THE DOMINION AND THE REALM OF CINDERS, CHAPTER 1
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.
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.
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.
- Hiding war supplies by controlling Zikia villages will earn the Dominion 4 VP.
- 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.
- The Empire can punish a village hiding Dominion supplies. This will cause the Dominion to lose 2 VP.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Rudatha’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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