Sunday, April 30, 2017

KOW - Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Fail

One thing that you see with wargaming is that people just can't help tinkering with their lists. Admittedly there are some games that list building likely makes up over half of your success but if you're playing those games.....just use the Google.

There is a certain percentage of the population who think that life is an equation that you can solve. I subscribe to the efficient market hypothesis that there is a most sufficient list but that list changes when you change the input variables - terrain, player skill, scenario, how hungover you are etc. This is a roundabout way of saying (and excuse the mixed metaphors) that while there probably is a Holy Grail that the goalposts have probably moved while you were looking for it....and now we are all Scientologists.

So how does this apply to Kings of War? Well, especially when people are learning the game, I find that the majority of the focus goes on the list building rather than the tactics. Well to smash another saying "It's not how big it is, it's how you lose it".

Take Joe Newbie* playing his first few games. In the first game he gets shot off the board by an archer horde. He goes out and gets a character with Wings of Honeymaze and puts him in his list. In the second game, he's run down by Heavy Cavalry with high Thunderous Charge. Off he goes and gets some Regiments with Phalanx. His third game sees him unable to move De 6+ enemy so the Hammer gets added in....and on infinitum. 

What Joe should have done after his first game was sit down and look at his tactics. Could he have used cover and screens to nullify the archer horde? Was his deployment part of the problem? in his second game did he take advantage of terrain - in particular obstacles - to counter TC? What about chaff screens?

By the end of his time, Joe has learned nothing, has an army far too big for his needs and probably gets disspirited.

So many people think that it is their list at fault and change that, rather than looking at their deployment, tactics, target selection etc.

When I build a list I will generally play the first iteration for 5-6 games (a tournament is ideal) before making changes. These aren't usually wholesale as that negates what I have learned in those first games. Ideally, this will address any glaring holes. After this I will generally stick with the same list for 20-30 games and use that experience to hone my tactics. As long as you are varying opponents, terrain and scenarios you are always learning.

You get to understand the synergy of groups of units, develop deployment plans etc. Things become more intuitive as you know the capabilities of the units/items in your list as things aren't being changed.

Personally across a variety of games/game systems I have found that for me this has been the most successful approach. YMMV.

* Any similarity between Joe and anyone I know is purely coincidental. He is a construct of my imagination and is in no part representative of anybody I have met or read about living or dead. All litigation should be sent to my solicitor, Malcolm Tucker Esq, Whitehall who will give you the appropriate response.


  1. Also a good reason why you should never multibase

    1. Locks you into specific unit sizes with the multi-base. Single figures can be assembled on movement trays of the desired size.

    2. Easy to use Troop size bases to build Regiments, Hordes or Legions if it's a concern.

    3. Not easy to play 9th Age though, or even Age of Sigmar

    4. That's a totally different issue unrelated to list construction in KOW.

  2. I played the same Ogre list for about 2 years or so before looking to do some tweaking, which only required the purchase of 1 extra giant :)

  3. I agree with everything you said Pete


    There are 21 armies to play with and lots of options within each list.
    If I only play one list a year I'll be dead before I get through them all. Where's the fun in that?

    1. I don't think Pete is saying never change your list, but rather do some analysis on what went wrong and what could you do differently rather than just assume a new unit in the list will win you the game.

      If your list is your toolbox, only a bad craftsman blames their tools.