Depending on who you talk to tournament are either the lifeblood of our hobby, or an infinitesimally small part of a much bigger picture. There is both truth and falsehood in equal measure within the two competing arguments. On the one hand Tournaments are a significant part of some hobbyists interaction within the hobby, so from that perspective it is important. There's also the fact that those who attend such tournaments can often pick up on weaknesses in design and issues with balance far quicker than most others. If listened too tournament gamers would probably be the best tool games designers have for hammering out problems with their games. On the flip side of that is the fact that the majority of hobbyists do not go to tournaments, and neither do they care about them, so why should games be designed with tournament goers in mind? My argument has always been why can't a game be both?
Seems that's Mantics standpoint too. I'm sure many of you will have already received Mantics email detailing their Clash of the Kings tournaments, which has the slightly unfortunate and amusing acronym of CoK!!! I'll give you all the important headlines:
- UK event to be held on the 8th to 9th of February 2013 at Maelstrom Games
- USA event to be held during Adepticon 2013
- You'll play 6 games of Kings of War at 1800 points
- First place prize £1000's UK or $1000's USA
- Second place prize £350's UK or $350's USA
- Third place prize £150's UK or $150's USA
Yep, there's actual real money on offer, which I think is purely designed at enticing people to make the witch across to playing their game. It certainly beats £10 voucher's and a certificate! It's clear that in part Alessio always envisioned Kings of War as a tournament game, hence the chess clocks, which are an interesting idea I'm not yet decided on. However, this is Mantic standing firmly behind that vision and boldly putting their money where there mouth is. Something I'm increasingly liking about Mantic, which is the fact they're willing to stand behind their decisions and defend them. It's an admirable trait, and coupled with the clear and open communication we get from Ronnie and Co I have to say they're a plucky bunch that I just can't help rooting for. Will this prize money be a permanent thing, or a one off thing for the inaugural event? Who knows, I think it's intimated it's a one off thing, but we know that can change depending on circustances. What is clear though is that Mantic is clearly taking the event seriously, which is obviously something gamers should take note of. I am.
Mantic is currently in the middle of a pretty successful Kickstarter Campaign for Kings of War and more specifically the new Kings of War hardback rulebook. I think with the release of the third edition of Kings of War... or what I personally think looks like the 'true' first edition of the rules for Kings of War, it looks to be stepping out from beneath the shadow slightly of another certain fantasy franchise developed in Nottingham. I've heard it said that Kings of War is just a Warhammer Fantasy rip off, let me be clear, it was never that. Firstly the world of Warhammer is generic, and secondly the games actually play quite differently. The Kings of Wars rules are stripped down to the bare bones and everything is based around the unit rather than the mixed nature of Warhammer Fantasy, which exists between the unit level and the individual. This has advantages as well a disadvantages. Firstly the advantages, it should be easier to balance units between armies and within armies in Kings of War, and it makes the game quicker to play out on the table, I can certainly confirm this last point to be true. On the downside it does limit the amount of individualisation you as a general can bring to bear on your army lists, and secondly it can lead to very sterile looking lists and games, mainly because there currently aren't all that many options...
But that's slowly being rectified as they add more and more units and army lists to the games... with that Kings of War Kickstarter I mentioned earlier on... Dwarf Berserkers on dinosaurs is all I'll say. Erm... yes please!!! I personally haven't backed the Kings of War Kickstarter, because I'm as skint as Greece right now, and unlike Greece no Governments or Inter-Governmental agencies are stepping forward to offer me any bail outs. Probably because I don't produce ouzo or olives. But, if you are interested in the miniatures or even Kings of War as a game you ought to go give it a look, because to put it bluntly there are some damn fine deals to be had on the Kickstarter and the more people who back it, the more miniatures they seem to produce for the game, which in turn will make the game even better. So I guess it's a bit of a win win situation, I've banged on before about how much I like the look of my Orc army that I got a while back now, and the quality of the miniatures involved, they're good, and I would personally vouch for them, and I think they're exceptional value for money, like most of Mantics miniatures... I wished they'd stop calling them cheap though, even though they are very reasonably priced, because it puts some people off.
But any way back to the game of Kings of War, it was designed clearly with ease of play in mind, and on that score I personally think it works very well. Alessio has done a great job of trimming back the needless fat and serving up a leaner game, that should enable you to play really large fantasy battles within a realistic time-frame. I still though feel that perhaps some of the character and subtle nuance has also been trimmed out as well, certainly in the 1st and 2nd edition of the rules that I've played with. Although I'm led to believe that some of the 'character' and 'charisma' has been built back into the 3rd Edition of the rules. Being specific I didn't like the way magic worked in the earlier editions that I've played, it didn't 'feel' like magic, and also the strict nature of how units were 'formed' and the lack of personalisation felt a bit like a straight jacket in some ways, although others have found it liberating. But, that's the necessary trade off to make the game as fluid and able to handle mass combat as efficiently as it does. As I said above game has clearly being designed with competitive gamers in mind, but the stripped down nature of the game also suits casual Gamers. Both tournament organisers and gamers at clubs up and down the land who are hard pressed to find the time to fit games in will appreciate how slick games of Kings of War can be. Mantic seem to be finding their feet, and with moves like this they're acknowledging a pretty important and heavily invested bunch of gamers within the hobby. Whatever you think of tournaments, I don't think anyone can say it is anything other than a really smart move. Peace out!
PS. Ten more followers (to a total of 800) and I'll run my final Birthday bonaza prize draw giveaway for Mantic Games entire Dwarf Kings Hold collection, very kindly donated by Ronnie Renton and signed by the equally lovely Jake Thornton.