First Tiny Steps - They are short legs after all
Being random musings and predictions for the various troop types in the forthcoming HellForged Legion of Brass based on limited experience of using said troop types on the tabletop and multiple brainstorming sessions around the virtual pub table of the Chez Troll Dojo. Compiled and shuffled into some sort of order to make sense to the limited readership of this highly irregular Blog thing by a tame Troll.
I approach this subject with a certain amount of trepidation, the usage of this faction at a competitive level has previously been able to be counted on the fingers of one hand. However I have now been playing Kings of War for nearly five Years and so I can base my ponderings on a certain amount of experience, at least I hope I can, but as always the views and opinions I express in the Blog have been formulated in my head and no-one else’s as far as I know although I am good at reading/hearing or seeing things that later introduce themselves into my thought process purporting to be independent thoughts but I assume that is the same for everybody.
When I initially bought and painted the Army I had a fairly standard set up
2 Hordes of Lesser Obsidian Golems- Big Def 6 Tanky Infantry that can be surged into flanks and stuff by players infinitely more devious than I
2 Hordes of Abyssal Grotesques – Big gribbly mosters with CS-1 and TC -2 that run around and, occasionally, Smash Face
1 Grotesque Champion- leads the face smashing
A Horde of Blacksouls – based up as a Regiment and two troops – basic Norty Dwarf infantry – def 5 average nerve
3 Angkor Mortars- long range deathdealers with a massively erratic damage output – unless your name is Rusty.
2 Dragonfire teams- nice models but with no piercing at 90 points they are a bit, well, pointless
2 Mastiff Hunting Packs – great chaff, especially if they have offspring to chuck at enemies
2 Troops of Gargoyles- fast moving nimble chaff, great for screwing up peoples arcs and charges, die very easily so keep them safe till you need them
Overmaster on foot horrifically armourered model, fun to put Wings of Honeymaze on to fly round getting in peoples way and proving really hard to kill
Ironcaster- surger of Golems, chanter of banes and occasional fireballer.
Hex Caster- upsetter of wizards – weakener of cavalry – scourge of chaff
1 Infernox – nimble lender of weight to charges, lack of inspiring is a handicapp
Dravek Dralkan – ironcaster on steroids
Ba’su’su- See overmaster with wings for info
Greater Obsidian Golem – big – square based- surgable – nasty pasty
2 Regiments and Two Troops of Abyssal Halfbreeds – fleet of foot these unholy unions of Dwarf and Cow are the fast movers of the Abyssal Dwarf arsenal
2 Abyssal Halfbreed Champions- inspirers of Halfbreeds but no slouch in combat either
1 G’rog Mortar slightly lesser Death Dealer – same erractic behaviour though
2 Regiments of Immortal Guards – def 6+ with regen and that’s about all they have really
Overmaster on Greater Winged Halfbreed- lovely model that stays home a lot due to being a very expensive but lacklustre Dragon.
And then when Mantic released their amazing new Blacksouls/Decimator sprue I have added two regiments of Decimators and two regiments of Blacksouls and used the plastic Mastiffs off the sprues to replace the original Models I was using so I could have a nearly 100% Mantic army, I have also acquired another two of the Mantic Hexcaster models, which I am not keen on personally, but am happy to include them for the Mantic completeness.
So I have quite a substantial base of Models with which to pick and choose from in order to find the sweet spot for this army that will match both my Play style and my luck level. This Year’s project will also include the using of the same dice throughout the Year since, apparently, dice rolls average out through time and I want to see if this is true (I have been known to change my dice mid game if they are not behaving, so this is a leap of faith for me) and a record will be kept, via the medium of After Action Reports, to see if all these “Mathhammer” type things are useful or a pile of waffle as I think they might be.
Previous experience with the Abyssal Dwarfs – one tournament with a fairly “Trad” Abyssal Dwarf Army – 3 mortars, 2 hordes of grotesques, 2 hordes of Lesser Golems, mastiff packs, Ironcaster , Hexcaster, Brakki Barka and gargoyles. Got Hammered lol but did kill quite a lot with the mortars. Did a Tournament where I replaced the Golems with Halfbreeds and 1 horde of grotesques with Decimators and caused a lot of damage but managed to time out in game one (which I was winning convincingly) and it shook my confidence for the rest of the event and I made some silly errors later on in the name of not spending time thinking about things and used Abyssal Dwarfs at one of the Ribble Warriors amazing SpeedKoW events, which did not suit them at all.
Currently I am running an all Brock rider army, this is Hard hitting and resilient , I can rely on it to do what I want it to do, mostly, because it is majority Fearless. Although I know I cannot entirely replicate this with the Abyssal Dwarfs I want to keep the changes I need to make to my gaming as small as possible and so I need to consider the troops available to me and their functions. I will need to go for a more “Combined Arms” approach to this new Army, at the moment the Brocks are all Brocks apart from one Mastiff pack for carrying tokens and holding back table objectives, trying to run an all Halfbreeds Army would be fun, expensive and ultimately, I think, futile as they are not Brocks and since the demise of the Maccwars potion of the Caterpillar, never going to be on a Par with Free Dwarf Brock Riders.
However I do want to include the Halfbreeds en masse as they will fulfil a similar function to the Brocks albeit on a smaller scale in this army. I have enough Halfbreeds to make a hard hitting task force, screened with Gargoyles and supported with Halfbreed Champions and perhaps backed up by Grotesques. The beauty of this is the height gradient, Gargoyles are Height 2, Halfbreeds are Height 3 and Grotesques are Height 4, allowing a cascade of attacks from successively taller but slower moving units. This is something that will be explored in the playtesting elements. With this in mind the choosing of Artefacts to equip the units becomes important, none of these Units has any natural terrain mitigation, so this should be taken into consideration, however the Halfbreeds already hit on a 3+ and have Crushing strength (1) so a hindered charge has a lessened effect, putting Brew of Sharpness on a unit will make it more effective in the clear and the same in difficult ground, equally Blessing of the Gods can be used to mitigate hindering but also works all the time. Both of these are a big plus to making the units more effective all the time. The Grotesques do not have any natural terrain mitigation and they hit on 4+ and rely on Thunderous Charge for the majority of their killing power, so an artefact like Sir Jesses boots of striding could be an excellent choice for that one off charge that needs to succeed after the Halfbreeds or Gargoyles have pinned the enemy in place. Even something as simple as putting Mead of Madness on a troop to stretch out that range or Skirmishers Boots on the troop to allow them to target that seemingly unavailable flank on a unit. For added support Halfbreed champions can lend a hand by pushing a unit out of difficult ground in a charge or putting some extra wounds on a tough opponent and of course their Inspiring is always welcome in a combat. Having a source of Bane Chant around can make the attacks of the Halfbreeds extra effective, especially when couple with the natural vicious of the Abyssal Dwarf Army. The Halfbreeds Fury ability is welcome now that the Withdrawal rules appear to be on the way out and the support of a Hexcaster with weakness, if available, is a godsend for Def 4+ troops although I have found their Regeneration ability can often serve to keep them in combats for a lot longer than they deserve to be, much to the chagrin of my opponent.
When it comes to the rest of the Army my experience of using Lesser Golems has been limited, I have used Earth Elementals and Stone Priests in Free Dwarf armies but have found them to be too slow to keep up with the rest of the Free Dwarf forces. Again the Lesser Golems height will enable them to sit behind other infantry and their Def 6+ should make them resistant to shooting attacks. But what Infantry is best for the Golems to lurk behind? The outer level can be the Height 1 Mastiff hunting packs with throwing mastiffs to disrupt and damage any incoming attackers, but behind them? Do I go with a Horde of Blacksouls, quite resilient to resist the charge but a bit immobile when it comes to the counterthrust, a lot will come down to the position of the Golems and the Blacksouls before the combat or would two regiments be better for more flexibility and so if two regiments are better, are they better off being Decimators, able to add their damage output to that of the Mastiffs before the combat even begins. Or should it be a couple of Def 6+, Regen 5+ Immortal Guard regiments, they have a higher nerve and slightly better survivability but their damage output is a bit pants unless boosted by an artefact and their high base cost makes that a big point commitment, possibly why you don’t see them around a lot. All these options are available with the Units I have in my collection so the choice can be influenced by a simple analogue solution, I will write army lists (assuming I can get the new-fangled Mantic Companion to work) containing the different variations and I will playtest them against the Trolls at the Dojo and at the Ribble Warriors Wargames Club, the most famous Wargames Club in Preston.
Once the initial build had been decided on then a period of testing and familiarisation needs to take place in order to make the army fit to be used. The builds ability to cope with varying opponents and scenarios needs to be ascertained, poor match ups identified and mitigating tactics decided on- all of which will probably forgotten until after the crushing defeat has been suffered.
Another aspect of Army planning is Peer discussion, I find that sharing army lists on the dedicated Facebook groups for Factions can be productive (although avoid doing it into the empty vessel that is Kings of War Fanatics – this is a sounding chamber inhabited by the scurviest Trolls and their sycophants, often with the direst cases of “Clarksons Syndrome”* known to man – enter at your peril) trawling the same groups for previous lists is interesting and also the list uploads to KoWMasters (when they are done) can often yield interesting lists and combinations that can be adapted to your own collection/play style with a bit of work – remember that other people have been through a similar deductive process when choosing their armies and what works for them may not work for you, but it can be interesting to see and does occasionally bear fruit in the form of a Netlist that feels right from the beginning and can lead to a successful run at competitions with minimal input from yourself – the holy grail of Netlists. Netlists are a great way of getting onto the Army building ladder quite quickly and a future article will explore them in more detail. You can also speak to other players at events, this is often a good way of finding out where they get their ideas from too.
*”Clarksons Syndrome is the condition where a person believes that everything they spout out of their mouth (or type onto a keyboard) should be accepted as gospel truth by everyone else”