Realm of Cinders — Mercenary Kings Strategy

RoC_MK-MDIn last fall’s Story Scenarios, the Mercenary Kings were limited to choosing which of the other two factions to fight for in the initial outbreak of the new war. In the Realm of Cinders, the Mercenary Kings are finally fighting for themselves and for the Zikia of the Wildwood!

Kahga, the Loon, General of the Mercenary Band “The Unbent”, has taken time away from the front lines to share his insights on the Mercenary Kings strategy.

After reading his missive, you’ll understand how the Mercenary Kings have continued to maintain their lead, winning 48% of the 3 player, 1000 pt scenario games.

Have some observations of your own from the Wildwood that you’d like to share with your fellow commanders? Discuss them on the forums!

Only one week remains in Chapter 1 — make sure that your enemies do not have a chance to claw their way back into contention!


Realm of Cinders Ch 1 – Mercenary Kings Strategy


Our home, the Wildwood, is being put the torch. An invading Empire army has entered the Wildwood and is “pacifying” villages, so they call it, or razing them completely. In my heart, I do not know which is the greater insult. I personally would rather perish than lose my thorns. At the same time, the Dominion seeks to use the cover of the forest as a stealthy road into the Empire. Neither side can be allowed to destroy Zikia lives or turn our holy woods into a plain of ash. There is no contract to call us. Without expectation of coin, the Mercenary Kings rally. The time to take a side has come. We fight for our homes, our families, and our land.


The Realm of Cinders is an asymmetric battle over survival of the Wildwood. We are small in numbers (500 APV Mercenary Kings army), but resolute in the protection of our way of life. The Dominion has sent a small covert unit (500 APV) to infiltrate our villages. The Empire has come with a full squadron (1000 APV) to take lands that, with the blessings of the Ancient Ones, will never again be theirs.


To successfully protect the Wildwood from the invaders of both factions, a Mercenary Kings army must earn 16 Victory Points (VP). To achieve this, a general must be fully aware of his own goals, as well as those of his enemies.


Our first call is to protect our people. Seven Zikia villages are caught in the crossfire between the invading Empire forces and the Dominion, which seeks to use our land as a staging area for an assault on the Empire. We gain 2 VP for fortifying a village, and earn 1 VP each turn from each fortified village that remains unconquered by the Empire.

The Durani have already begun a destructive march through the Wildwood, subjugating villages that do not fight them and torching those that resist. They are our primary enemy, and you will gain VP for destroying Durani Golems (standard reward 1/2/3/5 for Warsprite/Ogre/Titan/Colossus).

Villages don’t work like “King of the Hill” control Regions. The Mercenaries gain +1 VP each turn from a Fortified village, even if they don’t have a Golem there. To stop this ongoing VP gain, the Empire must control a village unopposed at the beginning of its turn in order to “Pacify” or burn it.

Those who would be the first among equals, the Samula Tribe, have negotiated a truce between themselves and the Dominion. The Gudanna seek to use the Wildwood as a passage into Empire lands, and are caching war supplies in the villages. So long as hostilities do not break out between the Gudanna and Mercenary Kings, a village can be both fortified by us, and be a site of one of these caches. So long as this truce stands, destroying Gudanna Golems gains us nothing.

There are those among the Zikia tribes who feel the agreement between the Samula and the Dominion is short-sighted. I am among them. The truce cannot last. If the Gudanna are allowed to have their way unopposed, they will make our forest the center of their war with the Empire. No matter which side wins, the innocent Zikia tribes caught in the middle will be destroyed. Once the truce breaks, destroying Gudanna Golems will also earn you VP.

The truce can be broken by either:

1) Destroying a Gudanna Golem (or the Dominion destroying a Mercenary Golem);

2) The Gudanna discovering a village fortified against them (by entering a village and triggering the trap);

3) Choosing to destroy supplies the Gudanna have already hidden.

If the truce is broken by a Golem kill, the first casualty will not award any VP. If you break the truce by destroying Gudanna supplies, you will be able to fortify that village on your next uncontested Turn there. If the village was already fortified against the Empire, you’ll be able to destroy the supplies and fortify against the Gudanna immediately. Once the Dominion’s perfidy is revealed and the Samula truce forgotten, you will receive VP for defending the Wildwood against all interlopers.


Gudanna forces are seeking to hide supplies in our villages. They get 4 VP for each village where they successfully hide a cache, but risk losing 2 VP if the cache is destroyed by Durani forces. They also gain VP by destroying the Empire’s Golems. They will lose 2 VP if the Mercenaries choose to break the truce by destroying a supply cache. They can also gain VP by destroying Mercenary Golems after the truce is broken.


The Durani have two choices when controlling a neutral village: they can get 3 VP for pacifying the village, or they can burn it, earning no VP for themselves, but robbing the Mercenaries of 2 VP. If they find Dominion supplies in a village, they will burn the village for 3 VP and a loss of 2 VP for both you and the Gudanna. If they control one of your fortified villages, they can punish the village for 3 VP, and you will lose 2 VP. No matter what the Empire decides, neither we Mercenaries nor the Gudanna can capture a village once the Empire has taken it. They also earn VP from Golem kills of either Mercenary or Gudanna forces from the beginning.





Your primary goal is to fortify as many villages as quickly as possible. Realistically this means at least two, if not three villages on the first Turn (winning Mercenary Kings armies have successfully fortified 2.8 villages). If you can fortify four villages, then your enemies will be hard pressed to overcome your advantage of steadily accumulating VP. But remember to hold the villages you fortify — you don’t need to keep occupying the villages to gain VP, but you do need to protect them from the Empire. With three villages fortified at the beginning your second Turn, the Mercenary Kings will win at the beginning of Turn six. If you can destroy even a single enemy Warsprite, your victory will come a whole Turn earlier!

The obvious villages are A, B, C, and D. Deciding which to take is difficult, but villages C and D are absolutely mandatory! The decision between A and B is a bit harder. One should be fortified early, and the other should probably be held in reserve. Both A and B are also likely targets for the Gudanna. While the truce holds, this is not a problem, but remember the Gudanna need to hide supplies in only four villages to win the game. This means the Mercenary Kings must be poised to deny them, or betray them at villages A or B in order to avoid a quick Gudanna win.

Delay the fight with the Durani as long as possible. The Mercenary Kings are positioned to win in the mid-game, and do so mainly by protecting the villages. If you are on the verge of winning, focus all your attacks on one Durani Golem to earn your last VP. Otherwise, let the Durani and Gudanna fight it out among themselves. Keep a sharp eye for injured Empire Golems that you can pick off to poach VP from the Gudanna. The Durani should also be concerned about an early Gudanna win, so let them defend villages E and F. Village F, in particular, can be a site of contention between the two. Let it.

  • STATS from HBS (5/28)

    Victory hinges on Fortifying Villages A and D

    Winning Mercs fortified Village A 67% of the time, while Losing Mercs only fortified this village 38% of the time.

    In Village D, Winners fortified it 67% of the time, while Losing merc armies only fortified it 46% of the time.



While the Spider Prince forged this alliance with the leaders of the Samula Tribe, the Samula do not speak for us all. Also, while Rudatha is known for his guile, the Samula were not naive. We can benefit from the truce, but in truth, we were never a party to it. We can end it whenever we desire. The Dominion cannot end the truce by their actions in a village, but must destroy one of our Golems, and gain no VP for it, to break the alliance. We can prepare to end it by fortifying a village against them, or take a more active tack by destroying Dominion supplies. These options put the truce in our hands. The decision to end it becomes one based on the Gudanna’s success, and potentially how contentious their battle with the Empire gets.

Most Gudanna wins are achieved by the fourth or fifth Turn. Many Dominion armies will have 12 VP by the second Turn. If the Gudanna have cached supplies in three villages, then they are only a Golem kill or two away from winning. The Dominion always take the first Turn, so the Mercenary Kings, with an intact truce, can contest a village to prevent swift Gudanna victory, but at the cost of holding back your Golem in that Region. As soon as you move away, the Dominion will win! Also, beware leaving villages C and D undefended while the Dominion truce holds. They can secure a victory by caching goods there while your back is turned — unless you fortify these villages with traps against them.

By the second or third Turn, you need to have already decided if you plan to end the truce by fortifying a village against the Gudanna. Remember to smile at at your Dominion ‘brother’ and speak of a united front against the ‘evil’ Empire while you are preparing to do what must be done to protect the forest.

The best way to break the alliance is to start your Turn in a village with Gudanna supplies and no Dominion Golems present. A smart Dominion general will not allow this to happen. To this end, you need to be able to strike at villages A or B, if they have been left undefended. Alternatively, lay traps against the Gudanna in every village you fortify. This forces them to resort to destroying Golems to win.

Failing this, send a messenger to the Empire’s general. He will be your only chance to not end up as a Dominion lackey. Let the Empire know about the Dominion’s advance, and then get out of their way as they begin to fight it out. In this case, the enemy of our enemy is our friend, if only for one day.

Against a struggling Dominion general, especially one who only has two villages after the first few Turns, let the truce stand. It can only help the Mercenary Kings’ efforts. An aggressive Durani army contesting villages G and F on the first Turn should be allowed free reign to crush the Dominion. Remain prepared to destroy any supplies in village A if the battle tips in the Gudanna’s favor.


Early in the game, avoid direct confrontation with the Durani. Keep up the appearance of dethorned Zikia by informing the Empire general of every Gudanna advance. If the Durani burn any village (whether or not the Dominion has supplies there, or if we have fortified it), we will lose 2 VP for allowing helpless villages to perish. Some generals may consider not fortifying a village to appear more innocent, but this is ill advised. If you successfully fortify a village, the 2 VP you immediately gain are also the most that can be lost if the Durani capture it later. Your opponents will be hard pressed to deny you at least 1 VP on your next Turn from having a fortified village.

If the Gudanna don’t win quickly, expect them to fade. Their only recourse is to kill Durani Golems, or ours, if the truce breaks. Against the superior Empire forces, this is a battle they are unlikely to win. If you haven’t secured your victory by the sixth Turn, you need to throw everything you have at the Durani. This may prove suicidal, as they have brought twice the army, will probably have already eliminated most of the Gudanna, and are poised to scourge the Wildwood with flame. If nothing else, prove to them that you are true Zikia, wild and free.


Fighting in the Wildwood comes naturally to us. The Zikia Golems all shine in this setting. Unfortunately, the secrets of Arcanum Zikia have been revealed to our enemies. Expect to see Zikia Golems arrayed against us. Despite this, don’t hesitate to work to our strengths. The Wildwood offers a great deal of medium cover. Use agile Golems, and knights that give benefits while in cover.

The first decision to make is whether to field three or four Golems in your army. The death of at least one or two Durani Golems will likely be required to secure victory, so a Titan could be invaluable. On the other hand, being able to fortify four villages on the first Turn with a group of fast nimble or flying Golems may give you an insurmountable edge.


Iron-Earthfall-LargeIn a three-Golem army, the obvious Titan choice is the Earthfall. Its passive ability allowing it to move and ignore terrain will be invaluable. If using the Earthfall, consider sending it to take one of the central villages on the first Turn to give it more movement options afterward. Taking village C on Turn 1 will then make village E an option, if the Durani ignore it. I, Kahga, would be willing to ride an Earthfall for you, making holding village E easier. If the encroaching Durani army moves in and attacks, they will have to move back in to contest the region. Also, the Earthfall’s Rolling Pummel can force any opponent out of the region.


Corpse CollectorIf you field a four-Golem army, consider the flying Ogres: Thornbeast, Prowler, and Corpse Collector. As flyers, they can all move quickly around the battlefield despite the varied terrain. Remember that the Thornbeast is not nimble, so be careful how you deploy it to make sure it can get to the village you want. The Prowler is a great addition to this army as well. Sending it to take village C in the first round puts it in range to Caustic Spray the Durani forces if they move into village E, hopefully in numbers. Have Saimha of the Nightwood or Vastuta the Mad ride the Prowler, and this attack can reach at least one of the Durani deployment zones on the first Turn. The Sworn Collector, commanded by Simati Tal, will also serve you well. She brings the much-needed ability to manipulate the opponent with an attack that moves a Golem away, while she can then use her Movement to return to the Region where she began. Tal’s powerful healing ability can also deny an opponent the VP from destroying her Golem.

While focusing on taking and holding villages, you will have little time to gather Mana. Also, if you field four Golems, your choice of Ancient Ones will be limited. In light of these factors, you may be limited to calling on the aid of The Solitary, The Trapper, The Nectar, or The Hopeful. Beware Ancient Ones who demand large amounts of Mana for their intervention. Look for Ancient Ones with affordable powers. Both the Nectar and Solitary fit this description. If you can, invite The Deceiver, as her curse in particular is inexpensive and can help deny your enemies VP from Golem deaths. In order to invoke the Ancient Ones in previous battles, I have suggested using the Ewer of Dyati in the first Turn, but here the 3 AP cost will slow down your fortification of villages too drastically. Using the Ewer on the second Turn may be an option if you already have claimed three or four villages, but in light of both Gudanna and Durani incursion, those AP may be better spent elsewhere.


The Mercenary Kings must play a game of balance. Maintain the truce while it benefits you, but be ready to end it if the Gudanna threaten to achieve their goals. The Spider Prince cannot be allowed to hurry through the forest and win without too much opposition. The truce must end at the latest by the time the Gudanna move into their fourth village, especially if the Durani aren’t in a position to contest them there. After thwarting the Dominion, hold your ground in at least three villages. Let the Empire onslaught crash against the Dominion. Once they have weakened each other, and we have assured the safety of our kin, we will drive them from our lands and punish them for every tree given to the flame.

Kahga, the Loon
General of the Mercenary Band, the Unbent
Roots Grow Deep!

Have some observations of your own from the front lines that you’d like to share with your fellow commanders?  Discuss the Realm of Cinders on our forums!



Limited Edition Relic Cards for Sale!

Promotional_RelicCardsBrand new on the Golem Arcana web store, we are now offering a pack of seven Promotional Relic cards that previously were only available as giveaways at Organized Play events and game conferences! The relics included are:

  • The Rod of Kaza calls forth the Kraken of the Sands construct which, once per turn, can pull an enemy Golem into its Region and may also attack a Golem in its Region.
  • The Lesser Sigil of Suffering explodes when it is used, harming every Golem in its Region, including the Golem that activated the Sigil. The Lesser Sigil attacks each Golem for 30 damage, then is discarded.
  • The Gauntlet of Jitakazi unleashes a ranged Area of Effect attack that will displace every Golem in the Region, regardless if they are hit by the attack or not. After this point it is discarded.
  • The Idol of Pravega gives a Golem 4 Movement points at the cost of 15 Health.
  • The Great Sigil of Suffering explodes to deal damage to every Golem in its Region, including the carrier of the relic. The Great Sigil attacks each Golem for 50 damage, then is discarded.
  • Sarithorn’s Mine places a construct that can be activated later on command to attack all Golems in the Mine’s Region, though it can be attacked and destroyed by the enemy. The Mine attacks each Golem for 50 damage, destroying itself in the process.
  • Durjaya’s Shade summons the Ghost of Durjaya construct, which will stop enemy Golems from shooting out of its Region and increase the damage taken from Ranged attacks by 10 for enemy Golems in the Region.

Visit our Web store today and pick up these powerful weapons of war!



New VP Tokens Available Now!


If you’ve wanted to easily identify Capture Regions on your Golem Arcana game-board during battles, check out these new token sets created by fellow player (and lore writer) J.C. Hutchins. They’re officially licensed products from HBS, and will be available for purchase at our U.S. store on Friday, May 22nd!

These durable resin tokens feature five designs to match your favorite Golem Arcana factions. They’re double-sided, featuring a “control region” icon on one side and a VP “victory condition” icon on the other. Use them as helpful markers for Capture Regions or other battlefield goals! Five matching storage pouches are also included. All sets are hand-crafted and unique. You can buy the VP Region Tokens today!


Regional Tournament Pre-Registration Open!

Pre-registration is now open! Click here to register for the tournament(s) of your choice. Note that each tournament is limited to the first 32 players to register! Registration will close June 19th.

Read more about format and the various tournaments here.


We have the West Coast, East Coast, and Midwest Regionals lined up, and you can find the dates and venues for each below!

West Coast Regional

Evergreen Tabletop Expo — June 20th — Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center – Badge required, see below link. Golem Arcana League of The Hundred Skulls Regional Tournament starts at 4:00 PM, June 20th, in Hall A.

Midwest Regional

GenCon 2015 — July 30th to August 2nd — Indiana Convention Center  - Badge required, see below link. Golem Arcana League of The Hundred Skulls Regional Tournament starts at noon, July 30th, in Hall F. Semifinals and finals start at 2:00 PM on July 31st.

East Coast Regional

King’s Games — June 28th — 1685 E 15th St, Brooklyn, NY 11229 – $10 Entry fee. Golem Arcana League of The Hundred Skulls Regional Tournament starts at noon, June 28th @ King’s Games.

Grand Championship Tournament

GenCon 2015 — July 30th to August 2nd — Indiana Convention Center  - Badge required, see below link. Golem Arcana League of The Hundred Skulls Regional Tournament starts at 10am, August 1st, in Hall F. Semifinals and finals start at Noon on July 31st.


Realm of Cinders – Empire Strategy


While the Empire failed to defend the Castles of the Line in the first round of Story Scenarios last fall, the battle has now shifted to the Wildwood on the Empire’s western border.

The Mercenary Kings have taken a commanding lead so far in the Realm of Cinders, Chapter 1, winning 54% of their battles on the 3 player map!

Heeding the call, Emissary MARDIN OF CHATZUK has drafted the following strategy guide for Durani Empire players.

Have some observations of your own from the front lines that you’d like to share with your fellow commanders? Discuss them on the forums!

Chapter 1 is already almost half-over. The Empire must regain its former glory – and its enemies in the Wildwood stands in the way!



Realm of Cinders Ch 1 – Empire Strategy

Comrades, fellow defenders of the walls of civilization, harken to me. We are embattled in the thick of the Wildwood, and the fighting goes not well for us. The Gudanna encroachment has so far been hindered by the resistance of some Zikia tribes and their Mercenary allies, but the Wildwood’s thorns sting us most of all, and often as not the Zikia band together against us in uneasy alliance with the Dominion interlopers.

Yet, disheartening as the situation may be, we must not lose sight of our critical mission in these woods: the Gudanna cannot be permitted to gain a foothold at the Empire’s doorstep. I bring you this counsel, hard-won in battle against both foes, and paid for dearly with the death-mana of many golems beneath the trees, that you may return to the fray the wiser and ready to outwit and outlast the scheming Gudanna and fierce Mercenary Kings alike.

Of the three factions clashing in the Wildwood, the Durani disposition is the most difficult. At first glance, our superior numbers would appear to give us the advantage, and indeed, had we the Gudanna or the Zikia mercenaries alone to face, we could crush either with ease. However, even when the Gudanna and Mercenary armies we encounter are at odds, both regard the Empire with greater animosity. Thus, while we enter the field with a larger army and more resources than either opponent alone, together their forces match ours, and their combined resources exceed our own.

The Durani army is 1,000 APV and has 8 AP to spend each Turn, but it effectively faces 1,000 APV of opposition with 12 AP between the two other players’ Turns.



Even if the two enemies do not act in concert, your army can ill afford to engage them both. Victory depends on avoiding vulnerability on multiple fronts. Additionally, your force must be both strong and swift to survive a potentially heavy assault while also seizing key positions as soon as opportunity arises.


Winged VanguardChoose golems that will offer you a balanced combination of durability and mobility. Warsprites may prove useful as scouts, but will not fare well in the heavy fighting you’ll certainly face. A highly mobile flyer like the Jeweled Harpy will serve well to seize distant villages when enemies have been drawn away, but keep it clear of the heart of the fray. For the most part, choose golems you can trust to stand firm in the front lines, both able to press the advance and quickly dispatch enemies. Golems that require support to perform effectively, or whose combat abilities are too specialized, will become liabilities.

If you are favored by the throne to field such a golem, the speed and strength of the Winged Vanguard will serve you well, particularly if commanded by the likes of Laghu Chandrisetra, whose skillful ability in aerial combat perfectly combines with the Vanguard’s flying strength, putting an attack like a thunderstrike at your disposal.

More commons golems like the Carrion Raptor can also bear up as the backbone of your army. The Raptor offers a dependable combination of survivability, efficiency, and utility. I have seen a Raptor commanded by Vegak Ananda fare particularly well, first drawing mana from his golem with an Urugal blood-rite, then restoring his golem’s strength from the enemy with its Vampiric Cyclone. This access to extra mana early on can enable strategies dependent on assistance from the Ancient Ones. I have benefitted from Vegak’s dearly bought mana when it enabled me to call upon The Solitary to grant my formation greater speed, or to invoke the blessing of The Hopeful to ensure a golem’s attack struck true.




From the moment you set foot on this wooded battlefield, fix one thing in your mind above all else: the Gudanna are the true enemy here, both of the Empire and the Zikia tribes, though some of them are too deluded to recognize it. While the mercenaries are more likely to attack us than the Dominion invaders, you’ll gain little by diverting attention to them. The Gudanna are in position to seize victory most rapidly, so your first concern must be obstructing them. The longer you can deny them, the better your own chances become of winning out in the end. If the mercenaries choose to attack you, at least they will have to expend the effort to come to you, and will crash upon your unified front.RoC_Map_Round0

First, take control of the villages nearest you , if only to keep them from the fast-moving Gudanna. From your starting position, it may be tempting to make an attempt on the village to the north. Decide before the battle whether you intend to do so. Any golems you send there will provoke the Zikia, and will be left too vulnerable without support. What’s more, even swifter golems will probably need to make the trek in two stages, which means a golem sent in advance will likely rush ahead of any others you send to protect it. However, despite the risk, contesting this territory may prove critical in limiting the mercenaries’ progress toward victory.

You must assess the field and your opponents for yourself to decide whether to adapt your strategy to include a northward fork, but my advice is this: do not fall into the trap of dividing your force. Direct the greatest pressure you can westward, into the Gudanna line. In the early stages of the battle, destroying the Gudanna army yields the greatest reward: it both brings you closer to victory, and weakens the Gudanna’s ability to press their explosive initial advance. Send your fastest golem later to take the village from the mercenaries when you can better afford to do so.

HBS STATS (5/18)

Winning Mercenary armies get an average of 14.7 VPs from fortifying villages: 36% of those VPs from Village C, 22% from Village D and 20% from Village A. Block any of those Fortifications, to prevent the Merc’s automatic 1 VP per turn.


Winning Dominion armies get an average of 14.4 VPs from hiding supplies: 28% of those VPs from Village B, the same 28% from Village G, and Villages A and F are both at 17% each. Prevent any one supply stash and they’ll be almost 6 points shy of victory.


When you are able to secure Zikia villages, exercise careful judgment in your treatment of the villagers. The denizens of the Wildwood are not the Empire’s enemies if they haven’t colluded with the Dominion. Show forbearance where it is warranted. Even if you find a village resistant to your search, your punishment need not be excessively harsh. However, where Gudanna supplies are found among the villagers, our orders are clear: we must put the village to the torch, not merely to destroy the supplies, but to demonstrate that abetting the Empire’s enemy so near Durani territory comes with a terrible price.

Be aware of something else: we’ve received reports of curious phenomena attending the flames when collaborating villages are set ablaze. It seems the mana wells near some villages become somehow unstable when the neighboring villages burn. If a golem approaches one of these unstable mana wells, its mobility is impaired, but it receives a great surge of might. I advise against setting fire indiscriminately in the woods, but if you must condemn a village to the flames, perhaps this strange effect can be used to your advantage.

When a village is burned, the Mana Well in the adjacent Region becomes unstable. When a Golem enters the Region of an unstable Mana Well, it loses 3 Movement for 1 Round, but gets +10 Damage for 2 Rounds.



If you succeed in securing at least the two nearest villages and manage to blunt the Gudanna assault, then will you likely need to turn your eye to the Mercenary army fighting for the Zikia. While the Gudanna path to victory lies in ferocious swiftness, the Zikia benefit from fortifying their villages and biding their time. A wise Mercenary commander will avoid direct confrontation, claim the northern villages, and perhaps strike at weak points in the Durani flank while you engage the Gudanna. If it becomes advantageous, some may even cast aside the tenuous arrangement with the Dominion in order to steal a sudden victory by destroying a vulnerable Gudanna golem.

By a similar token, you may be able to snatch triumph from the Mercenary army if its commander carelessly leaves you an opening either to strike down a golem or capture an unguarded village. Indeed, it may become necessary to take a Mercenary-controlled village simply to obstruct their victory.


If this account seems to describe a dire trial for the Durani army, know you grasp it aright. You face the greatest difficulty in this contest: at best, the Mercenary Kings you encounter may see the Gudanna as their enemy, and fight them as well as you; at worst, you will face Mercenary forces deceived into alliance with the Gudanna, and both will serve you the full measure of their enmity. In any case, an unfair fight awaits, but one whose outcome may well be even more crucial than the struggle at the Line.

Nevertheless, we must be the Empire’s bulwarks, and face this battle with the unshakable equanimity and stalwart readiness of our own golems. Let future generations proudly say of us that we unwaveringly stood before the Gudanna menace when they slunk in the shadows of the trees, and though beset on all sides, we would not let them pass.

I am with you all in fighting spirit, and pray fervently for your victory for our great Empire. May the Ancient Ones walk with you,

—Mardin of Chatzuk, knight of the Gilded Band,
to all Durani commanders deployed in the Wildwood.


Have some observations of your own from the front lines that you’d like to share with your fellow commanders?  Discuss the Realm of Cinders on our forums!



Realm of Cinders – Dominion Strategy


While the Dominion were victorious in the first round of Story Scenarios last fall, it would appear the same tactics no longer apply here in the Wildwood.

The Mercenary Kings have taken a commanding lead so far in the Realm of Cinders, Chapter 1, winning 54% of their battles on the 3 player map!

Heeding the call, Emissary DASKINDT has drafted the following strategy guide for Gudanna Dominion players.

Have some observations of your own from the front lines that you’d like to share with your fellow commanders? Discuss them on the forums!

Chapter 1 is already almost half-over. Time to rally the troops and regain honor and glory for the Dominion!


Realm of Cinders Ch 1 – Dominion Strategy


Three factions converge upon the Wildwood as the Durani Empire threatens to turn the Wildwood into a Realm of Cinders. As a Commander of the Gudanna Dominion, you must lead your Golems and advance Raja Rudatha’s plan by hiding war supplies in Zikia villages and then escaping from the Empire army seeking to punish the Zikia for collaborating with the Dominion. The Empire has marched its Golems into the Wildwood in great numbers. You will not be able to match them in open battle, so this is a mission of speed and stealth. Should the Empire and Zikia clash in open war, it will only help reinforce to the Zikia tribes how much they need an alliance with the Dominion.

Army Points

The Realm of Cinders is an asymmetric scenario battling over the fate of the Wildwood. You will command a small, 500 APV, Golem army as part of Rudatha’s campaign in the Wildwood. The Zikia tribes will be defended by a 500 APV Mercenary Kings army. Finally, the Durani Empire will field a 1000 APV Golem army.

Victory Points

To claim victory in the Realm of Cinders an army must earn 16 Victory Points (VP). However, each faction has its own methods for earning VP.

How are VP Earned?

The Dominion earn VP in two primary ways.

  1. Hiding war supplies by controlling Zikia villages will earn the Dominion 4 VP.
  2. Destroying Empire Golems will earn the Dominion standard Golem Kill VP (1/2/3/5).

The Mercenary Kings will earn 2 VP for fortifying villages (+1 per Turn held) and can also destroy Empire Golems for VP. The Empire will earn 3 VP for Pacifying or Burning Villages and can destroy both Dominion and Mercenary Kings Golems for VP.

Although the Dominion and the Mercenary Kings earn no VP for killing each others’ Golems at the beginning of the battle, this changes if certain events transpire. First, if the Mercenaries choose to fortify a village against the Dominion then both factions will now be able to earn VPs by destroying each others’ Golems when the betrayal is revealed. Second, if the Mercenaries destroy a Dominion Golem, or vice versa, then both side will begin to earn VP for destroying each others’ Golems (although the first casualty will not award VP).

How are VP Lost?

The Dominion can lose VP in two circumstances.

  1. The Empire can punish a village hiding Dominion supplies. This will cause the Dominion to lose 2 VP.
  2. The Mercenary Kings can fortify a village against the Dominion. If Dominion supplies are present they will be destroyed and the Dominion will lose 2 VP.

As you can see, the Dominion has the ability to jump out ahead on VP, but both opposing factions, the Empire and the Mercenary Kings, have ways to take away the VP the Dominion has earned. Remember that they can always betray you and act accordingly.



Basic Strategy

A Dominion victory in the Realm of Cinders will require your army to accomplish two primary objectives: hide supplies in Zikia villages and destroy Empire Golems. The Dominion is poised to earn VP very quickly, but the Dominion will have fewer and fewer opportunities to earn VP as the battle progresses. If the Dominion mission stalls, it will be very difficult to regain momentum and claim the victory.

Most of the Dominion’s VP will come from hiding supplies. For this objective, the Dominion army must be quick and stealthy. The Dominion’s first priority should be to take control of the three villages nearest the Dominion deployment zone and hide supplies (A, B, and G in the picture). However, do not neglect defending your villages once you have hidden supplies in them. The Empire will earn VP for Punishing these villages and the Dominion army will lose VP permanently. The Mercenary army will also have the option to betray your trust and destroy your supplies, so you must be wary of your supposed “allies.”

With three villages secured and 12 VP earned, the Dominion will need to destroy some Empire Golems to claim the victory. Strike fast, before the Empire can mount a serious offensive and begin punishing villages. Destroying a couple Ogres, or a Warsprite and a Titan, should be enough to secure a victory if you strike quickly.

Most Dominion victories in the Realm of Cinders will occur early in the battle. As a Dominion commander, you need to take control of Zikia villages quickly, hide supplies, and then launch a rapid assault against the Empire’s Golems to secure the victory. If the battle drags on, the Empire war machine will begin to gain steam and become increasingly difficult to stop, or the Mercenary Kings will betray you, and then the battle is likely to be lost.

  • STATS from HBS (5/18)

    - average Round when Dominion wins: 4.2

    - average Round when Mercs win: 5.5

    - average Round when Empire wins: 6.6



Trusting the Mercenary Kings

Realm of Cinders contains a very interesting mechanic: Dominion and Mercenary armies can “share” villages and both earn VP. Because of this, as a Dominion commander, you may be tempted to think of the Mercenary army as the friend and ally of the Dominion, after all, you gain no VP for destroying Mercenary Golems. So, why not trust the Mercenary army and share access to villages?

Do not fall into this trap. It is the single biggest mistake a Dominion commander can make in the Realm of Cinders. This mistake will cost the Dominion more victories than a hilltop covered in Fire Rams.

Yes. Raja Rudatha has an agreement with some Zikia. However, the Zikia are a fractious lot and there is no way to be certain that the Zikia, or the Mercenary Kings, will honor the terms of the agreement, so you cannot afford to trust them. The Mercenaries seek victory for themselves and their interests do not align with the Dominion. Allowing the Mercenary army to fortify villages where the Dominion has already hidden supplies only benefits the Mercenaries. The Dominion will not gain any extra VP from this while the Mercenary army will earn 2 VP (+1 VP per Round held) and have the option to destroy the hidden supplies, taking away 2 VP from the Dominion. Do not trust them.

  • STATS from HBS (5/18)

    - 50% of Mercs finding Supplies in Village A ended up Destroying them!

    - 64% of Mercs fortified Village A against the Dominion


Should the Mercenary army attempt to undermine your villages it will take it one Turn to destroy your supplies and then another Turn to fortify the village. Dominion commanders should make sure the Mercenary army never has the chance. If they somehow manage to destroy your supplies remember that you can still prevent the Mercenary army from fortifying the village. If you can stop them from fortifying the village against the Dominion, you can re-hide supplies in that village.

Dominion commanders should take control of all the villages in the western reaches and then deny these villages to both opponents. The three villages nearest the Dominion deployment are our villages. If you wish to claim victory for the Dominion, you must quickly hide supplies in these villages and then protect them against the tampering of the enemy. All enemies.

The Dominion Spymaster

While a victory for the Dominion in the Wildwood is very important for the War of Blood and Stone, you have other tasks to complete while in the Wildwood. A Dominion Spymaster is travelling with your army and she carries orders from Raja Rudatha to investigate some curious rumors amongst the Zikia villages. Each time your army successfully controls a village and hides supplies, the Spymaster will have a chance to learn important information while investigating these rumors. The wise Dominion commander will avoid disappointing the Spider Prince and make sure the Spymaster has ample opportunities to uncover useful information.

  • STATS from HBS (5/18)

    So far, 57% of Dominion have found Rumors

    Find out more about this mysterious child…
     Web of Thorns, short story
    Shadows of the Khan, novella


Dominion Golems

When building your army for the Realm of Cinders, you should look to capitalize on speed and stealth as most of your VP will come from hiding supplies in villages before they can be turned against the Dominion by the Mercenary Kings or the Empire. Look for Nimble Golems with high Movement or Flyers that can ignore Movement penalties from difficult terrain. Numbers are also important. It is difficult to mobilize your forces quickly enough if you only have three Golems in your army. If you are able to fit four Golems into your army it will open up a lot of options. You will likely need to earn some VP through Golem Kills though, so don’t completely neglect power in favor of speed and mobility.

Raja Rudatha’s armies generally draw upon Golems of the Gudanna and Zikia Arcana. Golems from Arcanum Zikia are particularly well suited to battle within the Wildwood. Zikia Golems often gain an advantage over their enemies by utilizing the terrain of the deep forest. Not only are the Golems of Arcanum Zikia well suited to combat in the Wildwood, they are familiar to the Zikia tribes that inhabit the Wildwood. The wise commander will exploit Rudatha’s agreement with the Zikia tribes and turn them and their Mercenary Kings allies against the Empire. If you arrive in a Zikia village with your Knights riding Dryads and Woodguards, the Zikia are much more likely to respond favorably than if you arrive leading Knights commanding Devil Djinns spouting gouts of flame from their clawed hands. Let the Empire’s Fire Rams remind the Zikia of the dangers of the flame.Iron-Earthfall-Large

You can make excellent use of many of the Golems of Arcanum Zikia. The Wildwood Dryad or Fen Lord can both add valuable ranged abilities to disrupt Empire Golems. The Prowler and Thornbeast are both Flyers that can move through the forests with ease and help you capture villages and Mana Wells. The Bramblehorn is a cheap Warsprite that can help bolster numbers and increase the number villages you can contest early.
The Earthfall Titan is a great choice for the battle if you’re looking for a heavy hitter. With its Crushing Momentum, the Earthfall ignores movement penalties for all Region types. This allows it to move about the battlefield with ease and lead the charge when you’re ready to engage the enemy.

Brambled Widow LargeRudatha’s Black Widows, from the Dark Garden, are masters of stealth and deception. The Widows’ passive “Spider Stealth” grants them 100 Cover while in Medium Cover. With the abundance of Medium Cover in the Wildwood, the Widows are extremely difficult to combat. The Widows greatly curtail the effectiveness of ranged units forcing your enemies to employ attacks that can damage an entire Region or engage the Widows in melee.

The Wildwood Widow has great mobility for a Titan with a 2 AP Walk for 3 Nimble MP. It can employ its Punishment attack to strike out at the Empire Golems and force them to damage themselves when they go on the offensive. If piloted by Mjihde, the Wildwood Widow ignores the penalty for moving into Medium Cover, further enhancing its mobility.

The Brambled Widow is fantastic in this scenario. Its mobility and agility making it easy to position on the battlefield and very hard to hit with attacks. Use the Widow to claim villages in Medium Cover and then hide her there using her ranged attacks to harass enemy Golems. If commanded by Zakala, the Brambled Widow will inflict 10 Damage per Round to enemy Golems while the Widow is in Medium Cover.


Early Game (Rounds 1-2)

To succeed in the Realm of Cinders, the Dominion needs to strike early and hard. In the early game, your priority should be to position your Golems to contest as many villages as possible. The goal is to capture three villages, earning 12 VP. This will set you up to secure victory in later Rounds.

Round 1, you should count on moving your Golems to capture the three nearest villages. If you cannot contest all three villages on Round 1, prioritize the two villages nearest the Mercenary Kings’ deployment zone (A and B). Village G is the most difficult village for the Mercenary or Empire armies to reach, so you should be able to leave it uncontested for now. If you have enough Golems, it’s a good idea to capture a Mana Well as well.

Round 2, you should secure control of two or three villages, earning 8-12 VP, at the beginning of the Round. If you were unable to claim all three, you should move a Golem to secure the third village now. If you successfully hid supplies in villages A and B, you may be tempted to trust the Mercenary army and to allow them to fortify these villages against the Empire as long as they promise not to undermine the Dominion supplies. Do not make this mistake. Do not allow it. Do not trust them. The Dominion has nothing to gain and everything to lose by trusting them. You can say whatever you like to appease them, but don’t actually allow them to control and fortify these villages.

You should have the chance to deny the Empire from capturing village F on Round 2. Make sure to leave a defender to protect village A and B (Zakala and the Brambled Widow are perfect for this task. Leave the Brambled Widow in village A and if the Mercenary Kings send a Golem into the Region, they’ll take 10 Damage per Round as long as they stay). With the rest of your force, engage the Empire at Village F. Depending on how many Golems the Empire have committed to intimidating the village, you can either work on destroying any Golems sent to village F, or you can work on getting at least one Golem into the Region to delay the capture.

Mid Game (Rounds 3-4)

You should have at least 12 VP by the beginning of Round 3. If you don’t, something has gone wrong and you’ll be rapidly running out of time to get things back on track. You should have supplies hidden in villages A, B, and G. It is difficult to claim a fourth village unless your opponents make some very serious mistakes, so you should count on claiming your final VP through Golem Kills. Empire efforts to turn the Mercenary army against you will likely intensify at this point, so expect and prepare for betrayal.

The mid game is when the Dominion needs to make the final push to secure victory. Maintain control of the three villages you already possess. Your top priority is to stop either faction from capturing these. You don’t need to destroy the threatening Golem, you just need to move an allied Golem to block the capture. If it’s a Mercenary Kings’ Golem, just delay it unless the Mercenary Kings have declared war upon the Dominion. If so, you can destroy it. If it’s an Empire Golem then you should destroy it and gain VP toward the needed 16.

Look for targets of opportunity to claim the easiest kills possible. While the Mercenary Kings and Empire battle over the center of the map, they should leave some Golems wounded. Use ranged abilities, or mobile melee Golems, to destroy already weakened Golems. You shouldn’t need to destroy many Golems to push you to 16 VP and claim a victory in the Wildwood.

Late Game (Rounds 5+)

Most Dominion victories will be secured in the mid game. Few battles should last into the late game. Those that do are likely skewing heavily toward the Mercenary Kings or Empire. The Mercenary Kings earn extra VP each Round they control a village, so they will be hard to stop if the battle reaches the late game. Or, the Empire will have Intimidated and/or Burned several villages, as well as leveraging their superior numbers to win the battle of attrition, and be near 16 VP.

At this point, the Dominion will have few options to earn VP. If the Mercenary army has not betrayed your trust, you can attempt to sneak into one of its Fortified villages (C or D) and hide supplies while it battles against the Empire. If the Mercenary army has violated the alliance by fortifying villages against the Dominion, you’ll have the option of destroying its Golems for VP. Between Mercenary and Empire Golems, you should be able to find vulnerable targets that will earn you the necessary VP to win the day.


Ultimately, the Gudanna Dominion have the most straightforward, but also the most challenging, path to victory in the Realm of Cinders. As a commander of a Dominion army, you must act quickly and decisively to hide supplies in the Zikia villages and then strike mercilessly at the Dominion’s enemies to secure the victory. Do not hesitate and your enemies will not be able to prevent your victory. Show mercy or foolishly trust the Mercenary army and you may be forced to explain your failure to the Spider Prince.

Gudanna Dominion Commander
Blood Before All!
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