Long post incoming
I had the pleasure of being in Nottingham this past week for the Clash of Kings 2023 which was the largest ever Kings of War Tournament in history with 148 players. There were 25 countries represented and I didn’t even travel the furthest this time - there was a gentleman from Australia. (I attended Clash of Kings in 2019 - there were about 70-80 players then).
First of all i would like to say that everything about the tournament was top class - from the organisation, constant email reminders, info-pack, goodie bag, tables and side tables which were a godsend. The venue was at Nottingham Trent University, basically a big sports hall with another area facing the stage (where the top tables were).
I took Halflings and most of my army wasn’t even painted when I arrived in UK 3 weeks prior - thankfully I got them all painted to a tabletop standard just in time (I painted my EJs the night prior and a few hours before). It was different from the other 10 or so Halfling lists - i had no Aeronauts or Muster Captains on Winged Aralez which are both units i like but i had only 1 of each and i would have preferred to take 2 each (which ironically was the winning list but we’ll get to that later).
My list was
3x Braves (1 had tinker and IR from Gadgets & Gizmo)
2x Poachers (Formation)
1x Troll Gunners with Staying Stone
2x EJ Grenadiers
2x Iron Beasts (1 with Pride)
2x Engineers (both with WC Aura and 1 with Radiance)
1x Sauceror with Boom Stick (Lightning Bolt 3)
1x Ally McSween
My plan was to hold back the iron beasts and harvesters to setup for countercharges and throw braves forward to die (and they did valiantly) while I shot them with my deceptively shooty list. 42 shots at 4+, 10 shots at 4+ Piercing 1 (from Iron Beasts) and 6 shots at 3+ from engineers. Not to mention the 5 throwing knives by Ally (4+ Piercing 1). And not forgetting Lightning Bolt 3 from the Sauceror with Boomstick.
Game 1 vs Andrew Bal - FoN (Pillage) LOSS
Andrew had a stunning FoN army which was shooty as well (4x Naiad Heartpiercers + Scorchwing Horde + 3x Greater Fire Elementals + 1x Greater Air Elementals + 2x Forest Shambler Hordes). He won the roll for side and chose the side with more terrain and began to castle there. He was definitely afraid of my shooting and set his 3x GFE in front of his Naiads knowing that i would not shoot the GFE and focus on the units instead. I send Ally to do her usual hijinks to try to take out the naiads and she did well, wavering 2 of them. Andrew actually was so afraid of Ally that he turned his Forest Shamblers 180 degrees and surged them into her not once but twice! She died the second time but it helped bring the forest shamblers away from the main fight in the centre. I unfortunately lost track of time (a recurring theme for sure lol) and diced out which probably cost me the game. Had a decent chance of taking out a GFE with a harvester counter charge and also shooting off the GAE but I just ran out of time. In his last turn he charged my Iron Beast with both GFE and surged the GAE (in the flank) and it unfortunately died. It was also his last roll of the game. Was super tense and nail biting until the very end. Hey at least i get to play someone else who lost in the first game.
Game 2 vs Heather Armstead - Ogre (Smoke & Mirrors) WIN
First of all i want to say that Heather is an absolute lovely lady and truly an inspiration. She had a super cool Ogre Pirate army with a giant Parrot as her Giant! We had a really fun game but her being a newer player could not deal with my EJs on both flanks while my shooting slowly took out her units one by one. I wavered her goblin scouts which didn’t help things either. Ally was in combat with a unit of Goblin Scouts for about 3 turns lol which meant her Ogre Warriors were basically stuck. Some highlights included a unit of Goblin Scouts rear charging my Iron Beast and doing 7 damage and my double 1 on her Bully who eventually single handedly took out my other Iron Beast. The troll gunners showed their worth in this game, shooting at warriors and also the Giant without any cover. It was a sneak preview of things to come for the next game in a way.
Game 3 vs Nick Davies - Trident Realm (Push) LOSS
Nick couldn’t have chosen a more suitable army - super chill dude with surfer-like vibes. His army was stunning and the basing made it look like they were underwater. I wasn’t too concerned as his army was mostly D3 and even with Stealth on the Thulls or Cloak of Shadows i could slowly whittle them away especially without any heal.
His 2 tokens were on his Placoderms where was behind Thulls galore and a Coral Giant. I had 1 on my braves horde in the middle and another on my Iron beast closer to the right flank. His right flank was completely empty save for 1 Coral Giant - i deployed a harvester and EJs to keep his Coral Giant busy.
Things started off well with me taking out the tidal swarms and Ally doing her thing to charge Thull in the flank. EJs also got a flank charge on Thulls but did horrible - something like 4 damage and rolled 1 for brutal. The giant on the left concerned me so I threw my braves out in front while Poachers and Troll Gunners whittled away on the Coral Giant (no cover). I managed something like 10 damage and wavered the Coral Giant. It was cagey in the middle as I foolishly allowed his Depth Horror Eternal to charge my Poachers there and his Depth Horrors to charge my Sauceror - overrunning into the Iron Beast. On the right side i charged his Coral Giant with both EJ (in the flank) and Harvester in the front and kept him busy for the rest of the game (his CG was wavered for the last 2 turns i think lol).
Ultimately on the left side his Coral giant and Thull regiments died (after a flank charge by Kraken on braves which survived). I then charged his Placoderm regiment with everything I had to get his 2 tokens. He got the token in the middle plus 1 of my tokens which were on my braves. It was then a race against time for me to play as i had 3-4 mins on the clock with Turns 5 and 6 and potentially 7 to go.He eventually charged my Iron Beast and got the tokens with his depth horror. I ran out of time otherwise I would have unloaded all my shooting on the Depth Horrors with 3 tokens (on 8 damage) and probably would have taken it out (he was out of inspiring range). It was a brilliant game and again underscored the importance of using the clock more efficiently.
Nick was great and told me repeatedly that he shouldn’t have won and that he robbed me. Lovely guy and hope to play against him again. Minor loss and I was sitting at 75th place with 1 win and 2 losses. Both losses were super close and basically down to me dicing out and running out of time. At least I had something to aim for on Day 2 (not time out and get to 3 wins at least).
Game 4 vs Lukasz - Salamanders (Hold the Line) WIN
Lukasz who was from Poland had a tough list with 4x Corsairs, 3x Battle Captains on Rhinos and 2x Rhino Hordes and 1x Ancient Regiment with Firebrand, Artarkl and of course 2x Scorchwing regiments. I wasn’t too worried as he did not have any healing and most of my shooting out-ranged him. I just had to keep his Rhino Hordes at bay while I try to shoot off his corsairs in the middle. Things went according to plan but I was incredibly lucky which definitely helped - a horde of braves charged a rhino captain and took it off in 1 turn! He also had an overrun with another captain where he needed a 3+ to prevent a flank charge on his rhinos with a harvester but he rolled a 2. On the left flank the troll gunners kept his Rhino captain and scorchwings busy while my EJs flew over - as expected he turned his corsairs and shot them instead of moving towards the middle where he could score.
The defining moment was my last turn where I charged his rhinos with my poachers and iron beast and didn’t break it - he counter charged my iron beast instead of my poachers. Didn’t kill my iron beast - if he had charged the poachers he should have taken it off and would have won the left flank and center. I also forgot to turn my harvester who took out a regiment of corsairs to face the front where his ancients took it out which would have swung the center to me.
Game 5 vs Richard - Ogres (Plunder) WIN
Richard was a great guy with a solid Ogre army with the hell on wheels formation - he won the roll and took the better side in terms of movement. The bulk of his army was in the middle, he had goblin scouts + Kuzlo on the left and ogre warlord with chariot regiment on the right. He also won the first turn and dashed forward to take the token on the right. I held him up with a brave horde and harvester - his ogre regiment dropped the token and a goblin scout troop picked it up and proceeded to run away lol. Ally was clutch - stole his blessing of the gods on his ogre regiment, allowing the brave horde to stay there for longer than they should.
The right flank was key - I only had 1 EJ + Poachers to hold Kuzlo off. He offered me a charge on Kuzlo by Poachers (off the hill) and by the EJ (hindered). I managed to do 1 wound with the EJ and got Brutal 3 which was absolutely essential in taking off Kuzlo in 1 turn. (Poachers did like 3-4 damage as expected). With that I won the left flank and token there.
The center was just me trying to hold him off and shoot off things like the Giant (shades of the game vs Nick where I shot relentlessly at the Giant due to no cover). His Hunters did cause me problems - it survived a flank charge (hindered unfortunately) by Braves and Iron Beast in the middle. In the end I managed to get a token on my Iron beast and it survived a last ditch charge from siegebreakers (which took a while to chew through another Iron Beast and braves and even EJs which I threw away.
If the game ended on Turn 6 I would have won but there was Turn 7 where his giant had to charge and kill my EJs which had the token to win the game. Unfortunately for him, his giant rolled double 1 for the attacks and did like 3 damage on the EJs and wavered them and that was the game.
On the right flank the engineer kept shooting at the goblin scouts which were on the edge of the board but just couldn’t kill them! (their token was worth 2). It was a close win to me in the end 4-3. I didn’t have any time for my turn 7 but thankfully things swung my way.
Game 6 - Andy Smith - Rhordia (Dominate) WIN
My final game was against Andy who had an absolutely beautiful Rhordia Army painted in Estalia livery. I was fairly confident when I saw his deployment - his 2 Honour Guard hammers were behind infantry (which was all D4) with his organ guns in the center. My plan was to shoot off his infantry and hold his hammers for as long as possible. His general was on the right flank together with some wizards on pegasus and pretty much ignored them - keeping an EJ on that flank to keep him honest.
My shooting (plus Ally) took out the Pike horde on Turn 2 which demoralised him quite a bit and I proceeded to shoot the rest of the infantry and his 2 mounted scout troops in the following turns. Held up the honour guard with EJs then Poachers on the left while I threw a horde of braves at the honour guard on the right flank. His volley guns kept shooting my Iron Beast for some reason and eventually took 1 out - after I took out his infantry I took out 2 of his volley guns - negating his shooting. My surviving Iron Beast then charged his Honour Guard on the left - keeping them away from the middle.
I then moved up to the middle with the bulk of my army and he had no choice but to throw his Flying Duke and Duke forward to try to break my 2 brave hordes - he had terrible luck with his dice as well. It was a tough game for him - staying back and shooting with volley guns vs my shooting was a bad idea - I would have been in trouble if he was more aggressive and closed the distance early to negate my shooting - his volley guns would have still been able to shoot at my Iron Beast over his infantry.
Overall I liked my list quite a bit - Ally was insanely good and took a lot of shots for the team - just having a scouting character resistant to shooting was a menace to many of my opponents who had shooting infantry which was D4 (heartpiercers, corsairs etc). If they decided to shoot her - I would be more than happy for that to happen. I may decide to drop 1 iron beast for another Engineer and more US but having 2 Iron Beasts was clutch in many scenarios involving loot tokens and objectives.
Overall i finished 25th out of 148 players (2nd best Halfling as well) and i’m quite happy with my play and list (save for clocking out in most of the games - something that i definitely have to work on). I was also incredibly lucky which helped. Piotr Nowak from Poland took top place with a very different Halfling list - mad respect to him. Definitely not an easy list to pilot.