Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Hobby Update: KoM Mounted Scout Regiment

These models have been sitting around for years. I originally picked up two blisters of 4 Fireforge Mongol Heavy Cavalry Archers after ordering directly from their site in early 2016.

Originally, a few were done up as unit leaders for my Mounted Scouts, but eventually those units were legitimately multi-based, and the leaders were just retired and put into storage. While perusing the 3rd Edition rulebook... I realized that you could can take Scouts as regiments now! I decided to dig them out and get to work on yet another little project...

Ready to move around! And maybe shoot stuff. Maybe. Still only 5+ from afar.
About the Models
Very brittle. Missing two tails and a helmet decoration...
As mentioned in the other posts linked above... I would not recommend buying these models. The material is very, very brittle and quite easy to break. I'm currently short two horse tails and a helmet feather. The person models don't fit all that well together, and the horses are chonky messes with lackluster sculpts and very obvious and unsightly support bits. I just cannot recommend buying these... but I have them already, so I'll use them.

They are also not great for wysiwyg. They have horses, and bows, which is good, but both riders and horses are pretty heavily armored. They look better than their rules, that's for sure!

On the Field
Mounted Scouts are going to play a little differently in 3rd Edition. Their range got reduced from 24" to 18", so they're going to need to be closer to pink away at anything. Fortunately with Speed 9, they should be able to get to where you want them... but, for a ranged unit, this range reduction isn't great! It'll be harder to protect the Scouts from many speedier cavalry units like Elves (Speeds 9 and 10) and faster fliers, particularly with the 3rd Ed changes to how units measure charge range.

Fortunately, their Melee state got bumped from a 5+ to a 4+... but without TC or CS or even piercing... they are not damage dealers. Still, without buffs, 14 Attacks should be enough dice thrown around to hopefully get a point of damage in per volley, and they should be mobile enough to hit what you want to improve their chances.

It took me a while to get comfortable with the Scouts originally; given the range changes mentioned already I think I'm going to be in for another period of adjustment. I'd predict that my first few games, my Scouts will die sooner than desired! Nevertheless I am very interested in seeing how a regiment of Scouts performs on the table. 

Despite being billed as a ranged unit, I think the new 4+ to hit in melee will be quite consequential. Typically, I'd want my scouts either running interference and screening, or running along the table edge, taking what shots they could from afar. Now, outflanking your opponent with these could be a real boon, even without any combat benefits like Thunderous Charge. Scouts, particularly a larger unit like this, really seems intriguing to me and I can't wait to see how a larger unit performs!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Hobby WIP: Vampire Lord on Horse

I've been fortunate enough to be able to work from home for two weeks now with no issues. If you're in a similar situation, consider donating to local charities or seeing if your favorite restaurant is doing no contact deliveries or curbside pickup or selling gift cards to keep afloat. As someone who is interested in both economics and history (my two majors in college), this is going to get much, much worse before it gets any better, particularly in the US. Be kind. Be helpful.

Being at home, and with some nicer weather finally breaking through here and there, I've been able to prime some things and start hobbying again. I'm starting small with this post, but I've got many more minis on the way... much to the terror of my clutter-averse girlfriend the table is covered with projects at the moment...

The Perry Box
I'm working this guy up as a no-stress test model for some Perry Mounted Men at Arms, which I picked up a while back to run as some Soul Reaver Cavalry, since I liked the Perry Foot Knights as my Soul Reaver Infantry so much. This is pretty far along, but not quite there. The kit has some peculiarities, which I figured I might as well tackle here, rather than bloat the final posts.

Horse-wise, the box comes with 4x of a 3 horse sprue, and plenty of heads. The Perry link actually gives great sprue shots, if you are interested and want to follow along. All the horse parts are mutable, so you can mix and match to your heart's content! The only downside of the box is the barding, which is a bit of a shame, as the armor (in general) was the reason for buying this kit. The box comes with two options: a pointier "Germanic-style", and a blockier "Italian-style"... but only has 6 of each. Care must be taken when clipping both, as the armor is very thin and easy to break, particularly the front parts of the Germanic armor. Also note, that the Germanic style hangs down a bit on the haunches; it doesn't cover the top.

Knight-wise, the box comes with 3x of the knight sprue. The bodies are a little on the small-side; a GW headswap looked downright ridiculous when I was exploring a possible headswap. Like GW, the head bits had a little neck bulb to connect to the torso, unlike Fireforge or Warlord or Mantic Zombies, which include the neck on the torso and the head bit is just a skull.

Each set of armor on the knight sprue is unique, and the non-weapon hand is fully part of the body. No easy arm or hand swaps to be had here! Each body has three possible weapon arms, so you must match them up to get a good look. The arms also include the back of the hand. The weapon-bits come with the the grasping digits, allowing you to take any weapon and just slot it into the arm bit. It's neat, but not great for conversion work. Headswaps and extra bits are about the best I'm going to do with customizing these minis I think.

See? The rear barding doesn't go the the top; the straps on the mini have it hanging down a bit to protect the sides.
This Guy
The lordling is pretty well along, but he still needs a little more work. I'm going to give him a few extra sword bits I think, to have on hand if the mundane warhammer breaks with the Lord's mighty swings. Being a lord, I already added some flair in the form of a neat armor collar thing from the GW Demigryph box, and a furry cape from somewhere (I think the GW Empire Knights kit maybe). The cape looked more like a lion, so I tried a more tan scheme there, rather than my usual gray pelt. I like how it turned out.

My Undead army is currently painted up like the Regnum, with purple and white. I still want to redo them at some point, but unsure what colors they should be, so I'm am trying out straight red for the cape underside and feather. It looks ok, but I'm not convinced full red is the way I want to go, so I'll continue to experiment.

I also tried some glowing eyes for the horse, so play up the evilness. It's supposed to be an Undead Horse after all. Not sure what that entails, but I lack the skill (and will) to convert a normal horse mini into a zombie or skeleton or anything, so evil eyes was about the best I can do. I think the unit will have the eyes, and maybe a greener tinge to the mounts, a nod to rot and reanimation? We'll see. 

Red is pretty striking, though I don't know if I'd like it across the whole army. Alternatively, I'm considering just adding a glossy blood effect to this, like the lion was a fresh kill. "Blood Cape" seems like a neat phrase, though I'm not sure the end result (very bloody cape, back, and horse haunches) would be pleasing. We'll see...
Overall, I'm pleased with the progress so far, and generally like the kit, even though the lack of barding took me quite by surprise. Fortunately, I caught this shortage prior to deciding to quarantine myself!

Since deciding to work from home, I haven't placed any Amazon orders, and would suggest you avoid them as well for the time being; I can't bring myself to risk their lives for my hobbying. Their workers are very vulnerable right now, so be kind and avoid ordering non-essentials.

Instead, look to support your local shops if you can. A few in Madison were offering orders by phone and curbside pickups, for example. If there's nothing local, may I suggest Noble Knight Games for anyone in the US? (They also ship internationally... though I don't know how speedy that will be nowadays.) They have quite the selection; books, minis, and even accessories like primer and paints. They opened up a store in the Madison area, which I have yet to actually visit. However, I have ordered from them a few times over the years, and once more when I decided to start working from home, ordering another box of these guys in order to get more barding bits.

I've got 12 of each type of barding now, and 24 Perry Knights. Well, 23 now, excluding this guy. More knights are definitely coming soon!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Easy Army Returns!

Oof. After posting the other day, I got all excited for hobbying this week, only for there to be snow on the ground the following day, and rain and low or even freezing temps for the near future. No priming then...

One bright spot has been the return of Easy Army, which can now be found here:


Easy Army was fantastic for me in Second Edition. I cannot overstate how fabulous a tool it was, and I am glad to see it return.

List building for war games can be tedious. Being based on units (not individual models, like WHFB, for example), Kings of War is different, and a little less tedious, but it can still be a bit of a chore. Do I have enough unlocks? Did I run too many monster slots? Did I run too many duplicate choices? Did my basic math add up? There are a lot of potential pitfalls! Easy Army tackled each and every one wonderfully in Second.

The cherry on top was that in addition to calculating and enforcing your unlocks, and doing all the math, all the rules your list needed were automatically tacked on at the end. This was awesome for me, where basically every game I got in doubled as a teaching/intro game, as I don't have a local community. Forget what Blast does? Right there, same with Phalanx, Individual... you name it. Kings of War has wonderfully accessible general rules, so to put all the applicable minutia and only the applicable minutia in one spot was amazing for running games.

I've only explored a little bit so far, but am very happy. All the old functionality exists, as well as a few quality of life inclusions, like Height of the unit in the list. All great stuff. 

The only downsides are.. you do need an account, and I think you actually need to pay this time. (I set myself up and didn't check the functionality w/o paying, sorry.) Previously, it was freely accessible, funded by ads and donations, but this is fine by me. I like exploring rulebooks, and have "dabbled" in a number of other systems, and nothing comes close to this level of support. This is great. I did the $20/year option as I'm an optimist, but you can dip your toes in for as little as $2.

Truth be told, I've been waiting anxiously for this. Third Edition dropped months ago, and I haven't gotten in a game because of life, but also because it's a ton of extra work for me, being the only one reading the rules and building the lists, and bringing the models to throw down. Folks like the game, but no one seems crazy enough to bite one buy their own rule book and play even semi-regularly. It is what is is. Easy Army and all it's functionality will definitely help me when the stars align and a random game manifests. It's great. Go check it out!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Hobby Update: Redone Wights

We've actually had a few nice days this past week. Almost all the snow is gone now, and it was even briefly sunny enough and warm enough one day recently to sneak out and prime a few things! Not much is queued up yet for 2020 hobbying, but I did prime a few bases, and then was able to repaint my Undead Wight Hordes over the weekend.

Finished group shot first.
I really liked Wights in 2nd Edition. They had a lot of things going for them! They played well with Surge tricks. They were very tanky and with CS3 they could also chop through all sorts of things! Well, in 3rd they fell victim to some changes. They are now irregular, and lost a point of Crushing Strength. However, they are Melee 3+ instead of 4+ now, they gained the Phantasm keyword.. and the Fly special rule, which is, well, good! Overall, sounds like a good trade to me. 

The updates brought them more in line with the Barrow Wights, a special flying Wight unit from a Clash of Kings update. I already had a unit of those, painted up all spookily. I really like that paint job. The Undead are a popular army for guests, so I decided that my old Wight Hordes needed some touching up, in order to be wysiwyg on the field.

The Wights were some of my first multi-basing attempts. And they were bad. The models are Warmachine Bane Thralls. The models had slots, so I built them up on their round bases, and tried (poorly) to then just incorporate those bases into the multi-base. The base was on MDF, with a bunch of milliput and cork board to make it interesting. Removing the models too quite a long time, as they had to essentially be dug out from all the basing materials. 

No cuts. Though I did warp a pair of old clippers.
Once removed from their old bases, I clipped the round base off, then sawed off the slot stand. The models would be glued right on to their new base, something I really like now. Dealing with stands on minis can be so frustrating.

I really like cork board in my bases. It's cheap and adds a lot. Previously, I would massage some milliput or green stuff out to make the mud, and then paste around all that. I hadn't hobbied in so long, I couldn't find the little storage container before my patience wore out, so I decided to experiment. I cut out a variety of shapes from a cracker box, and glued them to the base. I then pasted around them like usual. After priming, they seemed to have help up well, so I continued my usual process painting everything, and then adding a thick layer of acrylic glaze to get a glossy effect for the mud.

The models suffer a bit from mono-pose syndrome. The box comes with 3 copies of three poses and a leader mini, but you can mix it up enough. The ripples of the cloth made it harder to do a straight dry brush on these guys, so I ended up with a few layers of green and attempting a highlight of sorts on the robes. Not my finest work, but it's been a long time since I hobbied, and I haven't done much highlighting previously.

One guy is hiding in the back. Five models for each horde. The mud turned out pretty good.
The leader, pointing which way the axes should go.
These were great models back in the day. They seem to have gotten a little harder to find, but I would definitely recommend them if you need some cheap Wights. The group shot does them justice and I think they'll look just fine on the field.

That said, I think my Undead could all use some touching up. I think some withered plants or something would look cool. That was on the agenda to get to over the winter... will try and pick that up this summer.

Much of my nerd time the last year has been dominated by Dungeons and Dragons. There's uh.. a pandemic on now so most campaigns and my usual game nights are on hold. I think I'm a little shy on hobby projects, but it was fun to paint a bit again, so we'll see what I can lazily churn out in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020


No new hobby progress has been made nor surprise games played to report on. That's as essentially as expected. I am still quite busy with other things, and for better or for worse, have not had the time to pursue much Kings of War.

I did have something exciting come across my dashboard today though, a notice about a Fireforge Kickstarter, for more Byzantines! They released some surprise spearmen a few years back, and followed up quickly with some archers and auxiliary soldiers. At the time I wrote to Fireforge, asking them if there were any plans for cataphracts minis... and never heard back. But it looks like they, along with light cavalry, horse archers, and Varangian Guard, are all coming later this year, which is pretty awesome. I've been interested in picking up some cataphract models for some time, and these look great. Heck, all the kits look great. Check it out!

Friday, January 24, 2020

3rd Edition: Thoughts on the Varangur

Going into 3rd Edition, I was pretty worried about my Varangur. Most of the minis in my collection were from GW, and the army fluff from Mantic leaned pretty heavily on GW's Chaos Warriors, with violent and sturdy human tribes in the frozen north vying for the favor of a dark god... There was some concern on how the army would be handled with Mantic trying to blaze their own unique fluffy trail, concerns which only increased with the Northern Alliance releases in 2019. Fortunately, Mantic has done a great job all around!

The Northern Alliance is a little awkwardly named (why not go with the Frozen Pact or something?), but fabulously executed as an army. They are a a bit of a jumble of other Mantic products (Elves/Naiads/Dwarfs ... and now a human line as well), making them a great way to showcase Mantic's product line and be pretty enticing for casual folks to pick up and expand over time. (Hobby on a unit of dwarves, then elves, oo neat! frosty merfolk, then wow bear cavalry?!? Oops, I have an army now...) Fluff-wise, the Alliance is good-aligned, with lofty ideals.

The Varangur are still around; a theme army building off of the Northern Alliance list. They exist in parallel, but reject the kumbaya approach of the Northern Alliance, opting for violence and service to Korgaan, their ancient, malevolent god.

I missed this entirely in the original Second Edition fluff, but Mantic also has the Varangur rejecting the Abyssals with vigor, for they oppose Korgaan too. In Third, they spell it out a little more, and the Varangur cannot ally with Abyssals, Abyssal Dwarfs or Twilight Kin. This obliterates the fluff for my evil triumvirate plan (Tanky Varangur; Speedy Herd; middle-of-the-road Abyssals), but that's fine by me. I'm likely never going to see all three evil armies on the table at once anyways to make the triumvirate an actual "thing", so making them more unique is fine by me. It's good fluff.

So, design-wise, very interesting choices with Northern Alliance and the Varangur. Most of my sprawling Varangur collection (a little upwards of 7400 points, excluding the old Ogre allies) successfully transitioned into Third Edition, which is very nice!

The Casualties
With Mantic's tweaks, some things didn't make it. Horses are largely absent in the Northern Alliance. The Varangur have some, but Lords and Skaalds don't deign to ride such fragile creatures in the frozen north I guess? Very nice fluff choice, but obviously it's a bummer that a Chief and several Skaalds have been made obsolete. Fortunately, the heroes can be run as a Cursed Son on a horse now. It won't inspire, but I can still use the model if I wish, we'll see. The Skaalds were fantastic to have around for cheap Inspiring, so it stinks to lose those sources, but I still have several Lords mounted on Direfangs and some Lords and Skaalds on foot.. I should be fine.

The Warbands also don't look to have made the transition (though I could easily ally them in as KoM Shield Wall and Pole-Arms Regiments). It's a bit of a shame. I wasn't a big fan of the GW Marauder models, but being from Wisconsin, I really liked the idea. After a frigid winter... I've seen dudes bust out shorts en mass and college girls sunbathing juuust as the snow beings to melt. We're a weird bunch here, so I did like the idea of a bunch of lightly-clad soldiers running around because it was just sooo warm. In game, they functioned as my chaff, so it stinks to lose them. The Varangur may try to go full-elite mode and play without chaff in 3rd...

Lastly, the Devourer doesn't look to have an entry. The Varangur were a little heavy on the monsters... so I'm ok with this. They still get the Cavern Dweller (via the Northern Alliance list), and their own Jabberwock. I'm fine with this. The Dweller and Devourer were pretty similar design-wise, and I'll find another use for my big worms. The Jabberwock still has the awesome Frenzy special rule, and can now take a small ranged attack reminiscent of the old Devourer options, so it'll be a solid choice.

Into 3rd Edition
All in all, about 1000 points of stuff didn't make it into 3rd. While that's a big chunk in terms of points, and about 1/7th of my army in context, and includes several sources of Inspiring... it's not too bad. The bulk of the army is still intact, and I have dozens of units of evil armored guys to field still.

One of the interesting things to me is the large points reductions across this army. The Mounted Sons (and our Lords) in particular got huge decreases, greatly offsetting the handful of units (Direfang Hordes; Fallen; Reavers) that went up by a handful of points. Fielding more things in-game is great! All in all, I'm saving a few hundred points, and my collection of viable units sits juuuust over 6000 points going into 3rd Edition. 

Previously, Mantic went with something similar to GW's Marks of Chaos: Gifts of Korgaan. Worthy units were able to pick from several options, each granting a keyworded special ability. Unfortunately, this didn't seem too balanced internally, and taking the one granting Fury was the overwhelming favorite from what I saw online, even after it was nerfed to only grant Fury and not both Fury and Headstrong.

In Third, Mantic is taking a more intricate approach. While the gift options are still there and still varied, most units are only able to "choose" from gift; take it or leave it. It's a neat approach honestly. It seems a little subjective (which units get which upgrades; which unots can even take them), and will be hard to balance, but overall I like it. Korgaan is one god (as far as we know), so it would be nice to see a mix of gifts on the field. We'll see how it pans out as Third progresses!

The last noteworthy change going into Third is a new unit for the Varangur: the Draugr, which I was quite surprised to find was a thing in Nordic folklore. These guys are subbing in for the old Warband, serving as the light infantry for the Varangur. They seem very cool. Fluff-wise, they are atypical zombies; disgraced dead raised to fight again, rather than whatever was just lazily sitting around the cemetary. Their stats are slightly worse than your typical zombie; the usual 5+ melee and 3+ Defense but only 4 speed. That said, they do not have the Shambling keyword, and even gain both Iron Resolve and Wild Charge. Very unusual and very cool. I may need to pick up some new minis!

Overall, the Varangur are looking very good going into Third! They should be fearsome opponents on the battlefield, even more so with all the cheap Mounted Sons I can bring now. Despite the minor shifts, the core of the army is still around, and they continue to be a tanky, formidable army. I can't wait to see them in action!

...And so wraps up my thoughts on how 3rd is impacting my armies. As stated in some recent posts, KoW has proven to be quite difficult for me to get consistent games in over the years and I'm in a bit of a hobby slump with the edition change coupled with winter weather and other responsibilitues. However, as mentioned throughout the blog, Kings of War is a great game, and here's hoping for a vibrant 3rd Edition for the community! I'll do what I can to contribute. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

3rd Edition: Thoughts on KoM

...and we've come to my second-to-last army to cover regarding the new edition; my second largest collection and namesake of the blog, the Kingdoms of Men, my Regnum Aeternum.

Leaving Second Edition, my collection was just under 5000 points. It's a little lighter entering Third Edition, but not by too much. Most of my units didn't change in cost at all, though the army did receive a number of tweaks.

First, their special rule changed. They keep their Very Inspiring leaders, but many units also get the possible Indomitable Will upgrade. For a cost, a unit can momentarily self inspire, become Fearless, and turn a Waver into a Steady. That seems quite versatile, and I'm really interested to see how it plays.

Second, they got an indirect buff from the measurements change; we tend to take a lot of soldiers, so measuring from corners makes our more numerous units more dangerous and harder for an opponent to avoid or screen every charge. All good stuff so far!

I won't rehash tons of stuff; most of our units do exactly what you'd expect and a KoM general ends up with a wide variety of options. The Wizard even gets to swap out Fireball for Lightning Bolt still. There are some edition changes specific to my collection worth discussing though.

Unit Sizes
The Militia and Pole-Arms lost their troop option, which really stings. The Militia were a fantastic chaff unit (cheapest in the game in 2nd iirc); the Pole-Arms troops were also pretty great, as they were an easy way to get lots of Crushing Strength on the table. Spears also lost their troop option... but for some reason the Shield Wall got to keep theirs. All this jostling around makes Shield Wall troops our best infantry chaff on paper... though with higher Nerve and Defense than their (former) Militia counterparts... I don't know how reliable they will be in dying and getting out of the way; the vital role of chaff. They very well might be too survivable to perform this role, depending on your meta, or it might be worthwhile to dismiss infantry chaff for just taking more regiments to gum up the battlefield. The latter is going to be my approach. 

Mounted Scouts
Their special rules have been subdivided a bit, but no biggies there; they can still move and shoot without penalty. They can now be taken as regiments (but are irregular). This is a neat change, and seems to be lifted in some part from the Historical Book. Cool!

Their stats changed slightly, and Scouts now hit on 4's in Melee, making them far more versatile on the field. Very cool! Though this boon comes with a trade; their shooting not nerfed somehow. Their bows have been shorted, giving them a shooting range of 18". Now that charges can measure out from corners, they're going to be vulnerable to a lot of cavalry. Generals will need to be careful!

Still, the spirit of the unit (ranged harasser) persists. They'll be showing up in my eventual lists with an eye to pincushioning some infantry.

Ranged combat is rough, and I advocated for using Ballistas over most of our other shooting options. They couldn't really hold ground, but most KoM players bring a lot of other units to do that, so these could just sit back and shoot. They hit about as often as my other shooters, but a lot harder when shots actually connected. They were our cheapest shooting option, so point-for-point they were a fantastic pick for anyone looking to do damage at range.

In 3rd, their points have gone up and they've lost a point of Piercing... but have had their attacks boosted from 1 to 2. For a 15 point increase... they still seem like very good takes to me!

Beast of War
This is the biggest change to my army. The Beast was... well... a certifiable beast in my previous lists. Great combat stats all around, a very cheap ballista upgrade, and the Cok2019 buffs of Strider and Steady Aim... this thing was amazing. In Third Edition, it has been re-branded as a Mammoth, and while it kept it's sturdy base stats, it has also lost the ballista upgrade. Both these changes hurt.

The re-branding is an odd decision, given the huge variability of the Kingdoms is supposed to represent in the fluff. The "Beast" was a great nondescript word, which would let folks run wild with their hobby, like I did with dinos. Zeroing in on the Mammoth, and actual animal, as their designation is just an odd decision, and I can't figure out why they chose to go this way.

While the re-branding is odd, losing the ballista upgrade just plain hurts. It gave such great versatility for such a tiny cost! I don't know why they chose to remove it. Again, the Kingdoms are meant to be hugely variable, so I would have rather have seen the price get bumped up to make it more of a commitment to run the upgrade, or better yet, give out several more options (like a howdah for a few bow attacks, or built-in banner for Inspiring or Rallying, or armor upgrades or optional fearless... who knows). It's be harder to balance, but more rewarding for folks I think, as you end up with a very personal model, and a nice centerpiece unit for the army amidst all the cheap soldiers. Alas.

The changes to my trusty Beasts are going to have a huge impact on my army going into Third Edition. Previously my lists functioned a little like carrier battle groups: everything revolved around the Beasts, protecting them in the early turns, and then supporting them when it came time for the big melees. Shelving them will be a bit rough, but I'm excited to get use out of my Roman Giants! We'll see if I can get them on the table again soon.