Looking around at different fantasy rule sets, its time for Kings of War to get some test runs – as tradition tells, its Elf against Elf time.
With Age of Sigmar coming and putting an end to the Warhammer Fantasy progression as we know it, we have taken the opportunity to look around at different rule sets. The Ninth Age was the first, being rather close to its “inspirational mother” and being free to boot. The rules are nice, touching up some of the major flaws of 8th edition – the development team are undoubtedly working hard. We got left behind quickly with different versions popping up all the time, though.
Now it was Kings of War’s time to get some testing, as we had got a few free rule books with a random order from Wayland Games. (Awesome campaign btw, I now also have some Beyond the Gates of Antares rules I’ll have to try!) Mr. Easter had been preaching the game for a long time too.
The Kings of War rules are very neat. All excess, and some more, have been cut away. I would go and say they have cut away a bit too much for my taste (but reap the benefits of doing so); Mr.Easter thinks they have cut down to the exact core of what is needed – no more, no less. I miss some tweaking in army list building, and the large number of spells and army specific items that you can plan about. Mr. Easter doesn’t mind and points out a series of benefits (for instance balance) in doing so.
We played the game once before, just testing the rules a couple of games, and now, having a bit of feel for the game we return with slightly larger armies – 1500 points. The mission is 6 objectives that we can add 150 points for holding at the end of the turn on top of kills.
↑ The terrain set up and objectives. We used a map generated from those available on www.epicdwarf.com.
↑ Deployment. Twilight Kin (top) left to right: Hydra (behind the ruins), a peggy hero, a reaper guard regiment (with extra crushing strength), a buccaneer regiment, (in the forest) a spearmen horde and a witch, a reaper guard regiment, and finally a troop each of Dark Knights and Heralds of Woe.
For the (High) Elves, the deployment is (again left to right) a troop of stormwind cavalry, a bolt thrower, a troop of archers, another troop of archers (with a Jar of Four Winds -extending their range), a horde of tallspears and an army standard and a mage, a bolt thrower and a dragon!
A Comment at this point – you can see that both forces lack chaff as such. The Dark Elves have a few small units of cavalry which could be used as such. Going back, I think we both would change this and add a Troop or two. I like how the two hordes of spears look! I might need to put three hordes of spears on the table at some point!
↑ Turn 1. The Twilight Kin start. The Hydra moves up (I think the first cursing one forgot you can’t march and turn happened here – it was definitely not the last). The Pegasus moves up into cover by the wall, ready to strike ahead. The rest of the battle line moves conservatively forward – the exception being the Heralds that try to put pressure on the left flank.
The High Elf line approached similarly. The Stormwind cavalry took up a supporting position, still ready to charge where needed to. The tallspears move slightly up in cover from the hill. The dragon also takes it first move to attempt to get over the enemy line. All archery fire was directed at the Pegasus, but in spite of a few wounds it, unsurprisingly, held.
↑ Turn 2. The action starts. The Pegasus has a target of opportunity in the bolt thrower, and even defending over the rough terrain it cannot defend against the hero’s charge. The Heralds put a wound on the dragonlord.
The archers counter the move of the peggy rider and shoot him down while covering the flank of the spears and the characters. The stormwind cavalry see a target of opportunity in the flank of the reaper guard. Even over the obstacle the flank charge devastates the dark elf elites. On the left flank the dragon and the bolt thrower slay the vanguard riders.
↑ Turn 3. The buccaneers move to counter the stormwind cavalry, and with the witch’s support they manage to put some hurt on the still steadfast riders. The dark knights dodge the dragon’s path by falling back. The hydra moves forward to strike at the High Elf flank as soon as possible.
The stormwind cavalry charge the buccaneers, the obstacle proving to be a real hindrance. The dragon prepare to threat the rear of the dark elf flank.
↑ Turn 4. Its my turn to curse, as I move up my spearmen a bit too close to the enemy spear block. Could this mistake crumble my line? It turns out no, even though a good number of damage was done the large unit is durable enough to take it and remain in the game; Inspiring support also helps.
The hydra is now ready to punch, and the dark knight also start pushing forward again. The bolt thrower manages to waver them, though, and so another turn is bought before they can take it out.
The Stormwind cav and the Buccaneers are still fighting, both piling up damage turn after turn. But neither giving an inch.
The big fight of the turn is the counter charge by the High Elf tallspears supported by the dragon. That is an insane amount of damage put on the spearmen, and the fighting formation is inevitably scattered.
↑ Turn 5. It is looking grim for the Dark Elves. The hydra gets a counter charge on the spearmen, but it is not enough to break them still. The high elf retaliation takes it out. The dark knights are scattered under artillery fire.
Soon all dark elves are driven from the battlefield, and it is a solid High Elf victory!
Aftermath. It was a very interesting game. I think we got to see what maneuverability is worth in this game. The question is whether I was pushing it too soon with the dragon? That the Dark Elves were more or less without ranged weapons, and had very little chaff gave the dragon very free reign. (The only ranged unit the Twilight Kin fielded was the Jar of Four Winded Buccaneers.) That said, I believe the dragon also must be sneaky rather than a brute. A frontal charge won’t be enough to break most blocks and then just subjects it to probably fatal counter charges.
After being skeptical from the first impressions we got, I am now much more intrigued. Will it replace playing Warhammer for me? No. But I will be happy to play this as well every now and then.