Friday, May 26, 2017

Building on my Kings of War (KoW) crib notes here are a few things to consider when comparing Warhammer Fantasy Battles 8th edition to Kings of War 2nd edition. This list (written back in 2015) is geared towards the Warhammer Refugee but please keep in mind that Kings of War is not Warhammer lite.  While they are both massed combat games there is as much dissimilar as there is the same. In fact I chalk up the similarities to Alessio Cavatore being involved with both systems.

Obvious Stuff

  • KoW is not as complicated as Warhammer.
  • KoW is a tournament game built from the ground up.
  • Rules have been streamlined and play faster.
  • Unit sizes are set so there are no formation changes.
  • There are no charge reactions.  
  • Models are not pulled from the unit to mark casualties.
  • Armor saves do not exist as they are factored into defense values.


Warhammer – Units take panic checks for receiving wounds in shooting/magic or being near a friendly unit when it panics.  Additionally, units take break tests in combat if they are the loser of a combat.  The number of wounds suffered in that combat increase the difficulty of passing the break test.  One thing to note is that their is no degradation of morale over time as the culmination of wounds sustained over the course of the battle have no bearing on future break/panic tests.

Kings of War –  As a unit takes damage from shooting or melee models are not pulled from the unit but rather the number of damage is recorded.  In any shooting or melee phase that the unit suffers at least one damage the unit must make a nerve test.  When making this test all damage cumulative to the point of the test increases the difficulty of passing the test.  In other words as a unit sustains damage it’s morale suffers and it will eventually reach a point where it is not possible to pass a nerve test.  However, just as in Warhammer snake eyes always pass.  

Failing Break/Panic/Nerve Test

Warhammer - If a unit breaks or flees it runs 2D6” away from the enemy.  The unit gets additional opportunities to rally until the point they leave the play surface or are run down by an enemy unit.  Therefore a unit is either Steady or Fleeing.  

Kings of war - If a unit fails a nerve test it is routed and the unit is removed from the game.  There are 3 states of nerve - Steady, Wavering (can't charge or shoot), Rout.

Combat Effectiveness

Warhammer – Only the first 2 (or 3) ranks fight in combat.  A 5x4 regiment with a champion of skeleton spearmen would get 11 melee attacks.  Combat effectiveness may decrease as a unit suffers wounds and models are removed from unit.  Initially wounds may have little or no effect to number of melee attacks since only the first 2 (or 3 in some exceptions) fight and wounds are pulled from the back.  However, when a unit gets closer to depletion the number of attacks can be significantly reduced.

Kings of War – Each unit has a melee attack value that details the number of melee attacks the unit gets.  The number of attacks may be typically more or less than the same unit would get in Warhammer.  For example a 5x4 regiment of skeleton spearmen get 15 melee attacks where it would get 11 in Warhammer.  Combat effectiveness never decreases in KoW regardless of the number of damage a unit suffers. However, I would argue that by the time a unit would lose a significant number of attacks from wounds in Warhammer the same unit is likely to have already been routed in KoW.  


Warhammer has rules for fear and terror.

KoW does not have any directly equivalent rules like fear and terror.  However, they do have mechanics that adjust your die role when testing nerve to account for big, scary units.    

Corner to Corner Charges

Warhammer - Clipping is acceptable.  Which means you can sometimes get 3 units into a combat on a single facing.

Kings of War - Clipping is prohibited.  This means that you will likely only get 2 units into combat on a single facing .

Flank or Rear Charges

Warhammer – Break test difficulty is increased by adding a +1 (for flank) or +2 (for rear) to the break test result.  Unfortunately, these modifiers may be nullified if the unit is stubborn or steadfast.  You can also potentially reduce the number of attacks back at your unit from the enemy unit by charging into the flank or rear as only models in base contact will attack your unit.

Kings of War – Flank or rear charges are more deadly to your opponent as you double (for flank charge) or triple (for rear charge) your melee attacks.  Charging in the flank or rear has no bearing on the number of attacks back at your unit if the enemy unit chooses to charge you in subsequent turns.  It should also be noted that with the counter-charge rules any opponent you charge in the flank or rear will be able to charge you in their turn, even if your unit is not their arc of sight.

Line of Sight

Warhammer – True line of sight is in use.  If your model can “see” the target they can see the target.  It makes for simpler rules but it does open things up for abusive modeling opportunities.  For example you could potentially make a crawling dragon that’s low enough to hide behind a unit of infantry.

Kings of War – Systematic line of sight is in use.  Each unit and terrain feature have a height of 0 to 4.  Line of sight may be blocked by other units and terrain based on the height of each.  For example you line of sight is blocked by units and terrain equal to  your height or smaller UNLESS the target is taller than the intervening units and terrain.  It’s quickly apparent that systematic line of sight is more complicated than true line of sight.  However, this system removes any effect it may have on modeling.  For example a dragon is height 4 regardless of how it is modeled.

Slow Play

Warhammer – As both players participate in both players turns it’s possible that a player may abuse their turn and “slow play”.  This is essentially running out the time available for the game and cheating his opponent of extra opportunities to move, combat, etc.   

Kings of War – Use of a check clock and given that you only roll dice on your turn eliminates the effect of slow play.  If a player chooses to slow play, they are only penalizing themselves.


Warhammer – Magic is a completely separate phase with its own detailed set of rules. It can be over the top and game breaking but is also an excellent counter to large units.  There is also many lore’s of magic each containing 7 spells to use found within the main rule-book and army books.

Kings of War – Magic is simply another form of shooting.  It has limited impact and only can be used in a supporting role to knock off a point of damage or there or enhance your unit’s combat effectiveness for example.  There are no lore’s of magic and the number of spell to available is 9 spells.

Narrative Character and Army Building

Warhammer – You control the customization of characters and units.  For units you select both the number of models and the formation.  You decide on which weapons, armor and command option the unit would take.  You also can decide to add from an assortment of magical banners available. In terms of characters, the sky's the limit.  You control a character's total load out including any magical items available from the main rule book or specific army books.  You can also decide to put your character in a unit.  However, the cost of all this customization is that it makes it harder to balance the game because of the significantly increased number of moving parts and the interaction between those parts it brings.    

Kings of War – You control what armament your unit will have and how big the unit will be based on the set sizes available in the army lists.  For example, a troop is 10 models, a regiment is 20 models and a horde is 40 models.  You can also add a single magical artifact to a unit from the 37 available. In terms of characters you also control a few limited options like mounts and spell selection.  You can also add a magical artifact to the character but a character may never join a unit.
Well that's it for now. I'd love to hear your thoughts or any questions you may have!


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