Friday, March 17, 2017

KOW - Turn Mechanism

One of the things that I feel Alessio got really right with Kings of War was the turning mechanism.

In my experience, many unit-based wargames utilise a "wheel" mechanism for turns as this reflects real-life military drill. Rules writers love "realism"!


The wheel rotates around the front corner of the unit. However the problem with this is that suddenly you start to work in arcs rather than lines. Certainly it allows you more manoeuvrability as you can do a series of micro-wheels. However measuring the traversed distance is more complex. One of the biggest areas of disagreement in WHFB was around the turn mechanism and multiple micro-wheels was the major contributors.

For KoW, Alessio has simplified the whole process by removing wheels. There are two key rules:
  • Single pivot (unless special circumstances - see below)
  • Pivot limited to 90 degrees

The pivot is different because of its rotation point. Instead of following "drill" the unit rotates around its centre point. This is an abstraction but it works in a gaming sense. It requires no measurement so there is no potential for disagreement. This coupled with the two rules above makes movement very black and white and allows a focus on application rather than micro-measurement.

When special circumstances are introduced - Nimble and Charging - the basic building blocks allow  no ambiguity so again the mechanism is eloquent. 

This allows KoW to be far faster to play than a lot of games and also conducive to timed games. It is something that doesn't get remarked on much but is a key point of difference from most games and enhances playability.


  1. I hadn't consciously though about this much, but agree that pivoting is quicker, easier and no less strategic than wheeling. An example of good rules design.

  2. I'm happy with pivots, but would it matter too much if we had wheels instead? We don't measure the distance for a pivot in KOW, what if we didn't do it for a wheel? So unlike Warhammer, where wheels were measured in inches, you could just wheel up to 90 degrees, pivoting on a corner. I think that would work.

    Also, as someone who's spent many, many hours on drill squares learning to march in a formation with hundreds of others, I tried to think how you'd make a regiment do a pivot. My brain shut down, it's too bloody complex. A wheel is possible, but not a pivot, not really.

    Still, pivots work well as a game mechanic, happy enough with the status quo.