The game has been designed for armies of fantasy miniatures. It uses stock fantasy races such as Elves, Dwarves, Undead and Orcs, as well as demonic version of Dwarfs known as Abyssal Dwarfs. Each race has an alignment (Good, Evil or Neutral) and races of the same or compatible alignments can join forces, allowing the player to have a mixed army.
Initially released as a range of miniatures without a set of companion rules, Mantic Games announced in July 2010 that a set of rules was under development. The game was designed by Alessio Cavatore, who previously worked on the rules for The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, Warmaster, Warhammer 40,000 and Mordheim while working for Games Workshop.
The game was first announced in early 2010 as a closed beta. The 2010 edition of the game was released in September 2010 with the Mhorgoth's Revenge starter set. The rules were finally published as a download from Mantic's website in December 2010 -- Kings of War is unique amongst games of its genre in that the core rules and required army rosters are available to download as free PDFs from Mantic Games' website.
In 2011, a small 52 page book was published which formed the "2nd" edition of the game. By this time, Mantic had announced that in its 3rd year the game would be developed enough, based on player feedback, to produce a hardback book. Thus in 2012 the "3rd edition" KoW hardback book was published.
The publication of the hardback book saw the game officially launched as a gaming system no longer in "beta". The 144 full colour pages flesh out the background of the world in which the game is set (Mantica ) and show a map of the world for the first time. As well as the latest rules and army lists, the book features Advanced Rules by Jake Thornton covering interactive terrain, buildings, Sieges and multi-player games.
Playing Kings of War
Kings of War is a tabletop wargame where two or more players compete against each other with "armies" of (typically) 28mm miniatures. The rules of the game are very concise and describe how miniatures are moved, how artillery is used and how combat can be resolved; as well as a limited number of unique rules for each army which define the characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of the race. Games may be played on any appropriate surface, although the standard is a 6 ft by 4 ft tabletop decorated with model scenery in scale with the miniatures. Any individual or group of miniatures in the game is called a "unit", whether represented by a single model, or group of similar troops.
The game rules are published alongside a series of rosters (or 'army lists') which describe and list the individual statistics for each unit. Unit sizes are fixed into multiples of five miniatures, known as infantry and units comprising forty or more miniatures known as hordes.
Unlike games such as Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Kings of War revolves around entire units rather than individual models. When units take damage, single models are not removed and the units overall fighting ability is not reduced as such - but the more damage a unit acquires the greater the likelihood is that it will break (in which case the entire unit is removed from the tabletop). This unit-level system makes Kings of War well suited to large-scale battles and gives gamers the scope to model their units as dioramas rather than being restricted to rank-and-file blocks of miniatures (providing the dimensions of the unit remain the same).
All distances in the game are measured in inches and six-sided dice are used to determine the outcome of artillery fire, magic spells and melee. Players are allowed to measure anything at any time.
Kings of War follows an IGOUGO turn style, in which a player makes all of their own actions on their turn, but does not require the other player to take action. The game also lends itself well to timed-games, with support for chess clocks in the rules.
Games are very fast and players will be able to play a couple of games in a typical games evening. Big games of several thousand points per side are playable in only a few hours.
There are a number of playable armies for Kings of War, represented by official army-lists as well as several fan-created lists (although these are unofficial and not typically permitted in tournaments).
In the 2012 hardback rulebook, the following eight factions are represented with official army lists:
TODO: add the 2nd edition armies
The Kings of War Universe called Mantica contains the games: