Out in front

The new fantasy skirmish game from Mantic that everyone has been talking about is finally here!  Kings of War Vanguard is shipping to kickstarter backers, and is scheduled to begin retail shipping starting October 22nd.

So what is in the book?  It is broken out into several sections.

Welcome to the Vanguard

The introduction describes what is needed to play, as well as the various dice and counters used.  The game uses D8's for most things, but also has some specialty D6's for power dice.

The power dice are set up the same way as the dice for Mantic's game - The Walking Dead: All Out War (except these use swords instead of splats (and there is no ! symbol).  The color and distribution of swords matches the splats, so if you have those you can use them (though the vanguard dice are much cooler, of course (and will roll better when playing the game :-) )).

There are several markers used in the game for conditions etc.  Cardboard versions are available in the Battlefield Objectives accessory pack, but you can use any you like so long as you can identify each condition.

In order to avoid some table clutter, the cardboard tokens have some that combine different conditions (i.e. activated and fatigued).

The model stats are then described.  Each model has several

  • Faction Symbol - each faction will get a symbol to easily identify their cards.  Unfortunately these are NOT shown in the warband listings - it would have been a nice way to introduce those.
  • Name - the name of the model
  • Faction Name - the name of the faction.  A warband can only consist of a single faction (though allies may be available in a future expansion)
  • Class - each model has a specific class
    • grunt - the cheap replaceable units - your chaff
    • warrior - fighters
    • support - various roles
    • beast - creature
    • spellcaster - casters of spells
    • command - leaders of the warband
    • large - big models (ok, this class reminds me of playing the original Dungeons and Dragons basic set - back when Elf and Dwarf were classes!)
  • Base Size - the base the miniature is on.  These are square (unless cavalry, which is 25x50mm)
  • Point Cost - cost to add to our warband
  • Speed(Sp) - number of inches the model can walk when activated
  • Ranged(Ra) - value to roll on a d8 to hit with a ranged weapon (if it has one).  This is always represented with a + (i.e. 6+) meaning that number or HIGHER is needed.  8's always hit, and explode as well!
  • Melee(Me) - value to roll to hit in close combat
  • Armour(Ar) - value to roll to prevent a hit from an opponent from wounding you
  • Nerve(Ne) - used when the warband is  broken, or other special circumstances
  • Wounds(Wn) - number of wounds the model can take before being killed
  • Height(H) - height of the model (this uses an abstract height system
  • Power Dice - any additional power dice this model gives the warband
  • Special Rules - listing of any special rules the model has
  • Ranged dice - if given then this is the number of dice rolled for a ranged attack
  • Melee dice - if given then this is the number of dice rolled for a close combat attack
  • Alignment:- Good / Neutral / Evil
  • Spells - any spells a spellcaster starts with
  • Equipment - any additional equipment the model starts with
  • Power ability - any special ability that requires power dice to use
All of this information is listed for each model in the warbands section.  In addition, starter and booster packs will include stat cards for models, including new models not listed in the book.

The Rules

The rules basically break out the structure of the game, what you can do, and how you can do it.

First the playing field is set up (typically a 3' x 3' area).  A scenario is chosen, which will describe any special requirements for setting up.  The models are deployed, then the game is started.

Each game is played for a number of rounds.  Each round begins with players rolling their power dice (you can reroll one die per commander in your warband), and then the players alternate taking turns, activating a model on each turn (the player who completed activating all their models first starts the next turn).  Each player continues until all models have been activated.  There is an end phase, and then the next round begins.

The main part of the turn is activating a model.  When activated, a model can take either two short or one long action (though it cannot take two of the same action unless otherwise stated).  These are

  • Short Actions
    • Walk - move a models Sp in inches.  They may turn any number of times, but you need to be sure they are facing where you want them when moving is complete.
    • Shoot - make a ranged attack
    • Stand up - if the model is knocked down, it must stand up as it's first action
    • Melee - make a close combat attack
  • Long Actions
    • Run - move double your speed.  If you are able to come into base contact with an enemy model (with some restrictions) you count as charging them, and get a free melee action (with a bonus die)
    • Brace - prepare to be charged - boosts the model's armor for the turn
    • Break Away - if the model is engaged, it can only either take a melee or break away action.  This takes the model out of combat, but the opposing models get to attack it as it does so.
  • Cast - this may be a long or short action, depending on the spell.  This may also be done multiple times in a turn by a single model, though it cannot cast the same spell more than once.
Also, you can choose to fatigue a model, adding an additional short action after it's activation.  However any model that begins it's activation with a fatigue counter can ONLY be given a single short action that turn and cannot be given a fatigue action that turn.  (The fatigue counter is then removed)

In addition, you can spend you power each turn in a variety of ways

  • 1 activate an additional model (only once per turn)
  • 1 add a die - roll an additional die
  • 1 force fatigue - take an extra short action with a model that has already been activated
  • 1 clear fatigue - remove a fatigue counter (only at the end of the round)
  • 2 group defense - move and brace 3 models
  • 2 group shoot - move and shoot with 3 models
  • 2 group assault - charge with 3 models
  • # warband / model special - cost and rules as per warband / model

Combat is straightforward - a model rolls the number of dice listed for the type of combat, needing the appropriate value to succeed.  For shooting, this is the ranged number of dice, needing the Ra value.  For close combat, it is the melee dice, needing the Me value.  For casting spells - the dice will be specified in the spell description, and the target value is the models Ra stat).

Rules for terrain are also given, as well as a listing of all the special rules and base spells.

Creating a Warband

There are only a few restrictions on creating your warband.  The standard game is 200 points and must contain

  • 5 warriors and/or grunts
  • 1 command
  • 1 command, 1 support and 1 spellcaster for ever 3 warrior or grunts
  • 1 large model for every full 150 points
  • 1 of a given type of model for every full 40 points
For smaller games, these restrictions are less
  • 2 warriors
  • not required to take command
  • max of 1 large model
Models may take equipment as well.
  • Beasts may NOT take equipment
  • Grunts may take one common item
  • Other models may take up to two items, but they must be of different types
  • Rare items may not be duplicated in a warband
  • Unique items are only available in campaigns
  • Some items are single use, and are discarded after use.
There will be more items available as cards later in expansions.


There are 12 scenarios in the book
  1. Supply Grab
  2. Light the Beacon
  3. Free the Princess
  4. Recover the Plans
  5. Kill the Bard! (because Ronnie Renton hates bards :-) )
  6. The Dragon's Egg
  7. The Power Stones
  8. Capture the Giant
  9. Destroy the Baggage Train
  10. Burn the Stores
  11. Secure the Portal
  12. Kill the Commander
The battlefield objectives expansion has the objectives needed for most of these scenarios (well, except for the giant - that is a separate model).


The background (also known as fluff) has a brief section on each of the alignments (good, neutral, evil) and then goes a little more in depth into the Basileans and the Nightstalkers.

Warband Lists

There are 14 basic lists in the book.  These lists will allow you to get started with models you have, but you will definitely want to pick up the new models for factions you play to get all the cards for them.  Each of the basic lists has 8 models, including a commander.  Most (but not all) have a model for each class, with several grunts and warriors.

The initial release will see four full warbands:
  • Basileans
  • Nightstalkers
  • Northern Alliance
  • Forces of the Abyss
These will be followed up with two more: 
  • Dwarfs (8 new resin models were funded as part of the kickstarter)
  • Goblins
And then the remaining factions will come out, with a plan of four a year (I believe).  Each faction should also get new models, so even more reason to pick up the new warbands when they come out!
  • Elves
  • Forces of Nature
  • Undead
  • Orcs
  • Empire of Dust
  • Abyssal Dwarfs
  • The Trident Realm
  • Ogres
For those who play armies that Mantic does not make, there will be basic lists available for these armies on Mantic's website.  And before the inevitable whinging starts - just remember that no other miniature companies put out rules for models they do not make.

Basic Equipment Lists

There are three basic lists of equipment - common, rare and unique.  Each item has an appropriate point cost.  Common items can be taken multiple times in a warband, but rare items can only be taken once, and unique items are only available for campaigns.

Advanced Spellbook

To further customize your warband, there are three sets of spells that a spellcaster can take.  When creating your warband, you can purchase ONE additional spell from the appropriate book for 10 points.  In campaigns, spellcasters can learn more spells as they advance in level.

The three books are Noble, Primordal and Corrupt, and you can only get spells of the type appropriate for your alignment.
Good can buy a Noble spells, and can learn a single Primordal in a campaign
Neutral can buy Primordal spells, and can learn either a single Noble or Corrupt spell.
Evil can of course buy Corrupt spells, or learn a single Primordal one.

Each of these has six spell, with the first two being more common than the others.
  • Noble
    • Dazzle
    • Deteriorate
    • Transpose
    • Blur
    • Teleport
    • Chain Lightning
  • Primordal
    • Waterlogged
    • Tanglefoot
    • Veiling Fog
    • Nature's Cloak
    • Brisk Work
    • Stoneskin
  • Corrupt
    • Lure
    • Shatter
    • Malevolence
    • Possession
    • Summon Familiar
    • Nightfall

There is a large section on campaigns in the book, giving rules for creating your force (which you will use to build your warband from), recovering from injuries suffered in battle, and advancement as your models gain experience, giving them new abilities and making them stronger and more unique.

One of the interesting ideas for campaigns are the company retinue - these are the leadership of your force; elite models with even more abilities.  You must pick a leader, and can take one other specialist for free, though you can spend points to add additional specialists.  The roles available are
  • Leader
  • Quartermaster
  • Arcanist
  • Mauler
  • Master Scout
  • Healer (may be taken twice)
  • Hunter
At the back of the book is a Campaign company roster you can copy and fill out to track your troops.  The final two pages are a summary of the rules - something I think will be very useful when learning the game and teaching new players.

So there you have 160 pages of gaming goodness!  Very well laid out with clear rules and what looks to be a very comprehensive campaign system.

Because it is all fun and games . . .