2nd edition Kings of War Review – Part 2

Caveat: this second part is for the 5% of the gaming population who immerse themselves in the world of games and gaming as much as I do, and who are as curious and particular about how things work as I am. Sticklers for details, beardy idiots, pedants, geeks; call us what you will. For the saner and more normal 95% who get their gaming fix by sticking some models on the table and rolling the dice, the first part is probably sufficient. You were warned 🙂

I will assume here that you’ve read part 1 of this review and so you understand the basics. This part is about the details.

Unfortunately, it’s in the details that this edition of Kings of War creaks a bit. I do look forward to the 3rd edition, which will, one assumes, have fixed all these things, and be full of amusing background material too. If Alessio hasn’t killed me by then I’ll happily review that when it comes out.

For the moment, we have what we have, and if you’re just throwing down with a mate for a friendly game using an army you have kicking about then KOW2 is fine. If you’re taking it more seriously then you’ll need to be writing some house rules. I would, however, suggest that you do give it a try. Mantic are very keen to read your comments and you don’t often get a chance to have this much input. Download the rules, drag out your old Warhammer armies and give it a blast. Then let Mantic know what you thought (good or bad). They’ll appreciate it.

Now put your protective harness on and stand well back – I’m about to get picky!

What Works?

The core game works. This is a short paragraph, but it is the bulk of the game. Personally I don’t find the “I-go-U-go” whole-army-at-a-time turn sequence to my taste, and I have issues with the way individuals work, but you can’t deny that the game is slick and functions well as a basic system.

What Needs Work?

Several areas. A few specific units are currently broken, others are a just bit too good for their points. The poster boys for brokenness are the Masters of Death (assassins). Take multiples of these in your army and you’re laughing (but your opponent won’t be). Not only do they have +2 to damage in both melee and shooting, they can appear anywhere on the battlefield – guaranteed (no dice roll required) – in whichever turn their owner wishes. This includes behind the enemy, of course, and I forgot to mention that you triple your attacks if you charge from the rear. Alessio is entirely aware of this and even now his little grey cells are being burned by the million as a clean and simple answer is sought.

The human captain who gives lots of units Vanguard (a double move after deployment) also needs work, but again Alessio is on the case.

Vampires (Soul Reaver cavalry) are perceived by some as needing a nerfing, though I personally don’t agree. After 7 games with a Soul Reaver army I think they’re nasty, but very killable if you’ve thought it through. They are, in fact, so expensive for what they do that I reckon you’d be better spending your points elsewhere. If they have their Bloodbath rule removed (as was discussed) then I really would think twice about taking them unless they drop very dramatically in points. Two units of the lesser Undead (or even better, Twilight Kin) cavalry is only very slightly more points and is a much better option in my opinion.

There are other issues in terms of points balance, such as the relative costs of lesser and greater Obsidian Golems, and I think that many of the war engines are overpriced (or under-useful). Some characters feel like their relative battlefield usefulness is not reflected well in their points. But all this points juggling is easy enough to fix with playtesting. It means that this edition is a bit exploitable, but don’t let that stop you. Go out and exploit things, my children. It is for the Greater Good of the 3rd edition!

(Just remember to tell Mantic what you’ve found broken).

So far we have had cosmetic and easily fixable issues that will clearly fade with time. A 3rd edition was planned from the start and the KOW ship is on course. None of them should really be a concern. My next thought is more worrying, though increasingly theoretical. It’s about Individuals. Models with this special rule are basically those on foot or riding a normal mount like a horse. Those on big monsters don’t get the benefits. An Individual doesn’t have to worry about turning and can charge all round and this is where the trouble starts. There is no restriction on characters moving around and between units and this means that a single fighty Individual can destroy whole regiments on their own, almost regardless of relative points values. You get double attacks from the flank and triple from the rear, and any character worth his salt should be doing this at all times. Advance in the lee of a “real” unit (or fly, or teleport in like assassins) and then skip through the gaps in the enemy line and start hacking away. Enemy units must leave an inch gap between themselves, and an Individual model is generally on a base that will fit in between…

One potential fix for this that was mooted at the tournament was to disallow doubling and tripling for Individual’s attacks. They do not suffer this problem as they have neither flank nor rear themselves, so why are they getting the benefit? This would go the bulk of the way to fixing the issue and I’m sure that the assassin problem will be ameliorated too. However, I still think that we will be left with the rump of a problem, which will still essentially require you to take a fighty character of your own in any serious army. Their job will be as a sweeper to protect the flanks and rears of the fighting units, because even if an enemy doesn’t get additional attacks, they’ll want to hang about outside the front arc as that way they can never be charged by their target. As damage is cumulative, a character nibbling away at a unit will erode it on their own given time, and can easily make the difference to an otherwise evenly balanced attack going in from the front. Mantic want us to play with huge armies, so having a rule that encourages you to forgo a unit or two so that you can take an über Individual model seems counter to their intentions (plus a bit odd in general). For those of a greybearded persuasion like myself, it’s harking back to the days of what used to be disparagingly known as “Herohammer”.

Flying units are another area that seems a touch over powerful. They are often several models strong so the benefits for flank & rear charges are fair enough. Being able to fly them over the enemy battle line and then spin 180 degrees (all flying units get the Nimble skill so they can all do this even when they double move – usually a total of 20 inches) means that they should be in a position to charge into the rear of an enemy unit in their next turn. A unit of 10 Gargoyles has 20 attacks at 4+, and only costs 90 points. If this is going into the rear of a unit that’s an average of 30 rolls to damage (triple your 20 attacks, half of which hit), so you’d expect 5 hits on a target with the highest damage of 6. As you move your whole army at once, attacking with multiple units against single targets is a common and highly effective tactic. Put two Gargoyle units into the back of a single enemy unit and you’re getting 10 damage on the highest damage unit in the game – and all for 180 points. Of course, Gargoyles are not particularly resilient to damage themselves, but if they’re behind you then this is hardly a problem. It’s a similar issue to the assassins: they are weak in defence and strong in attack, but if you can never attack them because you can’t see them…

Pre-measuring is another aspect that I believe causes problems with competitive games. If I have a unit that is faster than yours, you should not get the first charge. Ever. There need be no guesswork required. You have no tension of whether you have judged things right or not (something I rather like in Warhammer); here it is all about the geometry of the position. Now it was instructive to watch the top players in the tournament exploiting this feature to obliterate my army, but they weren’t what I’d call fun games (in an abstract sense – my opponents were a good laugh though). And now I’ve seen people who do it well I’d try it myself. Why would I not? Not using the tools at hand feels very odd to me, so I’d feel I had to. If both players are doing the same thing and both have taken the fast armies then you’re back to an even playing field, but where does that leave any army without move 6 foot troops, or, more importantly, move 9 cavalry or move 10 flyers? If both players have equally fast armies do you then get a good game or just a stand off? Is it like playing Chicken? I don’t know the answer to these last questions, but it’s something to consider and try out. Please comment below if you give this a go on the tabletop.

Finally, I wonder whether using chess clocks elicits the intended behaviour or not. Again, I expect it to act to reduce the size of the armies being fielded, rather than expanding them. Physically moving troops is time consuming, and if time is tight then that has to be a consideration in army builds. Again, Mantic’s desire for huge armies comes under pressure from the other direction.

Conclusion – Serious Play

After the feedback from the Tournament, Alessio is working on a series of changes to the tournament pack that will be available from the Mantic site and will (presumably) apply to future tournaments. This will doubtless go some way to removing the most heinous of the broken units we saw at the first tourney. However, I predict that this will simply leave the next level of imbalance to be exploited; a level that was masked by the sheer obviousness of the Masters of Death and Captain problems. Kings of War is plainly not finished yet in terms of detailed balance, nor is it expected to be. I do expect it to be fine when it is finished (which will be the 3rd edition, next year). At least, it will be much more fine. There’s a load of playtesting to do yet, and if they add a bunch more armies into 3rd (and I expect they will) then they will also need testing. If they go in as the new ones did in 2nd, then we’ll be right back to where we are now.

I’m quite taken by the idea of using chess clocks, though I remain unconvinced that all the ramifications were thought through well enough. Chess is a very different proposal to a tabletop game where your armies are mutable. Adding time pressure is tricky to balance, and will put off as many people as it intrigues. Naturally slower players, or players who wish to field larger armies, will be penalised if the times are set for faster, smaller armies. If the times are set to accommodate the larger forces then smaller players are unpressured. It’s a tricky thing to balance. Using chess clocks for chess competitions don’t have this problem as chess has fixed “armies”.

Whilst KOW2 is fine for casual play, I’m not sure it’s ready for serious tournaments yet as the playing field is not even enough and the lists not sufficiently refined. I could be wrong – maybe that’s what tournament players really want: room to exploit. For me I want to have a close game and if I win I’d like that to be because I played better and not just because I’m more able to spot the broken bits. Maybe Alessio’s revised tournament pack will fix enough of these issues to make it all fine. I hope so. You can all help to rectify this as well. You all need to go out and play Kings of War and let Mantic know what works for you and what doesn’t. I’ve played it a reasonable amount now and these are my thoughts to date. What do you think? Am I wrong? Let me know.

Lastly, on a personal note, regardless of the clean rules, fast play and even ignoring the balance issues which I’m sure will be sorted soon enough, I feel that Kings of War is missing something. This is a very “touchy; feely” kind of thing to say, and unhelpfully, I can’t really tell you for certain what this “something” might be, though I will hazard a guess or two. It could be the lack of background. KOW2 is rather generic, and this is always less appealing than a game with an immersive fantasy environment. It is more likely to be what I see as a missing level of detail. KOW is not sufficiently abstracted for me to see it like DBA as an overview, yet it lacks a level of ability to tweak. For example, there are no magic items, and the magic system is perfunctory (though this may expand with 3rd ed). All I can do is pick from a fixed palette of units and unit sizes (and choose to have banners/musicians or not). I think I’d like a bit more mutability, though it’s hard to say what else this might be. It could even be that I want more boundaries in army selection. Who knows? There is just a niggle at the back of my head that Kings of War 2 is missing a little something. If I work out what this is then I’ll be sure to tell you.

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63 Responses to 2nd edition Kings of War Review – Part 2

  1. Grimmeth says:

    I agree with the mutability, I like to add a level of Roleplaying to my wargaming, and do like having customer made characters and such, as well as backgroun (which admittedly, will come along)
    It’s a reason why I’ve always enjoyed Warhammer (even though it goes through varying stages of sillyness) – although in some cases there may be too many options which causes the inherent issues with hunting through a rulebook several hundred pages long – and have struggled with games like Warmachine, even though I love the system I can’t create my own characters.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Characters in particular are an issue with many games. A friend of mine always advises new writers to include generic characters in rules as it allows a player to invest some of their own imagination in creating an individual character to lead their armies. Warhammer has always had room for these generic captains and battle wizards, which is good; Warmachine has little that fits the bill; Kings of War has plenty of generic characters that you could tailor, but at present not enough of a developed background to imagine them in. That will come though.

      • Jason says:

        The lack of generic warcasters is about the only problem I have with Warmachine. Making up a little background in my head for my armies has always been a part of wargaming for me.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        That’s the point exactly – and you are far from alone. There are other generic elite individual models in the game such as snipers or journeymen warcasters and so on, who can be used as a basis. It’d still be better with proper generic warcasters you could tailor a bit – “better” in this regard, at least.

    • Kings of War v2 will probably be my go to wargame. But I do miss being able to fully customize my characters. I think this can be achieved in the rules without going to a herohammer situation, but I don’t think Mantic will do it because so many have experienced bad enemy hero builds. Sad too, that’s the only thing I don’t like about KoW, otherwise it’s a excellent game.

  2. Ant says:

    I’ve been looking for a Warhammer-lite type of game for such a long time so I really want the Mantic guys to succeed, plus Ronnie just seems like a bloody nice chap, but I can’t help but feel KoW is fundamentally quite flawed in several ways in addition to the concerns you expressed in the article Jake. Bearing in mind that us regular fans haven’t got a clue what rules the new rulebook change so they may have been dealt with.

    1) There isn’t much distinction at all between the differing unit types. Archers are basically swordsmen+shoot, cavalry are basically swordsmen+speed, etc. More of a rock, paper, scissors approach would add a lot to the game, so for example, units of archers become smaller and weaker so are vulnerable to cavalry and monsters, while cavalry deal lots of damage on the charge but can quickly become overwhelmed by large units, etc.

    2) A lack of any real Strength vs Toughness mechanic really hurts the strategy of the game. Currently it doesn’t matter much which unit charges which in relation to comparing Me/De/At because the overwhelming priority is to avoid being flanked due to the huge amounts of damage flanking does. A half-hearted attempt at this has been made with the Crushing Strength rule, but really that’s no simpler than just having a proper comparative stat, which combined with slightly reducing the effect of flanking and adding a pursue rule would make who you charge much more interesting.

    3) The Nerve mechanic works well for regular units, which is probably why most historical rule sets use it, but it simply doesn’t work for small units (for a game claiming to be for big battles I’ve got no idea why so many tiny units exist anyway). The lack of any real chance for regular units to waver early on creates somewhat of a boring steamroller type of battleline early on as each side slowly rumbles towards each other. Some sort of Panic type rule is vital for breaking up battlelines early on in games.

    4) How can you have a fantasy game and not have proper magic item/spell rules? Personally I’m not a fan of the big Warhammer magic meta game, but at the very least you need to have stat hex/boost spells to make magic interesting which gives the game a new unit type with their own strengths/weaknesses.

    5) Designing the game solely around a device that nobody will ever use, the chess clock, seems quite silly to me. It has negative ramifications in several areas, such as the ‘bouncing’ melee and the archaic turn structure. The strict IgoUgo only works when you need time to think about army manoeuvres, which isn’t the case in KoW because movement is sluggish and predictable.

    I think that’s about it but I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. Just to be clear I really do hope Mantic succeeds as it’s great having more games to choose from, but KoW still feels about 25% complete to me (Warpath about 5%). I’m really interested to see how your own wargame shapes up as well Jake. 🙂

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Ronnie is indeed a nice chap, as is Alessio. In fact, the Mantic office in general has a cheery buzz about it and I too wish them all the best. My critique here is not because I don’t like them, but because I am naturally blunt/honest/opinionated, and because I think tough love is better than sycophancy.

      To take your conveniently numbered points in order:

      1) The amount of difference between units varies between armies. Some have more similar troops types than others. I think the differences are subtle in places and need repeated use to appreciate, a bit like DUST Tactics. On the whole I’d say that it was OK for the game as it stands. After all, what you need is an appropriate level of variation, not variation for variation’s sake.

      2) I don’t agree that a Warhammer style strength v toughness mechanic is required. Crushing Strength covers most of those bases, with regeneration and varying defence values managing the high toughness equivalent troops. In play, this system is very quick to use. S v T is slower overall because with a comparative stat system you must make this calculation every time you fight, regardless of how normal or bizarre the combatants. With a system that gives you a number to roll and then modifies this only when required by extremes, you only need to make any calculation when things are exceptional. Most of the time you just roll against a fixed defence value, which is fine. The flank and rear bonuses are very powerful, but seemed to me to be an issue with the individuals getting them rather than the units. I didn’t mention in my review, but when you destroy a unit then you get to reform, advance or retreat by a few inches. This seemed like a reasonable way of doing things to me. I did tinker with the notion of follow on charges, but I can’t see a really clean way to both define when you should get them and to make it work within the turn structure. If you had a suggestion for making it work cleanly then let Alessio know, or post it here and I’ll tell him 🙂

      3) Wavering didn’t happen much in any of the games I played, but I think that is really to do with the small size of that window. If the gap between the waver number and the rout number was bigger then it would happen more often. Whether that would make a better game I am not sure. It would be easy to test (just reduce all wavering numbers by 1 or 2).

      4) I agree that that it needs more magic, and am assured this is due in 3rd ed.

      5) You clearly haven’t played any of the guys I met on sunday! Movement for cavalry is 16 or 18 inches for double move and charge. Flyers go 20 and can face wherever they like at the end. Most foot moves 5 basic, so 10 on a march. All told it’s at least as fast as Warhammer and that’s done OK for the past 25-30 years 🙂

      If you remember your other points then please shout out!

      • I am not so sure it NEEDS more magic. I think magic can overpower a game. I think it needs a better magic system but maybe not more magic POWER. I really don’t like games where one Magic User/ Wizard/Shaman determines outcomes on a refular basis. If thats the case I would rather just have magic duels with a game like summoner wars. I don’t think this is what either of you were alluding to mind you. I just wanted bring up the topic and see what others felt.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        My concern isn’t really with magic power as such, but with the fact that the little background we have implies it should be more dramatic (and I like consistency) and it’s currently really characterless and dull (regardless of effectiveness). I’d like some characterful and fun magic that added to the tactical options and made it feel like a fantasy game rather than a historical game with pointy ears. As with the other elements of the rules (individuals, war engines, cavalry, infantry, etc) magic should be in balance. It’s part of the jigsaw, not the whole picture.

  3. curiso says:

    I’m not a great fan of U-GO-I-GO, but that’s since been dispelled by finding out how brisk the turns are. (See http://www.ninjabread.co.uk/2010/08/30/mantic/ ). However, that’s by virtue of the game’s simplicity at the moment, and I hope as the game grows it doesn’t become more complex and the turn lengths bloat.

    Time pressures would be really helpful in tournament games where you’ve got to keep to your schedule. There’s one chap on the Epic tournament circuit you know if you draw against on the last game of the morning you’ll have to forfeit your whole lunch in order to get to the end of Turn 3. Other than encouragement from the organisers there’s no way to get these people to play efficiently.

    The problem you don’t raise with chess clocks is whether people start playing fast and loose, generously fudging their own measurements under the pretext of “playing effieiciently”. Like you said in part one you can;’t eliminate cheating, only move it elsewhere in the system. Does this happen in the timed Warmachine events?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Like the comic 🙂

      As I said, I am not a big fan of this turn sequence, but in practice it is less onerous than I had expected because the game plays quickly. What I now find less appealing is that turn sequence in combination with pre-measuring.

      Having helped running and judging at tournaments, I can see clocks being really useful as a way to keep the whole thing on track. If you’ve got a hundred people at an event, you don’t want 98 of them messed about because 2 guys can’t finish a game. The chess clocks avoid that.

      And on the note of how you get people to finish games – I’d be draconian myself. You get a “wind up this turn please, you’ve got 10 minutes” warning, then if they don’t then the referee just goes and tells them the game is over and fills in the results. The games are in time slots for a reason. Well, actually quite a lot of reasons. Ignoring them is disrespectful of the referees, the organisers and the other gamers (who have had to conform to the times themselves). I remember being at a tournament where someone who repeatedly took the mick like this got given his money back and told to go home as he was messing 100+ other folk about. I thought that was very brave, and entirely correct on the part of the organiser as did the bulk of the rest of the event staff and customers, to judge by the round of applause he got.

      I didn’t notice people using a more elastic tape measure because of the time pressure, though I’m sure plenty of folk forgot stuff in the heat of the moment. There is so much variety in what different people think is acceptable in terms of measuring unit moves that I think this is largely moot anyway.

  4. I have been thinking about gaming magic. I have not played with the Warhammer system or any other system with magic so I am coming at it with no past table top experience . It seems to me that magic explosions, balls of fire etc.. can easily be overdone and perhaps that is what storms of magic is all about? When I read Warhammer battle reports it seems like you can take major losses from one spell (in other words one dice role). While it seems like magic could over power a game it also seems like it is a wonderful opportunity to modify the game environment with walls of flame, magic walls, cloaked troops, teleported characters and magic bogs etc.. applied properly these types of spells would be worth a lot of points and removing the enemy wizard would still be a priority without the risk of a bad dice roll removing half your army or having an expensive wizard be wasted by a failed spell. My favorite WWII weapon is artillery but it is a problem to scale right it for a table top game and it seems to me magic has the same type of problems.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Magic does indeed have similar balance issues as artillery; in fact, as any potentially overweening element of a battlefield environment. The major distinction is that artillery is real, and if you are modelling a WWII game, for example, then you can get a general idea of how powerful it should be to be “right”. With magic it’s a different story, and everyone has their own idea of what is appropriate. For me, I don’t mind how powerful it is other than it should be consistent with the background. Unfortunately KOW has little background to speak of, and the little it has hints at magic being far more potent than the feeble afterthought that it is now.

      Most of the non-explosive examples you mention have been used in Warhammer and other fantasy games in the past, and they can tell a great story on the tabletop. Fireballs are all very Hollywood, but they are a bit drab. Magical bogs, fogs and dogs (well it rhymed) are far more interesting. I’m curious to see what Alessio does in his proposed expansion. More pseudo-shooting attacks or something different?

      • Stephen Holmes says:

        I fall strongly into the “Keep it simple” camp for magic.

        I’ve seen enough system to know that magic is very difficult (maybe impossible) to balance.
        I also know that “enhanced” magic almost always equates to deadlier magic – paising the problem that he who shoots first wins when the game is strictly Igo Ugo.
        Much enhanced magic also disappoints, being 50 different smiting spells – all remarkably similar in their effect, and 20 different healing spells – barely distinguishable.

        KoW has made courageous design choices with the aim of a quick and simple game.
        If you accept that quick games (and all the benefits they bring) are a good thing, you need to accept that halting the game to thumb through a 160 page spell book.

        Problems with individuals can probably be solved more easily.
        It may be worth considering a rule where they are swept aside by charging units, (but still provide handy nuisance value in attacks).

        I must admit I find the chess clock thing puzzling.
        Chess clocks limit aggregate time over multiple moves – leading to sudden death defeat.
        I thought the objective was to limit each move.

        I’m all for time limits though. Ridiculous slow play can be extremely irritating (especially players who have their own little rituals of measuring everything and talking to their dice).
        It’s claimed that time limits will make huge armies harder to control.
        I see this as consistent with ancient battles, where the big horde often struggled to respond to the smaller regular army.
        Don’t worry – your bg horde will get smaller during the course of the game.

  5. Mr Pharmacist says:

    What about giving more game time to the army with more (basic) units (some bonus related to the number of basic units fielded)?

    I’m slow player, but I loved the tension caused by the damned sand clock in Space Hulk

    • Quirkworthy says:

      In a tournament sense you’d obviously have to keep to a fixed total for the round. You could potentially have a handicap system based on rankings and that would be interesting.

      A weighting based on numbers of “solid” units (a concept already in the game – 20 infantry or 10 cavalry) might work. I suggested this at the tournament, but it’s worth bringing up again as it mitigates some of the push towards smaller armies that the timed games introduce to start with. Of course, if the total game time is fixed, you’d get a different amount of time each depending on your relative army sizes, but at least it would mean that a player with a large army had a little more time if facing someone with an elite force.

  6. Although on the whole I’m not particularly taken with this system and am not interested personally in the effect of a game under tournament conditions (I am mearly an armchair Napoleon who enjoys pushing soldiers around in a manner that can only be described as a tin pot tactician) what I do like about the idea of chess clocks is that it gives me a sense of realism in command, real world commanders have to act and react quickly to a changing battle field and what better way than to give them a time limit? unfortunatetly for me the verisimilitude of the rule mechanics ends there for me! But as you always say Jake, ‘It’s a fantasy world, things can happen in anyway you like!’

  7. Evilsam says:

    This is a great read. I’ve been looking for a simple, fast play fantasy rule set and KOW appears to have lots of potential. I’ve tried starting Warhammer on 4 separate occasions and quit it every time. I haven’t played the beta yet (don’t own any Warhammer-like fantasy armies) but have read the pdf KOW rules and agree with the issues on magic and some other things. Here’s my current 2-cents:

    – I play War of the Ring (the big battle game, not the skirmish game). Several of my Warhammer friends who also play WOTR have commented that they really like the magic system as compared to Warhammer fantasy. A similar system in KOW may give the added flavor to magic without upping the complexity too much. The same goes with how WOTR handles magic items.
    – I also play Hordes (Warmachine’s little brother). I think the combat mechanic in WarmaHordes is really slick. It uses stats but in a way where you don’t need to reference a chart and can quickly determine the result. I think a similar mechanic would provide flexibility in using combat stats without bogging down the speed of the game.
    – I really hope they keep this system simple and don’t give in to the folks who need tons of detail and are list-building specialists. I’ve all but given up on 40K and tournaments because of the power-building and hyper-competitiveness that has migrated into the community. Add to that the power creep in codexes. I really, really hope Mantic avoid that.
    – I have no problem with how the chess clock is used. Some of the issues mentioned could be handled by varying the total time of a game and applying it in a similar fashion as scenarios in a tournament. I was at a GT where you had to bring an extra 250 pts in units knowing that one of the games you got to use it. Why not have a tournament that had three games with 2 or 3 different game times available? Players wouldn’t find out until they hit the table as to the amount of time they had.

  8. Quirkworthy says:

    Thanks Evilsam. Nice to know you’re enjoying my burblings 🙂

    I’m not a LOTR fan, and am only guessing that the War of the Ring you mean is the GW one (there are at least 4 games called that). A simple magic system could work in KOW. I’d guess that Alessio will probably build on what he has though, rather than adding a new layer.

    The basic combat of Hordes/Warmachine is similar in principle to KOW (and many other games): you roll dice and add a stat. However, the combat system as a whole in Hordes/Warmachine is far more complex and slower than King of War when you add the rest of it in. It’s not the basic thumping each other, it’s the myriad slams, throws and so on in Hordes/Warmachine that all have different rules which slow them down. Which one can I do now? How many inches do you get moved/thrown? What is the collateral damage rolled on? None of them are impossibly complex in themselves, it’s just that there are lots of options, they all add to a basic combat system and if you play other things then it’s unlikely you’ll remember all the details. Hence it’s a bit slower. KOW, on the other hand, has just the statline and less than half a dozen modifiers to combat all told: easily memorable, and even if you come back to it after a break it’s just a quick skim and you’re back up to speed.

    Varying scenarios for different rounds is something we did at the tournament (though the KOW scenarios are not very different from each other). The times were varied too, but this was more a test of the time than anything else and was not related to the scenarios being played. Like you, I enjoy varied games, and always thought that taking an army that you sometimes use only part of for certain rounds/scenarios would be a good thing, and added to a tournament. I know Warmachine/Horde tourneys make you take two different lists and lets you pick between them each round. That’s fun too. The only thing you must ensure is that all the games in a given round of a tournament are played to the same time, otherwise it will rapidly descend into chaos.

  9. Chrixter says:

    Excellent review, thanks! Got me excited (again) of this game.

    A note on the chess clocks, their best impact is that slow players really get it written black-on-white that THEY are slow. Naturally should the allotted time be sufficent as miniature wargaming where a lot of dice rolling, moving, and measuring is done isn’t optimal for extremely fast play. I think that it overall will work very well in tournáment play.

    Regarding the problem with “hordes”. The answer is movement trays/large bases. Since no figures are to be removed you can glue every figure to the tray and moving a 60+fig unit is suddely as simple as a single miniature.

    Single miniatures getting bonuses for attacking rear is naturally a bug, should be immidiately removed.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I completely agree about moving big units. All of my models were stuck to single trays so that each unit was a single piece. Double-sided tape allows you to do this easily and still take them off later if your army is doing service for both KOW and Warhammer, for example.

      In terms of saving time for the tournament, I’d also counted out the dice I took and selected different colours, so that I could quickly take just the white ones for unit A’s attacks, or all of them for unit B’s. Repeatedly counting out dozens of dice could waste a few minutes over a game too, and when you have an hour or less that is quite a bit.

      I think the biggest benefit from chess clocks is that it makes an organiser’s job easier as it gives a defined end to a round and doesn’t mean that they have to keep reminding people that there are dozens or hundreds of other folk waiting on them. The time pressure is interesting, but I think that it is hard to find a balance of allowed time that will challenge the majority of people without timing out too many. Unless you are very slow, then you can still play calmly.

  10. @Obsidian Golems
    Still have some left from Chronopia…

    Normally I am not that big a fan of IgoYougo, but at times I see its advantages. And I think it works quite well once you get the hang of the KoW rules. With the rules in general I do not have any problems and during our tournament none of the problems were related to the rules. When we encountered problems they were in the details and issues that easily can be fixed by an stat or ability update.

    KoW definitely needs some more flesh on the bones, but this will come to pass with the passing of time. I prefer KoW over WHFB because I can play it as one among my other games and don´t have to be up-to-date on the rules on an daily basis (Which keeps me from playing Warmahordes).

    Where I see most of the problems at the moment is the minis. The hybrid kits are really not up-to-date and some designs should never haft left the drawer (seahorse-dragons). Mantic really has to ramp up, when it comes to their miniatures, though some of the newwer sculpts are quite nice. Also bonding too much with KoW can hurt them, instead of helping them. I do know quite some folks that react quite allergic to the Backstage stuff.

    Gamers buy minis AND rules and with KoW being WiP the really are lacking in the first department, less so in the latter.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I agree entirely on the relative pick-up-ability of KOW compared to Warhammer and, like you, I find the constant state of flux of both Warhammer and Warmachine/Hordes a pain and a very strong disincentive to play. Mantic could promote that aspect if they chose.

      I think your 3rd para about KOW means BOW (instead of KOW). Hard to know how much harm it does compared to how much good. If BOW are prepared to devote a week’s specials to Mantic then that’s probably a good thing overall compared to a handful of people not liking the odd thing that’s in Backstage (and will be leaked elsewhere within 24 hours anyway). BOW aren’t the only place Mantic use for new stuff either. Off the top of my head I think they also give Warseer and Bell of Lost Souls exclusives. Could be wrong there, but it’s someone like that.

      Miniatures quality varies as it does with every company, especially those that use freelancers like Mantic do. In addition they’re on a steep learning curve here. Remember they’re not a venerable company here. They are keenly aware that they could do better in some cases, and seem to generally be regarded as gradually improving. At least they’re going the right way 🙂

      • Well, I would rather spread the news all over the place and only now and then do some exclusives. And at least to my eyes BoLS is to cluttered uo and BoW goes in the same direction… but on the other hand I simply might get old ;).

        When it comes to new companies I am always a little bit worried when I see them make the same errors other companies made before them and maybe I am just a little bit too burned from the Rackham-shipwreck which I witnessed from the first row…
        And some of the mistakes have nothing to do with money, more often with decision makers being sometimes too much on the hobby-side and not on the financial-side. E.g. leaving a rather big market like Germany without offcial rules translations of any kind for too long is still a big error in my book. The angloamerican market is huge, sure, but the German market is also big if tackled in the right way. And as the French sometimes focus too much on the french side of gaming, Angloamericans do this sometimes too. When it comes to this I am already thinking globally. And good translation, etc.-jobs doe not cost that much money…. or at least they get you more money back than trying to tackle a market with a book in a foreign language. That´s one of the reasons why GW is succesfull, they cater to the market language if possible.

        Mantic is on the right track, but sometimes I wish they would have a look back on the errors Rackham made…

      • Quirkworthy says:

        There are so many variables here that it’s easy to drift into pure speculation very quickly. It’s especially true when we’re dealing with businesses that naturally don’t want to share all their information publicly. As I’ve been working in the industry for so long now I have been in situations where I’ve eventually met the people who were involved in newsworthy events years before, and been told the inside story behind the headlines. Or at least one of the versions of the inside story. Things are rarely as they appear, though having this happen enough times gives you a much better ability to read between the lines.

        The costs associated with translations aren’t just paying someone to change the words, and there is never any guarantee that you will get the sales in return. I suppose that Ronnie will get round to it in due course and just doesn’t feel the business risk warrants it just yet. He seems to be managing the growth carefully, but successfully so far. Personally, I think he’s a very shrewd businessman.

        I don’t think there’s any national monopoly in being parochial about gaming markets, and companies of all colours are often very slow to get translations done. As an avid consumer of all things gaming, I think this is a Bad Thing.

  11. Rich says:

    “Enemy units must leave an inch gap between themselves, and an Individual model is generally on a base that will fit in between…”

    While I agree that characters are very strong, that part doesn’t make sense to me. Individuals are under the same “one inch clearance unless in melee” rule everything else is. Unless the troop units have left a 3″ gap in their battleline, you’re not going to squeak through to get to the rear. You might be able to line up a flank charge in such a gap, but I doubt it will happen often – Nimble doesn’t work on the charge, and the “shortest distance rule” should let battleline units cover one another.

    IME (limited, I admit) characters facing a solid line are either forced to try an end run around a flank (the effect of which can usually be delayed for several turns by maneuver, at least) or they get sandwiched into the main battleline as support for charges on key units. Their attacks over a given frontage are very high, and tossing one in alongside a unit or two virtually guarantees a wavering or broken target. If they’re getting around on your flanks and rear regularly your battleline was way too loose, or had a hole bashed in it by casualties – barring the Masters of Death or (sometimes) flyers.

    Of course, characters are still the best answer to enemy characters – and not just the fighty ones. Zap spells and Breath attacks don’t care if you’re an individual, and can kill melee hero in fairly short order.

    I also wonder if the marketing is really intended to encourage huge armies, few characters. The grunt troops are very cheap, while the hero models are earning Mantic a much better margin. The army construction rules are set up to encourage “buy solid unit, buy hero, buy war engine” thinking – at least if you’re an army with worthwhile war engines. Smaller units are filler, or flank screens, or reserves, generally. Skipping on buying your max heroes is a mistake, as you’ve noted – but I’m not at all sure that isn’t intentional.

  12. Quirkworthy says:

    You make a very good point. What my opponent was doing was against the rules, now I come to check them up again. The 1 inch gap between my units is indeed too narrow for him to move down with an individual because he must maintain this gap “at all times” other than when he is charging. Well spotted. This makes Individuals marginally less nasty, but only marginally so IMO. I still think they’re too potent.

    Your suggested uses and vulnerabilities of individuals all sound spot on.

    The marketing could be intentional. I just don’t know. Though there is always the counter argument that I will only ever buy one each of the heroes, where I will potentially buy many regiments. Nor am I entirely convinced that the margins are worse on plastics. It all depends on how you account for the initial tooling costs.

    Really small units seem to serve little purpose except to use up the last few points in a list, or as speed bumps. With a Nerve score you can roll on the dice alone, they aren’t going to survive long.

    • Forest Ramsey says:

      (Sorry I’m late…I just rediscovered this review). As far as the really small units go, they do have a value. Small units allow you to mass a lot of attacks in return for fragility. (And, if you play with the chess clocks they make things harder to move within the time, so there is another built in restriction in the system). So they give you a chance to bump up the hitting power of your army, with the risk that it is easier to take it off the table.

      Anyone who tries to run nothing but small units though ends up wasting points. I actually think the balance between the various unit sizes is excellently and subtly designed. There are reasons both to take, and to avoid taking, all of the unit sizes. It depends very much on what you hope to accomplish.

  13. andymeechan says:

    The way I read the rules a unit which enacts a Charge! against another will align to the target. If I am correct then Individuals can be exploited to expose the flank of the opponent. Simply place any expednable character 1″ from the enemy, turn it 45-degrees and invite them to Charge! If they do, you probably lose the Individual, but they get flank charged. Hard. (If you get lucky the Individual survives.)

    Yes, I got this from Warhammer – 5th I think it was. It was removed for good reason.

    I turn to Warmaster for a simple way for Individuals to act while retaining a focus on the Big Battle element of the game. Elegant and – hopefully – nickable 😉


    • Quirkworthy says:

      I did wonder a bit about this over the weekend, but I’m a little fuzzy on exactly what was intended. I think you’re correct as it’s written; I hope you’re wrong though as it is an obvious sacrifice. Can’t really remember characters in Warmaster. Do they just get killed if you roll over them or is that something else?

      • elgamersandymeechan says:

        I do hope i’m wrong too as it’s dirty.

        Warmaster characters get ‘bounced’ when they are contacted by an enemy unit (they ignore enemy characters). If they cannot move to a friendly unit within a certain distance then they are removed from play. Characters are also removed if attached to a unit when it is wiped out if I remember correctly.

        Simply head straight to Rout!, or if they make that friendy unit then make them roll against Nerve, bring in a Wavering, cause some hits to them, whatever…

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Oh, OK. They run and hide in a nearby unit if one’s close enough, otherwise get ridden down. Sounds familiar.

        That’d work.

        Thanks for that 🙂

  14. Rich says:

    “Really small units seem to serve little purpose except to use up the last few points in a list, or as speed bumps. With a Nerve score you can roll on the dice alone, they aren’t going to survive long.”

    Maybe. This is Theoryhammer, not tested, but it seems to me that 10 man units can outperform solid units pretty regularly. Compare pretty much any two 10 man units to their 20 man “solid unit” equivalent and the two smaller units throw twice as many attacks, and generally have the same total Nerve score – sometimes even a higher cumulative Nerve. They take up twice as much frontage, of course, but managing 2-on-1 charges is generally simple enough if your battleline is arranged right. They also cost slightly more, but I think there’s a good reason for that. It’s easier to rout or force a waver on either small unit, but doing so still leaves the second unit intact and ready to counterpunch, and it throws as many dice by itself as a solid unit does. With their lower cost, you can afford nearly twice as many of them, and that translates to either a longer battleline (letting you envelop a smaller force of solid units) or reserves (where you advance in two lines, allowing your second rank units to move forward to fill gaps formed by missile casualties or to counterpunch against a victorious solid unit) or both. A straight fight between an army of solid units and 10 man small units should result in the small units winning more often than not.

    In reality, the main reason you don’t see that happening is because those small units can’t bring characters or artillery to the table, while the solid units can. That reduces the number of solid units even further, to the point where being outnumbered 3:1 or 4:1 in number of units is likely, but characters are strong enough to compensate for that and some artillery is good enough to provide a major threat to small units during the closing phase of the battle. I think if you weaken characters too much, you risk making solid units terribly unattractive – so ironically, character effectiveness helps encourage buying the big units, even if it doesn’t help overall figure sales in terms of raw numbers.

    But like I said, Theoryhammer. Not playing enough locally to really test the extremes yet.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Theoryhammer? A bit, but after playing 6 games at the weekend against a variety of different armies I feel like I’ve seen enough to offer some reasonably informed thoughts. Obviously you could destruction test your component theories individually and if you do get to test it on the tabletop I’d be very interested to hear what you find out. For the moment though I’d focus on larger units myself.

      The frailty of small units means that they will generally be destroyed by the first attack of a serious combat unit – their Nerve score is so low. One hit and they pop. If you pop the enemy then you can move or turn to face a new threat, making flanking more difficult by subsequent waves.

      There are times when multiple weaker units are preferable to a single large one, but the opposite is more generally true. Units do not degrade in performance at all for taking damage. This means that a horde can kill one small unit, survive the response because it can soak the loss without routing (often without the possibility of routing), and then charge and kill the other small unit too. Multiple small units give you a positional advantage, but Hordes cover a lot of ground and going in against anything but their front can be hard with small units. Perhaps if you used flyers or other troops to try and break up their formations it might work. Perhaps.

      On the first day of the tournament I was fighting much larger armies than mine. Almost every unit I killed died to a single turn of attacks. The exceptions were the ones I rolled double 1 for their Nerve tests (hardly something to rely on), and the hordes. One of the human hordes took 3 turns of fighting to kill. Remember that they don’t get worse for being damaged, and that a unit that remains on the table is denying VP to your opponent and can possibly claim objectives too.

      Whilst I follow your argument, I do not feel that my experience to date supports it. If I was to do another army right now it would definitely be made of larger, not smaller units.

  15. Rich says:

    “The frailty of small units means that they will generally be destroyed by the first attack of a serious combat unit – their Nerve score is so low. One hit and they pop. If you pop the enemy then you can move or turn to face a new threat, making flanking more difficult by subsequent waves.”

    The numbers don’t support that statement. A 20 man solid unit hitting a 10 man unit can expect to score 2-3 hits in a round of fighting (assuming ten attacks at 4+/4+), maybe 4-5 hits if the attacking unit is fairly elite (ie 3+ to hit and/or 3+ chance to damage). Score 3 hits and you’ve got an unmodified Nerve test on most targets, which is only 5 chances in 12 to even force a Waver. Popping them in one turn shouldn’t happen often between two comparable troop types. Two turns (or about 20 attacks worth, which means two solid units doing a combined charge or a horde) is more likely the norm, and it only takes moderately bad luck for it to take three turns. That’s a fair amount of time for the extra 10-man units you aren’t directly fighting to do stuff – like joining in combined charges themselves, maneuvering for flanks, or parking on Pillage objectives.

    Of course, that’s what characters are for – they block or wreck small units pretty efficiently, buying your solid blocks time to do their job. Artillery can soften up small units so that getting one-turn breaks is more likely, and with luck they can force Wavers to break up the enemy advance or even break small units outright.

    I wouldn’t want to play a horde or solid-unit exclusive army against a swarm of 10-man groups without plenty of character support. That’s especially true if the swarm is a mass of quality shooters – elven bowmen or scouts, for ex.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      We’re simply defining “serious combat unit” differently. Judging by what I saw at the tournament, the main fighting strength of the players that were doing well were those like Twilight Kin Dark Knights: 20 attacks on 3+ (13-14 hits). Bobo was using two of these in concert, and that looked very much the way to go. When one of these hits a single small unit it will likely cause 10-11 damage (crushing strength 2), which will make a mess of the normal 10/12 or 11/13 small unit.

      Your maths is fine, but you’re attacking units are way too small. “Popping… in one turn will not happen often between two comparable troop types”. You are right, but why would you fight with comparable troop types when you can fight with better ones and pop them every time. I would be very happy if someone came to the table with a big army of small units as I know I can kill anything in one go (bar double 1).

      Artillery are currently very underpowered. The only ones I fought that were any worry at all were the Elf bolt throwers and that was when there were two of them and three bowmen regiments concentrating on a single attacker. Everything else was a joke. I didn’t play against the couple of gun lines that were present (though the Elf army mentioned may have counted). When I didn’t die to the shooting I got in among them and wiped them out. All small units.

      I think characters are slightly broken, so yes, they are good. There was some discussion about whether a single character should be able to stop a charge, but we’ll have to see what Alessio does about that.

      In terms of it being theoryhammer, you are right for both of us to an extent. We have both played, but not every possible game. Nobody has. And as we *have* both played several games we have a reasonable basis from which to theorise. And we should: that’s how you learn and improve your game. You’ll have way more time theorising than you ever will on the tabletop. It does sound to me like you are playing in a slightly less competitive environment than the tournament. There were some very dangerous players there who were pushing the limits till they squeaked.

  16. Rich says:

    Oh, just to be clear, I was referring to my own statements as Theoryhammer, not yours. It’s possible you’re simply correct, or that hard-to-quantify variables like terrain render my arguments invalid – but I’ve played ten times now with various armies (proxied, I’m afraid) and what I’ve seen so far emphasizes the importance of smart character (and artillery, to a lesser degree) use in a solid-unit heavy force.

  17. I know this is on a slight tangent, but I wonder if the same or similar issues will show themselves with Warpath. I know it is a different dynamic but the core system is the same. It will be interesting to try and gauge the differences in rules issues by gauging the players perspective eg. a massed fantasy battle game compared to a sci fi massed skirmish (I know, I know strange concept! but I still view Warpath as a skirmish on steroids at the minute) Will the natural way people play sci fi games highlight other issues? Is there differing expectations in relation to KOW vs. Warpath, and will this effect players perceptions of the beta and later testings? Both games come from the same rules ideas so kets see what happens. Too heavy for a Saturday afternoon? Possibly, but as I enjoy games design and all levels of what goes into a game I thnk this could be an interesting area to watch. Enough of my fevered ramblings……’Chiswick Fresh Horses…………..’

    • Quirkworthy says:

      As they have a number of common components under the bonnet, so to speak, I would expect similar broad issues and different details. Big things that annoy or appeal will probably be true in both (i-go-u-go turns, for example).

      SF is different than fantasy mainly in two ways (he said, generalising horribly). Firstly the troops don’t go round in big blocks in SF. Secondly, and more importantly, SF games tend to be shooting games with a bit of melee, and fantasy games are usually melee-based games with a bit of shooting. This difference in emphasis doesn’t make for a lot of different mechanical requirements, but can drastically change the way things work on the battlefield: how much terrain you need, importance of cover, and so on.

      I haven’t played Warpath, but I have watched several games and talked in depth with those that have been giving it a go, both in the real world and at Mantic. To date I have yet to see or hear any result other than the Forgefathers obliterating the Marauders with concentrated shooting. That’s plainly a balance issue between the armies rather than a broken game. However, it is slightly concerning because that imbalance between the lists will have been masking any smaller issues. Playtesting is a case of peeling back layers of problems, fixing them as you go and then playing again to see if the fix worked. It’s hard to see detail issues when confronted by one army that always wins simply because it is rolling too many attacks.

      Alessio has published a list of proposed changes today at:


      and I hope this gives us a more balanced playing field so we can see beyond the fact that the Forgefathers are jolly good shots!

  18. I agree, and generally these are the most logical conclusions that I have drawn too, reading through the list of proposed changes got me thinking about this topic and that is why I posted the thoughts above. The main point about the re-jigging of the ForgeFathers points cost was the main culprit. When the rules are implemented it will then be interesting to see what other bumps emerge. Great fun game to play, and hopefully will be robust enough to challenge the other ‘big ‘ uns’.
    I’m going to give it a while before diving financially into Warpath, don’t get me wrong I would love a big fat Forge Fathers army straight of the bat, but you have only so much time to paint, play and develop (he says staring at his desk covered with KOW, Epic Orks and half painted proxy models for other systems!)

  19. antcase says:

    Hi there Jake. I’m just curious to know where you got your grubby mitts on those rather nice scribbled drawings in each part of your KoW review and if the owner has any more? I’m currently writing up some free fantasy rules in my spare time similar-ish to KoW so am on the hunt for pretty pictures to fill the gaps in the pdf.

  20. antcase says:

    Heh, you could well be in for a long wait there Jake. It’s nothing revolutionary, I just got quite inspired watching Alessio develop Kings of War so have a dabble myself when I get time. I keep the PDF updated as I go which you can have a peek at yourself though there’s just the core rules and the Men of Merchantile army so far.


  21. Ben says:

    Seeing as how you asked, here are my thoughts on pre-measuring. I and the people I game the most with hate not being able to pre-measure in any game and we were very glad to see the back of it when 8th ed WFB came out. We find guessing ranges to be frustrating and it gets in the way of playing your army/gang/whatever. The game should be about playing your army, not your ability to guess a distance. In transitioning from 7th to 8th we’ve not found that it gives an advantage to faster troops (and if it does then the game should account for it in other ways.


    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’ve not played WFB 8th, so I can’t comment specifically on that. In KOW premeasuring gives a game-winning advantage to faster units.

      You say that guessing ranges “gets in the way of playing your army”. I’m not sure why you think that. Having to guess ranges is not only a realistic battlefield problem, but adds a challenging element of uncertainty (which abounds in real battles) and requires a degree of skill. It teaches risk management and situational assessment in a very real world manner. All these skills are lost when you allow premeasuring. Also, if you can premeasure, then really good players will basically never lose. Look at the top places in the first KOW tournament: 1st, 2nd and 3rd were all Twilight Kin. That is, all the top 3 places went to the army with move 9 cavalry (and assassins). Granted the assassins were broken, but having played some of these armies and watched the games of the others it was the cavalry that put the icing on the cake, and it was plain that even if the assassins ad not been present they would have been essentially unstoppable.

      In short, allowing premeasuring is, in my view, unrealistic, removes lots of skill and generally makes tabletop games more difficult to balance and less interesting to play.

      Premeasuring does work in board games with grids (such as DUST), because they are designed around different challenges. You could theoretically do the same with a tabletop system, though I have not seen it done well so far. I would also question the point of it. What is good about premeasuring in a tabletop game? It makes it more like a board game with a gridded playing field. If that’s what you want then why not simply play a board game?

      • Poosh says:

        I agree with the arguments against pre-measuring but at the end of the day I’m glad 8th Warhammer allowed it in for the simple reason that it takes a layer of stress out of the game. By this I mean the whole “not quite cheating but you are kinda…” element that comes with some of these games. It seems a silly thing but even when you’re generally a good sport, some people tend to be a bit “cheeky”, finding dubious ways of getting the range outside the spirit of the game (such as shooting using worthless X to check the range in order to see if one will shoot with Y, for example). Just saying “you can measure everything” just strips away that kinda lameless.

        One point is, though, you pay for the extra movement and shooting skills in the points value – it just seems sensible to allow them to generally get their shots in etc.If you’re really useless at guessing ranges, it’s perhaps too much of an imbalance in the game.

        Correct me if I’m wrong Jake. I seem to remember you playing a White Dwarf battle with Empire Cavalry against Chaos Dwarfs. I seem to remember you per-measuring the distance between your Lancers (i think it was) and the Chaos Dwarf Big Red Bull Monster, making sure your troops were out of range of 8” or whatever, in order to avoid a terror-test. You may have guessed the range, the wording was unclear. But it was a pretty sweet move I remember. (I think the bull had a spell cast on it to stop it moving).

        It was a follow up battle, after the Gathering of Might, the original one. I remember these things lol. Don’t ask why. The only unit you lost in that game were some Pistoliers. Your outriders took apart a unit of mounted Hobgoblins in one volley.

  22. Ben says:

    I appreciate that it is mainly personal preference and our (strong) preference is for it. Not allowing pre-measuring doesn’t add anything positive for us. At best it doesn’t get in the way, at worst a carefully laid plan or strategy can fall apart due to an inability to guess a range down to the nearest inch. Like I say, it is personal preference and ours is that guessing distances is not something we enjoy or feel adds to the “realism”. It’s certainly not a deal breaker though we have been known to house-rule pre-measuring if it’s not in the game. I do play a lot of boardgames and pre-measuring is never something I’ve considered to be a demarcation point between them and minis games.

    In terms of KoW, which I haven’t played, if pre-measuring does give faster troops a clear advantage then they should be costed as such.

  23. Hi folks.
    Pre measuring , removes ONE skill from the game.(The ability to guess ranges accuratley.)
    Guessing ranges has an adverse effect on game ballance, becuse you IF you cost for maximum effectivness,that very few players can manage.Players do not like it.(They cheat or fuge the rest of the game play to get around it.)
    And concequently most developers tend to cost for average effectivness, giving players with a good guess range skill a significant advantage over those that can not guess ranges very well.

    So those good at guessing ranges realy like it, those that are not good at guessing ranges dont.

    Its got NOTHING to do with board game/ table top game.
    (Random effects /effective ranges exist in board games too!)

    As far as realism goes, what are you basing this on?
    Most experianced units tend to know thier ‘effective ranges’ because thier very survival depends on them!

    If guessing ranges is a key stone of the game play,and looses its apeal without it.The game must have very limited tactical interaction.

    If guessing ranges is all so importaint why not play snooker or pool?
    Rather than a detailed simulation of warfare ,where strategic and tactical interaction should not be overthrown by a ‘basic ability’ to judge distances better than your opponent…..

    No offence ment , devils advocate hat on today!


  24. pre-measuring vs not pre-measuring. Well I’m firmly in the camp that pre-measuring actually gives an unfair advantage to armies that have faster movement and greater distance on their ranged attacks. Especially when coupled with competent gamers. When a game allows me to pre-measure, I invariable pre-measure everything, because it’s so quick and easy to do and it allows me to be a right frustrating sod about things. It also allows me to quite frankly out geometry my opponents.

    When you bring pre-measuring into a game your not leveling the playing field you’re widening the gap. If I want to play a wargame as opposed to a game of geometry I don’t want pre-measuring. If you like pre-measuring invent a geometry game and away you go. I like risk and reward in my movement just like real generals have, not total certainty that what I have done is optimum. Sorry that’s more game than war.

    I want to move my unit just the right amount forward to hopefully entice somebody to make a failed charge, and if I got it wrong then I’m going to pay for my mistake. That is a skill real commanders and generals had to face and still do to this day. I’m sure Napoleon would have loved to be able to pre-measure! lol. It’s not just about skill either, pre-measuring takes an awful lot of uncertainty out of games, and it’s this uncertainty that adds the only real ‘fog of war’ element to any tabletop wargame.

    Am I somebody who has a horribly innate ability to guess ranges accurately, you betcha I am. However, give me a game where I can pre-measure everything and I will tear most people apart far easier. Pre-maesuring can also lead to the annoying tendency to defensive play. Ensuring you’re always just out of range, or only putting huge speed bumps in range deliberately and saying to your opponent ‘here you go, the odds are stacked in my favour but if you’re lucky…’ it’s not something that I find entertaining and I can understand why those I’ve played KoW against have hated the games they played against me, because I abused the pre-measurement mercilessly.

    • Ben says:

      You’re mistaking your own experiences, opinions and preferences for objective fact. The transition from 7th to 8th ed WFB has provided an ideal opportunity to gauge just what effect pre-measuring can have when it’s introduced to a gaming system and our experience is that nothing you identify has proven to be an issue. Can I say that applies to all gamers everywhere? Of course not. Just that in our experience it speeds the game up, removes a frustrating element of guesswork that hinders our enjoyment, does not give any troop type an advantage and makes the game more offensive, not more defensive.

      Next time my flying monster pre-measures it’s charge distance, my late-Imperial Romans measure their charge distance to my opponent’s Canaanites or my Space Marines pre-measure the range to my opponent’s Eldar I’ll reflect on how unrealistic it is.

      • Ben, it’s not even necessarily about realism, but as I said the lack of measuring is more about a fog of war issue. I’m actually not so bothered about pre-measuring in WFB as I am in KoW. The game I thought we were talking about by the way. The differential between movements and ranges does become far more effective in the hands of semi competent gamers when you have pre-measuring, GW may have solved one aspect by adding the random bell curve that is 2D6 to the charge, but it still handed a heck of lot more power to specific armies. However, I maintain the effect in KoW is even greater given everything has an absolute certainty to it.

  25. Poosh says:

    What seems to be missing here is the fact that in Warhammer 8th your charge is Movement + 2D6.

    And in terms of range … most soldiers know how far their arrows/bullets will go.

    Why spend so much points on a cannon in Warhammer, when you might – through being a useless guesser of range – miss most of your shots. There comes a point when not allowing pre-measuring is just stupid. The points cost of a cannon, no doubt, is formulated with average dice role and ability in mind. Putting a 100 point cannon in the hands of an expert guesser (or someone who cheats) increases the real value of the weapon / or lowers it in the hands of a band guesser.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      “There comes a point when not allowing pre-measuring is just stupid.”

      An inflammatory way to put things, Poosh, and no more “right” than any of the other views here. I think I’ll put up a new post specifically on this as people seem so keen to comment. For the moment though, I will just refer you to my design theory posts on how intrinsically inaccurate points systems are in the first place. Any item, be it a cannon or a goblin, is worth different amounts to different players. Premeasuring doesn’t change that, it just moves the variables about a bit.

    • If this comment was aimed at me I wasn’t aware I mentioned 8th ed WFB Poosh, but I will answer the point raised. The idea that pre-measuring is somehow any less ineffective in WFB is based mainly on the fact that charging is governed, or at least part governed by 2D6 roll. To a degree this is right, and had this been the only changes made to WFB 8th ed then there wouldn’t be too much of an issue. The fact that with steadfast, giganto units and a few other things that getting the charge off isn’t all that critical anymore any way is a moot point. What pre-measuring has done in the few games I’ve witnessed and been party too is driven armies apart in certain games because of magic, what is commonly known in these parts as “I’m not going anywhere near Teclis with that spell” effect, and Teclis and others doing likewise. I actually wasn’t that bothered by random charges in WFB as others were. True I personally don’t like the overall effect of all the changes they’ve made with 8th ed WFB, but in and of itself I was indifferent to the random charges. I might actually have been inclined to have been indifferent to all pre-measuring if more things were random like range of arrows, cannons, spells etc. take the certainty out of everything and make it about gauging probability and back to managing a risk of sorts for a reward and I’d be OK with it. Pre-measuring coupled with certainty, still unconvinced.

  26. Ben says:

    I kicked off this mini-debate on pre-measuring with some generic comments about it not aimed at KoW. I pointed out that I’ve never played KoW. My contention has always been that our gaming group’s personal preference is for allowing it and in allowing it we’ve never encountered any of the issues raised. We’ve tried both and therefore can base our opinions on our experience. Again, they are our opinions based on our experience.

    And I’d like to think I’m a semi-competent gamer 😉

    • If you haven’t found any problems then fair enough. And I’m sure you are a semi-competent gamer at the very least, I’m guessing that’s why you prefer pre-measuring. lol. I prefer it too if I want to win. In KoW it really does allow you to be a complete ass about things. I also think it has taken something away from WFB without really giving much back. Again my opinion.

  27. maxxon99 . says:

    About fliers attacking your rear: Isn’t that (one) reason to have a reserve line?
    Can you roll up lines in this game?

  28. Kadmon says:

    This was interesting! I’ve included a link to your work in my article: Kings of War Ed1-Ed2 from Mantic Games – Wargame system analysis

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