Monday, September 28, 2015

The Future is Different....But Bright!

I’m somebody who likes to throw heart and soul into my hobby endeavours. Generally I find it hard to try and play multiple systems at the same time. So since coming back to gaming in 1998, I’ve played DBM (Ancient Historicals) 1998-2001, Warhammer 40k 2002-2007 and Warhammer Fantasy 2007-2015. I might dabble around the edges in other games but generally I’m a single focus person.

For the past few months my gaming has been in a state of flux. I recognised early that Age of Sigmar in its current form held little of no interest for me. I’ve continued listening to podcasts, reading blogs and visiting forums promoting Age of Sigmar but it has not changed that early opinion. Certainly I can see a couple of positives around the game – continued manufacturer support and an impression that more of the units are useable than in competitive WHFB – however my opinion of the company given the way they handled the last two years of WHFB gives me no faith that they are motivated by anything other than selling the latest model (and here in New Zealand at extraordinarily excessive prices). I understand that from the point of view of shareholders but I believe that they care little for people’s continued longevity in the hobby past the first $1000 of purchases. Effectively, churn and burn.

That has left a number of alternative paths.

One of these is to continue to play Warhammer Fantasy Battles, either in its current form (v8 or community advanced versions v8.5 or Furionhammer). Personally I love WHFB 8th Edition. It is the most enjoyable version I played and I’d put it in my favourite rulesets like DBM 2.0 or 40k 4th Ed. However I see problems continuing to play it. Firstly, GW abandoned it over two years ago. Therefore it requires “house rules” be they FAQs or Comp to ensure both balance and greater playability. The problem with this is that my view may not be the same as your view and this can lead to dissatisfaction and fragmentation of what is likely to be a fragile continuing player base. The other key problem – and the one that has become increasingly evident to me over the past few months – is that there is nothing to look forward to. The game is frozen. The release schedule is frozen. This is it. Now I am sure some local communities can survive but they will require strong leadership often vested in 1-2 people. What happens when those people move on?  A fortnight ago GW destroyed the Island of Blood Starter Sets. Where then does the new blood come from? No new models, no new rules, decreasing visibility and no access to the basic resources (rulebooks) to play the game. I have come around to the view that decline is inevitable. It may be at different speeds but just like King Knut…….

The second is to embrace some advancement of the game. For instance, the Ninth Age project being put together by the Europeans (Swede Comp & ETC Comp). This offers some advancement of the game with the promise of new Army Books and new mechanisms. An argument can be made that there is some potential. I was originally quite enthusiastic for this project but as time has gone on some of this initial optimism has diminished. Again there are a number of reasons. Firstly, while the project has wide community involvement, it is labouring under all the worst excesses of design by committee. Layers and layers of unnecessary complexity seem to be being built into the rules for what I expect is little actual utility. This is not going to help the rules being accessible and a lack of accessibility sets it on a downward long-term path. Yes the rules may be enormously intricate and may provide greater strategic and tactical conundrums but if no-one plays….

The project still suffers from a lack of manufacturer support. That means both progression and new releases are not going to happen. Fluff may not matter to all gamers but it does matter to me. The environment off which I hang my games is important to me and it needs to be immersive and offer some progression.

So where does that leave me?

Well, with Kings of War.

This game has been around for a number of years and recently released its 2nd Edition. For years, local gamer Tane Woodley has been trying to get me to give the game ago but I never have. Why? Well first and foremost, I was really happy with Warhammer 8th Edition. I loved the game and loved playing it. As noted above, I’m a single focus guy and was happy with what I had. Secondly, any reading I did on the game indicated some fairly basic issues. These appear to have been addressed with the release of a new edition (as you’d expect). Sure this edition will through up other issues but we are seeing progression. The third reason was army coverage. I saw it as largely a game of limited races (one of which wasn’t my beloved Vermin). Over the years they have released more races and importantly they recently released Warhammer “Refugee” army lists with the promise to incorporate into established game over time.

So we have a living ruleset put together by a commercial manufacturer. This commercial backing means that there is something to look forward to. A company committed to a massed ranked game promising ongoing releases and progression. Suddenly something to look forward to. I hadn’t realised that promise of something new was as fundamental to my gaming experience as it appears it is.

Therefore I have decided to embrace Kings of War. I intend to give it 6-12 months to see whether it develops into the game/world I hope it can become. And as a single focus guy, for me that means immersion. So this blog will increasingly focus on the world of Mantica and the KoW ruleset reflecting what will be my gaming focus. Hopefully I’ll find sufficient local gamers to play against to scratch my wargaming itch. I have sufficient unpainted figures to continue the hobby aspects for a good few years. But for the future the Troop, Regiment, Horde and Legion will be the currency of choice.


  1. I haven't played a game of warhammer in 6 months. Kings of War has got me hooked. We have a 2000pt 2 day tournament up in Kapiti in November with Prize support from Mantic.

  2. I am keen to try. Will get the rule book. Like I said, I will play what my local community plays. Gives me a chance to do some cool conversions and to get my NG done.

  3. Long time lurker first time poster...I don't think KOW will disappoint. And Chess Clocks.

  4. Good work man. Hopefully you can get along to come of the upcoming events & we can have a game.

  5. I question the viability of Mantic though it looks to be the only current viable alternative.
    The reason I question the viability is simply they make really crap models. Love them or hate them, GW models are far superior.
    There appears to be many people jumping ship onto KoW, however will they suffer the same problems? I mean we all have armies as it stands, and will likely expand those armies to suit KoW by sticking with the same aesthetic/model range ie not Mantic. I cannot see me buying any of the current army range from Mantic, nor in the future unless they up their game.
    How long with this company support WHFB refugees?

    1. That's a fair question and not one I have a certain answer for. However I would say that they have bent over backwards to welcome people in from WHFB.

      A key test will be the new book that comes out in November which contains the Beta armies they are currently playtesting - including Skaven, Tomb kings, Beastmen, Lizards (or Ratmen, Empire of Dust, Herd and Reptilians).

      I suspect that the see the current situation as a once in a lifetime opportunity that they would be foolish to spurn.

      A lot of the models engender similar reservation but the price point does address a key issue - barrier of entry - and some are ok (particularly the two Dwarf and Ogre ranges). Still the Elves take a lot of getting over :-)

    2. Blah blah blah...models are crap etc etc. So tired of those cliched lines. Actually the Goblins, Orcs and most of the Undead miniatures are on par with GW if not better. Additionally, there's some fine characterful mini's such as the flea bag riders and skeleton kits which are unique and flavourful. Yep some of their miniatures are "crap" and, as such the Elf lines are being completely re-done (responding to player/consumer feedback - something that modern GW refuses to do). To tar all the miniatures with the "crap" tag-line is pretty unfair, and slightly absolutist.
      GW of late, also had the predilection on creating the newest, giant Tonker-toy equivalent of the wargaming world, and whilst they are fine miniatures of their right they never managed to capture the spirit and feel of the early GW WHFB lines (which incidentally were particularly poor sculpts; many of them). Mantic like, much like early GW will only improve their miniatures over time. However the good news is, if you don't want to use Mantic miniatures to play KoW, you don't have to. This to me, is a measured, inclusive and pragmatic response and steers clear of circular loop of absolutism.

    3. Yeah I'm well & truly over this line of reasoning as well. the system blatantly tells you to play with whatever models you prefer, so if you don't like the Mantic stuff then don't use them. Use the ones you do prefer- GW, historical, scratch-built- whatever.

      But stop telling everyone who does use mantic models that their armies are crap. Some of us prefer the different aesthetic.

    4. I think you may be confusing "crap" with aesthetic. There are several nice models in the range, some taste acquired etc as there are in any range, however the models are crap. The material, casting, detail etc are all inferior to several manufacturers. Not as bad as PP "restic", and better than the resin/plastic mix that AoW use.
      I expect they will be able to lift their game over the next few years providing the shift in player base brings with it a shift in spending power.
      They do offer good value to many, but, many people also want the higher detail and higher quality models. How do you support a game system if you don't like the models?

    5. You buy the rules, play the game and enjoy yourself. Their tooling gets funded by kickstarter backers anyway.

    6. Yup. Plenty of people using their gw figs to play KoW2. Long live mantic. Its thriving at Tcow club.

  6. The models are definitely not as good as the new GW models. But they are getting better all the time and some of the ranges are far better than the old GW stuff. I have a lot of models that I use for my Chaos Dwarf and Undead. The goblin spitters I use for Hobgoblins are pretty crappy but they are cheap and when converted and painted uniformly they look ok. The undead on the other hand are fantastic. I love the zombies and they are far better than the GW ones in my opinion.

  7. Look outside the box miniature wise. I'm not a fan of Mantics sculpts either...

    But there are a number of other companies now producing alternative ranges of armies (as opposed to just the odd hodge podge mini).

    Raging Heroes (Empire, Dark Elves, Slaanesh Daemons so far)

    Atlantis Miniatures (Orcs n Goblins)

    And umm there is a company in Spain whose name slips my mind, but do some amazing Dwarf models. They also do a nice NMM paint range.

    There ARE options out there.

    And personally I'm not much of a fan of the new GW AoS minis.

    1. Spot on Phil. Use what u think looks amazing. I love KoW2 coz u can use what u want to as an official line. And the player base is only getting bigger every day.

  8. Just like WHFB you don't have to use the official models. The reasons people did use them was GW makes nice plastic models.

    I like the Mantic zombies but didn't like their Werewolves or Skellies. Some cases it's aesthetics in other cases material. But as Tim says above if there is a shift then they'll have more capital.

    Certainly I intend to support them thru buying rules and where I like the models, the figures.

    The most pleasing thing is they have gone out of their way to make my existing army useable. They didn't have to go to the lengths they did for that. Stopping halfway would still have been appreciated.

    I'm excited about the new opportunity that KoW provides. Investing some time will show me whether that enthusiasm is warranted.

    1. That is something to appreciate about them.Lets hope GW doesn't do a dick move and try some legal BS.

      Now with a larger player pool, l also hope they will listen to their (potential?) customer base closely and release a 3rd edition which bridges the gap. Though,the will not make any money off rules, and will need to follow it up with models that appeal.

      I still think the rules have a little way to go to be what I want them to be.

  9. "Now with a larger player pool, l also hope they will listen to their (potential?) customer base closely and release a 3rd edition which bridges the gap." Bridge the gap with what? You do understand that Mantic aren't just trying to make warhammer-lite right?

    Kings of War is a system with several years under its belt, the second edition was designed to tweak & refine the existing rules based on feedback from their player base, event organisers and extensive public play-testing. Plus it was announced November 2014 & scheduled for a mid 2015 release so was planned long before GW blew up Warhammer. The fact that it is now attracting a large number of WFB refugees is coincidence and they have gone out of their way to make it approachable.

    But if you're expecting them to make the warhammer 9th edition that you're sad to have missed out on that's not going to happen.

  10. Pete
    Nice summary. I've never primarily been a fantasy player. I dabbled in WHFGB but gave it away as too complex (I'm a wargames butterfly), preferring HotT. We started KoW with their initial Beta play test some years ago, and found it simple and easy to play (albeit with it's share of flaws). We enjoy the game as a cool ranked fantasy game. Your analysis struck sebveral chords with me.

  11. I'm really pleased that another one of my favourite blogs will be reporting in my favourite game.

  12. I am excited to embrace KOW II I see huge potential in the system. I really like it.

  13. Really enjoyed reading this one Pete, nice summary.

    I don't think any WFB players are really under the delusion that 9th age, Furionhammer or whatever will have anything other than a temporary future. KoW is certainly the most logical and attractive prospect to replace WFB for large scale fantasy battle gaming and the more I read and hear about it, the more I'm liking it. And not as some sort of Warhammer wannabe, but as a new game in its own right that as a fantastic bonus I can use my WFB armies for.

    Will definitely be buying a rulebook, and for the first time since the death of WFB I'm feeling positive and keen about fantasy wargaming again.

  14. Its also nice to see that those who once branded kow "wfb with training wheels" are now willing to give KoW2 the chance it deserves. Great article pete! -Damian Reid. (The cancerous growth on Wargaming in nz according to some.)

  15. I am actually pretty pleased to see this blog take a move positive turn.
    I understand the changes to WHFB were not to the liking of all (or many in fact), however reading this blog during the initial stages of AOS was like submitting myself to the will of internet had become (in my mind) a very negative blog to read.

    Now it looks like the future is brighter and I am keen to read about your exploration of KOW as I am very close to picking up the rulebook myself.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Rob.

      I'm....naturally....going to disagree :-)

      I tried to stay as positive as possible given the demise of the game I loved. Other than the very silly things in AoS - moustache comparisons, T formations masquerading as tactics - I confined myself to two lines. AoS was not a massed rank Fantasy game and therefore did not appeal. And the aesthetics of the Stormcasts were not for me.

      I have never played a game of AoS so I don't know if it is great fun or not....I have my suspicions. But without experience it is hard to be definitive.

      As to GW. I accepted that they had made a business decision based on what they believed was their best interests. What was clear was that veteran "gamers" played no part. The model relied on churn and burn of Little Timmy and his pals relieving the parents' wallets of cash. And then gone in six months. I can't argue whether it is right or wrong but I can identify my (non) part in it.

      Still I'm glad that you are sensing a more positive vibe. I am excited about a new game and a new opportunity to learn and implement tactics/strategy.

      Hopefully it will keep ringing positive. Thanks for reading

    2. Thanks Peter.

      I totally understand how you feel regarding the demise of WHFB...and yes the silly things were / are plain stupid.

      I look forward to reading new KOW focused posts :)

  16. Nice reading stuff. I quoted and linked to you at our club website, best blog of the month.

  17. Cool! While reading Leftblank's link on our club's website, I realised I bought your Arab Conquest DBM army years ago. How small the world is, even from the other side of it!