By Invitation Only

Well I’ve decided to go to the Kings of War tournament this weekend. This is despite the fact that I’ve not played it since it was in the original Alpha well over a year ago, and then only once. One or other of my playtest armies is going to have to double as something KOW, though I’m not 100% sure which yet. I am, however, going to have a game tonight to try and get my head round the whole thing again.

Kings of War is a fairly simple game so (re)learning it isn’t a big challenge. However, it’s not one I’d really been drawn to because of its fanatically “i-go-u-go” turn sequence. I generally prefer some permutation of alternative activations, but there is a time and place for every rule. In either case, I managed to acquire myself a copy of the 2nd edition rules which aren’t officially out till the end of the month. I won’t be telling you all the Big Secrets, partly because I don’t want to annoy Ronnie, but mainly because I haven’t got a clue what they are 🙂

Still, it’ll be a learning curve, for sure. I’ve not been to a tournament for many years. They’re not really my thing. This one will hopefuly be a bit more relaxed than most as it’s really a testbed for “proper” tournaments (with serious people) later. We’re using chess clocks for the games, which will be an interesting additional challenge. If you’re anywhere near Maelstrom Games at the weekend why not pop over and cheer on my opponent? It’ll be fun.

I’ll try to remember to take a camera and keep you updated. Mind you, I fully expect to be playing Alessio on the bottom table by the end of Sunday afternoon 🙂

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19 Responses to By Invitation Only

  1. billops says:

    “fairly simple game” is quite an understatement. The exaggerated simplicty put me off it. Even more brainless than WH Battle imo. Give us your impressions post-tournament.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Simplicity, in itself, is not a bad thing, though you are not the first or only player that has told me that this aspect of the KOW rules has put them off. In my view the game has other, larger issues, but that’s another tale. It also depends on whether one is critiquing it from the point of view of a commercial product (remembering that it’s been given away free as a pdf), or purely as a design.

      In my experience, the enjoyment of tournaments is mostly to do with the atmosphere generated collectively by the players. Best tourneys I ever went to, hands down, were Blood Bowl. That crowd are just out to have fun. Worst was 40K, again by some distance. I expect this KOW event to be somewhere towards the BB end of the scale. I doubt it will be as much fun as there simply isn’t a big enough community for the game yet, but nor is there the unscrupulous and unpleasant win-at-all-costs vibe I had at the 40K tourneys I’ve been to.

      In some ways the simplicity of the rules encourages a good atmosphere as there is less space to invent unreasonable rules interpretations. Simplicity also allows people like me who haven’t played many times to pick it up quickly and just pile in, leavening the crowd of diehards. Unfortunately the army lists are in need of more rigorous playtesting (IMO), and I think that’s where the game is let down in tourney terms – and where you’ll find the horrible beardiness – I know I’m trying 😛

      • Elromanozo says:

        I know many people will disagree with me but…
        There is NO SUCH THING as too simple.

        I enjoy a good miniature wargame, as much as the next geek… But I am a literary inclined person, and I’ve long lost the ability to do even simple math and to exploit rules-specific tactics instead of very general ones… Not to mention I never fancied doing it.

        Suffice to say that, if I sometimes play to win (or rather I have a glimmer of hope to achieve victory), it is never through superior exploitation of the rules, their loopholes and their finer points…

        It doesn’t spark my imagination to look at characteristics, or to do some “deck building” exercise on one army or another; I am not interested in perfect simulation, and I’m much more impressed by fancy miniatures and original stories than — Dare I say it — looking at numbers and practicing what I’d call army-list-accountancy. Even of the simplest kind.

        That, and I have plenty to do in my life already so wargaming does NOT have to be my life. It SHOULDN’T be. Why should fun wargaming be reserved to people who have the time and inclination to learn some eight-hundred pages rulebook and nit-pick about it ?

        Call that catering to the masses if you wish, or “lowest common denominator”, but if our hobby is to spread, it should take into account both the available time and the inclinations of everyone.

        In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with Chess… And that’s a very simple game with very simple rules. It also is the most popular “wargame” ever, and achieving mastery of this “king of games” has been, right or wrong, a synonym of intelligence.

      • @Elromanozo, I don’t think I’d disagree with you over game that are simple being valuable to the hobby. Indeed some of the more fun games are extremely simple in terms of rules and mechanics. However I think there is such a thing as too simple. Simply becuase to enjoy something you have to be engaged and I think therefore there is a stage that things can become too simple.

        Take chess, you say its a simple game and in many respects I would agree, but when you look at the game ‘field’ and the pieces upon it the number of variables between pieces is actually considerably higher than many wargames. Do not confuse ease of play for simplicity. I personally prefer uncluttered or straight forward rules as it can make games easier to play so as a gamer you can concentrate on the tactics or the ebb and flow and almost forget the ‘game’.

        Simplicity though is a different thing altogether its possible to have a game with two rules that are actually quite in-depth or convoluted and therefore ostensibly ‘simple’. However on the flip side its possible to have a game with 50 rules that are streamlined and very easy to understand and digest, but from the outside might seem overly complex but the implications and implementation of the rules is very smooth and make the game easy to play.

      • Elromanozo says:

        @Frontline Gamer…

        What you say about the difference between simple rules and ease of play is true about some games, but a great many games are also too difficult because of the complexity of their rules…

        Although I will admit that there isn’t always such a relationship, it is the case for many games, including (in my opinion) WHFB, to name just one. That doesn’t mean that games with simple rules are always easy, or lack challenge.

        But this is, of course, highly subjective… That’s why I mentioned points of view (specifically mine, and in all probability the point of view of many people who are, as of yet, unaware of the great many wargames that exist, in the general public, so to speak).

        More specifically, is DKH too simple ? A great many players seem to think so, and I have read from several or them that they think so because it doesn’t have rules that are developed or complex enough.

        I have not tried the game myself yet… I am simply stating (and I am fully confident that you wont contradict me) that there can be depth and complexity to a game that has otherwise simple rules, and that simple rules are to be preferred, in my opinion.

        Lengthy rules do not a deep game make… I think we both agree on that one !

      • @Elormanozo, no fear of contradiction there. lol. Chess!!! Hell even DKH!!! Yeah its simple, so you don’t end up playing the rules, you play the game, that means there is strategic depth to the game rather than ‘rules’ depth to the game. I think that was the point I was trying to make if rules ‘make sense’ and are understandable as separate entities then games normally run quite smoothly, its when rules governing different aspects of a game system conflict and ‘interplay’ that causes problems. Its why I hate ‘special rues’ normally.

        The point of my above post was to point out that ease of play and rules simplicity aren’t always a co-dependent relationship. Ostensibly Infinity is a complex game for many as is Stargrunts II but once you actually get down to it the rules are actually very streamlined and easy to play. Gamers I know are amazed that you can whip through 2 or 3 games of 300pts Infinity in an evening while they’re still trying to finish a game of WFB or 40k.

        Also I wouldn’t say WFB is a complex game or its rules complex. The issue with WFB is that its an antiquated system that is well past its sell by date and is now trying to depict battles at a much larger scale than was even intended by the original… that and the latest edition is some awfully written its impossible to tell in some places what the hell the author intended. God awful rulebook it really, really is.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        A couple of points here. Firstly, the aside Elro made about DKH being reportedly too simple. I have heard that too, but when I have been able to discuss it with people they invariably are those who have either not played it at all or only once or twice. I think that they are mistaking simple rules for simplistic gameplay, which would be wrong. The feedback I have had from people who have played scenarios several times is that they find a tactical depth in the game and a large number of options in game play DESPITE the simple rules. This is what was intended and I am happy that (for most people) I’ve got that balance right. Of course it could be more detailed, and it will get a bit more detailed with the upcoming expansions. However, it was always intended to be a game that had few rules, but a great deal to think about in the application of those rules.

        This is related to your thought about simplicity in games. The way I would express it is that a game needs the appropriate level of complexity. Simple games and complex games are not good or bad per se based on that alone. For example, Snakes and Ladders is very simple, as is Edward de Bono’s L Game. However, whilst the L game is touted as “the simplest real game ever made” (and it’s certainly a strong contender for that title) I would question whether Snakes & Ladders is really a game at all. It’s too simple. There’s nothing there. At the other end of the scale you get things like Squad Leader (the original set of 4 boxes, not ASL). This built on itself in a series of programmed scenarios where you learned the rules as you went. To dive in at the end and try playing it was overwhelmingly complex, but if you played it at least once a week against the same opponent (as I did) and went through the scenarios as intended, then you became expert at that and the added levels of detail and “realism” made it utterly different from all the simpler and more accessible WWII recreations I’ve ever played. And yes, possibly better too.

        So, I’d say that you can’t just say simple is better than complex. As the Snakes & Ladders – L game example demonstrates, simple rules can produce both good and bad games.

        It’s also worth mentioning that games should vary with audience. I wouldn’t play the same game with my hardcore gaming buddies and my mum, nor would I always want to play the same type of game myself. You need light and simple games as well as in-depth and detailed ones to tick all the boxes, just as you need fantasy games as well as historical and science fiction ones.

        Finally, I think there IS such a thing as too simple. This is possibly just a synonym for “badly designed”. What I mean by too simple is a game that you can play in your sleep without any need for tactical consideration or skill. I would put something like Monopoly or (basic) Risk in this pile. They have plenty of other issues as well, notably taking much too long to play, but a big point against them is that they are too simple because they require no real thought. If they had more rules they could have more decision points to exercise your skill and engage you. But here we illustrate my points above: that is my view as a certain type of gamer. People who play less may be perfectly happy with both games, and they have certainly sold plenty of copies (though I am certain that this is merely because 99% of purchasers do not understand the myriad better alternatives).

        Note that I have intentionally used well known board games as examples as I think more people will know them. The points apply equally well to tabletop and video games.

      • Elromanozo says:

        Sorry, I meant KoW and not DkH, but you get my meaning…

      • Quirkworthy says:

        IT makes more sense when you say that, though my comments about DKH are still true. I’ll address the KOW comment in my review.

      • @Quirkworthy yeah I think we’re on the same hymn sheet, I’ve told many of my friends that DKH is as complex in rules as it needs to be. Funny thing is after a few of them got whooped by us old hands they started to see the tactical depth. As I say with any game its important ‘not to play the rules’ but to ‘play the game’. i really like the phrase appropriate level of complexity and that’s kinda what I was fumbling around to say. Stargrunts II and hell even Infinity are often cited by my friends as being games that were ‘too complex’ and maybe I had issue sometimes with small arms firm in SGII BUT importantly when you break those games down the rules are appropriate for what they’re trying to achieve. There are others, however I feel that at the moment for me KoW is at that stage where its too simple for me… but I’ll give it time to grow.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        I am very fond of SGII as well. It’s a great little system. I get the feeling from a brief glance that the Ambush Alley stuff owes something to that, though I’ve only read the rules, not played.

        I’ll reserve my comments on KOW for the review 🙂

  2. billops says:

    “horrible beardiness” Im thinking along the same lines : dwarves are overpowered 😉
    Simplicity can be a bad thing when it leads to little strategic choices imo.
    Also, I regret Mr Cavatore didnt dare taking much more distance with GW systems. There’s very little innovation in KoW.
    Im with you on BB tournaments, they are the best.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’ve not looked at the Dwarf army to be honest – I was referring to beardiness in a broader sense (though the Dwarfs may yet be uber).

      I’ll reserve judgement on the number of tactical choices inherent in the system till after the weekend. We have 6 games to play in 2 days, and so I should have a reasonable grasp of things by the end of it.

  3. Sam Dale says:

    Might see you at Mael. I’m coming up aboot 6 to shoot the breeze with an old mate from Macc who’s playing.

  4. I think I see KoW as very much a work in progress still. I’m not overly fussed about how complex or not a game is. As far as I go I think rules need to be there with a purpose. I hate it when rules are added in and you just think why the hell is that there? Streamlined rules are what I like, but streamlined doesn’t mean simplistic, it means appropriate. My issue with WFB for instance as it grew in scale was that here we had a game ostensibly based on units, rank and file yet everything was pretty much conducted and the individual level except movement. This mismatch irked me and still does. I’ve been working on my own rank and file based rules for years now and I’m pretty darn close to nailing them down… only problem is I haven’t created many ‘profiles’ for the units… so that’ll be another sodding 6 years then. I’ll get it finished one day and realise how utterly rubbish it is. However I think there are some nifty mechanics in it if I do say so myself that I think KoW could benefit from.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      KOW is perhaps too much of a WIP. This is the second edition – when does it become a “real” product and not a WIP?

      Warhammer is a victim of its own success in many ways. They are stuck with what is essentially a 30+ year old system that they dare not make any substantial changes to in case they break it completely. Each successive edition tinkers with the edges and the chrome, but the core (which is what needs changing IMO) is sacrosanct. It’s not the fault of the guys in game development, but even that title is informative. In Games Workshop (the name is increasingly ironic) they are game developers, not game designers.

      • I get the feeling its more of an evolutionary game than something set in stone. It feels to me more like its still an open public Beta. Although I get the feeling these second edition rules might just be the settling down period the game needs within the community to gather some serious feedback about armies rules etc. and then assimilate all that into a more permanent ruleset. I know they’ve called them second edition, but really they don’t feel that evolved yet… maybe they’re supposed to be and I’ve got it horribly wrong!!! 🙂

      • Quirkworthy says:

        No, that sounds like a fair assessment.

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