Sunday, February 26, 2017

KoW - The Introduction of Unit Strength

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.

Horde, Hoard or Whored?

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:

Unit Strength

  • 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.



  1. Damn I'm sure I've used the 5pt magic item horde trick before. Ah well, time for some more cheap zombie hordes methinks.

  2. I hadn't really thought this through until reading your post, but it occurs to me that there might be some downsides to this as well.

    As you say, required Army Unit Strength will likely become a factor in army composition. I suspect, therefore, that in terms of balance between armies this is a buff for horde armies and a nerf for elite armies.

    You say, "Why should a 240-point horde be worth more than a 235-point horde?" That seems a fair enough observation, but on the other hand, why should a 130-point horde be worth more than a 200-point regiment?

    I agree with your observations overall, but I wonder if this will have a bigger impact on balance than intended - especially since nothing's being recosted. That said, apparently it's been thoroughly play tested, so should be ok.

    1. The analysis I've done so far shows most armies come in with Army unit Strength (AUS) of between 16-22. That has each point of US coming in at 110 points.

      I'd be surprised if your EoD or Abyssals are much different.

    2. 22 is about 30% more than 16, so that's potentially a significant advantage.

      Also, potentially this will lead to regiment proliferation since they will generally be the most efficient in terms of points per unit strength.

      That said, people still need to be able to kill their opponents' armies at least as efficiently as their opponents are killing theirs, so there's only so much impact it can have.

    3. The Abyss lists I've created seem to be in the 15-17 range.

    4. This mechanism is only used for Control, Invade, Dominate so people need to be careful not to lose sight of the wood for the trees. Loading up on regiments might put you at a disadvantage in some of the objective missions when you are faced with enemy Hordes or combined Monsters.

      I think regiment proliferation is an evolutionary dead-end.

      Armies with 30-50% more scoring units (e.g. Neil's Goblins) have hardly dominated in the past.

    5. "The Abyss lists I've created seem to be in the 15-17 range"

      Oh might have to drop one of your 5 Heroes :-)

    6. That seems reasonable. You're likely right. Except about the number of heroes I use. I've not had more than three individuals.

    7. It'll reduce the effectiveness of multiple dragon spam etc, which is a definite plus for me.

  3. With a 10% of army size draw window a 235 point horde isn't really worth much more than a 240 point horde.

  4. nice, my Ogres would be 21 in that set up. Although Ogre hordes die super quick.