Who is the Rules Committee? Kris Kaspner

They have been whispered about in the dark recesses of the internet, their names cursed and praised at game tables around the world.  But just who are the enigmatic Kings of War Rules Committee? Are they a hooded sect of gaming masters manipulating our favorite pastime to their own twisted desires?

Actually they are a group of really nice guys, and I thought it would be fun to interview each of them to see exactly what makes them tick.

So in no particular order (ok, he was the first to respond :-) - welcome the newest member of the Rules Committee.
Please introduce yourself to my readers out there.

Kris Kapsner.
Would you buy a house from this man?
How long have you been involved in gaming (and wargaming) in general?

I started playing tactical games at the age of 3 when my mom introduced me to chess for the first time.  To this day she tells me I beat her the very first time I played her.  But, I have my doubts that she was trying very hard.  I’ve always loved the fantasy genre.  My mom read me the Hobbit and started into the Chronicles of Narnia when I was just 5 years old.  In 8th grade I think I started playing Dungeon’s and Dragons with friends.  Shortly after that I think Hero Quest was released.  That was my first introduction to miniature games and I loved it.  I continued playing various role playing games through high school.  I tried Star Wars, Marvel Super Heroes, Shadow Run…but I always came back to Dungeon’s and Dragons.  It was my love.  I enjoyed the Forgotten Realms setting the most.  After high school I entered the Army and continued my role playing career.  After the military I went to college and once again fell into a role playing group. 

It was around that time that Mage Knight came out and I bought some models.  I loved the tactical movement of models on a table and quickly took to that game on the side of my role playing.  I was recruited by some Warhammer Fantasy players to give that game a try.  It looked expensive, but not any more so than I’d already spent on Mage Knight!  So, I jumped in.  I wanted to build and paint knights and the Chaos book had just been released for 6th edition.  Other players told me they had the best knights and I liked the look of “Viking-like” warriors.  So, I bought them.

I was talked into entering a tournament in 2003.  I hadn’t played in any tournaments for any games before.  So, I went just to have fun and get a few games in all in the same day.  It turned out to be a 24 player Rogue Trader tournament.  I went 3-0 and was tied with another player for 1st place.  The TO asked us if we wanted to roll off for the winning spot or play it out.  We both agreed to play a 4th game and I won that one as well!  After that, I was hooked on tournaments.

I shifted to Beastmen for the next decade, then went back to Warriors of Chaos in 2013.  In 2012 I started branching out from the small local tournament scene and entered the 2 day grand tournament scene.  I LOVED it!  I still enjoy the small local tournaments.  But I enjoy traveling to GT’s more.

How / where / when did you first learn about Kings of War?

A friend in Minneapolis told me that Kings of War was our game to switch to.  I tried AoS, but didn't enjoy it too much even though I won the first AoS tournament I went to.  I missed line of sight and careful unit movement.

I drove down to Minneapolis for a demo in Jeff Shiltgen’s basement.  By turn 2 I knew Kings of War was the game for me.
Kara Brown battles the calm and cool Kris in the final round of Adepticon 2016
Why would people know you in the Kings of War community?

Well, I'm a co-host of the Lake SWATT Fantasy Squad podcast and part of the tripod that started the International Campaign Day for Kings of War.  I’m also the Chair of the Midwest for the US Masters

I attend quite a few tournaments and do my best to get to events outside my region to promote my region and my tournament, including traveling to the South, Southeast, Mountain and Pacific Northwest in just the last 10 months.

I’m the Tournament Organizer for the Lady of the Lake GT in Duluth, Minnesota.  And, I'm now the newest member of the Kings of War Rules Council.

Wow, and I thought I was busy!  So tell me a little about your podcast.

We started the podcast three years ago in the summer of 2014 to promote our local gaming scene and especially the first Lady of the Lake GT.  We had shifted from running a GT at Berserkon, our local gaming convention and struck off on our own as purely a Warhammer Fantasy two day event.  We needed to up our game as far as promotion went.  So, we started the podcast as part of that.

Michele Olsen, Andrew Conway and myself got the podcast and website initially off the ground.  Andrew had to step away for a bit when he had a baby.  But, he's starting to come back now.  Michele and I have been putting out about one episode a month since we started.  I think we’re known for having a rather long podcast.  Usually they are 2 and a half to 3 hours long.  I think that’s mostly my fault.  I enjoy talking. 

Michele has the Oasis Rising YouTube channel.  She is an amazing painter and has won two Bronze Crystal Brushes at Adepticon.  Andrew has the City Fox Gaming Twitch TV channel that we'll be live streaming the Lady of the Lake GT through this year.

(I saw Michele's fantastic elf army at Adepticon - it was incredible)

We shifted to Kings of War in the Fall of 2015 and have maintained a KoW focus for the show ever since.

What is the International Campaign Day?  Is this the campaign that Mantic has been talking about?

No, the International Campaign Day was started by Mark Cox and myself as a way to bring the entire US community together to play interactively.  We saw our Warhammer community fractured by the AoS release and brainstormed a way to get players connected across the country.

We designed a way for game results to directly impact the next games played even over great distances.  Players report their results into a spreadsheet and the winning side gets a bonus for the next games.

All the games are played at the same time, adjusted by time zone to allow all the games to start and finish together.  This allows our community to interact directly with each other whether at a store or in their basement with a friend.  And, each round of games directly impacts the story line as we see which side wins, good or evil.

The first ICD was so popular that we had to expand from just a US focus to an international focus.  The second ICD was truly designed as an international campaign from the beginning and ran 12 games over 24 hours.

Ben Stoddard joined our team for the 2nd ICD and the three of us are working on the third ICD to cap off the Global campaign that Mantic is running from August 21st to September 30th.

September 30th is the next International Campaign Day and will be designed with a similar format to the last one.  Players who are interested should find us on Facebook and get connected with us.  It’s a lot of fun.

So what are the Masters?
Kris taking a coffee break at Adepticon 2016
The US Masters was started originally for Warhammer Fantasy and was designed as a way to bring the whole US together under one roof to have the "best of the best" face off against each other.
We currently have 8 regions: Northeast, Mid Atlantic, Southeast, South, Midwest, Mountain, West and Pacific Northwest.

Each region sends 8 players to the event.  A "US Master" is crowned based on battle points alone.  A "Paragon" is crowned using a combination of battle, sports and appearance scores just like most GT’s crown their “Best Overall”.

I see the US Masters as a way to bring our communities together and grow our events.  The US Masters ranking system typically encourages players to travel outside of their regions because players meet each other at the Masters and want to travel to each other’s events.  It's a great way to bond our community together as well as provide an incredibly competitive environment for players to compete.

The US masters isn’t for everyone.  Some players don’t want to be that competitive and that’s ok.  It was a ton of fun though, as you know Mike.  You were there and saw that there really weren’t any players being poor sports or ruining other player’s fun.  It was competitive but also laid back in a way at the same time. 

Don't be shy, how did you do last year?

Well, I finished 2nd Paragon and had a lot of fun meeting new players, some of whom are coming to the Lady of the Lake GT for the first time this year, which is fantastic!  Somehow I managed to win events in three regions over the last 10 months or so.  But, taking 2nd overall at the US Masters and winning Best Sports there was one of the highlights of my gaming career.  It’s been quite the year.

On top of all of this you still manage to get to a lot of tournaments (except for maybe those that I run :-) ).  So tell me a bit about what you liked across the country with various tournaments.

Ha!  Well, I made it to Adepticon last year Mike (Yes you did - but it seems so long ago).  A family emergency issue kept me from making it this year. 

I do enjoy traveling to tournaments.  It's a lot of fun to meet new people who share the same hobby enthusiasm that I do.  I also enjoy seeing old friends and catching up.

I love seeing new armies and getting inspired to make my army even better.  I like the challenge of trying to do well against some of the best players around.  If I don’t win an event I take pride in trying to beat the player who wins the event or go down swinging to them.  I handed the only losses the winners had for Adepticon Clash of Kings last year and the Lone Wolf GT this year.  I take some pride in that.  I feel like I can play with anyone…but can certainly lose to anyone as well.

Going to a variety of tournaments also lets me get new ideas for my own events, like borrowing the idea of custom designing a hero for the Lady of the Lake GT this year that every player will have.  I borrowed that idea from Dragon Fall GT last Fall.

I remember that - I think I still have hoof marks on my butt from how hard you trampled me there.  You mentioned that chaff was the best thing to stop your stampedes - and the tournament gave you the perfect chaff killer to remove all of mine!

Adepticon Clash of Kings 2016
So you finally give somebody else a chance to win something at Lady of the Lake GT.  Tell me some more about it.

Well, my goal for the Lady of the Lake GT is to make it more about the overall experience of hanging out with fellow players than about the games themselves, even though the games will be really fun.
We throw a party in my back yard with free food and even live music this year.  I want to keep costs down for players so I invite everyone to camp in my back yard.  We have almost 20 doing that this year.

I serve breakfast to the players who stay at my house.  We have people camping in the back yard, sleeping on my couch, on mattresses in my basement, in my RV in the driveway, probably in the loft in my barn shed... It's a great time! 

I also want something different as far as how the games are played at the event.  So, I put extra effort into making the terrain stand out and something you don't normally get to play with.

Instead of scenarios out of the book each round, players get scenario cards at the beginning of the tournament.  Each game they choose one card and can't use that same card again for the remainder of the event.

Players play both the scenario they choose themselves as well as the scenario their opponent chose. 

We have a miniature painting contest as well.  Our trophies are unique and are printed on a 3D printer, a sword in the stone.  Our large trophies are small castles with the sword trophy on top.

The overall winner also gets to draw an engraved sword from the stone and take it home with them as Her Lady’s Champion of the event.

All of the above is great, but none of it tops what we do as a charity event.  We raise money for a local food shelf and team up with a local non-profit organization that turns every $1 we raise into $10 worth of food.

Last year we raised over $32,000 worth of food for a local food shelf.  We did that while having a great gaming weekend!

Aren't you missing something?

I'm now the newest member of the KoW Rules Council.
With Dan King and Nick Williams?  Are you allowed to have this much of the Rules Committee in one place at one time?
And what does that all entail?

Being on the RC is more of a commitment than I was expecting.  But I'm greatly enjoying it.  Players, nor even Mantic perhaps, realize how much behind the scenes discussion the RC has on a daily basis to help make KoW the game it is today.

Is there anything specific you have worked on?

I gave input for the Clash of Kings rules and wrote an article for the book.  The upcoming Summer campaign book is my first project to see from the RC's perspective.

From what I've seen, I think the campaign will be a big hit.  The fluff in it is really compelling, and I can't wait to see how it turns out (and especially what happens with the Dungeon Saga tie in).  

I love the tie in with Dungeon Saga.  I'd really like to play that more, especially as a precursor to KoW games.  But, Vanguard will be doing that well soon.

Oooh - Ronnie hinted at Vanguard during his Adepticon talk.  Can you give us any information on it?

Yes.  Vanguard is the skirmish version of Kings of War that will be its own stand alone game.  We’ll see some models introduced for factions that haven't currently had models produced for them, including a new faction not yet released in our rule books.  That's pretty exciting!

The rules are designed at this time and are entering an alpha playtesting stage which I’m taking part in.  I think the goal is to have the rules fine-tuned by Gen Con and there may be some demos there. But we'll have to see.

So what army/armies do you play, and why?

I own many armies.  But, the Herd always draws me.  I love the idea of hoofed and horned woodland creatures defending nature.  I always viewed my Beastmen that way, as defenders of the forest and less a part of Chaos.  Mantic has now given me that and I love it!
Kris' Herd army had the highest painting score at Adepticon 2016, but didn't have the required 75% Mantic models to win Best Mantic Army
I also have an Elf army fully multi-based and have used it a bit.  I'm now working on getting my Warriors of Chaos converted to KoW as a Varangur army.

After completing my Varangur I'll start into Dwarves and Orcs I believe.  I have the models for them and some conversions that I'm excited to do.

Where do you play, in case I wanted to come and get beaten by you (again)?
Looking calm and collected as he prepares to kick butt at Adepticon 2016
I play at Level Up Toys and Games in Superior, Wisconsin.  I'm there most Wednesday nights playing Kings of War.

What hobby projects are you currently working on?

Currently I’m working on getting terrain ready for the Lady of the Lake GT.  After that, I'll be wrapping up my multi-basing project for my Varangur.  Perhaps I’ll be ready to put those on the table for Dragon Fall GT in October.  I think that’ll be my next 2 day event that I’ll participate in.  I plan on making it to a 1 day event over in Fargo, North Dakota in September though.

What other games do you play, Mantic or otherwise?

I like to role play and play board games when I have a chance.  But mostly just Kings of War. Although, I'm very excited about Vanguard and how it will tie in to KoW.

Unfortunately, gaming (in general) doesn't pay the bills.  What do you do when you aren't involved with gaming?

I've been selling real estate for 18 years in the Duluth, Minnesota area. I'm a Realtor with Re/Max, the current past president of the Realtor association and treasurer of our charity organization Realtor's as Neighbors.

Ok, do you ever sleep?  It is amazing you actually have time to play any games at all.

Ha!  Yeah I sleep.  I just have to balance it all.  :)
Kris v Joe Flesch at Adepticon 2016
If you could be Ronnie Renton for a day, what would you do?

I would release a Herd army.  ;)  In all seriousness though, I'd like to see even more units released by Mantic to flesh out existing lines and then expand.  I'm excited about the Northern Alliance army.

The Northern Alliance does sound cool.  Any final words?

Thanks for doing the blog Mike!  Keep up the great work.

Watch this space for interviews with the other members as well.

Because it is all fun and games . . .