Thursday, 16 February 2017

Clash of Kings Australia 1 - Game 3 - Undead - 2017/02/16


In the game 3 I had a great pleasure to play against Josh who brought a very interesting Undead army. I have never had a chance to play against Josh before so it was great to meet a new player too! 

While I had a few games against Undead before this army was significantly different to what I have faced so far. It looked like it is a slow force as it had only a single unit of cavalry but it was a deception! Fortunately, I still remembered how dangerous Surge is so I tried to take that into account when trying to come up with the plan.

Here are the details of the army Josh took to Clash of Kings:

Undead - Army List

40 Skeleton Archers, Horde
- Catapult, War Engine 
- Liche King, Heal (6), Surge (12), Myrddin’s Amulet of the Fire-heart

20 Mummies, Regiment
- Catapult, War Engine
- Liche King, Heal (6), Surge (12)

20 Mummies, Regiment
- Necromancer, Inspiring Talisman, Bane-chant (2), Surge (8)
20 Mummies, Regiment

6 Zombie Trolls, Horde
6 Zombie Trolls, Horde

10 Soul Reavers, Regiment, Brew of Haste

I noticed that I made a mistake in my diagrams and assumed that there were 3 Liche Kings while in fact, one of them was a Necromancer. My sincere apologies for that!

The first impression was that it is an infantry based army, with a lot of Shambling units and a lot of Surge options. That in itself creates a very interesting dynamic. On one hand, the units are obviously slower in their move forward. But on the other hand they can be animated to move to any direction too. And while this move is governed by the dice rolls, in order to take that into account one often needs to assume higher than average rolls. Simply to be on the safer side and do not risk charges from the flanks or rears.

But let's see what Josh had in his army in more details:

40 Skeleton Archers - not the best shooters in the world but I had trouble with that unit before. They can inflict damage anyway (especially with Bane Chant), they are a good unit for holding objectives and may not be easy to get rid of. Definitely a unit I would need to keep an eye on and if possible, at least attack to prevent them from shooting.

3 x 20 Mummies - the core of the army. Three regiments of Mummies that have a very good defense, very good nerve (and cannot be wavered!) and in addition can regenerate any damage. Combined with Heal they can be very tough to destroy if not done so in a single turn. At the same time Crushing Strength (2) is a very good option when attacking and with all that Surge around they can attacks from the very dangerous direction too. 

The key to eliminating such units is to be able to divide them, isolate them and attack from multiple directions. Very dangerous approach due to Surge as it allows Mummies to turn around and attack the units that are trying to set up the trap. However, keeping a tight formation on my own and allowing only frontal charges may also be a good option to tie them up for a while.

2 x 6 Zombie Trolls - faster than Mummies but a bit easier to damage and do not have regeneration either. They hit harder, however and may help Mummies in the war of attrition. In this case, especially when these units do not have immediate support of the other units, it may be a good idea to charge them frontally with 2 units, receive counter and finish them off in the following turn. But if they keep formation some rounds of shooting might be needed to soften them up first.

10 Soul Reavers - the most powerful unit in the army, the fastest one too, matching in speed Elven knights thanks to the Brew of Haste. They will hit extremely hard and even without Thunderous Charge they will inflict a lot of damage. The good thing is they need to wait for the infantry to support them or risk being isolated. Using terrain against the Reavers will still be important. They are also very hard to damage. So I will either need to delay and distract them or try to isolate them and destroy them in well coordinated charge. However, that is far easier said than done!

2 x Catapult - long range fire support. They ignore cover which is a great thing to have when your war engine hits on 5+. It also does a lot of damage once it hits and with two of them the chances that at least one of them finds the mark are quite good. One of the elements I would like to get rid of quickly either by my own shooting or with fast troops if possible. 

2 x Liche King - the Kings are tough!  They may not have the best defense but they do have a very good nerve value (for the heroes) and sport regeneration. They are instrumental in Surging the army. But they are also equipped with Heal and I can imagine the combination of Regeneration, Life Leech and Heal can cause a lot of problem for the opponents. 

Necromancer - last but not least, he adds a bit of Surge too but also always useful Bane Chant! Quite popular role of a wizard and a leader too. He is the most fragile of the trio so I may want to try and catch him first!

I must say I really like the army Josh brought. It has that classic theme of shambling and relentless units led by liche kings and vampires into battle. A totally new type of a challenge although previous experience in playing against Undead was definitely useful. 

Scenario and Deployment

View over the battle field.

Deployment of the armies with the Loot tokens.

The way Josh positioned his token told me a little about his deployment plan. He placed it on the very same side as I did and that meant that the Loot was on one half of the battle field. That obviously was good for Undead as they could move towards the markers and take any attacks from the front. It also allows them to go into much preferable war of attrition.

I obviously wanted to avoid that. However, with the tokens placed like that I could not necessarily rush forward to claim them. I made that mistake before :) On the other hand I still wanted to use my fast elements to their full potential. 

I decided then to position almost all my infantry on the flank opposite the tokens so that they could try and snatch them from Undead or simply do not allow them to turn around and "flee" with them. At least not that easy. On the other flank, where there was quite a lot of open space, I had my cavalry of different types. Their role was to overwhelm that flank in a fast attack and go and help the infantry. No matter if they needed to keep the tokens or get them from the enemy. 

The plan was to do it quickly so that there would be time to position units for combined charges and to relieve the infantry that was not necessary that good in prolonged combats. 

This time I got the first turn! 

Outcasts - Turn 1

Drakons lead the way.

Outcasts move forward.

It was time to realize the battle plan and Outcasts moved forward, with each units focused on its specific task. Silver Breeze cavalry had an honor to open fire and they spotted an opening that allowed them to shoot at one of the catapults. The damage was done but not enough yet to make it crumble.

Undead - Turn 1

Vigorous Mummies speed forward!

Undead started shambling forward but some of the units showed unnatural vigor. Clearly, dark magic was at work! One regiment of Mummies grabbed the treasure and another one was close to do the same if not for the building blocking their way.

The archers and the catapults aimed well and Elves suffered significant damage. Fortunately, they held their ground.

Outcasts - Turn 2

First charges!

Attack on the left flank!

The infantry on the right stopped the advance, not wanting to commit to melee too early and without the support. The cavalry attacked to clear the left flank and to have space for maneuvering later. Drakon Riders spearheaded the attack against Zombie Trolls. The charge hit home hard but the Trolls managed to hold for now.

In the meantime, Storm Wind cavalry attacked Soul Revers to distract them and slow them down. That allowed nearby Silver Breeze to use another opening to destroy the catapult. Last but not least the Drakon Lord snatched another piece of Loot before Mummies could figure out how to bypass the building.

Undead - Turn 2

Undead counter attack ...

... but cannot break Elven defenses.

Both, Zombie Trolls and Soul Reavers counter attacked but surprisingly, could not do enough damage. In particular undead heavy cavalry failed to do their job!

On the opposite flank another unit of Mummies begun its advance towards the last, yet unclaimed treasure.

Outcasts - Turn 3

Elves attack on two fronts.

Elves continue their aggressive approach.

Outcasts continued and escalated the attacks. On the left flank, Drakon Riders finished the Zombie Trolls and reformed to face the flank of the enemy battle line. Storm Wind cavalry once more charged the Undead Knights.

At the same time, the Drakon Lord left the loot for the fast cavalry to carry it away to safety, while he aimed at the horde of archers hiding in the forest. He achieved his goal as Skeleton Archers would not be able to shoot, distracted by his presence.

On the right flank Elves also decided to take action in order to prevent Mummies from either getting away with the treasure or taking some more loot in their possession.

Undead - Turn 3

Storm Wind holds!

But Palace Guard made a mistake.

Undead units obeyed the commands of their Kings and pressed against Elven lines. Surprisingly, Storm Wind cavalry in the center held though! Now Soul Reavers were in a really big trouble! (Edit: That was that dreaded moment when Josh was very unlucky to roll double 1's for nerve test!)

All regiments of Mummies engaged their enemies but only the one that was magically invigorated successfully routed Palace Guard and took away the Loot!

Outcasts - Turn 4

Drakons win on the left flank!

Outcasts keep attacking.

Always ready to use the opportunities when they present themselves, Outcasts press forward. Drakon Riders swoop down to charge against Soul Reavers and even heavily armored Vampiric Knights are not tough enough to hold against such an attack. The Drakon Lord doubled his efforts in distracting the Archers as the help was coming!

On the right flank, Place Guard regiment managed to charge the rear of the Mummies but they still held! At least Zombie Trolls were kept at bay by the Palace Guard troop. However, the Undead still kept treasure in their possession.

Undead - Turn 4

Mummies form a new line of defense.

Elven infantry being surrounded.

Although the left flank was lost, Undead regiments were still in the possession of two pieces of treasure. And they intended to keep it that way! Mummies pushed hard against their enemies but only Storm Wind cavalry died in the process. The fight became more and more desperate!

Outcasts - Turn 5

The cavalry arrives!

Outcasts claim one more Loot!

It was time for the cavalry to arrive! Drakon Riders helped their lord in destroying the Skeleton Archers horde while Storm Wind charged to block the Mummies. The second unit of Drakons was getting ready to help infantry too.

And help they would need soon! Sea Guard pinned the Mummies down while Palace Guard did great job in finally finishing off the first regiment of these extremely resilient undead. In doing so they also collected second piece of a loot and all they had to do now was to hold against inevitable charge of Zombie Trolls!

Undead - Turn 5

Mummies counter attack.

Both armies suffered considerable damage by now but the battle was not yet decided. Mummies attacked hard and destroyed their foes, Storm Wind and Sea Guard. But Zombie Trolls could not rout Palace Guard regiment and reclaim the Loot! That was not good news for the Undead forces!

Outcasts - Turn 6

Mummies vs Drakons

Zombie Trolls are down!

Drakon Riders finally came to the rescue but it could not have been a better time. They routed Zombie Trolls and protected Palace Guard from being charged by Mummies. At least for now!

Undead - Turn 6

Last attempt by Mummies.

Mummies were ordered to push one more time but stubborn drakons didn't move and liche kings decided it is time to withdraw.

Elves managed to win thanks to the timely arrival of the flying cavalry!


Turn-by-turn animation summary

After-battle thoughts

First of all, many thanks to Josh for a fantastic game! It is rare to play against the player who was cheering up when I got good results and was more sad than I was when the dice didn't want to cooperate! A very enthusiastic opponent and I hope to meet him again!

I was very lucky to pull out that last minute attack to keep the token and win the scenario! This time the risk paid off but I am sure it was one-time trick and I have to come up with a different, better plan.

But before I get to the more detailed description of some crucial moments in the game I would like to address one of them first.

In turn 3 I could charge Mummies with my Palace Guard regiment. Josh pulled back his Trolls the turn before a bit and he thought it was this move that was a grievous mistake. Here is some further explanation what would have happened if he stayed 1 inch away from Palace Guard.

Before charge (left), Arc of sight + Line of sight (middle), 90 degree pivot before the charge (right)

On the left you can see Palace Guard facing large cavalry after its attack and when it pulled back 1 inch. In the middle you can see that nearby infantry is in the arc of sight and that the line of sight can be drawn from the Palace Guard leader point to the unit. Then, on the diagram on the right Palace Guard did 90 degree pivot it is allowed to do during the charge.

This is to illustrate that Josh didn't make a mistake by pulling back his Trolls as even if he didn't, Palace Guard would have had an opportunity to charge the Mummies next to them.

Ok, let's go back to the other crucial moments of the game.

One of them was definitely double 1's for Soul Reavers! it was simply too good to be true and allowed drakons to destroy the most powerful enemy unit. It was bad luck for Josh and I am sure that if not that roll things would have been way harder for me.

I made a mistake with Palace Guard troop running for the middle token. I knew nearby Mummies can reform and get Surged so I should have been much more patient! That mistake almost cost me the game because otherwise we still had 1 token each.

Another thing I should have done was to use Silver Breeze better. Once the loot was secured I should have kept them in the fight and focus on shooting at Liche Kings. Not the easiest task to do but there was a chance to rout one of them as I had 2 rounds of shooting at least.

These Mummies are incredibly tough and while I didn't mention that in the report, constant Regeneration and aid of Heal was also helping a lot. Even if some of the rolls were not that great for Josh.

Other than that I was rally happy with the lucky outcome of the game. I hope Josh enjoyed the game too as he is one of the most enthusiastic and fun opponents I have ever played against!

Thanks for reading!


  1. Hi swordmaster!

    Great game from both of you. I definitely didn't see that rear charge by surging mummies coming! I have to start thinking in terms of KoW and not other games I have played. Surge is an extremely powerful ability and he had a lot of access to it. I'm glad your report showcased surge's ability so I could see it in action. There is always something to learn from your reports! Especially for a new KoW player such as myself.

    1. Hi Dan!

      Thanks! Surge is a very interesting mechanism, makes the movement different than usual and took me a bit to get used to it. As you could see I still made mistakes :) But it is a great option for some armies and makes them quite unique. At the same time it reflects the idea of magically animated corpses very well too!