Sunday, 19 June 2016

KoW Game 21 - Night Stalkers - 2016/06/19


I had a fantastic opportunity to play against Jules aka HaggisMacbeth (for wargamerau and Mantic forum members). He started building a great looking Night Stalkers army and he is sharing pictures of his amazing creations on forums. If you haven't seen his topics yet you should give yourself a favor and check them, here are the links:

You can already read his reports from our game there and I must say it is always great to have both sides telling the story of the same battle but from two different points of view. In this case, quite literally as Jules took a lot of cool pictures during the game too!

As he wanted to play with painted models only it was a game at lower points, 1400 to be precise. Here is the army list Jules brought for his first Kings of War game!

Night Stalkers - Army List

20 Spectres, Regiment - 140
- Shadow Hulk, Monster - 170
- Banshee, Hero, Diadem of Dragon-kind - 165

20 Spectres, Regiment - 140
- Planar Apparition, Monster - 165
- Dread-fiend, Hero, Quicksilver Rapier - 130
60 Bloodwarms, Legion, Brew of Strength - 320

3 Needle-fangs*, Regiment - 85
3 Needle-fangs*, Regiment - 85

I noticed that I usually don't discuss army wide rules. I think it is not right, after all, these rules have an impact on almost any unit in the forces so this time let me start with these.  

Stolen Dreams - all the units in the army, unless stated otherwise, have Mindthirst, special rule. It means that if the unit is within 12" of the enemy unit with Inspiring or Very Inspiring special rule, they can re-roll nerve test when routed. 

Very interesting rule, because none of the units in Night Stalkers army is actually inspiring at all. I think it is also reflected in the nerve values of the list entries as they seem to be higher than similar units in other armies. 

Tans-dimensional - all models in the army, unless stated otherwise, have Stealthy special rule. Very useful against all the shooters out there for sure. Especially, that majority of the choices from the army list have defense value 4+ or even 3+. 

These two army wide rules definitely make Night Stalkers a very unique force. Let's have a closer look at the elements of the opposing army then!

20 Spectres - 2 units of shooters. As fast as Elves but with shorter range. However, good shooters and Firebolts have Piercing (1). Not so well armored but with high nerve value for this size of the unit. In addition they have Pathfinder rule meaning that I would expect them to look for a nice forest to sit and shoot from. That would be a nice defensive position for them, in particular against enemy shooting. 

The way I wanted to deal with them was still through shooting (as they have shorter range and low armor) and through melee. I could not let them be left unchecked though.

60 Bloodwarms - now that is one big unit and it's not some Rabble this time. A bit slower than Spectres,  they have a huge number of attacks - 40. Even with Me 4+ that volume will transfer into damage. Especially, that they come equipped with Brew of Strength, i.e. Crushing Strength (1). With a very high nerve these guys will be hard to rout and will hit back hard. 

I wanted to use their size against them. They are less maneuverable and I have already learned that a few of my regiments, if working together, can take down such a beast. But I would need to hit its flank too.

3 Needle-fangs* - 2 regiments of these little critters could be quite annoying. They are not super fast, but with Pathfinder and Vanguard they should get to the enemy fast. I expected them to be more like a road blockers. But as with everything in KoW, leave such unit unattended and they will cause trouble.

Fortunately, they are very fragile too so hopefully some shooting would see them off. 

Shadow Hulk - now that is a beast. No option to waver it and 20 nerve means it is a tough monster to rout. It looks a bit better with 4+ defense and an exception to the army wide rule "Trans-dimensional". But I was sure it would not be standing in the open either. It has a massive Crushing Strength (3) and quite a nice amount of attacks that hit on 3+. 

But it is relatively slow for a Monster too. If only I could take a few points of damage out of it. Or a charge of Storm Wind cavalry should see it destroyed.

Planar Apparition - now this is a completely different type of a beast. It is faster, it is nimble, it regenerates too. It looks to me as a good candidate for disrupting the shooters, hunting war machines etc. But it can, of course, add a few attacks here and there if needed. Heal (7) is also very nice, in particular for the army that does not have many 5+ defense units.

Banshee - super fast, flies too. Interestingly, in KoW Banshee has a Windblast(7) as a default spell instead of some kind of shooting attack that inflicts direct damage. However, this one had Diadem of Dragon-kin meaning it had some ranged attacks potential. 

Not very high nerve but due to small size and being very fast I expected I would not see the Banshee often to shoot at it (not to mention that with Individual and Stealth it was hard to hit anyway). 

Dread-fiend - Fast and maneuverable character, similar to Drakon Lord I think, not flying but with a better nerve values. I was intrigued because he is not that tough, so maybe melee is actually a good answer for this threat?

My general approach I wanted to follow was to use my shooting to thin down the enemy regardless of Stealth. The reason for that is that they are more fragile but have higher nerve. From that point of view I should be able to inflict some damage that would help to shift the balance into my favor in melee.

I had to down size my usual army and I must say I was worried I may not have enough units. However, I was pleasantly surprised with what I got. I also followed Jules approach in bringing only painted models to the table.

Outcasts - Army List

10 Stormwind, Regiment, Potion of the Caterpillar (Pathfinder) - 235
- 5 Silverbreeze, Troop - 145
- 5 Silverbreeze, Troop - 145
- Bolt Thrower, War Machine - 90

20 Palace Guard, Regiment - 150 
- 10 Palace Guard, Troop - 105
- Bolt Thrower, War Machine - 90 

20 Tall spears, Regiment - 140
- Elven Mage, Hero, Inspiring Talisman, Bane Chant - 110

20 Tallspears, Regiment - 140
- Battle Standard Bearer, Hero - 50 


Terrain set up.

This terrain set up was based on the maps created and posted in this topic:

Kings of War Map Pack 

It was a nice opportunity to test them and see how I like the map that was specifically designed with KoW in mind. For this game I simply picked the map on the top that happened to be map 12!

The ruins and forests are height 4, hills height 2, fences are typical obstacles and pond as well as "wheat field" on the right are difficult terrain with height 0. The principle here is to have 2 pieces of terrain for each kind and no hills in the deployment zone.

This meant I faced quite an interesting situation where in addition to the army that had Stealthy rule I also had to navigate the terrain that limits the lines of sight for the shooting purposes. 


Deployment - view from the West.

Deployment - view from the East.

Deployment Order
Deployment order:

1. Spectres (S1) - Tallspears (T1)
2. Needle-fangs (NF1) - Tallspears (T2)
3. Spectres (S2) - Palace Guard (PG2)
4. Needle-fangs (NF2) - Army Standard Bearer
5. Bloodwarms - Palace Guard (PG2)
6. Planar Apparition - Silver Breeze (SB1)
7. Shadow Hulk - Silver Breeze (SB2)
8. Banshee - Bolt Thrower (BT1)
9. Dread-fiend - Rest of the army 

I decided to go for a central deployment because there were no clear areas to shoot from. That was a problem for both of our shooting units but I wanted to use the mobility of the Silver Breeze cavalry to an advantage here. 

I would use the protection of the hill to avoid being targeted by both Spectres regiments at the same time. Then I would move my fast cavalry in a away to shoot together with Bolt Throwers at a single target and even with an additional penalty for to hit rolls I should be able to do considerable damage.

Heavy cavalry on the left was to hit first on the flank and be in the position to help infantry in the middle to go against Bloodwarms. Last but not least, the elements on the right would try to slow down the Hulk and Apparition.  

That was the plan, let's see if it worked :)

Night Stalkers -Turn 1

Night Stalkers move forward, slowly in the center ...

... and faster on the flanks.
Night Stalkers moved towards Elves hiding behind the hill. Units in the middle slowed down a bit to wait for Bloodwarms but those on the flanks were approaching fast, especially on the Western flank. With no targets to shoot at both Spectres regiments moved towards better positions to do so later.

Outcasts - Turn 1

Elven formation starts to shift towards the center.

But start cluster in the middle.
Elves responded with shooting that took off some of the Needle-fangs but also luckily wavered the Bloodwarms! (Edit: I had no other targets for BT2 and shot at the legion, scores 1-2 points of damage and rolled double 6's for nerve test.) 

The infantry was slowed down by the Silver Breeze cavalry though and that was not a good sign.

Night Stalkers -Turn 2

Elven mistake is exploited by the Dread-fiend.

Elven formation in chaos.
The Spectres could return the fire and aimed at the Silver Breeze. The damage was not huge but it was enough to unnerve the Elves.

The center had to remain in place but the elements on the flanks moved forward as planned. Dread-fiend spotted an opportunity and charged barely exposed flank of the Elven knights. Storm Wind didn't falter though and the regiment was ready to counter-charge. 

Outcasts - Turn 2

Counter-charge failed!

Elves don't move much again.

Elves somehow decided not to move from the shadow of the hill at all again. The shooters shot at the similar targets as before but the effect was negligible. The units on the right flank shuffled a bit, ready for a potential charge of the Planar Apparition.

Then Storm Wind cavalry, magically supported by the nearby wizard, attacked the Dread-fiend. They inflicted quite some damage but he managed to Steal the Dreams of the Elven mage and that gave the nightmarish creature enough energy to stay in this plane of the existence. (Edit: I moved my wizard too close and thanks to the Mindthirst special rule I had to re-roll the nerve test that would have otherwise meant the Dread-fiend would have been routed.)

Night Stalkers -Turn 3

Elves are held on both flanks.

Night Stalkers keep attacking from the sides.

Night Stalkers kept moving around the flanks. Dread-fiend, invigorated by the previous success, hit the Elven knights again and this time they wavered! Nearby Silverbreeze got hit by Spectres again and again they had to spend time regaining control over their spooked steeds. These firebolts can be really unnerving!

Banshee finally moved around the ruins and this time it was close enough to harass the bolt thrower crew. And last but not least, Planar Apparition attacked Palace Guard but brave Elves held their ground.

Outcasts - Turn 3

It can't be good when the picture is blurry.

Elves pull back

With the bulk of enemy forces still far away and a stalemate on the left flank, the Elves pulled back a bit and focused on the threats on the right. 

But despite a significant damage done to the Planar Apparition it refused to leave this particular reality. (Edit: I can't remember if I rolled double 1's but it was a very low result for sure!

Night Stalkers -Turn 4

Blood Warms are getting closer.

Big turn for Night Stalkers - lots of damage done.

Night Stalkers intensified their attacks. On the Western flank Dread Fiend wavered Elven Knights again and Banshee destroyed one of the bolt throwers. Spectres continued shooting at the Silver Breeze cavalry and routed one of the units. 

On the East, Planar Apparition regenerated the damage and joined Shadow Hulk and Needle-fangs in attack on Tallspears. Elven warriors stood no chance to such an attack and were destroyed. The situation didn't look good for Elves at all.

Outcasts - Turn 4

Elves counter attack.

Some success on the Eastern flank.

With the Western flank collapsing and a strong center of the enemy formation approaching, Elves decided to break through on the East. Thanks to coordinated maneuvering this time, they managed to block Bloodwarms from attacking anything else but Silver Breeze cavalry. Tallspears charged to get rid of the Needle-fangs while Palace Guard used the opening and stormed the flank of the Planar Apparition. This time it didn't hold!

Asrmy Standard Bearer bravely attack Shadow Hulk to distract it for a while and give time to Palace Guard troop to get healed and move to the flank of the Monster.

Night Stalkers -Turn 5

Blood Warms finally reached the combat.

Storm Wind is still there!

Dread Fiend was apparently getting tired of continuous efforts to rout Storm Wind cavalry. They were already fighting for quite a time and they stubbornly refused to yield.  That's why Blood Warms, after destroying annoying Silver Breeze cavalry, moved towards the Elven knights instead of the enemy infantry. 

The shooters aimed at the Elven bolt thrower this time (Edit: I think the Spectres on the left were wavered last time, my apologies for inaccuracy) but it had one more chance to shoot back. Brave Army Standard Bearer was devoured by the Shadow Hulk but hopefully he would be avenged.

Outcasts - Turn 5

Elves are breaking through.

Shadow Hulk is down!

Elves continued their attack on the right flank. This time combined efforts of the Palace Guard units brought even the dreaded Shadow Hulk down! Nearby Tallspears inflicted significant damage upon Spectres but didn't rout them yet. Unfortunately, Bolt Thrower missed the target and it looked like Elves may lose their source of ranged attacks soon.

Night Stalkers -Turn 6

Storm Wind cavalry is routed. At last!

Bolt thrower dies too.

Badly damaged and attacked from the flank, Storm Wind cavalry could not hold anymore. Banshee finished off the Bolt Thrower too. Would Elves still have any means to swing the balance into their favor?

Outcasts - Turn 6

Stand off.

Spectres were routed but it was not enough.

Tallspears and Palace Guard troops had no problems with routing Spectres but the rest of the Night Stalkers army was out of reach. The evils from nightmares won this time. 


Turn-by-turn summary animation.

After-battle thoughts

We played turn 7 but nothing really happened as Jules moved his army out of charge range of mine. He didn't want to risk being attacked by three infantry units at the same time and as I had no ranged attacks, it was a good choice. 

Jules won and it was a well deserved victory, congratulations, really well done in your first game of Kings of War! It was a pleasure to play against you and your beautifully painted army, I am already looking forward to a next opportunity for a game!

I was not happy with the first half of the game and the mistakes I made were big enough that I could not recover from them. Even if I managed to fight back a bit in the second half of the battle.

As it is often the case, the poor deployment might be the source of all the problems. This time it was not the most important mistake I made but I think I should have done better. I think deploying in double line, especially with such terrain, was not a good idea. I had a lot of space on both flanks I didn't use at all.

The most obvious mistake, however, and the one I am sure cost me the game, was to expose the flank to the charge of Dread-fiend. But even after that happened I could have still moved my cavalry into the forest, to a well defended position and simply shoot at the enemy character. On the other hand, when I decided to counter charge I should have kept my wizard away so that Dread Fiend would not benefit from the Mindthirst rule. I am really lucky my cavalry was not routed earlier, as it would have opened that flank and Dread Fiend would have had a nice opportunity to attack other units.

I can't quite explain why I was undecided and why I kept staying behind the hill. On one hand it is of course because I wanted to avoid being shot at. However, in doing so I kept my formation very chaotic. 

Another thing I wonder about is if the sacrifice of the Silver Breeze cavalry to stop Blood Warms was a good idea. I really needed their shooting in the end when I could not reach the enemy in melee. Second units of Spectres was damaged and just one more wound was required to force a nerve test. 

But I am concerned that if I didn't do it then Blood Warms would attack my infantry instead. And that would have put a lot of pressure on the remaining units there too.

I think Jules played very well, in particular for his first game. He exploited my mistakes well and he used his tools to a good effect. Banshee was my favorite. There were two things that after writing this report I believe might have been a good options to consider.

First, when his Planar Apparition survived the flank attack of the Tallspears I think it would have been better to attack with it against Palace Guard troops. Shadow Hulk on the flank was already enough to rout the regiment. While Palace Guard would have been at least stopped. What is more, there would have been no opportunity for the attack that helped me to break through.

Second, if he moved towards my infantry with his Bloodwarms instead of assisting Dread Fiend then my units were not yet in the position to even defend themselves. It looked like on overkill and I am sure that Dread fiend would have finished my knights anyway.

But he won by a good enough margin (250 points) so my comments are more to consider possible alternatives rather than offering better solution. After all, he won regardless!

I also enjoyed a smaller game and I am happy we played one as a I see that I can still have enough units on the table.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Nice report. I've only played Night Stalkers once, but I had no answer to them. It's like they are specifically designed to counter my army. Playing KoM/League, I run a lot of sources of inspiration, and I use a lot of shooting. My nightstalker opponent put the Crystal Pendant of Retribution on his Bloodworm Legion, and it was a total headache to deal with. I had to triple-charge it to stop it getting into my shooters, and it did something like 12-18 wounds as it died.

    I've noticed you often deploy in a very tight formation, giving the outside flanks / outside contain to your opponents. Any reason why?

    1. Hi Tas,

      Thanks a lot! I find it more difficult to write a good story when I lose because I need to somehow "justify" my mistakes from that point of view. But I am happy to know that it is no less entertaining!

      I think I know what you mean, even if I don't have that many sources of inspire, the two moments that had an impact on the game (among others) were exactly due to Mindthirst. Stealth plays the role too but I think it is more the matter of the adapting on tactics level rather than a requirement to change the list.

      I can imagine how painful dealing with the Bloodworms that finally explode would be!

      It is an interesting observation and I even went back and had a quick look at the reports from all the games I have played so far. Indeed, I tend to favor refused flank or tighter formation. I cannot give you the answer yet, at least not the one I believe would explain it.

      However, I think that I may often have one flank empty may be the result of having asymmetric composition. I used to play with the armies that had two of almost each element and that helped to place them in a spread formation.

      The general aim is to have the force that is flexible and can do variations of formations. From tight to spread, depending on the scenario, opposing army, terrain etc. But it seems I am not and that too might be the reason why I make more mistakes.

      Thanks for pointing that out, I will think more about it, I need to find an explanation myself!