Saturday, July 1, 2017

Battle 10: Varangur vs Herd (Intro Game)

My girlfriend was kind enough to humor me, and agreed to give Kings of War a try. She'd never played a tabletop war game before, but she liked how the Herd looked, and the swarm approach I was aiming for with the army seemed to fit her "W+M1" approach to most of her gaming. The army isn't finished, but after some work on the Tribal Longhorns last week, was "close enough" to being table ready.

The endeavor was going to be a bit of a challenge. This was her first ever war game, and I was going to be rusty on some of the rules, having only played one game in the last 6 months or so myself. I decided to try and simplify as much as possible. That meant:
  • Smaller lists - we played at 750 points 
  • Tiny table - we didn't have much space at the shop, and played on a 3' by 3' board, with deployment zones only 10" deep.
  • Simple terrain - no big LOS blockers, tall hills, or fences, but enough to try and take advantage of the Herd's special army rule (Pathfinders)
  • I'd handle all the deployments, and cede the first turn to my opponent.
Additionally, I didn't want to make her read a rule book beforehand, so I put on my "Dungeon Master Hat", and decided I would just handle game mechanics and special rules as they came up in game. That seemed to work pretty well, and the game moved along pretty quick. My opponent played the following:

I want my Herd to be numerous, and this list is a good starting point for the army. The Beast Pack is good chaff; the Brutes can hold the line; and the Longhorns can deal the damage. And then the Hunters and Centaur Chief can play support as needed.

For my own army, I decided to field some Varangur, rather than the Regnum. I like my Kingdoms of Men, but they need to win through combined arms and tactics... and I felt that a brand new player facing that would lead to a bad experience. The Varangur seemed like an obstacle that would be easier for a new player to understand and overcome.

I ended up fielding a pretty concentrated list with them, with a very dangerous regiment of Mounted Sons as the chief threat. I hadn't given much thought yet to Gifts for the Varangur, but know Headstrong/Fury is popular... so to be a contrarian, I decided to take Lifeleech on on the big mounted Regiment.

Both armies are arctic themed in some way, so I obviously chose lots of green for the terrain, including a big lush jungle fern thing. Oh well. I guess they were all on summer vacation or something... Deployment looked like this:

Yep, that's a tiny table alright.
I didn't give much thought to the Varangur deployment, aside from putting the Warband forward. I wanted to see how it served as a small tar pit.

The Herd got most of my deployment attention. The Brutes took the center, hoping to secure the open spaces since they lack Pathfinders. The Beast Pack screened the Tribal Longhorns, who I expected would scream up that side of the table, and try to roll up my flank.

After explaining Vanguard, my opponent decided to move the Hunters up into the forest, and then we were on to Turn 1.

Turn 1: Herd

After briefly explaining the move phase, she opted for a cautious advance. The Guardian Brutes shuffled forward, with the Centaur Chieftain in tow. The Beast Pack advanced just into charge range of my Mounted Sons Troop. One troop of Tribal Longhorns hung back to support the dogs, like I anticipated, but she decided to have the other start moving over to the other flank, and support the Tribal Hunters, which after their Vanguard move, she felt were exposed and threatened. The Hunters apparently didn’t feel that was though, and rolled enough to slip two wounds through on the Warband.

My Skaald. The laziest source of Inspiring I have seen to date.
Wheeling units seemed to be more intuitive for my opponent than pivots, and given the small board, I had opted to not cover it with a 6’ x 6’ felt covering, so the MDF bases slipped at the slightest provocation. So, please excuse the glare from the lights, and any accidental swivels. With my “DM Hat” on, my goal was to not sweat the small stuff, and keep things moving.
Turn 2: Varangur

My center scooched forward while the Warband charged into the Hunters hiding in the woods. Even hindered, I thought I may be able to slip enough wounds through to Rout the unit, and create a good dilemma for my opponent on the following turn. Unfortunately, I was vastly overestimating their abilities. They only managed to slip a single wound in, and I rolled double 1’s for their Nerve check just to be sure. They stuck around.

On my left, I decided to be bold as well, and the troop of Mounted Sons slammed into the Beast pack, dishing out 9 wounds and destroying them. This was my first game with the Varangur, and man, these knights are no joke. Victorious, they scootched back 3”. When only the Beast Pack was Routed, my hope was that my opponent would commit both the Tribal Longhorns and Guardian Brutes to fighting them next turn. I would lose them, but hopefully have enough time to deal with everything else.

You'd think the Warband would have done a little better. I mean, there are like, twice as many guys!
Turn 3: Herd

Surveying the board, my opponent trampled my hopes, and opted for a simple move phase, charging everything she could. The Brutes charged the Bloodsworn and Mounted Sons regiments, later dealing some good damage, but not besting either unit. On my left, the Tribal Longhorns charged the troop of Mounted Sons to avenge their Beasts, dealing 3 wounds and eventually Wavering them. Oopsies.

The good-for-nothing Warband is vanquished.
With those easy moves done, my opponent charged the Warband with the Tribal Hunters, and then we agreed that the second unit of Longhorns could probably get into the side of the Warband too. So, she got to learn about flank charges, and long story short, the Warband was annihilated. The Hunters backed away and the Longhorns reformed.

Turn 4: Varangur

I was in a bit of a bad spot. The troop of Mounted Sons on my left were as good as gone being Wavered, and while I had a slight advantage in the center fight with a Higher Nerve value… my guys weren’t going to break through on their own and help wasn't really coming.

With his one attack, my Mounted Skaald moved to take a potshot at the Longhorns threatening my troop. It was an incredibly (statistically) long shot, and did not pan out in any way. No lucky damage or wavering.

My center simply shoved back, and the Bloodsworn and Mounted Sons hacked at the Brutes. When the Nerve Check came, I rolled well, but not well enough. Both were 1 shy of their respectable waver value…

Turn 5: Herd

My opponent goes in for the kill. The Centaur Chieftain and Longhorns descent upon the wavered Mounted Sons and obliterate them. The Brutes go after my center units again, with the second troop of Longhorns joining the fight against my mounted regiment. Both of my units are Wavered.

About an hour had elapsed, so at this point, I concede this game so we could get another game in.

It was a good game, and a great first outing for both the Varangur and Herd. It was fun to see both armies out on the table, and I’m excited to finish these Herd units up. I think they are going to look really good in the end.

I got a little overconfident with the Varangur; committing to combats too early, and once committed, I could not get the upper hand due to a low unit count. I did not expect my opponent to go one-on-one with everything Turn 3, but it really worked out for her. The Brutes can grind pretty well, and have a great edge if they can get the charge… Once everything of mine was engaged, she still had units to spare, and was able to systematically whittle me down for the win.

We switched out some terrain, and were off to a rematch!

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