Beers of War (Kings of War Tourney)

Off to chilly Wakefield on the last Saturday in April for the Beers of War (5) doubles Kings of War tournament.  I had signed up for the Bolt Action event but that and the 40K games had been dropped due to a lack of players.  I do have Kings of War Orc, Human and Lizardmen forces but these are all loosely magnetised to movement trays.  They would not have done well on the 5km walk to the railway station.   Instead I was generously offered the loan of a 1000 point Undead list, local sources informed me this was a pretty good line up but I would not have known.  Chris Christopherson was lined up as my partner with a 1,000 point Forces of Nature list.  There were some nicely painted models in that list although a Forces of Nature army could possibly be made up from bits of twig, moss and stones from the garden.  We played 3 games each taking about 2 hours with an hour’s break mid-afternoon.

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Starting positions for game 1, my lads are in grey with most of the tree huggers hiding in the woods.  We are playing against Ogres and Basileans (or possibly goblins).  Victory was judged on destroying the 3 most valuable units (not individuals) on each side.  For us that was the big skeleton horde and 2 nature units.  I took the task of going for the 2 regiments of green things at right below.  The opposition had unsportingly lined up these key victory units behind 2 hordes of rubbish Goblins.

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Our lads managed to hack through the goblins but took some damage in the process and went down to the Ogres behind.  An eventual loss for our team but the final ‘death count’ was very similar on both sides.

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Game 2 against Brotherhood and (another) Forces of Nature.  The aim is to control the 2 hills through having more and bigger units close to each than the opposition.

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Our boys surge over the victory hill and push the unpainted humans out of the way.  The red flame thing caused our undead a lot of pain but we eventually saw him off.

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Things went pretty well on my partner’s side of the table although that horde in the centre below could regenerate losses and caused considerable trouble.

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End game sees a clearly held hill.

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And the same story on the other flank for a win.

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The last game depends on controlling 5 loot tokens (that cannot be moved).  These are the brown cicular markers on the table.

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We are fighting Dwarfs and Brotherhood and learn that Dwarfs are tough.  My horde made little impact against the dwarf horde it was facing.  We caught the green rocky things in the front of the image below in front and flank and still failed to drive them off.

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End game shows the sole surviving undead unit, its commander.  My partner also took a drubbing for a clear loss overall.

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The Beers of War name does give some clue to the event and may have driven off some prospective players.  Although some teams were clearly gunning for the most alcohol drunk award other players were sticking to coffee and soft drinks.  Winning a game gave each team member a drinks token.  Our game 3 opponents were really putting it away and I was hoping for a default win when they both passed out but they clearly knew how to play and gave us a good game.  Only 1 player in the tournament seemed slightly worse for wear and the day passed in a quiet and civilised manner not requiring either police or medical intervention.

The Kings of War rules proved robust.  Some of the scenarios and minor rules came from supplements that I had not seen but these were small changes and easily picked up.  There are some key points to note that are not immediately obvious in the Kings of War rules.  These are mainly concerned with who can see what.  Everything has a height, models and terrain.  You can’t see over an equal height obstacle or unit.  To charge you need line of sight and a unit to your front.  Careful rotating can decide if a unit can be in the 45 degree charge arc and that the target is close enough of the charger’s centre point to be contacted.  No examples cropped up of obscure rules or strict grammatical rules interpretations that allowed events to take place that might not be immediately obvious.  I brought along a copy of the rules but did not need to open the book let alone run a tooth-comb through each line to find a reference and interpret what it meant.  A clear win for Kings of War as a gaming platform.

Bolt Action Soviets vs. Chinese Warlord

Here we have a Soviet, Chinese Warlord clash inspired by the conflicts of 1934 in Xinjiang.  At the time control of this province was swinging between Warlord and autonomous elements looking to break away from China.  The Soviets seemed satisfied to settle for a KMT Warlord who was friendly to the USSR.  The forces deployed in the game make some historical sense although the Soviets are wearing a later pattern helmet.  The Warlord uniforms are in theory correct, in practice it is unlikely that the local forces were so well clothed.

The Warlord army is not the best choice in Bolt Action as the cost of the Warlord and his retinue does not justify the benefits of his +4 morale bonus.   The Warlord army has 2 big regular squads and the free conscript squad.  A unit of 8 cavalry, heavy mortar, light howitzer and a FT17.  The Soviet force is from the Trans Baikal list and has to take 2 inexperienced squads (on top of the free squad).  There were still enough points for 2 regular squads, a BA6, quad maxim truck and small anti-tank gun.

This is a 750 point key positions battle with 2 Soviet and 2 Warlord objectives.  These are represented by the small rocky areas and the Carden Loyd carrier.  None of the objectives confer any cover.  Turn 1 sees both armies runnimg on with no combat.  The Soviet vehicles stay in reserve.  The FT17 can only make 6″ even at the run.  It needs to pass an order test to move and fire but with the +4 morale from the Warlord that was never a major issue.

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On turn 2 the Chinese conscripts run into the closest building.  These buildings are the excellent Pegasus 1/72 sculpts but to keep the structures solid the roofs need to be glued on so the models hug the outside walls.  The FT17 tries to hide from the Soviet gun (just out of shot behind the Carden Loyd).  The Warlord cavalry were shot at and reacted into the woods.

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Turn 3 the cavalry advance out of the woods hoping to get a charge in next turn.  A Soviet inexperienced squad has occupied the building opposite the one full of Chinese conscripts.

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The Soviet gun takes out the FT17 the quad maxim then moves up and shoots at the Chinese infantry in the woods (bottom left) but they go down and suffer minimal damage.

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Turn 4, the Chinese cavalry hoped for an early dice, did not get one and reacted back to Soviet shooting.  An infantry unit moves forward to whittle down the Soviet fire.  The Chinese conscripts charge out of the building at the quad maxim (which has already shot) and easily take it out.  The morale being always keep softskins more than 12″ from infantry.

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The BA6 has been immobilised by the Chinese artillery and with turret jam can only cover part of the battlefield.  The heavy mortar is raining shells on the Soviet unit in the building.  Soon after the Chinese gun is taken out and Soviet infantry advance to fire on the Chinese heavy mortar (top of image below)

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We officially call the game at the end of turn 5 as the Soviet player needs to catch a bus and we have been playing for 2 1/2 hours.  The Chinese cavalry finally get a charge in.  Going against inexperienced infantry with 2 pins (6 to hit) still take enough losses for the few cavalry that make it in to be easily overwhelmed.  The Chinese control 1 objective, the Soviets 2 and the objective in the centre of the table is un-contested.

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Not wishing to waste the oportunity of having the toys out another club player steps up to take over the Soviets.  The game eventually runs to 7 turns.  The Soviets assault the Chinese infantry closest to the Carden Loyd objective.  The Soviets lose and the Chinese (still unactivated) consolidate 5″.  They are now close enough to assault the Soviet gun controlling that objective and succeed with 3 figures still on the table.  The Chinese conscripts assaulted the Soviet inexperienced infantry in their house (within 6″ so no defensive fire) and overwhelmed them due to sheer weight of numbers (defended obstacle so simultanious assualt rolls).

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The Chinese now control 3 objectives to the Soviet 1.  Two intact Soviet squads are off shot here, 1 guarding an objective the other moving in on the Chinese heavy mortar.  Unit of the game would be the Soviet gun, mostly firing 1″ HE it rarely missed.  The FT17 only got off 1 volley all game, targeting the quad maxim but failing to scratch the paintwork.  The Warlord did sterling service bumping up the Chinese morale.  The Chinese cavalry scarcely got off from the starting stalls.  It may have been better to run them somewhere harmless, dismount and make a nuicance of themselves.  By the time they got a god charge target there were too few of them to make an impression.