Well crap. Here I'm sitting, having a quiet, contemplative moment alone, with no one around, and you catch me with my CoK out. So embarrassing. At least you don't have to worry about any unsolicited Dick Pics here.
Well double crap. I know that no one wants to open up a blog post to see that. I'll try to keep it back being family (and liberal) friendly from now on. Yeah, yeah, I hear you snickering in the back, thinking I never did before, why should I start now?
So the Clash of Kings 2018 is out. It is arriving everywhere even as you read this - including the far reaches of Ohio (thanks Todd & Wartime Hobbies). Even Gregg at easy army is getting the army builder in shape for the new tournament season. (And if you enjoy this great website, then you should throw a couple of dollars his way - he puts in a LOT of work and deserves at least a beer from you). So let's take a look at it, shall we?
First off, the book itself. While it is close to double the page count of last years edition (72 pages instead of 48) - if feels lighter and thinner, and unfortunately not in a good way. To me it feels like both the cover and the pages are a lighter weight paper than Mantic has used on previous books - making it feel a little flimsier in my hands. While it only has to hold up for a year until the next edition comes out, it gives me a tiny bit of concern about being able to.
Unfortunately I was not asked to contribute to this years edition, so it is clearly inferior on that count (or some may say it is far superior for not having me soil its pristine pages).
The first section is the conclusion to the Edge of the Abyss summer campaign, including the new map of Mantica. Now I have to say I really enjoyed the stories in the EotA book - probably the most of any in the Mantic rule books so far. Especially for each army - as each section was about and followed the new heroes in the campaign. Much like a novel, it introduced many of these characters, and then continued on with the main five - leading up to their adventure that would be detailed in the Eye of the Abyss Dungeon Saga expansion.
Unfortunately, I don't yet have that expansion, so the excitement of wanting to know how these four unlikely allies were going to work together to overcome great obstacles and defeat the demon they were chasing . . . well it never got resolved.
I was hoping this would be much the same - but unfortunately it isn't. It has sections giving rough outlines of the effects of the campaign, but no mention of the majority of the characters that were introduced. The Varangur hero Magnilde got a tiny bit of a write-up, with a hint of what happened in the Eye of the Abyss. The green lady was talked about, as were Bannick and Craggoth.
I'm honestly not a huge fan of game world background stories because they all tend to be like this. EotA set up so many characters and made them interesting - I would really like to see much more filling out these heroes and their adventures.
What happened with La'theal Silverheart after he nightmares in the Twilight Glade, and how was the map actually changed? Where is Jarvis now, and what has he found? There is so much opportunity here - and it needs to be more than a dry sourcebook - do this as true, character driven stories. We don't need an encyclopedia entry for each race - we need novels about the heroes and villains that live and make this world.
The next section surprised me a bit. While not a literal reprint of the articles in the first half of last years book, the Tournament Guide will probably the least read of all the parts of the book. It did a good job, but the majority of people are not interested. This would be better served as section of the website - where it could be updated as needed, but also easily referred to without having to rewrite and republish it again year after year.
Of course, what everyone wants are the new rule tweaks for the new tournament year.
Now the 2017 Clash of Kings is completely replaced by this version, but the majority of rules there are the same. The book actually says for TOs to reprint the rule and unit changes in their tournament packs. A summary of the main changes:
- only a single irregular allied unit may be taken
- you now triple your attacks against individual war engines
- only a single point of thunderous charge is lost when hindered, though all of it is still lost when disordered.
- Headstrong is now on a 3+ (instead of 4+)
- Bloodboil, fireball, lightning bolt and breath attacks all are now affected by cover and stealthy (though only every going to a 5+).
- fly and bane-chant have the same changes they did in 2017
- two new rules are added - Heavy Flier and Dread
In addition, every army had at least some revisions. In general chariots all got slightly better. I won't go into them here - but one big one is for Varangur - Herja of the Fallen is now gone and replaced by the new her Magnilde of the Fallen.
With the Edge of the Abyss campaign, a lot of armies received formations. These are unique sets of units that, for an additional cost, receive a bonus. Now every army has two formations (ok, Dwarfs got three, and since Twilight Kin are not an official list (yes they have a pdf on-line, and yes they are allowed in most tournaments, but if they aren't in a published book, they aren't official), they did not get any formations).
A lot of people are still undecided if formations are a good thing or not. From what I can see, they tend to be for lesser used units - so it isn't like your already really strong units got a buff. I'm allowing them in my tournaments.
Interestingly there are three new mercenary heroes added. These are all living legends. Blaine can be taken in any army, Ronaldo the Bard in any good army, and Funny Bone in any evil army. It is nice that Blaine can also be mounted - so both the fantasy blaine models can now be used (as well as the "Ronnie the Bard" model). Blaine is a strong fighting model, Ronaldo is a cheap source of rallying(1), while Funny Bone has the new rule Dread.
I do wish they would have included all the Edge of the Abyss and Destiny of Kings (or Mantic Compendium, since they are reprinted there) heroes (and units) here so that there would be a single, up to date reference (as well as make it easier for TOs to say what new units they are or are not using (and not just because It is so easy to include Infernok and Dravak Dalken in my Abyssal Dwarf list as they are the EXACT same points as the Greater Obsidian Golem and Ironcaster (with some upgrades) they are replacing (and are better!)). (At least if I can't use them I don't have to change any models in my army.)
There are 11 artefacts added to those in the core rules (and three of the core artefacts have been amended). Some of the artefacts added in 2017 are now gone:
- Helm of the Ram
- Blood of the Old King
- Zephyr Crown
New artefacts are
- Staying Stone
- Chalice of Wrath
- Aegis of the Elohi
- Black Iron Crown
- Circlet of Blood
The amended artefacts are
- Encorcelled Armour
- Brew of Keen-eyeness
- Medallion of Life
Of course you have to get the book to see what these all do (or a relevant tournament pack)
For spells, five more have been added (Bloodboil is still there, but can only be taken by taking an artefact). Mind Fog and Alchemist's Curse are both available to any spellcaster, while the other three may only be taken by specific alignments - Martyr's Prayer for good, Aura of Heroism for neutral, and Veil of Shadows for Evil.
If you haven't seen the facebook discussions on it, Alchemist's Curse looks to be the new candidate for most broken spell out there (an army with a bunch of these scares me a bit, but may not be effective overall). We will see how it works out.
Again there are twelve scenarios in the book, with three of them new. Shaking things up, keeping them new. Secure the Field looks, after just reading and not playing them, my favorite of the new scenarios.
There is a lot of excitement about this book, and I think that tournament players are eager to give the new rules and scenarios a try. I look forward to both playing with these changes, as well as using them in my events. The big questions I have is how many chariots are we going to be seeing now?
Occasionally, you will here someone ask about what Mantic is doing for the casual players. Those who aren't interested in tournaments, and just want to have fun. Well for them they have released the new Battlefield Cards, written by Nick Williams.
There are four types of cards in this 54 card deck. The backs of the cards use some of the beautiful new artwork from the Clash of Kings book. There are Instruction, Condition, Objective and Strategy cards. (There is also, of course, a card with a Mantic point on it!)
These cards are intended to be used instead of scenarios in any of the books, however you can always use just one or two types to add something a little more interesting for your casual games.
It should be noted, these are NOT intended for highly competitive games, and are not necessarily balanced for competitive play. They could be fun if an event wanted to use them (I like the idea of the strategy cards being used in an event, with the caveat that once you use a card you cannot use it again during the event).
First up are four cards with the instructions on how to use the other three types. This is a nice way to do this, as it doesn't take up extra space like even a small booklet would. Each player has their own set of cards - so duplicates can occur in games.
Before drawing cards, five objective markers are placed on the board. Some (but not all) of the objective cards will use these to score victory points.
The first type of card that actually affects the game are the Condition cards. To use these, shuffle and draw one of the 14 cards (after you have set up terrain, but before you choose sides). There are five "Ideal Condition" cards - which mean nothing changes. The other nine cards vary, from adding dice to EVERY spell cast in the game to slowing down every unit. Most of them (well except for the magic one) have some sort of negative effect, though a few of them only affect one player, not both. (The Unreplenished Casualties card concerns me a bit - a single dice roll-off lowers the nerve of all the loser's units (that start with a nerve of 13 or higher) for the entire game. This seems to be pretty devastating to the loser. (The last game I played, I missed routing units by 1 three times during that game)).
After you have determined battlefield conditions, shuffle the 14 objective cards and each player draws 2. Each card has both a primary and a secondary objective. The player picks the primary objective from one, and then the secondary objective from the other. These are how they score victory points.
This is an interesting idea to make it very hard to ever have the same game multiple times. I find the wording on card #10 a bit confusing as the secondary objective seems to depend on the primary object (of which only one is EVER active). Personally I'd actually prefer to draw three cards so the player has a little more choice (pick one card for primary, one for secondary, and discard the third). It might help to avoid getting two very bad cards for your army.
Lastly then are the strategy cards. These 22 cards give the players one use abilities or the game. You draw one for every FULL 500 pts you are playing - so at 2000 (or 2250, as the Masters is using this year) you get 4 strategy cards. These are anything from a re-roll (that ignores the "Can't re-roll a re-roll rule", making a unit be able to see things it normally couldn't during a charge, adding or subtracting (two different cards) 1 from a nerve roll (by you OR your opponent) and even giving a unit a free Blade of Slashing of Mace of Crushing.
You never know what card your opponent might be saving for the perfect moment. More than the others, I'm looking forward to trying these out.
So a little something for competitive and casual players both. I think Mantic, the Kings of War Rules Committee and Nick Williams have done a great job at keeping the game fresh and interesting, and not falling into a rut of the same armies with the same units playing over and over again.
Because it is all fun and games . . .