With all the focus on new Spells and Artefacts and the removal of favoured crutches, one of the more significant changes in the new Clash of Kings has gone largely uncommented upon.
This is the introduction of the concept of "Unit Strength". In the past victory in some scenarios was decided on how many points you had in an area/sector/half. IMO this was a poor mechanism for a number of reasons. Firstly, it led to a number of situations where control of a sector could be decided on a 5 point Magic Artefact rather than a distinguishable difference between items. Secondly, there was no distinction between different unit types. Thirdly, and probably most importantly, it was an extremely clunky mechanism in that you couldn't see at a glance the state of the game. It was only when the calculators came out that a precise picture could be determined.
In 2016, the Rules Committee obviously recognised at least one of these problems and instituted a change where Individuals and War Machines only counted half points in scenarios where victory was determined by unit points. This was a step in the right direction but didn't address all the issues outlined above. This year, they have made that step with the introduction of "Unit Strength".
So in 2017 for the "Control", "Invade" and "Dominate" scenarios, the Clash of Kings uses the following metric for determining victory:
- 0 - Individuals, War Engines
- 1 - Troops, Monsters, Heroes without the Individual rule, any unit with Height 0
- 2 - Regiments
- 3 - Hordes, Legions
Now rather than having to total up unit points, you just total up Unit Strength e.g. If you have an Individual, a Regiment and a Monster in the scoring zone while your opponent has a Troop and a Horde then you have Unit Strength of 3 versus his Unit Strength of 4. He would have control.
IMO this is a giant leap forward for KoW. You can tell the state of play easily and quickly which is a real boon even if you are not playing timed games. It also removes false granularity from the game - why should a 240 point Horde be better than a 235 point Horde; and why should that then change with the addition of a 10 point artefact.
Unit Strength also acts as a form of composition steering army construction. Want to take an Individual or Monster heavy (in terms of points) army? Well you need to recognise that your overall Unit Strength is going to suffer and that you will be at a disadvantage in the Control, Invade and Dominate scenarios.
I played Control yesterday and to start to get a feel for Army Unit Strength, my opponent and I calculated our scores. My Herd came in at 19 while Rob's Orcs had Unit Strength of 20. Just like there are views on the number of deployment drops you should have, very quickly "required" AUS will be a factor.
While not a new concept, I applaud the Rules Committee for introducing Unit Strength into KoW. It makes a good game better and even more tactical.