Thursday, August 18, 2016

Wrath of Kings: You should play this game! Also, House Nasier gallery

As some of you may recall from my Historicon post, my son was interested in Wrath of Kings (WoK), from CMON, Inc. by a demo he played there.  He spent the money he had saved on a starter box of the game, and we played a few games together that weekend.  I found the game to be very interesting, and picked up some more models to assemble and try more games.

Since that time, I have really become hooked.  What follows is a short review on WoK and why I recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy skirmish-scale miniatures games.

What is it?  

Wrath of Kings is a tabletop miniatures game by CMON, Inc.  It was launched as a Kickstarter in 2013 and was reasonably successful, clearing $700k.  Delivery took about a year and it arrived to backers in 2014, following on to store shelves thereafter.  Like many kickstarter miniatures games, it took a while to catch up the retail collection with the kickstarter offerings, and my impression is the game has flagged in popularity since the KS was delivered.  However, CMON recently released a second book with revised rules and a ton of new units and fiction.  The game is poised to take off again!

One great feature of the game is that the rules and stats are free online:

You can read the rules and see for yourself what it is like, so I won't explain all the rules here.  But I will tell you what I like about the game:

  • Creative setting and great art-the five factions are fairly unique, although some common fantasy themes are present.  But steampunk fish-men from an underwater empire (Hadross), and mutated Union members of a technomatic socialist dictatorship (Teknes) are pretty unique, to name two examples. 
  • Great models: I love the figures.  All of them, every faction.  Some are certainly an acquired taste.  But aesthetics aside they are well sculpted and of good quality plastic.  They are NOT multi-pose and assemble very easily.  I prefer this.  I assembled a 30-model Teknes Starter in about an hour.  See below for my painted Nasier.  
  • Alternative activations system: I activate some models, you activate some models makes for a riveting and tactically challenging system.  
  • D10 system-allows for great granularity in distinguishing unit abilities
  • Interesting card-based hit system: 

The chart on the far right gives you the result when you roll an attack against this shark-man.  He takes damage on a 7 or better.  The remaining results are armor, block, and magical feedback.  These results can be affected by special abilities, making the shark man more or less vulnerable.  See the Sundering ability, above, for an example.

  • Low model count: the game can be played with between a dozen and probably no more than about 40 models a side.  
  • Tactical depth: the range of special abilities and synergies within the armies are great.  You get much more mileage out of your troops by using them as intended and complementing them with specialists and heroes that increase their strengths.
  • Ease of rules: 14 pages of rules, all told, not including unit stats.  It's more crunchy than Age of Sigmar but still very easy to learn and teach. 
  • Asymmetrical win conditions: Games are won by reducing the enemy morale to zero.  Starting morale comes from model count/3 plus ranks of leaders. You lose morale for every 3 models killed, but in addition each faction has access to certain "motivations" which provide potential objectives for the game.  These reflect the background story attributes of each faction and their rules in the game.  For example, House Goritsi favor hit and run tactics and mobility, whereas Nasier go in for frontal assaults and attrition:
  • Unique list building: battles are played in one of three sizes: patrol, skirmish, and battle.  Each one allows for X ranks of commanders, x ranks of infantry and x ranks of specialists.  To date all models in the game have rank of 1 or 2.  Choosing an army is fast and easy, with very little math, but the game retains a balancing mechanic for armies despite not having "points" per se.
  • Depth without an endless abyss.  I call this the "not warmachine" factor.  The models have special abilities, and the synergies are important.  But, they are not so hard to remember, nor the game so punishing, that making a single mistake means you have lost the game.
  • Shallow power curve: the toughest Rank 2 models are scary.  But they can be beaten.  There are no uber-units nor are specialists and heroes easy meat.  All your models are important and can have a real impact on the battle.  
  • Reasonable price.  A 30-model starter (they vary) is $70 USD retail.  That's $2.50 a mini.  You can easily find them at 20% off for an even better value.  Character boxes tend to be a bit more expensive per figure, but you won't need many and we are talking $20-$25 for a box of three or for a very large beast.  Oh, and by the way that starter will give you a complete Skirmish-level force to play.  
In sum, this is a really nicely done skirmish game in every area.  It's great fun to play, has great models, and is very affordable.

And, I hope you agree, they paint up well!  So without further adieu, my House Nasier!

The whole gang.  This is at least one of every model in print for Nasier at the moment, I believe.  House Nasier troops enter into pacts with fire elementals to bolster their abilities.  Most wear masks which imbue them with mutated forms and/or great power.

Pelegarth Bloodmasks and leaders known as Howls to the fore, Pelegarth Brutes and Wardens behind, characters and specialists in the rear.

Brutes and their Wardens

Heroes and specialists 

The Greathorn, flanked by Greatwings.

More heroes and specialists.

 Fel Hammers and the Unmasked

Ashmen soldiers and their Hakar leaders

So I hope you liked this post, and please check out Wrath of Kings!  .


davetaylor said...

A very cool review of the game. Are all those Nasier yours? My goodness. You paint incredibly quickly and well, an awesome combination to have!

Black Knight said...

Thanks Dave!

bryan vestal said...

I picked up WOK at Historicon to. I bought the 2p starter and all the Nasier stuff. A great game.