Couple of days ago I finally received my preordered Kings of War Historical wargaming rules. They had been released by Mantic Games and present their foray into historical wargaming. I do have to say it was a good move on their part.
First let’s have a look at the book itself. It is in a B5 format, same as all the other Kings of War publications and I have to say it works really well. It has 128 pages with last three being taken by advertising of Kings of War and Warlord Games. Book looks really nice. Army lists are often accompanied by pictures of beautifully painted armies and in general it seems much more graphically rich that previous Mantic books. Which in a way is no wonder as there are many more historical models available that of Mantic fantasy range, so many more opportunities for nice pictures and dioramas. Definitely no complains on the grounds of aesthetic.
Let’s move to the content. It is exactly same gaming system as a fantasy version written by Alessio Cavatore. It is well liked by many for it’s relative simplicity whilst at the same time being difficult to master and offering a lot of challenge. Only changes I can see at the first glance is that there are some extra special abilities. Foulkon (n) offers extra defence vs shooting , which would be for example units with pavises etc. Then you have Devastating rule, which adds +1 to Nerve tests for units damaged with it, simulating more powerful weapons such as for example Byzantine naptha throwers. Then you have a Skirmisher rule, which is going to be a very interesting one, since it essentially gives Individual rule to the unit. One more addition is a negative value of piercing on weapons such as slings.
There are 8 scenarios and I didn’t read them in details but it seems like it is same 6 from the fantasy book plus Hilltop Defence and a Forest Ambush. Didn’t go into details on last two so won’t formulate an opinion just yet, but they do look interesting and challenging.
Now the most interesting part, which is Army Lists. There are 31 of them, divided into periods of Antiquity, Early Middle Ages, high middle Ages and Late Middle Ages. You have a generic so called “Master List” and then each army will have their own specific units, special characters and some with special rules for the army as well. Each army list has specified units from Master List that it can take. One of the interesting choices will be a musician, which has Rallying(2) ability. Additionally you have so called “Veteran Abilities” which are historical equivalent of magical items. One of the lists is Mercenaries which is essentially a list of units other armies can take up to 25% of their own lists (with each army having specified which units they can take). Plenty of choice here, but I do feel that there was bit of an oversight in a choice of lists. I feel one thing definitely lacking is some sort of Arab list for Crusades period, especially that there is a Crusaders list. Another missed opportunity is lost for Condottieri (Italian mercenaries with a lot of different units? Yes please!) and a Hussite list (come on, war wagons! How could you miss a chance to let people use those? 🙂 ). There are some small mistakes as well ,such as Polish list having Winged Hussars with no time restriction on them, which I feel was bit out of place, or slings not having their range stated in a list of weapons, but this is all minor.
There are also 4 pages of Mythical Units if somebody want’s to add some fantasy feel to their armies, but it’s not for me personally. Don’t think it is a problem though as it is only few pages and it might be interesting addition for some people.
All in all I would say it is a really good book and I would give it 8 from 10. Hopefully with time there will be more army lists available. Great effort Mantic Games!