Having never played a game of Kings of War, I was eager to get off to a flying start. No one ever wants their first game to end in a loss; it starts you off on the wrong foot otherwise. So days before the table-top war was set to begin, I had my nose buried in the rulebook. Unlike a lot of games, the rules were quick and simple to learn. That’s not to say that a complex set of rules is bad, but it’s clear that the rules for this game were designed to be quick to learn and easy to remember. One of the things I like most about Kings of War is that in the starter set (the forces used in this battle report) contains everything you need to start playing. Alongside 105 miniatures, you get dice and comprehensive rulebook, what more could you ask for?
My friend won priority and as such deployed first. I always think it’s better to deploy second anyway. Sure you have to deal with the issue of your opponent orchestrating his attacks first but the tactical advantage of deploying your units to counter the ones already placed on the table more than makes up for it.
My friend (commanding the undead army) decided to deploy in two ranks, knowing that he could shield his weaker units at the back from my goblin archers. The first rank contained a skeleton regiment shoulder to shoulder with a zombie unit also of twenty models. Behind the zombies the ghouls stood and behind the skeletons a small unit of wraiths hid.
I only had three units to deploy and in hindsight I still managed to mess my deployment up. Directly opposite the zombies I placed the Goblin Archers, hoping that I could wear away at the shambling zombie horde before it could get into physical combat. Next to them I placed my unit of five Gore Riders, the fastest unit in my army, with charge bonuses and superior at outflanking, I stupidly placed them in the centre of my deployment zone. On the far edge (completing a shieldwall-esque formation) I placed a regiment of Ax Orcs to face off against the skeleton soldiers of the Undead.
As in most games, the first turn was rather a dull. A warm up for what was to come. The Undead with no ranged units had no option but to slug it across the field. Knowing that the zombies would cause me big trouble if they reached my goblin ranks, I decided to unleash a volley at them. Alas it only killed three, the Zombies passing a nerve test unfazed.
This turn went just as quick, or even faster, than the previous one. The Undead raced forward once more, my opponent making idle threats towards the treatment of my orcs once the undead were to get their claws on them. The ghouls moved from hiding behind the slowly dwindling zombies in order to seek refuge behind the Wraiths, creating an undead column of units. I responded once again with a volley of arrows towards the zombies. Unfortunately I must have caught the goblins sleeping as they only managed to fall one walking corpse.
At this point the game heated up. No longer were our forces simply running at one another or unleashing pot shots of arrows, the two sides were now in charging range. Wraiths charged the Orc Ax head on whilst their ghoulish comrades flanked right to help them attack next turn. In this brave charge the Wraith were unlucky, the Orcs held firm, the Wraiths slaying none. Knowing this would probably be their last chance to do so before the possibility of hand to hand combat, I ordered more arrows to be fired at the zombies. I wanted this unit to be as weak as possible when the time came to drop bows and draw daggers. With no negative modifiers, the Goblin Archers managed to slay 5 of the zombies (and so they should’ve at that range!) meaning only 11 of the troop of 20 remained. My Gore Riders, who had stood their ground idly, continued to do so to make sure they would be able to help either the Ax or archers should they need to.
With the game now over half way my, opponent who had contributed little to the battle other than many of his zombies to the afterlife (ironically!), was determined to cause my force some damage in return. The dice gods must have disagreed with this plan because when it came to the remaining Zombies making their charge move, they failed it. Almost feeling sorry for my adversary, I ordered my Goblin Archers to unleash another hail of arrows at the confused zombies. The casualties of this were great enough to drive the undead unit from the field, much to my opponent’s dismay. Although they want to make amends for their fallen comrades, the other undead units fared little better. The ghouls charged into the Orc Ax flank to join the wraiths already in combat with them. Unfortunately, between the units, they only managed to slay three Orcs and rather dismally the skeleton regiment of twenty soldiers, failed to kill a single Gore Rider. It was appearing that today would not be a day for the undead.
The penultimate turn was one of both extremes. Finally, the Undead force got into the game and the combined arms of the Wraiths and Ghouls managed to fell enough foes for the Orc Ax to flee the field. Arguably the strongest unit of the Orc army was removed from play in a devastating pincer move. The skeletons were not so successful in their efforts. Only removing one Gore Rider from play the unit then found itself on the receiving end of four angry ‘Gores’ and an entire unit of Goblin Archers. The combined effort of these two Orc forces only managed one Skeleton casualty but this was enough to prompt a moral test… on which was rolled a double six. A double six, for those who do not know, is the instant removal of the unit from play. It would be an understatement to say my opponent was angered.
Although it had appeared all game that the Orcs were annihilating the undead army, a quick scan of the battlefield proved otherwise. Both forces had only two units left and on stats alone the remaining undead units were decidedly more vicious. The final turn, although tense, proved to be rather anti-climactic. Both the wraiths and ghouls attacked the remaining Gore Riders but by some miracle managed to kill none. The Gores, countering, also managed to slay none of their foes. My friend and I were beginning to wonder if these dice were loaded. Both our rolls were coming up appallingly. One casualty came from the final turn. One! And that was caused by the plucky arrows of the Goblin Archers, whom were clearly the most impactful unit of the game.
Winner: Orcs win a close victory with a higher points value.
MVPs: Goblin Archers (decided by the both of us).
As we shook hands, my opponent and I both agreed just how fun the game was (even if the dice rolls were poor). The game didn’t last long; the whole thing was over in less than an hour. Based on my first game of Kings of War, I’d have to say it was a quick to learn, fast to play, and packed with intensity. Everything you want in a table-top game. The units included in the Kings of War starter set are incredibly well balance and the set itself is great value for money. I’d recommend this to everyone.
Thanks for reading the battle report from my first ever game of Kings of War, if you play the game or even own the starter set, I’d love to read your opinions on it in the comments below.
If you would like to write battle reports, reviews or anything else for Beasts of War then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
"...I wanted this unit to be as weak as possible when the time came to drop bows and draw daggers"
"My friend and I were beginning to wonder if these dice were loaded!"