Saturday, 25 July 2015

The Forest Must be Fed: Kings of War Battle Report and Review

Welcome, especially Warhammer Fantasy Players, to my review of Mantic’s Kings of War 2nd Edition. Now a few points before I get onto the actual post, this was a 1500 point game of Kings of War played using their free downloadable core rules and their Beta Army list rules. The actual Battle report itself will be narrative report set in the Warhammer World Pre End Times and at the end of the report I will give a review of how the game played from a WHFB player perspective, so this will be a long post and it is recommend you get a drink before going on. As previously mentioned this was a 1500 point game with me as the Elves (Wood Elves) and my opponent playing The Herd (Beastmen), enjoy.

The Universe is vast and infinite but so are the different version of it and there are countless different versions of reality in which events play out differently. So when the Warhammer World was consumed by Chaos this was only one possible outcome, in another reality the End Times never came and perhaps would never come and it is in this reality on this version of the Warhammer World that the following battle is fought. 

Fionn sighed thoughtfully as he gazed upon the clearing and the imposing Herdstone in its midst. He wondered what this place would have been like if the Beastmen had never come here, would it a peaceful and serene clearing in the forest? Would it be camp for Human bandits? He reflected on these possibilities as the army drew itself into position.

His command was the right flank, where his abilities as a Spellweaver would be used to ware off any fast moving enemy units. The center would be commanded by the Venerable Treeman Ancient Diarmaid and the left flank would come under the command of the leader of a warband of Wild Wood Rangers called Éibhear.

The center, commanded by Diarmaid
The right flank commanded by Fionn
The left flank commanded by Éibhear
No sooner had the Asrai drawn themselves into position than the Beastmen began to appear. Éibhear gazed down past the Herstone at the two packs of Minotaurs and the Doombull that took up most of the Beastmen's left flank. As they bellowed out harsh challenges he smiled, who better to handle such violent beasts than his rangers and their glaives. 

The Beastmen's left flank, note the fist of the Dark Gods in the background
In the center Diarmaid's great height allowed him to see what he and his kin would be facing, a great bray horde of the Children of the Dark Gods. In front of him were his fellow Forest Spirits, the Treekin here at his request and under his command. And although this forest wasn't Athel Loren, as their allies the Asrai called it, it was forest and place of nature nonetheless. He hefted his warspear, a gift from the Asrai smiths, and resolved himself. The forest must be fed and who better to feed it than the Beastmen? 

On his flank Fionn steadied his mind and looked across his own lines and the lines of his enemy. The Beastmen had a horde of braying Gor backed by Razorgor, bow armed Ungor and chariots. To meet this tide he had two units of Deep Wood Scouts and a unit of Eternal Guard as well as his own abilities. He knew he was out numbered but such was the situation the Asrai found themselves in most often and he had always preferred quality over quantity. 

With a great swelling roar the Beastmen surged forward. Before Fionn's very eyes a pack of Razorgor came hurtling across the battlefield unhindered by swap or wood and crashed into the Scout unit before him. As the beasts savaged the Scouts repeatedly he tried to position  himself to aid them with magic but he couldn't safely target the Razorgor while they fought the Scouts. With one of the ranged units on his flank temporarily occupied the Ungor Archers and Gor horde advanced and unleashed packs of hunting dogs at the Eternal Guard and though he was able to rejuvenate the Asrai they were eventually overcome by the dogs with the remnants of the unit fleeing the field. As he struggled to comprehend what had just happened he heard a crash and the screams of the dying from other side of the small forest he faced as the Beastmen Chariots  smashed into his final unit of Scouts who promptly were cut down to a elf .Fionn swallowed fear, it was early on in the battle and already his flank was falling apart. 

On the left flank Éibhear calmly watched as the Minotaurs came charging towards his lines. As they came into bow  range he paused, allowing the brutes to get a little closer to allow better shots from his Scouts, and then chopped his arm down in single motion. As one the twenty Scouts under his command fired at the Minotaurs as the two units split apart to go around the Herdstone. Both units were suffered from the arrow storm and one unit sought the shelter of a nearby wood its leader's head and shoulders peppered with arrows. It was this unit that Éibhear chose as the target of his own warband and with a word he ordered his unit to charge. The Wild Wood Rangers met the Minotaur's solid muscle bound forms with glaive and fury hacking their weapons into the great bulks of their opponents all of whom had little time to react after the arrow storm. The Minotuars were overwhelmed and Éibhear order his unit to halt as he smiled wolfishly at the Doombull who had waited behind the Minotaurs. The Doombull tried to evade the unit, going around the forest but always
Éibhear and his unit followed him, awaiting their chance to strike and end the beast.

Diarmaid blocked out the events on his left and right flank and only focused on what was before him which in this case was a horde of Gor just in front of the hill that separated the forces. He allowed the Gor to get just a it closer and then unleashed his bolt of magic into the Treekin in front of him that surged the Forest Spirits right into the Gor who had little time  to do anything but be surprised at the angry Treekin suddenly in their midst. However through sheer weight of numbers the Gors began to overwhelm the Treekin, the Gor were helped when their Beastlord charged into the fray and the Treekin were crushed. Diarmaid didn't have time to noticed this however as the wounded and blood mad unit of Minotaurs that had survived Éibhear's arrow storm charged into his left side hacking madly at his leg. Diarmaid gave a cry of pain as the axes bit deep into his leg and swiped his warspear into them, opening one from hip to shoulder and forcing the survivors back. This gave
Éibhear's Scouts the opening they needed to riddle them with a storm of close range arrows that, when it ended, left the Minotaurs dead and pincushioned.  

Fionn desperately raised a shield of ethereal energy as three crazed Ungor rushed him. The others from that unit were still picking their way over the roasted corpses of the Razorgor who Fionn hit with repeated bolts of elderitch fire, unfortunately the Ungor had used them to distract him and charged him as he regained his breath. He already was bleeding from a deep gash on his forehead and he was pretty sure his left arm was broken. As the Ungor meet his magical shield it broke, partly due to his own exhaustion hut also to simply being overwhelmed by three bodies. As one of the Ungor tackled him to the ground he cast a befuddlement on the other two, halting them in their tracks and as he hit the ground, pain flaring through his wounds he plunged his dagger into the neck of the Ungor who charged him drenching his face and blood and killing the beat in the process. Wasting not one second he got to his knees and, as the Ungor pulled back to charge him again he summoned a ball of flame and slammed into them. He did this again, and again and again until not one of the vile beasts remained. Fionn closed his eyes, overcome with a bone deep weariness brought on from his wounds and the strain of casting so many spells in such short a span of time. Then he opened them and stood, there was still a battle to fight and he couldn't afford to pass on it now. 

Éibhear's face was grimly set as he lead his Rangers into the back of the Doombull who was currently occupied with messy job of hacking apart Asrai Scouts. It had been necessary to use one of those units as bait to draw  the beast into charging and in doing so presenting a chance of Éibhear to lead a charge of his own, but necessity didn't make the decision any less grim and he sworn he would personally avenge the fallen by not only killing the Doombull but taking the lives of two Beastmen for every dead scout. His charge hit home and he and his warriors hacked deep wounds in the back of the Doombull but these wounds only served to drive the beast into a greater fury. Unable to turn around to fa e the Wardens the Doombull vented his wrath on the scouts and Éibhear watched in horror as blood drenched monster hacked, gored or simply bit in two the last of the scouts and broke away from the Wardens vengeful glaives. The Doombull's roar of triumph was short lived as the mighty Ancient Diarmaid impaled the him on his warspear, lifted him to eye level and ripped its head off with one twist of his mighty gnarled hand. Éibhear saluted the Treeman with his glaive and then issued curt orders to bring the reaming units of scouts, his Warden and Diarmaid into line. Facing them was a the last horde of Gor, the other horde having fled after being hammered by an arrow storm form the scouts moments before the Doombull charged one of the units. The Horde was backed by their Beastlord and their foul Shaman who had been reviving the fallen from that horde with a mix of necromancy and chaos magic. Of Fionn there was no sign. 

Diarmaid began to make his way over towards the flank of the horde, never taking his eye off the Gors. Éibhear and the remaining Asrai would try to keep the hordes attention while at the same time peppering them with arrows, he would try and seek the flank of the horde and break them with a decisive charge. As he came down the opposite side of the hill he saw a ragged figure stumbling towards him hounded by the Beastlord, it was Fionn. Diarmaid turned to charge and smash the Beastlord into the earth but the vile creature was too quick and caught Fionn just as the mage was about to reach Diarmaid. He followed the combat as he prepared to charge himself expecting to see Fionn die at any minute to Beastman's burning blade but it was not so, Fionn had enough strength left to conjure defenses enough to ward off the attack. Then Diarmaid charged, battering aside the Beastlords feeble defense and kicking him with one mighty foot, launching the startled him over the small hill and out of sight.

"Friend" Diarmaid grumbled in low tones the sound of earth moving over earth "Are you injured?"
"Yes" Fionn replied, his voice husky with pain and exhaustion "But you are as well and in you there is a chance we can win this fight, go and end this"

Diarmaid nodded slowly and Fionn gestured with his right hand and green fire danced over the Ancient, healing his wounds and giving him fresh strength. Diarmaid turned back to the fight in time to see Éibhear and the last unit of Scouts hurl themselves at the Gor who had advanced without caution. He hefted his warspear and began to stride towards the melee, anger fueling every thunderous step. 

Éibhear hacked down another Gor with his glaive, its blade raised in defence breaking under his weapon's crushing momentum allowing his weapon to split its skull with ease. He paused, catching his breath in a brief moment of calm as the battle raged around him and saw his rangers hcaking a grim took on the foe, hacking them limb from limb with sweeps of their glaives and he could hear the sound of the Scouts charge hitting home on the enemies flank. He looked around for a new target when he saw the Gor he had just killed twitch, he looked at it and saw blue fire infuse its wounds. Suddenly it leapt forward at him a gurgling scream coming from its ruined face, he  met its rush with glaive at the ready and in doing so failed to notice the other recently dead Gor coming in from behind him. As he battered the first Gor aside with his weapon he felt a wet, heavy impact slam onto his back and fell forward. Stunned he could do nothing as the other Gor turned him over on his back and loomed over him. As the creature raise its hoof to bring down on his head he saw his rangers, beset by foes they thought they had killed, get dragged down or hacked apart. Then the Gors hoof rushed towards his head and he knew no more.

Fionn stalked towards the stumbling form of the Beastlord, green fire in his hands. He had suspected that Diarmaid's kick had not killed him and Fionn was damm sure he wouldn't let the scum live. As he neared him the Beastlord made to to charge him but he was faster and hurled the fireball right into the Beastlord's face scorching flesh from bone in mere seconds and leaving him dead and smoking in the dirt. Satisfied he crested the hill to see only Diarmaid standing against the horde of Gor and their foul Shaman who even now was restoring the corpses of fallen Gor with foul chaos magic. Know that Diarmaid's own wounds would hinder him Fionn summed the rejuvenating magic of nature and cast it at Diarmaid and didn't notice until too late that the Bray Shaman was charging towards him. He could do little  but raise his hands in a weak gesture of defense as the Shaman  slammed his staff into Fionn's broken arm and he fell onto his face screaming in pain. He never saw the blow that killed him but he did hear the Shaman's mocking laughter in his ears right before the blackness claimed him.

Diarmaid felt fury build within him. He had been edging around the triumphant Gor horde when Fionn had been killed by the Shaman and so was unable to assist the mage, but now the Gor were within his reach and he charged at them, unleashing a deafening roar that shook the trees and he hit the Gor with the force of a avalanche. He killed with his warspear, legs, hands anything that he could use to kill he did. The Gor tried to resist but what could they do against the fury of the forest personified? All in all it took him mere minutes to kill most of them with the remainder fleeing, scared out of their minds. But he was not done and he turned towards the Shaman who hadn't noticed the massacre, yet. But when Diarmaid's great warspear impaled him through his chest he noticed and he knew he had lost.

Diarmaid gazed over the once peaceful clearing, mounds of bodies lay where the Asrai arrows had rained down on the Beastmen and where the two sides had meet and killed in close quarters. He looked down at the corpse of Fionn, he had liked the Asrai as he had shown a real affinity with the not just Athel Loren but all the forests of this world. He picked up the mage's corpse and and walked over to one of the small clumps of trees in the clearing and placed the body amongst the trees. The forest must be fed and Fionn would approve. He left the clearing then knowing that the taint of Chaos had been driven away, it was a long way back to Athel Loren and he had many friends to mourn on the way.

This ends the narrative battle report section of this post, i will now give my thoughts the actual game system itself.

So is Kings of War a good replacement for Warhammer Fantasy? In short yes. Basically KOW is a stripped down  and simplified version of WHFB with less random elements, here are some of the major ways in which KOW differs from WHFB:

- Spells are treated as shooting attacks that always hit on 4+ and each spell will treat a successful "hit" differently. For example the spell Fireball will do damage to the unit its targets but for the spell Heal each hit will remove a point of damage that the target unit has suffered previously. In addition Spells are bought when the army list is made and not rolled for at the start of each game. 

- Rolling to hit a unit is based on a units Melee or ranged stat. Rolling to wound is based on a target's defence stat. So for example a Wood Elf Archer firing at a Gor will will hit the target on 4+ (the Wood Elf's ranged stat) and will inflict a wound a 4+ (the Gor has a defense stat of 4), there are no armour saves.

- The only way to kill a unit is to "Rout" it. At the end of a phase where you inflict damage on a unit you roll 2d6 and add the total amount of damage to the 2d6 roll. Every unit will have a nerve stat (which will have two values), if the total number (2d6 roll+total damage inflicted) equals, or goes higher than, the higher of the 2 nerve stat numbers the unit is wiped out and removed from the take.If the if the total number  equals, or goes higher than, the lower number that the unit is Wavering and can do every little for its next turn. This process goes for any damage inflicted to a unit.

- Units can only do one action per movement phase move, march (those two are basically the same as they are in WHFB), change facing, pivot or charge. Charges don't happen in their own sub phase and can happen whenever you get to moving the unit in question. Also charge distance is just double the units Speed Stat in inches so charges are similar to 6th ed WHFB.

-Characters cannot be joined onto units and are more leaders than killers. Many of them have the "Inspiring" rule that allows all friendly units within 6 to re-rolled failed nerve tests.

Those are basically the main changes that you need to be aware of if you are a WHFB player going over to KOW. There are some minor ones but those are not too big.

My thought on the system are that is more reliable and less random, being able to custom make your mage with pre bought spells is a great help and the 6th ed charge rules are useful. I don't know ho i feel about the characters not being able to join units and in the game above i cut back on them once i realised this.

So will you, as a WHFB player, like KOW? Yes, its a good game and a good replacement plus you don't have to buy a new army to play and all the rules are free. And also it a game supported by its parent company with a strong player base and a growing community meaning it has a huge advantage over WHFB because no matter how good the fan made 9th edition will be it wont be good enough. Mantic is offering a decent game with rules for all WHFB armies as well as being a company that listens to what its consumers have to say, out of all the options for WHFB fans post Age of Sigmar going KOW is the best, in my opinion. 

Before i go i just wanted to announce that this blog now has Twitter Account, follow this link to go to the account or search for the TheDiceOdyssey (all one word), it will be mainly used to announce new posts, show off models that i have recently finished painting an allow me to express thoughts to small to warrant their own post. Until next time.


  1. That's a very good report, and a nice review of Kings of War.
    I have played both KoW and WHFB and one other difference that often confuses new KoW players is that the active player does everything in his or her turn. No charge responses, no hitting back in melee etc. This seemed odd at first, but you soon get used to it and it really helps to speed the game up.

    1. That was a bit odd and did catch me off guard at first. But its not bad way of doing things

  2. A love the fist of the chaos god in the background comment!
    Good review.. makes me wanna go a battle of Kings myself :D

  3. The game sequence - one player doing everything,including rolling the "saves" and morale for the target sounds weird, but i can see how it will speed up the game.
    The rules appear simple and elegant - everyting happening at a unit level with very little calculation required - but buckets of dice, even barrels of dice with some armies.

    I've not played, but many comments on other reviews praise the subtlety and hidden depths of game play.

    Presumably there are aspects of tempting the enemy to commit while maintaining reserves to counter.
    With games finishing within an hour, there's scope to play 2 or 3 encounters in an ebening, and have time spare for a snack and chat.

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