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KoW Armada: Empire of Dust is Stronger than You Think

KoW Armada: Empire of Dust is Stronger than You Think

Ahoy Sailors! As you know I am most and foremost a passionate hobbyist. That being said I am also a pirate, a scoundrel and a fanatical enthusiast of Mantic Games Kings of War: Armada. The latter resulted in a few strategy related articles, one of which you found yourself reading right now.

If you still don’t know what Kings of War: Armada is, I strongly invite you to read some of the previous Armada related articles. In short Kings of War: Armada is a naval strategy game set in a rich world of Pannithor, pitting multiple wonderfully crafted and strongly themed factions against one another. Today I would like to focus on one such a faction and especially some common misconceptions surrounding it.

The Empire of Dust is ‘Weak’… not really

The Empire of Dust has it all. It has the looks, the special rules, ships of all sizes, access to all kinds of weapons, and yet it is commonly addressed as being weak and requiring a buff. Whereas some other factions are pretty one dimensional when it comes to list building and playstyle, the EoD comes across as a more advanced, ‘difficult’ fleet. The main fleet theme seem divided between particular ships and is very polarized. With devastating weaponry being shoved on top of Large and Extra Large ships, in exchange for extra Crew Strength and speed being transferred to Medium Main Battleships, it might seem like if the fleet as a whole, doesn’t know if it wants to shoot or board or both. Additionally, thanks to Kopeshiis being the most expensive Medium Main Battleships across the entire game, the list building process for the EoD is rather intimidating. It gets even harder when you realize that compared to other factions, the Slave Squadrons, which are supposed to be fillers, are also priced premium.
So yes, all of these issues might result in a faction being perceived as overall weak. Except it’s not! The Empire of dust is just difficult to master as I have learned the hard way…

Empire of Dust Main Archetype

The Empire of Dust has a very strong, although somehow hidden theme of heavy artillery bombardment. I wrote “hidden” even though the theme is there in plain sight. This is because at first glance, not all EoD ships seem to go along with the archetype. It is somehow unusual for an Armada fleet and might confuse players that are relatively new to the game. 

The theme is centered around Large War Galleys and Extra Large Monoliths Main Battleships, both types packing Indirect Weapons (IDW) on the sides. There is no other fleet with an array of Broadside mounted IDWs. This is an exception throughout the entire game and has some huge list building and gameplay ramifications.

  • Broadside mounted IDW can Fire as She Bears!
  • Broadside mounted IDW can Rake!
  • You can increase the value of Broadside Mounted IDW with Additional Weaponry upgrade from Seas Aflame.
  • Instead of going straight for the enemy, you can maintain a comfortable distance and still shoot with a Broadside Mounted IDW.

The rest of the EoD fleet is clearly honed to provide support for the L and XL centerpieces, mostly by intercepting hostile ships, engaging them up close and denying access to EoD artillery pieces, thus extending the ‘Bombardment’ duration.

  • Kopeshii – Fast and potent Boarding Action interceptor, Objective runner, finisher.
  • Dust Chaser – Cheap roadblock, damage sponge, screener.
  • Soul Hunter – Close range area denial (Soul Thirst) support, self sustaining additional Artillery piece.
  • Slave Squadron – Mobile, Objective grabbing, first aid kit.
  • Bone Dragon – Mobile, self sustaining (healing), harassing skirmisher, finisher. 
  • Scavenger Flock – Cheap, fast, flier interceptor.

Further main archetype improvements come from EoD’s Upgrades, Magic Upgrades and Captains.

  • Hig-Priest T’mork allows to deploy a Main Battleship anywhere on the board at the end of second game turn. Positioning a potent Artillery centerpiece behind enemy fleet with full SP and ready to begin bombardment – anyone?
  • Arkhanten the Cursed Slayer bounces back enemy misses of “1” increasing damage output regardless of range, but especially up close where it becomes a bit uncomfortable for the EoD to face enemy ships. Ideal for a more aggressive build.
  • Balefire is a key EoD upgrade, enhancing each IDW hit with +1dmg and Fire. Resulting Blaze markers will exponentially mitigate enemy ability to deal damage, forcing them to either forego shooting, or risk a 16,66% chance of getting blown to shreds on a failed Fire Extinguish test. In Armada, an auto Blaze on dmg is a rare thing, most Blaze dealing requires an additional dice roll.
  • Windblast can be used when in a tight spot, to clear the length of an enemy ship then turn and Rake, or just to gain distance. Multiple uses can exponentially speed up an otherwise slow ship. 
  • Soul Snare is a (rare in terms of the game) healing on damage dealt. Instead of Grappling, punish the enemy ship for it’s Crew Strength and Repair yourself in the process. This item goes well with a layer of close range defenses (Soul Thirst, Kopeshiis with Curse of Undeath and Terror ready to close in and entangle in Boarding Action) plus some IDW being capable of Point Blank Raking Fire on top.

Empire of Dust has partial access to Oars and Light Oars which makes positioning for a kill or simply keeping a healthy artillery formation so much easier. Entire fleet also benefits from Curse of the Undeath, potentially mitigating results of enemy Boarding attempts.

Finally, stat wise, the EoD excels at Nerve Value and this in not a coincidence. With a bulk of the fleet serving as speed bumps and reliable obstacles, high Nerve Value translates into their survivability, resulting in increased duration of the ongoing artillery bombardment served by the main pieces. 

Once you take a deep dive, everything in Empire of Dust revolves around the main theme

The Empire of Dust List Building

So now that we’ve toppled the main archetype of the Empire of Dust, where does this leave us in terms of list building? First of all the EoD should definitely be built around L or XL centerpieces. Being ‘forced’ to field a War Galley or a Monolith is a bit of a crutch, but at the same time these ships are probably what drove you into playing the Empire of Dust in the first place, so… there’s that. Once you decide between aggressive and passive playstyle and build an appropriate configuration for a centerpiece, just fill the remaining points with a protective screen of Kopeshii (s), and a mix of Support Ships that best suit that playstyle.

Off course I could go for another round over each ship and describe in detail what it does and how to use it, but at this point you probably already have a grasp on what each ship’s roll is. Plus there’s no better learning process than to play the actual game, so instead, allow me to present some Ship Configuration ideas that I myself use. This should allow you to intuitively place a ship on a mental power scale and ‘feel’ it’s designated role.

  • The Monolith / Shobek’s Wrath

Veteran Crew, Balefire, Additional Weaponry (Broadside) – IDW+1, Magical Rudder/Soul Snare, Lucky Crew/Master Gunner.

Veteran Crew, Balefire, Arkhanten the Cursed Slayer, Kedge Anchor, Soul Snare.

  • War Galley

Veteran Crew, Balefire, Additional Weaponry (Broadside) – IDW+1, Lucky Crew/Master Gunner.

Veteran Crew, Balefire, Arkhanten the Cursed Slayer, Soul Snare.

  • Kopeshii

Veteran Crew, Ogre Mercenaries, Fire Oil.

  • Dust Chaser

Inexperienced Crew, Sturdy Construction.

  • Soul Hunter

Regular Crew/Veteran Crew, Crow’s Nest.

Regular Crew/Veteran Crew, Sturdy Construction.

  • Slave Squadron

Inexperienced Crew/Regular Crew.

Sample Fleet Lists

Below are sample EoD lists that, in my opinion, represent the EoD preferred archetype well.

Monolith: Veteran Crew, Balefire, Additional Broadside, Magical Rudder, Lucky Crew. 137p.
Kopeshii: Veteran Crew, Ogre Mercenaries, Fire Oil. 54p.
Dust Chaser: Inexperienced Crew, Sturdy Construction. 13p.
Dust Chaser: Inexperienced Crew, Sturdy Construction. 13p.
Soul Hunter: Veteran Crew. 24p.
Slave Squadron. 9p.

Monolith: Veteran Crew, Balefire, Additional Broadside, Magical Rudder, Lucky Crew. 137p.
Kopeshii: Regular Crew, Ogre Mercenaries, Fire Oil. 45p.
Slave Squadron. 9p
Slave Squadron. 9p

War Galley: Veteran Crew, Balefire, Additional Broadside, Lucky Crew. 89p.
Kopeshii: Veteran Crew, Ogre Mercenaries, 52p.
Dust Chaser: Inexperienced Crew, Sturdy Construction. 13p.
Dust Chaser: Inexperienced Crew, Sturdy Construction. 13p.
Soul Hunter: Veteran Crew. 24p.
Slave Squadron. 9p.

All in all the Empire of Dust is a solid faction, on par with other Armada fleets, offering an interesting (if somehow rigid) playstyle. It is hard to master which might lead to some initial disappointments, but once you put some games in and get a grasp of how things work, the EoD is a very rewarding fleet. Is it good in everything? No. Is it good in some things? Oh yeah, definitely. Is it fun to play? Totally!

I hope you find this article entertaining. Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments below or via Facebook or Instagram. I would also appreciate if you considered sharing this content with your hobby buds, who might find it useful. Finally if you are looking for a professional miniatures painting service be sure to contact me via this contact form. I always reply within 24 hours, after which please check out your spam folder.



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