Sunday, 19 January 2020

Game 131 - Forces of the Abyss - 2020/01/19


Australian Clash of Kings 2020 is approaching fast so I was looking for the opportunities to do some practice games. Fortunately for me, there are some great players out there who are always happy to have a game on Universal Battle 2

We quickly locked dates in our calendars and the first opponent I was about to play was a well known and rightfully feared Australian Master - Jeff.

If I can put up a fight against him, it should be a good indicator I can do so against many other players! So I naturally was very happy to have another opportunity to play against him. It also happened to be the last day before the army lists were due. Hence, it was probably one of the last tests for both of us before we submitted our lists to Matt, our fantastic Tournament Organiser!

Jeff decided to take the evil army to the tournament and chose Forces of the Abyss with some Abyssal Dwarfs allies. Here are the details:

Forces of the Abyss - Army List

Abyssal Ghoul Horde (AG1), Infantry - 150
Moloch Horde (M1), Large Cavalry, Blade of Slashing - 235
Moloch Horde (M2), Large Cavalry, Mace of Crushing - 235
Abyssal Ghoul Regiment (AG2), Infantry - 90
Abyssal Ghoul Regiment (AB3), Infantry - 90

Manifestation of Ba'el (MoB), Hero (Monster) - 265
Abyssal Fiend (AF), Titan - 175
Abyssal Warlock (AW1), Hero (Large Infantry) - 90
Abyssal Warlock (AW1), Hero (Large Infantry) - 90
Abyssal Warlock (AW1), Hero (Large Infantry) - 90

Abyssal Dwarfs - Allies

Lesser Obsidian Golem Horde (OG1), Monstrous Infantry - 215
Lesser Obsidian Golem Horde (OG1), Monstrous Infantry - 215

Hexcaster (H), Hero (Heavy Infantry), Weakness (3) - 70

I believe that Jeff's philosophy and style of playing Kings of War did not change much in the transition from 2nd to 3rd edition. However, they way he adapted his force to the new set of rules is always worth checking in more details. Because I have not played against Forces of the Abyss for some time, I am going to discuss the units Jeff chose for his army.

Abyssal Ghouls - very cheap infantry and very important element of the army. Not only they unlock additional elements and allowed Jeff to include all heroes he needed but they are resilient enough to slow down many enemies. Alternatively, they can work perfectly as objectives holders while heavy hitters do their job.

Having said that, I consider these units as potential targets even for frontal attacks as my units have a chance to either break through during the charge or be able to win the war of attrition. As long as Ghouls do not receive any help of course.

Molochs - the heavy hitters of the army, very reliable thanks to Regeneration that helps recover from any damage and Fury that keeps them in a fight. As they hit on 3+ now I wondered how efficient they can be attacking through terrain. Crushing Strength 2 means that they can do proper damage to many enemies anyway. Especially my units may find it difficult to hold the line against them.

Molochs are Speed 6 so I may have a chance to intercept them with fast units of my own. The challenge, of course, would be to catch them in the open and/or with some flanking unit as well. 

Obsidian Golems - a very interesting choice for sure. They are very reliable with Defence 6+ and being fearless. You can always count on them to keep moving forward and they are difficult to defeat in a frontal attack. 

However, in this army they are allies and are not supported by inspiring presence from the heroes so there may be a chance here to eliminate this threat.

Abyssal Fiend - Jeff is often including Monsters and/or Titans in his armies. They are very good because they combine good defence, good nerve and narrow frontage so that they cannot be easily charged by multiple opponents. 

Abyssal Fiend is a very versatile Titan that can fight well on its own, supports nearby troops with Inspiring Presence, and has some shooting abilities as well. In most cases I really need a flank attack in support of a frontal charge to eliminate the Fiend.

Warlocks - they are one of the most favourite units because of their versatile uses. They provide much needed ranged attacks that come in handy especially after some melee rounds. It gives Jeff more choices as to priority of the attacks and sometimes he can ignore the damaged enemy with his main units and finish them off with Warlocks. They are also relatively resilient thanks to regeneration, they inspire nearby troops and if needed, may add some attacks in melee, especially from flank or rear. It is also important that they are scoring units. 

With defence 4+ and 11/13 nerve they can be wavered or routed, however, either by fast hero or ranged attacks. I often look for such opportunities because eliminating shooting and Inspiring Presence may be crucial in the battle. 

Manifestation of Ba'el - this is one of living legends in the Forces of the Abyss army list. This hero is another very versatile choice, able to cast lightning bolts and fight in melee as well. I guess it is Jeff's choice to deal with some fliers too. It has special ability to make nearby enemy units Disordered once in a game as well.

I am sure it will be a challenge to deal with this unit and my aim will be to limit its impact rather than eliminating it. Unless I have a good opportunity to do so. 

Hexmaster - this is quite an interesting choice. Jeff replaced Hex spell with Weakness, which he considers more useful against his army with a few Defence 4+ units. What is more, it can also do a bit of a damage with the spell too, which is a nice bonus.

This hero may be captured by my units, also because he does not have Inspire special rule. However, I am sure it is not going to be easy as such individuals are often hard to catch while hiding between other units.

In general, this army is a very flexible and versatile force as it has good staying power, fights well in melee and has good ranged attacks support. It is not the fastest army but it can easily cover entire width of the battle field so it is not going to be easy to outmanoeuvre it anyway. It has 13 elements, 12 of them scoring for a total unit strength of 24.

Here is my army list for the reference:

Outcasts - Army List

Stormwind Cavalry Regiment (S), Cavalry - 215
Palace Guard Regiment (PG1), Infantry - 
Palace Guard Regiment (PG2), Infantry - 160
Kindred Archer Regiment (A), Infantry - 

Drakon Rider Regiment* (DR1), Large Cavalry - 
Drakon Rider Regiment* (DR2), Large Cavalry - 165
Forest Shambler Regiment* (FS1), Large Infantry - 120

Forest Shambler Regiment* (FS2), Large Infantry - 120

Silverbreeze Cavalry Troop* (SB1), Cavalry - 130
Silverbreeze Cavalry Troop* (SB2), Cavalry - 130

Lord on Drakon (DL1), Hero (Large Cavalry) - 170
Lord on Drakon (DL2), Hero (Large Cavalry) - 170

Elven Archmage (M), Hero (Infantry), Inspiring Talisman, Lightning Bolt (5) - 
Army Standard Bearer (AS), Hero (Infantry) - 60

I have 14 elements total, 12 scoring and combined unit strength of 23. Which is very similar to what Jeff has. However, it seems to me that Jeff's army has an advantage in resilience and is far better in war of attrition. While mine may be a bit faster and hopefully a bit more manoeuvrable.


Terrain Details.

Deployment and Scenario

Deployment of the Armies and Loot tokens.

In this game we got Plunder as a scenario. Jeff chose the token second from the left to be worthy 2 points while I chose the one on the right. My initial idea was to use Shamblers to scout towards these two tokens and focus on defending them,

However, during the deployment I realised that I simply do not have enough elements to create two battle groups to do so against Jeff's army. So I decided to focus on centre left where I had more units then Jeff. I deployed Drakons and Drakon Lord as a diversion on the right but my intention was to re-deploy them after a turn or two. 

I still wanted to use Shamblers to scout forward and to block the access to the tokens while advancing with second line to collect the treasure. I wanted to use my shooting to eliminate Warlocks before the fight so that they would not shoot back and would not inspire nearby troops.

I needed to win on the centre left quick to be ready to stop the units approaching from the right and I hoped that the fact Jeff needed some time to collect the tokens there would help me to achieve that.

Jeff chose first turn in this game.

Deployment after Scout moves.

Abyss - Turn 1

Forces of the Abyss advance across entire battle field.

The hordes of Evil marched forward and while they were too far to attack in melee, the shooting has already started. Firebolts and lightnings were cast but for now Elven units held their ground.

Outcasts - Turn 1

Outcasts advance on centre-left.

Elven army also approached towards the enemy but mainly on the centre left of the battle field. The units on the right moved forward only a little, staying out of charge range of the enemies.

Meanwhile, Archers, Silverbreeze and Archmage focused their ranged attacks on exposed Warlock on the hill but managed to inflict only minor damage.

Abyss - Turn 2

First Casualties

Molochs took decided to charge Forest Shamblers in the centre and picked the first treasure while doing so. Despite the fact the attack was hindered and Shamblers were supported by nearby Army Standard, they were defeated. First blood for Abyssals.

Outcasts - Turn 2

Elves commit almost entire army to an attack.

Elves knew the time is not on their side so they committed almost entire army to an attack. Majority of those charges where to prevent, if possible, the enemies to either attack other Elven units or to allow some of them to pick up the treasure. Archmage and Silverbreeze unit managed to shoot down the Warlock in the process as well.

The main attack was executed by Storm Wind Cavalry and Drakon Riders. Unfortunately, despite some damage, they were not able to rout Ghouls and break through the enemy lines.

Abyss - Turn 3

Forces of the Abyss counter attack.

The gamble Elves took did not really pay off. Drakon Riders survived the counter charge and attack from the flank but where temporarily unable to fight. Same with Palace Guard fighting against Molochs and nearby Drakon Rider. 

What was the worst, however, is that Storm Wind cavalry was not able to avoid the flank attack by the Golems and was utterly destroyed.

Outcasts - Turn 3

Second wave.

The situation became difficult for Elves. The enemy forces on the right flank have just grabbed their treasures and started marching towards the centre. The loss of heavy cavalry was a problem too but Elves had to keep on fighting.

Drakon Lord on the left was unharmed and he could fly away to threaten the enemies from the rear. Palace Guard followed in his steps and routed small group of Ghouls. Forest Shamblers wounded Abyssal Fiend but it was not yet enough to rout the beast.

At the same time Drakon Riders attacked Molochs in the centre but the attack was blunted by the difficult terrain and Molochs survived.

Abyss - Turn 4

Forces of the Abyss press their advantage.

Evil Abyssals continued their rampage and did not let Elves to catch second breath. Fiend and Golems routed Archers with easy, avoiding Elven units located on the left.

The fight in the forest did not go well for Elves either as they lost Palace Guard and Drakon Riders got wavered in the counter charge. Nearby Drakon Lord was also captured. Things looked really grim for Elves.

Outcasts - Turn 4

A small success.

Elves attempted to regroup on the left while Drakon Lord charged the Hexcaster. He defeated his enemy but did not get enough momentum to smash into Abyssal Fiend. Even though the attack of Silverbreeze killed the titan, Drakon Lord was in a really bad spot now.

Abyss - Turn 5

Elves lose one of the treasures!

Elves had no luck again. Not only the enemy units kept regenerating the damage inflicted, but they lost Silverbreeze unit that was protecting one of the treasures!

Outcasts - Turn 5

Desperate fight

Elves continued desperate fight. There was still a glimmer of hope but the chance was really slim. For now, both Drakon Riders units attacked but unfortunately both failed to rout their enemies.

Abyss - Turn 6

Elven army is almost gone

As expected, badly damaged and surrounded Elven units were not able to hold for long. Three more regiments were destroyed and Elves lost their chance to at least deny the victory to the enemy.

Outcasts - Turn 6

Golems are defeated

Forest Shamblers and Palace Guard attacked the Golems that blocked their path towards the treasure. They defeated the constructs but it was too late to capture the token.

Abyss - Turn 7

Archmage was captured by enemy forces.

It was now clear that Forces of the Abyss would carry the day but they still tormented defeated Elves. The Archmage was captured while Palace Guard and Forest Shamblers could only watch. 

With path towards the treasure blocked, they prepared for the last attack.

Outcasts - Turn 7

Final charge

Forest Shamblers and Palace Guard attacked Manifestation of Ba'el but did not inflict enough damage to defeat that foe. Few survivors of the Elven army retreated quickly, the Forces of the Abyss were victorious.


Turn-by-turn animation summary


Congratulations to Jeff for a great victory and many thanks for a great game! Although it was a tough one and I lost badly, I always enjoy games against him. 

I must say his army is really tough and he uses it very well. It is very versatile, flexible, has a lot of different tools and he kept me on the ropes almost from the beginning. I was not able to find an opening and much needed flank attacks. Whoever is going to play against Jeff next weekend will have a really tough nut to crack!

It was a tough challenge for sure. I was not able to seize the initiative at all and I had to react to Jeff's manoeuvres, never a good sign. I was concerned that even with almost entire army against 2/3rd of Jeff's on centre left I was not able to use that to my advantage.

But let's start from the beginning. Tokens placement. I wonder if I should have chosen differently, for example, would it be beneficial to nominate token on the far left as 2 points one? But then, it is done before the deployment so I am sure Jeff would have addressed that issue.

At the beginning of the game Jeff mentioned that because of my Scout moves he elected to go first. While normally he would have chosen to go second. I wonder if I should have moved Shamblers differently. And if yes, how? I thought that if I didn't move them the way I did, Jeff could grab the tokens first. It would have been more difficult to wrestle them from him afterwards, I think.

I must admit I did not double checked or confirmed with Jeff if the Golems could see Storm Wind cavalry. I knew I can flank attack with Drakons and attack from the front with the knights. If I checked, perhaps I would have not charged the Ghouls. Although Drakons were weakened, Golems were not benefiting from inspiring presence. And I could use Archers to charge together as well, since they were benefiting from TC1 do to attack from the hill. 

I needed that breach in the enemy lines to have fighting chance in the battle. 

I also wonder if deploying Drakons and Lord on the right was a good idea. It is far more difficult to re-deploy Drakons now or to move them to a good, flanking position. Maybe I should have deployed them on the left side of the house too?

After turn 2 it was uphill battle. I needed a bit of luck here and there but I was always taking chances and the odds where not in my favour. I didn't anticipate the opening for Fiend to avoid my units and charge Archers, that also cost me some more time and I was too late to pick up the token. At least that would have made the margin of defeat smaller.

I do hope that you enjoyed reading the report as it was a great example of how Jeff is using his formidable force. My learning of 3rd edition and the army under the new rules set continues. 

Please, let me know if you have any comments, either about the armies or the battle report itself. I am always happy to consider any improvements so that battle reports are even more entertaining!

Thank you in advance!


  1. Thx a lot for the well narrated battle, always a pleaasure read it.

    1. Thanks a lot, Oscar! I am really happy to know you enjoyed it!