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Clement

Is anyone actually beating Kings Empire?

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I'm at kind of a loss right now.

We have 3 players locally (Kings Empire, Abyssinia, and Gibbering Hordes) and any time the Kings Empire army is in use, it wins.  By a comfortable margin.  It doesn't seem to matter who's playing it.  We could hand it to a total newbie to the game or even gaming in general, and it still grinds out in their favor.

We're currently playing 1 commander games and it's getting to the point where I'm just not interested in playing the game anymore.  I know if I hang back I'll get pinned down and shot to death, if i rush across the table I'm pretty sure I'll still get pinned down and shot to death since their firing ranges are so long.  KE army just happily sits at it's deployment zone edge basically running the table.

Has anyone had any kind of luck with them?  What kind of lists were you running?

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KE's one of the easier factions to learn with, but they're not unstoppable. For the Hordes, don't forget that your tide pools give you cover so you can place them in ways that protect most of your army on their way in (and take Whelks, multiple units preferably, they really help with the pinning thing). For Abyssinia, you have the better stats overall so best you can do is move up into range and try to focus down one unit at a time. They'll outnumber you probably, but if you even those odds you'll have a better time (don't forget you should have the card and activation advantage too).

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I've never lost against them, playing Hordes and Cult. KE definitely has a shallower learning curve than some of the others, but all factions are viable. Like Retnab said, with GH use cover/pools to your advantage, and bring Whelks if you have them. Storm Siren has an amazing Lure, which you can use to bring the food closer to your fishes. 

For non faction specific advice, remember that you win games by scoring points. Excluding Pitched Assault, it tends to be very difficult to score points if you don't leave your deployment zone. Casualties are acceptable (especially if you play Hordes) if it means you are scoring

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Definitely play to scenario.. but I think you also might be seeing plateaus for forces because you're playing a single commander game. When you open up the field every faction gets something out of it on top of more bodies and tactics tokens on the field:

  • Cult gets a second caster and has more flexibility to do things. Aggressive placement of 1-2 portal markers near the KE deployment zone and a friendly unit of Stalking Portals can get tarpitting units into the KE deployment zone at the top of Turn 1. This includes land Horo and/or Gory near something that doesn't want to be tangled up with a titan. ECB is expensive in a single commander game and more easily focused on, but combined with the second commander and more bodies, its ability to start spread very far apart limits focused fire abilities to remove them from the game before they have a chance to cause serious trouble.
  • Hordes gets more bodies, more options. Morphlings get more abilities to choose from. But importantly, in a two commander game, bringing the Frenzy and other beefy beaters is not as restrictive as it is in a single player game. Bringing the Stormsiren and the Frenzy gives you lots of control options for moving your stuff and your opponent's stuff. As Retnab said, work those pools. Early activation of Stormsiren that involves eating an egg or a nearby lurking fireteam makes those Tide Pools dangerous to your opponent while still being cover to you. Skulkers touching tide pools are really annoying to shoot at, and as an Aby player I've learned that I'm better off trying to Titan-trample them than engage them in a normal fight.
  • Aby gets more toys, sure, but we also get more ways to keep those toys alive. Our generally better statline starts showing its teeth when we're making use of Reinforcement and Inspired tokens on our dudes. Prince Unathi ends up having more units he can support with his shenanigans (which includes handing out reinforcement tokens and potentially moving units or immediately reinforcing them as a result), you have the Lord of Steel's discount (and more options to support the hyperactive steampunk Black Panther), and you can more readily bring in Samantha Thrace for additional Reinforcement tokens. You also get more Prototype Assets to distribute.

Basically, opening it up to two commanders gives the steeper learning curved forces more flexibility and angles of attack. KE also gets some goodies out of it too, so it's not like doing this will make it easier for the other forces. It just opens up options.

The other thing I would bring up is that over in the KE section, you'll see people lamenting over close combat (from the Malifaux forces), because Cult and Hordes are capable of getting melee units into their opponent's deployment zone in turn one. Sometimes before their opponent even gets to activate:

  • Frenzy nipping Alpha Crawler forward a few times, coordinates into the Overeager Alpha Crawler, who then rushes.
  • Gory receives Advance Order, steps into portal marker or Stalking Portal team near the Cult deployment zone, pops out at a portal marker near the KE deployment zone. One of Gory's assets lets her move afterwards to engage something and she still has her normal attack plus any versatile attacks (additional heads).

Here in Aby we don't have those things exactly, but we do have better armor and better close combat than KE. So it's in our best interest to make use of terrain while advancing, rush from cover to cover, and make use of our prototypes to make things happen. Like getting Electrocutioners into Glory. Keeping units loaded up on Reinforcement tokens helps keep them going when they're getting peppered with fire. Use Advance orders to meet Operation objectives when you've got cover/concealment. VP pressure will force KE to play more forward and aggressively just to catch up.

These are just general ideas. For more specific stuff, as santaclaws01 mentions above, let us know what is being fielded and we can discuss strengths/weaknesses that are specific to what you have.

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Some caveats on the above:

Before the game: Forces are hired after factions are revealed. If you're making better use of terrain, expect to see more terrain-ignoring effects. If you're making use of your armor, expect to see more piercing and/or higher strength shooting. Once you start effectively bringing more close combat to bear against the KE forces, expect their roster to update to have some staying power against close combat forces.

During the game: Expect to see more effort at getting the Rifle Corps into glory and to hand out tokens to slow your advance to strip your reinforcement tokens. Expect to see more aggressive posturing and layered forces (shooters tucked in behind Borderers, possibly on higher ground, for example). If you've been putting on more VP pressure, expect to see your KE opponent focus more on the units that you normally complete objectives with even as they play to scenario more aggressively.

You'll have to adjust your own play as the local meta shifts, basically.

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In the last game, (note:  Charles didn't have a military assistant only because I begged the KE player not to.  Our consensus is that Military assistant is insane and needs to be on a Commander EVERY game, always, forever.)

Abyssinia:

  • Prince Unathi
    • Hand Held recording device         1
  • Mehal Sefari                                        9
    • Abyssinian Engineer                    1
  • Mechanized Infantry                            8
  • Crow Runners                                     6

King's Empire

  • Charles Edmonton
    • Radio Transmitter                      1
    • Medal of Honor                          2
  • Royal Rifle Core                                  9
    • Sharpshooter                            1
  • Grenadiers                                         8
    • Sharpshooter                            1
  • Motor Scout                                       2
    • Toughness                                1

 

The game was a draw for the first turn, then in turn 2 I got a single marker across the line with my crow runners, while Charles removed Prince Unathi from the table (so tie score).  In turn 3, he used Capture the Flag to push the marker I placed in turn 2 back over the line, and the motor scout snuck across the line to dump out another marker, swinging the game 4 points in his favor.

The most successful "feeling" unit was the crow runners, but they got stuck in an impossible choice of running in to tie up the grenadiers (in which case Capture the Flag throws a 4 point swing when my marker suddenly scores against me.  I'd "only put it" 5 inches into his half of the table.  Needed to be at least 7 I guess).  Or else stay near it to be ready for Capture the flag in which case I get shot to bits (or suffer False Flag Operation, remove my own marker and take the hit, then bunch up to be grenaded anyway)  The KE Tactics are kind of gross.

Edited by Clement
False Flag Operation vs. Capture the Flag

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2 hours ago, cbtb11235813 said:

I've never lost against them, playing Hordes and Cult. KE definitely has a shallower learning curve than some of the others, but all factions are viable. Like Retnab said, with GH use cover/pools to your advantage, and bring Whelks if you have them. Storm Siren has an amazing Lure, which you can use to bring the food closer to your fishes. 

For non faction specific advice, remember that you win games by scoring points. Excluding Pitched Assault, it tends to be very difficult to score points if you don't leave your deployment zone. Casualties are acceptable (especially if you play Hordes) if it means you are scoring

I absolutely get that Horde and Cult would have a much easier time with KE.  Sadly Abyssinia can only march across the field and pray there's a forest to hunker into.  No forced movement, teleportation, or cover-on-tap for us :(  If Prince Unathi could shoot his own units and put down poison clouds, that would be nice.  Against KE though, I'm struggling to see a scenario where the Prince will have an enemy unit in range before he's caught a bullet from Charles' cannon.

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I've played against KE twice and I'll admit they can be a massive headache, but I feel we can be competitive in a single commander game.

Rifle core is always a headache for me, anything I can do to neuter them helps tremendously. They love to go after easy kills to get into glory quicker.

Armor helps, as does our ability to have alot of card draw and additional attacks via engineer and prototypes. I had some luck with the railgunner assuming I can keep them alive. 

 

 

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Couple things: the Capture the Flag push is 5" total so unless the objective marker is completely within 3" of the center line the best the KE player can do is put it on the center line (which I think means both score off of it). I strongly suggest always having as many assets on your commander as possible, so giving Prince a Soulstone Necklace would majorly improve his survivability. If you do decide to keep the Engineer instead I'd put it onto the Mech Infantry unit personally since they have their stacking accuracy buff he can benefit from.

What prototypes are you using and on who?

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What prototypes and stratagems are you using? With Prince Unathi, these are important considerations as he leverages them within your forces.

If only bringing one engineer, I'd be more inclined to put it in the Mechanized Infantry just to give them a little more of a shooting edge and resilience (counts as two models when removed, one model when reinforced; it is a shooting action taken by the unit, so that lovely AV boost kicks in for when you want to open up with the main gun on the combined arms titan). Not really sure what you can do about sharpshooters and Edmonton plinking off Prince Unathi, other than finding a way to squeeze in another asset. What you'll probably find is that if you cut out the Mehal Sefari (it pains me to suggest this, but if they're not keeping Unathi alive and they're not scoring points, should they be there) and replace with a cheaper element (or two, if you go with Rail Gunner/Marauder), you'll have some breathing room for another asset.

Mine Control Device might help choke travel lanes that the Motor Scout would use, but it's a dirt cheap objective runner for KE and has a small footprint. The Motor Scout might be something to have your Mechanized Infantry focus on early on if they can, primarily because it's the most mobile element on the KE side.
I'm also a fan of Toughness, since it's a 2-for-1 and it has no other purpose in life then extending the lives of single model elements. A Marauder with toughness runs you 4 scrip, and you can toss the spare toughness on Unathi to keep him alive longer. This leaves you 5 scrip to spend if you dropped the Mehal Sefari. This would also give you two objective runners (Marauder and Crow Runners). 5 scrip happens to be the cost of two Rail Gunners with Toughness. Sure you have less overall bodies on the field, but you end up having a couple more activations. This lets you hold off on objective running until the KE player has committed their main effort, using the Rail Gunners to try and plink the Motor Scout or threaten Edmonton.
Soulstone Necklace (as Retnab suggests) is also a good one to put on your commander to keep him (or her, if Kassa) alive.
Hopefully it's obvious that this kind of change is suggested primarily for the Operation: you need objective runners that won't die easily that can act fairly late in the turn, limiting your opponent's ability to respond.
You also might make use of the Long Game special ability (even if they pass after you do, it won't end the turn, so it costs them a card to do nothing where your card spent is to limit their ability to respond to you) to limit coordinated strikes and force your opponent to run out of activations before you do. Sure, they get 2+ activations in a row, and if they used coordinated strike on the first activation, 3+ in a row. But then they cannot respond to your objective grabs. The trick is then to make sure that your stuff is in a position to weather being shot at repeatedly (in cover, with reinforcement tokens).

One of the things I've been doing with my Marauder is giving it the Shock Baton prototype in addition to Toughness (prototypes get to be special), which lets me use it to jam if I need to and pick out adjuncts on demand. I've seen Flare Guns get used to horrifying effect, but typically with Electrocutioners.

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I think Lord of Steel with a Soulstone Necklace, Hand Held Recording Device/Evasive Manouvers and Lion Amongst the Gazelles (and if you can give him a reinforcement token its even more dope) could really be very good versus KE. 
You can charge T1 and tie the shooters and with Lion Amongst Gazelles if they disengage you can engage them again.

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44 minutes ago, retnab said:

Couple things: the Capture the Flag push is 5" total so unless the objective marker is completely within 3" of the center line the best the KE player can do is put it on the center line (which I think means both score off of it). I strongly suggest always having as many assets on your commander as possible, so giving Prince a Soulstone Necklace would majorly improve his survivability. If you do decide to keep the Engineer instead I'd put it onto the Mech Infantry unit personally since they have their stacking accuracy buff he can benefit from.

What prototypes are you using and on who?

I must have put it just within 3 then sadly.  I know we played the push right.  I've found that, at least at the 25 stone level, it's kind of hard to get all the assets I I normally want onto Unathi (starter box games are the worst with us only having 1 spare point.)

40 minutes ago, spooky_squirrel said:

What prototypes and stratagems are you using? With Prince Unathi, these are important considerations as he leverages them within your forces.
 

When I started the game I had Discus grenades on the Crow runners and the Flare Gun on the Mechanized Infantry to take advantage of tracer rounds.  On I think turn 3 I got Shock Batons onto the Sefari at the start of the turn as they engaged the Motor Scout to beat him to death, but bad flips meant he lived, then got out of melee and gained a reinforcement token on his turn with focused effort, so net effect there was basically nothing.

For stratagems I had taken Overclocked, An Honorable Death, Behind Enemy Lines, Defensive Formations, Medic, and...  something else.   An Honorable Death and Medic were under the assumption that Unathi would die *eventually*, but I didn't realize until he got hit the first time for 2 damage that Recording Device only disabled to prevent 1 damage.  I didn't know assets could come with that low a disable value.

 

With all this in mind, if you had to put together a 1 commander list to take on the above KE list (he always runs basically that) what would you suggest?

I have everything that came standard in the KS, plus Kassa 2 squads of Mechanized Infantry (long story).

 

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4 minutes ago, Clement said:

   An Honorable Death and Medic were under the assumption that Unathi would die *eventually*, but I didn't realize until he got hit the first time for 2 damage that Recording Device only disabled to prevent 1 damage.  I didn't know assets could come with that low a disable value.

Remember you can still scrap it to prevent 1 damage which means he needs to take 3 damage to die (also, count in the Champion rule)

 

Also, I would recommend Elite Training. An additional activation against a shooting army seems pretty solid.

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9 minutes ago, trikk said:

Remember you can still scrap it to prevent 1 damage which means he needs to take 3 damage to die (also, count in the Champion rule)

 

Also, I would recommend Elite Training. An additional activation against a shooting army seems pretty solid.

Did that.  In a faction that has lots of "easy to hit but good armor" I've found that Prince Unathi is the outlier in that he has better defense and worse armor then I'd have expected.  He's apparently pretty spry for a big guy.  In this case, Charles ignored the champion rule and had a hill in his deployment zone to spend the game on.  Charles seem to really have Unathi's number in that Unathi is "harder to hit but sort of fragile" and Charles is "WILDLY Accurate but low power" (8 attack on his gun w/ assistant, or 9 in glory).

I'll take elite training into consideration. (I assume you mean expert training).

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When you can, use the Champion rule. Some things ignore it (like Edmonton), but if you're fielding Mehal Sefari they have additional synergy with it. Against Chucky boy there, it doesn't have as much value (which is why I'd be willing to drop the Mehal Sefari).

I definitely agree with using Expert Training, as it will allow you to get more work out of one of your squads. Lion Among the Gazelles lets you get more work out of your commander, but depending on what commander you're using, this could be a mixed bag. With Unathi it gets you more reinforcement tokens and maybe another prototype use, but without Electrocutioners, it requires having an initial card in hand to discard, since Unathi's card draw is after the action.

With Kickstarter stuff (standard) you have Samantha Thrace and a Rail Gunner, right? Samantha Thrace gets stuff done and can get you more Tactics tokens for achieving objectives or influencing the conflict in other ways, like handing out Reinforcement tokens to stay alive longer. It's not a Marauder providing you extra objective running prowess, but it is a Champion supporting your troops and bolstering your Tactical Tokens cache and a shooter (the Rail Gunner, that is) that you can use to put pressure on that Motor Scout. Thrace will also let you fire the Mechanized Infantry titan's gun out of activation with her morale action.

With Unathi's fragility, Toughness and Soulstone Necklace are two things I would consider on him, and if you're keeping some Reinforcement tokens on him, he can be refreshing them during his activation. Medic is also kind of crazy helpful for keeping a model with Toughness alive.

Going after the Operation is the key to the game, so with marker related stuff I would keep the required Tactics Tokens in reserve for placing/flipping the markers, and holding off on having your scheme runners activate until the last possible moment. This is where Unathi and the Crow Runners will likely end up needing to work together. The Crow Runner's scouting behavior lets them disengage for free at the start of the turn, but your opponent may move to re-engage them. Unathi's reinforcing morale action has a trigger to allow them to move out of activation again, which can help you get at least one of them out of engagement in order to morale/interact to achieve the Operation marker task.
Where you can, keep advancing. The closer you get to rush order threat range, the more pressure you put on KE to keep engaging your close combat guys (Crow Runners, Thrace), which lets your shooters shoot unhindered and anyone who isn't actively engaged can run the Operation. This is one of the reasons I'm loathe to not field Mehal Sefari in general though, because they're an all-around threat. They can shoot, but they also present a very real close combat threat.

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31 minutes ago, spooky_squirrel said:

...Lots of good advice...

So if you were to hack together a single commander list against the above KE list into Set Traps, what would it look like?

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15 hours ago, spooky_squirrel said:

...Thrace will also let you fire the Mechanized Infantry titan's gun out of activation with her morale action...

Does it though? The Mech Inf fireteams have the Squad rule, so they could both shoot, but the Titan doesn't.

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Way I read it, she targets one of the Squad Fireteams, and any of its Fireteams can take the :ToS-Range: action.  Might be wrong though, the fact that the Fireteam she's targeting doesn't have to be the one who shoots is what makes me think it works.

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3 hours ago, ArcticPangolin said:

Does it though? The Mech Inf fireteams have the Squad rule, so they could both shoot, but the Titan doesn't.

Thrace’s Action lets one fireteam in the Squad unit take an Action.  By the Combined Arms rules, “In all other ways, it functions as a normal Fireteam in the unit it came with (including Activations, Orders, etc.)” after talking about how that fireteam differs from the other Fireteams “on the normal Unit Card.”  So you get a Titan that acts like it’s part of the Squad.  (So it’s subject to Squad coherence as well...)

More importantly, the Fireteams don’t have the Squad rule, their Unit does.  And it’s the unit being targeted.

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Not sure Thrace is only a single fireteam.  Mostly because if it is, why does Edmonton's "Volley Fire, On My Mark!" have such tortured wording to make clear that only a single fireteam shoots.  Fenton Brahms' "Kill them! Kill Them All!" has the same weird 'target fireteam that's part of a squad' wording.  It feels hamfisted that Thrace and they work identically, but for some reason Thrace gets away with much different (much shorter) wording.

I think that might be currently rolling around the rules forum though.

Edited by Clement
Added Fenton

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1 hour ago, Clement said:

Not sure Thrace is only a single fireteam.  Mostly because if it is, why does Edmonton's "Volley Fire, On My Mark!" have such tortured wording to make clear that only a single fireteam shoots.  Fenton Brahms' "Kill them! Kill Them All!" has the same weird 'target fireteam that's part of a squad' wording.  It feels hamfisted that Thrace and they work identically, but for some reason Thrace gets away with much different (much shorter) wording.

I think that might be currently rolling around the rules forum though.

That’s wishful thinking, because of course you’d rather have one action which generates three.

It also requires ignoring the fact that it’s worded the same way that the Commander extra action is.  

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3 hours ago, solkan said:

That’s wishful thinking, because of course you’d rather have one action which generates three.

It also requires ignoring the fact that it’s worded the same way that the Commander extra action is.  

The Commander extra action also specifically states that it is only one free action from this rule, even if the unit consists of multiple fireteams.  If your interpretation is correct, that whole additional sentence is unnecessary.  Why include it?

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7 hours ago, Clement said:

Not sure Thrace is only a single fireteam.  Mostly because if it is, why does Edmonton's "Volley Fire, On My Mark!" have such tortured wording to make clear that only a single fireteam shoots.  Fenton Brahms' "Kill them! Kill Them All!" has the same weird 'target fireteam that's part of a squad' wording.  It feels hamfisted that Thrace and they work identically, but for some reason Thrace gets away with much different (much shorter) wording.

I think that might be currently rolling around the rules forum though.

Thrace's is 12 words. Edmonton's is 8. Fenton's is also 11, ignoring the extraneous restriction of needing to target an enemy model(a restriction that's built into the core rules), and the "or" between action types.


Calling Thrace's wording "much shorter" is just wrong. As for why they're all worded differently, this wouldn't be the first time Wyrd has multiple effects worded differently that all work the same. Just look back at Fenton's morale action that has a restriction that's already in the core rules.

 

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1 hour ago, santaclaws01 said:

Thrace's is 12 words. Edmonton's is 8. Fenton's is also 11, ignoring the extraneous restriction of needing to target an enemy model(a restriction that's built into the core rules), and the "or" between action types.


Calling Thrace's wording "much shorter" is just wrong. As for why they're all worded differently, this wouldn't be the first time Wyrd has multiple effects worded differently that all work the same. Just look back at Fenton's morale action that has a restriction that's already in the core rules.

 

Which restriction for Fenton?  There are fireteams that aren't part of squads and cast actions that don't target enemy fireteams. (I guess action technically, on immolated Rhino)

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