound it, annoyingly making flying an option in the next turn. Scud charged a horde of the Foresaken, hurting them but not getting the kill, and the Hackpaws on the right finally killed the knights. In a final act of preparation the Fiend turned to face the back of the Foresaken.

Deciding a hindered charge into reasonably fresh horde of Shock Troops was not the better part of valour the Knights of Redemption cantered past the elite rat warriors. The Foresaken fighting Scud struck back, but failed to make a significant impact. The remaining horde of Foresaken charged into the flank of the Tangle, fighting with the Beast of Nature to destroy the delicate mobile monument to Rat Life.

On the right the remaining knights made a dash for their loot token, riding down the Warlock in the process, whilst the unicorn knocked a couple of wounds off the Hackpaws with its lightening.

End of turn 4

Turn 5

The race was on. At this stage both sides had secured two objectives each and things were looking promising in the centre (for the rats). Things looked good. I turned the Shock Troops to bring them back in for turn 6. The Fiend rear charged the Foresaken with Scud and wiped them out before turning to face the threat from the Redemption Knights. Finally, Tunnel Runners charged into the front of the Men-at-Arms, with the Hackpaws going into their flank, driving them from the field. Both units then turned to face the threat form the Foresaken and the remaining knights.

Looking for an easy fight the Redemption Knights destroyed the final Weapon Team, the Unicorn charged Scud to stop him flying off to claim the objective on the far left, and the Beast of Nature claimed the final Brotherhood objective. The remaining Foresaken charged the Tunnel Runners, but failed to break them, whilst the final knight unit turned to face the combats in the woods.

End of turn 5

Turn 6

With Scud unable to fly there was no chance of me getting the win, so it became about salvaging the draw. The Shock Troops charged the unicorn but failed to kill it. The Fiend charged the Redemption Knights, wounding them and robbing them of their thunderous and most importantly wavering them (which stayed after a failed headstrong roll) ensuring its survival if there was a turn 7. Scud turned away from the Unicorn and walked towards the woods from where, if there was a turn 7, he could fly to the final objective. The Tunnel Runners struck back at the Forsaken, but despite some hefty wounds weren’t able to shift them. Finally, the Hackpaws killed the Unicorn.

With few options open to them the Brotherhood also prepared for a potential last turn. The Beast of Nature flew to threaten the Shock Troop’s flank. The remaining knights joined the Foresaken against the Tunnel Runners, wiping them out. The units then turned so the Foresaken could see my Shock Troops and the knights prevented a rear charge into the Foresaken from the Hackpaws.

By this stage the Brotherhood had claimed all three of their objectives, whilst I had two of mine and superior unit strength in the centre. We rolled…

End of turn 6

Turn 7

Scud flew to the far left objective and claimed it, landing just within the 3 inches. The Fiend bashed up against the Redemption Knights, but failed to do anything useful and the Hackpaws charged the knights for a final bout of fisty cuffs. Finally, the Shock Troops killed the Unicorn and turned to face the Foresaken and the Beast of Nature. Having taken only two wounds and facing hindered charges I liked my odds for a draw.

When the Redemption knights failed to kill the Fiend I liked them even more. When the flurry of blows subsided my opponent needed a 9 or more on the nerve check for the win. I liked my chances. The dice fell. 9.

End of turn 7
So the Fiend has survived, now the Brotherhood just needs to roll under 9…

Final thoughts

What a close run game! I’m really not a fan of playing alpha strike type armies because they have the potential to pile the pressure on from turn 1. For a timed game I was really happy with how it went, and regardless of outcome, I always think when a game is as tight as this one it’s so much more enjoyable than a relatively easy win. That’s why I’m looking forward to Clash, a chance to spend a couple of days playing against some great competitors.

This game reinforced a couple of areas where I need to put some focus. I’m really happy with my list, so that’s a win, but I really need to get better at using the Weapons Teams. I’m not entirely sure why I thought it was a good idea to put one in front of the warriors in turn 2 to get shot at and wavered for half the game. I should have moved them both down to start wearing down the Men-at-Arms. This might have freed up either my Tunnel Runners or Hackpaws to run interference on the Brotherhood objective the Beast of Nature picked up. The other mistake I made was there was an opportunity to shoot at the Foresaken in turn 4 that I just forgot to take. Just one wound would have meant they would have left the table at the hands of the Tunnel Runners in turn 6 (all other dice rolls remaining the same) which would have given me the draw in turn 6 and a win in turn 7.

The other issue is deployment. I’ve noticed this in my last couple of games I don’t seem to have quite the right things in quite the right places so I’m hoping having some back to back games at the weekend will help me work out what’s not quite right.

All in all though, a great game and I can’t wait until the weekend.

Grow your own Gnome: Frostgrave with Northumbrian Tin Soldier

During lockdown I stumbled over Northumbrian Tin Soldier, and their fantastically characterful miniature collection. It’s unusual for me to pick up miniatures without a specific game in mind, but then again lockdown wasn’t usual.

The miniature designs really got me excited, and since the first models showed up on my doorstep my collection has grown steadily. As the time came to venture outside again, I really wanted to find a game to use these fab little dudes in.

After doing a bit of research Frostgrave became the game of choice. It’s miniature agnostic and requiring 10 models per warband it allowed me to use a fair bit of my collection.

The first minis make it off the paint table.

What is Frostgrave?

Frostgrave is a skirmish game set in a frozen city where wizards and their hired swords fight each other for lost treasures. I’ve never played a game that has been designed around wizards, which was another reason I decided to check it out.

Getting to grips with the rules has been easy enough, and it’s also helpful that there is a really friendly community around the game in my home town. What was slightly daunting was creating my wizard as there are 8 disciplines to choose from and 80 spells. This meant I ended up choosing a discipline on the basis of a hunch and vague liking, rather than a solid knowledge of what was the stompiest power gaming spells. I wasn’t really worried about that though, because I just wanted an entertaining game I could use my Night Folk and Gnomes in.

The current crew.

There was one element of the game I was a little cautious of, wandering monsters. Frostgrave rules introduce wandering monsters (generally when treasure is picked up) which can vary quite significantly in power, appear from random table edges and attack any adventurers they can see. It introduces a really interesting tactical problem to be dealt with that elevates the game above a straight me vs. you. Overtime it’s becoming my favourite feature.

One potential downside is that only the wizards, and by extension the apprentices, progress. There is no progression for other warband members (with the exception of captains which is quite slow). There are, however, a number of different warband roles that do allow you to construct a narrative around a hired sword progressing in ability and equipment, but there isn’t an actual rule mechanism to support this. So, by hiring and firing henchmen you could put a narrative together about a thug becoming a man-at-arms, and then a Templar. For me the lack of progression for the henchmen isn’t an issue, its 8 less individuals I have to keep track of, and that’s reflective of what I like most about the game; straight forward rules combined with loads of narrative potential and some cool scenarios.

How it’s going?

Overall, I’m really enjoying the game, primarily for its simplicity, but also because the game always feels like its driving some awesome narratives. I also like the warband structure as it makes it easy to change the hired swords up, which means more of my growing collection gets to the see the table top.

The hall of fame.

Over the last few months my little warband has had quite a few adventures into the frozen city so here’s a quick round up of the big names.

Old Rot Tooth

Soothsayer extraordinaire. Old Rot Tooth is considered one of the best employers in the frozen city providing warm lodgings and as much food as can be eaten between adventures. Many believe he is a bit of a soft touch, but in reality he simply believes a full tummy makes a successful adventure. That, and he is generally aware of an employee’s impending doom several days before they are and often feels some responsibility. Which is reasonable as his favourite spell is transpose, allowing him to swap warriors holding treasure who are in trouble with empty handed warriors who were not previously in anywhere near as much trouble. Consequently there is quite often some substance behind that feeling.

Captain Brodrick the Discreet

Brodrick is a recent addition to the warband. Despite his questionable approach to leadership, which he believes to be best undertaken from a ruined building as far as possible from the actual fighting, he is incredibly handy with a crossbow. In his first outing he took out three enemy warband members and a necromancer.

Gorium the Undivertable

Slow but steady the Templar has undergone more than the odd transposition. He is regularly the last one off the table as he does his best to prevent wandering monsters and enemy fighters getting at the treasure. He is currently out of action for the next game having taken a heavy wound.

Teddy

Teddy started life as a thug. In his first game he rubbed a lamp, waking up an ancient demon. Fortunately, Old Rot Tooth transposed him with another fighter, and he made it off the table still clutching the lamp. In the second game he successfully carried off another treasure chest and received a promotion to treasure hunter. In his last game he decided to attempt to take a treasure chest from under the noses of a couple of bears and a couple of enemy fighters, it did not end well.

Mulling stuff over: What I think about double 1s in Kings of War and a bit of a challenge…

Every so often double 1s become a topic of conversation and people get quite excitable. In fairness I have been known to get quite excitable about double 1s in a number of my games, as have many of my opponents. In fact, I would wager a small chocolate bar that no one who has ever played Kings of War has not got excitable about double 1s at some point. Double 1s have undoubtedly given me some interesting moments, so here are some choice four letter words (and slightly longer words) I associate with them:

Hope

I think it’s a flaw of human nature that we tend to remember the bad rather than the good. A bad gaming experience seems, so often, to accompany polite suggestions that double 1s is a silly rule and should be cancelled. However, the chances are that as often as the icy claw of double 1s have stolen victory from the dice bags of the righteous, so the hot flush of hope has been felt as an opponent double 1s and the gargoyles (insert unit name of your experience) survive to hold up not one, but two regiments of Soul Reaver cavalry (insert nasty, vicious enemy unit of your choice here) for another turn.

For some reason people are programmed to remember the bad stuff (I’m assuming some sort of primitive survival instinct). It’s also why just about every customer service course I’ve ever attended goes to great pains to point out customers are 10 times more likely to complain than give a compliment.

Perspective is a frustratingly relative thing, but the truth is that this rule is as beneficial as it is detrimental to all players (in the grand scheme of things).

The joy of Scud surviving as a result of a double one, wiping out a nasty big thing and then turning to threaten stuff, not bad.

Golf

Bear with me because this maybe a bit of conceptual reach. I’ve noticed this with friends I play regularly that double 1s can be considered a bit of a golf handicap style barometer (I did say a reach) of how much extra I need to do to start getting the odd draw or even win. When I’m playing someone better than me and double ones come up in my favour I like to keep a mental note. In particular, how many of them contribute towards a not quite so bad loss, an unusual draw and an inexplicable win. This might be one of those things that really is “just me”, but double 1s always stand out to me and I tend to have a view at the time on just how influential they’ve been.

That being said, I think it’s important to stress that I don’t think winning a game because of double 1s doesn’t count. I also don’t think it in anyway invalidates the achievement, as I’ll explain below.

A bad gaming experience seems, so often, to accompany polite suggestions that double 1s is a silly rule and should be cancelled – the alternative thumbnail for this article.

Self-Improvement

Double 1s often lead to a lot of deep breathing and deep breathing is great for mindfulness (apparently) and mindfulness is great for self-improvement (also apparently). No?

Also, Kings of War is a game of probability. What I mean by this is: if you are better than your opponent at list building, managing scenarios, movement, etc. you will probably win (there’s probably some official maths statisticky thing way of putting this, but that’s not my area of expertise). Yes, it’s a dice game, but its not a game of chance. Yes, you can have a bad dice day, but that won’t be everyday (although it’s possible your bad dice days could just happen to align with the days you play Kings of War). In addition to this the double 1 rule is something that’s printed in the rule book, and we know about it. That means, just as with any other rule, we can learn to minimise its impact by taking account of it in the decisions we make on the table-top.

Are we even sure they really make that much of a difference to the outcome?

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed writing battle reports is that even though double 1s, at the time, might seem pivotal in a game very often when you consider the game as a whole they are not. Interestingly many of the games I lost that involved “pivotal” double 1s were games, if I’m honest, I probably would have lost anyway. In the same vain, games I won (particularly where the double 1 was not in my favour), I may have had to work hard to pull back, but I actually had the tools and the ability to get the win.

The point here is meant to be a positive one – my experience makes me believe that double 1s are very rarely pivotal in deciding the ultimate outcome of a game, but you might have to think a little harder to get there.

Narrative loveliness

Kings of War doesn’t have separate health and morale stats. They are brought together in the nerve test mechanic. This means that the nerve stat and tests are not analogous with how many survivors there are in a unit following an attack. A great thing that comes out of this of course is multi-basing (intended or not), which is something that seems to be a real stand out when it comes to Kings of War as a hobby, rather than just a game.

What this rules mechanic acknowledges is that a unit’s decision to stay in the fight will be based on a number of things, such as casualties and bravery, consequently failing a nerve test does not mean the unit has been slaughtered. Therefore, it opens up narrative options to explain the decision to stay, or go.

And this, dear reader, brings me to what I believe to be the fundamental reason why double 1s should be in Kings of War. Whilst this is not intended to be a historically accurate representation of how goblins operate in theatres of war against sexy demons (Yeap, talking about you Scud, definitely not Succubi) it is still a representation of sentient beings hitting each other and so needs some reference in reality. So, just as most will make the sensible decision in the face of overwhelming odds, some won’t – and that’s what double 1’s represent: heroic last stands, evil generals so fearsome their soldiers would rather die than run or just plain bewilderment about all the spiky things being pointed in their general direction.

Clearly this giant is not about to die, but having secured some lunch may decide snacks are better than fighting – for now.

And so, to the challenge…

I’m going to close with a bit of a challenge, especially if you’ve stuck with this and still believe double 1s are the work of the devil. Why not, the next time you play, give you and you’re opponent the chance to throw in a guaranteed double 1 once during the game.

Yes, it might make the game an unmitigated disaster, but it might also help keep the rule more front of mind in your game play (because the reality is it is possible it could happen in every game) to help improve how your army responds.

It might also change the way you think about key combats, because for every ruck involving several hordes and regiments in the middle of the table there is a chaff unit that wins an objective or rear charges a titan that can change the course of the game. Having the option to throw in a double 1 means you can use it tactically against your opponent, so you have to think carefully about where it could have the biggest impact and that in itself might produce some interesting insights.

Book Review: The Ghost Tree

What is it?

American small-town horror, set in the 1980s.

Who’s the writer?

Christina Henry, a horror writer with an increasing back catalogue of great reads including the fantastically gruesome Alice and the terrifically twisted Lost Boy.

What’s it about?

Smith’s Hollow is charming little town. The sort of place you would go for a quiet life. A great place to raise kids, but it has a secret. Unknown to them, Lauren and her little brother David are at the centre of a bloody mystery which will make Lauren see the Ghost Tree, her favourite childhood hang out very differently.

Is it any good?

Of course. Christina Henry’s work goes from strength to strength. Blood, gore and spine-tingling suspense. In short everything you could ever want from a horror book. 

Kings of War battle rep: Ratkin vs Herd

I tend to write narrative battle reports. Partly because I enjoy writing stories, and partly because I’m not one of the best players in the world. I’ve found over the past year, or so, that writing battle reports has improved my game. Even writing a narrative report I refight the battle through the pictures, and find myself fairly regularly asking myself why I did something, or why I didn’t do something else.

Last night’s game was great fun, and very close. Looking through the pictures over a coffee this morning a few things occurred to me. So, I thought rather than put them to one side I’d do a bit more of a traditional battle report, focussing on the game rather than the narrative.

Scenario: Salt the Earth

Since the return of gaming in the UK I’ll admit to have been taking things easy with lots of games using scenarios like Dominate or Invade. Salt the Earth is one of those scenarios I think you need a game plan for, and I just didn’t have one. Fortunately, neither did my opponent. When it came to objective placement my opponent went random, whilst I tried to cobble together some form of strategy. Because the Herd are so obscenely fast I expected the majority of the fighting to end up in my half. I definitely didn’t see me making it all the way to the enemy deployment zone. So I kept my scoring tokens as close to the centre as possible. My one tactical placement was a 1 point token behind the house in the Herd’s deployment zone in the hope he would send a unit over to baby sit it, taking the unit out of the game, giving me less to deal with in the centre, where I expected at least another 1 point token to be.

Points: 2,300 (yes, Clash is very much in my thoughts)

Army lists

I’ll let you judge the lists yourself. The one thing I would say is that as a Ratkin player with lots of defence 4 Herd makes me very nervous. With most of their units having melee 3, high attacks, some sort of strength enhancement, pathfinder and lots of speed getting charged by hordes tends to be a terminal experience. It’s also worth noting that all this nastiness is largely neither cavalry or flyer based, making Phalanx pretty irrelevant. It’s built into my list because it’s an all comers list rather than a specific anti-Herd affair.

Ratkin

1 – Master Scurrier with Boots of Levitation

2 – Warlock with Boomstick

3 – Mutant Rat Fiend

4 – Tangle

5 – Weapon Teams

6 – Night Terror with Talisman of Inspiring

7 – Scud

8 – Hackpaw regiments (one has Mace of Crushing and one has Blade of Slashing)

9 – Tunnel Runners regiment with Caterpillar Potion

10 – Shock Troop horde with Plague Pots, Phalanx and Brew of Sharpness

11 – Warrior horde with Plague Pots

Herd

1 – Spirit Walkers hordes

2 – Beast of Nature with wings and extra attacks

3 – Moonfang

4 – Minotaur Chariot horde with Brew of Haste

5 – Centaur Bray Strider regiment

6 – Guardian Brute horde with Brew of Sharpness

7 – Lycan horde

8 – Harpies

9 – Druid with Bane Chant

Turn 1

I won the roll for this and opted to go first. The Master Scurrier had already scouted forward, hence why he’s not in line with the rest of my deployment.

This turn was pretty uneventful. I moved the left flank forward in such a way that the beast of nature would not be able to sneak past me without getting charged by something.

Scud lightening bolted the harpies behind the centaurs, taking them out of the game.

The centre and the right flank crept forward as I didn’t want to give the Herd any charge opportunities just yet. I was also hoping I would be able to shoot off one of the hordes in the centre before combat started, because each of them could reasonably be expected to one shot anything I had in my centre, and could win the charge. I decided to go for the Guardian Brutes because with crushing strength 2 they represented the greatest threat. The Warlock shot at the Brutes, wounding them, but not killing them.

The Herd’s response was fairly conservative on the left and in the centre, moving to be outside the charge ranges of my fastest movers. On the right, things were a little different, and the entire flank surged forward. This would leave me with loads of charge options for the next turn, none of which would be that appealing.

End of Turn 1

Turn 2

This turn was all about sacrifices and shooting. On the right I felt the best option was to try and hold things up for as long as possible. Whilst neither the Night Terror or Hackpaws are that terrifying at front charges, they can be a pain if they find their way around flanks or rears so I knew my opponent would want rid of them. The Hackpaws went into the harpies as these troops are ideal for grabbing late stage objectives so I figured if I could get rid of them now it would be one less thing to worry about, and the Night Terror went into the Werewolves on the basis it had the potential to do the most damage, but in reality it had no real chance against anything.

The rest of my movement was really about positioning shooters and ensuring the Beast of Nature couldn’t get behind me. Scud, the Warlock and the Master Scurrier were positioned to shoot at the Brutes, successfully taking them off the table.

The Master Scurrier was positioned so that it was more than 6 inches from any of my units. Whilst I was happy for something to charge him I didn’t want any follow up moves bringing the Herd into my centre.

Finally, the weapon teams fired at the chariot horde in the hope of chipping some damage off.

The Herd went all out to wipe out the Hackpaws, putting Moonfang and Minotaur Chariots into them – it worked, no surprise. Happily, the Night Terror survived (albeit waivered), which meant the Lycans would have to wait until the next turn to to catch up with their buddies.

In the centre the Herd started a mini reform with the beast of nature moving out of the left hand corner and the remaining harpies heading off to claim the 1 point objective that had been revealed on the right.

End of turn 2

Turn 3

This turn saw my attempts at cunning movement start to come together. The Master Scurrier charged into the Spirit Walkers on the right. Although he isn’t mighty 4 attacks at 3s to hit, 2s to wound and vicious was going to get him there and block up Spirit Walkers so I could start to get my infantry and the fiend within charge range. The attacks hit, but not surprisingly weren’t enough to do anything of any note.

The left flank positioned itself to get as many charges into Herd units as possible the next turn, and lightening bolts hazed the Spirit Walkers on the left, not doing much, but every little would help next turn.

On the right the weapon teams had another turn of shooting at the minotaur chariots, before one got charged and completely wiped out.

The Lycans removed the Night Terror and tried to catch up with their comrades, and Moonfang moved as close as he could to the remaining weapon team, unable to charge him because the minotaurs had been blocking his line of sight.

The only other significant action of the turn was the horde of Spirit Walkers backing away from the Master Scurrier to stay out of charge range of anything more substantial. This would reduce my options for next turn.

End of turn 3

Turn 4

Turn 4 finally saw the Ratkin join battle on their terms. The Herd had carefully manoeuvred to offer one meaningful target and so I charged it with everything that could reach. Spirit Walkers are very dangerous, but with defence 3 they are real glass cannons, I had to take the unit off the table in one go or there was a high likelihood I would lose a unit. Unfortunately, the Shock Troops were out of reach so the honours fell to the unholy coalition of the fiend, Scud and a regiment of Hackpaws. A few dice rolls later the walkers were gone and I was a little bit more relaxed.

The combination of the multi charge, the presence of the beast of nature and the centaurs meant I wasn’t going to have this all my own way and consequently the only real option in terms of reforming was to back off.

The Master Scurrier went into the other walkers again, this time hindered, but still managing to hold them up.

With so much combat going on the Warlock was deprived of worthwhile targets, and so headed over to the centre to provide some support to the weapon team targeting the Minotaur. Fortunately the shooting attacks came off and the chariots disappeared.

The last weapon team breathed a sigh of relief as Moonfang found an opportunity for maximum shenanigans. Using a combination of height and nimble he was able to get a flank on the Tangle that had been facing the walkers and the Master Scurrier. Despite his best efforts the Tangle remained in tact. Finally, the Lycan horde charged the weapon team and crushed it underfoot.

End of turn 4

Turn 5

By the end of turn 4 I was feeling pretty confident, and I had made a pretty important decision. I decided not to use my Shock Troops to attack the remaining walker horde. That decision was based on us deciding to limit the game to 6 turns due to time restraints and, mainly, because I was worried that if I took the Shock Troops out of the centre they wouldn’t make it back in time to secure the objectives.

With the beast of nature clearly on its way to secure the 2 point token I therefore needed 4 points to win and this is probably where I stopped thinking quite as clearly. I had, to be honest, largely forgotten about the beast so my reaction was a little less thought through than it should have been.

I decided that I would try and lightning bolt the beast, whilst using the fiend to tie up the walkers. At this point I seriously underestimated just how good they are. In order to hit the beast I needed to turn Scud (and the Warlock) to face it. Not surprisingly the shooting was not enough, the beast would make it to the objective and the centaurs were perfectly placed to tie up my Tunnel Runners and Hackpaws.

I had hoped that by getting the charge off with the fiend the walkers would be stripped of their thunderous charge, and so wounding on 4s would give him a chance of survival, but the Druid’s Bane chant went off, and wounding was back to 3s. The walkers managed about 14 wounds and even with Scud’s rallying and inspiring the fiend went down.

Things were starting to look pretty good for the Herd, so naturally we got the first meaningful double 1 of the game, followed in short order by the first double 6 of the game.

Moonfang had done about 12 damage to the Tangle and was ready to move on with the aim of reaching the centre to add his unit strength to that of the walkers. Double 1 meant the Tangle stayed in the fight. In what could be politely be described as an unfortunate sequence of events, the Lycans rolled a double 6 to waiver the warrior horde. The warrior horde was of course affected by the aura of fury from the (you guessed it) Tangle, keeping them in the fight as well (although this fight was not as critical).

Its fair to say I ended the turn on something of a reflective note!!

End of turn 5

Turn 6

After a bit of mulling stuff over I decided the best/only course of action was to see if I could shoot the walker horde off the table. It had already sustained some damage from the Master Scuttler, although it was still a reach. The first nerve test went my way, but the second one didn’t – and that’s the one that counts.

Fortunately, I had positioned Scud so the walkers couldn’t charge my Shock Troops. That meant they could sit tight and hold the 2 and 1 objectives to either side of them. After the Tunnel Runners and Hackpaws had finished off the centaurs the Tunnel Runners managed to reform sideways and claim the 1 point objective on the hill on the left.

Of course, I was far from out of the woods. Moonfang was within easy lopping of the centre and the failure to stop the walkers with shooting now meant Scud was literally the only thing standing between the walkers and the central 2 point objective. If they killed Scud and followed up they would equal the unit strength of the Shock Troops rendering the objective void. If they killed Scud and Moonfang turned up Herd would win the objective, and the game.

There was of course the small matter of the Tangle vs. Moonfang to be resolved. Tangle struck, and miraculously wavered Moonfang taking him out of the equation. So the deciding combat got underway.

At first I felt reasonably confident Scud could survive as he has a higher defence than the fiends, however the shooting meant the horde still had its thunderous charge benefit, and a successful Bane chant sealed the deal.

I think it was Einstein who said the definition of madness is to do the same thing and expect different results, he just might have a point! So the walkers moved up to share the 2 point objective with the Shock Troops, the beast held the other 2 point objective, the harpies held the 1 point by the house whilst the tunnel runners and shock troops managed to hold their respective 1 pointers leaving the game in the hands of the Herd, 3 points to 2.

End of turn 6

Final thoughts

Stick to the plan – this might sound a bit weird, but I was really going for a draw on this as I’d only planned to hold 4 points of objectives. My plan had been to fight in the centre knowing I had place 3 points of objectives there, and expecting at least one more to appear, which it dully did. I think seeing the 2 point objective turn up on my door step and getting to turn 4 without being wiped off the face of the earth might have got me a bit excitable. Had I ignored the 2 point objective the beast claimed and turned Scud to face the walkers instead quite a few options would have presented themselves – for one thing a double charge with Scud and the fiend. This would have delivered more wounds in the first round of combat, removed the thunderous charge and given the Herd player a difficult choice (even with Bane chant) as to who they went for when/if there had been a second round of combat.

Another option would have been for Scud to shoot at the Druid in turn 5, potentially removing inspiring and Bane chant which again would have changed the dynamics of both turns regardless of whether he chose to shoot or fight.

Remember your heights – height is probably one of my favourite dynamics in the game, and whilst it can be quite an easy thing to remember early on in the game it can be quite a different matter as time grinds on. Height played quite a big role in what was happening on the right flank especially the charge on the Tangle which could have really gone either way, and genuinely surprised the hell out of me. Being honest I think I forgot about heights when it came to assessing the walker situation. I don’t think I had fully realised that the Druid was a viable target in turn 5 due to Scud being considerably taller than the walkers.

All in all it was a great game and a great way to get back into rats having spent a few weeks playing Basileans and Abyssal Dwarfs, and I’m definitely looking forward to a few more rat based games in the coming weeks.

Mulling stuff over: Is this the golden age of fantasy wargaming?

I started playing fantasy wargames over twenty years ago. Back then there was only really one readily available and easily accessible game. In a time before the internet Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WHFB) ticked all the boxes in terms providing a solid ruleset, some great fluff and a wide range of beautiful looking toys. Equally important was that they were easy to get hold of through dedicated shops in most UK cities.

But times, and more pertinently, technology change. Whilst GW is still the big fish in our relatively small hobby pond it is certainly not the only one. The number of companies offering rules and miniatures seems to have expanded so rapidly, I would certainly take time out to provide a small round of applause to anyone who can name them all. It is, in some ways, something of a golden age for fantasy wargamers as we must surely have the widest choice of rules, and the greatest choice of toys to play them with. But will this golden age go the way of all others?

Paladins by Northumbrian Tin Soldier

How we got here

To my mind there are two main reasons we are where we are. The first, weirdly maybe but hear me out, was the End Times. This was the event that ended GW’s Old World, taking with it WHFB. Although WHFB was waning in popularity I believe the decision to pull the game in one fell swoop, and replace it with a very different system (and I want to be clear here – different is not code for any negativity to Age Of Sigmar I genuinely like the game), resulted in a lot of people taking the decision to try something new at the same time. I suspect for many of those people it would have been an inevitable decision, accelerated by the End Times, had GW let WHFB continue on its trajectory. However, because there were suddenly a lot of people all looking for new games to play the market responded, and new games were forthcoming (albeit some were not new, just not that well known).

The second reason for us being where we are is technology. Social media and content producers have undoubtedly played a massive role in allowing small companies to show off their products (in addition to the more traditional channels such as shows). In addition, 3D printing is providing a whole new avenue to explore in terms of miniature design, distribution and fulfilment. The distance we have travelled, from those heady days of having to go to a shop in the hope they have what you want, to being able to print an entire army in your spare bedroom is just breath taking.

But are we in danger of doing an Icarus? And what would that even look like?

Rat wizards by Games Workshop, Mantic and Oathsworn

What actually are the down sides?

Maybe I’m just being a bit negative. There’s nothing like a global pandemic to remind you that you don’t get everything your own way all the time.

Sure, from a customer point of view the current picture is pretty rosy, but, what about the companies that serve up these glorious steaming platefuls of hobby goodness? I guess the danger to my mind is we reach a point where, as customers, we are spread too thin. It becomes impossible for us to support so many different ventures, regardless of how much cool stuff they create, and companies just can’t make a decent turnover (and I mean this in a purely relative way – the sort of relative that allows everyone involved to earn a decent living without giving that a pounds and pence figure). Consequently, a major challenge companies have is how to make sure we buy their stuff.

The key, ultimately, is like any business, to understand their customer base, understand what they want, and enjoy, and keep serving it up.

Spellcasters by Bad Squiddo, Male Wizard from somewhere on the web.

Intellectual property plays a really important part in this. One of the reasons many people are attracted to fantasy wargaming is because of the weird and wonderful creatures and creations the genre enables, both from a modelling and gaming point of view.

What is interesting to see is that as more and more model options come to market from model companies (I absolutely include companies that create 3D printing files in this), those companies that produce both miniatures and rules are starting to break away from the old tropes that have, for so long, been the mainstay of fantasy wargaming. No longer is fantasy trapped, thematically, in the dark ages with subtle elf mages, dower Dwarfs who keep their feet firmly in the ground and those merry, shoeless, but ultimately largely pointless on the battlefield Halflings. In some worlds Elves now wield hammers and fight alongside cow mountains, Dwarfs cruise the skies and Halflings… they wear shoes (as well as riding trolls into battle).

These evolutions of our favourite factions have undoubtedly raised a few eyebrows, but to date don’t seem to have led to any rage burning of toys episodes (unlike End Times), which I can’t help but consider a success. These changes benefit the companies that make them by allowing them to be first to market with models that reflect these new units and creating differentiation in their ranges. It also addresses a fundamental element of the hobby which has always seemed somewhat paradoxical in nature. Fantasy settings give the opportunity to create literally anything, and yet it seems to have taken quite few years for Halflings to try on shoes, amongst other things (feel free to insert you’re own pet concern here).

Assassins by Northumbrian Tin Soldier and Mantic

So, when does it all come crashing down exactly?

I think this really depends on how you hobby. For those people who happily flit between different games and different model producers I think the world is unlikely to change, although companies will come and go. However, for gamers who favour a particular system or company there is always the chance that it could all come crashing down around your ears. The biggest piece of advice I can give, outside of supporting the companies you like, is whatever you do don’t toast your army, my WHFB Skaven army went on to become my first Kings of War Ratkin army, and I’m certainly not alone.

In reality the future of the hobby will mostly be influenced by the companies that enable it, both current and future. They will play by far and away the biggest part, for many people, in deciding how models are made and how we play with them. I fully expect to see more eyebrows raised as fan favourites continue to evolve and new ones are created, and I’m excited to see how rules writers will breathe life into these creations: and maybe, just maybe, Halflings will finally get to experience the flip flop.

Witch Hunters by Oathsworn

The joy of small things

In the UK we’ve slowly been creeping back into the comfort of artificial light, enclosed spaces and real models. It started in back gardens, then gaming clubs and now tournaments. Of course, this has all been under the auspices of the “not quite sure what’s going on” normal. In sunny Bristol (this is not irony we’ve been bathed in the damn stuff for weeks) clubs have been back for a while, but tournaments had yet to reappear.

A few have been taking place in the UK and I’d been considering packing up my toys and venturing abroad in the hope of getting some practice in ahead of Clash of Kings. Chief amongst my many weaknesses and shortcomings are clocks, so I really wanted to get in at least one timed event before October. Fortunately, local tournament supremo Matt James (also of rules committee fame) decided to organise a 750 point a side session the Sunday before last.

It was an unusual sized event, but Matt had put some thought into it, and in addition to the points limit there were a number of additional restrictions on army selection, such as only one flyer and a further points limit on units.

Initially, I was excited about the event because it was a chance to get a day of gaming in, and to remind myself of the joys of clocks. However, as the day approached it started to dawn on me just how much of an interesting challenge it was going to be because deciding on an army list was damn near impossible.

Army selection

My immediate reaction was to go for my tournament faithful – the Ratkin. However, after a lot of thought I couldn’t really get my head around what an army I’d be comfortable playing would look like. I love my synergies, but with a low point count and the other restrictions in place it became difficult to see how these could be maximised. There was an additional impediment due to me and my rats not being on good painting terms. This further limited my options in terms of what I would have ready, and what I would be prepared to rebase.

The other thought that took roost in my mind was what other peoples’ armies might look like. I had a hypothesis that most people would go for a list that favoured winning the charge. I was expecting to see knights and flying characters. I didn’t fancy facing off against those sorts of lists with an army primarily composed of defence 4 and a reduced nerve due to a lack of rally.

So no longer convinced the rats could handle it I reached for the Basileans and went in completely the opposite direction to what I assumed the rest of the field would bring. A Spear horde to provide a big slug of unit strength and discourage cavalry and fliers, supported by foot Paladins with shields to provide another slug of nerve, unit strength and a predictable (if not wildly exciting) damage output.

The army would be led, and healed, by a Priest with the Shroud of the Saint – I figured having heal 6 would wash away most chip damage from shooting as well as keeping the infantry in the fight. A regiment of Elohi would provide a seriously irritating roadblock to stop faster armies having an easy time choosing their charges. They would also have a chance at knocking off thunderous charge, which I expected in abundance. The final choice was quite difficult because, to cut to the chase, I wanted an Ur-Elohi but points and restrictions wouldn’t allow it – the answer came in the form of an Ogre Palace Guard Captain. Not a go to for many but as a scoring unit, that self inspires, has brutal, crush 2 and is pretty much all round rufty tufty, it struck that in a pinch this was the budget angel I was looking for.

The List

Priest with Shroud of the Saint

Ogre Palace Guard Captain

Elohi regiment with Pipes of Terror

Knight Paladin regiment on foot with an Aegis Fragment

Spear horde

The Games

Six games were played in all and so many things prevent a blow by blow account (such as your sanity), so here’s a brief overview.

Game 1 – Goblins, Control – win

This game came down to a grind off in the centre of the table between the Spear horde and a Rabble legion, and a charge on the Paladins by a mincer mob troop. The Paladins withstood the charge, and with the help of the Elohi destroyed the Mincer. The Spears, supported by the Priest stayed in the fight with the legion, the grind continuing to the end of the game.

Game 2 – Kingdoms of Men, Pillage – draw

The choice of a Spear horde really came into its own. A regiment of Knights and General on flying beast stripped out all my other units, but the horde was able to hold two objectives whilst presenting a really unattractive target for the mounted warriors who backed off to claim two other unguarded tokens.

Game 3 – Northern Alliance, Invade – win

This was my first-time facing Ice Elementals, and they are a pain. Fortunately, they spent most of the game chasing my Elohi, who with a little help from the Priest, managed to stay alive and keep them occupied. This game was really close, as a ruck in the centre of the table involving almost all my troops and a horde of snow trolls prevented all but one of my units from crossing the line, but fortunately that was enough.

Game 4 – Basileans, Dominate – win

My opponent had gone for the alpha strike version of the Basileans. Mounted Paladins, Ur Elohi and Gur Panthers. It was a close game that came down to foot Paladins slugging it out with each other. I had one of those moments around turn 3 where I accidentally moved the Priest out of inspiring range of my foot Paladins, fortunately they survived their combat, and having realised this mistake I promptly, but also accidentally, moved the Priest out of inspiring range of my Spear horde who were not so lucky!

Game 5 – Forces of the Abyss, Loot – loss

The Forces of the Abyss carried the day going completely unbeaten and tabling everyone! Brave Basilea was the exception. The Priest survived! The rest of the army was completely shredded in short order. This army was one of the few that didn’t depend on cavalry for its punch, instead relying on a Chroneas and Abyssal Fiend (wingless) that chewed their way through everything on the table without having to worry about phalanx.

Game 6 – Kingdoms of Men, Kill – draw

This became a bit of an infantry off in the centre of the table, as both armies consisted mainly of human infantry. For me it all fell apart because I failed to take into account what I would do if a regiment of Shieldwall I flank charged with the Spear horde and Paladin regiment double 1’ed. Of course, they double 1’ed.

With the benefit of hindsight there was so much more I could have done differently, but it had been a long day. Overall, I think this game could have ended up being very different, but I think both I and my opponent were a bit tired by the end of the day. In another stunning example of “oh yeah, should have thought about that” his Foot Guard scrapped with my Paladins whilst our respective sources of inspiring duked it out. He opted to resolve the infantry combat before the commanders. The inevitable happened – my Paladins survived on the second role of the nerve dice before his Warlord slaughtered my Priest. Let’s quickly move on.

Takeaways from the day:

Clocks are still my weakness – there never seems to be enough time! I timed out on two occasions although, fortunately neither affected a final result. Timed games are still something I’m relatively new to, having played just 4 tournaments previously. I don’t have an issue with timers, it’s just something I need to work a bit more on and it was good to get this event in before Clash to remind myself to get a damn move on.

Ogre Palace Guard Captain – whilst this guy doesn’t get seen that often in larger lists he made a great addition to this force. He was intended to play a similar role to an Ur Elohi, and for the most part it worked (although speed was somewhat lower). It’s certainly given me an insight into how he could fit into a larger force. Also, it gave me the excuse I needed to paint up Mantic’s awesome Paymaster (all that remains now is to find an excuse to paint up the Matriarch, Brave Bully and Goblin Slasher, surely there must be some kind of army that would allow me to field them all together).

Getting to know a different army much better – although I’ve had my Basileans for a little while they’re an army I’m only just starting to warm too. Probably one of the most challenging things about this kind of event is not just the restrictions on the lists, but the further restrictions that are self-imposed. In my case this meant units I had available for use and how far I was willing to go in terms of building new stuff and rebasing existing elements. Consequently, my choice of army was driven more by necessity than anything else, but I was really impressed by their performance and my interest in the army has been rekindled. In addition, the experience will definitely have an impact on my army build in the short term.

Exhaustion – It’s been a long time since my first, or even last event, and I genuinely forgot just how tiring it can be on the old brain.

A really fun day out – played competitively Kings of War can be quite unforgiving and the smaller the army size the less opportunity you have to fix mistakes or oversights. These games certainly required a fair bit of thought and I definitely felt the presence of the clocks. But just as in pre-covid times a good event is always more than the sum of its parts. Between the overall organisation, some friendly opponents and some games that got the old brain in gear it was a good day out and I’m feeling excited about Clash.

Halpi’s Rift battle report: The Material Plane

It’s been a while since I last wrote one of these, but now I’ve finally got around to playing my first Halpi’s Rift game it seemed the right time, what with the Mantic back to gaming month and all, to get creative.

It was a relatively straight forward decision on which plane to play on – the first one. I decided to go with my Basileans for this game because it felt a good fit narratively. The army was built through a slow grow campaign that took place on an undiscovered island. The army’s leader, a self appointed Priest named Sha’leis, is a charismatic preacher who walks the fine line between righteous devotee and heresy. In Basilea she would undoubtedly attract the attention of the authorities, but she is largely unheard of in the hegemony because she, and her followers, spend all their time spreading the word of the Shining Ones outside Basilea’s borders. Consequently, the idea of taking a trip to an alternative plane of existence, or several, would undoubtedly be her kind of thing.

I’m trying out a new format to show what’s going on turn by turn. The pictorial representations of the battlefield aren’t precise, but hopefully it will make things a bit clearer than dodgily angled photos – there are also a decent number of pictures as well.

Points: 2,000

Scenario: Invade

Plane: Material

The armies

Basilea

1 – Sha’leis – Priest with Shroud of the Saint

2 – Anyta – War Wizard swapping Fireball for Lightening Bolt, Alchemist’s Curse, Pointy Wizard’s Hat

3 – Mounted Paladin Knights with Aegis Fragment and Caterpillar Potion

4 – Gur Panther regiment

5 – Ogre Palace Guard horde with Brew of Sharpness

6 – Phoenix

7 – Ja’y’ll – Ur Elohi

7 – Sa’y’ll – Ur Elohi

8 – Elohi regiment

9 – Spearman horde

10 – Foot Paladins with the Defender upgrade and Aegis Fragment

Goblins

1 – Grupp Longnail

2 – Wiz

3 – Fleabag rider sniffs regiment

4 – Mincer Mob troop

5 – Goblin Blaster

6 – Giant

7 – War Trombone

8 – Goblin King mounted on Fleabag

9 – King with Jareth’s Pendent

10 – Rabble horde

11 – Rabble regiment with Mawpup

The field of battle.

The army marched as armies are want to do: with purpose. Anyta wandered if the rank and file, or for that matter the sergeants-at-arms and officers who marshalled the neat ranks and columns into place, had even noticed the change as they had crossed from the physical world of Panithor to here. A moment’s reflection led her to conclude there was something decidedly reassuring about the army’s apparent indifference to their new location – after all they were here to fight, not see the sights.

Anyta had been uncertain when she was approached about joining Sha’leis’ expedition to the outer planes of existence. The scarred Priest’s enthusiasm seemed dangerously close to naivety, but the Ur Elohi who attended her, one at each shoulder, indicated her vision and motivation was rooted in something deeper. Besides she thought, how many other mortals would get to see the Material plane?

The landscape was a strangely familiar place. Rooted in the world of mortals, but somehow more. A frozen lake lay to Anyta’s left, with a tap house beyond it, yet this was not a cold place. Far from it, the ground was arid, baked brown by a sun that did not seem to show its face. She wondered briefly about the tap house which looked so out of place in such a lonely landscape.

Anyta’s meditations were interrupted by the flurry of wings. Elohi landed close by. She turned to look at the new arrivals glowing and resplendent in their highly polished armour, flaming blades dancing in their still hands. The Ur Elohi Sa’y’ll approached her, silently extending his arm towards her.

“Take it.” The angel said.

She took the object the angel offered her and inspected it thoroughly. It looked like a battered wizard hat from the stories her gran had told her when she was barely able to walk.

“Put it on.”

As much as she wanted to do as the angel said she could not help but raise an eyebrow, “Surely this is not the time for childish dress ups?”

“Surely you of all people understand that all stories, no matter how childish, are an embellishment of a truth. True, not all wizards wear pointy hats, but one did, and it was that wizard’s wish that I should pass it on to you when you arrived here.” The angel replied.

Anyta stood in shocked silence doing her best to process the implications of the angel’s words. She had known no other wizards. Her magic had not been learnt in a university or college. Her magic had arrived with the wind that had destroyed her village and left her homeless. Was this some pittiful attempt at humour, angels were not known for their wit, or had Sa’y’ll simply made a mistake, something he was also not known to do either.

“I would suggest you put the hat on and focus on the present. Now is not the time to worry about sartorial stereotyping and I can guarantee it’s the last thing on their tiny minds.” said the angel nodding towards the goblin ranks that seemed to have appeared from nowhere on the other side of the plane, “Focus on the present now, and there will be time for the past later.”

Turn 1

Almost as soon as the angel had stopped talking the horns sounded the advance. Anyta was hardly surprised Sha’leis had taken the initiative. She’leis was not one to hold back, and the superior training of the Basileans meant they were prepared far quicker than the goblins, who even as the armoured warriors moved forward, seemed to still be milling around deciding what would go where. The confusion was most evidence around the giant’s feet where a mount king pointed frantically, yet never in the same direction twice, which resulted in the giant either hitting or standing on each of the units around him. Only the King managed to escape, instinctively wheeling his mawbeast away from the flailing giant.

As the drama around the giant died down, the goblin army suddenly seemed to realise the humans had started their advance. They responded slowly, moving forward, firing off a flew poorly aimed arrows that for the most part either fell against the rocks in the ground or thudded into shields.

End of turn 1

Turn 2

The mounted paladins and panthers on the left flank had ranged forward of the infantry and found themselves facing a bewildering array of war machines. Thinking better of going head to head with the mincers the panthers charged the war trombone sending the crew fleeing from the field. The paladins charged the blaster in the entirely accurate belief that anything with that amount of gun powder in it and a goblin in charge should be the first on the kill list.

Sa’y’ll watched the cavalry strike, breaking their targets. Concerned that the paladins had left their flank exposed to the rabble horde the Ur Elohi charged into their front flaming sword slashing left and right, holding the goblins at bay.

Inspired by Sa’y’ll the Elohi regiment on the far right charged a regiment of rabble cutting a handful down, but failing to route them.

The goblin attack was now gaining momentum. The giant let out a savage battle cry as it smashed into the spearmen. Despite the initial impact the soldier’s training and experience kicked in allowing them to quickly reform and prepare to fight back. To their right the foot paladins received a charge from the fleabag sniffs, raising their shields to fend off the slavering beasts.

The mincers started their blades spinning and began their relentless march forward. The mob on the right piled into the flank of the Elohi, shredding the angels leaving broken wings and golden blood on golden armour. The mob on the left charged into the front of the panthers scattering the creatures and sending them running from the field. Spurred on by the success of the mincers the sniffs and their king charged the mounted paladins, but failed to make the same mark on the armoured warriors.

End of turn 2

Turn 3

Ja’y’ll felt a surge of energy rush through him (+5 attacks in melee as a result of the channelling table). Raising his sword above his head he flew into the flank of the central rabble horde. Despite being caught between the two angels the goblins managed to stand their ground and muster the courage to fight back against Sa’y’ll, knocking him to the ground.

Concerned by the menacing mincer to their left the mounted paladins counter charged the sniffs, routing them before wheeling out of their field of view. Seeing the mincer was now unable to charge the knights in a rare moment of leadership and heroism the goblin king on foot charged into the front of the paladins, holding them up while the mincers positioned themselves for the next charge.

With Sha’leis and the Pheonix casting heal to keep her loyal soldiers fighting, and the spearmen and foot paladins locked in their respective combats Anyta watched the goblin forces on the right flank advance. Only the ogre horde stood ready to stop their advance, and whilst these brutal warriors would fight to the last and take many of the creatures down with them she knew they would eventually be overrun. She set out towards them preparing to cast a lightening bolt, but as she uttered the words of the spell she felt a far greater power stir within her. An energy rushed through her, setting her spine ablaze, but despite the raw power there was something comforting and familiar. The warmth of a bed time story blanketed her mind and she heard her gran’s voice speaking unfamiliar words. Without thinking she repeated each word and the fire in her spine spread to her chest, then to her arms, exiting her body through her hands. Whatever this was it was no lightening bolt. a swirling vortex of orange and white energy flew from her hands and smashed into the war trombone. As the smoke from the explosion cleared Anyta was shocked to see the crew and weapon remained but no longer moved, their flesh stripped away and recast in bronze.

End of turn 3

Turn 4

Anyta took a sharp breathe as she surveyed the goblin statue. The removal of the war engine combined with a surge of magical energy (+5 attacks in melee from the channelling table) gave the ogres the opening they had been waiting for. They rushed forward hitting the mincer head on. Blows rained down on the goblin machine, and despite it’s heavily armoured front it eventually gave way and collapsed. Despite the ogre’s victory they were now surrounded by goblins. Anyta reached out and let her gran’s words guide her, seconds later the rabble regiment on the ogre’s flank would stand ready to charge for eternity.

Following their victory the ogres had drawn back behind the wall, which meant when the rabble horde charged them they were force to fight around the obstacle, breaking the little coherency they had making no impact on the ogres.

In the centre the impasse continued. The giant had been joined by the mounted goblin King, but the reinvigorating powers of Sha’leis’ words and the Pheonix kept the spearmen in the fight. The foot paladins shared the relentless battering of the men-at-arms, finally routing the sniffs, only to take a charge from another rabble regiment.

Grupp had been spent much of the battle skulking besides the central rabble horde. As they finally broke, enthusiasm and bodies burnt by Ja’y’ll’s blade Grupp charged the angel punching indiscriminately with her armoured gloves. The angel was unable to block every blow and those that landed sent electric waves surging through his body, tangling with the sounds of breaking men and horses as the mincer ploughed into the rear of the mounted paladins, shaking him to his core.

End of turn 4

Turn 5

As the goblins flooded across the plane Sha’leis felt defeat reach out to her. She bowed her head and prayed that her soldiers would be protected whatever fate had in store for her. As she spoke the Pheonix flared and flew towards the centre of the plane. The creature had felt the energy of the ancients and sent its healing energies towards Ja’y’ll (the spell reached it’s target due to an additional 6 inch range provided by the channelling table). Refreshed, Ja’y’ll struck back at Grupp, but with his mind still affected by the shock from the gloves he failed to do any meaningful damage. Seeing the wiz in trouble the goblin King, buoyed by what would soon be the legend of how he defeated a regiment of mounted paladins single handedly, went to her aid, but even with the combined efforts of the goblin leaders the angel endured.

Things took a desperate turn in the centre as a regiment of rabble joined the melee against the spearmen. The sheer weight of opponents finally proved too much for the men at arms and the spear block crumbled. On the right the ogres remained bogged down as the horde of rabble refused run despite the terrible damage inflicted upon them, but hope only requires the smallest of cracks to allow her shoots to grow. And so it was, that the foot paladins put the last of the rabble in front of them to the sword and surged forward in triumph bidding their bothers in arms to follow them.

End of turn 5

Turn 6

The Pheonix burned brighter than ever Sha’leis had seen it. Somehow the bird had made a connection with the plane and once again its energy course through its molten veins (+5 attacks in melee from the channelling table). The bird shrieked before soaring towards the last mincer, grabbing it in it talons, soaring into the sky and dropping it. The machine broke apart as it hit the ground showering the immediate area with chunks of metal, splintered wood and any number of screws and nails.

On the right the ogres finally broke the rabble horde, running forward to ensure every last one of the escaping goblins were cut down.

Seeing the tide turning Ja’y’ll broke from his combat and ran for the shelter of the woods in case the goblin leaders tried to take their frustration out on him.

End of turn 6

Final thoughts

That was one hell of a close game and despite Basilea winning 8:5 it really was on a knife’s edge because the sheer number of goblins meant they were able to keep the Basileans in their own half for most of the game. In fact, because this was a 6 turn game the orges had to remove the goblins from the table and roll a 4+ on the follow up move to secure the win (thanks to Sha’lei’s prayer they managed to roll a 6!).

Overall the setting was massively fun to play. It’s a really nice alternative to the standard game and I’ll definitely be taking the Basileans onto another plane. What I found interesting about this game was army choices. My opponent choose a pretty regular force without any of the goodies from the campaign magic items section, or the plane specific spell and magic item lists. I, on the other hand, decided to lean pretty heavily into the setting. For the first time not only did I take a war wizard, but also tooled her up with the pointy hat to give her an extra magic level and the Alchemist Curse spell on its highest setting, dropping a second ogre horde to accommodate the change.

It’s arguable that the magic gave my force the edge. I had more channeling dice and a spell capable of doing up to 12, piercing 4 hits a turn. Certainly I felt on three occasions the channeling dice could not have landed more perfectly: the additional range to the healing spell that kept Ja’y’ll in the game and the extra attacks for the orges and the Pheonix that allowed them to one shot the mincers. That being said, if my opponent had spent more points on items and spells this would have been at the expense of boots on the ground, so… I think we all know this is the not even a scratch on the surface of post game analysis that could occupy months and provide no meaningful outcome. So I’m going to stop right there. So whilst this is a wholly insignificant sample size of one my first impression of Halpi’s Rift is massively positive, as for me it delivers on flavour, whilst maintaining some wholesome balance.

I’m really looking forward to the next adventure.