Friday, August 19, 2011

Kings of War: First Impressions (2)

…continuing my soft, uncompetitive impressions of KoW from last post.

First impressions part two:

The Game Dynamic:
- the game is fast… very, very fast (and meant to be very, very big). Although there was a significant pause in the middle of the first round, we moreorless managed two 1000+ point games in about two and a half hours. Again. Fast. By the end of the second game, I could tell that matters would have accelerated significantly if we continued down this path. For a man with a lifestyle frequented by the aforementioned interruptions, this is a real boon. Thankfully, I have a lot of these old odds and ends putzing about the bookshelf and waiting for glory once more. I had just about every dwarf to pass my table since the 80s pressed into service, and I still felt the game was "midsized" at best.

- the game mechanism is really quite simple. At 12 pages, you really should not complain about the state of the meta.We downloaded and were playing in mere minutes.

- the game mechanism is really quite simple… perhaps even a bit too simple. Considering the amount of fun we had, I hate to say this for fear that it will be construed as a criticism, but I feel that my ideal ruleset would land somewhere between KoW and WFB with regard to complexity (does such a thing even exist? anyone?). That’s me. At the end of the day, I think this will lend itself beautifully for a jumping point to some “house rules” mechanism. The system is vague enough that it lends itself nicely to suggestion rather than to proscription, which is a blessing in my opinion. Moreover, I can see how a tweak here and a revision there will produce the exact kind of gaming experience that old friends (or genuinely amicable strangers) will want to enjoy, and to explore with an eye toward one's own fantasy meanderings.

- bring back the d8, the d10, the d20! For a very long time, these have sat on my shelf: unused, but not unloved. I have never really embraced roll-play in my adult years, but always admired the weird and wonderful dice (dice envy? is there such a thing?). I have long felt that if I were ever to design a game, it would include a variety of dice simply for good measure rather than practicality. And while KoW does not actually require the d8, d10, or d20 for gameplay, these forlorn beauties make absolutely ideal nerve and/or casualty markers, as one must tally the number of wounds in each unit in order to measure against its breaking point. I am pleased for the excuse to bring these back to the table, and I have since scoured my old stash to dig out all the d10s that I could find (the d10 seems particularly well suited). In fact, this is the most exciting excuse that I have found in quite some time.

- the aforementioned nerve system is an interesting dynamic, though it took some acclimation in order for me to really embrace the level of abstraction. Put simply, "dead" models are not removed, but rather noted by the unit in question. In most cases, the unit continues to function as normal, and I had a little trouble thinking that a unit was basically fully potent right up until the point that it broke and was removed from the table in the entirety. Interestingly, this tended to encourage me to imagine that any given unit as having broken and fled the table rather than as having been slaughtered gruesomely to the man, or elf, whatever. Does that, I wonder, make this system less violent? I am not sure.   


Lord Siwoc said...

I really like their rules as well. Theý have recently made some updates and adjustments.

Human army to be includeed...

Magilla Gurilla said...

Nice to hear the rules are so simple.

I would pick up the game just because the models are dirt cheap (in comparison to you know who).

HuronBH said...

I have to say, KoW is really growing on me. The rules are simple and easy, the models are okay (but there are plenty of subs available). Make sure to keep an eye out for the v2 Beta Rules being released September 26. Small tweaks to the rules, expanded army lists for the 5 existing factions and 3 new lists for Twilight Kin (Dark Elves with daemonic Allies), Goblins, and Humans. Sorry no Skaven, Chaos (what I want), or Lizardmen yet.

Papa JJ said...

The nerve system sounds very interesting. A focus on morale based breaking points instead of removing casualties from the unit reminds me of some historical wargames that I've played. Thanks for sharing your take on these first couple of games. I think I'd have fun trying out Kings of War. And hey, the rules are free so why not?

Porky said...

I'm very interested in the nerve system, in how it's justified. I don't mean that in a critical way, more inquisitive. I wouldn't criticise until I knew more - if then - but the question in my mind is how the accumulation of wounds squares with full fighting strength.

I hope that house rule thinking catches on. I can see a lot of players not quite fully embracing KoW, even as they leave other systems like WFB, but recognising what it can add to help form an ideal game and using that.

And I think that's great - how cool would it be if we as a community started building our own games more, games tailored to individual groups?

Hoodling said...

Might be worth bearing in mind that WFB 8th ed plays a fair bit faster than previous editions, so the gap between it and KoW may be small enough that nobody will bother trying to fill it.

Is it just me, or is there a level of irony in Mantic making very affordable models, then releasing a rules system where the individual models in the units are not that important anyway?

I guess it adds a lot of scope for going to town on a diorama of a unit, when you don't need to remove the models one at a time...

Kaeldric said...

The nerve system actually makes alot of sense when you keep in mind the large units KOW is designed around. In most cases only the first one or two ranks is going to be able to contribute to a combat in a meaningful way. So if your fighting a 10 wide formation of 50 hand weapon and shield armed warriors you will have to cut down 20 or 30 of them before you start reducing their effectiveness at the point of contact. And the state of mind of those remaining couple of ranks has got to be in pretty bad shape after watching 80% of their shield brothers hacked to bits an arms reach in front of them.....

Brian said...

Really late on these responses, fellas. Apologies.

@ Lord S. I am anxious to see what they produce for v2 -though they have spoiled us somewhat with the free downloads.

@ Mags. I think the models will be ideal for hordes and the like, which makes them an ideal complement to you-know-who. So far, they seem rather thin on heroes and the like.

@ Huron. Thanks for the heads-up. I think they would be in a sticky spot with Skaven, but here's to hoping.

@ Pappa JJ. Next year at Adepticon?

@ Porks. Solidarity mate. While I am thrilled with the possibilities, I would love to see many, many more house scenarios and rulesets from our grand community. The talent and experience is out there surely.

@ Hoodling. Good points you raise. I hadn't really considered it in that manner, and your idea about diorama units is a brilliant one.

@ Kaeldric. More good points. I think I have simply played one way for too long and it's taking me time to get used to anything else, no matter how sensible that thing may be.

Cheers one and all for the comments and for your patience.