Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Kings of War (why did this not happen earlier?)

I just have to make a post because I got really excited about this. Kings of War is my new favourite high fantasy tabletop game. Allow me to explain why.

I essentially quit WHFB many years ago because armybook releases were lagging hopelessly behind, perceived gameplay imbalance and the sheer amount of time one had to put into a single battle.

Although I briefly picked WHFB up again in 7th Edition, and enjoyed it, it just turned out that the time needed to set up and play a whole battle of WHFB did not agree with my agenda. Add to this the fact that the WHFB "engine" is not suited to handle big battles.

And then came WHFB 8th. Oh the horror. Apart from beautiful books, I did not like this edition at all for many reasons. But that is a discussion for another day.

So while I will keep and cherish my WHFB 7th Ed books and miniatures, they lead mainly a shelf-life for the above mentioned reasons.

Enter "Kings of War" by Mantic Games. Thank you Mr. Alessio Cavatore, Mr. Ronnie Renton and Co.!

Here we have a game that, in a nutshell:

  • has amazing setup time
  • is compatible with virtually any fantasy miniatures from your collection (yes, also the GW stuff)
  • has incredibly simple rules that can be learned in 10min
  • has lightnings fast rounds (this creates such an enjoyable dynamic that you can really "feel" the battle-lines changing through time)
  • is well balanced
  • includes all free army lists
  • allows incredible freedom in alliances and army list choices (Elves, Humans, Dwarves in one army? No problem.)
  • centers mainly around strategy, a lot less on item/spell/ability choice. 
  • is visually oddly reminiscent of WHFB 5th
The downside?
  • Streamlined gameplay comes at the cost of complexity. If you like to sit and ponder item/character combos for hours, this may not be for you.
  • The Mantic miniatures are so far not on par with most of the GW stuff quality-wise. But then again, very few manufacturers are and you can just use your existing collection. So... big deal.

I love how lightweight KoW is. To prove this point, we had a week-end with a few friends and played the hell out of this system.

We played two big games of KoW in the time it would take to get through half a WHFB game of comparable size given you come with pre-prepared army lists. We made our KoW armies basically on the fly.

More good news, the upcoming 2nd Edition of KoW promises to introcude some more interesting magic and a few gameplay tweaks all the while including all army lists in the core rulebook for free.

I really feel that KoW is a much needed breath of fresh air in the generic fantasy tabletop wargaming genre, that has really gotten me interested in the hobby again after a long hiatus. I would warmly recommend it and cannot wait for 2nd Edition. This book is on my shopping list.

Here are some pics from our KoW games. Enjoy!



Nuno M said...

"...the fact that the WHFB "engine" is not suited to handle big battles."

Funny, I've just hit the same realization recently, *because* I've been looking at the options that KoW and AoS open. I agree: KoW models mass ranked combat much better.
The Warhammer engine is indeed too detailed and simulationist... but that's why I love it (its gritty and realistic) and that's why it works so well for Mordheim...

I wonder if an official 'Warbands' format as the core game, with more flexible movement rules and squad-based tactical combat, would have worked wonders for Warhammer Fantasy 7th/8th (and its apparently plunging sales).
That's the format they went with the new edition now... but they didn't have to change the whole ruleset... *sigh*

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