G’day Goonhammer readers! In mid-January, Clash of Kings Asia was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This was the first major “Clash of Kings style” event to be held in the region, attracting players from across Malaysia and Singapore. Bringing together 22 players for 4 rounds over a single day, the tournament was a huge success, especially for Keith Maki Lee, who went undefeated and emerged 1st place with Undead. We were lucky enough to put some questions to Keith, and he shares how he got into Kings of War, and what it was like at the first Clash of Kings Asia.
Cytoplasm: How did you get into miniature wargaming?
Keith: I started out with Warhammer 40,000 back in 2001 at the age of 13, when a few mates and I needed something to do during the school holidays. It was only then that I discovered that I had actually been exposed to Warhammer miniatures as far back as 1994 by an uncle, and had even been gifted a few classic beakie marines, orks, and skeleton warriors by a neighbour around 1996. I suppose you could say it was fate that led me to the hobby, and it has been a fixture in my life ever since.
Cytoplasm: How did you first start Kings of War?
Keith: I had been vaguely aware of Kings of War when it launched, and had some interactions with the game by the tail end of 1st edition, but it was really in 2nd edition, after Warhammer Fantasy Battles imploded in 2015, that got me seriously into Kings of War. A bunch of us refugees fleeing the destruction of WHFB basically acted as the catalyst for the birth of the local Kings of War community.
Cytoplasm: What armies do you currently collect?
Keith: I have fully painted armies for Undead and Empire of Dust, which are pretty massive and still growing. Yes, I am a big fan of anything undead. My next project is Goblins, for which I have only finished a couple of units.
Cytoplasm: What’s more important for you in Kings of War, the hobby, or the gaming?
Keith: Honestly, it has always been a balance between the two for me. I love the hobby aspect of Kings of War, especially multibasing, since every unit can essentially be a diorama. Equally, I love the clean rules of the game, which don’t require you to read through an FAQ document as thick as a book.
Cytoplasm: What is the Kings of War community like in Asia? Is it only found in Malaysia and Singapore?
Keith: The community is definitely alive and well in both Singapore and Malaysia, though we still have a way to go before we can say we have hit critical mass for our player base to remain truly self-sustaining. It is no easy task to match up to the juggernaut that is Games Workshop, so our efforts at outreach continue apace.
There is a small Kings of War community in Indonesia as well, which we are contact with via our regional group chat. As for other parts of Asia, I believe there are a couple of players scattered about. I do hope that new communities in Asia spring up over time, as it can only be a good thing for the future of the game.
Cytoplasm: Is this the first event that has brought together all the gaming groups?
Keith: We have done quite well keeping the community in Singapore active with tournaments and other events over the years, but as the Malaysian Kings of War community is relatively newer, we have not had a cross-border gathering of this scale until now. I wouldn’t say that we’ve brought together “all” the gaming groups yet, as there were no attendees from Indonesia this time round, but I’m sure we will get there over time.
Cytoplasm: How was Clash of Kings Asia from your perspective?
Keith: It was an amazing experience! I have always been an advocate for attending regional/international wargaming events. I played in the European Team Championship (ETC) for Warhammer Fantasy back in 2013, and I believe there is a certain Olympic spirit that you feel at such events. The mutual respect between fellow wargamers, and the simple joy of interacting with people from all over the world who share a common hobby with yourself, is an experience I would recommend for anybody able to go to one of such events.
Cytoplasm: Is there anything you would change about the event? Different format, special rules, or restrictions?
Keith: This was a four round event compressed into a single day. As such, the pointage was set at 2000 instead of the 2300 that we normally play more often. I would have preferred if the event had been five rounds spread over two days, and at 2300 points. Four rounds in a single day can be quite taxing, even for experienced tournament-goers. I believe it was logistical issues regarding the venue that forced the event to be a single day one, but hopefully the next Clash of Kings Asia can be a full weekend event.
About Keith’s army
2000 points of Undead 1 x Skeleton Spearmen (regiment) 1 x Wraiths (troop) 2 x Wraiths (regiment) 3 x Zombie Trolls (horde) 2 x Balefire Catapult 1 x Goreblight 1 x Necromancer – Aura (Vicious – Zombies), Surge (6), Weakness (2) 1 x Necromancer – Undead Horse, Inspiring Talisman, Surge (6), Drain Life (4) 1 x Undead Army Standard Bearer – Tome of Darkness 1 x Mhorgoth the Faceless
Cytoplasm: How did you decide on Undead for Clash of Kings Asia?
Keith: Undead is the army I am most familiar with and have clocked the most games with. I did toy with the idea of bringing Empire of Dust since they got so much love from the Clash of Kings 2024 update, but after a couple of trial games, I realised I would not be able to effectively play a new army within the 1 hour chess clock timing, so back to good old Undead it was.
Cytoplasm: Where are the Wights? Most Undead generals would swear that a winning list have at least two hordes of Wights!
Keith: Wights are an amazing unit, but their high points cost means they are not great as trading pieces. Especially in 2000 point games where resource management is key, I could not justify taking Wights over Zombie Trolls, which can take the exact same amount of punishment for 70 points less.
Also, I needed unlocks, since my Wraiths were irregular, so Wights did not fit the bill.
Cytoplasm: How much testing was involved in getting to this final iteration of the list? Did you keep using the same list throughout the year, or has it always been changing with new ideas?
Keith: I only had a couple of games with the list before heading off to the event. I actually adapted the list from the 2300 point list that I have been using extensively for a couple of years, and I must say it was a struggle to fit everything I needed in 2000 points, but I managed to do it…barely. So you could say that the list concept has been pretty well tested and honed over time, and I have made only small tweaks to it.
Cytoplasm: Zombie Trolls are an atypical hammer unit for Undead. How did they work in the list?
Keith: My list is a grind list that takes a mathematical approach to routing enemy units. The Zombie Trolls act as the second line behind my Wraiths. Shooting from my Balefire Catapults is meant to push the enemy forward into a speedy engagement with my Wraiths, and I will try to make the charge options as poor as possible with terrain and positioning. If the opponent charges the Wraiths and fails to rout them, the Zombie Trolls can perform a combined charge with the Wraiths (or another unit of Zombie Trolls).
With the Goreblight dishing out damage via Cloak of Death, the Dread aura from Mhorgoth, and Drain Life, I often start a combat with the enemy unit already down by several damage (not to mention whatever damage the Balefire Catapults have done as well), allowing the otherwise unremarkable damage output from Zombie Trolls and Wraiths to rout enemy units. Drain Life also means that my already tanky units stick around a lot longer when combined with Lifeleech.
I would say that Zombie Trolls are one of the best units in the Undead roster, as they can both take and dish out just enough damage to do their job well, and are cheap as chips so losing a unit isn’t the end of the world. They especially excel in a combined arms approach list such as mine.
Cytoplasm: Did the Clash of Kings 2024 update get certain units in the list that weren’t considered before? Is it really Mhorgoth the “Mandatory” now?
Keith: Yes, the discount to Skeleton Spearmen made the regiment option a fair bit more appealing. I would usually have just taken a Zombie regiment, but the extra Unit Strength and survivability of the Skeleton Spearmen actually proved to be worth its weight in gold during the event, for just 30 points more than Zombies. With the proliferation of shooting in the game these days, Zombie units tend to evaporate pretty fast even from incidental shooting, so I would say that Skeleton Spearmen are a decent consideration.
As for Mhorgoth, he has always been in my list for his Dread aura and Drain Life, so the discount and second spell cast he received from Clash of Kings 2024 were just gravy to me. I do think we will see him pop up in more lists than previously, but I’d say he’s far from being “mandatory”, it really depends on the rest of the list and whether he supports the concept the player is going for.
Cytoplasm: Were three Inspiring sources enough to support the army?
Keith: Yes, I usually aim for three inspiring sources in a 2000-2300 point list. Two of the sources in my list are Very Inspiring, so I did not really face any issues with Inspiring coverage. Not to mention, Mhorgoth could always zip over 14” to provide Inspiring, and still cast his spells.
Cytoplasm: Most opponents are worried about Surge, did you get off any spectacular Surges in your games?
Keith: Nothing super dramatic during this event. There were no really long range Surge charges, because I never had cause to attempt any, and well, those tend to end in disaster anyway. I did however, get several Surge charges into flanks, and a rear charge one time too, but I think that’s sort of par the course for a Surge list, at some point in a game you will eventually get an opportunity to Surge into a flank.
Cytoplasm: In retrospect, is there anything in your army that you would change if you could?
Keith: Not at all. Everything in the list functioned as it should have.
Cytoplasm: What was the hardest army/opponent you played at Clash of Kings Asia and why?
Keith: I faced my fellow countryman James in the final round, and his masterful control of his Empire of Dust list really had me on the ropes. He had more healing than me, so he could win a war of attrition. I was forced to gamble and commit my front line to an all-out protracted engagement across his battle line, forcing his titans/monsters to engage my rear line on a 1-to-1 basis to stop me from pushing in to support my first wave. My gamble paid off despite rolling below average for most of my attacks, as a series of lucky nerve rolls saw most of his army routed in a single turn.
Cytoplasm: At what point did you realize you might be winning Clash of Kings Asia?
Keith: In the third round, I faced one of our top players, Page Neo, who is a known figure in the international Kings of War scene. Everybody had been dreading the crazy shooting potential of his Goblin list, and he had always narrowly beaten me to the top spot of several past tournaments on the very last dice roll of those games, so I was under no illusion that it was going to be a really tough match. It was when I managed to pull off a win against Page, that I felt I might have a chance at winning Clash of Kings Asia.
Cytoplasm: What is your advice to players starting an Undead army?
Keith: Go with what you find cool first, rather than just using net lists. Experiment with the varied playstyles that the Undead army is capable of until you find what suits you best, even if it is unconventional.
Cytoplasm: Will you go to Clash of Kings Asia again next year?
Keith: Definitely, if I am able to.
Cytoplasm: What’s next hobby-wise? More Undead or something new?
Keith: I am constantly adding new units to my Undead and Empire of Dust armies, but Goblins are my next major project, and they are going to be gloriously garish in yellow robes!
Cytoplasm: Are there any people, clubs or shops you would like to give a shout-out to?
Keith: HammerHouse is the friendly local game store which serves as the base for our Kings of War community in Singapore. If you’re in town, do check them out.
I would also like to thank all the hard work that all the organisers of Clash of Kings Asia put into making the event a success. They are the pillars of the community and help the game to grow.
Besides being the first Clash of Kings tournament to be held in Asia, it looks to have been a fantastic event! If you’re in the Asia-Pacific region, even if you’re new to Kings of War, we highly recommend attending a Clash of Kings tournament. Next year the organisers hope to run across two days, with a higher points limit and more rounds, so start preparing now!
Many thanks for to Keith Maki Lee for taking the time to answer our questions. The insight into how he runs his Undead list already has Cytoplasm’s gears turning (as anyone got a lot of Wraiths for sale?).
If you want more coverage of Clash of Kings Asia, be sure to check out the Newbie Dice Youtube channel, where they review all the army lists, and have battle reports covering each round (Round 3 was against Keith!).
If you have any questions or comments feel free to drop us a note in the Comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you want regular updates in your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter.