An interview with Timothée Aubriot; inaugural champion of the French Kings of War Masters

G’day Goonhammer readers! Kings of War events are varied and diverse. From two-day long grand tournaments to small narrative events, there are a plethora of opportunities to get some games in. A Kings of War Masters, however, is the pinnacle of competitive play – it typically requires qualification through event rankings, and thus far has only been held regularly in the US, UK and Australia. Announcing their Kings of War pedigree to the world, France has held their first Kings of War Masters. Rising victorious from the contest was Timothée Aubriot, with a respectable Forces of Nature army that had just the right number of Greater Air Elementals. Join us as we discover the French Kings of War scene and how Timothée did it.


Cytoplasm: How did you first get into miniature wargaming?

Timothée: I began Warhammer Fantasy Battle when I was 13 after having passed the summer holidays reading my older cousin’s White Dwarfs. My first army was High Elves.

Cytoplasm: How did you start your Kings of War journey?

Timothée: When Warhammer Battle 8th Edition collapsed, a friend of mine told me about a game with clean simple rules for which I could use my actual miniatures. I spent an evening reading Kings of War 2nd Edition rules (versus the 2 weeks or so to assimilate Warhammer rules) and made my first 1500 pts game the day after. We spent only 2 hours to set up the game, play and tidy up the miniatures after that. Compared to 3 and half to 4 hours needed for Warhammer, it was a blast! After that, I never looked back even if most of my friends swapped then to the 9th Age.

Timothée planning elaborate Surge shenanigans. Credit: Blaise Caperan.

Cytoplasm: What armies do you collect, and which is your favourite?

Timothée: So far, I have some Elves, Sylvan Kin, Dwarfs (the only almost 100% Mantic one) and Forces of Nature. I plan to make some Undead (closet full of Mortal Realms) and Varangur for next year.

There is no real favorite one, it depends on my game orientation at the time. However, I love Mantic Dwarves’ design.

Cytoplasm: Are you more of a gamer or a hobbyist?

Timothée: I am a hardcore gamer so always chose my army function based on what I feel is stronger at that time and fits with my playstyle. However, I spend lot of time painting because I love having beautiful miniatures. My curse is I change my list 10 times before I paint half of what I expected. My closets are then full of aborted projects.

Cytoplasm: What is the Kings of War community like in France? Can it be found in multiple cities?

Timothée: The Kings of War community is mostly active in the West and South of the country. However, there is a strong community in the top North. It is slowly growing everywhere through the years. There is about 10 two-days tournaments a year excluding Clash of Teams (4 people team tournament) and Masters.

Cytoplasm: Are French players very competitive? Is this reflected in the kinds of armies they take?

Timothée: Considering the forty-ish active players in tournaments, that half is very competitive. However, most players play the army they love and not the one they feel the best. It does not prevent them to play at high level: the top three players at the Masters this year finished 8th (me) and 14th (Arthur Vaisse) at Clash of Kings UK this year or 6th (Nicolas Felix) last year.

Cytoplasm: How well is Kings of War supported in France? Are the rules in French? I noticed many of the army lists are made in a different app, is this a French one?

Timothée: One of the problems in growing Kings of War in France is that French people are on average not good at English and the game is not supported in French yet. The company Victoria Games used to do so but they stopped. However, Legion Distribution is the official Mantic distributor since this year and the Clash of Kings 2024 book should be edited in French next January. We hope it will help to grow the community.

Kings of ALN is a collaborative app mainly used in France to build Kings of War lists.

Ratkin versus Air Elementals. Credit: Blaise Caperan.

Cytoplasm: Is there much French media content for Kings of War (e.g. podcasts, Youtube)? Do you listen to English Kings of War coverage?

Timothée: There is not much. There is one French-Spanish Youtube channel Un Paco en Flandes and used to be another one at the beginning of 3rd Edition Rotamagus Fig but there has been no content on the latter for two years. A friend of mine just launched a podcast called Radio Rat (I let you guess what army he loves to play). I’ve been invited on the second episode to talk about Masters France.

On my side, as I have no issues with English content (I’m an aeronautical engineer), I listen to Counter Charge and Direct Misfire podcast a lot (in my car when driving to or from work).

Cytoplasm: The true advantage of Europe, do many French players go to other countries for tournaments?

Timothée: Not that much I feel. Paco makes many tournaments in Spain but that is because he’s Spanish and I’ve been told some going to Germany or Switzerland as they are closed to the borders. On my side, even if Toulouse (the city I live) is 2:30 hours from Spain, I do not have a look at Spanish tournaments.

Cytoplasm: How does the Masters system work in France? How does one qualify? And how long has it been going for?

Timothée: This is the first year of French Masters for Kings of War. We decided to synchronize Masters year on Clash of Kings book publication so from December to November next year. We divided the country in seven areas bigger or smaller depending on its Kings of War activity. Each area or region has a qualifying two-days tournament during the year. Anyone can attend it. The first half ranked people at the end of each tournament earn points for the Masters, beginning with 1 points for the last of the first half and increasing by one point for each rank with bonus for the podium. The 17th best ranked people on Masters ranking at the end of the year are qualified to the Masters. The seven other spots are determined thanks to a “golden ticket” to the best ranked remaining person in each region. The ranking for passed year is available here.

Timothée’s 2300 points of Forces of Nature

1 x Hunters of the Wild (regiment)
2 x Forest Shamblers (regiment)
2 x Scorchwings (regiment)
1 x Greater Air Elemental
1 x Gladewalker Druid with Ring of Harmony, Crown of the Wizard King, Heal (4), Surge (8), Alchemist’s Curse (2)
1 x Tree Herder with Wine of Elvenkind
1 x Tree Herder upgraded to Wiltfather
--Nature’s Wrath Formation--
1 x Air Elementals (horde) with Brew of Strength
1 x Air Elementals (horde) with Hammer of Measured Force
1 x Greater Air Elemental

A quick picture of the Air Elementals. Hard to get when they move so fast. Credit: Blaise Caperan.

Cytoplasm: How did you decide on Forces of Nature for Masters?

Timothée: In Clash of Kings 2022 and 2023, I, like many people, felt that the Greater Air Elemental (GAE) was undercosted. I made then a list around that unit. After some tests, I found that the Nature’s Wrath formation was even more interesting and, at the beginning of 2023, I began to test some variations. I won the team tournament Clash of Teams undefeated in May, then brought the same list to the Clash of Kings UK in September with only one defeat against the winner of the tournament (Piotr Nowak) so I felt I was experienced enough to make a good performance at Masters with that army. I made some little tweaks between Clash of Kings UK and Masters France however.

Cytoplasm: How did you go about building this army? What units came first, and how did you fill in the rest?

Timothée: As explained before, the construction of that army has been a long journey. However, the structure is quite easy:

  1. The Nature’s Wrath formation + another GAE + Gladewalker Druid for surge shenanigans;
  2. The Verdant units (Forest Shamblers and Tree Herders) to be aggressive before start of the game thanks to the Scout move and force the opponent to charge you;
  3. The two Tree Herders to make two anchor points to allow Air Elementals to do their stuff;
  4. The two units of Scorchwings only to play scenario.

Cytoplasm: Greater Air Elementals have often been proclaimed the most powerful single unit in the last two years, yet your army is the first to win a Masters with them. Are they hard to use well?

Timothée: They are great but they are not easy to use because they are fragile and I got into the habit of being disappointed by their damage output. However, I feel that decreasing their attacks to 8 with no other change on them is the right move to make them perfectly costed. I expected the change for the number of attacks since CoK 2023 (last year), yet.

Cytoplasm: How did the Scorchwings as regiments perform? Did you wish they were hordes?

Timothée: They are key pieces of the list. I don’t need hordes because I don’t want to expose them. They rarely shoot or charge. The US2 SP10 fly nimble is incredible for scenario! My results with that list notably improved after the addition of these.

Cytoplasm: That Gladewalker Druid is very impressively equipped! How often did it surge a Greater Air Elemental? Did all the spells get regular use?

Timothée: To be honest, the Alchemist Curse on it is just here because I had 25pts left with no clue of what to do with it. I expected to do some damage late game with it but I did not used that spell for the whole tournament. It usually cast two spells each turn between 2nd and 5th one. I launch surge at least once per turn on average (not only on Air Elementals). The Crown of the Wizard King is mandatory to cover the battlefield.

Cytoplasm: Are the Hunters of the Wild just for scoring and unlocks? Or do they serve some greater purpose?

Timothée: The Hunters of the Wild are cheap unlock and they synergize well with the Wiltfather (Vicious with the Verdant keyword). I usually deploy them in the center of the board flanked by the two Tree Herders. I tested some Centaurs Bray Striders but the Hunters of the Wild contribute more to the anchor points I’m looking for the Air Elementals.

Cytoplasm: The Wiltfather is a very popular upgrade for the Tree Herder. Would you take two if it were (somehow) possible, or is the Radiance of Life on the Tree Herder nice to have?

Timothée: One is great but two not needed I feel as you can’t stack the Cloaks of Death. The fact the other one is Nimble with Height 5 is huge! At Clash of Kings UK, I was playing only one and it was the nimble one, not the Wiltfather.

The aggressive Verdant screen for the violent gusts that are the Greater Air Elementals. Credit: Blaise Caperan.

Cytoplasm: Which army was the hardest at Masters and why? For readers, Timothée faced Ogres, Basileans, Ratkin, Varangur, Halflings, and Goblins – all formidable lists.

Timothée: Halfings with no doubt! This army is not straightforward to play but extremely powerful. I do not understand the boost given to them in Clash of Kings 2024 (Ra 4+ for Poachers, Strider aura, new formation, etc.). I played three Halflings armies at Clash of Kings UK and it was difficult each time even against less skilled players. The fact that they are unpredictable on many aspects (Aeronauts, Gastromancy, Brutal on Grenadiers, etc.) make you unable to secure the game until the last dice roll.

Full ranged attacks Goblins could have been tough as well, but I had the right scenario against them (Plunder).

Cytoplasm: When did you realize you might win the French Masters?

Timothée: I had continuous pressure during the tournament as I was one of the favorites. Even at the start of the last round, I knew a bad game could drop me to the third place. However, after few turns on last game, I knew I could not lose it, so I realized I was winning the Masters.

Cytoplasm: Would you change anything in your list now it is all over?

Timothée: I would drop the Alchemist Curse. Which is exactly the points drop needed to comply with Clash of Kings 2024 update. I did not overthink about it as I plan to change my army for next year.

The Forces of Nature Formation is formidable when used well, but fragile. Credit: Blaise Caperan.

Cytoplasm: Any advice to people wanting to start a Forces of Nature army?

Timothée: There is many efficient options in this list: play what you want and it will work. But, if you have no inspiration, take a Gladewalker Druid and two GAE! 😊

Cytoplasm: Will you go to Masters again next year if given the chance? Will you take Forces of Nature or something completely new?

Timothée: As winner of 2023 Masters, I am automatically qualified for 2024 one so I expect to come and defend my title. I will probably play something completely different.

Cytoplasm: Are there any people, clubs or shops you want mention?

Timothée: I want to thank the La Mandragore association for having welcomed us so greatly during the Masters’ weekend.

I also want to mention the Ork’N Azes, my local club close to Toulouse. We include in our members four of the best French players at Kings of War (and current Blood Bowl World’s champion). If you’re reading this article and want to play Kings of War in the Toulouse area, do not hesitate to contact us. We are tough on table but welcoming and we can lend you any army.

A global game

France is the first non-English speaking countries to have a Kings of War Masters, and it was through Timothée the rest of the world received some insight into the French scene. Thanks again to Timothée for taking the time to answer all our questions, and providing the pictures accompanying the article.

Many miniature wargames see play in multiple countries, but few can boast a competitive scene such as Kings of War. Not only is the scene growing in France, but other countries, too, are holding major events. The first South-east Asian Clash of Kings will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Usually when there is one major tournament, it is readily followed up by more in the area. It’s definitely a good time to be into Kings of War.

If this article has inspired you to start Kings of War, make sure to check out our Getting Started Guide for 2023.

Check out the army lists at the French Masters here, and the results here.

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