MANTIC: We’ve had two new armies for Kings of War in 2021 – the halflings and the Riftforged orcs. How different was it working on the Riftforged compared to the halflings?

Matt James: Both armies posed different challenges, with halflings it was literally creating a whole new list from the ground up, but with Riftforged orcs being a theme, it does need a different approach. For the new infantry we were told to make them better versions of existing orcs, yet not so good they couldn’t be taken in hordes, which pretty much decided on the statline for us – I was a bit worried about what we would have done if playtesting had shown them to be too good, because there wasn’t really anywhere else to go within the design parameters! Thankfully they turned out ok.

One thing we really wanted to do was to entice existing orc players to start getting some Riftforged orc units, so to do this we needed to achieve two things. Firstly, to make the new units available to Riftforged orcs exciting and offer something that regular orcs don’t, and second of all, allow players to bring their existing orc armies over (for the most part) and continue to run Unforged orcs, Morax, Gore Riders and other orc staples whilst gradually adding more Riftforged goodness!

MANTIC:  Is it more difficult when you’re creating a theme list, or does the fact you’ve got some units established already help to create the new units?

MJ: It’s a mixture really, established units are great because they don’t need to be built from the ground up, and therefore don’t require as much focus for playtesting. The negative is that sometimes an army may be better off with a more bespoke unit than one lifted from a parent list, so it can be like working with your hands tied on occasion.

MANTIC: How would you described their play style? I mean… it’s just hit stuff really hard, right?

MJ: Oh for sure! We wanted them to feel orcy whilst giving them some new tricks though, so these orcs have new ways to hit stuff really hard. You can play them in a variety of ways, you can still do the horde heavy builds one might associate with orcs, or to give just two examples, you could also go with lots of Helstrikers for a flying cav-centric build, or take some Ambrox for some long range shooting to soften up the enemy a bit before the orcs start hitting stuff. There are a lot more tools in this list, and we should see a variety of different, yet equally effective, Riftforged orc builds.

MANTIC:  Did the background lore affect the rules development?

MJ: Yes, we always try and make sure the background and rules tie up together as much as possible. One thing in the initial brief was that these orcs have magic that centres around lightning, however we didn’t feel that giving orcs a ton of lightning bolt would be a good play experience. You’d be getting shot to pieces before running into a wall of infantry with defence 5+ and good melee stats! With that in mind we started to think about how the lightning could be used to power up nearby orcs, or use it as a justification to give a unit Cloak of Death, rather than just using it a projectile.

MANTIC: How different are the Riftforged compared to the standard orc list?

MJ: I’ve always felt like regular orcs have always been a bit of a one trick pony, meaning that whilst they have some good units and army builds, they’re a little limited in terms of diversity. As previously mentioned, Riftforged orcs get a number of new unit types that will really help in that regard.

MANTIC: Are there any key units that people should watch out for? Any that you think will become particularly popular?

MJ: Helstrikers will probably be quite popular. Orcs haven’t had any access to flying cavalry before so for orc players it’ll be something unique to paint and play, regardless of whether it’s any good or not. The Reborn Legionaries will be pretty popular too I’d imagine, though they are an infantry unit and thus not too flashy, they do come with inspiring which may help the army unlock some interesting monsters and heroes, so expect to see a good number of Riftforged orc lists containing a unit or two.

MANTIC: What’s your favourite unit?

MJ: I really like the Riftforger hero. He’s got the ability to cast Host Shadowbeast on himself, even whilst engaged. It just feels really orcy to declare a charge, and then cast a spell which boosts your own attacks! But there are loads of units I like in the new list and I can’t wait to get my orcs back out, add some reinforcements from the Rift and prove to Rob Burman once and for all that orcs are better than goblins.

This bumper edition of Mantic’s annual Kings of War update introduces two brand new army lists, a campaign with new scenarios, and a raft of new background information, new maps and artwork. Learn all about the halflings and the new army created by the Wicked Ones, harnessing the power of Halpi’s Rift.

The annual game updates bring a slew of changes to all existing armies, plus new magic, heroes and artefacts to deliver a big and exciting update to the game for the coming year.

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