Sunday, April 23, 2017

KOW - GW - Why the Resentment?

This afternoon I started reading a thread on the KOW Fanatics page that was signalling GW's announcement today about Warhammer 40k's revamp, as some sort of victory for Mantic. Bubbling below some of the comments was bare disguised animosity to GW.

First of all, I'd be very surprised if the revamp has anything to do with Mantic. To suggest that Warhammer 40k was in any way threatened by Mantic is nonsensical. Warpath to 40k is the proverbial mosquito to an elephant.....the Warpath player base in relation to 40k is a rounding error.

Second, 40k was a bloated mess. It has been 17 years since the last major reboot and the rules currently in use span three editions and ten years. Playing the game has slowed to a crawl - evidenced by the completion rate for 1850 point games at major US events like LVO etc. Power creep which had previously been related to codex release was now being driven by the freedom allowed in list building whereby the game had become seriously divorced from the fluff.

Third, GW had in AOS trialled organisational mechanisms for armies that reduced reliance on individual codexes/army books and instead used the war scroll (datasheet) as the building block. This allowed the use of keywords which meant the rules could be more streamlined. Now I have never played AOS (I have no interest in a skirmish based Fantasy game) but the people who do play seem to like it ..... more power to them.

What I don't understand is the antagonism that some people have towards GW?

GW made a business decision to blow up the Old World because they did not make as much money as they wanted from Warhammer Fantasy. What was the upshot of that? A more splintered community and the removal of 30 years of established fluff. I lament the second part more than the first.

Why? Well it got me to look at Kings of War which I never would have done without the demise of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I'm sure that this has opened up the world of Mantica far more than anything Mantic Games could have done. My guess is that the influx of "refugees" increased the player base for KoW by orders of magnitude.

Personally I'm grateful that I found KOW as I think that the second edition is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable wargames I've played (along with 40k 3e/4e, DBM and the first three years of WHFB 8th). In fact, as I look back now I roll my eyes at some of the WHFB rules mechanisms - comparatively they seem so clunky.

It also gave us "Uncharted Empires". It is highly unlikely that this expansion would have got off the ground or received the commercial reception without GW binning WHFB. KOW players now have 21 largely balanced armies giving a greater variety of opportunity to build and play. Following on from this, I'm pretty sure that the Empire of Dust models and those of the Trident Realms owe at least a hat tip to the large player base KOW now enjoys.

Miniature wargaming needs the GWs of the industry so that companies like Mantic can flourish and grow. While they didn't create the hobby they did undoubtedly push it far more into the mainstream and gave it a high street presence.

Yes they can make decisions we all think are shitty. But they are a publicly traded company and in the end their only responsibility is long term enhancement of shareholder value. There are a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks who felt they made poor decisions (myself included) but you can't argue with their share price. From my perch it seems as though the company is far healthier than it was prior to AoS.

And just as importantly so is Mantic and Kings of War. So why the resentment?

Dancing in the Streets

And there was much rejoicing......

Overnight Games Workshop made the announcement that Warhammer 40k was going to a new edition. More importantly they provided some detail as to what can be expected.

Effectively, 40k will receive the Age of Sigmar treatment. As GW used to say "This is Great News".

After five editions in the current format, the level of bloat set new levels on the corpulence scale. Earlier this year I tried playing the game but the amount of extraneous detail included in the ruleset slowed the game to a crawl. The need for, even experienced players, to have to check the rules and codexes pretty much every turn suggests a ruleset struggling under the weight of bolt-on after bolt-on.

So what have GW said?

  • Three ways to play - sound familiar?
  • Free rules
  • All models including FW can be used
  • Codexes invalidated - watch the rush to eBay
  • Points values included
  • Three Factions - Imperium, Chaos, Xenos

This pretty much suggest Warscrolls under another name - I'm guessing Datasheets.


We are like so see other AoS mechanisms. I'm guessing that Armour will go and vehicles will get wounds. Also expect that we'll see the simplified to hit to wound rules but with weapon modifiers.


I'm very happy about this announcement as due to the bloat the game was slow and plagued by situations where there are unintended consequences. The ability to layer rules from different books written over a period of up to 10 years was silly.


A cleaner Rules skeleton with a reset of unit rules will make the game both more attractive and more accessible.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

KOW - Beating the Waver

One trick tactic that a lot of new (and possibly some older) players are unaware of is how you can counter an unfortunate "Waver" from Melee.

This only works if you are "Nimble" but is worth knowing. It may save an important character or unit AND allow you to damage the enemy in return.

When you are "Wavered" you may only:

  • Hold;
  • Change facing; or 
  • Move backwards.
"Nimble" allows you to make a single extra pivot of up to 90 degrees while executing any Move order.

The diagram below shows how you can combine the attributes of these rules to move yourself out of danger and attack an enemy.
The Pink unit has been Wavered in Melee by the Green Unit (1). It is now in a vulnerable position while also shielding the front facing of the victorious Green unit. This makes it impossible for the Green unit to be charged from its front arc.

If the Pink unit is Nimble, it may change its facing before it moves (2). Here it rotates 90 degrees - remember it must stay outside 1" from the Green unit so it must be no wider than it is deep.

The Pink unit can now make a move backwards at half its normal speed (3). If its Move characteristic is very high, it may get out of the Green unit's front arc. However this is very unlikely. What it does do though is open up the front facing of the Green unit allowing another unit from Pink to Charge it.

Remember you must have the "Nimble" rule, so if you are using the COK rules it will no longer work for Flyers as they are automatically "Disordered".

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

KOW - RUNEFANG IX - Kings of War Event - 3/4 June, Wellington, NZ

With Nicon not including a DBMM event, the Hutt Wargaming Club have organised their own event on Queens Birthday Weekend (3rd and 4th of June). As Nicon is also not including Kings of War, I have been offered space to organise an event.


However this will be different from your usual two day tournament. I appreciate that it might be difficult to get both days "off" to attend a wargaming event on a holiday weekend so I am organising separate events on each day events. 

On the Saturday will be Runefang "KINGS" which will be a four round 2000 point tournament using the 2017 Clash of Kings rules. The Sunday will be a complete change of gear where we'll have "WAR", a large multiplayer event, pitting the forces of Good versus Evil.

Cost is $25 and that covers both days. However you can attend either or both as you choose.

I have attached the Players Pack here

KOW - The Joy of Doubles

On Saturday we had our monthly KOW day at the local club. We had people bring along 1500 point armies and decided to try out some of the new COK scenarios.

The Elves and Herd Set About Trying to Turn Back the Ravening Hordes

Doubles are a great way for players of different skill levels to interact as they tend to be less competitive. They also provide opportunities for wider discussion of rules and tactics. For new players especially, it can be a less intimidating way to learn the game.

The other benefit is that it creates a "bigger" game. We had 3000 points a side on the normal 6'x4' table. The extra 50% in points per side allows both reserve lines and greater width in the battle line. This generally makes the game more "cinematic".

My New Lycan Horde Made Their Debut

In our game Orcs and Undead took on Elves and the Herd in Scour. The Elven Herd Alliance was able to remove two Orc Hordes on the flank by hitting them hard - Guardian Brutes and Swordwind into one and a Stampede into the other. This allowed the Alliance to roll up the flank, secure the objective counters then move into the centre.

The Alliance Forces Were Victorious on this Flank.

There was one great moment in the game on Turn 1. The Orc Skulks had Vanguarded forward and took a shot at the Elven Boltthrower causing one wound. The Orcs then rolled box cars for the Nerve Check (needing 11). Re-roll for Inspired and box cars again.....take it off!

The Undead Rumble Forward Harassed By The Herd Chaff

Certainly recommend Doubles as a change from "normal" KOW games. Really social and it helps you understand a greater breadth of armies.


Monday, April 17, 2017

KOW - Avatar of the Father

As mentioned in yesterday's blog post, I have been painting up the model I'm using for my Avatar of the Father in my Herd. This was one of the eight Mierce Miniatures' Monster I got for my birthday during their recent sale. It is the third of that eight I've painted up in the two and a half weeks since they arrived (so they are not sitting on the shelf!).

The Avatar is the last model I have planned for my Herd army and will mean that I have 3500 points of painted Herd.

This was quite a hard model to paint. I tried to get an inky black and found that it is very hard to achieve without the model looking very dark and detail starting to get lost. The lighting isn't the best - I must get my light box back - but you get the idea how he came out.

This is probably one of my least favourite Mierce sculpts. While it fits the description of a winged avatar, I think it is a bit contrived and awkward. The wings are nice but overall I'm not a huge fan of the model.

He comes on his own rock which I have incorporated into the 50mm square base he is on.

So that's it for the Herd, next projects are the continued basing of Goblins and then the multibasing of existing Orc and Salamander (Lizardmen) army.

My next army painting project will likely be Night Stalkers.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

KOW - Analysis of Flying Monsters

Over the past week I have been painting the Avatar of the Father for my Herd army. This has been largely an exercise in completeness - I bought a suitable model and want to paint it so I can draw a line under my Herd - but it got me thinking.

I looked at the cost of the AotF in relation to the Chimera and was trying to determine its "value". It is certainly better than the Chimera but is it 110 points better? That question is one I'm still to answer - I suspect in the context of my army, it's not - but I thought I'd first look at it in relation to the other "big" flying monsters in the game.

As a basis for comparison here is a table I constructed:
The table captures their base characteristics - in this case all have or have been bought "Fly" so get Move 10". It look as though the baseline for all is Me3+/De5+ with Attacks between 8-10 and a base Nerve of 17/19. The cost of that is 290-300 points with Special Rules adjusting relative to each other.

The rules writers have then varied the big flyers to capture individual/race character. So what jumped out at me:

  • In most cases you will get a Ranged Attack (a small minority have potential for more than one). Interestingly, these are all of the 4+ hit variety [I think it might be interesting to see a Flying Monster in future with a traditional shooting attack as a variant - probably not greatly effective though without an Attack multiplier]. The four without any kind of ranged capacity have a blue marked background.
  • However the points cost of these Monsters means that you will likely want them in combat - especially Turns 2-5 - rather than taking a less aggressive stance. The really confusing one is the Vampire Dragon Lord with his two ranged attacks plus Lifeleech. He seems a real Swiss Army Knife of a unit. I can help feel that while he has tools for everything there is a real opportunity cost associated with that every game. However, I'm sure there will be times that the Surge(3) will win you a game...however it comes at both a fairly large opportunity cost and a (hopefully) small sunk cost.
  • If I was looking for an army with a Ranged Attack threat on a flying monster than my choice would definitely be the Elf Dragon Lord. Not only do you get a very high attack breath weapon but you also get the benefits of Elite. This gives you an 8% higher success rate in achieving hits. The go-to Magic Item for a Shooty Big Flyer should be the Boots of Levitation for 30 points which allows a move of up to 20" then shoot.
  • Speaking of Magic Items, all of the Monsters bar the three Living Legends and the Empire of Dust Bone Dragon have access to "Hero" Magical Artefacts. In the past the two "go-to" items were Ensorcelled Armour and Medallion of Life. Thankfully, those are now gone and we may see more variety in choices. I think that the Boots are a good choice but for some that rely on Thunderous Charge - Caterpillar Potion. Other choices I like are Blessing of the Gods/Chant of Hate, Blood of the Old King Kittens or Healing Brew (if nothing else taken).
  • The removal of Ensorcelled Armour and Medallion of Life has probably given the Living Legends a boost relative to their peers. My Ratkin Daemonspawn used to look enviously at 6+ Flyers but now they have been dragged back to the pack. Still the Living Legends lack the ability to customise.....
  • All of these Flying Monsters - bar the Bone Dragon and Void Lurker - are Inspiring (Night Stalkers' Mindthirst being a special case). This means that they can act in a largely self-sufficient manner while still providing potential for army support.
Summing them up, I think my top three choices would be the Elf Dragon Lord (with Boots), the Archfiend (with LB) and the Daemonspawn. I think these three provide the best all-round delivery mechanism.

The two cut-price options that stand out are the Orc Krudger on Slasher (it is the Home Brand flyer) and the Salamander Fire Drake (Wal-Mart version of the Elf Dragon Lord).

However I would say that there are no glaring mispricings in my view. The EOD Bone Dragon is really a different class (more comparable to a Chimera, say). Certainly you could use each of them in an army with some tactical modifications. I feel that with say the Vampire Dragon and Basilean Dragon you may have a small sunk cost on abilities that are rarely used e.g. Surge and Heal respectively but that's a small quibble.

Once again the rules writers have got things pretty right. I think if they were to re-price things there would be very few that would change by +/- 20 points in today's meta.

Am I wrong? Have at it! 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

KOW - Warlords' Super Series - 2000 Point Tournament, Wellington, NZ

The second of the Warlords' Super Series "Autumn" is being held in Wellington on May 20.

The Players Pack can be downloaded here

It is four rounds, 2000 points using the 2017 Clash of Kings pack. Scenarios will be randomly generated prior to the round

The event caters for all skill levels.

KOW - Individuals, Line of Sight and Cover

I thought I'd run an occasional series of rules that are easy to miss in the KOW ruleset.

The first of these concerns Individuals, Line of Sight and Cover.

The actual rule - conveniently under "Individuals" - states:

“Individuals never block line of sight or offer cover against ranged attacks.”

Unfortunately Apu's Brave Act Was To No Avail!

I find that in a lot of games that people are not aware of this rule or they play it wrong. My guess is that while an Individual is effectively "invisible" for LOS or Ranged Attacks, it is "material" for movement, charge path etc.

You commonly see people spending a lot of their time positioning Individuals so they are not intervening between a unit (often another Individual) and its target for a Ranged Attack. Under the rules this is not necessary.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

KOW - Desert Terrain

Over the past year I have been trying to build up themed tables of terrain based around new "mousemat" gaming cloths. Using the Norwegian Map Pack as a base I am working towards having ten pieces of themed terrain per table.

Mid-2016 I purchased's "Sands of Time" battlemat. This gave me the ideal base from which to construct an "Ophidia" themed table. I own two large plastic Sphinxes that have been painted as weathered stone but wanted to tie other terrain choices in.

In the past week I have finished an Oasis (pond) and two copses of desert palms. The base for these were GF9's BiaB terrain sets - specifically their Island Palms and Desert Oasis.

The Desert Oasis comes in a very "ultramarine" state.

To me this looks very unrealistic so I decided to make it more acceptable. To do this I got out the Realistic Water and mixed in some washes so that I achieved a dark, foreboding colour with some real depth. The water is more brackish and I think more realistic.

I've also added some marsh reeds and tufts to make it more organic.

The desert "woods" were the Island Palms with bases repainted to match the Oasis. The trees had a wash applied to their trunks and tufts were added for variety.

I can't speak highly enough of these GF9 kits as a base for themed terrain. Using them allows you to spend 1-2 hours and achieve a great result.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

KOW - Culture Shock

Looking back on almost two years of playing Kings of War, I think that it is amazing how well the game, the rules and the community have survived the culture shock of the overall explosion in player numbers.

The potential for there to be major clashes in approach, philosophy etc was enormous but I believe that hurdle has been conquered and the future for KOW looks "peachy". Remember two years ago in most jurisdictions Fantasy Gaming meant Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Yes, Kings of War had a loyal following but that was mostly in the UK Midlands and North. With the End Times explosion Fantasy gamers were largely cast adrift and that opened up enormous potential for conflict and culture shock as they looked for new outlets.

Now we have a far more diverse Fantasy gaming landscape with GW's Age of Sigmar, the ETC's Ninth Age and Mantic's much larger Kings of War.

Plug: "No, you change"

Let's look at some of the hurdles that have been scaled in the Kings of War community since July 2015.

Influx of Warhammer Refugees

This was a really interesting social experiment. Suddenly KoW numbers ballooned as whole communities arrived on the doorstep with the demise of WHFB and the release of KOW 2nd Ed. No small part of this influx was due to the Fantasy community in the USA shifting en masse to KOW after adopting it for their Masters system.

How was the culture shock experienced? Firstly, the rules came under scrutiny like never before. It was like a Gentlemen's Club had been invaded by Attila's Huns. From the existing KOW players' perspective, I have no doubt it seemed that the cosy collegial atmosphere that existed prior to the migration, suddenly had been assailed by hordes of rabid power gamers wanting to question every premise, word and item of punctuation. On the other side, it was viewed as a cosy old boys' club who were increasingly defensive and threw up barriers to discussion (sorry, the pursuit of knowledge) at every juncture. Go back on various forums and you can see the evidence of the two cultures colliding.

Overall - and with the benefit of time - I think the game, specifically the rules, survived this well. Both sides adapted and softened their approaches. However the major reason why the conflict diminished was on account of just how tight and well-written the rules were. The refugees were used to GW-speak where there were constant Rules as Intended (RAI) versus Rules as Written (RAW) conflicts. There was very little avenue for this in KOW and over time the new players acclimatised. Even 18 months on the number of required FAQs, errata and clarifications is tiny compared to other games.

The second area of conflict between the groups was the common refrain "Stop trying to make it into Warhammer". Undoubtedly there were people that would have liked some of the Warhammer rules mechanisms ported over but I believe that they were a minority. The biggest call was for greater variability between the races, largely through the magic system - spells and artefacts. A lot of new players were seeing Fantasy players drift off "because KOW lacked the depth of WHFB". In my view that was always a shaky premise, but you can't always change people's perceptions especially if you are trying to break down 30 years of history. The easiest way to assuage this was to give some headline variability in Magic Items and Spells. Over time that ship sailed and potential players were lost. I can't help feel that the hostility to some accommodation was an opportunity lost. However, the recent Clash of Kings book has made some steps along that road. There are now increased options for Magic Items and Spells and that promotes list variability. I love the KOW Magic system - it is elegant without being bloated - but I still hope we'll eventually at least trial some race-specific spells (one per race) and items (same). I think it would add "colour". Still this conflict has largely faded.

The Hobby

Within the pre-existing KOW community the concept of soft-scores was a foreign country. The idea of points for army presentation and sportsmanship were not part of their landscape. All it took was a few visits between different scenes and the idea of the hobby being an integral part of the tournament scene is now well established. And this hasn't been at the detriment of gameplay. However there is now a realisation that how an army looks and how a player behaves have an impact in attracting an audience. Again the US scene has been the poster child for this but these were already key parts of the tournament scene in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Europe and the United Kingdom are now catching up. There has even been an outbreak of display boards in England as these latter day St. Pauls embrace the hobby.

Fun Vampires & Mathhammer

Really the only area of culture clash that exists now is acceptance of the Fun Vampires (adherents of the Cult of Mathhammer). You'll regularly see accusations that these pointy headed gits armed with a calculator and a spreadsheet are sucking the fun out of the game. Their application of Expected Values, understanding of standard deviations and kurtosis flies in the face of the Cyndi Laupers out there.

Again this is just another case of different folks, different strokes as people approach the game different ways. There will always be those who want to analysis things - yours truly - but this doesn't mean they are anti-fun. In fact it is interesting to observe that some of the most analytical gamers in the community are also the biggest defenders of retaining the "Snake Eyes" rule - precisely because it offers both challenge and fun.

Overall I believe that the potential for real culture clash has been navigated well by the global KOW community. Sometimes it is worthwhile to sit down and take a look back on how far we have come on the journey.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

KOW - Fat Tails

On the Fanatics FB group recently there has been an upsurge in discussion about mathhammer (or expected outcomes when rolling dice). There seems to be a real lack of knowledge regarding the maths of probability and what the relevance of expected out comes are.

I thought I'd show a couple of things that you should be aware of, because in considerations of probabilities "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing". And just to give my thoughts some cred, I traded financial derivatives for twenty years and saw fortunes lost because people didn't understand such concepts as fat tails, long tails, volatility "smiles" and skews. The Global Financial Crisis was largely caused by people believing the numbers outputted from their "black box" computers without understanding the maths or assumptions behind both the inputs and outputs.

Just Remember "It's all about the Greeks"

When you roll two D6 dice you have a range of outcomes from 2 to 12. You have an expected outcome of 7, with one chance in 36 of getting a total of 2 and the same of getting a total of 12. The important thing here is that your expected outcome is 7 although that only has 6/36 chances of being the actual outcome. 

What you in fact have is an expected outcome "centred" at 7 that follows a normal probability distribution pattern.

This is the pattern we all know and love - and should be make out wargaming decisions based on. In most cases. The important thing here is that this is a normal distribution pattern with no skew - and very importantly clear defined boundaries 2 and 12.

However this is not always the situation that confronts us. Let me use an example utilising my combat calculator "The Abacus of War":

Your opponent's Ratkin Tunnel Slave Horde has 30 25 attacks. It hits on 5+ and has no modifiers to hit or wound. Against a unit with Defence 5 it should do 2.8 wounds. However that doesn't tell you the full story. If he roll badly he might do 0 wounds, right? But if he rolled well then conceivably you could be wounded up to 25 times.

It's not likely to happen but it is possible.

Looking at the maths there is approximately a 90% probability he'll do at least 1 wound, around 70-75% that he'll do at least 2 wounds and 50% he'll do 2.8 wounds. But what about the other side?

This is where we have a skew and a fat tail.

16% (or 1 in 6) he'll do over 4 wounds, one in 20 times he'll do 6 wounds and one in 100 he'll do almost 8. There is an infinitesimally small chance that he'll do 10+ wounds but a chance exists all the way up to 25 wounds.

The above is an example of what you would expect to see (ignore the axes). In our example the hump of the curve is centred on 2.8 while the left hand side of the curve intersects (as above) at zero. The important point is that the tail extends all the way to 25.

One thing in our favour is that the tail can be calculated - because it is a closed system of 2 dice roles with specific obtainable outcomes (0 to 25). In real life (finance, economics etc) things aren't that simple ..... that's why you seem to get 100 year floods every 10 years!

The overall takeaway is that be careful what you "expect". Mathhammer is a great tool but be aware of the underlying assumptions.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

KoW - Frozen Ponds

I have a bunch of Winter terrain that the local GW gave me about 10-12 years ago. It includes some buildings that they built for their "Kislev" themed table at the time of the Storm of Chaos campaign.

Over the years I have built hills to match and grabbed a Snowy Terrain F.A.T. Mat to go with it. Last week I picked up some winter ponds from GF9 and over the last few days have worked on them to create frozen ponds for my "Kislev".

The ponds come very unadorned so first I filled the water area with Realistc Water resin and used snow flock to build drifts in the pond and snow on top of the ice.

I then added Winter Tufts onto the bare areas before sprinkling flock all one pond I placed a log then built up drifts on and around it. Finally I sprinkled a series of light coats of flock over the earth areas to approximate newly fallen snow. Both ponds were then sealed with Scenic Cement which you spray on to fix the piece ensuring nothing comes off.

You can see the finished ponds on my table and they fit nicely into the frozen wastes theme. They also will provide the low difficult terrain that the game suggests.

Very happy how they turned out for minimal - USD 25 - cost and about two hours work. They will provide the necessary terrain variation that the table needed, are easy to store and should last pretty much forever.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Kings of War Day at Warlords

For any local or Greater Wellington Region gamers, next Saturday April 18 is the regular monthly KOW Day at the Warlords.

This month we are organising some fun doubles games for KOW players or those interested in trying the game. Currently there are six definite starters but there is room for many many more.

Bring along a 1500 point army and be ready to go. For those that don't have an army I'll be bringing along 2-3 extra so you can just turn up and try the game out. Doubles is a great way to get into the game as we'll assign you a partner that can guide you through the game so you learn while you play.

If you are at all interested in playing KOW - or even if you think you might be this is a great opportunity to try it out.

Warlords meet at KPC Hall in Ganges Road, Khandallah.

KOW - Lycan: Final Touch

This morning I added the final touches to my Lycan Horde, blooding them so to speak.

I used some Secret Weapon Miniatures' "Drying Blood" across the area first. This gives the final effect some depth and also represents the after effects of a hunt.

I then applied a couple of thin coats of GW Technical Paint "Blood for the Blood God" and let it dry. Finally I gave the "wet" areas a light coat of gloss varnish to seal it.

Happy with the way it turned out. I think it captures their bestial Nature.


Friday, April 7, 2017

KOW - Terrain

One aspect of Kings of War that I believe works really well are the Terrain rules. What I mean by that is that I think that the rules writers have got the impact and interaction of terrain with units pretty well set at the right level.

As a person that has come from WHFB (and before that 40k), the specifics around terrain have always been an area where the balance has never been achieved. Both of the GW systems have swung wildly from where the rules overly impacted the game to that where they had little effect. In some cases different types were at different points along the spectrum within the same edition.

The Use of Terrain Enhances the Immersive Wargaming Experience

Terrain has two main functions in my view. Firstly, it makes the game look so much better. To me, the opportunity to play a game on a realistic backdrop enhances the experience as much as a well painted army or a nicely presented display board. It does however seem to be the arm of the hobby that is most easily neglected, unfortunately.

The second function is to reinforce the strategic aspect of the game. Judicious use of terrain influenced by clear to understand rules makes a wargame so much more of a tactical challenge to participants. And it is here where I think KOW has got the balance right.

KOW defines three (effective) classes of terrain and then uses a system of Heights that interact with army units. This two prong methodology allows an easy to understand classification system for terrain pieces by which players can make tactical decisions which reward considered analysis.

Effectively using a category-classification (Obstacle, Difficult Terrain and Blocking Terrain) provides clarity in a way I have not seen used as well in other systems. Yes, it can be a bit abstract but it captures the clear function of terrain with the benefit of being easy to apply.

Is it perfect? No, the Rules Committee have identified that the system would be better if it had a small shift in Height classification (they have suggested adding +1 to all Heights would make it more easily understood).

There are other possible amendments that could potentially be added - combat modifier in relation to hills e.g. Charging downhill, charging uphill or possessing higher ground. Alternatively existing mechanisms such as Hindered might be applied in certain circumstances.

Another area is possible building rules. However I acknowledge that there is a delicate balance between adding greater challenge against unnecessarily complicating the game.

But overall I think that the authors have done a good job in making terrain meaningful without it being overbearing.

And no discussion of terrain would be complete without a shout out to Epic Dwarf and their terrain maps. Though I'm a recent convert the density and setup of terrain in these maps really complement the game.


KOW - Sparkstone

One of the new Magical Artefacts introduced in the Clash of Kings 2017 rules is the Sparkstone.

Sparkstone [10 Points] - This unit has a Ranged Attack with a range of 18" that may only target enemy Heroes, Monsters and War Engines. Roll a single dice to hit, needing 4+ to hit regardless of modifiers. If a hit is scored, the target unit is disordered during its next turn.

"Great, we've got the Sparkstone. Now if someone could just invent Tinder.

Again this is one of those items that screams "SITUATIONAL". Yes there will be times that this could be very useful but it is important to look at the cost of use.

First of all it is the unit or individual's one magic item. Would you want to fill that slot with this item over another? Personally I think items like Healing Brew or Dwarven Ale have better utility at the same or lesser cost for units or Amulet of the Fireheart for an Individual. For a few points more you can get Brutal or Fury.

Second, for it to be used then your target may not be charged that Turn or it won't be a legitimate target. Even the unit except that with the lowest combat stats is likely to inflict one wound on an enemy which achieves the same Disordered result. I'd say non-Individuals will likely achieve this in 95%+ of cases especially with triple attacks against Individuals and War Engines.

I'm sure that there will be cases where situationally it has proved useful but I don't see it becoming a staple in all-comer tournament lists. There are other items that offer wider utility - in that they will always be used - with a higher expected payoff.

Nice item, but I'd save it for narrative games.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Call to Arms - Warlords' Annual Convention

Wellington Warlords have their annual convention "Call to Arms" on the weekend of 5-6 August.

This will be held at St. Pat's College Hall in Kilbirnie and will follow the usual multi-event format. You can find out further details at the Warlords' website 

Expect to see Players Packs uploaded over coming weeks but you can expect to see the following games offered:

  • Kings of War
  • Warhammer 40k
  • Flames of War
  • Malifaux
  • Warmachine
  • Age of Sigmar
  • Historical Ancients (DBMM)
In addition there will be numerous demonstration and participation games, trade stands and the traditional Bring and Buy table.

I love the "convention" experience and Call to Arms is traditionally the best of the type in New Zealand. Hope to see a lot of new and old faces along.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

KOW - Second Lycan Horde

I wanted to add a second Lycan Horde to The Herd. Luckily Mierce's recent sale of Monsters allowed me to pick up two Werewolf models. Both of these are mid size range and stand about 70mm at the shoulder when on all fours.

Both models are quite feral which fits well with The Herd. The front "paws" are very human hand-like while the rest is all wolf.

You can see that the two models fill the 120mm x 80mm base pretty much fully so I'm hoping that the "rule of cool" gets you past MMC.

Obviously these are Large Infantry, so Height 2. The models are probably a little big for Height 2 but I'll make sure opponents are aware of their gaming size.

The base is mdf from Sarissa Precision with magnetic sheeting on the bottom. I've used gravel as the rocks and a twig from the garden as fallen log. The sand has been PVA'd onto the mdf and then I have used some GW Aggrallen Earth to get the dried mud.

Finally I have used a mix of tufts to filled out the base to represent broken ground. I want to add some leaves as ground cover and will do that once the tufts are fixed.

Here's the General's eye view of the unit. Happy with how they turned out and expecting big things on the table.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Weekly Hobby Update

Well I did manage to get some games in this week.

I met up with Josh down at the Warlords on Saturday and we got two games played in just under three hours. Josh was using his Orcs while I had the Herd. We played Pillage then Loot. In the first I was able to stretch the Orcs wide before using my greater mobility to concentrate force. We had a chat about deployment after the first game and Josh kept things much tighter. At the end of the game I was 2-0 up but if we had had a 7th Turn the Orcs would have won 2-1. Good games and a lot of fun.

The early part of the week was spent building the Mierce monster haul I got for my birthday. I also continued painting the Tabletop World River Mill and now have pretty much all the base colours done. The detail work starts now and I am hoping that I can get it to a stage whereby I can start building a base for it this weekend.

The last 3-4 days I have been working on my Lycan Horde. Here I'm using two of the Mierce Norse-inspired werewulfs. They are painted and have been based. I am now detailing the base and should have pictures up soon. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I hit a "hump" early on but have worked through it and am now happy with how they are turning out.

On Saturday I confirmed the venue for "Runefang" which will be on the first weekend in June (long weekend here in New Zealand). Looking at having a one day event (four rounds) on the Saturday and a large multiplayer battle on the Sunday. Details will be posted soon.

Monday, April 3, 2017

KOW - The Work In Progress Hump

Over the weekend I was painting up my second Lycan Horde now that the models had arrive from Mierce. I started off laying down some colours with my airbrush thinking that I'd be able to get some nice gradients on the fur. After about half an hour I looked at my results and thought "That looks crap". I was ready to re-prime and start again but realised that I had just hit the WIP Hump.

I am absolutely convinced that there is a point in the painting of most models where your output looks "disappointing" and not how you envisaged that it will turn out.

An Early WIP Shot of Da Vinci's 1503 Crystal Brush Entry

However, I am equally convinced that this is just a "hump" you need to get over. It usually occurs around the base colour, first highlight stage and you feel like giving up. You then apply a wash or a light drybrush or maybe a second/third highlight and suddenly the figure "pops". It's at this stage, I find anyway, that it goes from being a model to part of your army.

The Same Model After Leonardo Gave It A Wash Of Devlan Mud

If you run into this "hump" - and I don't believe I can be the only one who experiences it - I find that focusing on the face or shield will give you the kickstart to progress with the model. Suddenly it gets some personality and you have the drive to finish it.

Do others hit this "hump"?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

KOW - The "Corkscrew"

Yesterday I had a couple of games down at the Club with Josh, a new member. Josh played in WSS-Summer a couple of weeks ago and is a recent adherent to the game. He was using his Orcs and I was playing with my Herd.

We played Pillage first and then had a game of Loot. It was in that second game that I got "corkscrewed". A lot of experienced players will know the "corkscrew" and Nick William from the Rules Committee dedicated a couple of posts on his blog a few months ago to describing it in detail. I recently touched on it on this site when I was describing the "50mm rule" for allowable pivots.

So what does it involve?

Essentially it occurs when a unit that is facing off with a unit turns and hits another unit (usually in the flank). At that point there is usually a smug look of self-satisfaction on the face of the player who pulled it off (basing it on my own use) and a deflated look of "That can't be right!" and "Crap, I've fallen for it again" on that of the charged player.

I'll use Nick's diagrams to illustrate (two reasons - 1: I know they are right and 2: I'm lazy and it's Sunday morning):

In this case Unit A was a Giant (50mm square), Unit B was a Chimera (50mm square) and Unit C was a Lycan Horde (120mm x 80mm). The only real dimension of relevance in this instance is that of the Giant.

The key things to complete the "corkscrew" are:
  • The charging unit (the Giant) can see the facing of the unit it wants to charge (side of Lycan Horde);
  • That the facing it can see is in its front charge arc;
  • That the charging unit (A) can do a single pivot of 90 degrees and finish clear of the facing unit (B). Because it is a charge there does not need to be a 1" gap between them (but in this case whatever gap there was will be preserved as Chimera is on square base); and
  • It is a straight line to its target (there are exceptions for units with Nimble).

So here the Giant has turned and can now move directly onto the flank of the Lycan Horde while the Chimera breathes a sigh of relief (actually in this case he was charged in the flank by orclings - so not so much relief after all).

As I mentioned things can get even more tricky if Unit A has Nimble and can make two Pivots.

The key to protecting against it is to ensure that your units aren't staggered. Therefore you should always considered your moves after combat to make sure you don't expose your flanks. Square units are very good at doing it but remember the 50mm rule - any unit that has width no more than 50mm greater than its depth can complete the Pivot given the usual 1" gap. 

Good on Josh for catching me out...Me? I spent the afternoon in the mirror room taking a long hard look at myself!