Hey all and welcome back to our biweekly Kings of War coverage! These days it seems like almost everyone on the Goonhammer staff are gearing up for tournaments of one type or another. Not contented to let the 40k players have all the fun, we’re getting ready for some tournaments of our own, and preparing to test our mettle at Kings of War. On the underside of the world (Melbourne, Australia), we have a small, but healthy competitive scene for Kings of War. Both of us have been attending some smaller, 20-man, one-day tournaments throughout the year as we bounced between lockdowns. Yet now we have truly gotten to grips with our new armies, we thirst for greater competition! Enter ConVic.
ConVic is a large two-day event with a twist: Day 1 consists of 4 games of 1,995 points (50 min rounds), and Day 2 consists of 3 games of 2,300 points (60 min rounds). While players must field the same faction for both days, the lists can be entirely different. This means players can mess around with army styles between days, or just hone in on a good tactic. The usual prizes are awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishes, as well as best-in-faction prizes for Good, Neutral and Evil players.
The small tournaments we have been attending up until now have been very welcoming to beginners; not only regarding rules knowledge, but also regarding the painted state of armies. The key focus of these events was to get people playing irrespective of their models, and it worked! Many new players joined up to take part in these events without worrying about the state of painting. ConVic, however, has a modicum of prestige, and so to rise to the challenge we (Cytoplasm and Urr112) have both aimed to have our 1,995 and 2,300 points lists fully painted and multi-based. The original date of ConVic in June was postponed to August due to lockdown measures in Melbourne, and this allowed us the time to expand the range of units we could field as we suddenly had two more months of painting time. Unfortunately this also had the knock on effect that I (Urr) could no longer attend. And so with heavy heart Cytoplasm will be forced to take on the challenge alone. Let’s follow along with his list and its development.
Cytoplasm: The Forces of the Abyss had attracted me right from the start of my time with Kings of War. I had collected Warriors of Chaos in Warhammer Fantasy, but I also liked the classic devil look that was present among many of the models of the Forces of the Abyss. My hope was to combine some of the brutal look of the Warriors of Chaos range with the almost cartoonish look of the Abyssals. This combination reminded me a lot of the art style of the demons in Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft, so I lent heavily into this look and named my list ‘The Burning Legion’. As you’ll see in the pictures, I went for blue/purple skin tones like the Eredar (pre-corruption Draenei), and any flames were green like the flames of the Fel. This theme made the whole army, that was a mix of Games Workshop, Mantic, and other random minis, come together under a cohesive theme.
My early army lists consisted of a core of multiple regiments of Abyssal Guard (my old 5th edition Chaos Warriors) and Flamebearers (Mantic). To add some punch I had a regiment of Abyssal Horsemen (Mantic), a horde of Molochs (Dragon Ogres) and the great demon daddy himself, an Archfiend of the Abyss (Rakdos from the Magic the Gathering models). A classic mixed arms force if ever there was one!
Over the next few months, my army lists would always consist of these units, with mostly the various supporting characters being swapped around. My 2300 and 1995 point lists both ended up consisting of similar units, this is partly due to my limited amount of painted models, but also I did not want to drastically change play styles from one day to another.
The Burning Legion of Pannithor
The army came together as an amalgamation of the units with which I was most familiar (described above) as well as a few extras that addressed the perceived gaps in my own forces. For the sake of brevity, we will only show the 2300 point list in this article. The 1995 point army is largely similar in composition, albeit stripped back.
Without further ado, the Burning Legion of Pannithor!
Urr112: Thanks to the ingeniousness of Tabletop Simulator, we were able to get a lot of practice games against a variety of different factions and army styles that we don’t actually own (Rob: If you’re interested in learning more about how to play Kings of War on Tabletop Simulator, Mantic have published a guide to playing on TTS on their website here). I put my on best list-crafting hat and got to work. We ran practice games against a variety of different armies and army styles, and here are the takeaway lessons and how we ended up with the above list after our games.
Order of the Green Lady – High Defence Grind with Knights:
This game showed a real lack of crushing strength in the army and the importance of positioning said crushing strength units. One flank had it all, the Fiend (Non-flying Archfiend in this list), the Abyssal Horsemen, a Chroneas and the Molochs, ready to push through whatever showed its face. Unfortunately, the other flank had a unit of defence 6 Earth Elementals carrying most of the objectives, and there were Foot Knights and a Dragon in between.
Some poor positioning led to the Abyssal Horsemen being charged by Knights and taken off without doing much, opening a flank on most of the middle. The Fiend then couldn’t move out to block that flank without Nimble or Fly, and also couldn’t move to the other side of the table with opening himself up to a flank from a Pegasus Knight Exemplar Redeemer.
Those Earth Elementals just spent the game slowly shuffling across the board, occasionally taking damage from Flamebearers, but having it healed by a Unicorn.
Talking after the game, the Flamebearers needed to just run up and get in the way of those Earth Elementals, a lot of their support was grinding up the middle and might not have made it in time to clear the Flamebearers and still leave time for the Earth Elementals to cross the board with the objectives.
One star of this game for the Abyssals was the humble Hellequin Blood-masque. The Beast of Nature (Dragon) got a bit too aggressive with its early positioning and got charged by the Hellequin. It had to spend the next 3 turns killing it before it could fly off. Note: Taking a wound in melee, disorders units, causing them to lose some special rules, including fly and nimble. The Hellequin might not be taking skulls, but he can certainly ruin plans.
Undead – Mixed Arms with Surge:
The big takeaway here is that Vampires of all types are absolutely kickass.
Again, in this list the big Abyssals were the Chroneas and a regular Fiend, and they just couldn’t keep up with a Vampire Lord on Undead Dragon. They spent too much time trying to deal with Zombie Trolls in a forest and some wraiths. The Chroneas just couldn’t reliably hit, with its small number of attacks and poor melee skill, which is a shame, as it’s such a cool model. Hopefully there’ll be some buffs for it soon, but for now it doesn’t make the cut.
These big models also were repeatedly getting targeted by Balefire Catapults, and there was nothing in the Abyssal list to counter them. The Abyssal Horsemen potentially could have, but they started next to a Flamebearer unit, and that was going to be a big mistake. The Flamebearers got charged and killed by a unit of Werewolves, who reformed to be in the flank of the Horsemen, and out of LOS. The Horsemen tried valiantly to escape, but nimble on the Werewolves meant they just couldn’t make it, and the Horsemen were again killed without contributing much.
This match saw a unit of Succubi debut, holding up the Vampire Lord on Undead Dragon, but they quickly got flanked by the Soulreaver Cavalry, and taken off without a fight. The Ghouls made their first showing here too, and did quite well, killing off zombies and holding the centre of the board.
After this game is where we really see the final list take shape. The Archfiend replaces the Fiend and Chroneas for speed, maneuverability, and hitting power. The Seductress is in as a wizard- and warmachine-hunter, Ghouls make the cut while the Succubi don’t.
Varangur – Mixed Arms:
Right off the bat, the Tortured Souls proved their worth. Fearless was a big benefit for the Tortured Souls here, they managed to take a charge from a horde of Frostfang Cavalry, survive unwavered, and spent the next three turns wavering them and then killing them off. This held the entire flank for the game, stopping the Varangur rolling up the flank into the middle.
Some changes to deployment were also tested here. Instead of putting the Abyssal Horsemen on the flank, they started in the second row behind the Abyssal Ghouls, keeping them safe from any other cavalry and most shooting/magic. Then the Ghouls got a charge off, got out of the way and the Horsemen thundered forward and crushed a horde of Snow Trolls off the table.
With the Seductress spending her game preparing to crush any wizard she could see, the Varangur magi spent their game out of position, minimizing their ability to support key units. The Snow Trolls might have lived against the Horsemen, but the inspiring wizard nearby had to run away from the Seductress, which left the Trolls alone to fail and die. So even without getting into combat until the final turn of the game, she earned her points back.
Ogres – Elite Mixed Arms:
The Abyssal list has really settled into place by now. In this game, everything (mostly) worked as intended, with the Flamebearers dishing out the pain on any low defence Ogre unit they could see. The Seductress didn’t have a real role here, with the Ogres having no warmachines and only one wizard who camped in the middle of the army, so it just flew about adding an extra wound or two to a combat each turn.
This game really reinforced the usefulness of Inspiring, especially for the Ogre side. There were a couple of times a spiked nerve roll was negated thanks to good positioning of heroes. In contrast, the Abyssals lacked Inspiring across a few key units and it showed.
The Archfiend was far off busy killing stuff away from the battleline, and the Warlock was part of a firing battery with the Flamebearers, which, while it was doing a fair amount of damage, was not actually supporting the army like it was supposed to. It also meant Bane Chant was not used all game, so not only were the points for that wasted, it would also have been very helpful in the middle of the battle to help crack the tough Ogre defence.
Nightstalkers – A Whole Variety of Lists
We’ve played a heap more games of Abyssals vs Nightstalkers, as they’re our main factions (for now). Most of these were played throughout this year and taught many of the same lessons we’ve mentioned above. There is one important thing to highlight though; Flamebearers, a big part of the Abyssals list, are really bad against Nightstalkers. Having a -1 to hit on the entire Nightstalker army (thanks to Stealthy) drops the efficiency of Flamebearers a lot, especially if there’s cover gets in the way, too.
We spent a lot of time debating if the Flamebearers were actually any good or not. Turns out they are when they are not playing their direct counter! This really shows the importance of diversifying who and what you playtest against! Try new things out and see, what works against one friend might not work against everyone else.
Urr112: From the perspective of someone playing against this list, it’s got a lot of good stuff. Regeneration on almost everything means chip damage often won’t be enough to take even low nerve units off, unless a lot of luck is involved.
- There’s a strong firebase in the Flamebearers, they put out a solid number of piercing shots and can do so on the move, they’re cheap enough that you don’t care if you have to leave them on an objective or use them to block a charge.
- The Abyssal Guard and Abyssal Ghouls make a set of solid anvils, capable of dealing with different types of hammers; high volume, low crushing and vice versa. Abyssal Horsemen are the fast hammers, trying to get flanks, while the Molochs just walk forward and smash anyone who gets in their way.
- The Tortured Souls are an interesting unit, having some fly in an army is always good. It helps to line up those sneaky flanks charges, and can threaten other fliers. It’s not a huge number of attacks though, and hitting on 4’s can be swingy. They definitely wants to be flanking, rather than hitting head on, though being fearless will keep it acting properly until it dies.
- The heroes are all good support pieces. The Seductress makes a good wizard or warmachine hunter, the Hellequin Blood-masque is great for grounding a dragon or the like that tries to get too aggressive to early, and the Warlock exists to give Bane Chant to whomever needs it, and throw some cheeky fire bolts on occasion.
- And lastly, the big boy himself, the Archfiend of the Abyss. A great unit once you know how to use him properly. He will die if he gets thrown into the front of an army, but because he has nimble and fly, he can be a huge pain just teasing the opponent, lobbing fireballs until an opportunity presents itself for a big flank charge.
Overall, I like how this list has developed, it has all the tools it should need, so now it’s all in Cytoplasm’s hands to bring home the gold. No pressure.
Cytoplasm: Yes, no pressure, indeed!
I feel like Rocky Balboa after the training montage, except instead of bulging biceps I have gained the ability to calculate damage outcomes. Same-same, right?
Thanks to Urr, I got to play against a wide range of armies in a wide range of scenarios, all of which forced me to learn how to apply each unit to differing situations. Urr has already mentioned a bunch, but here are my major ‘revelations’:
- The Abyssal Ghouls were a much needed addition to my forces. For a long while, the Abyssal Guard were my only anvil units, but their small footprint meant that their presence on the battlefield could be ignored. A massive horde of cheap subhumans such as the Abyssal Ghouls added some much needed board control, and they stick around for a surprisingly long amount of time thanks to their moderate defense and high nerve.
- Abyssal Horsemen are a solid unit, but throwing them on the flanks, unsupported, rarely worked well for me. They need characters nearby to inspire them, or apply Bane Chant when they get stuck in a grind, and that isn’t happening if they are galavanting across a distant meadow. It was only when I started deploying them in the middle of my forces that they started to reliably earn their keep in this prestigious list.
- The Hellequin Blood-knight initially seems pretty lacklustre; I mean only three attacks? Who’s he going to kill!? However, I have learnt that his power comes from his exceptional ability to ruin your opponent’s plans. If the enemy has a nasty flying monster or unit, the Hellequin’s job is to slap them back to earth.
It would have been nice to get more face-to-face games in, but alas COVID-19 excels at ruining all plans. Yet it is thanks to Matt and his tireless ability to come up with all manner of lists that I am as prepared as I am. It’s time for the Burning Legion to march on ConVic 2021.
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