Wednesday, April 27, 2016

More Ranged Math! Elves vs Kingdoms of Men

I figured it was time I subject you all to a little more math. Unfortunately, I’m no mathematician. Fortunately, I don’t need to be, because someone has done all the hard stuff for me and set this wonderful thing up. Scroll down to the end for the TL;DR read summary.

Swordmaster’s most recent battle got a few comments from folks on the forum wondering, “Hey, could Kingdoms of Men run a MSU list like Swordmasters?” Well, if you’re reading this, you likely know the answer. “Technically yes, but you need to be more talented than this TastyBagel guy. He hasn’t won a game yet.”

The truth hurts, but thank you for your honesty.

For those wanting to one-up me and run a successful MSU-style Kingdoms of Men army, and in particular wanting to emulate Swordmaster's typical list, I figured I'd compare some similar-looking units between the Elves, Twilight Kin and Kingdoms of Men. 

I'm not a fan of strict emulation of a list. There are lots of factors as to why an army would take a unit, and it's important to understand the reasoning behind the choices, rather than just copy blindly. 

Take, for example, this thread, relating to Twilight Kin MSU. The third post provides a link to the list (sorry for the runaround). For those who haven't clicked the link... the list contains an oddity right from the start with two Troops of Spearmen. If you copied that list over into another army, and just added in two troops of your spear units, you'd do ok, but likely miss the point of those units. In looking at the rest of the army list, their inclusion makes more sense. There are only two options in the army that are cheaper: Lower Abyssals and Gargoyles. Both are odd models, and Kpzelenski might not a) own them, or b) want to run them in this army (for fluff reasons). So what are those Spearmen doing in the list? They are chaff. Look at your army; if you have better options for chaff, use those instead of Spearmen troops.

Alright, enough words! On to the numbers! 

First, we’ll be looking at some supporting ranged cavalry units! The first table is the expected damage to a unit with a given defense. (Yes, this includes Elite and Vicious. And yes, they apparently have the same mathematical impact, as explained in the thread. Math!)

Unit (Troop) De3 De4 De5 De6
Silverbreeze Cavalry 2.7 2 1.4 0.7
Heralds of Woe 2.7 2 1.4 0.7
Scouts & Bows 1.6 1.2 0.8 0.4
Scouts & Carbines 1.9 1.6 1.2 0.8

Pretty easy table. The elvish rerolls and extra skill in hitting generate way more wounds per unit than the Kingdom of Men's Scouts with Bows. Our Scouts with Carbines do better (yay Piercing!), but still barely catch up against targets with defense 5 or 6. Alright, we get it. Trope confirmed. But the point ears cost more, right? Like, a lot more. How does that factor in? Let's take the points spent on the unit, and divide it by the expected damage the unit would inflict:

Unit (Troop) Points Value De3 Value De4 Value De5 Value De6
Silverbreeze Cavalry 145 53.70 72.50 103.57 207.14
Heralds of Woe 145 53.70 72.50 103.57 207.14
Scouts & Bows 100 62.50 83.33 125.00 250.00
Scouts & Carbines 115 60.53 71.88 95.83 143.75

So, the elvish units are again identical to each other, and again, trounce the Kingdom of Men's Scouts and human-made bows (and that's not even exploring the other value of the elves, with higher defense themselves, and higher Nerve than the humans). Point for point, the elves are just great. But something interesting happens with the Kingdom of Men Scouts when they stop emulating the elves and reach for a gun. The Piercing value of the Carbines start compensating for the poor skills of the puny bumbling humans. Now, this isn't the best comparison, as the bows have a longer range than the Carbines... but it's something to note and keep in mind. Humans appear to do better when we do our own thing.

Now, onward, to the tables of the infantry shooters!

Unit (Troop) De3 De4 De5 De6
Elf 3.1 2.3 1.6 0.8
Moving Elf 2.1 1.6 1 0.5
KoM Bowmen 1.8 1.3 0.9 0.4
KoM Bowmen (Moving) 0.9 0.7 0.4 0.2
KoM Crossbowmen 2.2 1.8 1.3 0.9
KoM Arquebusiers 2.2 2.2 1.8 1.3

Oddly enough, the three Elvish shooters that I was investigating (Kindred Archers, TK Crossbowmen and TK Shadows) are all armed with bows, and have the same attack stats... so all their numbers match. Rather than inflate the size of the table, I compressed it for this one. Probably as expected, the skills of the average elf go a long way. 

Again though, Piercing starts to catch the human up, and it is important to note that an elf on the move is statistically outperformed by both the KoM Crossbowmen and Arquebusiers against all Defense values. Cool. So, what about the points? Let's take a look. This time, the various pointy-eared units are differentiated.

Unit (Troop) Points Value De3 Valeu De4 Value De5 Value De6
Kindred Archers 115 37.10 50.00 71.88 143.75
Kindred Archers (Moving) 115 54.76 71.88 115.00 230.00
TK Crossbowmen 115 37.10 50.00 71.88 143.75
TK Crossbowmen (Moving) 115 54.76 71.88 115.00 230.00
TK Shadows 130 41.94 56.52 81.25 162.50
TK Shadows (Moving) 130 61.90 81.25 130.00 260.00
KoM Bowmen 75 41.67 57.69 83.33 187.50
KoM Bowmen (Moving) 75 83.33 107.14 187.50 375.00
KoM Crossbowmen 85 38.64 47.22 65.38 94.44
KoM Arquebusiers 100 45.45 45.45 55.56 76.92

Yikes! So many numbers...

Let's do a few quick comparisons. TK Shadows had the same stats as the other elves, but cost more points (due to gaining Pathfinder and Vanguard... for 15 points). So, they will have the worst value for the elves. And Kindred Archers and TK Crossbowmen cost the same points... had the same stats, so they are identical. They are the best "Team Pointy" can do.

Most of "Team Pointy" wipes the floor with KoM Bowmen. Stationary TK Shadows are about about good as stationary KoM Bowmen, though the Shadows quickly surpass them if both are on the move.

What about KoM Crossbowmen and KoM Arquebusiers? Well, this is where stuff gets fun. From the start at De3, Crossbowmen points efficiency surpasses moving elves, and are pretty comparable to stationary elves. From De4 and up, the Crossbowmen are more points efficient across the board. The Arquebusiers aren't a great buy against De3, since you're paying for two Piercing and only need one... but from De4 and up they are more points efficient than the elves too, and even edge out their Crossbow-toting brothers. More Piercing is apparently great. 

That said, there are some caveats to this all this math and how it relates to these armies. 

The first is that these numbers are only dealing with efficiency with outbound damage. we're ignoring the units own Defense and Nerve values. Like it or not, even if KoM can deal out more efficient damage per point in some cases, the elves are better on defense.

The second is that internal balance in each army is actually pretty good. A more expensive unit in a given army probably has a cheaper alternative... but also lacks some stats boosts or rules. That's how it goes in this game. Some units are arguably better than others, but just about everything can find a niche to be worth taking. It usually comes down points available or to player preference. 

So with those limitations in mind, what can we say about elf and human shooting?


Elves have better stats across the board than their human counterparts. However, they are limited to using only their bows. Point for point or unit for unit, the elves statistically outperform their human counterparts when it comes to bows. Even the low points costs of humans doesn't even the playing field. Boo.

So, what should a KoM player do?

In short, learn the lessons that each army plays differently, and to utilize the strengths of your particular army. In this particular case, if a KoM player wants to go toe-to-toe with an Elf player of any kind from afar... bringing some units that have Piercing might be good investments.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Common Themes in MSU Lists

I wanted to devote another thread to exploring MSU. After some back-and-forth with Swordmaster late March on some previous posts, I started digging through some old Warhammer Fantasy posts of mine. I was looking to see how I had explained the MSU style of play in the past, and what insight those definitions in "laymen's terms" could provide to jump start some thinking in Kings of War.

The best summary I gave was the following, summarized here:

-You take only the characters you need
-You run lots of smaller units over big blocks
-Ideally, nothing is game-breaking should you lose it

Warhammer and Kings of War, however, are two different games. While it helped to frame my thoughts, this summary didn't translate well, due to it being applicable to a different games. More work and thought was needed.

You could say the Swordmaster and I are trying to essentially gain our knowledge via a more "bottom-up" oriented method: playing games with our armies and trying to noodle out for ourselves what units and tactics work for us. Ideally, at some nebulous point, we'd have enough experience to compare notes, and find places where our choices (regarding stuff like similar unit selection, or similar in-game tactics) overlap, and give some insight into how a MSU-style list is built and played. Bottom-up is a solid way to approach this, as it's pursuit of knowledge is based on experience.

It may be a bit premature (I’m not an accomplished player; and there aren’t a lot of explicitly identified MSU lists out there), but I think approaching MSU from a more "top-down" approach might provide some good food for thought for anyone interested in trying an MSU force for themselves. Start with a more general idea, and try to to apply it elsewhere. Ideally, coming at it from both ways would let us explore MSU in more depth and with more success than trial and error.

As mentioned above, the commonalities we would be looking to find could be found either in more specific things like tactics (how to deploy a given kind of MSU list; what to shoot at when, etc) or in more general, strategic things (like list building and looking at what types of units are taken). As also mentioned above, I’m not an accomplished Kings of War player, so I’m going to ignore the former in favor of the latter. This more analytically-focused work is low-hanging fruit I can try to tackle in between games.

So the last few months I've been examining some self-proclaimed MSU lists that have found online, as well as others list that have similar methods but aren't so explicitly named. As Swordmaster had argued and predicted, each army does seem to have its own take on building a MSU force, but I have found some tenuous themes. In general, an MSU-style list will:

-Largely avoid Magic Items

Arguments can be made for some items (like the Inspiring Talisman or Maccwar's Potion of the Caterpillar), but generally I only saw a few run per list (0-3). The logic would be that the points are generally better spent on fielding more units, rather than upgrading a bunch of troops.

-Avoid big point sinks in list building

I’ve seen the term "point sink" bandied about online… but not even urban dictionary has an actual entry for the term. I have tossed around a few possible definitions in my head. Each approaches it from a different perspective, so all three are below. Hopefully one of them will speak to you, and get my general point across. I have defined a point sink as:

“Something that takes up an unreasonable amount of points for what it does.”
The efficiency-conscious approach. You don’t take units that don’t do their job well; or take a Horde to do a Troops job. Inappropriately-costed units have seemed to be less of a thing in Kings of War though, as internal army choices are pretty balanced.

“Something that costs so many points, losing it severely hinders your chance of willing.”
The loss-mitigation approach. If you need it to win your games, don’t take it. If your list falls apart without it, don’t take it (and revise your list). Lists that subscribe to the MSU style generally have some redundancy built in, and units cheap enough that any and everything could be expended for the sake of pursuing victory.

“Something that costs more than 10% of your army.”
The mathematically-inclined approach. Simple to understand and apply to your list. Does this unit cost more than 10% of your army? If so, you should have a good reason for including it. Not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t run it (some fantastic units are bobbing around at this cutoff point, and rules were made to be broken and all that), but you maybe shouldn’t run too many of these costly units, or you’ll quickly find yourself with fewer units than your typical opponent, which is a bad spot for an MSU army to be!

-Run more, smaller-sized units over fewer, larger options.

It's hard to define what counts as a small unit, which seems odd for a game that spells out so precisely the sizes of the units in the game. The issue is that there can be a few ways to define a unit's size, namely: label (titled as a Troop or Regiment, etc), points cost, and footprint. These possible definitions are muddied in turn both by non-linear unit costs (with larger units being cheaper per model), and by differently-sized unit types (normal 20mm or 25mm Infantry vs 40mm Large Infantry, for instance).

Take the Herd list from this thread. It uses a few Large Infantry Hordes to unlock a ton of troop choices. Is that list MSU? Largely it is. Even though it uses Horde-sized units, those units are still not that expensive (they are about 12% of the list's total points each). With regards to the footprint of the units, the 40mm hordes are actually smaller than a typical 25mm regiment-sized Infantry unit from that same list.

Or consider the Goblin list from this thread. It's got a Legion, and three Hordes. Is this an MSU list? Maybe? Again, it has units the carry the big labels, and the footprints are big, but if we consider that the Herd list above could be MSU, than an argument could be made here, as each of it's 20+ units cost a pittance. There is an amazing about of redundancy built in, to the point where half the army could be gone and the player could still play the game they want to play.  The list can play the attrition game very, very well....

Seek to win the game via combats, and win combats via swarming enemy units and overpowering them.

Credit goes to Swordmaster for this one. Swarming your opponent is how this army intends to win. This isn't a zerg rush (quick aside: google that term for fun), but a controlled concentration of force after maneuvering during the early turns of the game. 

That goblin list is formidable. It has a ton of drops, redundancy and resiliency, but it is not an MSU-style list, as it seeks to win the game by tarpitting its opponent and blasting them off the field with magic and war machines. It is a resilient gunline; not an MSU list. 


Just about every MSU thread I have participated in online has been derailed by hair splitting at some point ("the units are cheap, but big. We should title this MMU, or multiple medium unit style of play instead," or "a MSU unit shouldn't have more than 10 models," or "a MSU army needs deployments to count, etc, etc). Pinning down and defining what MSU is or is not is usually a waste of energy.

After rereading my old explanations of the style and working out the above... they're both on par with the amount of ambiguity contained. 

I think defining MSU is more a wishy-washy "spirit of the law" kind of thing, rather than a hard and fast "letter of the law" kind of thing. My goal here is not to pin down a definitive objective answer of what it is or what it is not. The common themes explored above are meant to give someone a loose "guide" for building a more MSU-oriented list, particularly if it is their first time trying the style, or they are trying it was an unusual army.

To recap the highlights, TL;DR style, typically a MSU-style army will typically:

-Run more, smaller unit sizes over fewer, larger options
-Avoid big point-sinks in list building
-Largely avoid Magic Items
-Win the game via combat; win the combats via swarming your opponent

I enjoy running all these tiny units, and hope to see more players experimenting with this style of play, however they define MSU.

Thanks for indulging in a longer post (and making it to the end). Until next time...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hobby Update: Mounted Sergeants!

In between their WIP post and the Invasion game played last week, the Sergeants had a lot of work done. They were almost finished before the game, but still had a ways to go.
Progress! Just a little left to do!
I was worried about painting up the paste, but I think that turned out ok, and looks pretty sandy. I abandoned my original plan of mixing acrylic paints to try and match real sand, and I took the easy road, and picked up my pot of Ushabti Bone from Citadel/GW. Using a sizable brush, I applied a very diluted coat to the paste (which was actually spongy after it dried, not hard like I figured it would be). It functioned like a wash, and just got color into the crevasses. After the wash dried, I took a different large brush and did some very basic dry brushing of the same color. It turned out pretty good!

Painting up the humans was also pretty simple, and reminded me (in terms of painting complexity) of the Eccentric Foot Guard. Like the Foot Guard, the Sergeants were mostly just tunics and chainmail. With regards to the sculpts though, the Sergeants were miles ahead. With just a few very minor tweaks (a twist here, leaning a bit forward or back) the figures become far more dynamic than the Foot Guard. They are great figs. Props to Fireforge for balancing simplicity and dynamism so well in the models!

The horses were also fine sculpts, but took a little extra work to paint up. I have never liked painting horses. It was a vicious cycle of not putting in the effort, being dissatisfied with the paint job, and then vowing to not put in more effort in the future. For these, I made a conscious effort to go that extra mile, mostly because there wasn’t a lot of armor to hide a lazy paint job.

I decided to browse around, and assemble a catalogue of horse colorations that I could emulate (I’ve seen horses before; I just don’t know... well, much about them). Luckily, I quickly stumbled across this wonderful website. Bookmarked! It had everything I was looking for and more. I think the horses turned out well for a first try (I will try to improve my technique and try a few other patterns on my next batch of horses: Mounted Scouts with Bows! Coming soon...)

The above is how they looked in-game. Reasonable, but not-quite-finished. Finishing them up unfortunately became a “one step forward, two step back” process... 

I ran out of my normal basing superglue (I use basic Elmers for the sand, and a superglue for the small rocks), but picked up the thinnest-looking Gorilla Glue (some come in more of a gel form) from a store while I was out running errands during the week. When I found some time to hobby later in the week, I started dabbing the Gorilla Glue around, and dumped some rocks onto the base…

…and as I was finishing up the second troop, I noticed that the Gorilla Glue on the first troop was expanding. Not engulfing the model or anything so comical; just getting a nice bloaty look and then starting to dry a very dark, muddy-looking brown. Oops. Mud would have been ok, but a bloated, puffy landscape was not what I was aiming for! I ended up ceasing all my efforts, and spending the rest of the hobby session excising the gluey blobs with the hobby knife. Over the weekend, I returned with my tried-and-true usual superglue, and finished these up properly. 

The really dark brown parts (like in the center of the base of the to models on the right) is the color the Gorilla Glue was drying. It poofed up to about the horses' knees... not ideal for an arid basing scheme.

A second Troop. The GW models in the center of these are noticeably bigger than their companions. On the table, it doesn't look too bad though. More of a "might-made-right" way of determining who the unit leader was.

And the last troop. I might need to get shields for the unit leaders at some point, but these units will work fine as-is.
So, lesson learned. Avoid Gorilla Glue for basing projects! Use it to fix broken plant pots or chairs like it shows on the label! Anyways, these Sergeants are now “done,” and I'm looking forward to getting them out on the table soon!

Edit: I was originally going to write about their usefulness in game... but now I'm thinking I'll put that off and address all my army's lighter support cavalry options in one large future post. Suffice it to say for now, they did a great job, and I was surprised by their effectiveness, but I think I could use a little more experience with them before I write anything that sounds too authoritative.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Battle: Invasion!

While breaking in new recruits patrolling the porous border with their dainty elven neighbors, the soldiers of the Regnum Aeternum discover a host of dainty elves stands between them and home. With both sides eager to test their mettle, the parley broke down, and armor was donned in preparation for the coming battle.

As mentioned previously, I had some Mounted Sergeants to test, but aside from them, the bulk of my forces should look pretty familiar: defensive infantry regiments and some support units, though this time most of the Pole-Arm Troops were replaced by Crossbowmen. The plan was to deploy conservatively in a layered defense, and drop most of the cavalry on a flank at the end of my deployment, in an attempt to roll a flank. Classic!

Our battlefield, as viewed from the right-corner of my deployment zone. A quaint little hamlet with some buildings, forests and hills. We decided to treat the weird stone wall as a fence for the short part and a blocking building for the tall part. So.... lots of blocking terrain on this here battlefield.
I won the roll off for deployment, and my conservative battle plan went right out the window. Since we rolled up the Invasion scenario, I figured I needed to be more aggressive. I also figured I’d bump into his army on my way to his side of the field… so I attempted to be sneaky, and try to goad him into committing to that hill in his deployment zone, or to at least spread him out. If he did either I felt I could more easily isolate and overwhelm his units.

Unfortunately, he ignored my deployments entirely, and deployed smartly and compactly.His list was much the same as it has been previously: A Regiment of Archers, two Troops of Stormwind Cavalry, a Troop and a Regiment of Palace Guard, a Dragon Breath (masquerading as a Bolt Thrower), a troop of Hunters of the Wild, and his trusty Wizard with Bane-Chant and Heal (maybe more? I don’t know what the hero comes with; that’s all he cast during the game). Jumping from 1000 to 1500, he only added two units: some Kroxigors (Proxigors! They were standing in for Drakon Riders) and some kind of lordly dragon-riding meanie (Dragon Kindred Lord). Those fliers were going to be hard to deal with… and this was my first foray against any flying baddies.

Deployment! I broke the flag on my usual ASB, and have yet to fix him, so I've been subbing in spare banner men from other regiments for my recent games. I chose poorly this time around. He struggled against gravity all game.
I think my opponent deployed well. Elves are speedy, so he could probably get most of his guys in between the buildings (to anchor his lines, protect his flanks and minimize my combo-charge potential) should he get first turn. It was a pretty compact deployment so things can support one another, and his Archers and fliers are protected and in a good position to support anything.

My deployment, on the other hand, suffered a bit from trying to be tricky and failing. After 4 deployments, I was pretty sure he was marching to the beat of a different drum rather than reacting to any of my drops, so I abandoned my sneaky plans. Fortunately, I still had a lot of drops! I’m pretty spread out, though with the sheer number of units I had, things can still generally support one another.

A lot of my stuff ended up at angles, and that was actually on purpose! After I realized he wasn't reacting to me, I slipped back into a more conservative mindset. I measured it out, and those units were meant to do some "At the Double" movements, to get into more threatening positions and let me fix my lines a little (I was expecting to go second, and be trying to react to speedy elves). Fortunately for me, I won the roll off for first turn, so instead of reacting, I could be the aggressor, and try to box him in and overwhelm him a little. 

Turn 1 (KoM)

On my right, two Troops of Mounted Sergeants and a Regiment of Shield Wall start their march, hoping to flank the elves in the coming turns. Using the center building to protect my units, I set up a kill zone for the Elves, and on my left, the last Troop of Mounted Sergeants and their buddy Knight Troop advance to try and swing around the building on the far left. 

His Hunters of the Wild have Vanguard, and decided to move up into harm's way.
My Crossbowmen Troops unload against the Hunters of the Wild, and the Ballista in the center hits the Archer Regiment, and while a surprising amount of damage is done to both units, they hold. My last Ballista tried to get in on the action, but missed it’s shot against the enemy Dragon Breath machine.

Turn 2 (Elves)

My opponent again proves his cleverness, and sees through my obvious traps, and replies in kind. The Dragon Kindred Lord and the Regiment of Palace Guard swing over to intercept my right flank, and his right flank sets up a kill zone for my ambitious cavalry. His Bane-Chanted Archers roll poorly, and deal a single wound to my Regiment of Foot Guard.

Every report needs at least one blurry shot. Right? ...right?
Turn 3 (KoM)

After some deliberation, I charge my Knights into his Stormwind, and my Sergeants into the Hunters of the Wild. I move the Fancy Hats (the Regiment of Pole-Arms) up a bit, and angle them to the left (not sure why I didn’t angle to the right, or keep up centered; angling to the left proved to be the worst of all possible pivots). Having nothing to shoot at, and this being Invasion.. I move both my Crossbowmen units up (this also proves to be a bit of a mistake). With a few damage already, I figured with average rolls my Sergeants would rout the Hunters of the Wild, and reform. (This didn’t happen; both charges bounced). My center advanced. I think I was getting a little greedy? With the Dragon Kindred Lord and Drakon Riders off elsewhere, I was hoping I could punch through the center of the elvish lines.

I felt outmatched on my right against that Dragon Kindred Lord. Fortunately, I had a ton of units, and I decided to use ‘em. I set up a layered defense against the Dragon. While open to charges from both the Palace Guard Regiment and the Dragon Kindred Lord… the first unit of Mounted Sergeants was their only target. I decided to reinforce the layered defense by pivoting and trotting up my Knight Troop too. If the elves charged, there should be some good counter charges on my turn. If they declined to engage, I had a few charges next turn, or could try to set up the same layered trap again.

I'm guessing it's going to take a lot to take out that dragon-guy. Not to mention the regiment hiding behind that building... 
Turn 4 (Elves)

On the right, my opponent decided to take on my layered defense, and both the Regiment of Palace Guard and the Dragon Kindred Lord descended upon my unfortunate forward Troop of Mounted Sergeants.

All according to plan?
The Sergeants would die, and my opponent would overrun with the Dragon and reform with the Palace Guard, who turned to face my Knights, rather than take the hit in the flank.

On my left, my opponent struck back, punishing my models for their bounced charges.

Ouch! So much hurt for me on my left flank. Though, this pic is a bit of a moral victory for my army, as not a single elvish unit fighting here is modeled wysiwyg. The Hunters don't have a ranged attack, so they should have bows, sir. Huzzah!
Once my opponent figured out his charges against my cavalry on my far left, the Stormwind, previously seen lurking in the background saw a new opening, and charged one of my Crossbowmen units. While they were always intended to be sacrificed as chaff at some point (don’t tell them that though)… it was... too soon.

My, my. What a lovely banner. 
When combat was done, the Sergeants accrued an obscene amount of damage (20+?), and Routed. My Knights though, having previously disordered their elvish counterparts, held, taking only a single wound (his Stormwind cavalry also received a solid heal spell this turn though). The poor Crossbowmen fled the field, and disarray was what I was inheriting for my next turn.

Uff da. Punished for my mistakes...
Turn 5 (KoM)

My Knights charge his Stormwind, and slip some damage through, though I like that fight less now due to the heal, and having 3 units against my 1 now. That's not how MSU is supposed to work... Though, between the Knights and the Sergeants, they’ve tied up twice their points for several turns. While their charges haven’t resolved as planned, they have already done a great job delaying that flank.

The rest of my left flank goes into damage control mode. I decide to double down on my pivoting mistake for my Fancy Hats Pole-Arms Regiment, and they move up so they can step up and delay the elves once my Knights succumb to elvish blades.

The second unit of Crossbowmen charge the second unit of Stormwind, and receive a Bane-Chant 2 from the nearby Wizard. But they are just a stumbling block. A Regiment of Shield Wall pivots to help contain the Stormwind next turn.

My Regiment of Foot Guard is joined by the plucky Troop of Pole Arms as they advance toward the center line of the elves. We were getting towards the middle of the game, and I want to try and draw his yet-uncommitted units into a fight on his side of the table in an effort to play the scenario.

My ASB, after he apparently got into the good stuff. He has yet to inspire, or do much of anything all game. Also pictured; my more sober and more responsible units doing their thing.
On my right, the layered defense somewhere works to contain the Dragon Kindred Lord. The units are of course fighting on the slope of a hill, because that’s how tabletop games unfold, so the angles got a little goofy.
Unfortunately, the only thing that can charge the Dragon Kindred Lord is my last Troop of Mounted Sergeants. Luckily for me, with that resolved, a charge lane opens up for my Shield wall, and they hit the flank of the Palace Guard, with the Knights making a frontal assault. I roll really well for damage.

Then, the Nerve tests. I start with the Lord, and *gasp* my opponent informs me that he is Wavered! Good job Mounted Sergeants! The Palace Guard is routed, and my units reform.

The post-charge, pre-battle pic was blurrier than usual. Almost beyond recognition. But this was the result of the battle. No more Palace guard, and a scared Dragon Kindred Lord.
I continue down the line with my Nerve tests, and to my surprise, I roll up box cars the Stormwind’s test, and they flee the field. 

Turn 6 (Elves)

The Drakon Riders and Hunters of the Wild smush my Knights. Despite starting with just 1 damage… I know this is probably not going to go well (they rout). Still, I’ll take it. Those Knights were great this game.

Lady Luck smiled! for a moment at least. It appears I didn't believe it myself at the time, as I failed to reform my victorious Knights. Oops? They did an admirable job though.
My opponent started out the turn reeling a bit, but is clawing his way back. The Knights will rout, and he successfully casts Bane-chant on his Archers, which after slipping a few more wounds onto my advancing Foot Guard, are routed later in the turn. Curses!

Still, the Dragon Kindred Lord spent the turn sulking, and the Dragon Breath, which finally breathes towards my other Troop of Knights… lands only a paltry number of wounds are dealt. Not having Piercing is rough business against Knights I guess.

Turn 7 (KOM)

My remaining Knights retaliate, and smite the Dragon Breath weapon. They will reform to threaten the flank of his Regiment of Archers next turn. The Mounted Sergeants and Shield Wall swarm the Dragon Rider Lord, and introduce the beast and its master to a number of sharp objects.

Both of my Ballistae had been on a cold streak for a while. The right one scooched forward in the hope of getting in a shot later. The sudden disappearance of my Foot Guard had a tiny upside, in that I now had a clear line of fire for my left Ballistae, and it scores a hit a numerous wounds. At this point I remember my drunk ASB has the War Bow, and he moves, shoots, and manages to slip another point of damage onto the unit. An average roll should see them off… but it is not to be this turn (rolled really low). They were still threatened by the Knights and the Pole-Arms though…

The building protects the view from the heinous acts that occur when woodland folk meet ax-wielding folk. In the foreground, the Wizard tells the Shield wall to man up, and off to the right, the ASB is shown "taking a break" after finally doing something this game.
On my left, my Shield Wall, boosted with Bane Chant, cut through the Troop of Stormwind and the Fancy Hats finally manage to Rout those darned Hunters of the Wild.

As Nerve Checks are rolled, however, my opponent informs me that his Dragon Kindred Lord is a-ok this turn. There exists a chance he misread his stats the previous turn… but other possibility was that this was just probability in motion. I rolled really well (10 or 11) for the test that barely wavered him, and really poorly (4?) for this one. My test fell 1 short of wavering him this time, and I didn't put a lot of wounds on him, despite the better positioning, so I think the rolls were just averaging out. Boo. I really wanted to bag that dragon.

Turn 8 (Elves)

The Dragon Kindred Lord considers his options, and decides to wimp out, flying over the Sergeants to relative safety. Fleeing apparently winded the scaly brute, and the Breath Attack is pretty ineffectual.

Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. Ballista! Righty! Buddy! Get 'em!
Despite my Knights bearing down on them, the Archers act wisely, and pincushion my advancing Troop of Pole Arms, and even manage to Rout them with a high roll. Boo. The Troop of Palace Guard, who have spent the entire game twiddling their slender elven thumbs, decide it’s time to do something, and they start twirling (that’s how elves move, right?) slowly towards my side of the field, wary of my Shield Wall, which stands in their way.

The jury is still out on whether they were just being cautious, forgetful or lazy.
The Drakon Riders smash into the Fancy Hats, but roll terribly, and the lads hold their ground, keeping the Riders on their side of the field. Huzzah!

Turn 9 (KoM)

The Ballista on my right, who I don’t think hit anything all game... continues to miss. My left Ballista takes a shot against the Drakon Riders, but also misses.

On my far right, the Shield Wall set up camp in the enemy deployment zone. The Knights charge the Archers in the flank, and finally take them out. The Mounted Sergeants advance at the double, looking to (hopefully) contribute to the fight on my left flank should the game go long.

The Fancy Hats fearlessly charge the Drakon Riders back, and a few of the halberds find fleshy bits.

Turn 10 (Elves)

The Drakon Rider Lord charges my upstart Ballista on my right, and wins effortlessly. He’s out of charge range, but reforms to threaten my last Ballista in the coming turns.

The Troop of Palace Guard advance, trying to make it onto my side of the table for the scenario, while the Drakon Riders are healed, slay the Fancy Hats on the second try, and then reform to protect their slower kindred.

Ew. Sorry. I mean every report needs two blurry pictures? This angle just wasn't working and I wasn't running any QC on my photos the other day.
Turn 11 (KoM)

The dawdling Palace Guard Troop is charged in the front by my Shield Wall. After some consideration, my Knights charge in too, passing through the forest. Even with the hindrance, the elvish troop is eliminated. Both human units reform; the knights pivot to face the Drakon Riders (I assumed they would fly away, but wanted to see if my opponent remembered the scenario we were playing by offering up a tempting target), and the Shield Wall pivot to cower behind the building and hide from the Drakon Riders.

Left behind, my last Ballista pivots to face down the Dragon Kindred Lord (assuming the game goes long).

I never trusted Righty anyways. Lefty! Get 'em!
Turn 12 (Elves)

The Drakon Riders pivot and fly away, using the building as cover… and take their substantial points over to my half of the field. While I mopped up the rest of the army, the Lord and Riders eluded me, and account for almost 500 points.

Meanwhile, I have more units on his side, but they only total to around 300 (Knights, Sergeants, and a Regiment of Shield Wall). My two heroes are short (probably could have moved them over the halfway mark on Turn 11… oops). Fortunately, the game goes long! Yessss.

Turn 13 (KoM)

The end of a certain duel comes to mind... Come back here!
None of my units are able to engage his Riders, so its’s just a scramble for me onto the other side of the field for scenario points. Lefty lines up the last shot… and hits the Drakon Kindred Lord, dishing out a little more damage to the winged powerhouse. The Nerve test is rolled, and the Lord is merely Wavered. Shucks.

Wavered! Moral/useless victory #2!
Turn 14 (Elves)

Nothing of consequence. We started packing up.

In the end, my opponent got 575 points over the line versus my 570. My opponent’s (nearly) 500 points of fliers were bloodied, but survived the battle, and I again only eke out a draw due to extra turns. So... still no actual win for the Regnum Aeternum yet, but I’ll take a draw over a loss! Neither of us had played the scenario before, so it was cool to see what it was all about.

The Sergeants performed better than I expected, but I’ll be talking more about them in their Hobby Update post.

If folks have thoughts on the battle (or notice anything rules-wise we goofed), feel free to sound off! Playing roughly once a month has been a little hard on our rules retention and tactics. In doing the write up it looked like my opponent didn't know that fliers are Nimble by definition; and I forgot that Difficult Terrain (like forests) block line of sight to things behind them (so my rear-charge Turn 10 is iffy; I may not have been able to see those Palace Guard around the trees).

Despite the few rules shortcomings, I think we did pretty good overall. And we both played a good game, which was reflected in the close outcome. Most importantly, we had a good time.

Even though they survived the battle, and weren't as mobile as they probably should have been, I think my first run-in with big nasty fliers went well. I’m looking forward to the next bout!