Hello MoDers, I’m back with another instalment of my Franticon 2020 weekend, this time it’s Day 1, The Frantic Gamers ‘Vanguard’ tournament. I’m not sure why I’m writing these out of sync, I suppose that it’s not so important now, as the event took place over a month ago. I had decided to attend all three days of Franticon at the end of 2019, about the same time I received my copy of ‘Mantics – Ice & Iron’, the campaign and war-band expansion supplement to their table top skirmish game. My favourite ‘Kings of War’, faction ‘League of Rhordia’ was included and I wanted to put them to use. They had been noticeably absent from the original book, although eventually available in PDF format, it was great to finally have them in print.
Although I had backed the ‘Mantic’ ‘Kickstarter’ for ‘Vanguard back in 2018, and was really pleased when it came in the post (despite the missing league), as rulebooks go, it really is a thing of beauty. Sadly I never got around to learning how to play the game, (I can’t just read a rules set, I need to read and then play, several times, for them to sink in). I saw the ‘Vanguard’, tournament as the perfect opportunity to get to grips with the game. Determined to play with the ‘League of Rhordia’, I perused their troop choices. They have several handy units to choose from, each with different skills and upgrade options. After deciding upon some possible choices, I raided my miniature collection to look for suitable figures to take on the various roles. Due to the disappearance of a large number of the ‘Halfing’ options from the main ‘Rhordian’ army list following the release of ‘Kings of War’ 3rd edition I decided to get my ‘Halfling’ on and phys-rep all the troop types with these hairy footed lovelies. This made it really important for the figures that I chose, to look like the soldiers that they were representing. Thankfully I have a large collection of relevant minis to choose from, by companies such as ‘TTCombat’, ‘Games Workshop’, ‘Warploque Miniatures’, ‘Reaper Miniatures’ and was able to do just that.
Several list drafts, and painting sessions later, my war-band looked like this:
1 House Guard Captain – Rare elixir of Resilience
1 Halfling Sorceress – Lucky Charm
2 Halfling Braves – Bows
2 House Guard – Halberds
1 House Guard
1 Honour Guard
1 Rhor Markswoman – Musket
Sadly I cannot remember a huge amount of detail from the tournament; I cannot remember the names of all my opponents or the names of the scenarios that we played. I apologise if you are reading. I do remember that I enjoyed my first ever games of ‘Vanguard’ and learned a few tricks for the next opportunity that arises.
Game 1: My ‘Rhordians’ faced a war-band of Vampiric ‘Undead’, I don’t have a great track record against this faction in ‘Kings of War’. However ‘Vanguard’ is very different. I believe that the mechanics of the game allow you to focus more on the objective scenarios, and in fact not doing so can lose you the game. I do not recall the name of the scenario, but do remember that the aim was to seize and retain an objective that was in the centre of the table. I ran my ‘House Guard’ and ‘Honour Guard’ up to the centre, whilst my ‘Halflings’, ‘Mage’ and ‘Markswoman’ climbed a hill for a shooting advantage. My melee troops were pretty much going to grab the objective and pass it back, then sacrifice themselves to hold back the enemy, whilst the Captain took the objective to my deployment area. All good in theory, and whilst my shooters on the hill were keeping the skeleton and zombie grunts at bay, a wraith and his vampire masters were upon my fighters by turn 2. I had to change my tactics a little as my Captain’s prowess was needed on the front line. Thankfully he has a skill called ‘Unleash the dogs of war’, which allows him to summon a fresh ‘House Guard’ to the war-band. The reinforcement arrived 3 inches from the Captain. By the next turn the objective had been passed and was making its way back to the ‘Rhordian’ camp. Eventually a ‘Werewolf’ that had been scrapping with my ‘Honour Guard’ since round 1, broke through the lines and force fatigued himself to reach my objective bearer. He did not have enough power to actually assault my warrior, but my opponent told me that it was enough to have made contact, to make me drop the objective. It was disappointing; however I had killed enough of his war-band to outscore him, and scraped my first victory in my first game of ‘Vanguard’.
The press that had taken place in the centre of the board showed me that ‘House Guard’ and ‘Honour Guard’ are tough, and able to jam up the battle line if that’s what you need, even against big hitters like ‘Vampires’. I was glad that I had chosen these chaps. Although I cannot remember my opponent’s name, he was one of the Spanish contingent that make their way to the UK ‘Mantic’ tournaments. I want to say that he was very friendly and helpful. He understood that it was my first ever game of ‘Vanguard’, giving me time to make decisions and explaining, as well as he could, what actions he was taking and what the consequences of each action might be (dependent upon the dice of course).
Game 2: This time a face a war-band of Elves, and another friendly player, although I do not remember his name, I remember him telling me that this was only the 8th game of ‘Vanguard’ he had ever played. It felt good that we were on a similar footing re our experience and knowledge of the game. The aim of this scenario was to get as many of your troops in your opponents deployment area by the end of the game. My ‘Markswoman’ and ‘Halfling Archers’ took the right flank through some rough ground, and ended up in a shoot-out against three elven archers. My ‘Captain’, ‘House Guard’ and ‘Honour Guard’ were set up to forge their way through the centre of the table with support from the Mage, whilst the ‘House Guard’ without a Halberd was placed on the left flank to stop a trio of Elf militia.
During the game my results were mixed. Whereas I had been successful on the right flank, the left flank went to my opponent who outnumbered and tore through my single Guardsman. I had been impressed by his staying power in the previous game, but had overestimated his ability in this one. In the centre a spider mounted elf prince made a mad dash for my Mage, knocking her down, but failing to kill her. In doing so he had exposed his flank to my ‘Captain’ and a ‘House Guardsmen’ with halberds, and was swiftly despatched from the game. In the same turn my Honour Guard had charged my opponents forest shambler, this developed into another grinding press, as various fighters rushed in to support on either side. I was thankful at this point, as with the previous game, for the healing support from my ‘Mage,’ and the war-band’s ability ‘In Rhor’s name’ which for the cost of only 2 power points allows a human warrior to re-roll any dice that failed to save a wound, and remove any fatigued counters he may be marked with, or in the case of Halflings, if killed in melee they can take a nerve check to get a Down but not out result instead. This is a really useful ability that can be used more than once per round, so long as you have enough power. Toward the end of the game my Honour Guard was killed and I decided it was time for a rush my troops toward the edge of the table. By turn 6 we both had three models in each other’s deployment zone, so the game ended in a draw.
Game 3: I actually remember my opponents name in this game, as we have faced each other previously and had a few pre/post game chats. Marcin Gambino is a very talented painter, and I faced his ‘Ratkin’ at ‘Stane of War’ in January this year. This time he was using ‘Nothern Alliance’ and I was both in awe and slightly disturbed by the large amount of ‘Snow Trolls’ he could take. There is no doubt that ‘Northern Alliance’, are a very capable army, each troop choice has some phenomenal skill. Sadly I cannot remember much about the game, fatigue was setting in, and I allowed myself to be too concerned by the ‘Trolls’ to think about the rest of his army. The scenario this time was to kill your opponent’s war-band; I think it was 1 point for each Grunt/Warrior class and 2 points for each Support/Large/Command unit killed. I had the first loss, as a Halfling brave got sniped by an ‘Elven Ice-kin’. Thankfully there was some instant payback as my ‘Markwoman’ shot and killed the Elf. After my opponent’s ‘Snow Troll Prime’ dashed in to the void left by the elf, and I spent the rest of the game trying to kill it and the ‘Troll’ that replaced it when it was killed. All this took a heavy toll on my army as one by one my brave ‘Rhordians’ fell. Victory went to Marcin, and the tournament drew to an end. I totally miss used my ‘Honour Guard’ in the game, from setup I did not really know what to do with him. I have to hand it to Marcin he out played me, making great use of his power dice and regen, he definitely deserved the win.
I really enjoyed playing ‘Vanguard’ and definitely want to play it again. I think the League of Rhordia play really well, and hope they stay as versatile as they are currently. I definitely need to remember to use heal more often during the game, and I barely used the special items I selected, perhaps I didn’t need them. Overall I placed 10th out of 20 and this qualified my for a prize, which netted me a ‘Kuzlo and Madfall’ mercenary set which I look forward to painting at some point in the future.