Realm of Cinders – Chapter 3 – Overview



“Open war has never been the concern of the Zikia.
We prefer skirmishes and scrapes, 
but there is no doubt in my mind we can learn, if I lead.
Our enemy can only be defeated if we bring all the wealds together.
Alone we will each be crushed beneath the heavy feet of the Dominion and the Empire,
but under my command, the Great Weald will rise again.”
— Vanya, Patriarch of the Samula Tribe, First among Equals

The final chapter of Golem Arcana’s Living World campaign, “Realm of Cinders,” has begun and it throws players into a brutal, knock-down-drag-out finale, fighting for control of the Zikia’s sacred Mahatavi.

There are both 3-player and a 2-player versions of Chapter 3 — though both versions uses the same map. In Chapter 3 you’ll face off with 1000 point armies against your foes!


Here are the scouting reports each army receives at the beginning of the game…


Using the charms you seized from Zikia elders, the Durani army has navigated the mystical labyrinth protecting the Mahatavi, the sacred heart of the Wildwood. Your scouts deliver their reports…

‘The Cinderborn have followed in our wake, turning the forest to ash. Yet here at the center, it’s clear even their raging flames cannot damage the Zikia’s great tree. We gather at a single giant root, where it provides healing protection from the fires. No doubt other Durani seek refuge around similar roots nearby.’

‘We’ve passed the labyrinth in advance of the reinforcements from Lords Mahik and Amba. Perhaps because of our commander Kopa Vahni’s restraint in the Vinewood, the uncorrupted forest spirits here seem willing to aid us.’

‘Kopa Vahni has given us the simplest order: leave no Gudanna or Mercenary enemy standing.’


Using the charms you gathered from the Zikia elders, the remaining Dominion forces have navigated the mystical labyrinth protecting the Mahatavi, the sacred heart of the Wildwood. Your scouts deliver their reports…

‘We have not arrived here alone: the Empire and Mercenary Kings have also found their way through the labyrinth, the Cinderborn on their heels. The power of this sacred tree is evident — not even the fires of the Cinderborn can harm it. Here at this single giant root, it provides protection from the flames. No doubt other Gudanna seek refuge around similar roots nearby.’

‘Our spymaster has also finished her experiments with the Vinewood mana wells. The uncorrupted forest spirits we encountered on our journey through the labyrinth can be bargained with. Should any approach close enough, we can seek their blessing to aid in the fight.’

‘Our superiors have ordered us to establish control over the Mahatavi so our agents may extract its secrets. All armies opposing us must be destroyed.’


Now among the armies of the Great Weald and using the charms given you by the Zikia elders of the Vinewood, your Mercenary Kings have arrived at the Mahatavi. Your scouts deliver their reports…

‘The Gudanna and Durani have also penetrated the protective labyrinth, leading the Cinderborn with them. Standing before us, a single vast root of the First Tree will protect us, even from the fires of the enraged forest spirits. Other Mercenary and Zikia commanders guard other roots nearby, protecting the Tree from our enemies.’

‘Uncorrupted forest spirits from the labyrinth stand silent guard nearby, yet the Cinderborn press ever closer. We should keep an eye out for any forest spirits in need of our aid. While capricious and unpredictable, surely they’ll grant us boons to fight the enemies of the forest.’

‘Vanya has commanded us to purge these sacred grounds of uprooters, Dominion and Empire alike.’




All armies have the same goal to win:

- Control the last Golems standing when all others fall.

- You gain no VP from destroying individual Golems.


THE FIRST TREE — Entering or starting the Turn in the Elevated Regions in the center of the map will heal your Golems for 5 HP.

THE CINDERBORN — Entering or starting the Turn in ANY OTHER Region will damage your Golems for 10 HP.

MANA ABUNDANCE — Your army gains no Mana from Golem deaths, but you’ll receive 10 Mana automatically every Turn.

FOREST SPIRITS — Partway through the game, uncorrupted Forest Spirits will begin to appear. Help them and they will grant your Golem a boon! Each Faction has a different Boon, mixing Damage bonuses and Healing bonuses, based on player decisions during Chapter 2!



The 2 player scenario begins with each army on opposite sides of a small map, and you must be playing 2 different factions. The army with the Lowest APV goes first and at that point it’s a mad scramble for getting as many Golems on to those 4 Elevated Regions as quickly as possible and staying there, while stopping your opponent from doing the same.

Every time a Golem ends its movement NOT on the central hills, it takes 10 damage, and ANOTHER 10 damage at the beginning of each turn. Moving into or starting on the 4 central hills allows a Golem to gain back 5 health. So be sure to position your Golems in your deployment zones in such a way to maximize your chances of getting up on onto those central hills as quickly as possible.



The 3 Player scenario has a fixed deployment order.

The DURANI EMPIRE go first and deploy in the 4 Elevated Regions near the First Tree’s root. This is because the Durani Empire collected the most Zikia Charms during Chapter 2 and therefore navigated the labyrinth surrounding the Mahatavi more quickly than the other armies.

The GUDANNA DOMINION go second and deploy on the west & south ends of the map, because they collected the next most Charms in Chapter 2. And the Mercenary Kings go last and deploy on the north & east ends of the map.

Yes, the 3-player game pits a total of 3000 points of Golems on the same map as the 2-player version!



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Realm of Cinders – Chapter 1 Results


The first chapter of Realm of Cinders wrapped up on June 3rd, and the second chapter began on June 10th. As you may know, all game results are uploaded to our servers, which lets us comb through the data and analyze which factions won the most games, and also, more importantly, HOW they won those games. Sometimes it’s not just victory that counts, but the moral choices along the way to victory or defeat, that have the longest-lasting effect on the world of Eretsu.


Over the four weeks of Chapter 1, the Mercenary Kings held a commanding lead from start to finish. In the third week, the other factions started to figure out how to deal with the unique victory conditions of the scenario and things began to even out. However, it was too little, too late, and the Mercenaries finished VERY strong in the final week.

  • Faction
  • Mercenaries
  • Empire
  • Dominion
  • Week 1 %
  • 56%
  • 31%
  • 13%
  • Week 2 %
  • 50%
  • 21%
  • 29%
  • Week 3 %
  • 38%
  • 31%
  • 31%
  • Week 4 %
  • 61%
  • 17%
  • 22%
  • Total Win %
  • 52%
  • 25%
  • 23%

Over the course of the availability of Chapter 1, representatives of each faction offered strategic advice. You can read those tactical treatises here::

- Strategy for the Gudanna Dominion, by  Daskindt

- Strategy for the Durani Empire, by Mardin of Chatzuk

- Strategy for the Mercenary Kings, by Kahga the Loon


Here’s a reminder of the layout of the map for the Chapter 1 scenario. Each of the victory point regions on the map represents one of the Zikia villages the factions were fighting over..




Dominion players had the best chance for an early victory in this scenario, able to claim 4 VP from each village where they were able to stash supplies. Victorious Dominion players won on round 4.5, on average — the quickest average win. Unfortunately for their leaders, this was not enough: the Gudanna won only 23% of matches in the three-player scenario.

Why was the Dominion unable to capitalize on its early-game advantage? Gudanna scouts came into this weald expecting some cooperation from the locals, as the Dominion leadership had arranged with the leader of the Samula Tribe. Yet thanks to the influence of Ajin of Zura Tribe and the Mercenaries she swayed to her side, this didn’t go as well as planned. When the Mercenary players entered a village where the Dominion had already hidden supplies, the Mercenaries destroyed those supplies 40% of the time! This cost the Dominion a precious 2 VP, often enough to undercut a Gudanna victory.

On top of this, in cases where the Mercenary Kings arrived at a Zikia village before the Gudanna, the Mercenaries had the opportunity to fortify the village with traps set against either the Empire forces, or against both the Empire and the Dominion. The Mercenaries set traps against the Dominion a whopping 60% of the time. It seems Ajin and her sympathizers persuaded many villagers to betray the Samula’s agreement with the Dominion, setting the stage for Gudanna defeat in the weald. (read Web of Thorns for more on this key Zikia character.)

While the Empire was certainly a presence on the battlefield, they rarely got an opportunity to destroy Dominion supplies: on average, only 0.44 villages were burned in games where the Dominion lost. So of the two factions opposing the Dominion, it wasn’t the larger Empire force that was a thorn in the Dominion’s side — it was the Mercenary Kings.

One intriguing side-note for the Dominion players was the activities of their spymasters, searching for rumors of a mysterious child spotted at the recent Zikia council of elders. A critical 65% of Gudanna players discovered rumors of the child — something that could prove significant later in the Realm of Cinders.


he Mercenary Kings clearly carried the day in the three-player matchup. Unique to this scenario was how they earned their VP: they gained 2 VP when initially fortifying a Zikia village, but also automatically gained 1 VP per Turn for each fortified village, regardless of whether they still controlled the village uncontested. On average, the winning Mercenary players won by Turn 5.2, with 3.09 fortified villages.

The only way for the Mercenaries to lose once this VP engine started was for a Durani player to control a fortified village uncontested on the beginning of his or her Turn, and then punish or burn that village. This change in the dynamic of VP math clearly caught many players off guard. Few initially appreciated how difficult this momentum would be to stop in the mid-game.

Those opponents who grasped this path to victory early on prevented the Mercenaries from fortifying villages in the first place. Losing Mercenary players only fortified 1.75 villages, obstructed both by the Dominion and the Empire. Looking at the map, the Mercenaries nearly always managed to fortify Village C (90% of the time for winners, 79% of the time for losers), but Village A and Village D were the critical conflict points.  Winning Mercenary players fortified Village A 67% of their games, but losing Mercenaries only managed to fortify it 38% of the time, blocked by the Gudanna. On the other side of the map, winning Mercenariess grabbed Village D in 67% of their games, but losing Mercenaries only got it 46% of the time.

In the end, it’s important to realize that while the Mercenary Kings won the most games, and in a decisive fashion, this does not represent a crushing military victory. The goal of the Mercenaries was not to destroy all enemy Golems. They won by rallying and uniting the Zikia villages, standing up to the Durani invasion and throwing out the Gudanna infiltrators whose presence drew the Empire in the first place.


The Durani brought a sizable force of Golems into the Wildwood to root out the Gudanna spies there and punish Zikia villages found to be collaborating with their enemies. However, in the end, they only won 25% of the three-player games.

In this scenario, while the Durani brought a 1,000-AVP army to their opponents’ 500-APV forces, this advantage was blunted by the fact their larger pool of Actions Points per Turn (8) was still less than the combined AP of their opponents (12 AP between the two of them), even if the opposing factions rarely cooperated so closely to take full advantage of that. While on paper it may have looked like a two-against-one battle, the victory conditions were such that it still amounted to a free-for-all.

The Empire was also hampered by the forced Turn order. Always going third meant a Durani army that didn’t move aggressively forward to block its opponents from claiming villages would then find those opponents fortifying and hiding supplies on the second Round, and then moving their Golems to block the Empire from claiming any villages on the second Durani Turn. Recognizing this dynamic would have been key to playing the map and preventing either opponent from getting too far ahead in the early game, but required a more mobile playstyle than the Empire typically demonstrates with their slower Durani Golems.

Winning Empire armies ended up grinding down the enemy: with a win on average by Turn 5.8, the Durani had the longest Turn count of all factions. Empire forces didn’t claim their first village until Turn 3.4. The earliest village burned because of hidden Dominion supplies wasn’t until Turn 4.7 (Village F) or Turn 4.9 (Village G), and the earliest the Empire typically punished a village for Mercenary traps was on Turn 4.0 (Village D) and Turn 4.3 (Village C). These late-game heroics were clearly the tipping point for winning Empire armies, because not only did the Empire gain 3 VP for these successes, but the Mercenaries and the Gudanna each lost 2 VP if the village had supplies in it, and the Mercs lost 2 VP from lost Fortified villages.

More interesting in these data are the choices made by Durani commanders when presented with a subdued village. When controlling a neutral village (one neither the Mercenaries nor Dominion had claimed first), Empire players chose to simply pacify the village 87% of the time, instead of burning the village unprovoked. When claiming a village with Mercenary traps, Empire players punished the perpetrators 65% of the time, rather than burning the entire village. Dominion collaborators always got the torch — the scenario didn’t present Durani players with a choice as these were their orders. However, they were given the opportunity of razing the village to strike fear into the Zikia far and wide. The players were split: 50% of the time they only burned the collaborating village, and 50% of the time they razed it completely.

Because the players of the Empire armies reported to the Durani General Kopa Vahni, these decisions represent the actions of his commanders on the battlefield. Yes, villages were burned; yes, Zikia were punished for setting traps; yet for the most part, Kopa Vahni’s forces exercised some measure of restraint. The other generals in the field, however, did NOT hold back. The bloodthirsty Lady Amba and Lord Mihik, sent to the Wildwood by Raga Dasra when Kopa Vahni requested reinforcements, were responsible for the majority of the burned Zikia villages (read more about these characters in The Necessity of Ruthlessness and Visions of Fire). Yet it was Kopa Vahni’s Onyx Daggers who draw the most fear and hatred from the Zikia tribes, as their presence in the Wildwood preceded the larger engagement of the Durani, and they thus inherit the reputation of all later actions of the Empire.


Because of the more complex army requirements of the three-player map, we also offered a two-player version of Chapter 1. While a much simplified rendition of the more elaborate storytelling of the three-player version, we also tracked wins and losses here.

  • Faction
  • Dominion
  • Empire
  • Mercenaries
  • Total Win %
  • 45%
  • 28%
  • 27%
  • vs Dominion
  • n/a
  • 36%
  • 53%
  • vs Empire
  • 64%
  • n/a
  • 53%
  • vs Mercs
  • 47%
  • 47%
  • n/a

While the Dominion carried the data in winning the most quantity of games, this is driven by their larger presence on the battlefield: 48% of all games played were between the Dominion and the Empire, while 29% were between the Dominion and the Mercenary Kings, and only 22% of games didn’t include the Gudanna at all.

This reflects the real-world fact of games between players who own just the base game set, a conclusion supported by the number of base game Golems seen in the two-player game results. Given the demands for higher mobility in this scenario, it’s not surprising the Gudanna would prove advantageous in a game limited to only base game figures.

On a first-time playthrough, the map is slightly biased toward factions that are strong against the NPC faction, which had a random presence in the neutral villages. On the first play of the scenario, being able to capture the opposing player’s claimed villages didn’t make up for being blocked by the neutral villages. On later games, a savvy player could recognize how the game mechanics work, and adapt his or her first-Turn decision-making to account for this. However, this left brand-new Durani players using the base game Golems at a disadvantage against equally new opponents fielding the Gudanna.

All that said, the Mercenary Kings did just fine on both side of the battlefield. They won 53% of their games, no matter the opponent, and regardless of whether they were strong or weak against the NPC faction in the neutral villages.


The Gudanna Dominion

For the Dominion, when the Mercenary Kings weren’t on the battlefield, the Dominion’s arrangement with the local Zikia villages gave them the edge they needed to defeat the smaller scouting parties of the Empire.

This represents all the smaller villages, beholden to the Samula tribe, where the Dominion’s agreement with the Matriarch allowed them to hold sway, plant their supply caches, and then ambush and harass the Empire infiltrating the Wildwood.

The Mercenary Kings

The Mercenary successes against both the Empire and the Dominion represent the influence of Ajin of the Zura Tribe (read Web of Thorns for more on this key Zikia character.). Ajin traveled the Wildwood, rallying the wealds to reject the Samula agreement with the Gudanna and stand against both the Empire and the Dominion.

That the Mercenaries had success against both factions is a powerful statement. Sadly, Ajin and the Mercenary Kings who stood for her cause were just too few and far between.

The Durani Empire

The message here for the Empire is a mixed one: yes, they won slightly more of the total battles than the Mercenaries (28% to 27%), yet measured against either faction individually, they lost more than they won.

As in the three-player map, where the Durani outnumbered the other two factions, even a victory by the Mercenary Kings is a short-lived moral victory in many cases. The Durani’s superior force would eventually prevail, if at a cost. So here in the two-player map as well, even faced with rebellious Zikia villages and Gudanna insurgents hidden among the local population, the Durani doggedly persisted. It’s a grinding, grueling, destructive way to wage war, yet the Empire pushes forward, burning as it goes.



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Realm of Cinders – Chapter 2 – Overview


The Wildwood Zikia do keep a written record of sorts, found in the Mahatavi, an ancient tree that dwarfs all others.
The knots 
in the bark, branches, and roots form magical runes that allegedly translate into the Arcanum’s secrets.
non-Zikia has been allowed to set eyes upon it and be left alive afterward.” — Neraada Bahar, Imperial Scribe

“It’s not enough to maim and enrage your enemy. You must rip out her heart.”
“Fire only dies if there’s nothing left to burn.”
 — Amba and Mahik, Marshals of the Empire

The next chapter of Golem Arcana’s Living World campaign, “Realm of Cinders,” has begun and it introduces new challenges for army building as well as tough decisions to make every turn on your way to glorious victory — or crispy-charred defeat.

Unlike during Chapter 1 with its 3-player and 2-player maps, Chapter 2 is a single 2-player map with 500 point armies, with unique fiction encounters for each of the three factions, as well as faction-specific opportunities to manipulate the map’s special mechanics in your favor.



Here are the scouting reports each army receives at the beginning of the game…


While rooting out Dominion spies in the Wildwood, your armies meted out punishment to collaborating Zikia villages. Now the Wildwood burns out of control. Your scouts deliver their reports…

‘With help from the Mercenary Kings, the Zikia tribes have blunted our advances in the Wildwood and the fractured tribes stand on the brink of uniting against the Empire. Our commander, Kopa Vahni, has instructed us to make haste to the sacred grove called the Mahatavi, and cut the heart out of it. Without their world tree, they will have no stomach for war, and this Great Weald they seek to build will crumble.’

‘Interrogations have revealed a magical labyrinth protects the Mahatavi, and only Zikia Elders know the way. The woods are filled with natives fleeing the fires. We must seek out Elders among them, and acquire the secrets of this labyrinth.’


While rooting out your spies in the Wildwood, the Durani Empire punished the Zikia villages collaborating with you, and now the Wildwood burns out of control. Your scouts deliver their reports…

’With help from the Mercenary Kings, the Zikia tribes have blunted Empire advances in the Wildwood yet the remaining Empire armies have not returned to their lands, but instead forge deeper into the Wildwood — directly toward the Zikia’s most sacred groves. A protective labyrinth leads enemies astray, but Durani forces have been claiming magical charms from captured Elders. The Empire seeks the Mahatavi itself!’

‘The destruction of their world tree would take the heart out of the tribes. Though our alliance with the Zikia is on shaky ground, surely the Zikia can be persuaded to allow us passage to help defend the Mahatavi — which will also afford us an opportunity to discover secrets of Zikia magic for ourselves.’


While rooting out Dominion spies in the Wildwood, the Durani Empire punished Zikia villages believed to be collaborating with their enemies, and now the Wildwood burns out of control. Your scouts deliver their reports…

‘With our help, the Zikia tribes stood fast against the Empire’s tide. Not satisfied with destroying villages near their borders, the remaining Empire armies burn their way deeper into the Wildwood, directly toward the sacred groves of the Mahatavi. While a magical labyrinth protects it, Durani forces seek the sacred charms of captured Zikia Elders, who might guide them through the maze.’

‘If we are to help the Zikia here, we must also reach the Mahatavi. Invited or not, our presence will surely be welcome. We must find as many charms as possible, and prevent our enemies from doing the same.’





All armies have the same overall Victory Conditions:

TO WIN: achieve 10 VP

- Find the first Zikia Elder in one of the three locations marked with your banner color.

- Return an Elder’s charm to your Deployment Zone for VP. The first charm is worth 2 VP, the second, 4 VP, and the third, 6 VP.

- Kill enemy Golems carrying charms for 2 VP.

- The third charm will be available to ALL armies when EITHER army discovers its second charm.





At the beginning of the game, deployment zones put your enemy far out of reach — but each army’s objective markers will inexorably draw you together. These objective flags mark the possible location of a Zikia Elder. Once your army has found the first Zikia Elder, a new set of 3 objective markers will be revealed leading your army to the location of a second Zikia Elder.

As soon as one army has discovered their second Zikia Elder, the location of the third Zikia Elder will be revealed to both players. At that point, EITHER army may attempt to claim that Elder’s charm for their army.

For the first and second charm, if the Golem carrying that charm is destroyed, the charm is destroyed as well, and the killing blow grants that army 2 VP, while also denying the dead Golem’s army the opportunity to deliver that charm for victory points.

But the third charm is made from much more durable stuff — if the Golem carrying it is destroyed, the charm falls to the ground in that Region and any army may send in a new Golem to claim it. The game ends at either 10 VP or when the third charm has been brought back to an army’s Deployment Zone, at which point the highest VP total wins.


THE CINDERBORN — The out of control fires in the Wildwood have driven the spirits of the forest mad with rage. These Cinderborn cause 5 damage to any Golem that ends its movement in a region with Medium Cover or Heavy cover, except water regions. As the game progresses, the damage from fire will spread to Ground Cover regions as well and also increase in damage.

THE VINEWOOD — The trees of the Vinewood Weald are particularly treacherous to flying Golems. After entering a non-water Region with any amount of Cover, a Golem’s Flying Movement Points are set to 0. So a Flying Golem can move only once per turn, if its first move ends in Cover.

UNSTABLE MANA — The flow of mana has been greatly destabilized by the Cinderborn. Mana Wells grant 10 mana per turn, and do NOT deplete. In addition, the Wells hungrily absorb all mana in the area. Any mana released by the death of a Golem does NOT go to your army.



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No events in your area? Passionate about Golem Arcana? Apply to become an Emissary today! Just visit to learn more.


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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!

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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.


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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!
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!


League of The Hundred Skulls Regional Tournaments Update


Regional tournaments will be open: a certain number of League Points is no longer prerequisite to participate. However, players who earned more League Points over the course of the season will still be rewarded. Participants with 40 or more League Points will be awarded a first-round bye (they get to skip the first round of competition). Click here to view your League Point totals.

Regional Tournaments will use a single-elimination bracket, and will consist of 500-point games played on a combination of three scenarios from throughout the League season, split evenly across the tournament rounds. Each player will use one 500-point army for the entire tournament.

The top 11 players, (with ties being decided by Victory Point count) from each Regional Tournament will receive an invitation to the Grand Championships at GenCon 2015!


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

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 31st — Indiana Convention Center

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

Golem Arcana League of The Hundred Skulls Regional Tournament starts at noon, June 28th @ King’s Games.

Grand Championship Tournament

GenCon 2015 — August 1st - 2nd — Indiana Convention Center

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.


Regional Pre-Registration

Pre-registration 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!


More Info about League Play

Competitive League events are hosted by Emissaries, who will be on hand to answer questions and help show players the ropes. Players earn prizes for participation as well as victory.

Visit to find events in your area!


No events in your area? Passionate about Golem Arcana? Apply to become an Emissary today! Visit to learn more.

Prowler thumbnail

Zikia: Heralds of the Great Weald Coming Soon!

War has come to the Wildwood and the Zikia must adapt to survive. The tribes must forge a new future for themselves—a future the Heralds of the Great Weald will pay for with their lives if they must. The Heralds of the Great Weald expansion includes three new Zikia Golems, and four new relics that can be used in any of your Golem Arcana armies. They’re available now in our online store!


The Nightshade

Ambushing its foes deep in the Wildwood, the Nightshade is a deadly Zikia assassin. This unusual Warsprite doesn’t move like other Golems. Instead of walking, the Nightshade closes the distance to its victims from up to four Regions away with Shifting Backstab. This ranged attack moves the Nightshade into the Target’s Region, and will also boost the Golem’s Damage by 5 for the rest of the round. The Nightshade can follow up with its two other Melee attacks to make the most of this bonus.



The Prowler

The Prowler stalks the battlefield like the monsters that make their homes in the shadows of the deep woods. Oozing with the forest’s deadliest toxins, the Prowler adds venom to its next attack whenever it moves, inflicting 5 additional Damage each Round for three Rounds. When facing multiple foes, the Prowler’s devastating Caustic Spray not only attacks every Golem in the Target Region, but each Golem successfully hit by the attack splashes 10 Damage to all other Golems in the Region.



The Earthfall

The Earthfall thunders across Eretsu, a walking combination of wrecking boulders and Zikia ingenuity. The Earthfall compensates for its ponderous Titan speed with its passive ability, which allows the Golem to ignore movement penalties for all Terrain types. This allows the Earthfall to march unfettered into close combat and unleash its brutal attacks on its enemies. Rolling Pummel in particular helps the Earthfall punch through the enemy lines. When the attack hits, the Target Golem is pushed one Region away, and the Earthfall’s Walk Cooldown is reduced by 1.



Ghora’s Mask

Ghora’s Mask is the perfect tool for clearing enemies out of an important Region. When used, the Mask will push all enemy Golems two random Regions away, allowing you to claim a contested control zone or Mana Well.






Nihata Laurel

The Laurel will summon a Sacred Grove Construct that ensnares and cripples your enemies. Once summoned, the Sacred Grove can attack up to three times per Turn to pull enemies into its Region and reduce their movement by 2 for one Round.





Zephyr of Er-Haka

The Zephyr of Er-Haka is the solution to pesky ongoing effects that could lead to devastating defeat. Using the Zephyr will cleanse a Golem of all status effects on it, allowing it to continue its rampage undeterred.




Chalice of Mists

The Chalice of Mists is sure to throw even the best planned assault off balance. The Chalice causes its Target to move an additional random Region after every time it moves for three Rounds.





If these new Zikia Golems and their relics pique your interest, be sure to check them out in our online store!

What are you most excited to field from this new expansion set? Be sure to join the conversation on our Forums! 



From an Emissary: Disposition of Forces

Since we launched Organized Play for Golem Arcana, we here at HBS have been approaching Emissaries and asking them for their thoughts on competitive army creation. This week, we’re highlighting the army design of Emissary Kahga, a proud Zikian player and frequent contributor in our Forums. He wrote this post for us detailing his ideal 500-pt competitive Mercenary Kings’ army.


Disposition of Forces Report: the Mercenary Kings

Many of us have heard of the great work Disposition of Forces. This tome, ascribed by some to the hand of The Warrior, is a comprehensive text on all aspects of war. To properly study it would take months, if not years. I have been in a position to observe three generals of the Mercenary Kings, and will relate their conversations regarding army composition and the outcomes of recent battles.

When forming a Mercenary Kings army, the obvious limitation is that only Urugal and Zikia Golems are available. To understand why the Mercenary Kings have had such great success (each went 3-0) with no unique Arcanum choices, we must explore the weaknesses and benefits of our faction.

Kahga’s Army

Ancient One: The Water-Bringer

Iron Earthfall with Kahga the LoonZikia_r008

Thornbeast with Lady Tarsa

Corpse Collector with Ezeru and the Ewer of Dyati


Kallan’s Army

Ancient One: The Water-Bringer

Wildwood Dryad with Zevran and the Tree of Life

Woodguard with Karva and the Tendrils of Smera

Horned Blight with Zila Hardaya and the Cistern of T’lo-Lu


Angel’s Army

Ancient One: The Hopeful

Iron Earthfall with Raphsa Kanda and Agka’s Greathook

Fen Lord with Kahga the Loon


Let’s begin with the Mercenary Kings’ weakness: speed. The majority of large Urugal and Zikia Golems have movement abilities costing 2 AP for 2 MP. All three generals commented on needing to address this in their forces. Angel accepted that his two powerful units were slow, lumbering hulks, and overcame the speed issues with a strategy of manipulating the opponent. He used Agka’s Greathook early to disrupt and divide the opponent’s forces, followed by continued shenanigans from the Fen Lord. The key decision here is determining which enemy Golem needs to be pulled away.

Kallan’s approach to the speed issue was to slow enemies with the Tendrils of Smera and strategic placement of the Water-Bringer’s Blessing. Kahga’s army rushed forward with the Corpse Collector and used a similar approach with the Water-Bringer’s Blessing to keep things moving. In the first three League scenarios, especially B and C, a plan for how to speed up a unit or slow down enemies is critical. The ability to do this by manipulating your opponent has the added benefit of strengthening your ability to contest objective Regions.AncientOne_Sudha-Dyati

The second question in building a Mercenary army is Ancient One selection. In a 500-point build it is hard to justify more than one Ancient One. It is interesting to note that the main feature of the two selected here is Cooldown reduction. This was critical in the success of Kahga. Kallan was also able to effectively stop the ranged attacks of opponents with the Water-Bringer’s Curse. Considering that AP are the most valuable resource in the game, decreasing Cooldowns gives an army greater mobility and enables more frequent attacks. A similar effect is obtained by increasing the AP costs of your opponent’s attacks.

The third determination is choice of relics. Obviously many generals shuffle in a few relics to fill out the remainder of their build allowance. This approach is certainly fine, and if one of these relics can turn into a game-changer in battle, that’s just gravy. However, in these armies there were a few relic choices that became a focus of the build. Angel’s army was built around the Greathook. This was a critical decision, as Angel elected to have this single-use disruption of his opponent instead of an additional Warsprite. Kahga used the Ewer of Dyati on the first turn in each battle, giving him the 10 Mana needed to cast the Water-Bringer’s Blessing immediately. On the other hand, the Tree of Life and Cistern in Kallan’s army went unused, or proved ineffective.

Finally and most importantly to the Mercenary Kings are the Knights. They are the Mercenary Kings’ true strength. Kahga the Loon in particular combines resilience with the ability to hold onto an MK-Z_Hallstromobjective region by forcing melee attackers to leave the contested space. The prominence of water Regions made Karva a good choice for his Cooldown-reducing ability, Aqueous Renewal. Lady Tarsa dancing around the field with her Thornbeast was profoundly effective. Raphsa Kanda with the Rock Crush melee attack adds displacement to nice Damage, a terror against Titans that can typically hold down a region. Of the Knight examples above, all either provide AP efficiency or worsen the opponent’s. Knights that increase Damage are certainly nice, but these generals used a different approach. They used fewer AP by getting free moves (Lady Tarsa) or decreasing Cooldown (Karva). They made their opponents use more AP by making them move more (Kahga the Loon, Raphsa Kanda).

When considering the Mercenary Kings, look to how the Knights can upset your opponent’s plan or make your own more efficient. It is here that you will find the Mercenary Kings’ edge.


Any misinterpretation of the thoughts of these great generals is entirely my own.

Respectfully submitted,

Ziraya, Thorn of General Kahga, known as the Loon

(Deepest thanks to Kallan and Angel, who were willing to share their army lists and ideas on their strategies.)

Do you agree with Ziraya that the Mercenary Kings are successfully going to take home the glory from the League of the Hundred Skulls? Join the conversation on the Forum.


The Challenge of Honor begins today!


Block 3 of The League of The Hundred Skulls is upon us! Read on for an overview of the maps included in The Challenge of Honor!

During a League Play event, players battle each other with a single 500-point army across three scenarios using the same map, but with various victory conditions and deployment zones.

Challenges will vary over the course of events, as well as during each of the blocks over the 12-week League season, (through April 28th). Details of the third challenge are below.

League Points

Players earn League Points for playing and winning League battles within an event. After all players at the event have played all three scenarios, the player with the most League Points is the winner of the event.

Earn a total of 40 League Points during the 12-week season for an invitation to a League of the Hundred Skulls Regional Tournament. We will soon publish more details on the Regional and Grand Championships, which will be held at GenCon.

As you battle across these scenarios, the outcome of each match will earn you League Points as follows:

Absolute Victory: 4 League Points

  • Secure a win via the primary victory condition.

Victory: 3 League Points

  • Win via secondary condition, or destroy your opponent’s army.

Tie: 2 League Points each

  • If a game ends with players having equal Victory Points.

Defeat: 1 League Point

  • If your opponent achieves an Absolute Victory or Victory, the defeated player is awarded 1 League Point.

Concession: 0 League Points

  • If a player concedes the match.

Challenge of Honor

Challenge of Honor is the third block of the series (you can find details of the first and second blocks here) and runs from now through April 28th. Here’s a look at the different scenarios you’ll be playing.

Scenario A

As a last-Golem-standing battle, the first scenario will have you maneuvering through varied and treacherous terrain to find clever ways to hunt down your opponent. Score the final killing blow, and victory is yours!


Scenario B

The second challenge has you fighting over the ownership of any combination of three supply depots around the center of the map. Holding any of these objectives will award one Victory Point apiece. Are you brave enough to attempt to claim the center depot, or will you keep to the cover of the mountains? Gain six Victory Points before your enemy does to claim the supplies for your faction.


Scenario C

Our final scenario forces a confrontation between the mountains, as you and your opponent vie for control of a secret relic cache. Will you focus deployment near the objective, or split your forces to take advantage of the outlying mana wells? Gain two Victory Points for each Round that you hold the cache. Victory, and the glory of the Ancient Ones, goes to the first to claim six Victory Points.



You can read more about The League of The Hundred Skulls [here], and find events in your area on the event calendar [here].

Go forth, to victory and honor!