Moonrakers at The UK Masters

The first weekend in December saw the UK KoW Masters tournament; 2,000 points, Edition 2 rules, 5 games, Northern Kings scoring system. Sixteen of the bravest UK players had been preparing for weeks: refining their Facebook abusive messaging techniques, building up their alcohol resistance and honing their cold-weather combat skills. And then the weekend arrived and we were off. The Moonrakers cleared Salisbury Novichok decontamination at 1300 on Friday, picked Edzig up on route and arrived surprisingly early to book into our hotel. A quick unpack and then off to view the venue at the Sanctuary.

The KoW Masters committee had done a fantastic job in transforming the gaming venue to reflect the gothic horror of the KoW world. The theme was an abandoned and ruined church which was achieved to perfection with rotten woodwork and sprayed on cobwebs. A particular nice touch was the imported refrigeration units that dropped the internal temperature close to freezing and gave an atmospheric chill which nicely complemented the dim lighting in the dingy surrounds.

A meal and one drink (honest) before off to an early bed for a good night’s sleep.

We gathered again on Saturday morning. The Moonrakers took the opportunity to exhibit the Moonraker winter fashion collection, which was well-suited to the cold conditions.

I was rocking my Abyssals,

Which allowed me a final chance to deploy my Despoilers before 3rd Edition consigns them to the bin.

Paul was also rocking Abyssals, but a very different list. SPOILER ALERT: Paul was voted into 3rd place in the best army vote with this army.

Andy was using his Night Stalker flying circus, having recycled some of Paul’s Air Elementals to provide ground cover.

And so on to game 1 which saw me pitted against Si’s Abyssal Dwarfs in an occupy scenario. Si had 3 hordes of Golems, Infernok, 2 regiments of Slave Orcs, regiment of Halfbreeds, troop of Gargoyles, Supreme Ironcaster on Winged Halfbreed, Dragon Fire teams and individuals with shooting attacks.

We both concentrated on the objectives on my left and went at it, trading units like it was going out of fashion. The main action was on the left and as we approached the end game there was not much left standing. On the right, Si had the upper hand, although I had caused some wounds to his Halfbreeds but he was well positioned to claim an objective there with his Hlafbreeds and Gargoyles facing my mounted Harbinger. But Harbingers are tougher than they look. My turn5, single Firebolt into wounded Halfbreeds, hit, wound failed nerve check and routed. Si’s turn 6, Gargoyles charge Harbinger, one wound, so no Firebolt next turn. My turn 6, Harbinger counter-charges Gargoyles, one wound, failed nerve check and routed.

On the left we ended Si’s turn 6 with one of my Hordes claiming an objective and Infernok surged to within 3” of another, which none of my remaining combat units could reach. Desperate times call for desperate measures. My Abyssal Warlock charged Infernok and I moved the Harbinger on foot right behind the Warlock. At the end of combat, I could not retire 1” and Infernok was forced backwards and out of 3” range from the objective to give me the win. Phew, a very lose game with very similar attrition.

On to game 2 where I faced Sam’s Orcs in a pillage (6 objectives) scenario. There were 3 objectives on each side of the table and we both hedged our bets with most units on the left of the table but with the option to head right if required.

I got into a really strong position and everything was going my way when, you guessed it, a critical Double 1 in a combat with the heavily wounded Winged Slasher led to the immediate demise of Basusu and the Hellequins. And with them my chances of success went out of the window and Sam trampled all over the tattered remnants of my army on his way to winning the game.

The final game of Saturday saw me pitted against Ian and his Elves. The scenario was Plunder. Ian had 2 regiments of Knights, 2 regiments of Palace Guard, a regiment of Drakons and some other stuff, including a surprising amount of ‘concealed’ shooting. I decided to concentrate on the 3 tokens on the right, leaving Basusu and the Tortured Souls to protect my left flank.

My mistake in this game was to not concentrate on killing Ian’s shooting. This combined with my normally deadly unit’s inability to kill the enemy left me in a precarious position late in the game. I had to stop Ian’s remaining Knight unit from getting into my units holding my tokens and so a hail Marty charge by the Warlock into the Knights sitting in difficult terrain. One hit, one wound, knock off their thunderous. Next turn, counter-charge by the Knights, with no crushing strength do not kill the Warlock. Warlock counter-charges and again causes a wound. Although he then died, he had achieved the required delay. Going into Ian’s final turn, he was holding a one and a 2 token, I had 2 units holding tokens, one holding 2 X one tokens and one holding a 2 token. And this is where my failure to kill his shooting units came back to bite me as he piled wound after wound onto my Hellequins and then routed them, gifting him victory by 3 to 2.

And so on to dinner and to lick our wounds while hoping for a better result on Sunday.

Sunday morning saw me matched up against Matt and his Orcs in a Push scenario with 3 tokens each. Matt had a scary block of Great Ax, 2 regiments of Ax, 2 regiments of Gore Riders, 2 troops of Skulks, Wardrum, 2 regiments of allied Fleabag Sniffs, Winged Slasher, 2 mounted Krushers and other individuals. Terrain was very important in this game and Matt won the roll for sides, choosing the better side. The table was effectively split by blocking terrain into 3 sections, left, centre and right. I deployed a horde of Despoilers (with all 3 of my tokens) and a horde of Twisted victims on my left facing off against 2 regiments of Sniffs, 2 regiments of Gore Riders and a Krusher. Almost everything else from both sides was in the centre with the horde of Great Ax holding all of Matt’s tokens. On the right, Basusu protected my flank from Matt’s Winged Slasher.

It all started well. Matt’s shooting caused relatively little damage, even against my De 4+ units. On the left, I went all aggressive and charged my Despoilers and Twisted Victims into the 2 Fleabag Sniffs and, probably unsurprisingly, one-shotted them. In the confined terrain, I was able to reform so that Matt could not charge both Gore Rider regiments into my Despoilers and so he charged one regiment, plus Krusher, into the Despoilers and the other regiment one into the already-damaged Twisted Victims, and failed to kill either of them. That was the game right there as next turn I could charge and clear out all the enemy and march my 3 tokens into his table half. Things were also going well in the table centre where my Tortured Souls had killed one regiment of Ax, my Hellequins had badly wounded another and I blocked a charge by the Great Ax with my mounted Harbinger. On the right, Basusu took some wounds off the Slasher, grounding it and a troop of Gargoyles protected the flank of the rest of my army.

On my next turn, on the left flank I bane chanted my Twisted Victims that then one-shotted the Gore Riders they were facing and turned to face the flank of the Great Ax. My Despoilers charged the Krusher which would allow them an automatic overrun into the Gore Riders. And, you guessed it, Double 1. B****r. Matt used the heavily wounded Krusher to ground the Twisted Victims, got the Gore Riders, now with thunderous charge again, into my already wounded Despoilers and killed them, took their tokens and turned to face the Twisted Victims, killing them in the next turn and then marching into my table half. This picture shows the collapse of my left flank.

In the centre I was well on top and combo charged the Great Ax, one-shotted them and stole their tokens. However, Basusu had been killed after 2 rounds of combat and I was powerless to stop Matt flying the Slasher onto the central token, picking it up then dancing out of reach for the remainder of the game. Although this was a loss, I still scored maximum scenario points and got a fair few kills under my belt.

My reward for losing this game was a final chance to redeem myself against George’s Night Stalkers in an invade scenario. George had a mixed Mind Screech/Nightmare list with 3 Mind Screeches (so retro), several regiments of Nightmares, horde and 2 regiments of Scarecrows and 2 troops of Phantoms.

Again, the terrain was largely split into 3 parts and, again, I lost the roll for sides and ended up with difficult deployment choices. I was keen to know on which side George intended to deploy the Mind Screeches before deploying my big hitters. They ended up on my right with a horde of Scarecrows and a troop of Phantoms facing off against Basusu, horde of Despoilers, troop of Gargoyles and mounted Harbinger. Everything else was in the centre with the exception of a regiment of Nightmares that snurgled around my flank on the extreme left. In the centre, I had the better of the exchanges and was doing pretty well. On the right, George moved his Phantoms into Basusu charge range and I took the bat, grounded them and then ploughed in with the Despoilers. This of course, took the Despoilers into Mind Screech range. And this was one of the high points of my Despoiler’s career as they took 3 Mind Screech Firebolts to the face at close quarters, shook themselves, stood up and charged into the horde of Scarecrows and one-shotted them. I’ll say that again, a horde of Despoilers one-shotted a horde of Ne -/21 Scarecrows. Oh Mantic, what have you done, depriving me of my Despoilers? I was now desperate to ensure that the Mind Screeches could not attack my units in the centre and so Basusu and then the mounted Harbinger were sacrificed. I had a brief scare when the Twisted Victims in the centre, needing to roll a 4 on a nerve check rolled a 3, leaving them stranded on my side of the board. Fortunately the Nightmares were wavered and I could fly over next turn, leaving my Hellequins to finish them off and retire into George’s table half. The game ended with George’s 3 Mind Screeches in my half and my Hellequins and Twisted Victims in his half for a 4:3 win.

With a couple of big scores today, even though I lost the first game, I moved up the leader board and finished 9th. Paul ended up with 3 wins in 5th position and Andy also had 2 wins but finished 13th.

So, some overall thoughts on the tournament.
. There were no easy games. Well, you’d expect that, this is the Masters.
. I really like the Northern Kings scoring system (you’ve no idea of the pain involved in saying that). It evens things out and means that a very close game does not end up as a 15:5 score but better reflects the game outcome. It also means that late in the game when you are clearly going to lose, there are still things to aim for.
. Double 1s. I’ll say no more.
. The Sanctuary is a dump.

Big thanks and kudos to Nick Williams for organising this event.

Not only did he arrange all of this and TO the event, he also paid out of his pocket for individual awards for the best in each KoW race across the year.

What a star. I’m not sure though why he has taken Rusty’s Night Stalker basing scheme and turned into a hoodie.

Thanks as well to all my opponents and to Moonraker Andy for driving on the weekend.

See you at a 3rd Ed tournament next year.

Happy Christmas.