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More first edition changes

I had some really interesting responses to my article on broken things in KoW 1st edition and many people who joined at the start of 2nd were really interested in some of the changes we made. I figured I’d write a bit more about things that we added, changed or removed for those who didn’t play 1st.


In 2nd edition we have Hindered charges and a unit can become Disordered when it suffers a wound in combat. These effects existed in 1st ed, except both were called Disrupted. They weren’t the same effect but for some reason were given the same name. This caused a bit of confusion as you can guess…

When it came to writing 2nd edition, I was in favour of keeping the term Disrupted for one of them and changing the term for the other. Alessio decided on a clean break and renamed them both.


Spells weren’t technically a thing in 1st edition. Instead there were just a couple of special rules rather than spells being in their own section. These were:

  • Heal
  • Surge
  • Zap! (renamed to Lightning Bolt)

There was also Breath Attack, but we split the spell version out and called it Fireball for 2nd edition. This allowed us to apply some effects to the spell but not to the Breath Attack that Dragonfire teams and the like use.

Pretty much straight after the release of 1st, there were calls for expanded magic. I remember at the first UK Clash of Kings Alessio giving a talk and taking feedback on introducing a whole host of new spells that you could use if you had Zap. These arrived in the 2nd expansion book, The Basilean Legacy:

If your magic user had Zap then it could use any of these spells at any time, no need to pick them before the game or anything.

Except… they all did pretty much the same thing. Dealing damage. They didn’t do anything unique like Bane-Chant, Soul Drain or Wind Blast. Just slightly different stats for dealing damage.

What was worse is that you could work out the maths for these and figure out which one was the best in any given situation. Bladestorm and Fireball in particular are flat out useless, since the basic Lightning Bolt will do more damage.

Mind Blast? Yeah if you’ve got no Line of Sight, but the game used True Line of Sight, so your LOS was never blocked unless there was a building in the way.

Sword of Light was fairly useless, since by the time you got close enough to use it your caster would have been disordered/disrupted by a mounted Army Standard Bearer or the target would be engaged in combat.

People only used Frostwind and Lightning Bolt out of all of these. And that 30” range… *shudder*

Unit Command

Unit Command existed in 1st ed costing 15 points to upgrade your unit with a standard bearer or 10 points for a musician. These granted +1 Nerve and +1 to Nerve tests against the enemy respectively (the musician granting the equivalent of the Brutal special rule from 2nd).

Except these were a pain. Not only was the cost sky high (15 points for +1 Nerve on a Defence 3 unit?! Yeah standards were never taken) but played havoc when multibasing caught on. Unlike WHFB, you couldn’t just remove the standard and musician models if you didn’t take that upgrade.

These upgrades got expensive, very fast. At 25 points total for each unit (now around 30 points), dropping 3-4 of them would net you a brand new unit, and that would suit you much better.

Then you have the problem where you didn’t really want to take musicians in every single unit. Since the +1 Nerve test modifier is only applied once per combat, if you had multiple units charging an enemy then you only needed one of the units to have a musician in order to get the bonus.

Unit command ended up being very rare in 1st, asides from the odd scattering of musicians (myself and Dan swore by having 2-3 musician equipped units in your army, but we were rare – most people didn’t take any). This also had a fantastic effect of rendering the Ogre army special rule null, since in 1st ed it was simply to ignore enemy musicians.

There was an interesting combo where an artefact which granted the same effect as a musician would stack with a musician, so you could get +2 to Nerve tests if you got both in the same combat. I often used this and in say a cavalry battlegroup (2 knight regiments and a troop of light cavalry) would have a musician and the Pipes of Terror artefact, enabling the 2 regiments to get a combined +2 to nerve tests when multicharging.

When it came to writing 2nd ed, we played around with lots of ideas on how else to implement unit command since it was so rarely taken in 1st and we wanted to see those beautiful standard bearers. In the end, none of them really felt right and there simply wasn’t a solution to the multibasing or cost issue. We decided to remove them to give players freedom of modelling.

Difficult Terrain

Terrain was rarely used in 1st. It didn’t block Line of Sight, because TLOS, and there was no counter-charge, so you always suffered the -1 to hit for charging through, even if you were charging back into the enemy.

Movement in difficult was also a nightmare. You moved at ½ speed in Difficult. Not only was this so slow, especially when you had part of your move in and part of your move out of terrain, but you weren’t just measuring the distance from the front of your unit to the edge. You also had to account for the back of your unit.

If you had a slow shambling unit? Yeah you aint getting through. 2.5” of movement per turn. Urgh.

Obstacles already had the “can’t cross while moving at the double” rule, so we just applied that the difficult terrain too. Keeps things simple, fast and conveying a very similar effect.

Odd Unit Sizes

Unit sizes were a lot less strict. I don’t mean that you could add single models or anything, but some units had… odd… unit sizes. Most units followed the unit sizes described in 2nd (with Large Infantry changing a “troop” of 3 (counts as regiment) to a regiment instead) however others used their own conventions:

All of these options just caused confusion. Many people for example thought that horde formation at 10 models wide started when an infantry unit reached 40 models. This meant they thought that a “horde” of 30 models was 5 models wide and 6 ranks deep.

The options didn’t add anything to the game and in the end Mantic decided to consolidate the options and make them fixed for 2nd. This caused much wailing and meltdowns as you can imagine…

On a side-note, base sizes were simply described as “the base that came with the original model”. This ended up having to be addressed in the FAQ and units given fixed base sizes. Of course people used pretty much any base size they liked for heroes, and Mantics own models didn’t match the base size listed in the FAQ (the beserker lord on brock being a 25x50mm base in-game, but a 50x50mm base was supplied with the Mantic model). While we wish we didn’t have to write it, because it’s not a perfect rule, the Exceptional Base Sizes rule was added so that people had modelling freedom and we didn’t invalidate any models.

Ogres in KoM

Ogres started out as three entries in the Kingdoms of Men army list; Warriors, Shooters (with the option to swap for blunderbusses) and the Captain. In The Basilean Legacy, a separate Ogre Army list was created which introduced things like beserkers, chariots and red goblins.

Unfortunately, everyone just took Kingdoms of Men army lists in order to play Ogres. You got more flexible army command (Individual ASBs with 9” range and speed 8 for cheaper than the Ogre non-Nimble ASB with 6” range), Knights were a LOT better than Chariots (and Ogres in general) and you got access to things like artillery.

When you attended a tournament, you would never see an Ogre army being used game wise. You would see plenty of KoM army lists but half of them would be an Ogre army in disguise.

In the end, I argued strongly and passionately for Ogres to be removed from KoM. For as long as they were in the KoM army list, KoM would always be used because it would always be more flexible. Even worse, you might see allied KoM/Ogre army lists where Ogres were being taken in both lists but as allies would be unable to benefit from each others Inspiring, spells etc. So much confusion…

Basilean Fluff

I’ve mentioned The Basilean Legacy a couple of times. This was one of three expansion books for 1st ed and introduced army lists for Basileans, Ogres and Abyssals (though Abyssals bear absolutely no resemblance at all to what they are today).

The first half of the book, concentrating on Basileans, had 16 pages of fluff and maps for Basilea. In addition, entries in the army list were split over many pages, often giving ½ page or more of fluff for each unit.

With the need to put the army list in the core 2nd ed rulebook, unfortunately a lot of this has been lost. The book went out of print a long time ago, but if you’re a fluff nut or Basilean enthusiast, I wholeheartedly recommend picking up a 2nd hand copy or getting it on Mantic Digital.

Reload on Breath Attack

Units with Breath Attack weapons (Abyssal Dwarf Decimators, Ogre Boomers etc) had the Reload special rule. They couldn’t move and shoot. They could only shoot at a target if the enemy moved inside their range. A single ASB could disrupt the unit and shut down its shooting just by charging, not even doing a point of damage, and had a 16-20” charge range. Breath Attack units always, always, got disrupted before they got to fire.

Breath Attack units were useless.

Even worse than that, even if the enemy left their units in range of your Ogre boomers and even if they didn’t disrupt you with a 35 point ASB, their Breath Attack hit on 4+ with Piercing(1) and had a 12” range. The Ogre Boomers had a 12” charge range, Crushing Strength (1) and hit on 3+ instead of 4+. Even if the enemy was in your shooting range, they were also within your charge range, and charging would almost always be the better option anyway. And you paid extra points and lost a pip of defence for the privilege.

Interesting side note, a lot of Breath Attack units had very high attacks to try and make up for the Reload shortcomings (this didn’t make up for it…). Abyssal Dwarf decimators had 40 attacks for the Horde. When we first tested removing Reload, I remember playing against Ser Ronnie of Rentons Abyssal Dwarfs. With a Decimator horde. Which wiped out my entire army by itself. I argued quite strongly that the attacks must also come down!


Regeneration sucked.


Only 3 dice, no matter how much damage. Stops working if hit by Breath Attack or Zap. Every army packed at least one Zap user.


Alignment specific rules

There were quite a few alignment specific special rules. For example, Basileans had Vicious when fighting armies with the Evil alignment. Abyssals had Vicious vs Good armies.

At the extreme end of the scale:

165 points for an ASB with Heal(3) when fighting good armies (would cost 60 points otherwise). Or Lightning Bolt (10) vs Evil. That’s quite a big difference and felt very unfair if you were playing with an Evil army.

These were almost universally despised and were scrapped for 2nd.

Living Legends

Living Legends were either incredibly overpowered, to the point of being broken, or utterly useless. There was no in between. For this reason they weren’t allowed in tournaments. One of our objectives with 2nd was to address this and make Living Legends balanced enough for competitive play.

150 points (now 190 points) for what is a glorified Army Standard Bearer, when the basic ASB was 30 points. As good as Very Inspiring or De6 is, you could get 5 separate ASBs for the same cost.

Note: Benefits from the effects of both a Banner and a Musician. A banner confers +1 Nerve. Why list it as a special rule rather than just giving him +1 Nerve on the statline? This is why the Rules Committee exists..!

And at the other end of the scale:

Defence 7. Ensnare for Good armies.

Auto-killing any hero or monster on a 4+.

Bugger me with a pitchfork…