I was very optimistic for Kings of War in particular. A very successful Vermintide had been run by Neil Williamson, I had 24 people signed up for Day One of Runefang and 16 for Day Two. I'd also keyed up the Warlords Super Series of four seasonal events to run through 2016.
Fast forward 12 months and the Kings of War scene has not grown (here in Wellington at least) and we have seen numbers fall away dramatically. The last WSS event had 8 participants, Vermintide only 6 and Auckland's Xmas event also 8. The field for the Masters was made up only of Wellington players - testimony to a lack of critical mass outside the region - and only two of those were willing to go to Christchurch for the event.
So what went wrong?
From a tournament point of view, I find KoW and excellent game. There is little evident rules disagreement and when you umpire an event you find little call for rulings - effectively the game is clear and runs itself. However it clearly doesn't have the appeal to the wider audience that Warhammer had and that has seen people from that community drift away.
I've been wracking my brains as to why that is because the game is faster and cleaner than Warhammer was which should be an attraction for some - especially those that play more infrequently.
The two reasons that I keep coming back to are:
- the lack of attraction/buyin/romance of the Mantic fluff; and
- the limitation on customisation of army make-up
The first is a hard one to rectify. GW had 30+ years of background and fluff and let's be honest, that held attraction for all of us. I find it very hard to think of my rats as anything but Skaven, the Ratkin fluff doesn't resonate (for the same reason I find it hard to embrace T9A's Vermin Swarm). The background was a HUGE part of the game and its loss affected my enjoyment more than I thought it would.
The second is much less a factor for me but I know it is huge for some people. I prefer the cleaner nature of the set unit size, magic items and magic of KoW as I think it emphasises tactics rather than combos. It also means that there are less "gotcha" moments which I thought would appeal to the casual gamer. However I know that for a lot of people - myself included - a large part of a game's enjoyment is list construction. There is less granularity in KOW than WHFB or T9A and that has put some people off.
I'm keen to know what other people think on this. What are the attractions of one Fantasy game over another.
New Zealand has a small gaming community. There are probably around 150 active Fantasy tournament players but the end of Warhammer shattered even that kernel. In wargaming personalities will always clash - and there is some evidence of that locally which has impacted the community (one group not wanting to interact with another group of KoW players) - but there are more fundamental factors at play than that.
The sad fact is that a local tournament scene of 8-12 players is likely to be unsustainable in the long run, regardless of game.
Certainly my optimism for KOW as a replacement for WHFB has diminished over what it was 12 months ago though I'm not sure it's been usurped by any other system as yet. Perhaps 2017 will see the rise of T9A and/or Age of Sigmar. Or perhaps there will be renewed growth in KOW.
I want my Fantasy tournament scene back!
What are people's thoughts? Any insights from inside or outside the community appreciated.