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Subject: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing/buying [Updated Post-KS] rss

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Stuart Martyn
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I started writing this when the KS launched and this then we’ve seen some useful FAQ threads and a lot of threads from people asking questions. A lot of what I’ll answer here has been answered elsewhere but it might be useful to consolidate information; I’ll be providing useful links throughout and I intend to update this as the KS develops and in response to questions. This is more of a long discussion/essay rather than a quick question and answer thing.

Contents:

What is KDM? (An overview of the game, a summary of critical opinion and replayability)

The Models (A discussion of the models in KDM – what they are, how difficult they are to assemble, an explanation of promos and pinups and a discussion about the more mature models for those who aren’t keen on these)

What’s The Deal With Expansions? (A list of all existing and announced expansions, a summary of what game content and models they contain and a rough ‘ranking’ of previous expansions based on popular opinion and polling)

Kickstarter questions (A short summary of common question about the campaign)

Advanced rules (Some more information on rules with minor spoilers and some pictures of game cards, if earlier sections left you craving more information on game rules)

Narrative (A short discussion about the narrative and replayability of KDM, a bit more opinion than objective fact. Very minor spoilers.)


What is KDM?

Kingdom Death: Monster is a boardgame unlike any other. In KDM you control a small settlement of efffectively stone-aged people, the first generation of whom woke in a nightmarish realm filled with monsters without explanation. They must hunt these monsters to survive, crafting weapons and armour from their bones and hides, innovate and discover new technological and social advancements (such as heat, music and writing) and weather the many challenges of their nightmarish world.

KDM is played as campaign of roughly 25 games or ‘lantern years’ – new expansions may, at your discretion, extend the timeline further. It’s intended for 1-4 players (the first edition did have optional rules for 5-6 players but these aren’t very popular) and while it is very suitable for a group it’s a rare board game that’s actually enjoyable to play solo. It’s also quite possible, with good bookkeeping, to play multiple campaigns concurrently.

Each lantern year is split into three phases; Settlement, Hunt and Showdown. In the settlement phase you draw events ( such as a trader arriving at your camp or a plague outbreak), craft gear from the resources harvested from hunts, add to your tech tree, build new buildings (that unlock new items and abilities), attempt to increase your population and other tasks. At the end of this phase you select a monster to hunt and send four survivors onwards to the Hunt Phase (you equip gear at this point).

In the Hunt Phase these four survivors chase their quarry along a track, drawing monster-specific event cards and rolling a large (d100) table of generic random events. They might encounter a mysterious stranger, find a weapon, find a shortcut to their quarry, freeze in a cold snap or (it’s rare but possible) all die horribly.

Survivors then progress to the Showdown Phase where they fight the actual monster. The monster’s behaviour is controlled by a randomly shuffled AI deck, but whenever you hit it you’ll draw cards from a Hit Location (HL) deck which may modify how you wound it – for example, you might strike an armoured place that is more difficult to wound or might shatter frail weaponry, or you might find a weak spot that’s easier…. Or you might find the Trap card that triggers a nasty monster response and reshuffles the HL deck. Terrain can also affect the showdown and might work to your advantage, provide an extra challenge or offer extra resources you can collect.

Assuming you kill the monster, you draw resource cards (things like bones and organs) to take back to the settlement. Some are drawn from a generic deck, some from monster specific decks (a cat’s eye, a phoenix’s beak, an antelope’s horn). Monster-specific resources can be used to make similarly specific items.

Every few lantern years you fight a Nemesis – a boss, in video game terms. There’s no hunt phase these years (the nemesis came to you) and these are generally much more challenging fights.

Each monster also has multiple levels of power/difficulty, usually with enhanced rewards (more resource cards!) for the higher levels. You may decide what level of quarry (huntable monsters) you face, so you can avoid biting off more than you can chew, but you have no such choice over nemeses. The AI and HL decks go a long way to making every different enemy behave very differently – tactics that work on one may not work on others and may even be actively dangerous. Learning, through trial and error, will make your survivors better hunters.

Survivors that, well, survive will also become more powerful as they age and gain XP, learning new fighting arts and unlocking abilities as you progress. Your tech tree will also directly feed into what your survivors can do. But this is not an RPG. It’s not like Descent or Shadows of Brimstone – survivors are a resource and they can and will die. Some may survive for many years and it’s possible, though unlikely, that they’ll survive the entire campaign! Of course, monsters may maim survivors even if they don’t kill them. Survivors can lose eyes, limbs, etc, all of which may limit their usefulness. There’s also a sanity mechanic – survivors accrue insanity which is effectively armour points for their brain – when they run out they have to roll on a table which may cause them to gain permanent disorders or, if you’re unlucky, die of fright outright.

Throughout the campaign you’ll be able to choose how your society develops. Not just via the tech tree, but by triggered events that determine the character of your society. I’ll reveal one of the first – after the first death you’ll need to decide if your settlement bury or cannibalise their dead. Both have advantages. And maybe next campaign you can try the other option.

Is it any good?

The most important question. This is the best place to ask because people here are experienced and have played the game a lot. This is also the worst place to ask because most experienced players that post here are obviously going to be huge fans of the game.

KDM is not without flaw. It’s very complex and lots of the rules take a while to sink in – after my first campaign I discovered I had been playing some rules wrong (one massively to my detriment). If dense rulebooks and complexity aren’t for you, KDM may not be your game.

The next concern is difficulty. KDM is hard. Survivors die and sometimes bad luck can ruin your settlement as plagues, murders and other nasty events strike repeatedly. Some of the nemeses are punishingly difficult. Often keeping your population at a decent level is a struggle and the most important thing your settlement can do. But the difficulty is part of the fun and you can, and will, learn how to mitigate some of it. That said, if high difficulty is a turn off… You may want to give KDM a miss.

The next major concern is randomness. KDM uses a lot of random tables and sometimes those tables say ‘roll a 1 and die’. Experienced players have pointed out that the randomness is strongest in the Hunt and Settlement phases. However, it seems Poots has listened, as we’re getting an overhauled Hunt Table that looks like it might exchange some of the randomness for more calculated trade-offs that take your choices into account. KDM will never entirely be without randomness (it’s a core part of KDM’s weird charm) but I think 1.5 will have this dialled down slightly and, as a huge fan, I think that’s probably a good idea.

Some people are concerned about the maturity of KDM. It’s very much an adult game – your survivors can embrace cannibalism, engage in human sacrifice, exile people into the monster-haunted darkness, commit suicide, murder one another and die in childbirth. Some of the artwork in the core game is pretty dark, too. It’s not this mature at all times, however – there are plenty of sillier illustrations and events, some of which are outright immature, even a little juvenile, which can cause some tonal whiplash. They're not very frequent, but KDM is arguably a game that needs both a Mature and Immature warning label.

Some other problems noticed by long-term fans are being addressed; one or two society principles you could choose were frankly terrible choices and are being buffed in 1.5. There’s a reason a new final boss has been added. The rewards for higher level hunts are being tweaked to make them more enticing. Poots has clearly listened to the players and is trying to fix just about every flaw people have found (I’m expecting him to fix Cooking, too).

If you want more opinions, here are some reviews from experienced players.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1675923/tough-love-follow-k...
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1460512/fantastic-game-most...

I’ve tried to select ones which are somewhat critical to give a more rounded viewpoint, though I have to say… a lot of the concerns are being addressed in 1.5!

How replayable is it?

A lot of people are rightly concerned about this. If you’re going to sink 250 dollars (or more) then the game needs to be worth at least four other games in terms of quality, content and lifespan. Some narrative, campaign-based games such as the excellent Pandemic Legacy can only really be played once – replays would lose a lot of the magic.

I don’t think KDM is the same. For one thing, it may take you more than one campaign to get to the end or win. And if you do, well, the next game will be different. Some of the same major narrative beats and events will be identical, of course, but you can make different choices, specialise in different weapons, craft different armours. I’ve never crafted a full set of Screaming or Lantern armour, for example. There are plenty of the narrative events in the rulebook that I’ve never triggered – you’ll never see it all in one game. And there are, of course, the many, many, many expansions (which I’ll discuss later) which, if you buy even a few, will probably give you more content then you’ll ever need unless you intend to play KDM all the time.

Variant campaigns

At present, there are several variant campaigns. The core game is sometimes called the People of the Lantern to differentiate it. The variants are the People of the Skull, People of the Bloom, People of the Stars and People of the Sun.

The Skull and Bloom variants are small - the keep the same timeline and events as the core game but change things up. People of the Skull is outlined at the back of the core rulebook - effectively People of the Skull can only use bone weapons and armour, locking out a lot of the better gear, but they have better stats than People of the Lantern and their own special ways to boost stats. The Bloom variant is found in the Flower Knight expansion and I'll discuss it later. Likewise, the larger variants (Stars and Sun) will be outlined in the Dragon King and Sunstalker sections.

The core game also has another, more unusual, variant where you start with seven unaging sword-masters (who cannot increase their population)


The Models


In many ways, KDM is both a huge, sprawling boardgame and a miniatures game (which goes some way towards explaining the pricetag).

KDM comes with a ton of models – 8 monsters and a ton of survivor models. 7 survivor models are mono-pose (the starting survivors, the new ‘young survivor’ and two ‘intimacy’ survivors), the rest all multipart kits for you to customise to your heart’s content. Weapons are entirely modular and pre-existing expansions come with modular weapons. This means you can, for example, add a bow from the Flower Knight to survivor wearing an armour set from the core game. If you like model-making and painting, it’s a real gift.

If you don’t, it’s probably more intimidating. Take a deep breath. They’re mostly not too difficult to assemble (there’s a website with how-to guides) with plastic cement. I have to be honest, though, the phoenix is a bit of a nightmare, the antelope is tricky to attach to its base and the Watcher isn’t easy either.

With regards to painting, you can certainly play with unpainted miniatures if you’re not much of a painter. Some people prefer to go for a simple ‘statue’ look – the minis shown on the KS page have been painted in this style (the cracks are all painted on and not a part of the actual models at all). Something like this is really very easy to achieve and you’ll find lots of guides if you look.

The multipose kits can, especially when you’re new to this, end up looking a bit static but it’s quite possible to get some dynamic, interesting poses out of them with practise and forethought.

I've seen a few people asking if you attach the armour to naked survivor models. You do not - the armour kits are effectively a new model with the armour as part of the sculpt.

In theory you can create a model of any survivor loadout and even make models of the same survivor over time (you get multiple copies of each head). I’d suggest holding off on immortalising your favourites until a survivor has proved their staying power and/or making models of builds you favour.

Some people magnetise their miniatures so they can field their exact loadouts. This is an advanced technique and quite difficult. Some of the larger weapons tend to sag when attached this way as well. If you’ve got the skills you may consider this, but most people are content to not have exact matches – a survivor with one axe could easily represent one equipped with a different axe, for example.

Promos, Pinups and penis-monsters, oh my!

So this game includes a lot of promo models. These can be split into two categories – those with game content and those without. Almost all of the pinups fall into the latter category. They’re cool models you could use in game aimed more at the collectors and hobbyists. The promos with game content, however, may well enhance the game. Some of them just add a gear card with no crafting information (for you to add if you see fit), but others add craftable gear, new armour sets and other content that you can easily slot into your game. Poots has said that he may release a box including all of these (and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if some made their way in the core 1.5 box or Gambler’s Box).

I will briefly list the promos with game content that explains how to add it your game; Fade (adds a new hunt event and gear linked to it), Percival (adds a new hunt event and a Secret Fighting Art linked to it), Alison the Twilight Knight (adds new gear and modifies an existing event), White Speaker (adds new gear and modifies an existing event) Before and Beyond the Wall (collectively add a new armour set).

Now let’s talk controversy. KDM turned a lot of heads with the sexy pinups and nightmarish sexual imagery. A lot of people aren’t keen on this. Some people are very dismissive about this attitude but I think it’s pretty reasonable and, well, it’s your decision how to spend your money, so I’m going to help you to make an informed choice.

The core game models are pretty tame. All of the survivors are, in my opinion, not sexualised. The starting survivors are all wearing a sheet, true, but I don’t think they’re necessarily sexualised and the armour kits are mostly sensible and somewhat realistic. Likewise, the monsters aren’t too bad – the lion is anatomically correct and people are always talking about the hand-parasites in the phoenix’s cloaca, but they’re honestly not as in your face as people them sound. And that’s it. The more…. interesting models are either expansions or just for collectors (ie, no game content). The Wet Nurse, the most infamous of them all, has no game content.

The sexual themes of the monsters and pinups don’t really factor into the game. The ‘Intimacy’ table (which you roll on when you want to have children) notes that both survivors have to consent. There’s also no mechanical distinctions between men and women outside of this table and one or two events (that generally ask you to select a male or female survivor).

If you aren’t a fan of penis-monsters, or live with someone who won’t like the more obviously sexual monsters, be wary of the following expansions: Gorm, Sunstalker, Lion God, Gryphon, Red Witches (they're more pinup than penis monster) and Frogdog. The Gorm is anatomically correct and its mouth, people have noted, can be viewed as something else. The sunstalker has a penis-tentacle (though anyone with even a basic grasp of green-stuff and a knife can fix this if they like) and the Lion God is a lot more penile than it looks initially. The Frogdog has several faces with sideways genital-mouths that its spawn are emerging from.

Regarding pinups, they’re not game pieces (though can be used as such). The original KS attracted a lot of press regarding the pinups and some people accused it of sexism, which in turn prompted a backlash. This is not the place for this debate. In response to this, we’re getting male pinups as well this KS which are also generating… a frank exchange of opinions. If you’re not keen on pinups (of either gender), remember that they aren’t necessary and have no game content. If the pinups are a dealbreaker for you that’s entirely valid, too. And bitter experience has taught me to request that we leave this discussion at that.

What’s The Deal With Expansions (And Which Should I Get?)

The original KS comes with a whopping 12 expansions and the new KS has added a fair few already – I’d expect a similar number of new ones, especially given the record-breaking amount it’s already raised. But most people can’t afford them all (and some people would rather not buy any). Is the core game enough? In short, yes. There’s an absolute ton of content in there and if you’re not expecting to play this game regularly it will take you many years to see it all. If you are planning to play it regularly (multiple campaigns a year), like models or hate having money, you’re going to want expansions, yeah. They can add a lot of variety to your game.

It’s generally advised not to add too many to your game – one or two extra quarries and an extra nemesis is the recommended ‘cap’; if you add tons you won’t hunt half of them and you’ll probably die horribly. A longer timeline (which we’re seeing in general with 1.5 and particularly with the Screaming God) might allow room for another quarry, though.

Nearly all expansions add extra Fighting Arts, Disorders and a few bits of Terrain, that, with the one exception, can be added to the game even if you're not using the expansion monster, etc.

Here’s a list of the previous expansions; I’ve sorted it roughly in descending order of how popular/desirable the expansion is. I’ve tried to give as much info as I can with minimal spoilers. I expect most, if not all, of the previous expansions to be reprinted with this KS (because they're going to need to reprint them for the highest pledge levels anyway).

Gorm

The Gorm expansion adds a new quarry. A quarry is a monster you can hunt for resources – the core game has three quarries (the lion, antelope and phoenix). Notably, the gorm is unlocked in year one, the only expansion that unlocks at the start of the campaign. It offers some variety from lion hunts and some new gear. This gear is pretty excellent and also boosts weapon types that are somewhat neglected by the core game, such as clubs, and adds an early-game shield. The Gorm showdowns and gear also scale very well – each level of gorm is notably different and higher level gorms are needed to craft some very, very powerful gear added by this expansion. The armour set is also the only armour that scales - you can make it more powerful in (and for) the late game.

The Gorm also adds its own special set of innovations that you can develop in parallel to your main tech tree which let you roll on a table and craft various powerful potions - I've heard it described as a sort of gear-crafting minigame.

Model-wise, this expansion includes the Gorm itself, who is pretty big and incredibly ugly. It’s one of the most challenging models in KDM in that it can look incredibly creepy or just stupid depending on how you paint it. It also includes four models of survivors wearing the Gorm’s armour and modular weapons, which generally have a gross, organic look to them.

Dragon King

This is one of two hug expansions that adds a variant campaign and a new, late-game quarry. Note that these are separate - you can add the Dragon-as-quarry to a core campaign or you play the People of the Stars campaign. The Dragon King is a challenging quarry that occasionally fires a nuclear explosion at you, drips lava everywhere and might punch you into space but while the gear is by no means bad (I quite like the armour set) it’s not particularly special or noteworthy. It unlocks in year 8.

The variant campaign it adds (with a different storyline, events, Innovations, a campaign-exclusive Nemesis and final boss) is an absolute blast. It's called People of the Stars. Without spoilers, I will say it’s all about making superpowered survivors and it’s really, really cool. I'm currently 80% of the way through such a campaign (I've got a thread in the Sessions board but fair warning, it is very spoiler heavy).

It also adds a lot of models – a huge dragon, a smug-looking Tyrant Nemesis, the Dragon Armour kit (multipart, as with all previous kits) and two ‘People of the Stars’ models (with campaign-specific weapons compatible with all multkits)

Sunstalker

The other quarry and variant campaign expansion. The sunstalker gives some of the absolute best gear in the game, though it’s certainly a challenging fight. It has a unique mechanic based around light and shadow – the sunstalker is a light source and sometimes that light burns. And sometimes the sunstalker summons your own shadow to fight you. It unlocks in year 8.

The variant campaign is quite different to the core – some of the things survivors can do are entirely replaced and instead of regular nemesis encounters throughout the timeline you have twenty years of uninterrupted hunting… followed by a five year gauntlet of nemeses (and a single loss to any nemesis ends your campaign).There are also campaign-specific events, locations and gear (as with the Dragon King).

The Sunstalker is a huge model but it’s a bit odd-looking. Some people have painted it very well. This set also comes with two People of the Sun models (with campaign-specific gear) and the Cycloid Scale Armour Kit.

Dung Beetle Knight

The DBK is a late game quarry (unlocks year 8 but that's a bit early to take it on). It’s a particularly challenging fight but a rewarding one – it adds some really excellent, and unusual, gear to the game and a mechanic that lets you literally bury some gear to calcify and harden it, improving it dramatically (but you’ll need to wait a few years before digging it up). One very popular weapon from the core game (not a DBK item) can be calcified in this way with this expansion. The DBK is Poots' favourite monster (I think it’s a mix of theme and mechanics).

All three Knight expansions (DBK, Flower Knight, Lion Knight) add a new ‘tactics’ deck mechanic so they synergise well.

You get the (lovely) model DBK, his ball (it looks ridiculous but after it kills a few of your survivors you’ll stop laughing) and two survivors in his signature armour. Notably, this is the only armour kit that doesn’t have four models.

Flower Knight

The Flower Knight is a weird quarry who makes the game slightly easier. He unlocks in year 5. His rewards are unusual and his gear selection is somewhat limited because the flower resources you get for beating him rot and must be used within a year (though said gear does include the best bow in the game – seriously, this bow is insane and roughly half of why he makes the game easier). The fight is really, really interesting and makes use of terrain in an innovative way.

The Flower Knight's resources may also be consumed. They usually offer a short-term benefit and long term penalty. And they can be addictive, locking you into further Flower Knight Hunts.

The Flower Knight also adds the People of the Bloom. A mini-variant campaign, this keeps the same core timeline but the survivors are subtly different. They also get access to Flower resources (though they can't hunt the Flower Knight) and have two pieces of craftable gear that are exclusive to their campaign.

In model terms you get the Flower Knight, a strong contender for ‘most beautiful model in range’ and all of his gear (more than you’d think) to add to your armour kits, including a big model cello.

Lion Knight

A nemesis expansion (the first in this list), the Lion Knight and his attendants literally put on a deadly performance in your settlement. One of the weirdest and wackiest of all the KDM expansions (people generally seem to really dig the theme), it also adds ‘hybrid’ armour sets that really enhance the core game (they only use parts from core quarries).

Nemesis expansions all make the campaign harder but offer some form of reward to counterbalance the cruelty. For the Lion Knight, it’s not as much what you get from him (though he does give some great loot), but from his attendants setting up shop in your settlement and offering the hybrid armour sets and other, less obvious, bonuses. The expansion content starts in year 6.

The Lion Knight probably has the best narrative of any expansion besides the big alternate campaigns - moreso even than other nemeses, this expansion tells its own little story.

You get the Knight and his attendants (not everyone adds them to his base) and his specific gear (though that’s literally just masks and claws).

Manhunter

Another nemesis expansion, the manhunter turns up to fight from time and time and if you lose he enslaves your settlement (he literally starts taking your people as slaves). He does pay you, though, and it’s possible for you kill him and throw off his yoke. He first rocks up in year 5.

If you can beat him he drops some really incredible loot that will make you much better hunters. The amazing gear, new innovations and high chance of enslavement does a lot to reshape the core game and people generally recommend him very highly.

IIRC, one of his new innovations can just be added to your game decks and is very, very useful.

In model terms, like the Lion Knight you just get the nemesis and his gear to add to your kits. I’m actually quite fond of the gritty, evil cowboy look of this guy.

Slenderman

The slenderman is another nemesis that reshapes the core game considerably. He replaces one of the three original nemeses entirely (starting year 6) and replaces non-specific nemesis fights as he haunts your settlement – you’ll fight him a lot. He also adds his own, unique craftable gear (which is very interesting stuff). I won’t reveal too much about the fight but it’s quite different and reworks the way Insanity works entirely. If you like the theme, go for it. If not, cheerfully give this a miss.

Again, you get the nemesis and his gear. I adore the slenderman model (it was actually how I discovered KDM)

This is still recommended - it's the expansions below this I'd say are the ones you'll want to skip.

Lion God

The Lion God is a very, very late game quarry (it unlocks year 13, which is probably too early to go near it). It has no specific gear but a few artefacts you can get from beating it. I haven’t fought one but its main purpose seems to be as a challenge - this thing is incredibly punishing, the toughest monster in KDM (so far….) and quite possibly unbeatable at high levels. Buy this if you really like a challenge (though I wonder if some of the new expansions , like the Screaming God, may scratch this itch better, as this guy has no craftable gear and the artefacts aren’t that amazing).

You just get the titular model with this expansion, as there’s no craftable gear (and the artefacts aren’t weapons).

UPDATE: The Silver City looks to expand and hopefully improve on this expansion hugely (see below). Poots, are you reading this?

Spidicules

A quarry intended to replace the antelope (so it unlocks year 2), this expansion has several problems. The main one is that antelope parts are kinda essential to a lot of core game gear and this set doesn’t provide replacements for a lot of it. The spidicules gear is generally nothing to write home about (and the armour set, which isn’t one of the best armour sets, is the only set that requires you kill a L3 quarry). You’re punished (in a very specific way) if you win a fight against a spidicules, even at L1. To be frank, this probably is one to skip unless you’re a completionist. If you just want a few expansions, this probably isn't for you.

With the announced 1.5 changes to the Antelope, the Spidicules is now even more limiting (you can't unlock the Barber Surgeon, a great location, without the Antelope now). I'm actually wondering if this expansion may get reworked and rereleased at this point!

The model looks cool but is ridiculously impractical, so impractical you use a base (which it isn’t attached to) to show where the monster’s main body is in game. You do get a lovely set of robed survivors (Silk Armour), a naked man freaking out and six ugly-cute little Spiderlings.

UPDATE: The Spidicules is required for the Abyssal Woods campaign, a new expansion, which I suspect may integrate it better.

Lonely Tree

Generally considered the worst expansion, the Tree is not a huntable quarry or nemesis. You can randomly find a fruit that you can eat to trigger a fight with the tree. It offers very little reward (no gear) in return, so it’s only there for a fun fight. It doesn’t change or enhance your campaign much - it doesn't add any new fighting arts, disorders or anything else. Admittedly the model is pretty nice, but if you’re on any sort of budget? Skip this one for sure.

To give the Tree it's due, it was originally supposed to be a terrain expansion. Adam added a fight to it.

Green Knight Armour

This expansion is just two models (one male and one female Green Knight) and the gear cards, which tell you how to craft them. To craft this armour you need parts from all three knights (DBK, Flower Knight and Lion Knight), the Gorm expansion and the Manhunter. You also need an innovation from the Spidicules expansion (though frankly you could waive this). It’s an incredibly powerful set of kit, for sure, and incredibly hard to craft (not least because it involves adding two nemesis expansions, which is not usually recommended). It’s only worth ordering this if you already went for the prerequisite expansions and fancy a challenge – crafting this armour set is a much trickier prospect than winning the campaign. That’s why I put it last.

New Expansions (speculation ahoy)


So obviously we have very limited information on these at present and no way to know which the best are. I’m sorting these by order of release date and offering a brief summary of what we know.

It's important to note that expansions, especially those at the conceptual stage, are likely to change a lot before release. More ambitious mechanics may be dropped (as happened with Spidicules), themes may change (Lion God) or you might get more than was planned (DBK, Lonely Tree).

The First Hero

This is an interesting expansion that lets you jump-start a campaign at LY12 or 20. I think this is of huge interest to experienced players simply because the earlier years (the meat grinder years, as I call them) are the most similar between campaigns, so a way to jump ahead that's narratively interesting very much appeals to me. New players don't need this but once you've got a few campaigns under your belt I think this could just be the best expansion... Poots is saying that the battle with the eponymous Hero will determine the character of the settlement - I love the sound of that.

The First Hero expansion will include models of four veteran survivors and the Hero himself.

Nightmare Ram

A quarry that has a dungeon-crawl feel to the showdown and craftable gear. That’s all we really know at present. We have no idea if the Ram appears in the early, mid or late game. I personally adore that sculpt.

In model terms the Nightmare Ram will include the titular quarry, four survivors (these are, for the first time, not modular kits!) and 8 ‘boiling water bugs’.

Screaming God

A very, very late game quarry (later than any before), this thing is clearly going to be incredibly nasty. It looks to have craftable gear and will apparently extend your campaign. There’s also what sounds like a ‘hidden’ nemesis fight you may or not find be able to find. Colour me intrigued. There’s some built-in synergy with the First Hero too, apparently.

This expansion will apparently include models of the Screaming God, four survivors (again, not modular) and the mysterious Queen Lantern Parasite.

Frogdog


A hideous new early game (year 1, apparently) monster. Clearly a divisive design, but I'm very intrigued that this ugly thing comes with either two or three (the update is unclear) armour sets. I have to wonder if there's going to an 'upgrade' mechanic like the Gorm which is what you want from an year 1 quarry IMO. From their artwork, these sets are as pretty as Frogdog is ugly. They're also narrative sculptures, so presumably not modular. It seems like the new expansions are moving away from this.

Oblivion Mosquito

A 'node two' (early but not year one - possibly year 2 as an antelope alternative) quarry, the Oblivion Moth is a huge parasitoid. It looks like this expansion may adds mechanics to model the moth's larvae infesting survivors and may add mini-showdowns as part of the hunt track (which will potentially unlock unique gear and armour sets). Very ambitious! Though admittedly some of the more ambitious ideas have, in the past, been simplified during the design phase so do take all of that with a pinch of salt.

This expansion continues the theme of beautiful armour artwork and multiple sets of armour from the same source. No work on whether it's multipose or a narrative sculpture as yet, but given all of the other new expansions are narrative sculptures it's probably best to assume the latter. The artwork of the creature is really interesting - it looks to be an ambitious sculpt and I'm excited to see it.

The Pariah

The first new Nemesis expansion. The Pariah will hound your settlement but eventually you'll need to go to his home and defeat him while dangling upside down - this might be the first Nemesis hunt and sounds like it'll be an incredibly memorable and interesting fight.

This expansion will come with an impressive number of models, especially compared to previous Nemesis sets - two model Pariahs (regular and upside-down) and four upside down narrative survivor sculpts.

Gryphon

The first new variant campaign expansion, as with previous expansions the Gryphon can either be used as a late-game quarry or you can play s People of the Nest, a complete campaign variant apparently based around playing as a settlement of drugged servitors of the Gryphon devoted to building its horrifying nest. That's all we know at present (we don't know how it changes the game, though both previous variants brought huge changes), but it sounds dark as all hell. The People of the Sun isn't that dark, and that's a pretty grim campaign.

You get four People of the Nest and four survivors in Gryphon Armour, all narrative sculptures.

I'm not personally a fan of the sculpt (it's too similar to the Phoenix, which is vastly superior-looking, IMO, and the tail looks dumb), but happily it's getting a another pass before moulding - if it matches the artwork better I'd love that, the artwork was lovely and gross.

Black Knight

A quarry that sits at the same point as the Flower Knight, apparently (as the Black Knight is a unique entity) it survives multiple hunts before finally 'killed'. You have to decide one/two set of armour to take/craft from it due to the limitation on how often it can be hunted.

The expansion is also supposed to contain a 5 Year campaign as the squires. Bitesized KDM that you could play in one day? Amazing!

It contains the (lovely) Black Knight model (he's taking on the Flower Knight for more than place in the timeline), his four squires and 3 Black Knight armour sculptures.

The Red Witches


Very early in development, this nemesis expansion will see survivors face three monsters at once. They may also have gameplay links to the Pariah, Gryphon and the 'Fade' promo. They're very early in development and the ideas sound very ambitious (and thus subject to possible change).

Poots has also said he might try to make another mini-campaign (witches vs Pariah), one that takes three years. This is not confirmed and would require both expansions.

This expansion comes with three witches, five 'red cloaks' and 4 red/black armour narrative sculpts. That's a lot of models!

Death Armour

Presumably a lot like the Green Armour but evidently more (there's an actual rulebook and more gear options, as well as a new location to presumably make high-tier bone gear. This actually seems like a better deal than the Green Armour.... except we don't know which, if any, expansions are needed to craft it.

This one just comes with two models. Narrative sculptures, which is possibly a shame as it looks like there will be alternate weapons with this armour (unlike the Green Knight).

Campaigns of Death


My dream expansion. This expansion includes 3 custom timelines, guides for making your own, guides for combining expansions, some new gear, innovations and armour sets, 'a fistful' of new narrative events... It even has models (the Ancient Butcher and some mixed armour sets). No word as to what the Ancient Butcher is (new nemesis? new final boss?) However it only applies to the previous 12 expansions; while the information may be a useful guide for the new ones, people with/buying the existing expansions will get more from this. Only of use if you've got a few expansions, but potentially of huge utility. I'd personally hoping the new mixed armour sets mix expansion armours, encouraging you to play with multiple expansions and generally enhancing their utility.

Inverted Mountain Campaign
This expansion combines with almost every new expansion (namely Frogdog, Mosquito, Ram, Gryphon, Black Knight, Pariah and Red Witches) to form a complete, coherent campaign, presumably using no core game quarries or nemeses and apparently with its own final boss - the (awesomely creepy) Mountain Man. I can only pray it comes with a box to keep it all in... (doubtful). Presumably this expansion is useless without all of the other new ones, of course - there's no mention of the Mountain Man as a nemesis - so it's mostly the preserve of those going all-in (or near enough).

The Silver City
An expansion expansion that expands the Lion God by allowing your settlement to make forays into the Silver City, encountering its strange denizens (including a Lost Knight and some monstrous fauna), perhaps creating a mini-campaign with Lion God as final boss. We're low on detail, but it looks to be big and strange. Needless to say, this requires the Lion God.

This also adds some Lion God armour, which IMO that expansion always kinda needed. Lots of models in this one.

Honeycomb Weaver


A new quarry with two models at different nodes (I'm not sure if that means it's two fully separate monsters or if they're just different versions/levels of the same monster) with both a low and high level armour set.

Ivory Dragon (aka Final Form Satan)

An unplanned expansion created in response to the record-breaking success of the current KS, this expansion adds a new final boss after the new final boss... And adds armour sets crafted from the Gold Smoke Knight. It's a huge expansion and we don't know a lot yet, but the artwork looks pretty interesting.

Abyssal Forest

This is a huge, insane expansion. A complete campaign variant that requires the Flower Knight and Spdicules, it's an expanded people of the Bloom w[ithi]multiple new Nemeses [/i]and the Sparrow King/Dragon Goblin/Death Chicken, which looks to be a quarry and a final boss. There are about 23 miniatures set to come with this thing...

The Gambler’s Chest

This contains advanced rules, two new nemeses and a lot of models. The advanced rules are obviously an unknown quantity, but from what we can see far the Philosophies of Death look like they're adding a ‘class’ system of sorts, one linked intimately with your tech tree, as an alternative to the core game's Fighting Arts. There's also the Scouts of Death, which looks as though it will allow you to learn from (and gain some bonus from) defeats or potentially bring an extra survivor to a fight (at the risk of losing all your gear if everyone dies as the Scout can't bring it home)

Currently the Chest includes Atnas, the Child-Eater, a festive Nemesis very, very early in development and the Gambler Nemesis, about which we know basically nothing.

The models are all narrative sculptures. Some of them are likely builds, some of them are new mixed armour sets, some are collector models and there are one or two pinups, though most models come with game content (Fighting Arts, Philosophies, new gear). The fact that there are currently two hybrid armour sets, one for archers, one that lets you avoid nasty monster reactions, is pretty damn exciting - hybrid armour sets are fantastic as they offer you more flexibility - is your archer injured/dead? Use the pieces to send someone in regular Screaming Armour instead!

Notably, the chest now adds two new AI cards for the Flower Knight. Clearly Poots was sick of everyone saying it was too easy...

What expansions should I buy?

This is highly subjective, but for people who want expansions but, understandably, have a limited budget and can’t leap in the crazy ‘Get everything’ pledge levels this might be helpful.

The most important advice I can give you is to be prepared to ignore so-called expert advice (especially mine). Conventional wisdom may hold that the Spidicules and Lonely Tree aren’t worth it, but what if you really, really love those models? The Slenderman seldom tops lists of favourite expansions, but he’s dripping with theme. The Gorm is always highly recommended but plenty of people find the model ugly. Don’t be afraid to pass up expansions because you dislike the model, or you hate the theme, or whatever.

The next piece of advice I have is kinda the lamest and I hate myself a little for saying it, but…. The previous expansions are all a known quantity and all of the new ones are unknown. The older expansions are also going to arrive quicker, according to the KS. We have no idea how good the new ones will end up being and how they’ll diverge from to their pitches. Some will - the Lion God was re-themed, the Spidicules expansion had lots of promised mechanics removed, the Dragon King was resculpted, the much-maligned Lonely Tree was originally supposed to just be a terrain piece (Adam rather graciously added game content) and when Adam fell in love with the DBK he added more content to that.

So if you genuinely don’t have a strong preference (if you do, go with it), you might generally be better sticking with what’s known (and what’s known to be good). That said there are some exceptions of this rule. Some of the new expansions are offering something entirely new and are much more attractive as a result. The First Hero, the Campaigns of Death (granted you want old expansions with this) and the Gambler's Chest spring to mind. To a much lesser extent, the Screaming God and Black Knight also.

If you’re on a limited budget you’ll probably want to avoid too much redundancy – so don’t just buy lots of the many expansions that add a year 8 quarry, for example, as this is quite late in the campaign so you’ll see less of each monster anyway. That said, don’t be afraid to get multiples if they’re what really interest you, especially in the case of Nemeses who reshape campaigns so much more and generally start kicking in relatively early on. If you think you’re going to play KDM a lot, well, plan ahead. Worst case scenario you’ll probably be able to sell it (I make no predictions as to what the market for resales will be like, though).

There is a fix if you’ve got a real hunger for lots of late-game quarries, though! It’s the First Hero expansion – jump-start your campaign later, so you can start hunting the big nasties right away. Adam has said it will have specific synergy with the Screaming God, which makes a lot of sense, as the SG is added incredibly late. I’d actually suggest that you maybe don’t get the SG without the First Hero, as not many campaigns will get to LY20 (and the Screaming God won’t make it easier to get to the end…). It’s not a particularly helpful suggestion to get another expansion if you’re trying to pick and choose what to buy, I admit, but (with all the caveats about new expansions and this being an opinion piece), I think the First Hero is a really exciting expansion because of its sheer utility and synergy with all late-game expansions. Also don’t underestimate how long the campaign is; the option is make it shorter is no bad thing.

This is the reason the Black Knight (and possibly the Red Witches) are a bit exciting – they offer mini-campaigns you could play in a day/afternoon rather than over weeks. Campaigns of Death promises the same.

I think the Death Armour may be a better pick than the Green Knight Armour. Though at present we don’t know what (if any) expansions are needed to craft it, it looks to add more craftable gear than the Green Knight (which is just a full 5-piece set of armour, shield and sword) and, unlike the Green Knight Armour, it’s slated to have an actual rulebook (and possible narrative events).

Expansions Listed By Node/Type

Here’s a list of expansions listed by type/node for people trying to pick a variety. This list does not include the First Hero, Campaigns of Death, Abyssal Woods, the Gambler’s Box or the Lonely Tree as these expansions all have no equivalents.

Early game (node 1/2) quarries
Gorm, Spidicules, Frogdog, Oblivion Mosquito

Early-midgame quarries (Node 3?)
Flower Knight, Black Knight

Late game (node 4) quarries
Dragon King, Sunstalker, Dung Beetle Knight, Gryphon

Very late game quarries (nodes 4/5)
Lion God, Screaming God, Ivory Dragon

Unknown node quarries
Nightmare Ram (likely Node 3, according to Poots, but not set in stone)

Nemeses
Manhunter, Lion Knight, Slenderman, Pariah, Red Witches

Special armour sets
Green Knight Armour, Death Armour

Expansion synergies

I’m focusing on gameplay/rule overlap here. Lots of monsters mention one another (the Flower Knight, Phoenix and Dung Beetle Knight are all somewhat interrelated) but this seldom has gameplay relevance. I’m also not focusing on interesting or powerful builds that use multiple expansions – these are for you to discover or create.

I mentioned the Knights have synergy – each adds tactics cards and a way to get them. The Knights also have the ability to ‘Parry’ attacks and one of them teaches you to counter this, so the knights do really go well together in a campaign. They’re a nice mix of early and late game quarries and a nemesis. It remains to be seen if the Black Knight will have tactic cards or any synergy with previous knights.

Needless to say, Campaigns of Death has huge synergy with all 12 of the established expansions. Pretty exciting! The more you have the more tempting it becomes – it’s probably not worth it if you have one or two, but if you’ve got six or more… The problem is we don’t know how things are being mixed in those 3 custom timelines (or what those hybrid armour sets are, but I’m really hoping they’re a mix of different expansion armours… DBK/Silk, Sunstalker/Gorm, etc)

Also needless to say, nearly every new expansion (specifically the Frogdog, Oblivion Mosquito, Nightmare Ram, Black Knight, Pariah and Red Witches expansions) combine with the Inverted Mountain expansion to form the complete Mountain Campaign! Presumably using no core game nemeses or quarries and with a different final boss.

The Silver City's synergy with the Lion God need not be mentioned. I'd now suggest not getting the Lion God without it (unless you're pledging for Ancient Gold Lantern and don't wanna spend more).

Likewise, the Spidicules, Flower Knight syngergy with the new Abyssal Forest goes without mentioning. There may also be some bonuses to having the DBK and Honeycomb Weaver as well, but these aren't essential.

The Red Witches and Pariah Nemeses have some planned cross-pollination, though this looks to be more based around a custom campaign. The Witches are clearly very early in the development cycle, alas, so we can’t know much will materialise.

Kickstarter questions


Prices and buying after the Kickstarter

I suspect all of the expansions, reprint and new, will be on the Kingdom Death webstore in a few years. Likewise, I’ll expect some copies of the core game to go up. These will all be much more expensive than they are on the KS, so now is the best time to buy. It’s a little annoying if you’re unsure about expansions and would like to try to the core game first and if you’re on a budget (time to take out a second mortgage). You could go big for this KS and perhaps sell things down the line if you’re not keen – the first printing of KDM and expansions all generally sell for a vastly inflated price secondhand. I can’t guarantee that will happen again (the company may try to make many, many more copies of everything to meet future demand and all the likely KDM fans may all end up backing this KS as it’s getting a lot of publicity) but… I think it will. Just don’t blame me if you make the wrong call and miss out on a great deal or buy expansions you can’t sell/make a profit on down the line.

Shipping

KDM 1.5 will be shipping in waves, not all in one game. Wave 1, the core (updated) game, is scheduled for next year. Expansions and promos will come out over a longer schedule – many are only at the rough outline stage and will take months to develop. This was how the first Kickstarter worked. The dates may change, for sure, because Poots is a perfectionist who will scrap and rework something if he doesn’t think it’s up to his personal standards. He’s always pushing back delivery dates but he always delivers. I suspect the core game will be least affected as the changes aren’t too major and the files, moulds etc already exist for most of the content. Since this game is on track to break all Kickstarter records for board games, we can expect a lot of bonus content that will take a while to work its way to us.

Shipping and import costs… That’s an area I’ll leave to Poots because it’s complicated and, especially for Brits like me, frankly impossible to estimate as various political events over the next few years may affect shipping prices for a game manufactured in China and then shipped to various regional warehouses.


Advanced rules


I’m not going to outline all the rules here, I’m just going to highlight some bits that may help to explain, sell or unsell the game to you. Things like gear affinities and HL decks are pretty big parts of the game and are seldom discussed. Very, very minor spoilers (and some pictures of game cards - I picked the lion as it's the first thing you face).

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Gear

Gear is crafted from monster resources in the settlement phase. Each has a resource cost listed on the location that builds it – it may be generic resources (bone, organs, hide) or it may specify exact resources (antelope pelts, phoenix feathers, etc). You can build as much gear as you like freely in the settlement phase. All gear has keywords. Some simply refer to what it was made from (bone, hide, etc) and others are more specific traits of the item – musical instruments are noisy, some armours are [/i]heavy[/i], warpaints are soluble, etc. These can be very relevant – sometimes keywords on gear can affect events in the Hunt phase and AI cards in the showdown phase (I’ll give an example using the ‘stinky’ keyword later). I’m pretty sure that some of many keywords have yet to be used or mentioned at all...

Now I need to talk about affinities, but first I need to explain the gear grid. Every survivor has a gear grid – nine spaces, three by three – where you place gear cards. But this is more than just an inventory – the position of gear within a grid can be vital and is almost a minigame in itself. This is because of affinities. Most gear cards have half-squares that, when placed next to a card with the opposing sort, form a complete affinity square. They come in three colours. Lots of gear have bonus abilities unlocked by the correct full affinities, and for some these affinities must be the ones on the card itself (this is shown by a little jigsaw symbol). This can make deciding what to bring and where to put it quite tactical – I often have a piece of gear in my grid that’s of no real use outside of the affinities it gives me.

To better understand this, I’ve added an image. All of this is very early game gear.

Repetition

One common concern, especially after you’ve seen the plethora of expansions, is that the three core quarries simply aren’t enough and will become boring in time. Plenty of people are concerned that KDM has a lot ‘grinding’, especially as most monster-specific armour sets and weapons will probably require multiple hunts (especially at low levels) before you can complete them.

Some ‘grind’ is necessary. You can’t throw every quarry expansion into the game unless you only plan to craft generic gear that uses nonspecific monster parts (to be fair, you could do a campaign this way - the basic Rawhide and Leather armour sets are actually pretty fantastic) – it’s for this reason you’re advised not to throw too many new quarries in and have to accept that you may, intentionally or not, end up replacing another quarry entirely – in my current people of the Stars campaign I’ve yet to hunt a single Phoenix, instead focusing on Sunstalkers, and I only added one extra quarry.

But the grind isn’t too bad. Even though all lions/antelope/gorms/flower knights/etc generally behave the same way, every AI deck is random and different. You may see different cards and, as the decks shrink towards the end of the fight, you’ll see the same attacks over and over (which can be a blessing or a nightmare). It gives a surprising degree of variety – sometimes a fight is an absolute breeze and your survivors laugh all the way home but the same quarry at the same level the next year might kick half of them to death. In my recent People of the Stars campaign I had this exact experience hunting two L2 antelope.

Also noteworthy is the fact that the step up from Level 1 up to L2 and from there to L3 enemies (there are also five L4 monsters …) can involve big, big changes. Sometimes it’s a simple, linear ‘they get tougher’ and maybe get a new trait you need to keep watchful for, but sometimes it can force you to adapt the way you fight a monster entirely.

AI cards

Every monster comes with a fat wad of AI cards. These are subdivided into Traits (marked with an S), basic AI cards (marked with a B), advanced (marked with an A) and legendary (marked with an L). Each level of monster requires a set number of each B, A and L cards and predetermined Traits.

Most, though not all, AI cards, are attacks. We’ll use an attack for ease of explanation – the first part of the card determines target selection. If there are multiple valid targets, the Monster Controller picks (in my solo or two player games I personally prefer to randomise the target in these situations). If they can’t find a target monsters generally have a preset action. They may move towards the nearest survivor, or lick their wounds, or disappear, for example.

Target selection can be simple (nearest survivor) but can sometimes be very interesting –monsters may target based on position or other, stranger things. One monster (I won’t say which) often preferentially targets survivors with any gear that has the ‘Stinky’ keyword. This keyword does nothing outside of this situation, but now it could be a liability for a character or could be used to make a survivor the designated target (give them a shield, for pity’s sake).

Once a monster has a target, there’s a ‘flow’ arrow on the card. This allows survivors who’ve unlocked the Surge and Dash abilities (done via the tech tree) to potentially react, spending their survival (points that are limited but, via innovations, can refresh when you leave to hunt). Surge lets you take an action (like, say, blocking with a shield or even attacking) and Dash lets you move. This allows some lifesaving tactics, such as running away so the monster can only chase you this turn, running behind a rock of hide from a solar flare attack or even drawing a monster into position for survivors to strike next turn.

Finally, the monster attacks, probably moving to do so. It rolls dice to hit and wound and does damage to different locations determined by rolling dice. You gradually lose armour points on a location, then injury levels, then once those are depleted by attacks you roll on a location-specific severe injury table that may kill and maim you.

Hit Location Cards

Hit location cards are a vital part of the game and as important to understanding a quarry as its AI cards. I usually dislike ‘roll to hit, now roll to wound’ mechanics (I prefer fewer dice rolls), but KDM makes rolling to wound very interesting – there are locations that are easier or harder to wound, locations you actually might not want to wound (because, man, that’ll really anger the monster), locations that might break (or, for one very memorable HL card, eat) your weapons… Many HL cards have monster reactions (if wounded, if you failed to wound and general reactions that trigger either way). A monster may run away after one HL, cancelling the rest, or it may attack you in the middle of your attack (to give the two simplest examples). HL cards and the reactions on them are a huge part of a monster’s character.

And of course the HL deck contains the Trap card, the card that cancels all your hits and has the monster react in some horrible way before reshuffling the deck. They’re all different and while some can negated or managed, they hurt.


Narrative


Very low spoilers here, I obliquely mention some events without mentioning names or going into detail.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

So I talked a little bit about the story and replayability earlier, but I need to get into a bit more detail here (without spoiling). It’s easy, I think, for me to start with some comparisons.

KDM is often compared to Dark Souls because of the aesthetic, the dark theme and the reputation for difficulty. This is pretty valid, but there’s another similarity in that lots of the world building is shown, not told, or is told in snippets here and there. What are the Goblin, the Gambler or the Scribe? What’s the deal with the King’s Men? Where does the Manhunter come from and go? I can answer all of these questions, but only superficially, and only because of a lot of reading around in the rulebooks. The story of KDM is told in broad, but suggestive, strokes. It’s up to you to find, puzzle out, or speculate on the fine details and the wider view of things.

Another comparison, again a video game, is the XCOM series. There’s no plot or thematic similarity at all, but XCOM and KDM both feature a mix of base/settlement management (including a tech tree that directly feeds into the other part of the game) and tactical combat. In both, you name and customise characters and send them into the field, knowing that they might die due to a simple mistake and/or bad luck. The main story is the same for each game, but the emergent narratives aren’t, and they (as well as the challenge of the gameplay) are what keep you coming back.

KDM’s replayability, and a lot of the appeal, comes from emergent narratives that rely a little on you. When a character is made leader or executed for their crimes through game events, what does that mean for your settlement? Board games generally favour emergent narratives since, with random chance being such a key part of them, things like character arcs are pretty hard to nail down. Between different KDMs campaigns most of the same big events happen, sure (though there is some branching, kinda), but the little events – and your choices (and KDM constantly asks you to make choices, with little things like ‘What do we hunt?’, ‘What do we craft?’ and ‘What do we innovate?’ having pretty big repercussions)- are often more memorable and you need to buy into that mindset to appreciate the game.

I’ll give an example from my first campaign – I took one survivor (her name was Cascade) from the ‘tutorial’ lion right through to the final boss. She quickly became far more powerful than all of my other survivors, personally killing three nemeses (nearly all of the ones I killed), mastering the bow, inventing language, possibly inventing the concept of graves and mourning, being officially named leader after she gave us our Society principle and generally being awesome. I know I warned you about not getting too attached to survivors, but her survival became very, very important to us. She technically died twice (expansions shenanigans brought her back) – we went to huge efforts to save her. She lead a team to fight a L3 monster for a piece of equipment that would save her from a deadly curse. Entire generations died out, but Cascade endured, the single point of continuity for our settlement. Our first campaign was her story, a glorious emergent narrative, and I might bring that settlement back to fight the Gold Smoke Knight and experience the new ending. My current People of the Stars campaign doesn’t have such a glorious emergent storyline (although now I think about it, I realise a single bloodline is giving rise to my best survivors), though I am finding the main storyline pretty amazing.

Needless to say, Cascade has been immortalised in model form at three stages of her life with different armours she wore (starting survivor, midgame badass and final boss fight).

Now a second hand-story (courtesy of Paul Johnson) of a man with no second, or first, hand after his initial hunt; Tiresias the (H)armless. An antelope cleanly kicked his arm off on his first outing and he lost the other foraging in the same showdown phase. Usually, a survivor with two missing arms isn’t going on another hunt again, they sit at the settlement and are the first to be sacrificed when the game demands you lose population, but for reasons we shan’t go into, Tiresias’s player faced a year when he was happy to lose and not happy to risk anyone of value. Poor, armless Tiresis was sent with other crippled, weak survivors to hunt a level one Phoenix.

On the way he gained +1 Luck from an event. Amazingly, they triumphed and his Accuracy was boosted. A settlement event then gave him a Fighting Art (Monster Claw Style) that, among other things, boosts Accuracy and Strength when fighting unarmed. Unarmed fighting was all Tiresias was capable of at this point, of course, and with this Fighting Art and his earlier stat boosts (which meant he would hit on a 4+, Crit on a 6+ and inflict double wounds on a crit) Tiresias had transformed from dead weight to deadly. He kicked and bit his way into glory, Mastering unarmed combat and teaching his skills to the settlement.

KDM’s story asks you to make decisions and take ownership, to make the campaign your own, as does the model-making side of things. That, to me, is reason that the miniatures are seen as such a core part of the experience. Kingdom Death is a glorious, bloody sandbox for you to make your own stories in. Make it your own.

If this level of narrative 'buy in' doesn’t appeal to you, then more than any other warning I can give you, KDM is probably not a good investment for you.



***

I'll be updating this thread/essay throughout the KS - feel free to ask questions about anything (rules, expansions, Kickstarter tiers, etc) or suggest things to add.
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Ron Rhinehart
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
This is a fantastic post. Thank you!
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Sven Wasberg
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
Thank you!
That looks like a lot of work.
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Paul Johnson
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
Fantastic post.

TheEremite wrote:


Dragon King

This is one of two hug expansions



That is what I think of when I think of the Dragon King, very huggable. Sunstalker too.
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
jpauljohnson wrote:
Fantastic post.

TheEremite wrote:


Dragon King

This is one of two hug expansions



That is what I think of when I think of the Dragon King, very huggable. Sunstalker too.


I'm keeping this typo.
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Dave K
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
Thank you for the great post.

Really, this is super helpful. thumbsup
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Matt Dripps
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
I'm new to KDM and thank you for this post! I do have a small question; does the rulebook act as a storybook/rulebook and kind of show you the rules as you play along?
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
matthewdripps wrote:
I'm new to KDM and thank you for this post! I do have a small question; does the rulebook act as a storybook/rulebook and kind of show you the rules as you play along?


The rulebook is very well designed - first you get a condensed set of Showdown rule for the first lion fight, which is essentially a tutorial. Then you get the full rules. So it's a little bit like that, but not entirely.

About a third of the rulebook is a collection of story events, ranging from when you first arrive (and create a language) to rules on how to set up every showdown. Each has a full-colour illustration to match. They're arranged alphabetically - the timeline and various in-game cards will tell you when to refer to different events.
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
What exactly are the armor kits? Are they pieces of armor that you add on to an existing model?
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reaching out from the in-between spaces...
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
I was about to ask if a KD:M vet would give info like this. Thank you, thank you.
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
esswhy wrote:
What exactly are the armor kits? Are they pieces of armor that you add on to an existing model?


The armour kits are the models (2 of each gender) of the various armour sets - leather, lion fur, etc. Though they're modular (you can mix them freely), the game generally offers bonuses for full sets.

This picture shows four (assembled and customised) survivors from the Lantern Armour kit wearing, well, Lantern Armour.
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Andrew G
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Takoma Park
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing

This is an awesome post!! As a current backer but also someone who is very new to this game this is an absolutely fantastic contribution! Thank you very, very much!!
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Michael Pflug
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Schwäbisch Gmünd
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
This is very well written! You put a lot of effort into this. Thanks a lot for sharing!
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Erik Andersson
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Rimbo
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
Very helpful, thank you!
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Shaun Danis

Ohio
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
Great post. Thanks for all the hard work
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John
Netherlands
Alkmaar
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
Excellent post Stuart! Cheers!
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The Big Cheeze
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Maylands
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
Thank you for the information, makes understanding KDM that much easier
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Gerrit G.
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
Thank you very much for this very informative overview. Especially concerning the available expansions. Since I won't buy all of them, I have to choose which ones to get. Your information and your ranking is quite helpful there.

I am glad to see that four of the six old expansions that I've already dismissed rank at the bottom of your list. (Totally agree on Spidicules btw: Cool creature design, but completely impracticable as a miniature for a board game.) The other two that I've already dismissed are Manhunter (I don't like the look and other nemesis monsters seem more interesting) and Gorm (that thing is ugly as dung and due to its size, that expansion won't be that cheap). However, you make good points for why the Gorm might actually still be a good choice.

My general idea is to get a nice spread of different expansions:
A) 1 variant campaign
B) 2-4 quarries
C) 1-2 nemesis monsters

That should be enough to spice things up for a few different playthroughs of this game.

I am currently leaning toward:
A) Dragon King (I love love love that model)
B) Dung Beetle Knight for sure, Screaming God looks savage, then maybe Flower Knight
C) Slenderman because he is so damn creepy, maybe Lion Knight due to recommendations

One final question: Is it possible to add the Sunstalker or the Dragon King as quarries to the base set campaign or are they only useable as part of their specific campaigns?
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Merethif
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
Star Slayer wrote:

One final question: Is it possible to add the Sunstalker or the Dragon King as quarries to the base set campaign or are they only useable as part of their specific campaigns?


Yes, it is - you can add them as quarries to base campaign. Actually you can't add them as quarries otherwise - in specific campaigns your settlement worship those monsters and can't hunt them at all.

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Henry Akeley
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
Both Sunstalker and Dragon King can be added to any game as quarries. Follow the instructions in their books to add them. You can't hunt either in their respective campaigns.
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Thomas Gustafsson
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
Fantastic post! This thread really needs to be pinned to the top if that's a thing here.
You actually helped me in my decision to lower my pledge. Please don't misunderstand though, I instantly fell in love with the look of this game, and it looks like a really deep and engrossing campaign mode, even if you play by yourself (which is my main method of playing).
It's just that I'm completely new to this game, and to toss $750 at it suddenly felt like a rash decision. So instead I opted for just the core game and gamblers chest and will instead be a bit more selective with expansions and just add them separately towards the end of the campaign when more is revealed.
Thanks again!
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Stuart Martyn
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
Thanks for all the kind words - I'm very happy to have been of some help.

I've updated the huge essay somewhat. In addition to fixing a few typos and editing some bits for clarity, I've added some info on the four different variant campaigns.

Is there anything else people would find useful? I'm wondering if some more advanced rule stuff (affinities and gear) would be useful, but I don't want to get too deep into how the rules work. I'm also considering adding links to gameplay videos - any veterans got suggestions as to which of these are the best?
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Jasber Floob
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
Excellent post. Thanks
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IA Seldon
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
TheEremite wrote:
Thanks for all the kind words - I'm very happy to have been of some help.

I've updated the huge essay somewhat. In addition to fixing a few typos and editing some bits for clarity, I've added some info on the four different variant campaigns.

Is there anything else people would find useful? I'm wondering if some more advanced rule stuff (affinities and gear) would be useful, but I don't want to get too deep into how the rules work. I'm also considering adding links to gameplay videos - any veterans got suggestions as to which of these are the best?


Videos: https://youtu.be/n0IeLb4_uCc This one is pretty decent for a tutorial and prologue fight.
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Merethif
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Re: New to KDM? Everything you need to know before backing
TheEremite wrote:
(...) In addition to fixing a few typos and editing some bits for clarity, I've added some info on the four different variant campaigns.


There is also Seven Swordsmen campaign variant in core rulebook. Since you're providing info on all official available variants I think it is worth adding. Also it changes campaign more drastically then People of the Skull and thus it shows how "modders-friendly" this game really is.

BTW, I believe that in case of Gambler's Chest it would be better to list new rules (Philosophies and Scouts) before additional minis. Many new backers already think that Gambler's Chest is all about promos and pin-ups. Actually so far, there is only one promo mini (Sci-fi Aya) and no pin-ups minis in Gambler's Chest (well ok, Nightmare Adam might be consider one :-D). Rest of the minis are 100% gameplay compatible just like any mini created with core box armour kits.

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