As many know, my first love is my Kingdoms of Men army. Not because how it performs on the battlefield (I can’t get it to work well) but because I love the idea of common blokes with a pike or crossbows taking on the horrors of Mantica.
The armies (yes: I own two) stated out as GW empire armies. My first models were bought in the early years of this century after I finished my bretonnian army with which I started playing warhammer.
This was the box that started it all. Some of the lizardmen I see on occasion as I donated them to my brother and he fields them from time to time when he needs more manpower.
Now in Kings of War
But ever since I retired those bretties, I focussed on my Empire armies. After a while an undead army joined them, but the Empire armies continue to be my favorite.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Kingdoms of Men army list in Kings of War. Though many players keep telling me the army is a viable army, I can’t get to make them work. Moreover, I find them very plain on the battlefield compared to other armies, even compared to their human brethren of Basilea, the Brotherhood, Varangur and the League of Rhordia. They are just basic humans with very little “special” compared to other armies, which lesses my wish to actually play them on the battlefield. (while I love collecting them and painting them) I’d really love to see their training and/or tools make them unique in some way.
This blog post aims to do something about that. It’s set of ideas (maybe the first of a series?) to make part of the Kingdoms of men army more diverse and therefore more interesting to play.
These ideas are just brain-dumps. They haven’t been tested how they operate in game and most especially not pointed right. So IF the Mantic RC decides to use some of these ideas, they need repointing and balancing. Please no comments that an idea is not balanced. It’s not (yet) meant to be. Suggestions of course are always welcome.
First idea: shooters
Kingdoms of men has three kinds of shooters: Archers, Crossbowmen and arquebusiers. These are nearly the same in the fact that archers are the default unit, crossbowmen get reload! and a point cost rise for piercing (1) and arquebussiers get another point cost rise for piercing (2)
These three units have more or less the same battlefield purpose: staying back and pepper the enemy (especially those with high defense) with missile fire without moving. The problem with this is that the game doesn’t reward having stationary shooters. Secondly they have very little tactical options. (I’ll leave their limited performance out of this post as I wrote on this subject elsewhere:
A great solution would be to give the three units a distinctively battlefield role with upgrades that give them even more diversity. My ideas below:
The default unit would be (like it is now) the archer. Available in troops, regiments and hordes @ 100 points a regiment. See below for stats
To make this unit more interesting give them the following upgrade options:
-Troops and regiments may be upgraded for 10 points to gain vanguard.
-Hordes may take pikes at +15 points. If you do, they gain phalanx.
These 2 options give them more utiliy on the battlefield. Vanguarding archers make great chaff and great counter-chaff. A horde protected (somewhat) from cheap cavalry is also more efficient. Both have their uses, while not bein auto-include.
The crossbowmen keep the same basic stats as archers. The gain +1 piercing at the cost of Reload!. They also have the following option:
-Crossbomen may be upgraded with Pavises for +10 (troop) / +20 (regiment)/ +30 (horde) points. If you do, they gain the Big shield special rule.
The Reload! rule is detrimental enough to be a fair tradeoff for +1 piercing, so no point cost change needed. The pavise special rule makes them very good at missile versus missile combat without boosting their offensive power. It’s expensive enough not to be an auto include as it does nothing against a dedicated infantry assault (as one wound will still disorder it) but it’s a nice dilema. Useful against elves, not so against varangur.
Historically, the early gunners weren’t that effective at range. A musket (which is already a technological improvement over the arquebus) was battlefield effective at 50 meters, while archers and crossbows have effective ranges of several 100 meters.
The first effective rifles (i.e. accurate firearms) were not used on the battlefield until the early 19th century, so these are not taken into account.
To represent this in KoW, why not give the gunners the “breath weapon (attacks)” special rule? A powerful short ranged attack with some flexibility would be a nice addition. The abbyssal dwarf decimaters have the same rule, which is not overpowered.
On top of this; they gain the following upgrade options:
-alchemical gunpowder (10 points for a troop; 20 for a regiment and 30 for a horde): the unit gains piercing (1)
-Bayonets (10 points for atroop, 20 for a regiment and 30 for a horde): The unit gains phalanx and +1 Crushing strength against height 2 or larger units.
Changing the arqs from piercing (1) to Breath weapon will change their battlefield role enormously. They will guard flanks/rears from fliers or be used for chaff-clearing duty. The alchemical gunpowder upgrade will make them more effective, but they can still be disordered by a single wound in melee, which is nasty for a 200-point horde. The bayonet upgrade will give them also a light infantry role, which compliments their up-and-close place in the battlelines too. Take them both is getting very expensive quickly for a def 3 unit. Choices…..
Changing these three units as described above, they have each distinctive roles which also support different playstyles. Aside from the crossbowmen, they also support a more mobile game, which is -for me- the core of the Kings of War game.
Anyone wishing to use / playtest these rules; please do. Also, keep me informed.