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Subject: Warhammer AoS vs Kings of War rss

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Chris Marlow
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With points, and army structure now returned, I thought it might be interesting to compare the Warhammer AoS system with the present version of Kings of War.

KOW Good points:

Very clean, streamlined rules, optimised for large battles.
Flank and rear attack tactics possible.
Rank & File format units easy to move using movement trays.
Very clear Line of Sight rules.
Less extreme Heroes.
Classic Fantasy types, can use a wide range of models. Mantic models are good quality and value.

Not so good :

Fixed Charge range, and no simultaneous melee combat, gives too much advantage to Chargers.
Nothing to do during opponent's turn. (No armour saves, morale checks, or spell unbinding attempts.)
Damage marker system is probably better suited to smaller models. (10mm rather than 28mm)
Rank and File units more difficult to use with interesting terrain.
The Mantica World is not as good a game setting as the Warhammer Old World.

Warhammer AoS Good points :

Streamlined rules, though not so clean as KOW.
Skirmish format units work well with terrain. Also, better for smaller battles.
Armour saves, morale checks, and Spell unbinding give involvement during opponent's turn.
Variable Charge range.
Models themselves used to show damage, more natural for 28mm. I feel.
Outstanding models.

Not so good :

Skirmish units tedious to move in really big battles.
No Flank or Rear attacks.
Still no truly simultaneous melee combat. (Alternating activation during melee phase is a step in the right direction though.)
Overpowered Heroes.
Ambiguous Line of Sight rules.
Realms setting is not as good as the Warhammer Old World.
Expensive models.


Conclusion

These systems have a great deal in common, fixed roll to hit, and roll to wound for example, also very similar, streamlined magic rules.
However, for anything except really huge battles, the latest version of WHFB is now my favourite system for 28mm fantasy.
Sadly, 2nd edition KOW failed to address the relatively small number of weaknesses in the system. For me personally, the predictable Charge distance is a complete show-stopper. Combined with the very necessary allowance of free measurement, this gives a horribly contrived situation of people halting just outside charge range, or setting up bait units, and domino series of charges - yeauch
Ironically, neither system is now set in a rich, intriguing game world, though the Generals Handbook does have the stats to keep you fighting in the Old World if you wish.
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Lance
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I haven't looked over the 2 pages of AoS rules since it came out, but how is the model used to represent the damage? Do you just smash at it a bit to show it is knocked about?

I don't think a comparison between AoS and KoW will ever give much more of an answer over whether you like big army battles or skirmish battles. They each target different ends of that spectrum. KoW wants large units moving in blocks. AoS wants super powerful heroes in really expensive models.

The fact the opponent doesn't do anything during your turn in KoW is by design to support clocks at tournament play. There is little need for one person over another to roll a die beyond feeling you had some hand in the randomness that results. The more relaxed play design goal of AoS, and the fact it still has to feel familiar enough to Warhammer players, means you weren't going to lose making saves or other dice rolls in your opponents turn.

As for the fixed charge range in Kings of War, yes, you do know if you move somewhere you'll be hit, but then all you have to do is line up another unit so that it would get a flank charge on the attacker and you'll see them hesitate from the gimme charge you set up. Random charges can let chance take over from tactics, but they do give you great talking points afterwards when you talk about the 12" super charge or the massive unit that just couldn't even limp into the opponent.

In both cases you are right that the Old World is the best fleshed out game setting. You'd hope so after decades of development.

For the record, I like Kings of War and have played since 1st ed (when it was broken for artillery and cavalry - and artillery still needs fixes). I looked over AoS but didn't see much in it to excite me compared to any other skirmish system I play and haven't looked at it since.
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Chris Marlow
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EyeLost wrote:
I haven't looked over the 2 pages of AoS rules since it came out, but how is the model used to represent the damage? Do you just smash at it a bit to show it is knocked about?

I don't think a comparison between AoS and KoW will ever give much more of an answer over whether you like big army battles or skirmish battles. They each target different ends of that spectrum. KoW wants large units moving in blocks. AoS wants super powerful heroes in really expensive models.

The fact the opponent doesn't do anything during your turn in KoW is by design to support clocks at tournament play. There is little need for one person over another to roll a die beyond feeling you had some hand in the randomness that results. The more relaxed play design goal of AoS, and the fact it still has to feel familiar enough to Warhammer players, means you weren't going to lose making saves or other dice rolls in your opponents turn.

As for the fixed charge range in Kings of War, yes, you do know if you move somewhere you'll be hit, but then all you have to do is line up another unit so that it would get a flank charge on the attacker and you'll see them hesitate from the gimme charge you set up. Random charges can let chance take over from tactics, but they do give you great talking points afterwards when you talk about the 12" super charge or the massive unit that just couldn't even limp into the opponent.

In both cases you are right that the Old World is the best fleshed out game setting. You'd hope so after decades of development.


The models in WHFB are individually removed from play to show the casualties the unit has taken, as in 40K, and other 28mm games.

I absolutely agree that the choice between the two systems comes down to personal preference, it's great that we have two such excellent games to choose from isn't it .
On the subject of variable charge range, you are right of course - rolling 2D6 is too much variability Often gives the bizzare situation of a unit charging less than their normal move.
I didn't mention it in the review, but everyone I know plays the House Rule of Unit speed plus 1D6. This works beautifully, making cavalry and other faster units better in the charge than the footsloggers, as it should be. Yet still gives enough unpredictability to stop the beardyness of fixed charges.


(I see you are a Dust fan like me, what are your thoughts on using alternating unit activation in a Fantasy Battle game?)
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Lance
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marlowc wrote:
what are your thoughts on using alternating unit activation in a Fantasy Battle game?


I think alternating activation is fantastic at a small scale conflict. It does turn a game into one of lots of responses (e.g. They moved something, I have to something with this thing before that next something activates and destroys it). It's an engaging and dramatic way of playing a game - however because there is so much responding to the enemy actions a grand strategy is hard to form and play.

For big fantasy battles I feel the full turn IGOUGO works great as it lets you direct a strategy across the battlefield without it always being interrupted. Any really grand scale combat should play out in this manner to give you the feeling of control at a level above the combat.

Both styles are of course great and appropriate for different games. For King of War and Age of Sigmar the alternating turns gives you the feel of grand army control, with Dust the alternating activation gives you the feel of the chaos of a small level engagement (despite however many units you are actually using).
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Chris Marlow
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EyeLost wrote:
marlowc wrote:
what are your thoughts on using alternating unit activation in a Fantasy Battle game?


I think alternating activation is fantastic at a small scale conflict. It does turn a game into one of lots of responses (e.g. They moved something, I have to something with this thing before that next something activates and destroys it). It's an engaging and dramatic way of playing a game - however because there is so much responding to the enemy actions a grand strategy is hard to form and play.

For big fantasy battles I feel the full turn IGOUGO works great as it lets you direct a strategy across the battlefield without it always being interrupted. Any really grand scale combat should play out in this manner to give you the feeling of control at a level above the combat.

Both styles are of course great and appropriate for different games. For King of War and Age of Sigmar the alternating turns gives you the feel of grand army control, with Dust the alternating activation gives you the feel of the chaos of a small level engagement (despite however many units you are actually using).


I think you've hit the nail on the head here. I really enjoy the AA system of games like Dust, but you definitely lose the sense of wielding a large cohesive force. The grand sweep of battle strategy seems lacking, even if you are in fact controlling large forces.
 
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D. Patton
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marlowc wrote:
....the Generals Handbook does have the stats to keep you fighting in the Old World if you wish.


For those who don't want/can't buy the General's Handbook, you can still play in the Old World using AoS rules and warscrolls for 'classic' armies including the now OOP, model-wise, Tomb Kings and Bretonnians. You won't have points value or a force organization stricture so you'll have to talk with your opponent about setting up the game, terrain, mission, etc. On the other hand, the rules and warscrolls are free for PDF download direct from GW.

On your downside of KoW and fixed charges, wasn't fixed charge range 'a thing' for WFB up until 8th edition? I played 7th a ton but could have sworn it was a fixed 6" charge. But then I could be thinking of 3rd edition 40k.
 
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Chris Marlow
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privateer4hire wrote:
marlowc wrote:
....the Generals Handbook does have the stats to keep you fighting in the Old World if you wish.


For those who don't want/can't buy the General's Handbook, you can still play in the Old World using AoS rules and warscrolls for 'classic' armies including the now OOP, model-wise, Tomb Kings and Bretonnians. You won't have points value or a force organization stricture so you'll have to talk with your opponent about setting up the game, terrain, mission, etc. On the other hand, the rules and warscrolls are free for PDF download direct from GW.

On your downside of KoW and fixed charges, wasn't fixed charge range 'a thing' for WFB up until 8th edition? I played 7th a ton but could have sworn it was a fixed 6" charge. But then I could be thinking of 3rd edition 40k.


The Generals Handbook is only £15, which is outstanding value for GW. Two thirds of the book is hopelessly idealistic waffle about open/narrative play, and campaigns - written by Jervis I suspect. However, the points values, and army structure part is well worth the money I believe.

Yes, fixed charge range was a part of the earlier WHFB however, both it and 40K have now gone to variable charges. As I mentioned earlier 2D6 is not good, and I don't know anybody who uses it, unit speed plus 1D6 is the best way to go.
 
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Jon M
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EyeLost wrote:
marlowc wrote:
what are your thoughts on using alternating unit activation in a Fantasy Battle game?


I think alternating activation is fantastic at a small scale conflict. It does turn a game into one of lots of responses (e.g. They moved something, I have to something with this thing before that next something activates and destroys it). It's an engaging and dramatic way of playing a game - however because there is so much responding to the enemy actions a grand strategy is hard to form and play.

For big fantasy battles I feel the full turn IGOUGO works great as it lets you direct a strategy across the battlefield without it always being interrupted. Any really grand scale combat should play out in this manner to give you the feeling of control at a level above the combat.

Both styles are of course great and appropriate for different games. For King of War and Age of Sigmar the alternating turns gives you the feel of grand army control, with Dust the alternating activation gives you the feel of the chaos of a small level engagement (despite however many units you are actually using).


But there are many more options compared to IGOUGO or alternating units. Some have some kind of push your luck mechanic or uncertainty in activation. eg rolling activations ala Songs of Blades and Heroes where the more you try to do with a unit the more chance of a turn over.

Dragon Rampant has another good mechanic. Each unit must test to activate with units being better and worse at different things (eg berserkers are good at attacking, scouts are good at moving). If a unit fails you hand over to the opponent.

Action tokens or command points are another way of reflecting command and control. Only a limited number of units can activate but you get to choose which.

The Command and Colours series is yet another way. The battlefield is split into left, centre and right with cards drawn that allow you to activate units in particular sections of the battelfield or to do particular things. So hand management and make up of the command deck reflect how easy or hard your units are to control.

Another is the use of command dice. Roll a handfull of dice and activate commands or units depending upon the results (eg Chain of Command). Sharpe Practice has yet another way with Chit Draw. It gives random activation but better led armies are easier to activate (get more chits and can do more with them)

All of these methods give you a certain amount of chaos but also a certain amount of control. They also generally give more interesting activation decisions and keep players engaged in the opponents turn OR keep turns shorter so you don't have long stretches of down time. The curse of Warhammer is the half hour turn where all you do is roll a few dice in close combat or the odd saving throw. You may as well not be there for all the decisions you get to make in that period.
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Chris Marlow
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Jon_1066 wrote:


But there are many more options compared to IGOUGO or alternating units. Some have some kind of push your luck mechanic or uncertainty in activation. eg rolling activations ala Songs of Blades and Heroes where the more you try to do with a unit the more chance of a turn over.

Dragon Rampant has another good mechanic. Each unit must test to activate with units being better and worse at different things (eg berserkers are good at attacking, scouts are good at moving). If a unit fails you hand over to the opponent.

Action tokens or command points are another way of reflecting command and control. Only a limited number of units can activate but you get to choose which.

The Command and Colours series is yet another way. The battlefield is split into left, centre and right with cards drawn that allow you to activate units in particular sections of the battelfield or to do particular things. So hand management and make up of the command deck reflect how easy or hard your units are to control.

Another is the use of command dice. Roll a handfull of dice and activate commands or units depending upon the results (eg Chain of Command). Sharpe Practice has yet another way with Chit Draw. It gives random activation but better led armies are easier to activate (get more chits and can do more with them)

All of these methods give you a certain amount of chaos but also a certain amount of control. They also generally give more interesting activation decisions and keep players engaged in the opponents turn OR keep turns shorter so you don't have long stretches of down time. The curse of Warhammer is the half hour turn where all you do is roll a few dice in close combat or the odd saving throw. You may as well not be there for all the decisions you get to make in that period.


These other methods sound very interesting, and most of them are new to me, but are they not all just variations of the basic alternating activation system?
I'm sure they will all produce tense, exciting battles full of action and reaction. But won't they also lose the sense of wielding a grand, unified force that makes fielding your much loved army in a Warhammer type game so satisfying?
 
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Jon_1066 wrote:

But there are many more options compared to IGOUGO or alternating units. Some have some kind of push your luck mechanic or uncertainty in activation. eg rolling activations ala Songs of Blades and Heroes where the more you try to do with a unit the more chance of a turn over.



I was going to mention SoBaH as one of the activation alternatives but then decided it fit closer to the alternating activations. Anything less than the moving the full army still means you can't get everything to do what you want; however the push your luck activations or larger block activations (Laserstorm as an example divides your army into 3 large commands and one of these randomly activates) get closer to full control.

There is a large spectrum of playing, from pure alternating, to random alternating/push your luck, through control of limited activations by resource management right up to the other end of one complete side per turn. I like that there are lots of options for games.

My question for the Age of Sigmar players, does having the IGOUGO play style match up well with an army that was probably just a few big impressive heroes and supporting units (I haven't looked at the points build rules they have). It worked well enough for WH40K but I've started to favour alternating unit type activations for games of that size (Dust, Warpath 2nd, etc.).
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Jon M
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marlowc wrote:
...

These other methods sound very interesting, and most of them are new to me, but are they not all just variations of the basic alternating activation system?
I'm sure they will all produce tense, exciting battles full of action and reaction. But won't they also lose the sense of wielding a grand, unified force that makes fielding your much loved army in a Warhammer type game so satisfying?


Not really as with most of them you often get the chance to activate all your units in a turn but it is not guaranteed. The uncertainty of not knowing if your opponent will be able to react or not generates the tension. So you have a unified whole that you are attempting to get into the action but it could end up with a rash unit isolated or only your left flank advancing.

You should really check out some of the alternative rule sets as they are a lot of fun. Dragon Rampant is very easy to use with your Warhammer figures. Of Gods And Mortals is also a pretty easy convert for the type of troops you have in Age of Sigmar. Both are pretty cheap from Osprey.
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omnicrondelicious
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marlowc wrote:
These other methods sound very interesting, and most of them are new to me, but are they not all just variations of the basic alternating activation system?
I'm sure they will all produce tense, exciting battles full of action and reaction. But won't they also lose the sense of wielding a grand, unified force that makes fielding your much loved army in a Warhammer type game so satisfying?


Yes, they all add varying amounts of chaos. But depending on your perspective, that's a good thing! Warhammer and especially Kings of War are very chess-like, with generals having near perfect information, command, and control. Actual massed armies rarely ever fought in a grand, unified fashion.

In addition to the other excellent games already mentioned, I would add Saga's dice pool system as a really interesting activation mechanic.

The only area that I would really quibble with in your review is "Nothing to do during opponent's turn. (No armour saves, morale checks, or spell unbinding attempts.)" as a con. For me, I think it's brilliantly executed in KoW as the turns are so much shorter for it.
 
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Chris Marlow
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EyeLost wrote:

There is a large spectrum of playing, from pure alternating, to random alternating/push your luck, through control of limited activations by resource management right up to the other end of one complete side per turn. I like that there are lots of options for games.

My question for the Age of Sigmar players, does having the IGOUGO play style match up well with an army that was probably just a few big impressive heroes and supporting units (I haven't looked at the points build rules they have). It worked well enough for WH40K but I've started to favour alternating unit type activations for games of that size (Dust, Warpath 2nd, etc.).


It is good to see these variations isn't it, though I think it's fair to say they divide pretty well into IGOUGO, and everything else

Your last question is a good one, and the reason I brought up AA play for the latest WHFB. It seems to all boil down to the size of battle doesn't it.
The Generals Handbook sets up for 1000, 2000, and 2500 point armies. With a standard unit of 20 Ork boyz at 200 pts. and Warboss on Wyvern 240 pts.
I would say the 1000 pt. battles would be brilliant with alternating activation, 2000+ better with IGOUGO. As you say, it also very much depends on the proportion of OTT heroes and monsters in the force - something which is still very much allowed with the army structure limits in Generals Handbook soblue
 
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Chris Marlow
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omnicrondelicious wrote:


The only area that I would really quibble with in your review is "Nothing to do during opponent's turn. (No armour saves, morale checks, or spell unbinding attempts.)" as a con. For me, I think it's brilliantly executed in KoW as the turns are so much shorter for it.


Absolutely agree, I'm sure KOW was deliberately designed that way by Alessio, it's a major reason for the game flow being significantly cleaner than WHFB.
However, I like armour saves, and having someone else take the morale checks for my units feels really poor - so you pays your money and takes your choice
 
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Chris Marlow
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Jon_1066 wrote:

You should really check out some of the alternative rule sets as they are a lot of fun. Dragon Rampant is very easy to use with your Warhammer figures. Of Gods And Mortals is also a pretty easy convert for the type of troops you have in Age of Sigmar. Both are pretty cheap from Osprey.


I'd love to give them a go, but the harsh reality round here is that it's KOW, WHFB, or nothing
 
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Matt Price
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Nice review, thanks!

I've played both KoW and AoS (more of the former) and like them both. One thing that I see as a "pro" for both games is how they handle damage. In KoW, you track damage to your unit with dice or tokens - as your unit takes damage the chance of routing off the battlefield goes up, but your damage potential remains the same. A really battered unit still rolls the same amount of dice. This makes for a quick game, as all the units on the table hit as hard as if they just started!

AoS, as you remove models and/or take damage, your units become less effective. There's something very gratifying in watching the table become less and less populated as mighty units bash themselves into oblivion, but of course the game goes longer because of this. My damage output drops with time, so I'm less and less likely to destroy outright any enemy units that remain on the table. Both systems are fun, depending on your mood!

And I really like the alternating units system. I think it's more fun than IGOUGO.

But one major "con" for me with AoS: I can't stand the new figures. The scale creep (the new figures are much larger, standing a head taller or more than their older brethren) is crazymaking, and they look so overblown and silly! I just can't bring myself to field any of the new figures alongside my super cool looking, older WHFB (and Mantic KoW, and other random brands) models!
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Chris Marlow
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mattprice wrote:

But one major "con" for me with AoS: I can't stand the new figures. The scale creep (the new figures are much larger, standing a head taller or more than their older brethren) is crazymaking, and they look so overblown and silly! I just can't bring myself to field any of the new figures alongside my super cool looking, older WHFB (and Mantic KoW, and other random brands) models!


I feel absolutely the same as you here, all the new AoS minis are OTT to my taste - they don't look right next to any other fantasy figures in my collection soblue
I suppose this is a deliberate strategy by GW, but it's rather a high risk one isn't it. They are hoping we will all graduate to their new stuff, and forget all the other great models out there (including their own Old World armies).
I for one, think they've made a fatal error, the AoS fluff just isn't good enough, but time will tell.
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James
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marlowc wrote:
Jon_1066 wrote:

You should really check out some of the alternative rule sets as they are a lot of fun. Dragon Rampant is very easy to use with your Warhammer figures. Of Gods And Mortals is also a pretty easy convert for the type of troops you have in Age of Sigmar. Both are pretty cheap from Osprey.


I'd love to give them a go, but the harsh reality round here is that it's KOW, WHFB, or nothing

Another ruleset to consider is "Hail Caesar" by Warlord Games - Rick Priestley. There is a Yahoo group that came out with Fantasy army lists and rules for the entire Warhammer catalog. The rules are right in the detail spectrum of Warhammer - Hail Caesar - Kings of War - Warmaster. Tiny bit more abstracted, less detail than Warhammer, but individual figures and more special rules than Kings of War.

You can do away with the Warmaster style of rolling to activate. And just play with houserule: "Every unit can move a single move on your turn. If you want it to move at-the-double or more, roll against the commander's leadership as normal" It doesn't break anything.

I prefer the Yahoo Group rules over the "Shadow Storm" rules that come up with a Google Search for "Hail Caesar Fantasy".
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/HailCaesarFantasy/conver...
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