My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Kings of War Historical

It seems like it has been a while since I have posted, so I thought I would write up some thoughts on a game I played recently. (One of the few played with other people!)

Kings of War Historical

Kings of War Historical (KOWH) is a set of multi-figure based rules from Mantic designed to be simple, fast, using lots of figures and buckets of dice. A gaming buddy has been rebasing his Romans and Germans from single-figure based (used with movement trays for Hail Caesar) and KOWH is what he decided on using them for. You can download the free fantasy version of the rules here. The core rules are the same with KOWH changing some special ability names and giving you suggestions on how to classify your historical troops.

Our test game was pretty simple as it had no terrain and we just grabbed troops. There were four Roman heavy infantry bases (no pilums), two Roman skirmisher bases (javelin-armed), and one Roman cavalry base. Opposing them were four warrior bases, two skirmisher bases (bow-armed) and two cavalry bases.

The first concept you learn with KOWH is that units can be 1 or more bases. Basically, his models were 10 figures to a base for skirmishers and 20 figures to a base for heavy infantry and warriors. Units are either 10, 20, 40, or 60 models. If you have one 20-figure base as a unit, it is a 'regiment'. If you have two 20-figure bases, it is a 'horde'. To make things interesting, I decided to use my four bases of warriors as two hordes, while my opponent kept his as four regiments of heavy warriors. I put one skirmish unit on each flank and one cavalry unit outermost on each flank. My opponent, having only one each, put his cavalry on his right flank and his skirmishers on his left.

As you can see, a pretty simple setup. The Romans moved first, and due to the distance between the battle lines, the Germans struck first.

KOWH is very much an 'Alpha Strike' style of rules, meaning that you can move forward (5" with infantry, double that for cavalry, +1" for skirmishers) and shoot and melee and force the enemy to check morale all before they get a chance to respond. Fortunately, units do not generally die on the first hit, but hitting first is a distinct advantage.

Each unit has a set of stats that determine how well you fight. Your Melee and Ranged stat is stated as a die roll, e.g. 4+ on D6. This is the die roll needed to score a hit on your enemy if you are in melee or are shooting, respectively. Your Defense stat is also stated as a die roll, and that is the roll needed for to turn each hit made by the enemy into damage. For example, if your enemy's Melee stat is 4+ then they roll their dice and each 4+ scores a hit. They then roll a number of dice equal to the number that scored hits and and try to roll your Defense value (in this example, a 5+). Those that succeed are damaging hits and are applied to your unit, either indicating the hits with markers, or ticking off boxes if using a roster.

When a unit is damaged in combat it must check morale by rolling 2D6 and adding the number of accumulated hits, then comparing that to the unit's Nerve stat, which has two values; Wavering and Routing. Equal or exceed the numbers and the morale effect is applied. (Routing means the unit is removed.)

Generally speaking, your unit's size does not affect your Speed, Melee, Ranged, or Defense stats, but they do affect your Attacks (the number of dice you roll in Melee or Ranged combat), Nerve, and Points Cost. To give you an idea of how unit size might change stats, here is an example for an Archer unit.

Unit SizeSpeedMeleeRangedDefenseAttacksNervePoints
Troop (10)65+4+4+810/12115
Regiment (20)65+4+4+1014/16150
Horde (40)65+4+4+2021/23250

Note that having the flexibility of having two 20-figure units will cost you in points compared to one 40-figure unit.

Now that you can see sample stats, you can see why it is a buckets-of-dice game. My Warrior Hordes were throwing 24 dice for each attack! You can also see that when testing morale your units can take several hits before they disappear, although low and high rolls will definitely influence their staying power.

So, let's take an example combat in the game. My Warrior Hordes were throwing 24 dice in melee, hitting on a 4+ (12 hits on average), damaging the Roman Legionnaires on a 5+ (4 damaging hits on average). The Romans had a nerve of 16/18 (if I recall correctly), so with an average 2D6 roll of 7, they would rout on the third melee round, but quite possibly waver on the second.

The Roman Heavy Infantry, on the other hand, were throwing 15 dice (if I recall correctly) as they were a Troop and not a Regiment, hitting on a 4+, damaging on a 4+, also for about 4 hits. But the Germans had a Nerve of 22/24, so a possible rout on the fourth melee round, but more likely on the fifth.

That gives you a basic idea of the combat system. Movement is very simple in that everything is straight lines with a single pivot of up to 90ยบ (unless standing still, then you can pivot any number of degrees). Differentiation in units and armies comes through the application of "special rules", much as you would find in Black Powder or Memoir '44.

I personally think you could easily convert this to a square grid (equal to one base in width) with a minimum of rules changes, especially as the rules are always trying to square up units and maintaining distances between units (friendly and enemy). Using a square grid as a space regulator is the perfect mechanism.

As for the game, the German cavalry crushed the skirmishers on their right flank, forcing the Romans to face spare units outwards. As the German cavalry on the left got the jump on the Roman cavalry, it defeated the Romans before it was defeated in turn, so the flanks simply enveloped the Roman center, eventually destroying it.


I liked the game. I would use a roster to tick off casualties, rather than use dice on the board as hit counters. (I prefer a cleaner board, if possible.) I would also prefer to use a square grid as almost every maneuver, other than straight forward, straight back, or turn to flank, were of little consequence to the game.

The game played fast – easy to play two games, one for playing each side once, allowing you to play unbalanced scenarios – and there were very few things that needed looking up, other than Stat values. I would definitely play it again on a smaller board with my 15mm DBA-based miniatures.

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 58 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ working for a software company for the last three years. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").