Saturday, 11 February 2017

Clash of Kings Australia 1 - Game 2 - Night Stalkers - 2017/02/11


In the game 2 of Clash of Kings Australia I had a great pleasure to play against Jules and his fantastic Night Stalkers army. I highly recommend checking his blog:

We met on the battle field before once, when we played with smaller forces (Jules was still painting his new units back then) and our first encounter ended with Night Stalkers' victory! If you are interested in that game, here is the link:

This time I was about to fight against a larger and more terrifying force!

Night Stalkers - Army List

60 Blood Warms, Legion, Brew of Strength
- Shadow Hulk, Monster
- Void Lurker, Fog

20 Spectres, Regiment
- Screamer, Monster
20 Spectres, Regiment
- Screamer, Monster 

20 Phantoms, Regiment
- Banshee, Lightning Bolt (5)

3 Nightmares, Regiment

3 Needle Fangs, Regiment
3 Needle Fangs, Regiment

The core of the army was well known to me but there were also some interesting additions so let me go through each choice as usual, even if I am probably going to repeat myself in some cases :)

60 Blood Warms -  The Legion looks very intimidating. Crazy amount of attacks and very high nerve value mean that it will be difficult to destroy it and whatever it touches would die. Also thanks to the Brew of Strength. It is slow, however, so I wanted to use my speed and maneuverability to avoid it at the beginning and see if I can have some good opportunities for combined charges. 

2 x 20 Spectres - solid shooters, especially with piercing. However, their range is limited and they may need to get a bit too close to the enemy in order to be able to shoot. While they have a good nerve value, they don't necessary have good armor which may be an issue when they need to move towards the enemy. It also means that despite Stealthy rule any hit may, in fact, do some damage too.

20 Phantoms - This is completely new unit for me, I have never played against one before. On one hand they shamble but on the other they fly. They also have Crushing Strength and reasonable amount of attacks. They cannot be wavered so are very reliable. They look like a good, stand alone flanking unit so I had to watch them carefully. Phantoms may be a bit more difficult to rout too, thanks to their defense 5+. But if I could force them to attack from the front and alone I may have a chance to pin them down.

3 Nightmares - Another new unit, a fantastic modelling idea and very intriguing regiment. On one hand they can hit almost as hard as my Drakons so I knew I cannot let them fly behind my lines. They have 4+ defense that is balanced by better nerve value. But they also cast Wind Blast! I was extremely curious how this unit is going to be used and I already planned to detach at least one regiment of Drakons to counter them. It would not be easy as they have the same speed. But I would love to play that game for "air superiority"!

2 x 3 Needle Fangs - these little critters are obviously to block the enemies from reaching more important targets. Hopefully, my own shooting would be enough to get rid of them early. Fortunately, they are not faster than my infantry so they may have some limited options in what to block.

Shadow Hulk - one of the very few elements in the list that does not have Stealthy rule. With defense 4+ it means it can accumulate damage pretty fast. That's why expected to see it in a second wave. It can hit hard, however, and if not damaged it can stick on combat for a while too. This monster is also very reliable as it cannot get wavered. 

2 x Screamer - these two smaller monsters boosted the ranged attacks of the army further. Each with a Lightningbolt (5), they posed a real threat for my small units. They were obviously a priority. I noticed they don't have that high nerve value and that they had defense 4+ so if possible I wanted to focus my own shooting at them. If I could catch one in the open with any of assault troops, then it would be a good thing to do as well.

Void Lurker - Night Stalker version of a large flier. It has very good combat abilities, very high nerve and while sporting defense 4+ it can regenerate damage too. It is not Stealthy so I guess that is why Jules equipped his Void Lurker with the Fog artifact.

First thing to do against it is to find a way to attack it and to prevent it from flying. Given the opportunity I would like to attack it with more units at the same time as otherwise it would heal back all the damage.

Banshee - very annoying individual, hard to kill with ranged attacks due to combination of Stealthy and Individual special rules. At the same time, it cannot be wavered and it flies so it can always be in the right spot for both spells, Wind Blast and Lightning Bolt. It means that the army has 15 Lightning Bolts and 12 Wind Blasts to use. That can be both very interesting and very dangerous combination.

The first thing I noticed about the army as a whole is its shooting. Probably, because the ranged attacks are often very dangerous to my small units. In this case, I had to find a good plan to neutralize 15 Lightning Bolts and 24 Fire Bolts. The lightnings alone, if focused, could inflict substantial damage. Fire Bolts were equally dangerous but fortunately for me, these are shorter range attacks.

I had a dilemma to solve. On one hand, I may need to move fast and aggressively to engage the enemy shooters in order to prevent them from doing damage to my units. On the other, in doing so I was putting my fastest troops in danger of suffering casualties in the process. I needed these elements for the scenario objectives too.

Especially, that the melee orientated units of the Night Stalkers army were tough enough to withstand attacks from any single unit in my army. 

Learning from the previous experiences I decided I need to be patient, use my larger number of fast units to maneuver on the flanks to good positions and despite Stealthy rule in place, shoot. The trick was to focus that shooting on a single target and that is why I wanted chariots, sea guard and silver breeze more or less in the center. 

Deployment and Scenario

Armies ready!

Who would Dominate?

Night Stalkers had majority of their shooters on one side of their formation. I positioned my infantry behind the obstacle but soon I realized that it does not matter against the Lightning Bolts! However, I felt I may have a chance on the flanks as it seemed to me I had more fast units on each to at least stop enemy fliers. 

My own shooters would need to engage in the duel with Screamers and Spectres so I hoped that exchange would be more or less equal. If that is the case then my larger number of units would be my advantage. And would also allow melee elements to threaten fewer shooting units of the enemy. 

It was also clear to me that at some stage I would have to deal with the Legion due to scenario objectives. I would need to either compensate for its presence with my own units in the 12" radius in the middle. Or try and tackle it! 

The general plan was then to inflict damage to enemy shooters, win the flanks and converge into the middle for last turns melee to get rid of enemy units. All these preferably with as few casualties as possible!

The Night Stalkers were to have the first turn!

(Edit: I noticed after making the maps that I was not always accurate with the diagrams. Please, remember they are not precise reflection of the relative positions of the units on the battle field. Sometimes I showed moves that looked like they should not be possible to make. )

Night Stalkers - Turn 1

Night Stalkers advance a little.

First Lightnings!

Night Stalkers army moved forward but only to allow the Screamers and the Banshee to inflict the terror on the Elves. However, seasoned Elven veterans were not easily scared of their usually powerful screams.

Void Lurker and Nightmares floated on both flanks, ready to intercept Elves if they decided to land nearby.

Outcasts - Turn 1

Elves do not rush forward either.

Elven shooting seems to be a bit more successful.

Elves maneuvered patiently, awaiting the right moment to move against their enemies. At this stage, War Chariots, Sea Guard and Silver Breeze cavalry focused their fire on Needle Fangs. It proved to be successful, as they got rid of the little critters that blocked the path to much more dangerous Screamers.

Night Stalkers - Turn 2

Night Stalkers do not advance yet.
Ranged attacks duel carries on!

The army of horrors does not seem to be attracted to the Elves that much and keeps relying on screams and shouts to inflict damage. Unfortunately for Night Stalkers, they divided their efforts and could not make their attacks count.

Outcasts - Turn 2

Are they in range yet? :)

First Screamer down!

Elves restrained from any aggressive moves and relied on their bows. This time all four units aimed at a single Screamer and brought it down! 

The fliers on the left flank pulled back a little so that Void Lurker would not be able to land behind their lines. On the right flank, Drakon Riders started their aerial dance to gain a better position against their counter parts.

Night Stalkers - Turn 3

Spectres join the fight.
The Lightnings do not work!

Night Stalkers decided to try to use their ranged attacks one more time as Spectres joined the fight. They managed to waver the chariots but that's all! 

The units on the flanks remained more or less in similar positions as Elves blocked all the good spots for landing. 

Outcasts - Turn 3

Elves finally move more decisively on the flanks!

Outflanking maneuvers!
Elves finally moved on the flanks. All the fliers landed behind their counter parts. On the left flank the Storm Wind cavalry was left as a rearguard too, in the case Void Lurker wanted to land there. 

The shooters continued their attacks and this time they manged to waver the remaining Screamer. 

Night Stalkers - Turn 4

A little bit more movement from the Night Stalkers.

Finally! First victims of the ranged attacks!
Void Lurker and Nightmares both started their own outflanking maneuvers but the rest of the army had to deal with the Drakons. Those on the right flank seemed to be out of position to attack immediately, at least for now. But those on the left were ready to charge. Spectres divided their attention and shot at different targets but to no effect. At least Banshee managed to rout Elven Knights!  

Outcasts - Turn 4

First charges!
Attack on the left flank.

Drakon Riders led by the Drakon Lord charged Spectres and wavered them in the process! At the same time, Storm Wind cavalry charged Void Lurker to stop it from flying to the side of the entire formation and managed to damage the beast. 

The shooters finished off the last Screamer while second regiment of Drakon Riders landed behind the rocks. (Edit: That was really silly move but somehow I forgot that these rocks were in fact Height 4 blocking terrain! :D )  

Night Stalkers - Turn 5

Night Stalkers engage.
Legion on the move.

Night Stalkers had to act quickly now in order to prevent Elves from surrounding them in the middle. Void Lurker initiated the attack but Storm Wind held their ground. Spectres destroyed damaged Chariots so that was one unit less.

Then Phantoms charged exposed Silver Breeze cavalry but somehow failed to rout them! The rest of the army moved forward, using the opportunity of not being threatened by the Drakons hiding behind the rocks.

Outcasts  - Turn 5

Envelopment continues!

The attack on the left continues!

Elves continued their successful advance on the left flank. Storm Wind damaged Void Lurker again and kept it occupied for another round. Drakons finished one regiment of Spctres, while the Lord and Palace Guard combined their efforts to tackle the second one. But this time they wavered the enemy instead of destroying it!

In the middle, one unit of Silver Breeze screened Phantoms so that they could not attack any other Elven unit. While the infantry reformed to face potential attack of the Nightmares

Second unit of Drakons discovered that there was nothing of interest behind the rocks and emerged behind enemy lines!

Night Stalkers - Turn 6

Night Stalkers counter attack!

Elves lose units again.

It was time for the counter attack and Night Stalkers tried to use their opportunities. Void Lurker finally routed stubborn Elven Knights. Legion of Bloodwarms attacked exposed flank of the Palace Guard and got rid of them too but was blocked by the Spectres now! Last but not least, the flank attack of Nightmares didn't finish Silver Breeze at all and now Night Stalkers were about to get hit from the flanks.

Outcasts - Turn 6

Powerful Elven attack.

Killing Blow!

Due to very bad positioning and bad luck in the previous round of melee, several units of Night Stalkers were attacked from flanks and rears. Unfortunately for them it resulted in the demise of many of their units, including the Legion! It looked like the Elves gained the dominance in that battle.

Night Stalkers - Turn 7

The battle continues.

Last charges of the Night Stalkers.

Despite the losses, Night Stalkers kept on fighting. Remaining units charged their chosen enemies but only Phantoms managed to rout the Silver Breeze cavalry. Now it was time for the final word from the Elven side.

Outcasts - Turn 7

Elves dominate the battle field.

Elves are victorious.

Yet again Night Stalkers were left in a very bad positioning and Elves used that opportunity to solidify their control over the battle field. Only damaged Void Lurker, Banshee and Phantoms were left standing.


Turn-by-turn animation summary

After-battle thoughts

My thanks to Jules for a fantastic game and another great opportunity to play against his wonderful army! This time I got my revenge but I am sure he will refine his tactics and I will need to try hard in order to win whenever we meet on the battle field again.

The battle seemed to have two distinctive halves. In the first one, we both relied on shooting to create gaps in the enemy lines. In the second, vicious melee erupted to decide who is going to be the winner.

I am happy with the plan and general execution. I think this time I used my advantages in larger number of units as well as speed and maneuverability better. At the same time I am really sorry for bad luck with shooting as Jules just could not roll well enough with these lightnings.

I am also glad my silly mistake with Drakons on the right flank didn't cost me more. Such a blunder! 

It is intersting to note that Night Stalkers, despite their Stealthy rule, may still suffer from the shooting, provided it is focused on a single target at a time. However, I would not be able to win the game, in particular in terms of meeting the scenario objectives, without melee. Hence it was very important to mitigate Night Stalker's shooting first to allow Drakons to get into combat in good shape. 

What seemed to help me in this game was the fact that Spectres started the battle a bit further away and that Screamers and Banshee didn't focus their fire at a single target. I have no doubt that if these 5 units aimed at one unit it would have died in a single round of shooting. 

The fact that the Legion didn't march forward also helped because I didn't have to use my units to stop it. Even when hindered it would have inflicted damage, supporting units could prevent flank charges and maybe I would have not had enough units left to balance its presence in the middle.

Once again, many thanks to Jules for a great game and thanks for reading!            


  1. Great game Swordmaster!

    An entertaining read as always! You did an excellent job combining shooting to remove units instead of just taking a few wounds here and there, as well as the drakon and lord move on the left flank.

    I really think you have a great balance of ranged and combat. Ranged seems really important for MSU as it allows you to remove chaff which allows your chaff to dictate the fight instead of the opponent.

    I played my first game with the MSU Twilight Kin and it went well! I need to find a better balance of shooting and combat because I am a bit light on shooting, and I think certain builds will punish me for it.

    Thanks for the report, and I look forward to the next one!

    1. Hi Dan!

      Thanks! It was a great game indeed, I just wish I could take better picture of Jules army!

      Focusing fire is indeed important and thanks to the mobility of Silver Breeze and quite a good speed of Chariots I have the ability to do so. It may not always work as my shooting is affected by all types of penalties. But you can create small breaches in enemy lines.

      I would still try to use it to weaken the more powerful unit to allow the chargers opportunity to rout the enemy in a single turn.

      Just a clarification, there is no "chaff" in my army :) All units are ready to take one for the team and such heroic efforts are then immortalized in stories and songs :D

      Congratulations on your fist success! The balance between different types of units is, in my opinion, more of a personal matter. Some people have only wizards with some ranged attacks, others will add some war engines etc. In any case, it may be good to have something to do in each phase of the game too.


  2. Nice report and two lovely looking armies!

    1. Thanks Michael! I am glad you like the visual effects too, especially that the pictures I took do not show Jules' army in full glory!