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My friend and Scandinavia`s most active video blogger "Takras" brought a copy of Kill the King to our weekly gaming night (Alea Acta Est boardgame Club).
Setting up the game, I instantly recognized the DNA of this game. I am not sure if the designers by coincidence a kind of re-invented this, or they know their wargame history.
Back home I checked the highly recommended book War Games and their History (C.G. Lewis)
At first glance: This a typical pre Kriegspiel (1811)period type of game. The fort and board is almost identical to Fulke`s Metromachia siege game from 1578. I also recognized parts of Hellwig wargame from 1782.
Common for those games is the Chess paradigm rules. Units represents more authentic armies, and the board represent terrain, but it still a kind of chess.
But back to Kill the King.
One army must breach fort and kill the king by entering his building. Both armies are bought by spending points on units such as bowmen and cavalry. With a time limit of 11 rounds.
All units has simplified, but authentic movement and battle characteristics such as attack and defense values (varies from flank and rear)
One player moves all his units, then attack with them. You hit with a die roll lower than attack value. Then the defender roll a save roll to avoid the kill. Simple, but it works.
Entering by climbing or breaching the wall feels too easy. I really want to see a larger kill zone close to the gate.
The catapults are maybe too powerful, but they are very expensive to buy. Maybe a reload time could fix this, and I want to see pouring boiling oil from wall, hitting the attackers.
But all of this could of course end up with longer playing time. One hour is perfect this type of game.
Speeding up the game can be done by using 2D6 with the total average roll of 7 or lower to hit. Adding attack, subtracting defense to target value. With attack value of 3 and defense of 2, you need to roll lower than total 8 to hit.
Adding to the tension I like to see a kind of chit pull mechanism, or just roll a die for number of actions this turn. Each move or attack cost one action. Adding to tension could be a variable game end turn. But again, maybe this will add to playing time, which is perfect now.
What I like:
Quality, design and layout are just great.
Playing time -one hour (in our only one game).
Low complexity. You learn in minutes.
Adding replay-ability by buying units and Leader different abilities.
Bloody non paralysis analysis battles. Only a few men will reach the King.
Balance seems to be good. In our game the attacking guys was knocking on king`s door in the final round. And if necessary, it can be adjusted with buying points.
Dislike (or more correct, what I like to see adjusted):
It is old fashioned (not necessary a bad thing)
It lacks the final touch of modern design. A kind of Knizia or Mark Herman touch to it.
In short: the final WOW! factor is missing.
The rulebook must be re-written. This is according to Takras. I have not read them myself.
It is not on top of my wishlist. This is because I prefer longer and more complex wargames. The Gothic Invasion comes to my mind, with slightly more complex rules and playing time of 2 hours. As a two player filler game in general, there are better games out there.
You should check this out, if you want a wargame
a quick father son/daughter game. Easily adjusted handicap and very few rules.
Lunchtime at work or school.
Pub time with beer/whisky/gin tonic.
Thanks for reading!