Tuesday 12 December 2017

Australian Masters 2017 - Part 6


Usually, the first post about the games from a particular tournament would be about armies I faced, scenarios played and some initial deployment maps for those who would want to try and predict the results. 

However, I have already posted about Armies of Australian Masters 2017 and in the part 5 of the series about the event itself you could see who played against who and what was the result.

I think that is about time I start posting the reports from my own games and in round 1 I had a privilege to command Ken's Varangur army. The fact that I could play with a completely different force to what I usually use was intriguing enough in itself. But to spice things up the fate intervened further. First, I played against Ken and his trusty Varangur almost a year ago during the first round of Australian Clash of Kings 2017. He defeated me back then so I was curious if I can even the score. It was thus quite an unusual re-match! 

I also had one practice game and I must say I am glad I did because this army needs a completely different approach. It can take a lot of damage but at the same time one should not be too reckless with it. This is the element of Kings of War as a game system in general that I like a lot. Every army has some weaknesses to be potentially exploited by the opponent.

At the same time it was quite difficult to come up with detailed plan for each scenario after just a single game. Hence, I tried to make it simple and come up with some plan that I hope to have a chance of being successful. On one hand I wanted the army to get into melee but on the other I did not want to allow faster and more maneuverable units to surround the formation. I decided then that I will use infantry and the Fallen as the front line and the Devourers and the Kings as well as both wizards as a second line. Cavern Dweller would be placed either in the first wave or second depending on the scenario and terrain.

The reason was that I could use Monsters to see above the infantry and potentially intercept what wants to land behind the main battle line. At the same time they could assist infantry in the attack if needed. 

Deployment and Scenario

Delpoyment of both armies.

Deployment and positioning of Loot tokens.

The scenario for the first game was Loot so we started with placing the tokens. The first went to the middle as per the rules and then Ken placed his token. He picked the mark 24 inches away from the middle (measuring from the centers of the tokens). This was I was not able to place my token in between them and had to put it on the other side (left from my point of view). 

That immediately affected my initial idea of placing the tokens on one half and deny the Elves their advantage of speed and maneuverability. 

I was not yet sure where exactly all the units are going to go and even assuming that with such token placement I should expect wide deployment, I decided to stick to double line formation. That would allow me to see the formation of the enemy forces and choose which flank to reinforce. 

The plan was to march forward, use Lightning Bolts to weaken some units and hopefully get as many one on one combats as possible to claim two tokens on the left side. I gave up the token on the right as I assumed I would not be able to spread the formation as wide. That would also present a problem of protecting flanks and rears of the slow and cumbersome infantry in particular.

Ken won the roll off and elected to go first.

Elves - Turn 1

Elves advance towards the enemy.

Typical pincer maneuver.

Elves moved fast on both flanks, typical maneuver for faster and more nimble force. The rest of the army also advanced but carefully, not to get into charge range of the Varangur units. The shooters aimed mainly at the Fallen who were in the open and first hits were scored.

Varangur - Turn 1

Varangur army marches forward through the forest.

Securing the flanks.

Varangur steamroller slowly moved forward with the infantry and the King as the front line. The rest of the army maneuvered to form rearguard and discourage Drakon Riders from getting too close. The wizards cast some Lightning Bolts but these were not as efficient as expected.

Elves - Turn 2

Elves land in the back yard.

Elves try to surround the enemy.

Drakon Riders on both flanks closed in to envelop the enemy. Silver Breeze cavalry was sent forward to block any further advance and hopefully distract the enemy. The shooters continued attacking the Fallen who were getting more and more damaged.

Varangur - Turn 2

First charges.

First casualties for Elven army.

Varangur forced had to attack in order to prevent the encirclement. First, Devourer and Bloodsworn infantry got rid of Elven fast cavalry. Then, the second monster with the assistance of the wizards attached the Drakon Riders. Unfortunately, Soul Drain failed to work and the Drakons were not that badly damaged. In addition, the Fallen were not healed up - and they needed that badly.

The King tried to intimidate the Drakon Lord but did not do much either. Last but not least, the Cavern Dweller moved forward to block line of sight for the second unit of Drakon Riders, thus preventing them from attacking other units.

Elves - Turn 3

Bloodsworn hold!

Elves commit forces to the melee in the center.

The units on the left pulled back and Silver Breeze relased the salvo that finally wavered the Fallen. But the main action was in the center of the battle field where three Elven units attacked Bloodsworn. Varangur infantry held, however! 

(Edit: This is the moment where we completely forgot about the Drakon Riders (DR1) on the left!)

Varangur - Turn 3

Varangur defeat more Elven units.

Varangur attack through the center.

It was now time to counter attack. First, the Devourer on the left flank finished off the Drakon Riders. Then, the Bloodsworn attacked exposed flank of the Sea Guard. Second unit of the infantry attacked Storm Wind cavalry but failed to rout them! However, that opened the path for the second Devourer to attack in between the enemy units and storm at the flank of surprised Palace Guard.

Elves lost quite a few units this turn but they still had plenty to fight with!

Elves - Turn 4

Exchange of blows continues

Two hordes down, one to go.

Elves attacked the Fallen first and as the Varangur unit was already damaged, they went down. So did the horde of Bloodsworn who this time could not hold against the charge of three units at the same time.

Last but not least, the Drakon Riders spotted one of the wizards and attacked him but somehow he held his ground!

Varangur - Turn 4

Varangur units keep pressing forward.

More casualties on the Elven side.

With formations of both armies broken, more and more individual duels between the units took place. One of the Devourers sneaked upon Drakon Lord and took him down. The King moved his beast to intimidate Elven units with some breath attacks.

Then the Bloodsworn eliminated the Storm Wind cavalry and reformed to face the last unit blocking the path to the middle loot token.

Elves - Turn 5

Elves fight desperately to hold Varangur away.

Blocking maneuvers.

Elven units were now fighting on their own, without a chance to support from each other. The focus was now on blocking the enemy from reaching the loot tokens at all costs.

Varangur - Turn 5

Varangur s ready for the final blow.

Drakon Riders are wavered!

Varangur units continued the war of attrition. The Devourer attacked the Silver Breeze cavalry and its twin charged the Army Standard (Edit: not properly shown on the picture, I apologize for the inaccuracy). 

The King destroyed Elven knights while nearby wizard wavered Drakon Riders! At the same time Bloodsworn killed Army Standard and faced Palace Guard while Cavern Dweller was still locked in combat with the Chariots.
Elves - Turn 6

Blocking maneuvers again!

(Edit: I apologize for lack of pictures but we were running out of time. It also means that the last turn is not as detailed as I am not sure anymore which units survived and which not).

Elves spent almost all their resources with the exception of brave Army Standards who moved forward to block enemy advance. Would that be enough?
Varangur - Turn 6

Bloodsworn fail!

The King got rid of the Army Standard and finally sat on the loot token. But it was up to Bloodsworn to carry the day. They only had to kill the last enemy Army Standard and catch the Palace Guard fleeing with the token. Unfortunately, the brave Elven hero held his ground and Elves won!


Turn-by-turn animation summary

After-battle thoughts

Many thanks to Ken for a great game and congratulations on the well deserved victory! I hope you enjoyed playing with MSU Elves and it is good to know they won :D

I definitely liked the experiment with swapping armies as it gives a very unique insight and provides quite an intriguing twist to the highly competitive tournament such as Masters. 

In the end Ken won 11:9 because I got the maximum modifier for routing significantly more units than Ken. Due to asymmetric modifier to the scores what was a victory on scenario looked almost like a draw in the end.

There are a lot of things I would love to discuss in detail about this game but I will focus only one a few that I think may have had the biggest impact.

First, the deployment. I think I made a mistake with the Fallen as I left them in the open and at the same time did not really protect their flanks so they could advance aggressively. If were to to do it again, I would place them in between both units of infantry so they could use their pathfinder rule and go through the middle forest, at the same time benefiting from the cover.

I would probably position Devourers and the King on the left flank and advance more aggressively since they can all take frontal charges. With the support of each other they could actually be able to counter attack too.

Last but not least I think the cavern dweller would do well on the right flank alone. The reason being that by completely abandoning the token there I freed the enemy units to move unopposed. If I had cavern dweller there I would have at least tied them up for some time or force the decision to let it be and chase the unit with the token there.

As to the crucial moments during the battle, I think I should have moved cavern dweller towards the center turn earlier. And possibly prevent Chariots from joining the charge against Bloodsworn. I can't remember how many points of damage Chariots did but cavern dweller would have been closer to the fight.

I also did not position the Devourer in the middle well so that when the Palace Guard regiment back pedaled with the token, it could not see them at all. It was in a good position for a flank attack and I missed that opportunity by not angling it properly.

But the most crucial mistake was in the 5th turn. If I am correct, I could have still pivoted through the blocking Army Standard with the horde of Bloodsworn and charge Palace Guard regiment anyway. It is hard to tell now by looking at the pictures if they could fit between the Army Standard and Chariots after the pivot. But assuming the 90 degree pivot would clear them out of the individual, I should have been able to charge against Palace Guard! What a missed opportunity! 

Ah well, I am afraid that is also a part of the game and at this level of competition, such mistakes do cost a player his game! 

Thanks for reading!

P.S. Here is the sequence of diagrams where I wanted to illustrate how I imagine attacking PG in turn 5 would have been possible.  As I mentioned in the comment below the post, I wonder if such maneuver is possible so that I can apply this idea in the future.

It is based on "Interpretation when pivoting" from page 55 of the rulebook:

Interpenetration When Pivoting
In reality, regimented units are more flexible in rearranging their ranks and files than our miniatures, so when a unit is pivoting around its centre it can pivot through both friends and enemy units, and all types of terrain, including blocking terrain and the edge of the table. They must of course still end their pivot (and their entire move) clear of blocking terrain (and completely on the table!), not in base contact with friendly units, and 1" away from enemy units.


  1. Hi Swordmaster!

    I think this was a well played game which is exactly what I’d expect from a masters tournament! Honestly, after seeing the scenario, token placement, and deployment, I thought you had an uphill battle for sure.

    Loot forces a spread out formation to an extent, and I don’t honestly know how I would have deployed in your shoes. One of the reasons I like having more drops is the ability to spread out and threaten the entire board which your army does well. Maybe shifting farther left and playing refused flank and only going for the two left tokens and see if an opportunity presents itself for the third token. You did this to an extent but he was still able to get on your left flank.

    I’m unsure if you could have charged the palace guard based on the pictures, as you said. That definitely would have been a game changer. Just based off what I can see, I’d almost say it wouldn’t have been possible but without a top-down picture there is no way to know.

    I really do think this game came down to deployment and scenario. Do you think a more spread deployment with fallen in cover would have been better? On one hand, it increases your threat projection to all tokens, but your army is good at exploiting gaps in a spread out formation as you know. I would love for you to get a rematch with this scenario but you both use your regular list. That would be a great learning experience, getting to see two different approaches and minimizing the variables. Or maybe Ken could comment and explain how he would have deployed and attacked the scenario. I know I would have a hard time as a player using a small elite force like his in a loot scenario against a list that has the speed and drops that your list does. Hopefully he can share his thoughts!

    Thanks for the report!

    1. Hi Dan!

      Thanks for the comments! Always great to have a discussion after a game.

      When I play Loot with my own army I often find it difficult to protect the tokens. I may be able to get to them first but not necessarily to get away with them fast.

      I would not spread the formation much more but perhaps send the cavern dweller to the right flank to slow down the units there. And at the same time use terrain on the left to advance more aggressively. I know that my army does not like one-on-one combats so that would force it.

      I will add a diagram to the report I prepared to illustrate the concept of how I would be able to pivot and charge. Of course, it is not possible to know for sure now if that maneuver was achievable in the game. However, I am interested in assessing if that is an option in general.

      I will see if Ken would be able to add some comments from his point of view on how he would have played the scenario.


  2. It appears in your Picture 2 of the detailed action in turn 5 that the Bloodsworn have pivoted more than 90 degrees in order to line up on the PG, but that might just be my interpretation of the picture.

    1. Sorry, looking again I realise that I am mistaken.

    2. Hi Jon!

      No worries! I am really glad you were analyzing the diagrams. It is always good to have it checked and even if I want to make sure the pictures are correct I occasionally may get the things wrong.