“Hey James”, one might ask, “I know you’ve gone on at length about the background in the Kings of War rulebook, but is that really all that separates it from the free download? I’m a cold-hearted play-to-win strategist at heart, and all this talk of themes and inspiration does nothing for me.”

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This probably isn’t a realistic depiction of hardcore play-to-win types… probably.

Thanks, convenient hypothetical questioner. Although the two of us will never quite see eye to eye, you’ve raised an important point – Kings of War was indeed designed to be as competitiveness-friendly as possible! Its simple rule-set and fast pace make it ideal for league and tournament play. It’s also eminently portable; as single models are never removed as casualties, you can “multi-base” your models, sticking all ten or twenty or forty models onto a plastic tray so you don’t have to fiddle about putting each unit together when you get to the gaming table. During a tournament you can find your opponent, shake hands, exchange pleasantries (or veiled put-downs) and have your army on the field in no time at all.

Oh, and did I mention that the rulebook contains all the force lists you need? Okay, the Kings and Legends and Basilean Legacy supplements are adding extra material, but the eight armies in the rulebook are complete, fully fleshed-out with all their special rules, point costs and options. You won’t be lugging a suitcase full of flattened tree pulp to your next gaming event, that’s for certain.

Which, in turn, will reduce your chances of retaliation from a load of angry Elves.

Which, in turn, will reduce your chances of retaliation from a load of angry Elves.

If that’s not enough to quench your thirst for competitiveness, there’s the Advances Rules section in which you’ll find several optional rules that you can add to your games. First and foremost of these, and one which we use at our Clash of Kings tournaments, is the section on Timed Games.

As someone who’s run a gaming event or two in my time, time is your greatest enemy. No matter how carefully you plan your schedule, things will always run over. The Timed Games option goes a long way to solving this age-old problem by giving each player a set amount of time – usually an hour for a 2000 point game – to complete their six turns. Using a chess clock to keep track of things, each player must complete their turns within the given time limit or concede the game. Because only you can act in your turn, this system works amazingly well! As well as being a great organisational tool, this adds a lot to a regular one-on-one game, too. Suddenly each decision takes on new dimensions. Do you send your riders up the flank, or use them to support your main battle line in the centre? More importantly, how long can you afford to spend making the decision? That clock is ticking away and the only way to make it stop, to give you some respite, is to finish your turn and pass the buck to your opponent. Gamers of a sensitive disposition should beware!

Of course, the Advanced Rules section isn’t just for the competitive folk. Jake Thornton did us the honour of writing up plenty of extra rules for dangerous terrain, buildings, multi-player games and siege warfare. These rules can all be used together, separately or not at all – it’s a tool kit from which you can pick the parts that suit your gaming group. Finally, Jake’s included a full campaign system for linking your games. As well as rules, there’s a section on the whys and hows of running a campaign, reducing the number of surprises that can jump out at unwary organisers.

So there we go. Today, we’ve looked at the Kings of War hardback rulebook, and although I’m biased, I’m still going to say that I think it’s an absolute winner on multiple fronts, and well worth the £24.99 price tag. (Considerably more affordable than a lot of its rivals, as well!)

We’re only two days into Kings of War Week 2013, and there’s still loads to come. We’ve got a couple of behind-the-scenes videos (including the rumoured reappearance of Orcy!), some words from a few of the creative types behind the game’s design and production, and even our very first in-house Battle Report. Very exciting stuff! If you’ve got anything you want to add, if you think I’ve missed anything, or if you’re from Mattel and you’d like to question my use of a certain image in this blog post, head to the comments section!

Thanks for reading, guys. Stay tuned for the rest of KoWW2013 – you don’t want to miss what’s coming up!

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