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Getting Started for Warhammer Fantasy players

Niek van der Laan‎’s Skaven army converted to Kings of War. Photo from Kings of War Fanatics Facebook Group, used with permission.

Kings of War is a very different beast to Warhammer Fantasy. It’s an easy transition because the key concepts and themes of the game are similar, however mechanics and tactics are vastly different.

“KOW is a game you have to try. Every army is competitive, no one can break a list and being a general matters again.” – Caleb, KoW convert.

So why look into Kings of War?

Well here are a few bullet points:

Niek van der Laan’s Skaven army converted to Ratkin for Kings of War. Photo from Kings of War Fanantics Facebook Group, used with permission.
  • The rule system is vastly streamlined from Warhammer Fantasy. Games take a fraction of the time that they do in Warhammer and with a lot more tactical emphasis.
  • Movement is key. Flank attacks, even from rubbish chaff units can deal serious and potentially unit threatening damage to even the most elite units.
  • The biggest units will fall if unsupported. You cannot walk a horde forwards expecting to tank all the damage the enemy throws at you. If you leave it unsupported, if you allow your unit to be flanked then it will die. Even the biggest, baddest, toughest units in the game, such as a Horde of Knights or an Ogre Legion, will die swiftly without supporting units.
  • Armies and units are well balanced. There are no trap choices in Kings of War, nor are there any trap factions. Building a solid army list is not about picking the best units but about picking units that work well together to achieve your objective.
  • You can use your existing model collections. There might not be a unit for every single model you have (e.g. there’s no Corpse Cart in Undead) but you can certainly find a use for it somehow (using it as a base filler in a zombie legion for example), and the majority of your army will be able to move over without issue.
  • Multibasing offers you a lot of modelling freedom. Many players who have made the transition specifically cite multibasing as something that really allowed them to go wild with their hobby without any kind of in-game penalty.
  • Kings of War is supported. It receives regular updates and official support from Mantic, while the Rules Committee is there to answer questions and help drive the game forwards.
  • It’s free to play! The core rules are available with preview army lists from the Mantic website, and the rules for the rest of the armies are available from Easy Army. We do, of course, recommend that you purchase a complete rulebook (and the Uncharted Empires expansion if your army list is in that book) but you can certainly try out the game without spending a penny!
  • You can still play Warhammer! There’s nothing to say that you can only play Kings of War. You can still use your armies for Warhammer, Ninth Age and Age of Sigmar without issues (well, maybe if you multibase them…)

Show us some videos!

Guerilla Miniature Games made an excellent introductory video that’s almost designed to show KoW off to Warhammer players!

They talk you through the rules and how they’re similar or different to Kings of War.

Another excellent video to watch is Master Crafted Gaming’s first Kings of War battle report:

Both were seasoned WHFB players and decided to try out Kings of War, recording their first experience. You can see their amazement at just how tactical the game is and how much impact movement has on it. Needless to say, Caleb and Kyle have become very active members in the Kings of War community and their enthusiasm for the game is simply infectious!

“Try out KoW! It’s not broken!” – Caleb

The big gameplay differences

Both games are regimental fantasy battle games involving large blocks of units manoeuvring around the battlefield trying to get the best charges they can, while mages cast spells and dragons wheel overhead. The basic gist of gameplay is similar (issue move orders, roll to hit, roll to damage etc) but here are some key differences:

  • Units pivot and don’t wheel. When a unit Advances, it can move up to its speed directly forwards in inches and at any point during that move it can make a single 90 degree pivot. There’s no wheeling, you simply pick up the unit and pivot it on the spot when allowed.
  • You don’t remove casualties. Instead the unit acts very much like a single multi-wound monster does in WHFB. It keeps taking “wounds” (damage in KoW) but fights at full strength until destroyed. Units are routed through Nerve tests, which are very similar to Leadership tests in WHFB except modified by the amount of damage on the unit.
  • Flanks and rears are deadly. If you hit an enemies flank, you double your attacks. Hit their rear and you triple. There’s no steadfast equivalent. If you hit their flank with a decent unit then no matter how good theirs is, it’s going down.
  • Heroes act on their own and don’t join units. Most heroes on foot have the Individual rule which gives them a lot of manoeuvrability and protection from ranged attacks. They don’t join units, but then again they’re not huge unit killers themselves. They’re good for lending support, but very few will be able to go toe to toe with entire units.
  • Scenarios are huge. The core game has six scenarios (though only one is available in the free rules). Points for killing enemy units are only used in two of them – in all of the other scenarios it doesn’t matter how much of the enemy you kill. All that matters is claiming the relevant objectives.
  • You don’t do anything during your opponents turn. You roll all of your attacks, all of your damage, cast spells and even roll the Nerve tests (similar to Leadership) to break the enemy during your turn. Turns are over so quickly though that you’ll not even notice.

So, getting started…

The first thing you want to do is to convert your army over to Kings of War. 1000 points in KoW makes for a good introductory game, while 2000 points is considered to be the standard sized game (probably equivalent to a 2500 point game of WHFB). Here’s a list of WHFB armies and which army lists are best used for them:

Warhammer Army Kings of War list Source
Beastmen The Herd Uncharted Empires
Bretonnia Kingdoms of Men or The Brotherhood Core rulebook (KoM) or Uncharted Empires (Brotherhood)
Chaos Dwarfs Abyssal Dwarfs Core rulebook
Daemons of Chaos Abyssals Core rulebook
Dark Elves Twilight Kin Mantic Website
Dwarfs Dwarfs Core rulebook
Empire Kingdoms of Men or The League of Rhordia Core rulebook (KoM) or Uncharted Empires (Rhordia)
Goblins Goblins Core rulebook
High Elves Elves Core rulebook
Lizardmen Salamanders Uncharted Empires
Ogre Kingdoms Ogres Core rulebook
Orcs Orcs Core rulebook
Skaven Ratkin Uncharted Empires
Tomb Kings Empire of Dust Uncharted Empires
Vampire Counts Undead Core rulebook
Warriors of Chaos The Varangur Uncharted Empires
Wood Elves Elves or Forces of Nature Core rulebook