Warhammer Wargamers: Kings of War!
Hello again friends and welcome to another WNW. How’ve you all been this past month? Good? Grand!
On the agenda today, I check out the free rules for Mantic’s Kings of War.
So, “Kings of War. What is it and why am I playing this game and not Warhammer?” I hear you question. Well, Kings of War is the other “massed fantasy battle game” with units on square bases and with regiments of figures. It’s a fairly new game, having only been released a few years ago, and is in the process of rolling out the 2nd edition of its rule set… which segways nicely into why I’m playing it.
As you may be aware, Warhammer has had a recent shift in style and mechanics, opting for a skirmish format like Warmachine and doing away with ranks and flanks (regimented units). If you aren’t aware of that, stop what you’re doing and go have read of my previous article which details the game.
With no more regimented play on the horizon and with a fairly un-inspiring backstory, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar has delivered a swift kick to the metaphorical groin of my hobby. I felt a little lost.
“What do I do now to keep my hobby fire burning? That Beastman army I was slowly working on now has no future, so what do I do with those figures I spent ages converting? What is the tournament scene going to do now Warhammer 8th has been replaced with a doughnut of a skirmish game?” These were but a few of the questions that I had asked myself. I hoped that 8th would live on and be developed by the community and shun Age of Sigmar until it was a better product with fleshed out rules and balance. But then something happened…
One of the WNW lads suggested we give Kings of War a go. He had been searching feverishly for a game to fill the void that the death of the Warhammer World left. Other suggestions on the board were Warmachine, Warthrone or just re-visiting games of old like Mordheim and Warmaster (both games I tested recently and will report on in the near future). All were reasonable suggestions but nothing lit the spark, tickled my fancy, scratched my itch… that was until I read the Kings of War rules and a few of the army lists.
A distant light emerged from the tunnel of post-game-death depression. The rules seemed sound. Not overly complex but not too simple either… easy to get a hang of, especially coming from 8th ed’s rules. The armies bore a resemblance to those of Games Workshop (GW), but were different enough in flavour to stand on their own. So far, so good.
My mate Ben suggested I build a 2000 point army list for starters. Apparently, 2000 is the tournament standard size.
I chose my force: Dwarfs. I knew I had a lot of GW figures, most of which never saw the tabletop, and thought I could easily build a decent army.
So many short bearded dudes. So, so many.
*Side note* – Just doing a quick comparison of the two companies dwarf lists (Mantic and GW – and let’s face it, comparisons kinda have to be made) the Mantic side had a lot more variety in infantry than GW, about the same amount of warmachines, much fewer heroes and special characters and a larger dollop of fantasy flavour. What do I mean by that? Well the Mantic dwarfs can take Earth elementals to begin with. Large rocky brutes. Oh and the Mantic dwarfs have cavalry… yep they actually have cav.
“Zuh? So they ride bears yeah?” I imagine you ask.
“Pfft, no. they ride something better” I reply incredulously “They ride badgers!” I continue. Well not badgers by name (Mantic have called them Brocks) but badgers in look and attitude. After reading that army list entry a fire began to burn within me once more. Dwarfs riding flippin’ badgers is flippin’ cool, in my own humble opinion.
So, army list written, dwarfs set up and on the table, rules kinda but not quite read, I was as ready as I was ever going to be at this point. My opponent Ben was taking a new army list which is still in development “The Empire of Dust”; an Undead army with lots of unique units and infantry.
First off the bat, I have to say, seeing so many figures on the table looks pretty amazing. I had almost exhausted my dwarf collection and the army I was facing looked pretty terrifying. Mantic has opted to give players the option to field very large units, ranging from the small 10 strong troop block to the massive 60 strong legion block.
That’s where the first point of difference between Kings of War (KoW) and Warhammer arises: visually. Mantic have trimmed the fat and streamlined the unit building process giving players a choice in unit sizes, as described in each army list (as opposed to GW’s format of only giving players a minimum size and focusing on individual figures within a unit).
An undead scorpion refuses to die… un-die? re-die?
In fact Mantic have trimmed the fat in almost all aspects when compared to Warhammer. What this does is it makes the rules tight and exploit-proof. One of the things I disliked about Warhammer was the nit-picking of small rules which were often vague in their description, wasting a lot of time on discussing if a minor rule was in effect or not. My impression of the KoW rules in a word: clean.
I won’t go into the rest of the rules here, you can read them yourself by downloading them off the Mantic website for free. I might add that from what I understand, these rules are just the core rules to get you started, with the main book expanding on the core. I’m also of the understanding that the rulebook contains all the army lists so far, so no more need to purchase an individual army book for each faction / race. By the way, the 2nd edition rulebook is due for release later this month and I’ll be interested to see what changes or additions are implemented.
What I will do is clarify a few things which I had reservations about (and I’m sure some of you readers may also have) before looking further into KoW and playing.
I’ve heard in the past that KoW is a ”watered down” Warhammer. This, my friends, is incorrect. What it IS is a more fluent flank and ranks game than Warhammer. The rules are so clear and easy to understand that in this first game of KoW that I’ve ever played, not one rules dispute arose. That, right there, is fantastic.
Movement and charging is clear and concise. Shooting and magic are lumped into the same phase. Magic isn’t overpowered,rather it is much more subtle. Combat is clear, fast and can be quite tense at times.
Now THIS is a fight!
If you couldn’t tell by now, I really enjoyed this game. It gave me that tingly feeling that I first felt when I played my first tournament game. It made me excited for the modelling potential that KoW has created as models aren’t removed from the unit as it takes wounds but are instead given counters to represent damage and moral, plus a test is performed after a fight which determines if the units lose their nerve and flee or hang about. This means I can create cool looking dioramas within the footprint of the units base size. Awes! Like, totes awes!
I think the biggest point I can try and convey is that, for the first time in a very long time, I actually enjoyed playing as dwarfs. I actually had units move about the board rather than sit back and shoot and wait for combat. I had FUN playing with a dwarf army… that has got to be the defining point. Mantic has made a game where it is super fun to play as an army which GW made quite boring and stale.
Upon the conclusion of our game (which I won ‘cos dwarf war machines are tops and my opponent is crap at rolling to test if my units run away) I was instantly drawn to the army lists again to see what I could do to improve. I explored the other factions and thought about the potential for new armies to join the masses that I’ve already got tucked away in the cupboard (armies which I always mean to play with but never end up using… such is the curse of the plasticrack addict). I’m even eyeing off the Abyssal Dwarf army sets… can’t wait!
I think, and I don’t want to be too hasty with this statement, but I think my mourning period over Warhammer’s death is over and I’ve hooked up with a cute, bubbly, intelligent game that wants me to enjoy it and not be hung up on minutia.
That’s not to say that I’ll never play 8th or whatever the community develops, but for now I’m free and KoW has a new place in my metaphorical heart & literal cupboard.
The only thing now is for me to play more games and check out the Mantic figures in person. I’ve never seen any figures other than the Mantic zombies which flooded the GW scene (quantity + decent price = win) which themselves were pretty good if not super posable.
So there you go. KoW core rules tested. Verdict? Good. Give it a go if you’re craving the fantasy army gaming without the baggage.
Until next time folks always remember:
Mathammer doesn’t work.