Wrath of Kings


Got in a game of Kings of War with Bill on Thursday.  Shades asked for a bat-rep; I suck at those (I’m generally too engaged in the game to think about taking pictures, never mind turn-by-turn notes or pictures) so, instead, thought-dump.

It’s also worth noting that I think I’m pretty late to the party on WoK: after the shitshow that was Sedition Wars, I gave CMoN Kickstarters a pass for a good, long while.  It’s only by way of a couple of impulse buys on some good deals that I ended up with minis for it,  So, some of my rambling is probably old-hat to anyone who’s been playing it.

We played a Skirmish: my Hadross (Fish Dudes) vs. Bill’s Shael Han (Steampunk Wuxia Dudes).

List Building

One of the things I like a lot about Wrath of Kings is the list-building: it’s very close to the way Saga does it.  Which is to say: it’s a middle path between points-based systems, where this guy being 41 points and that guy being 42 points is Significant, and the-hands-off-and-shrug method regrettably found in Age of Sigmar, where anything and everything is equal.  It looks a little more involved than Saga, it’s effectively the same.

Models are Leaders, Specialists, or Infantry: depending on the game you’re playing, you get X Infantry, Y Specialists, and some limited ability to chose some quantity of either 3 Infantry or 1 Specialist.  Models also have Ranks: 1 or 2.  Want a Rank 2 model? Swap out two Rank 1s for it.  That’s it.  “Rank” might as well be “Point.”

So, at Skirmish, I get

  • 3 Ranks of Leaders
  • 18 Ranks of Infantry
  • 2 Ranks of Specialists
  • 3 Ranks of Infantry or 1 of Specialist
  • 3 Ranks of Infantry or 1 of Specialist

That became

  • 3 Ranks of Leaders
    • Deepman Kaxes (Rank 1)
    • Deepman Kaxes (Rank 1)
    • Gutter Friar (Rank 1)
  • 18 Ranks of Infantry
    • 12x Deepman Guardian (Rank 1)
    • 3x Sevridan Gutter (Rank 2, so this is 6 Ranks)
  • 2 Ranks of Specialists
    • Deep Caller
      • Deep Caller
  • 3 Ranks of Infantry or 1 of Specialist
    • Calith Reaver (Rank 1 Specialist)
  • 3 Ranks of Infantry or 1 of Specialist
    • Calith Reaver (Rank 1 Specialist)

So it’s basically counting models, with some models counting double.  I like this a lot; it’s simple enough that you can build a list right before rolling dice without being a bullshit, “I dunno, man, points are dumb; you make the decisions!” cop-out.

  • Leaders
    • Madam Mui (2)
    • Dragon Legion Keeper (1)
  • Infantry
    • 9x Dragon Legionnaire (1)
    • 9x Iron Lotus Warrior (1)
  • Specialists
    • 2x Shield of Taelfon (1)
    • The Red Willow (2)

The 9 of each infantry’s important.  At the Skirmish level, each Leader can activate (or activate along with) at least 5 related models.  So he can effectively (and, in the case of the Legionnaires) deploy and move models in blocks of 10: 5 infantry, then 4 infantry and the leader.  This stands in contrast to my big messy mish-mosh of guys interleaved with each other, causing a traffic jam.


We had different Motivations.  I’m still trying to get my head around these.  Basically, there are five categories of themed goals, and each faction gets access to two of them: the idea being that each faction has different ways to approach winning a game.  Each theme has three goals, so there are six different ways to supplement the common goal of “murder all of the other guy’s guys.”  It’s an interesting concept but, at this stage, it feels like it’s maybe more fiddly than it needs to be: I’m especially annoyed that some motivations refer to 30mm objectives, some to 40mm objectives, and some 50mm. I guess the first stands for people, the second for loot, and the third for structures but still.  I do think it’s interesting that, in the tournament rules, you can’t choose the same motivation twice.

Bill’s was (ultimately) to have his Leaders/Specialists decapitate my Infantry and then taunt my Leaders with them (kill models, get tokens, use an action instead of an attack to spend the token while within 6″/8″ of my Leaders).  Mine was to overrun his force and push into his land (have single Infantry kill models, get tokens, carry tokens to near his side of table).

I think if I play the game some more, I’m going to try to get the Motivations printed up on cards (shame on them for not thinking of and doing this).  That’ll help me keep track of what I’m trying to do and what the other guy is trying to do.

2015-09-17 17.49.25

The Game

Anyway, I don’t know that the game was especially notable: I mostly mobbed around and got in my own way while Bill moved forward in formation. He won, of course, with me… actually closer than I’d have guessed to winning.  If the game had gone one more turn, I could maybe have even turned things around.

I did get a much more practical understanding of how the different models work (pushing them around and trying to do things with their cards and rolling dice around them is the only way I can internalize this stuff).  Which was really the whole point of the exercise.

Our game took about two hours.  According to the tournament rules, a Skirmish game should last about half that… given that I spent the whole time asking Bill questions and saying, “Okay, let me get my head around this,” and narrating every single thing I was doing… I actually think that’s spot on.

Assorted Thoughts

Not sure what Warmachine game sizes are nowadays, but it feels like it fits in the same space as Warmachine: it takes more models than Malifaux, but considerably less than, say, Fantasy.  It takes fewer models than Saga (assuming you’re not looking at an all-Hearthguard army): 15-29 vs. 25-73.  And I think it fits that spot a lot better than Warmachine does: I liked WM when it was about juggling Focus/Fury across a couple of models and thought it broke down when you started running a lot of small bodies, simply because “Roll 2d6, add, compare, then Roll 2d6 add, compare” once per model falls apart when you do it a lot. Here, it’s roll some number of dice: compare the roll to a chart. That the chart varies from target to target add some complexity, but it still moves a lot faster and smoother.

As far as I can tell, each faction follows a pattern: three subspecies of the faction each get a Infantry, a Leader, and a Leader Character, and each subspecies wants to be run with an appropriate Leader.  There are some pretty explicit synergies here.  I like that it’s straightforward because, in my dotage, I don’t have the mental bandwidth to keep up with the combo-based approach a lot of skirmish games favor.  It’s here, too, but it’s simple enough for even me to keep up with.

The setting is… okay.  It’s dumb as dirt that every person in the setting is human who was changed into a non-human somehow, and that (with the exception of Shael Han) there are so few humans left.  It’s weird.  This is fantasy, guys! You can have fishmen! You have have pigmen!  It’s okay!  It’s weird.

If you look at the photo above, you’ll note there’s effectively no terrain.  Four pieces, pretty much evenly spaced out across the table.  It was fine for what we were doing, but is sort of awful.  Doing more and more historical gaming has ruined me for half-hearted terrain: Huzzah’s Chris always sets up beautiful tables for his games, and the TGS games are notably gorgeous.  I need to get my head around what a game like this should look like, table-wise, because it needs more.

Anyway, I liked the game. A lot.  I hope to play it more, because it plays fast while remaining satisfying. Also, I’m looking forward to painting some of those models, and it’s always a shame to paint models for a game and then never play it.