Jump to content

KOW2, AOS and WFB


Recommended Posts

I've been an amateur game designer all my life (too bad the pay sucks), and love to sit around and analyze what makes a game 'tick'. So this whole madness around "what next?" has me thrilled to be perusing rules-sets and ruminating on design choices :)

 

In particular, comparing KOW2, AOS, and WFB, I see some really stark contrasts:

 

AOS

 

Pros:

-Brilliant game flow: you get right into things in a natural and fun way

-Elegant and interesting player choice: hero and command powers present viable and meaningful options in-game, but take very little effort to understand

-Wonderful flavor: You can't get much better than CCG-style "basic rules, complex 'cards'"

 

Cons:

-No army construction rules! Even casual players are complaining. That's pretty bad

-No tactics in movement: there is no question that ranks 'n' flanks is what elevates WFB over 40K in terms of depth (jab!)

-Currently weak scenario support: this means there isn't even strategy in movement :( The game is all about unit-power and combat management.

 

How to fix and make great:

-Army construction rules

-A mechanic to reward 'surrounding' enemies so that the movement tactics of ranks 'n' flanks is added to the game.

-6 solid scenarios, or really iron-out a good way to do 'sudden death', so that more strategic movement is added to the game

-Minor incentive for clumping a single unit (enabling movement trays and therefore full-sized armies)

-Discourage clumping multiple units (less necessary for larger games and games with multiple positional objectives)

-Use bases + KOW2 LoS system (if the game is worth it, I'm happy to rebase)

 

KOW2

 

Pros:

-Unit based ranks 'n' flanks gameplay: Such a good choice to scrap model-based gameplay. Cleans up so much of the garbage from WFB. You basically have ~10 pieces (units).

-Streamlined movement: easy to carry out, easy to understand, gives enough choice for a high-skill ceiling, but not so much that it burdens the player

-LoS system: so superior to TLOS. This system is probably the first house-rule my brothers and I apply to every miniatures game :)

 

Cons:

-Currently bland. The basic rules actually have plenty of possibility in them for flair (though they're missing a few obvious improvements), but the actual army designs fail to take full advantage. 

-Weak magic system: They went for reliable and low-impact. That's where shooting should live, not magic.

-Weak warmachine rules. They're just really high-variance shooters :(

-Overly predictable combat math: I applaud the system, but again, the numbers they've chosen make for bland combat (too low variance).

-You lose cinematic flavor by not removing models

 

How to fix and make great:
-Redesign the army lists to have more character and more diversity within a list. Units are mostly just separated by what other units they'll win/lose against. Better is to differentiate units by what positions they excel in.
-Redesign the spell list to be less reliable but more awesome (I have quite a bit in mind here)
-Tweak the rules for 'to-hit' rolls in order to create a bit of a rock-paper-scissors effect on whether units are strong/weak vs shooting and/or warmachines (leads to more deployment decisions based on shooting lanes).

 

WFB 8th

 

Pros:

-We already know it and play it :)

-Huge body of material to draw from

-Great flair and character in armies

-Great emphasis on both strategic and tactical positioning

-Some magic phases can be very fun and interesting

-Combats can be quite intense and wild

-The flee mechanic can be quite interesting

 

Cons:

-SLOW to play. So many cumbersome rules that don't quite meet their intentions. Planning a movement phase can easily take 20 minutes, especially in a close game between large armies.

-Extremely 'abusable': tactics can devolve in to game-exploitation, leading to players losing due to unforeseen and unintuitive minutiae

-Some magic phases are just "roll and pray" due to internal imbalance in lores (only one spell really worth casting each turn).

-The flee mechanic can be a lot of work to resolve

 
How to fix and make great:
-Rework to be unit-based and remove 1 model units that aren't at least 50mm wide. Would immediately clean up so much of the game.

-Rework basic mechanics to get rid of worthless minutiae and reduce mental burden

 

 

But which game to 'fix and make great'?

 

Personally, I'm most drawn to AOS because I think it has some really, really good 'bones'. KOW2 is chess-like in movement (good), but also in combat (bad). I see KOW2 as 1/2 brilliant and 1/2 desperately needing more math-minded game devs. From a core-rules perspective, WFB needs the most love. While it does have the best army rules to start with, it won't get new rules to support new models.

 

Another way to look at it is how to maintain each:

-For AOS, the needed extra rules would not change the warscrolls, so you'd get usable rules to go with new models. And the new models are bound to be awesome (just look at the new chaos models!). What you WON'T have is construction rules, so you'll need to add those for every new unit. But you WON'T need to create the rules for the new models.

-For KOW, it's the army rules that need fixed most, IMO. If Mantic catches on and can fix that, then they might be able to produce new rules for new models for us all. Otherwise, you have to create the rules AND costs for all new models.

-For WFB, all new models would require complete conversion, as the game is dead :(

 

Again, I'm leaning toward AOS :)

 

Okay, I'm officially distracting myself until I can leave for the OFCC :) See you dudes soon!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That was a very interesting read. I'd like to see your thoughts on other games as well :)

 

Regarding the topic:

  1. Some people feel like AoS is bland. It's great that all units are viable, but that's because they are all pretty similar. It may be due to the stats not really describing thing theatrically. S7 says I am a big strong monster/I have a big sword. 3+ to wound just doesn't speak to me the same way. That was one benefit of the stat and table interaction. It allowed for cool things to have the stats they deserve without being broken. E.G. a Bloodthirster is WS10. This shows that he is a badass skull-reaping daemon. But it really isn't all that better than WS7 against most troops.
  2. I think that Magic in AoS is low risk, low reward. OMG D3 Mortal Wounds (said no one). There are some very interesting spells (Flames of the Phoneix, Curse of Years) but even those aren't very impactful. I'm ignoring summoning right now, because that is low risk, win the game.

Your thoughts?

 

I'm not trying to smash AoS (in this post). I find this analysis enjoyable, so let's keep it to that. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been quite impressed by Kings of War so far so I figured I'd give a little rebuttal to your Cons:

 

-Blandness: I'm curious about what parts of the KoW2 armies you think are bland since most of them are just reskinned versions of WHFB units. Is it just the lack of a lot of special rules, unique fluff, or something else? I haven't found this to be the case myself, but a lot of that is because I'm really just looking at this as a new way to play Warhammer at this point, though I am eager to look at the upcoming fluff in the V2 rulebook.

-Weak magic: This is mostly just a difference of opinion on the same point, but I like the lower-impact magic system. In WHFB, it really felt like if you didn't bring a strong magic phase (Khorne, Dwarfs, etc), you were really at a disadvantage that could sometimes swing the game completely away from you, given how big magic phases could get. I think that the KoW magic spells give some interesting little abilities that aren't game-breaking, but still make taking a caster important for certain builds while not making it impossible to be successful if you don't want to bring any magic at all.

-Weak warmachines: I haven't gotten to try out any war engines personally, but from everything I've read online they were incredibly powerful in KoW1 and have gotten scaled back in KoW2, but they still seem to be pretty decent choices to me. Again, just my opinion, but I prefer weaker war machines as I've always strongly preferred the movement and combat parts of the game to the magic and shooting.

-Overly predictable combat math: I'm not sure what the big difference between KoW and WHFB are on combat math aside from no saves, but I haven't found this to be a problem. If anything, units being fairly balanced in head-to-head engagements puts an even greater importance on using tactical movement to get flank and rear charges on your opponents to double or triple your attacks.

-Cinematic flair: Again, this one is only an opinion thing, but I prefer the ease of use and potential for cinematic basing on a unit-sized scale to outweigh the visual of my units being whittled down to a man.

 

So yeah, really good analysis overall and I pretty much just have opposite opinions from you on a lot of the points. As far as I'm concerned low-variance, high focus on movement = good game for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if KoW could benefit from a d10 system instead of a d6 (or maybe just a d8). It would allow a greater flexibility in unit stats. Right now, there doesn't seem to be much difference between a goblin spear unit and an elf spear unit to be honest, especially if they are the same size.

 

One of the things I really liked about Spartan games was the exploding 6 mechanic. I don't think an exploding dice mechanic would work as well, but I would like to see some variation of effect based on the number rolled. What if you included a critical hit/miss mechanic. Take a d10 for example, 1's became a critical miss, and took away a success. While 10's represent a critical hit and added a success. Or, based on which roll, a to hit of 10 equaled an auto wound, a 10 on a wound equaled two, etc.

 

Just spit balling really. Who doesn't like to tweak?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if KoW could benefit from a d10 system instead of a d6 (or maybe just a d8). It would allow a greater flexibility in unit stats. Right now, there doesn't seem to be much difference between a goblin spear unit and an elf spear unit to be honest, especially if they are the same size.

 

One of the things I really liked about Spartan games was the exploding 6 mechanic. I don't think an exploding dice mechanic would work as well, but I would like to see some variation of effect based on the number rolled. What if you included a critical hit/miss mechanic. Take a d10 for example, 1's became a critical miss, and took away a success. While 10's represent a critical hit and added a success. Or, based on which roll, a to hit of 10 equaled an auto wound, a 10 on a wound equaled two, etc.

 

Just spit balling really. Who doesn't like to tweak?

 

I agree on the bigger dice in general. I'd love to see 12s personally, since they're so underutilized in the gaming world.

 

As for exploding 6s... could definitely be fun. AoS makes use of it frequently, where you'll get an extra attack or do a mortal wound and such. But they're all special rules. I think a blanket rule could be interesting, and if you only do it on successes it speeds up games. Adding it on failures where you'll remove a success would slow down games (maybe not by much in either case, but still a reality). And critical misses just aren't as fun!

 

Infinity has a crit sort of concept. If you roll your target number exactly you win a contested roll. Crit ties are a thing too... but that's not terribly important.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm realizing that my phrasing wasn't exactly clear. When I say "weak rules", I mean that the game designer did a weak job, not that the units described by the rules are weak. My own stupid phrasing from doing amateur game design myself (and it's dumb, because it badmouths the designers, and really, it's a thankless job already). Apologies for the unclear language! 

 

So when I say "weak warmachine rules", I don't mean that warmachines are weak, but that the rules feel like an afterthought rather than a really solid effort by the designer. Similar with magic: I think they gave it all a very mild effect in order to ease balancing. Not inspiring game design imo.

 

Think Gandalf: he's not applying a stream of fireblasts throughout the battles, but when the shizz hits the fan, he's bringing the glory and the light to turn the tide.

 

This is also what I mean by cinematic flair: a few key events during the game with fantastic effects. So long as they are situational, provide opportunities for counter-play, mostly reward the currently losing player, and don't outright prevent an opponent from doing his thing, they're great fun!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if KoW could benefit from a d10 system instead of a d6 (or maybe just a d8). It would allow a greater flexibility in unit stats. Right now, there doesn't seem to be much difference between a goblin spear unit and an elf spear unit to be honest, especially if they are the same size.

 

This is actually something I have always thought could improve WFB. The D6 just does not allow much range of success/failure chances.1 pip equals ~16.66%. When you add in ones always fail and 6's succeed you only have 4 pips left to play with.

 

With a 1-10 range you have a ton more room to have stat comparisons matter. A human might need a 6+ (50% success/failure) to wound another human, but then a goblin could actually be one less toughness and still be relevant in a fight... so now the human needs a 5+ (40% failure), perhaps a snotling might be one lower still and now we can still maintain a 4+ (30% failure).

 

The big problem moving off of D6 is that you have less dice available (not that you can't go buy a ton) and they are often harder to read.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not at all impressed with the Mantic rules, very blah and predictable, it lacks dynamic play.

 

I'm not convinced that AOS is not a movement game, it is just a lot more subtle in how you take advantage.  Flanks still mater, if you can engage a unit on two flanks, you can pile in to maximise your attacks while your enemy is stuck because they can't move their forces more than an inch apart.  Also the retreat is not being used to its fullest potential in most games that I have witnessed, it is that retreat which can open the door to movement traps.  That 3 inch zone of control is also important for controlling parts of the board.  Even though I'm a huge fan of 8th, I think this new game has some legs, but I agree finding a good balancing point, especially for tournaments is essential.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I cant get over the random turn order in AoS. I cant see how movement matters (much) when you dont know who has the next go. How do you think ahead?

 

KoW looks really interesting to me. Its whfb streamlined. I still forget something every match, with KoW maybe just learning the game is a lot less of an obstacle to entry and fluid play. Im eager to try. My reservation is the lore and models of Warhammer. Theres something that feels so good about the Warhammer universe that I think KoW is probably lacking. I think thats probably not a huge issue though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The more I see about AoS, the more I'm convinced that it will be a fun diversion, but that is about it. It is not a game to build armies for or devote a bunch of time to. It simply isn't structured enough.

 

KoW does have a shallower curve than WFB, but that is the point of the game. The big difference is that there is structure in KoW to host leagues and tournaments around. You can show up at a gamenight with a set point level and know that you can have a balanced game.

 

Neither game is a replacement for WFB.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I cant get over the random turn order in AoS. I cant see how movement matters (much) when you dont know who has the next go. How do you think ahead?

 

I found it didn't take too much to adjust my thinking. Only the second player can go twice in a row. 

 

I'm not convinced that AOS is not a movement game, it is just a lot more subtle in how you take advantage.  Flanks still mater, if you can engage a unit on two flanks, you can pile in to maximise your attacks while your enemy is stuck because they can't move their forces more than an inch apart.  Also the retreat is not being used to its fullest potential in most games that I have witnessed, it is that retreat which can open the door to movement traps.  That 3 inch zone of control is also important for controlling parts of the board.  Even though I'm a huge fan of 8th, I think this new game has some legs, but I agree finding a good balancing point, especially for tournaments is essential.  

 

The flank-ish maneuver is pretty darn limited. Imagine I have 36 goblins in a tight formation. you're going to force me to leave out 2 goblins at best!

 

I've been looking at this a fair amount, and I have two different flank-replacement rules in mind. 

 

I do think that AOS could be made into a worthy game. Like I said above, I think it has some impressively elegant 'bones'. It's just missing a few key mechanics to capture the feel of block fantasy.

 

I am also playing around with a 'facing' mechanic that I think could be a winner.

 

The more I see about AoS, the more I'm convinced that it will be a fun diversion, but that is about it. It is not a game to build armies for or devote a bunch of time to. It simply isn't structured enough.

 

KoW does have a shallower curve than WFB, but that is the point of the game. The big difference is that there is structure in KoW to host leagues and tournaments around. You can show up at a gamenight with a set point level and know that you can have a balanced game.

 

Neither game is a replacement for WFB.

 

My number of games with AoS and KoW is pretty low still, but thus far, I totally agree. However, I think an unofficial "Ordo" version of either could be a great game.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know, I think I disagree that WFB needs the most work.  Fundamentally it may not play how we both wish it did in some ways (e.g. base to base model combat is dumb; single model redirectors are dumb), but the combination of flavor and balance (thanks to SC) may well be more work than re-writing and entire game system from scratch. Which reminds me: I think you left out on of the biggest "pros" to WFB 8th: Swedish Comp.  That's a massive labor of distributed play testing that won't be done soon for any of these other systems.  That alone might make WFB the better choice for some time to come.

 

With that in mind, the question I'm asking right now is, why move off 8th edition right away?  Stable rules actually benefit us, the players, for a lot of reasons:

  1. The current books all are pretty darn playable and, with SC, balanced (aside from End Times which can safely be abandoned IMO)
  2. With GW officially withdrawing support, there's no risk of a new book release upending the current meta and forcing us to redesign armies.
  3. New models can easily be re-purposed to make whatever units we like them to be... is anyone going to protest as long as the look is reasonably close?  No, and especially not without some lame "GW only" rule to point to.
  4. We all have our armies, and books, and we can just add to them and paint and play and have fun!  I like army design as much as the next guy, but truthfully I prefer to hang out and play, not learn rules.
  5. The game system is so complex that there's no problem with running out of interesting play, unless you are literally playing multiple times a week and have only one army.
  6. When you DO finally get bored of WFB 8th edition, you can move to a newer game which has had a chance to mature (AoS 3rd?)

The only reason I can see to move now is if you are seriously into bleeding edge.  I used to be when I had time to OCD out on gaming, but I don't now.  I prefer to paint a little here and there, draw up a new list or two, and play a game with my buddies now and then.  OFCC and similar "non-competitive" events are the only ones I have interest in.  Playing this last weekend reminded me of that.

 

I'd argue by the way that AoS can't even be discussed in this conversation until they have a "rating" system of some kind (points, etc.), community written or otherwise, because until then we have no idea how difficult to balance the game is intrinsically.  If it's even half as bad as WFB or 40k in that area, we are going to have to wait a LONG time before there's any semblance of balance, and we might as well play WFB 8th + SC in the meantime.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am leaning to 'fix' aka add to AoS. I am enjoying the games and quickness of play. I really want to try these rules: http://www.louisvillewargaming.com/Files/AzyrComp.pdf . I like the simple pts system and some (not all) of the game play rules.

Indeed,the simple guidelines in AzyrComp are about the best ive seen so far for the game:)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...