After a year of very little gaming, the local group organised a Corona-friendly tournament with mandated masks. I jumped on the opportunity for some socialising.
I have been trying to make a very infantry heavy Norscan army work, both in 2nd and 3rd edition, but the play-style of big blocks of slow infantry really doesn’t fit my style. I felt like a punching-bag against fast punchy armies, just hoping they would not manage to break the line with their meat-grinder units.
I also believe that while infantry blocks are generally playable, the average infantry block in KoW is a bit underpowered compared to fast, nimble and flying units.
I´ve tested reavers and half-elf berserkers, and the wild charge / extra speed combined with good hitting power makes those units much more usable than the more basic infantry units. However, with 1995pts, I was not able to make a Varangur or Northern Alliance list I was happy with based on the units I have available. The reavers and half-elves do not come in hordes, and I had two of those which I wanted to use.
So instead I turned to Kingdoms of Men, who do have the same type of unit in a horde, fanatics!
2x Fanatic horde
3x Fanatic regiment
1x Fanatic troop
1x Knight regiment, fire-oil
1x Mounted sergeant troop
2x General on winged beast
2x Mounted hero, iron will
1x Army standard, lute of darkness
1x Wizard, lightning bolt, bane chant, inspiring item
The list is built to make the infantry work. Heroes can stop shooting early, or can stop multi-charges against my units. Double inspiring bane-chant gives the line tons of hitting power, and frees up the two generals to go harry flanks and rear lines. The knights are generally placed in the middle of the line to project threat that pushes the enemy back so the fanatics can have time to run into their faces.
Game 1 – Undead in Raze
2x Wights horde
2x Skeleton archer regiment
2x Mummy regiment
2x Zombie regiment
1x Cursed Pharaoh
Compared to how my usual cavalry heavy armies feel when facing undead, this felt much more comfortable. I generally outrange his units, I outnumber him, and if I can stop surge shenanigans, I should outfight him. The scenario is also not the best for undead, making him spread out, which shambling lists don´t love. When I won first turn too, it would be very hard for him to stop me from burning the tokens.
I charged forwards, threatening deep into the table, robbing the undead of manoverability, and pressuring the tokens. He gave up on protecting the tokens, as it would mean giving me too many juicy charges, and just plinked on some damage from shooting and magic.
I took the charges presented to me, knocking out some zombies, and critically, just managing to take out a wight horde. From there, the battle devolved into a grind where the undead wasted their high CS against my def 3, while my bane-chanted fanatics ground down the undead units, tearing through everything but the individuals. I lost a fanatic troop to some zombies unnecessarily, and with some long surges, those zombies were able to grab a token in the last turn, leaving it with a 4-1 win to me.
Game 2 – Twilight Kin in Control
2x Abyssal horsemen regiment, macwars potion, sharpness
1x Impalers regiment
2x Gargoyle troops
2x Kindred archers regiment
1x Assassin, inspiring talisman
1x Summoner crone, bane chant
1x Tree herder
1x Treekin horde
Next match was against Thomas, who is probably the best player in Norway. He always have tough and interesting lists. I have practically never played against TK, so I did´nt really know what to expect, but it looked like a worse match-up for my fanatics than the undead list. He has two good knight units, gargoyles for blocking, archers for harassing, and Mikayel for killing my flyers. The tree herder and treekin can win a flank on their own with their high def + iron resolve.
I won first turn again and surged forwards. The terrain was not so great, reducing my speed. I think in hindsight, I should have gone heavier in on the left flank instead of the middle, as it had less punishing terrain. I still managed to pressure him fairly well on the left and middle, but he used his gargoyles and characters to clog me up in return, and backed away the knights. The tree-flank charged forwards.
I now had an issue where I needed my right flank flyer in the middle, which left me without inspiring on the right flank. Again, in hindsight, the right flank should have had a bane chanter in their midst, as they were up against the damned trees. As I had to charge the treekin through terrain, and without banechant, I missed breaking them by one point after putting 12 wounds on them. That was just the first of many break-tests that was missed by one. That miss meant that the tree herder got a flank on the horde, and with the treekin, they managed to kill the horde in one go, which eventually lost me the right flank.
On the left, Thomas delayed me for way to long, again with some missed by one test, and my flyer stuck for 3-4 rounds against the assassin. After two double-1´s on my mounted sergeants, I won the flank, but it cost me pretty much all my units.
In the middle, I lost the chaff-wars in the end, and the two units of knights tore through my fanatic horde, and even though I pulled down one of them, I lost the center. This left the TK in control of most of the field for a 1-5 loss to me.
Game 3 – Empire of Dust in Pillage
1x Skeleton spearmen horde
2x Enslaved guardian horde, blessing of the gods, scrying gem
1x Revenant cavalry troop
1x Mummy regiment
1x Bone dragon
1x Bone giant
1x Idol of Shobik
Another match-up which felt fairly good. He has a slow army that has paid for some CS it doesn’t need. The scenario was also good for me, and I made sure to spread the tokens out as best I could. As expected, he castled in one corner, and I had a secure 1-0 lead in objectives from turn 0.
I won first round and got into very threatening positions against his castling army.
With no shooting and little chaff, he couldn’t do much to lessen the turn 2 blow.
The spearmen, mummies and revenant cav bit the dust to the massive amount of charges. My flyers got in position behind enemy lines, and heroes blocked things.
The battle turned into a total slugfest, the monolith doing hard work to protect units actually doing damage. I lost several units in the grind, but in the end, only Sebekh-Rai was left, running around the tower to hide from a chasing hero.
It ended with a 5-0 win for me, leaving me with 3rd place after tiebreaker. A good performance by the infantry heavy list.
A review of the list:
Fanatics – A
Fearless, good US, wild charge D3, 3+ to hit, CS1 and extra attacks let these units pull their weight. All three versions worked well. I think these are probably the best value melee infantry available for Kingdoms of Men.
Knights – B+
Overall good value, even when missing the usual pathfinder / strider item. It was nice to have them as a throw-away unit instead of the main damage dealer, as that allowed me to play them much more aggressively than usual, using their threat range to push or deny movements.
Mounted sergeants – B+
I debated going with a siege artillery instead of these guys, but I am very happy to have gone for them. They are cheap enough to die if that gives an advantage, but if they stay alive, they are even more valuable. Speed 9 nimble is able to get into flanks and rears quickly, giving the list a third “semi-flyer” unit to threaten long nimble charges. They can also grab objectives very well in the late game or work anti-flyer tasks if needed.
Generals – A
With 7 attacks, these guys are amazing value. Cheap enough to bring as many as you are allowed, they still hit hard enough to be really scary in flanks and rears.
Heroes – A
Invaluable chaff. I didn´t play any seriously shooty opponents, so that use was limited, but their headlong 16″ move in round 1 was an issue for all three opponents, messing up plans or threatening to totally halt units for a measly 70pts. I actually never got to use iron will on them, but in a few other games, it has been absolutely vital.
Army standard / wizard – A
Freeing up the generals from inspiring duty was absolutely crucial, and the same with bane chant. The list would not work without two sources of both.