G’day Goonhammer readers! Welcome back all to another Road to ConVic article, where we, Urr and Cytoplasm, document for your general consumption our stumbling progression towards the upcoming two-day Kings of War tournament known as ConVic in Victoria, Australia.
Both of us had decided to take new armies to this event; Urr with his Aztec-themed Varangur and Cytoplasm with his haphazard collection of Goblins. Already we have covered the initial conception of our army lists, and the progress made in completing the armies. Today we’re looking at the playtesting of our armies, and how this might change the final army lists we take to ConVic.
The First Game: Goblins vs Varangur
We started off with a quick couple of games against each other, just to test out whether the lists actually functioned and if any drastic changes were required. The first test was against each other, and then, later, with some simple lists we each helmed from other factions. The goal of these games was to optimise the number of chaff units and heroes needed, solidify item and spell allocation, and just getting into the rhythm of the armies (remembering that Varangur are not Nightstalkers and actually need Inspiring).
Urr’s Varangur (1995 points)
Draugr (Regiment) x 2 Night Raiders (Regiment) x 2 Huscarls (Regiment) x 2 The Fallen (Horde) x 2 - Blessing of the Gods & Brew of Strength Snow Foxes* (Regiment) Magus - Knowledgeable, Celestial Restoration (3) Lord - Devoted Icon (Aura [Stealthy]) Lord on Frostfang
Cytoplasm’s Goblins (1995 points)
Trolls (Horde) x 3 Rabble (Horde) x 2 Big Rocks Thrower x 2 Gorp’s Explodo’matic Bangstiks King on Fleabag - Blade of Slashing Fleabag Riders (Regiment) x 2 Wiz - Boots of Levitation, Host Shadowbeast King - Groany Snark King - Jareth’s Pendant (Aura [Headstrong]), Sacred Horn Magwa & Jo’os Grupp Longnail
I had a few big takeaways from these games that influenced the list going forward.
First off, I need to practise actually having Inspiring. Making sure that it is in the right spot is a big deal, and a skill I haven’t needed to develop with the Nightstalkers. Second, I think there’s too much chaff in the list. The Night Raiders ended up being used as chaffy pieces, and expensive ones at that, so something needs to change there. Lastly, I do not like Celestial Restoration. While the upside is high, I managed to put back about 4 damage across the two games. Additionally, Celestial Restoration goes against the Magus and their Transfusion ability, which lets them move damage from Bloodbound units to Draugr within 6”. Since you can’t cast Celestial Restoration from within 12” (Indirect), one can never use both, so that spell is going to change.
Overall, the core of Huscarls and Fallen is solid, both of them put in the work expected of them, I just need to sort out the right support pieces to deliver them properly.
Oh, and Groany Snark and Host Shadowbeast is a disgusting combination and he wrecked me. You just can’t plan for that blast effect, nor hide a unit from such a mobile individual. He flew in and took out one of the Fallen Hordes by himself, which I think is unreasonable for such a cheap package.
As just alluded to, Groany Snark was exceptional in this game. So much so that the testing of the rest of the list was hampered. How can I test the combat capability of Trolls when Groany Snark comes in and does 15 damage to a horde of The Fallen by himself? The combat also had a horde of Trolls and Magwa & Jo’os in there, but at that point it was pretty clear what the outcome was.
The Host Shadowbeast was also incredibly useful throughout the game. As can be seen, my list is absolutely brimming with combat heroes, with Grupp Longnail being a perfect secondary target for Host Shadowbeast. Sure, he only has 4 attacks and Crushing Strength 1, but he has Melee 3+ which makes him quite a consistent hitter.
The other component of the list I was eager to try was the Goblin formation, the Explodo’matic Bangstiks. They managed to get into the other horde of Fallen and performed reasonably well, but I certainly didn’t use them to their full effect. Having them opposite Fallen who can easily hide in terrain meant that I always felt I shouldn’t charge. Either I need to have them somewhere else, or think about some terrain mitigation on them.
I think I’ll need some more games with Groany swinging the other way to see how the list actually functions.
Tournament Debut for Urr’s Varangur
The start of June had a local one-day tournament running and Urr decided to truly test the Varangur. Cytoplasm had gone on a holiday to Darwin, and enjoyed it very much so, thank you for asking.
Varangur (2300 points)
Night Raiders (Regiment) x 2 Snow Foxes (Regiment) x 2 Huscarls (Regiment) x 2 - Fire Oil The Fallen (Horde) x 2 - Blessing of the Gods & Brew of Strength Lord - Banner of Abbetshire, Snow Fox, Brand of the Warrior (Brutal), Devoted Icon  (Aura [Stealthy]) Lord - Wings of Honeymaze, Snow Fox, Brand of the Warrior (Brutal) Magus - Ej Periscope, Drain Life (6) Magus - Conjurer's Staff, Drain Life (6) Frost Giant
So this was a 2300 point event, hence the list is a bit bigger. Taking onboard the above, I’ve dropped the Draugr and Celestial Restoration, and added a Frost Giant, more Snow Foxes, another Magus, and played around with some items.
Varangur vs Salamanders
First up I played Rex and his Salamanders. This was a pretty classic Salamanders list; two hordes of Tyrants, Rakawas the Pale Rider, a horde of Ceremonial Guard, a Scorchwing regiment, followed by some chaff and supporting characters. The interesting part was it also had two regiments of Corsairs in it, which are units I’ve not seen before.
This was, for the most part, a pretty close game. Misplacement of my flying Lord in line with my Fallen meant that the Scorchwings could block up all three units, and let the Tyrants advance into threat range safely. That mistake had me scrambling on that flank for most of the game, eventually losing everything over there but a Magus. The other flank went much better, with the Huscarls crushing whatever they touched, and the Drain Life support coming in handy to keep the Huscarls rolling. The Frost Giant was useful in absorbing shots, and I have now realised that he doesn’t actually benefit from the Stealthy aura of the Lord, so watch your keywords, kids. The Night Raiders didn’t do much, and I’m not sure I get how to use them properly, so they may not be long for this list.
Most importantly, I really have to remember to play the scenario (Invade, in this case). I had some opportunities to sneak a Snow Fox over the line, and if it had survived, it would have tied the game, but I was too focused on killing, and lost the game 4 unit strength to 3.
Varangur vs Undead
Next up was Andrew’s Undead, which was a host of duplicates of classic Undead units.
Two Wraith and Revenant Cavalry troops, two Wight hordes, two Zombie regiments, a horde of Revenants with the Hammer of Measured Force, a Vampire with Wings, a Necromancer and Mhorgoth. There might have been a Skeleton Horde in there too, to make up the points.
Now, I don’t want to take anything away from Andrew, he was a great player and good sport, but I don’t think I’ve ever played a game where the dice were so against me. If I ever needed any luck, I couldn’t get it. I had the Revenant Horde on 18+ wounds for 4 turns, and couldn’t take them off, including the dreaded double ones (twice!!!). The Frost Giant couldn’t kill the Wights despite charging in the flank, and the Night Raiders couldn’t put a single wound on an injured Revenant Cavalry troop, so they were re-charged with full Thunderous Charge to take them off.
With the complaining done, what can I actually learn from a game like that?
- Play the scenario. I was still in it right up until the end. I held one objective and Andrew two, so on the last turn I split my spells and charges to try to kill the Revenant Horde and the second Horde of Wights. It didn’t work, but if it had it would have been a draw. I probably would still have lost on attrition, but it would have been close.
- Varangur Lords are very good. The flying Lord in particular kept Mhorgoth running into less optimal positions, and bounced around taking off damaged units.
- I don’t really have good anvils. The Night Raiders are too expensive and fragile to put up anywhere and expect them to take a charge. They really are not suited to what I use them for, so they’re on the chopping block.
Otherwise, everything else seems to fit together pretty well, so on to the next game.
Varangur vs Riftforged Orcs
Next up was Josh with his Riftforged Orcs. I haven’t played any Riftforged army before and this looked like a very scary list. He had the Iron Boots formation (two regiments of Riftforged Legionaries and one regiment of Reborn Legionaries), Two Hordes of Helstrikers, Two Legions of Fight Wagons, Two Stormbringers on Manticores, a Stormcaller and the Stormforged Shrine.
Right off the bat, this list is a lot faster than mine, so I wanted to try and break his fast flank with mine (led by the Fallen and the winged Lord), while holding the middle. Turns out that was not a plan that would work.
After spending the first turn moving up, I sent the winged Lord into a unit of Helstrikers to hold them down. He failed to get a wound, so the Helstrikers flew over his head and flanked a Fallen unit. Luckily Josh did roll double ones in the ensuing combat, allowing the Fallen to exact lethal revenge on the Helstrikers (with some extra help from the Lord and some Night Raiders). Despite this turnaround, the Fallen were taken off next turn by some Lightning Bolts from the Storm[insert word here].
Over the next turns, the Riftforged Orcs wore down my strong flank, killing off the giant and injuring the other Fallen, while his Chariots went to get objectives and prepared to hammer me in the center as the Stormcaller and Shrine moved up. I was a little too aggressive with the Snow Foxes, getting them killed early, so I had nothing to distract the Chariots.
One Stormbringer on Manticore also dropped a nice bomb on me where he damaged a Magus, got the 11 needed to take him off (my Inspiring was not nearby), overran, killed the next Magus, overran again into the back of a Night Raider unit and killed them as well.
And that was sort of the story of that game. I was getting too aggressive, going for the kill and forgetting about the objectives, and getting punished for it. My chaff couldn’t hold him off long enough, and my hammers were not fast enough, so I played the whole game wrong. I should have focused on grabbing what objectives I could and doing as little fighting as possible, so I lost this last game, too.
Overall, I finished 0-3, and in last place, which I wasn’t really happy about. However, losing badly can be the best way to knock a lesson into your head, so I’ll be taking these lessons onboard and changing up the list as needed.
For the most part the list performed like I expected it to. Fallen, Huscarls and the Flying Lord were great, along with the Magus’. The Snow Foxes did their job by taking hits and dying. The Frost Giant was a bit variable in damage output, but was nice as a tank with some ability to threaten.
So, all-in-all, the only thing letting me down (outside my own ability) were the Night Raiders. I never felt they did anything useful, and they ended up just being used as chaff, and they’re too expensive for that, as well as sucking at it (not Nimble for starters).
There’s a few options for their replacement that I’ll be able to get done for ConVic: some combination of more Snow Foxes, Draugr, Kruufnir, Reavers and/or Clansmen.
I’m mainly looking for something that can take hits effectively, either surviving or being cheap, and bring some speed to the list. I’ve probably got enough hammers, so I’m not keen on the Reavers, though they are nice and fast for an infantry unit. Similarly, three Snow Foxes is the maximum I can have in this list, so can’t have many more of those.
This really leaves Draugr, Kruufnir or Clansmen as the main choices. With the points available it will be either:
- An extra Snow Fox unit with a horde of Defense 5 Clansmen.
- Or extra Snow Foxes with a regiment of Draugr and Kruufnir.
I’m leaning towards the second option. The extra units provide greater versatility, and an extra source of Inspiring, too. However, I’ll need to play around and see how it feels on the tabletop.
Goblin Department of Research and Development
While Urr was hard at work getting lessons pummeled into him, I was swimming laps in a hotel pool in the tropical city of Darwin. While I didn’t come up with any innovations for my list, I did develop a healthy tan. However, when I landed back in miserably cold Melbourne, I set my sights on pushing this list to the limits.
Goblins vs Dwarfs
A battle as old as fantasy wargaming itself; the sneaky Goblins versus the stout Dwarfs (helmed by Yan). Like many Dwarf armies since Clash of Kings 2022 came out, this was an infantry-centric army of two hordes of Shieldbreakers, two regiments of Ironclad and two troops of Ironclad (with a regiment and troop of Brock Riders to add some speed). A pair of Flame Belchers offered short-range support. The Dwarf Lord on Large Beast, Berserker Lord on Brock and a Stone Priest were the only sources of Inspiring, so I felt I might get the jump on them.
The only thing that scared me was that nearly every unit had Throwing Mastiffs. These aren’t particularly terrifying on paper; a one-use ranged attack of 8 Piercing (1) attacks that always hit on 4+. However, it was the first time I had faced such a canine onslaught that it got into my head and I was obsessed with trying to not get them thrown at my Goblin heroes and cavalry. This made me hesitate for one turn longer than I should have, when really I should have been pushing hard and fast given my opponent was Dwarfs.
The scenario in this match was Plunder, which sees a range of Loot tokens placed along the midline. I should have pushed up as fast as I could with the trolls and cavalry, then made my defensive retreat as best I could. Instead, I hesitated and ended up fighting right on top of the Loot tokens, and in the end the Dwarfs managed to grab them.
One unit I particularly under-utilized were the Rabble hordes. I had assigned them to pounce on tokens far away, but in the end they failed to hold them thanks to the Flame Belcher cannons. This was part of the “trying to get all the tokens” approach rather than just focusing on a few. The Rabble would have been better as the main Loot token carriers, so they definitely should stick with the main army.
As far as the list went, nothing was particularly identifiable as needing a major change. But I knew something was a bit off and it was only in my next game against an even harder opponent that it came to light.
Goblins vs Empire of Dust
Something about frying pan and fires comes to mind when going from Dwarfs to Empire of Dust. Michael summoned a list of skeletons that was equal parts cheese and indulgence. The cheese was the trio: Idol of Shobik, the Monolith and the Soul Snare. All integral pieces to the typical Empire of Dust army. The indulgences were the two hordes of Skeletons with Crushing Strength (1) and Defense 3 (most would lean towards the more expensive Revenants). The regiment of Revenant Cavalry, horde of Enslaved Guardians, Rahs the Undying and a pair of Balefire Catapults were all solid choices, though.
The scenario was again Plunder, and this time I put the Goblin Rabble behind my Trolls, thinking the Trolls can pick up the Loot and pass it on to the Rabble. I did not, however, move up quite fast enough. I was wary of the Revenant Cavalry, which was getting pummelled by my own Rock Throwers. I was hoping to remove the Revenant Cavalry before engaging with the rest of the army, but this delay put me on the back foot for those objectives.
My Fleabag Riders got lucky in Turn 2 and together charged one of the hordes of Skeletons, however they failed to break it on the charge (despite doing 17 damage) and would end up staying there until Shobik killed them. The Skeletons, as it turned out, failed to kill anything all game.
The Trolls did admirably in their various combats, one horde removing Revenant Cavalry, another grinding it out with Rahs for 4 turns until they died. The last Troll horde managed to get a Loot token, and in the end became my only remaining Troll horde.
The game ended with Shobik holding two of the valuable two-point Loot tokens, and my Trolls had to kill it and hold those tokens, but they just couldn’t (as maths says they shouldn’t). Defense 6 is rough, but ultimately I lacked anything to truly take on such high Defense.
This game showed me three things:
- Once the Fleabag Riders (Bangstiks) die, I lose a lot of scoring capacity. I need more scoring units.
- Defense 6 is a major problem. If such a unit has Loot tokens or holds an objective, I need to kill it.
- The Goblin Rabble behind did not help. They should be up front taking the initial charges and making me not so scared to just move up.
This lead me to change a few things in my list, the first and most drastic of which is to remove one of the Individual heroes and replace it with something with Unit Strength. Of all of the heroes, Magwa and Jo’os are the most expensive. Definitely a good hero unit, but I need something that can move around and score, such as a Troll Bruiser. Sure, it doesn’t have all the fun rules of Magwa and Jo’os. But it can score, it can hit pretty hard, and if relegated to just holding tokens, then that’s perfectly fine at 110 points.
With the freed up points I managed to improve some units including the Fleabag riders by giving them terrain mitigation items like Sir Jesse’s Boots of Striding. They are a great unit, but when this Melee 4+ unit is hindered, mawpups cry.
More testing is required, but I feel these changes are for the better.
The Hobby Continues…
The armies are coming together in the competitive sense, however will we get through the models themselves? Find out in our next update!
Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.