Last night I met up with some new folks playing Kings of War. This game was written by Alessio Cavatore and published by Mantic. I'd been intrigued by it since it came out as it looked like a simpler alternative to Warhammer. The guys provided me with a mini rulebook and a few other documents to explain gameplay. I watched the last half of the game they were playing and asked questions as they arose in my little mind. When they were finished, Daron offered the use of one of his armies (he had brought 3) and I faced off against Ben - you know, just to get a feel for the game. I was pretty surprised - after a total of 1 1/2 turns and about 25 or 30 minutes, I had the game down. Simple. Fast. FUN. I am impressed by this system for several reasons:
1)You can have the rules down in less than one game. It's easy and fairly intuitive. There are only a few special rules and are pretty easy to remember.
2)If you've played miniatures games before, you probably already have an army you can use for KoW. The army composition/alliance rules are pretty relaxed. It's pretty much a bring what you've got sort of affair. If you are short of a particular unit type, you can just spread them out on the movement tray as it's the unit's footprint that counts rather than the number of models.
3)Mantic offers all of the rules and lists you need to play for FREE. Obviously it helps the company if you buy their models, rules, and supplements, but you can play your first game with zero expense.
So, based on the above, I will definitely be playing more of this game. I do have a few concerns/don't really like that part:
A. This game is so fast and simple, I'm not sure how much depth there is. There are a couple of published missions and a pretty good range of armies/unit types, but I don't know how many games can be played before it starts to feel repetitive. I'll probably have a better feel for this after a few more games.
B. When in close combat, only the attacking side can do damage. It is quite possible to destroy an enemy unit with only one charge and combat sequence where the charged unit never gets a chance to inflict any damage. So, the charged unit can be destroyed and the attacker finishes unscathed. Simple? Yes, but theoretically a single unit could defeat the entire opposing army without ever suffering a scratch. While it's not probable, it isn't hard to imagine a single unit destroying several enemy units without taking any damage. Additionally, if the defender survives the charge, the attacker is beaten off and must back off 1". The attacker still suffers no damage. The defender can then counter charge in his turn, but he is charging a fresh unit even though it had just been beaten off. This system does keep the rules to a minimum, but I'm not sure I like this particular aspect.
So, those are my initial thoughts after my first exposure to Kings of War. Overall, I really liked it and intend on playing more of it. I will wait to pass judgment on its longevity.