In our first beginner’s guide to Kings of War: Third Edition, we gave a high level view of the rules and how the game plays. So, after starting out, we know that many of you will then be deciding what army you should play! We know that sometimes this decision is based on looks, while other times it’s based on your style of play.

With that in mind, we’ve produced this guide to the 14 Kings of War armies in the core rulebook – which explains the background behind each army, how they play and the sort of units you’ll encounter. This is a handy reference for those just beginning their Kings of War journey.

BASILEANS (ALIGNMENT: GOOD)

Background

Basilea’s wealth means that its footsoldiers march to war clad in the finest plate and bearing the very best weapons that money can buy. Vast armies of them march to protect its borders. Bolstered by the elite religious warriors of the paladins on foot and atop mighty warhorses, and the fanatical sisterhood. The pious warriors of Basilea march to war with the power of the gods at their backs. Angelic Elohi soar high above the battlefield, while the warrior-monks of the Paladins use their divine magic to heal the wounded and smite the wicked.

How do they play?

The Basilean list is very flexible and armies can be constructed with very different themes and purpose. The army is excellent at healing and removing damage inflicted on it and has some very fast and hard hitting units to pick from. The army is not very impressive in terms of ranged combat however, preferring to deliver the Basilean message to non-believers face-to-face. Statlines are middling as you’d expect for humans, but they are somewhat braver than their Kingdoms of Men counterparts.

What’s in the army?

Blocks of Men-at-arms are accompanied by paladin knights on foot or on mounted warhorses. The Basilean Sisterhood can be represented on foot or as light cavalry on their speedy panthers and chariots. Flying high above the army, the angelic and awesome Elohi are ready to sweep down and purge the unworthy from the world. The majestic phoenix is a nice Titan choice and the hero options are powerful with High Paladins, War-wizards and Ur-Elohi.

DWARFS (ALIGNMENT: GOOD)

Background

Short in stature but as unyielding as the mountains themselves, the Dwarfs are a proud and noble people who attach a great deal of importance to heritage and custom. It is a naïve opponent indeed who does not acknowledge the Dwarf talents for war.When a Dwarf Hold goes to war, there are few who can stand against it. Huge artillery pieces and legions of sharpshooters whittle away at the foe from range, before ranks of doughty warriors and frenzied berserkers fall on the remainder and smash them apart. When the Dwarfs go to war, they do so to win.

How do they play?

The dwarf army is typically stubborn and solid, as is their nature. Masters of engineering, they have a plethora of black-powder weaponry with which to batter their enemies from range (or in the case of the flamebelcher, close up). While the core of the army is slow moving, they can surprise their opponents by unleashing the fast-moving cavalry that nobody expects… angry badgers! They also have some high defence on a number of units, with entries like the Earth Elementals Ironguard both having 6+, meaning that can take a number of hits before being routed.

What’s in the army?

A solid core of one and two handed hammer units can be bolstered with spear wielding Bulwarkers. The Ironwatch can cover the slow advance or sturdy defensive line with crossbows and rifles, while the cannon and flame throwers unleash their destruction from the rear. The last thing many an opponent has seen is the glowing eyes of the earth elementals or the lethal claws and frenzied assault of the berserker brock riders. That’s right: mad dwarfs riding angry badgers!

ELVES (ALIGNMENT: GOOD)

Background

One of the oldest of the civilised races, the Elves have mastered warfare as they have every other pastime to which they turn their minds. Elves rarely take to the field in great numbers, but when they do their victory is all but assured. Swift cavalry, mercilessly drilled infantry and uncannily accurate artillery combine to wipe their foes from existence in short order.

How do they play?

The elf army is an Elite one, so it’s probably no surprise most units have the Elite special rule (in Melee and Ranged). The basic elf statline is above the norm and the average unit will be able to go toe-to-toe with most enemy units. They can field a formidable bowline as well as a solid defence of spears. They have some excellent hitting power in the shape of their cavalry and flying options. The downside is that they are expensive and a typical elf army will have less units on the table than their opponents, which can make it tougher to capture and keep objectives.

What’s in the army?

Elven scouts, bowmen and spear units form the army core. Stormwind heavy and Drakon flying cavalry options. Palace Guard are hard-hitting combat specialists and you have access to Sylvan Kin, Forest Shamblers and Treemen too if you want an arboreal flavour. There are good hero options with the Mage Queen providing solid magic support while the lord on dragon provides for a lethal, if expensive, punch to the army.

NORTHERN ALLIANCE (ALIGNMENT: GOOD)

Background

Far away from the eyes of Basilea, the halls of the Dwarves or the Kingdoms of Men, the Winterlands are an almost forgotten part of Pannithor. It is a land blasted by chill winds and carved from ice. For most of history it has remained hidden but now stories are drifting south of an alliance of men, Elves and other creatures that could rival even the greatest powers in Pannithor. Led by a mysterious exiled prince, the Northern Alliance are a chill wind to any that get in their way.

How do they play?

The Northern Alliance is a new army for Kings of War: Third Edition and they have a great range of unit options. Many – like the Clansmen and Huscarls – have the Wild Charge ability. This is a new ability that gives a unit an extra inch or three on a charge into combat. This is great for breaking stalemates between units staying out of charging range. What’s more, if you’re not charging into combat, the Northern Alliance has the ability to freeze enemies in their tracks by slowing them down with things like Ice-Tipped Arrows or Icy Breath. This means you’ll have the upper hand if you’re racing to objectives.

What’s in the army?

In the army you’ll find a mix of different races, from the human clansmen to Ice Naiads, elves, wolves and lots more. The core of the army is made up of the clansmen – decent melee fighters with the option for two-handed weapons. Meanwhile, units like the Tundra Wolves give the Northern Alliance a speedy cavalry-esque option, while the Frostfang Cavalry is Large Cavalry that hits like a tonne of frosty bricks.

FORCES OF NATURE (ALIGNMENT: NEUTRAL)

Background

Druids commune with the very energies of nature, commanding its raw power and the respect of the creatures of the forests and wild places of Pannithor. When the balance of the world is truly threatened, the Druids call upon all manner of creatures to protect it. From the vicious Salamanders to the lumbering Forest Shamblers, all answer the call. The ground shakes and the forests heave as the Forces of Nature march to war.

How do they play?

This is a very varied army and can have quite different play styles depending on the units you chose. You can have a fast army of trees that launch themselves forward before the game begins, a plodding army of elementals, or you focus on infantry and cavalry options. Interestingly it doesn’t have big combat characters – instead the focus is on spell-casting druids which have the Surge spell and like the Undead, can use it on their shambling minions.

What’s in the army?

Starting with tough Elementals, (fire, air, earth and water) they share Hunter of the Wild, Forest Shamblers and Treemen with the elf army, but they are better here with the powerful druids to back them up. There are fast Unicorn’s, Beasts of Nature and Centaurs who move fast and hit hard. The mix continues with Naiads, Sylphs and Salamanders: a truly varied army of the four elements, fairy creatures and the power of nature, it allows the imagination to run… wild.

OGRES (ALIGNMENT: NEUTRAL)

Background

Ogres are mercenaries, happy to sell their skills to the highest bidder. Huge, powerful creatures that might almost have been purpose-bred for war, few races can match them for sheer belligerent power and endurance, and many a war has been won by the side that hired the most. When Ogres do unite into larger War Parties, it is a rare thing indeed. There is no record of an army ever holding fast against them and scholars debate long into the night as to whether this is because Ogres have so rarely united in force, or because no opposition has ever survived to tell the tale.

How do they play?

The army has a low model count and often has fewer units on the table than their opponent. To compensate however, Red Goblin units are available for bulking out the army with smaller rabble but also giving the army excellent speed and a dastardly weapon in the less-than-subtle Blaster. While some ogres carry heavy ranged weapons, as a species they excel at combat, even more so than the orcs. A charge from an ogre regiment (or horde!) is likely to result in a bloody mess for their opponents. Chariots are an option for both ogre warriors and heroes, adding to their punch. The ogre army is difficult to master for new players but once you have learnt to manage its strengths and weaknesses, it can be a formidable proposition to face.

What’s in the army?

Ogre warriors will be the mainstay of the army, supported by units with either heavy crossbows or blunderbusses. Siege Breakers can make a solid defensive block with a lethal punch. Chariot units provide some speed and an extra crunch but the most manoeuvrable units are the Red Goblin Scouts on fleabags. Some additional, weak ranged attacks are available from red goblins armed with bows and ogre warlocks are often accompanied by their followers, the Berserker Braves. The red goblin Blaster is about as blunt an instrument of destruction as you can find and the army is commanded by fierce ogre sergeants and the infamous leader Grokagamok.

THE TRIDENT REALM OF NERITICA (ALIGNMENT: NEUTRAL)

Background

When the Trident Realms stir the very seas boil – storms rage, waves crash upon coastlines and the tides rise only to retreat, revealing the Neritican host, water cascading off shells and armour and ready for war. The Trident Realms are proud and territorial, and can commit to violence with little provocation. The lord of any land-bound territory would be wise to treat their inlets and coasts cautiously, lest they stir the fierce Neriticans who claim them as their own.

How do they play?

Regeneration, Ensnare, and Pathfinder are the traits that best embody the core of the army. You will find terrain to be your greatest ally, often times combining ensnare to make landing a blow nearly impossible … And once locked into combat the flanks are quickly washed over by surging water elementals or invisible ninja frogs. A general able to properly command these units is truly a “hard shell to crack”. When all else fails RELEASE THE KRAKEN and send your foes to the depths!

What’s in the army?

The Trident Realm of Neritica is most unlike any of the other realms of Panithor. Composed of many races which come together under a single united banner in times of war or strife. All sorts of mutated frogs and fish men can be found mingled with Naiads, Thuul, and water spirits. The mixed races within the realm bring forth an extensive option of how to best ensnare one’s foe to be dragged to their demise.

ABYSSAL DWARFS (ALIGNMENT: EVIL)

Background

Twisted, evil parodies of their mountain-dwelling brethren. The Abyssal Dwarfs make use of slaves to bolster their numbers, and dark technologies to rain fire and destruction on their foes. When the hordes of Tragar march forth, the world trembles before them. The ground shudders under the march of thousands of slaves and soldiers, and the air shivers with the sound of arcane weaponry and dark sorcery.

How do they play?

The Abyssal Dwarfs are the wicked and malevolent take on their dwarf cousins. The core units are comparable with the dwarfs and are as slow moving, but players have access to the winged nuisances that are gargoyles and also fast-moving cavalry in the form of Abyssal Halfbreeds (part dwarf, part… thing). The army has a different take on black-powder weaponry, favouring mortars and blast weaponry over more direct cannon fire. The impressive golems can form an implacable line to provide solidity and stopping power. Units in the army are typically Vicious, which means they re-roll 1s when wounding a unit. Nasty stuff!

What’s in the army?

Blacksouls, Immortal Guard and Decimators shape the army core and make for a typically stubborn dwarvern battle line. The Decimators are deadly at short range with their Thunderpipes – if they can get into position. Abyssal Berserkers and Slave Orc units are slightly faster units that can be a first wave or counter attacking element. Lesser Obsidian Golems, Gargoyles and Abyssal Halfbreeds give the player options on how the army should behave and be themed. A would-be Abyssal Dwarf player is spoilt for choice with three different types of mortar and a flame-thrower to choose from. Heroes are pretty decent with some good hitting power, flying options and magic too.

EMPIRE OF DUST (ALIGNMENT: EVIL)

Background

An ancient empire punished for its hubris and fall into chaos. The cursed peoples of the Ahmunites are now a nightmare that haunt the parched, unforgiving lands of the south. Stripped of their power and life by the Ophidians and cursed for all time, the Ahmunite empire wages a vengeful war on both the living and dead alike. Fuelled by hatred and compelled by sinister necromancy, the ranks of the Ahmunites march relentlessly across the scorched earth.

How do they play?

The Empire of Dust typically fights with combined arms, setting a battle line bolstered with unholy healing while bow, crossbow, and catapult fire rain down on the enemy. Finally, surging forward with dark magic, the Ahmunite forces crash into what remains of the enemy, finishing them off and absorbing what little life essence is left into their own.

What’s in the army?

Led by their mighty pharaohs and cursed high priests, the undying legions of skeletons are raised into undead service on foot, undead horse, and chariot. In addition, the undead cursed high priests have used their twisted dark magic to capture djinns into animated statues to fight alongside the skeletal hordes, and have even raised the corpses of giants and wyrms under their eternal undead service. (Marc Taylor)

FORCES OF THE ABYSS (ALIGNMENT: EVIL)

Background

The Abyss is a strange other-realm, populated by wicked creatures locked in an eternal battle with each other. Whenever they are directed to fight the outside world, it is a time of woe for all civilised races, for the Abyssals recognise no allies. Mass incursions of the forces of the Abyss are thankfully rare, for when they do happen, the suffering is terrible. Pouring forth in waves of demonic creatures on foot and in the air, an Abyssal horde may only ever be stopped at great cost and after much bloodshed.

How do they play?

This is a horde army which allows large numbers of Abyssals out of the pit onto the battlefield! The army can take plenty of punishment and keep going thanks to a lot of units having the Fury rule. This allows them to always counter charge, even when wavered – so you can exact immediate retribution. What’s more, entries such as the Lower Abyssals, Flamebearers and Molochs all have regeneration, which allows them to heal wounds previously suffered. This makes it very tough to break up Hordes because they can keep healing wounds and have high nerve. What’s more, the army contains many fast units with a focus on melee combat, supported by flamebolt casting units and powerful champions and monsters.

What’s in the army?

There are the leering legions of Lower Abyssals, Flamebearers, Succubi and other creepy demonic monstrosities. Winged gargoyles flap above in the skies while huge ogre-like demons known as Molochs march amongst the throng. Abyssal horsemen thunder towards the enemy as snarling hellhounds menace the enemy flanks. Meanwhile Efreets, Temptresses and Archfiends lead the army to war, while the Warlock casts spells over the head of troops.

GOBLINS (ALIGNMENT: EVIL)

Background

Small, unpleasant and spiteful, Goblins are often written off by those who know no better as simply the weaker serving class of the Orc race. In fact, Goblins are utterly separate from Orcs, being not only smaller and less imposing but also far cleverer and more dextrous. They might not beat you in a straight fight, but to underestimate even a small force of Goblins would be a grave mistake. The only thing more dangerous than a small Goblin army is a Goblin horde. When a Biggit gets important enough to rally hundreds of Goblins to his banner, he becomes a force to be reckoned with, their numbers serving to offset their natural cowardice as well as overwhelm the enemy under a swarming tide of vicious, stabby little bodies.

How do they play?

Goblins are the eponymous and classic horde army. “The goblin horde” can refer to the entire army and also the typical unit size players will field. What goblins lack in strength and bravery, they more than make up for in sheer numbers. That’s not to say they do not lack a bite however. Giants and trolls are often lured into joining the tide of goblin warriors while fleabags and mawbeats are goaded into fighting or being ridden into battle. Strange contraptions like the Mincer can also prove a deadly addition to their ranks, while the unreliable Big Rocks Thrower can soften up enemies before they’re charged. A goblin player is expecting numbers to win them the day (with the odd rock chucked in from a safe distance for good measure).

What’s in the army?

The usual goblin rabble armed with a variety of pointy weapons form the heart of any army in large blocks of sneaky, skittish warriors. Ponderous but solid trolls and giants make their way between the ranks (probably unaware of what they trample underfoot) while down the flanks, the lightning fast fleabag riders and mawbeast packs rush forwards to harass the enemy and throw them off balance. The goblins have access to some crafty war engines like the short range war-trombone and the aptly named Mincer. Nerve is a big problem for goblins (as in they lack it) but they have cheap Inspiring options, like the Flaggit and Biggit.

NIGHTSTALKERS (ALIGNMENT: EVIL)

Background

The Nightstalkers are the dreams, nightmares, fears, and horrors of mortals made manifest. Although their incursions into our realm are thankfully rare, the devastation caused by such events is absolute on both a physical and emotional level. When the power of the Abyss waxes strong, large forces of Nightstalkers tear their way into reality. Mewling, skittering hordes advance, led by ancient cyclopean beings from the darkest depths of existence. Survivors of such attacks are rare and all who do escape lose their minds and souls forever.

How do they play?

Nightstalkers are the nightmares of Pannithor brought to life and, as a result, they prey on the fear of their victims. Across the army you’ll find an interesting ability called Mindthirst. Unlike normal armies, which require their own heroes to provide sources of Inspiring, Nightstalkers steal it from their enemy. This means you’ll want to get up close and personal early in the game. The majority of the Nightstalkers are also Stealthy. This means that enemy ranged units will be at -1 to hit their intended target. This really helps to ensure the Nightstalkers are effective against shooting-heavy or war engine focused armies because their ethereal bodies are too hard to hit!

What’s in the army?

The core unit for the Nightstalkers is the spooky Scarecrows. They’re quite slow (at speed 4) but have the Wild Charge (D3) ability for when they finally get into charge range. While the Scarecrows are lumbering across the battlefield, the fast-paced Reapers get their quickly and cause havoc. Phantoms are terrifying ghosts that can fly above the battlefield to disrupt enemy lines and Spectres are able to shoot Shadowbolts from their ethereal tentacles. Butchers are the big-hitters of the Nightstalkers, while Shadowhounds are a speedy unit with plenty of bite! They’re all joined by massive Titans, like the Terror and Shadow-hulk, which are also Stealthy (despite their massive size).

ORCS (ALIGNMENT: EVIL)

Background

Orcs live for war in a quite literal sense, having been bred for that very purpose by the machinations of an evil god. Over the centuries, they have developed neither culture nor civilisation, busy as they are locked in eternal battle with anything in reach, including each other. Orcs thankfully spend so much time fighting each other that they rarely gather in enough force to truly threaten the civilised races of the world. When such a gathering does occur though, it is nigh unstoppable.

How do they play?

Often described as the “glass hammer” army, orcs hit like a ton of bricks but their lower than average Nerve values means units are vulnerable. No matter, there are usually plenty more following in after the carnage wrought from the first wave! Orcs are combat brutes, typically having an excellent Me score and Crushing Strength. They have minimal ranged attacks though and no war engines. Orcs don’t shoot stuff if they can chase it down – which is far more fun and satisfying.

What’s in the army?

Lots and lots of Axes. And then there are the axes. They come in all shapes and sizes, Ax, Greatax, Youngax, Longax and Morax (can you guess what this unit has more of!?). Lumbering alongside the Ax units are giants and mobs of trolls while pesky, vicious packs of orclings get under the feet of everyone. War Drums help to overcome the orcs’ low nerve value and can help spread Dread among enemies. Out ahead, the weedy skulks offer the only ranged option for the army while the Gore Riders and chariots bide their time, waiting for the optimal moment to charge. Fight Wagons are a fast moving Morax delivery system designed to carry the greenskins into the heart of the enemy, and spurring the whole army on are the Krudgers, the orc bosses riding their awesome and terrifying Slashers.

UNDEAD (ALIGNMENT: EVIL)

Background

The dead do not rest easy in Pannithor, for there are those who would use them as macabre puppets to fulfil their own mortal ends. Skeletal foot troops and cavalry shamble onwards in a relentless tide, overwhelming any who stand in their path. Even the bravest of men will blanch in terror at the sight of an Undead horde. Legions of foulness advance in horrifying silence, destroying all that they see before them without mercy or restraint. And then, the greatest horror of all, the recently dead rise up on the invisible strings of their necromantic masters to turn on those they called friends and comrades.

How do they play?

The undead are a surprising mix of unit types; some the traditional shambling hordes and others an unexpected, fast hitting and very nimble but important part of the list. The options available mean that whether you choose a slow-moving mass, a lightning fast host or a balanced mix, you opponent will know they are in for a real fight. Tricks up the army’s sleeve include the ability to recover damage in melee and for the Necromancers and dark magic users to pull off devious charges using the Surge spell. The slow-moving units with the Shambling rule compensate by ignoring wavering results – they are either destroyed or keep going, there’s nothing in between.

What’s in the army?

The classic skeleton, zombie and ghoul units are all present as well as powerful mummies and wights. Fast options are ethereal wraiths, the formidable werewolf units and two cavalry options. Ranged firepower is limited but most armies will field the trust balefire catapult. Vampires, Revenant Kings and Necromancers are all hero choices.

 

Welcome to Kings of War, and prepare to rally your forces to fight epic battles in the best and biggest fantasy mass-battle game. Choose your side and then command an army of Mantic miniatures to represent incredible armies such as the stoic and pious Basileans, or plot your opponent’s downfall with the wicked forces of the Abyss. With a huge variety of models and armies to choose from and many stories to tell, Kings of War is truly an amazing experience

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The Nightstalkers have come. Having slithered past the Northern Alliance’s defences, an army now marches towards the fortress city of Chill with a terrible, insatiable hunger. The desperate patrols of the Northern Alliance must hold them back at all costs, or risk losing their homelands and the secret at the heart of the city that they have sworn to protect.

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