When it comes to tabletop gaming, today’s definition includes board games, minis games, and pretty much anything not on a computer/console, but to the die-hards tabletop gaming will bring up images of Warhammer 40k, and other fantasy-based themes. There are many names including known brands like Star Wars Legion and Lord of the Rings, and it can all be a little overwhelming. How do I start a game like that? Can I paint them well enough? How much will it cost me? One game simplifies things enough that it has become a cheap and mind-expanding place to start. In Kings of War (3rd edition), you can master the rules easy enough and then spend years trying to master them, and as for the army theme? If you can’t find something you like in Kings of War you aren’t trying!

Kings of War began back in 2009 as a line of minis, but creators, Mantic Games quickly set up their own rule system for gameplay. By 2010, the Kings of War game launched, with major rules overhauls in 2015 and 2019. The game introduces not only a fun gaming system to engage your enemies, but it encourages imagination beyond any game I have ever played. Believe it or not, this sense of imagination also makes it one of the cheapest minis games to get into. Starter boxes run from $90 to $150 and of course there are units to buy and add on, but you can find a simple 2-player starter for $90 that will help get you and a friend started.

Kings of War: Game Construction

My first ever completed army, Forces of the Abyss

One thing that jumps out immediately is the unit construction. In many games, if you run a unit of 10 archers, you will have 10 minis for the unit (same here), but when it comes to gameplay things change. Most games will have you set all 10 archers individually and have them move as an individual unit. They stay close to one another, but in the end, you are moving 10 minis to activate a single unit. In KoW, a 10 man unit resides on a single base, so moving them is incredibly simple. You may field over 140 individual minis, but you only move and position a dozen bases.

Now the downside to this is the number of minis to paint. Units range from troop to regiment to horde and in a few cases legion. The upper ranks can easily mean you need to prep 40+ minis. Rarely do all the minis fit into the base size, but thankfully rules state you must have at least 80% of a unit. You can remove some minis for more room. Not only that, but as I said, imagination is key to this game (I’ll come back to that, though).

Kings of War – Gameplay

Players set up terrain and the game begins. Maneuvering the bases is quite easy and the rules do a good job of keeping the game simple. In a lot of table-top minis games players bring flexible measuring tapes to bend and wind their way through the game. KoW relies on a more linear moving system since the bases are all rectangular. Bases move in straight lines and are allowed 1 to 2 turns depending on how far they move.

Models are not allowed to touch other models unless they “charge”. When they do this KoW uses a unique system of maneuvering. The charger moves at the target and when it makes contact, it straightens with the target and slides to the center of the base. It seems simple enough, but once players interact with more advanced players, the lines being drawn become quite complex. I recently competed in my first tournament and the way players pulled off charges left me baffled.

When it comes to combat, the difficulty boils down to your hand size. Instead of using D20s or large numbered dice, it uses a simple D6 system. You roll to hit, if it’s above the number on the unit (3,4, or 5) you then take the dice that hit and see how many do damage using the same process. Simple right? The number of dice can range anywhere from 3-5 all the way up to ~25 dice; However, if you charge the side or rear you throw x2/x3 the number of dice respectively. That can be 75 dice!

Kings of War – Imagination Rules!

I have mentioned a few times that imagination is key to this game. It truly is. Perhaps the key to starting any game is the aesthetics. One does not join a space game without loving spaceships. One does not join games like this unless something calls to them. Not only do Mantic Games cover all the bases, but they allow for more bases to be added!

To want to play this game a faction needs to call out to you. For playstyle just look at the book and one of the many factions will give you the playstyle you want, but it’s the look of the game that attracts people, and Kings of War delivers. The current faction count I believe is around a dozen or so, but with sub-factions, it grows even further. Players can choose from Goblins, Orcs, Ogres, Knights, forest creatures, sea creatures, zombies, skeletons, demons, rats, and more. Don’t like one of these? Make one up!

That’s right, Mantic did the clever thing in allowing players to make their own armies using any models they want. Mantic carries some excellent models for their armies, but there are a few pieces that do not have Mantic models. Either way, players can choose models from any company or simply design their own. Instead of English knights, run a Feudal Japanese army. Have a thing for the movie Aladdin? Make an army based on the figures from Aladdin. People have even designed armies based entirely on mushrooms! The sky is the limit when you want to design an army. As for piece count? A full number is suggested. The rules say you must field 80%, but most places don’t care if you go as low as 50% if the design calls for it.

Kings of War – A Great Place To Start

At my local shop, there are only two of us that play consistently, but there are pockets all over. I recently played in my first tournament and was amazed at the turnout. 44 people showed up from all across the midwest. I was amazed at the friendliness and casualness of play. Granted I was far from the top tables, but the community was amazing and encouraging. Seeing the myriad of armies made my jaw drop and playing was a blast.

If you want to start a tabletop minis game, but don’t know where to start, or perhaps the size of some of the games scares you, Mantic made Kings of War the perfect starter game. The game is pretty well-balanced. While some factions will trounce others, the factions play a round-robin-type game. A beats B. beats C and C beats A. Most all factions are playable, but learning to play them correctly? That takes some practice. Pick the army that calls to you and let the fun and imagination begin!