Monday, 3 October 2011

Kings of War 2nd Edition

Granted its not much to look at

Well my Kings of War second edition rulebook turned up a few weeks back, and I was one of the lucky 50 to get an Alessio Cavatore signed copy!!! Now if he can just stop being so bloody nice and signing everything it might be worth something in a few years time... are you reading Alessio? Stop signing stuff!!! I was going to write my own initial thoughts on the second edition rules myself and let you all know what I think of them, but honestly I think Jake Thornton has done a great job with a series of articles covering the Kings of War second edition rules so I'm going to link you to those on his blog Quirkworthy, yeah there's a lot of them but they're good... just remember to come back to my blog afterwards OK:

So instead I'm going to talk about the evolution of the game so far and where this 'second edition' fits in to the games progression and what it 'feels' like as a product to me... yeah I know that sounds a little bit new age and hippie-esque, but its the best I can do.

I really like this miniature

I think its no secret that I used to be the world biggest Warhammer Fantasy fan (claim not verifiable), but I began to feel that certain army books in 7th were unbalancing things and it started to wind me up because of how badly written they were. Then 8th edition came along and put a bullet in Warhammer's bloodied, bruised and broken twitching body lying half dead on the ground... right between its eyes... yeah Warhammer Fantasy Battle is dead to me (done in my best mobster impression). However, I still have the urge to fight with massed ranked fantasy thingies and wheel units, and change facing too my hearts content. Until very recently therefore Warhammer Fantasy Battle was the only real option open to me. Ronnie Renton and Alessio Cavatore though had other ideas, and Mantic released their Kings of War rulebook... huzzah and rejoice there's another fantasy based battle game in town.

I love this miniature, it is ace!!!
I'm going to be honest though, I didn't like the original beta rules very much. It felt like lip service being paid by a company that knew their game wasn't going to be played. It was like they required their own system to deflect accusations of parasiting off of another companies product! Trust me those accusation still fly around today. Although I've never felt they were simply living off of Games Workshops hard work, I wasn't convinced that they were serious about their own rules either. Slowly though they've changed my mind a little bit. Mainly because they actually seem to be listening to what gamers have to say, and they're doing things about what people say they're unhappy with, and to be fair at the time it was a kind of a novel thing for many. Although I'd seen other companies do similar things, Mantic really honestly do seem to be engaging quite openly and enthusiastically with the gaming public. So I felt I had to at least give the game a fair go, and provide them with feedback because my 'gamers duty' told me I ought to, so that's what I did...

I felt though that the initial armies weren't balanced and that they didn't really have enough options each for me. The game felt 'too simplistic' and the options available to a 'general' weren't as varied or many as I'd like. I still feel the game is a little bit too simplistic for my tastes and as Jake Thornton points out, the lack of a serious magic mechanic means there isn't actually a 'fantastical atmosphere' to the game. It just feels like its a simplistic rank and file game that could represent Napoleonics, Medieval or any other era of fighting really. I think this is something the game will need to develop if it is to gain some character and personality. However, despite Mantic now being on their second edition, the game still feels like it's in an extended beta session. They still want our feedback on it all. So should we all still be engaged with Mantics grand project?

My personal answer is yes, and here's the reason why:

  1. Fundamentally I don't think the underlying mechanics of the game are bad at all.
  2. They're asking for our input to help give us the game we want, so why wouldn't we want to help them out with that?
  3. The better we make their game, the stronger competition they will provide to others and ultimately competition is good for consumers...

Not a bad sculpt at all
The second edition book is also starting to feel more like an actual game system and product now, and just a few months before its release I decided to get a Mantic Orc army, because I liked the look of them so much. No it's not a finished game system, and it does feel a while off being the finished article if I'm honest still, but they are moving in the right direction. Yes certainly I'd sure as hell like to see way more options and tools put into the game, the most obvious of which, is a more comprehensive magic system. However, it's still a fun game to pick up and play, and it is quick... very, very quick. So I feel Mantic are kind of on the right path and it is up to us gamers to go out there and tell them what they've got wrong and what they've got right. Is it the way I'd personally have chosen to take a fantasy based system? No probably not, but then again I'm guessing that's why I'm not a games designer. Will it ever morph into the game I play the most, or even takes up a good chunk of my hobby time? Again probably not, because my personal tastes seem to be changing as I get older and I'm falling more and more in love with small scale skirmish games with detailed rules and engaging mechanics... but I still like my big fantasy battles so this fills a void of sorts, although I have to be honest and say it doesn't do so totally. Peace out!


  1. I actually got my 2nd rules in the mail 2 weeks ago. I still haven't given them a real game, and a few read throughs have given me a: WIP feel.
    Overall I think its playable - I still too have the urge to push elves and dwarves around.
    I haven't played whfb in over a year now (VC & DoC killed that game for me) but I'm too the point where I'm willing to give it another shot - with mantic elves - and it that doesn't work. I have my GW dwarves and my mantic elves...I can play whatever :P

  2. I have not played Kings of War, but I am occasionally tempted by their minis. The problem is that the armies are very limited at the moment... undead, dwarves, bad dwarves and orcs... none of them really turn me on.

  3. Are they going to post these up online like the older rules. I noticed the cost was pretty reasonable but since I just interested in reading them and not playing (only fantasy stuff I have is an Skull Pass set plus some extra dwarves that I am trying to trade for Blood Bowl and Epic stuff) I would like to save my 10 dollars plus shipping.

  4. Gosh! I do seem to have written a whole lot about KOW. Didn't realise it was that much.

    Hard to add much as we keep agreeing, other than to agree with something else: more games is better for the hobby, so people should give KOW a try and send Mantic their comments. People complain that GW doesn't listen to the fans. Now Mantic's doing just that it would make sense to take them up on it :)

    @eriochrome I think they are going to post up a B&W version (same as the printed one but no pretty pictures).

  5. @Lord Azaghul, again with the pramatism. Stop it or people will think you're a reasonable sort. The internet doesn't like reasonable people it chews them up and spits them out!!! lol. As to the WIP feel, yep thats still the over riding feel I have. They're not quite there yet are they? The armies feel like they need more variance and maybe a bit of balancing having read some of the lists... the things which Jake came across at the tournament lept off of the page for me too.

    @Angus I have to say I quite like my plastic Orcs. Sure they're never going to win 'sculpt' of the year awards, but they're really not meant too now are they? As for the armies. You could always use whatever WFB armies you have as the 2nd ed rulebook has rules for more than just the 5 races they've released so far.

    @eriochrome, I see Jake has already answered your question for you. I think the rules might actually already be up on the site to download as a PDF. I'll check for you... nope they're still the 2010 rules.

    @Quirkworthy, I just think if a company is actually asking us what we think... and then listening to it and doing something about it that we as gamers should almost certainly repay them by telling them what we think. Whether thats Mantic, Studio McVey with Sedition Wars (which is actually fun by the way) or anyone foe that matter, I always try to feedback to people even if its just positive supportive stuff.

  6. Every time I read about a Fantasy player that gave up due to 8th Edition I think, 'They're working on 40k 6th right now...'

  7. @SiSynn... yes. It doesn't fill one with much confidence does it? However until 6th ed 40k is out there we won't know if it's any good will we? One good thing for GW though is that expectation levels are at an all time low. I watched a game of 40k played last night and truly its a dire system right now and is in need of a shake up.

  8. After reading the rules again last night, all of them (and yes they are that short)...I think shooting is what really needs work, especially in the war machines department. Need a 6+ to hit in a D6 mechanic seems a bit harsh for the point cost of some of those units - even with a reroll. I know they tread a narrow line with rules 'borrowing' but I think a scatter die would actually go a long way!

  9. Well that's something I picked out as being potentially sucky too myself. I have a WFB Dwarf army so perhaps I can find someone willing to play through it with me so I can check out the warmachine rules with my short fat beardy chaps.

  10. Woohoo 6 to hit with warmachines, you can't delete my skeletons FG :-)

    And i agree the 40K game we watched looked such a sruggle for both players to finish. Our game of infinity was done and dusted quicker with more action. Can't believe the feelings I had with end of WFB7th edition and fail that was 8th edition is also what 40k gamers are feeling now!!

  11. @UG I'll still delete them its just I'll have to find other ways of doing it!!! lol.

    As for a 'snuggle' for both players to finish it, are you suggesting that having a hug and a kiss is the only way to end a game of 40k now? :/

    Don't worry I know you meant struggle. Yep I used to think the 40k scene was full of happy bunnies. But its not when you talk to them. Its got its own Daemons and Darl Elves, and working the probabilities out in that game on Monday its a miracle anything ever happens in a game of 40k!!!

    GW can't ruin both of their core games now... can they?

  12. @FG you'd hope they couldn't ruin both but their current track record isn't looking good,

    Its the Premier league football team that started well then found itself dropping down and down the table in a relegation battle.

    There are no quick and cheap fixes.