G’Day Goonhammer readers! Tournaments are back in Australia and the pre-eminent event when it comes to Kings of War is Clash of Kings Australia. This tournament is held in the little-known capital of the Antipodes, Canberra; a location that sits somewhere between the major cities of Melbourne and Sydney, meaning folks from across the eastern coast of Australia can get there with relative ease (i.e. drivable).
Considering the impact of pandemic restrictions on the 2021 tournament scene, we were incredibly keen to be a part of the biggest Kings of War event in Australia. What’s a 7 hour drive compared to the fun of cramming 6 games into 2 days? Worth it!
The Clash of Kings Australia 2022 will be held on the 22nd and 23rd of January in the Canberra Technology Park. There will be 3 games per day, for a total of 6 games, at 2000 points. Each round is set to 60 minutes per player, which at 2000 points is more than enough (plenty of time for pictures).
There are the typical awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place based on tournament and paint scores, as well as Best Painted Army (both non-Mantic and Mantic) and Most Sporting Player. The more comical Unluckiest General and Wooden Spoon awards are also included, with yet more prizes hinted at (yay, free stuff!).
For those not familiar with Kings of War events, armies can be made up of any variety of models to represent the units so long as they are recognisable and work. At tournaments in the United Kingdom and United States, ‘Mantic armies’ are encouraged, which refers to armies that are predominantly or entirely composed of miniatures from Mantic Games. In Australia, where things are a little harder to get, awards are given to both non-Mantic and Mantic armies. This is a great approach, it rewards those who love whatever models they like and put the effort in to make them amazing, but it also incentivizes players to patronise the creator of this great game that is Kings of War.
Here’s my Clash of Kings list. It’s been through a lot of development since the Speedstalkers list I was going to bring to ConVic. I’ve done a lot of playing around with various lists and then the release of Clash of Kings buffed up a lot of stuff, so some things needed to change.
The basic structure of the list is the same; I love Reapers, so two regiments form the main damage dealing core. This time they both have terrain mitigation items, as there were a couple of test games where they just flubbed fights they normally wouldn’t have because of terrain penalties. I have experimented with taking three regiments and the Reaper hero, but the it doesn’t quite do enough and the units are so expensive that three really cuts down the support you can bring (at least the support I have models for).
I’ve then got two hordes of Scarecrows as the anvils/chaff/objective holders. I’d prefer to have them in regiments, as the big bases of the hordes are a little unwieldy, but this list needs the unlocks, so hordes it is. Hordes do mean they take a bit more effort to kill, and with some support (that we’ll get to), they can be unexpectedly killy on the countercharge.
Next up, Phantoms. They are still very good. I’ve been running them as regiments with the new Helm of the Drunken Ram for some Thunderous Charge. That item has no downsides for Phantoms, but I don’t have the points here, so their role is chaff and objective grabbers now, rather than harassment.
With that, we’re up to Monsters, and the reason we need the unlocks. Two Mindscreeches start us off. They provide the ranged power in the list as well as a lot of utility. They can clear chaff with their Lightning Bolt, score objectives with their Fly and Nimble, and do shenanigans with Wind Blast. I almost always have to end up using them to block charges because of my bad positioning, but they are ok for that, too.
I’ve found that just a couple of points of damage on the Reapers before they get into combat tend to waver them, so I’ve put in a Planar Apparition for it’s great Heal spell. Any way to keep those reapers alive and hitting for as many turns as possible is good for me. The Apparition is also a surprisingly good roadblock, and actually has the tools to do that effectively. Ensnare and Regeneration play havoc with anything that hits on a four or worse. The extra Dread is always handy, too.
Soul Flayers received a nice boost in Clash of Kings (the book) with a few extra attacks. That was all they needed to become really good. If I had the models ready to go I’d finagle another regiment in. I do find they end up wavered a lot, but I think that’s just because I use them too aggressively and need to be a little more patient. They don’t blast through units if they hit them in the front, but they will if they can get a flank! Also, Wind Blast is a nice little addition for playing the objective or movement shenanigans.
The Void Lurker is a nice flying hammer unit. Great for getting behind lines and disrupting the opponents plans. I’ve had multiple games where his presence has caused my opponents to spend a lot of their clock positioning around what he could do, only for him to jet off to do the same thing on the other side of the map. This puts people in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. He does only have Defence 4, and that can be a big deal, so he does need support if going into the front of any substantial units. Regardless, he is a lot of fun to use.
The Horror is a pure support piece for the infantry, buffing them with Vicious and Bane Chant. I’ve messed around with Horrors in various setups, with different spells and items and more or less of them, but this seems to be the way to go. I do keep tossing up whether or not I should replace the Conjurer’s Staff with the Sacred Horn for a bigger Vicious aura, but Bane Chant seems more important.
Finally, we have Esenyshra, the Wailing Shadow, the unique Banshee hero. Now, I had to get over my personal dislike of taking named characters for her, because she is just too good. In the old list, she was a Shade with the Blade of the Beast Slayer, but for 5 points more, you always have your Crushing Strength 3, Mighty, Strider, Fearless and her Enthral spell and Beguilement ability that goes with that. She is the piece I need to practice with the most, especially to make full use of her Enthral and Dread. There have been a few games where better positioning and taking full advantage of Enthral instead of firing her off like a missile could have turned the tide.
Urr’s cutting room floor
Like I said above, there’s been a lot of experimentation, especially with the new Clash things. All in all, the update was very nice to Nightstalkers, but a lot of the updated units fit into a more grindy style list. I love the updates to Blood Worms, that was definitely needed, but they just don’t fit in this list.
The same goes for the Portal of Despair, Shadowhulk and Shadow Hounds. The Portal with Radiance seems like a great unit for a grind list, along with the Shadowhulk, but I’ve gone for more movement/alpha strike. The hounds are a tricky one. I’ve tried the formation, but they just didn’t seem to do enough damage. That is probably on me though, and now I’ve got them built and painted, there’ll be pleanty more testing, just not before this event.
The new Horror Riftweavers are another one I played around with a lot. Just by the nature of my opponents armies (and sometimes positioning), the Spellward aura didn’t come into play at all, but it’s still a nastly little fighter with Dread, so it still put in the work. I need another unlock slot for one, and I just can’t squeeze it in.
Fiend and Butchers have been options, but I hate that they hit on fours, I can never make that work. I do know every other Nightstalker player loves Butchers, they’re just not for me.
Phantoms got the drop because of points, and I don’t have models for much else, so it’s a no-go for things like Needle-fangs and Doppelgangers, though I would like to give them a try in the future.
Cytoplasm’s Forces of the Abyss
The Forces of the Abyss army I am taking to Clash of Kings Australia 2022 is quite different from what I have published here previously. Gone are the Flamebearers and Abyssal Guard regiments, instead the army centers around the new formation introduced in Clash of Kings 2022 (the book); Kah’za’ah’s Torment. This changes the list from a shooting-heavy mixed arms army to something that grinds, with a whole bunch of hammers to make sure the grinding doesn’t go for too long.
We introduced the formation Kah’za’ah’s Torment here. This formation isn’t exactly overpowered, but it does lean into the grinding aspect of the Abyssals, something they couldn’t do so well before. The combination of Regeneration and Life Leech means that these guys should stick around for a little longer than they otherwise would. Hence, it forms the dense core of my otherwise punchy list, and does so for less than 500 points! This leaves me plenty of room for all the fun stuff.
The Gargoyles are not ‘the fun stuff’ but they are integral to getting the most out of the various hammer units. I’m still figuring out how to best use chaff like Gargoyles, but practice makes perfect. If I don’t know how to use them at the start of this tournament, I surely will by the end.
The deadliness of the Tortured Souls doubled in Clash of Kings 2022 with the addition of Thunderous Charge (2). For a while I had tried to use them as a regiment, but with only 9 attacks at Melee 4+, they were quite inconsistent with their damage output. As a horde, they are like flying Abyssal Horsemen that are just a little weaker, but their higher nerve and Life Leech means they are still relatively tough. The addition of Sir Jesse’s Boots of Striding ensures they will get at least one charge at maximum power.
The Abyssal Horsemen are the other largeish hammer unit of the army, and stock standard are quite a formidable unit that can hit hard and take a hit. Brew of Sharpness enhances them considerably, negating the need for terrain mitigation items, but also improving their baseline combat potential vastly. Sir Jesse’s Boots used to go on these, but after trying out the Brew, I haven’t looked back. Often the opponent is keeping a keen eye on where these demonic riders go.
The Chroneas is the first in a long list of single model hammers, but unlike all the others, this glorified volcanic rock monster has improved immeasurably with Clash of Kings 2022. The Chroneas now reliably breaks smaller units and puts a massive dent in the bigger ones. At the same time, the new pseudo-Life Leech ability that heals nearby units is fantastic for feeding the grind. I did try adding Drain Life (8) in earlier lists, but this guy is so often in combat that I rarely had a chance to use it. Much better taken vanilla and putting it right in the middle of the army, with the Cloak of Death reaching as many units in the thick of the fighting.
The only titan in the list, the Abyssal Fiend is a budget Archfiend that loses out on flying and some attacks. However, at an ice cold 175 points, this guy has Inspiring, more punch than the average regiment, and has Fireball (10). The lack of Nimble means getting him where I want needs a little more forethought, but in a 2000 points game he is my perfect Fiend.
Something not seen in my army lists for months is the Abyssal Champion, a more generic Abyssal hero. Taken standard, he doesn’t do much, but upgraded with Wings and given the Gnome-Glass Shield makes him a speedy roadblocker that can stop most units for at least a turn. The Mighty special rule prevents units from simply walking through him, which is the primary deciding factor when I was choosing between the Abyssal Champion and the cheaper Seductress.
In contrast, the Abyssal Warlock is not only the mainstay of my own lists, but of all Abyssal lists since the Abyss first opened. This Warlock is the perfect combination of traits for a caster; tall enough to cast over infantry, has inbuilt damage output, is Inspiring, and can choose from a vast range of spells. That said, I nearly always bring one with Bane Chant, which in this case will most likely be used in the buffing of the Lower Abyssals.
The Manifestation of Ba’el needs little introduction to the veterans of the Abyss, but for those unaware, it is the ultimate demonic power of the Forces of the Abyss crammed into a monster-sized unit. The manoeuvrability coupled with considerable close combat and ranged damage potential means the Manifestation is useful in all parts of the game. Threatening flanks? Zapping diminutive units from afar? Charging isolated heroes? He can do all this, and more.
Cytoplasm’s cutting room floor
There were a few iterations of this army where I went too far into the grinding aspect. The Oathbreakers are a new unit that bring Rally 1 – Infantry only, and I included these to bump up the Nerve of the Lower Abyssals. I also had Abyssal Ghouls to take advantage of the Life Leech aura. This meant that I had a lot of grind, but not enough damage dealing units, which resulted in my infantry getting overwhelmed by hammers that I had failed to remove.
The key to making Kah’za’ah’s Torment work is to ensure the Lower Abyssals don’t get multicharged. As long as they can have time to replenish their health, they can last a long time, but this method is at the expense of defence (the way Dwarfs would grind, for instance). This is where the Abyssal Champion and Gargoyles are integral; they need to hold up the enemy so that only one unit can charge any one of my targets at a time. These lessons I have learnt over quite a number of games, but we will see if I can consistently apply this across the 6 games!
Next Time: The Tournament
For Clash of Kings Australia 2022, both of us are trying something new, pushing our boundaries of what we have played; Urr’s list is the fastest he has ever fielded, and Cytoplasm has set up to grind and smash. Practice has gone into these lists, but that doesn’t quite prepare for the variety of opponents that such a big tournament will offer.
What do you think? Have we missed something obvious? Let us know. List are due before this comes out, so we won’t be able to change anything, but at least we can spend our nights awake kicking ourselves for missing something stupid.
Win or lose, our next article will cover how we fared, so keep an eye out for it in early February.
Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.