Let's Get Started

With the release of Kings of War 3rd edition, Mantic has put out a new 2 player starter set - "Shadows in the North".

Let me be blunt - this is the BEST starter box Mantic has put out yet.  Period.

But why?

Ok, first is a copy of Kings of War 3.0 Gamer's Edition.  This is not a small booklet - it is a softcover book that is the same size as the hardback, and it contains the full rules and army lists from that book, only leaving out the large background section, as well as the army specific unit descriptions.

The only thing I would have liked to see would have been a slight adjustment to the page numbers (either in this or the hardback), so that the pages for the rules would be the same.  As it is, the page numbers for the rules in the Gamer's Edition are 4 less than in the hardback. (i.e. the rules go from pg 4-59 in the Gamer's Edition, while they go from 8-63 in the Hardback).  Of course the army lists will not match for page numbers, but it is rules references that people use the page numbers for.

Of course the box has a ton of new plastic miniatures for the Northern Alliance and Nightstalkers.  The Northern Alliance Clansman sprue is also being introduced in this box (I'll get to them in a bit).  All the other miniatures were introduced last year with Kings of War Vanguard, but that doesn't make them any less.  I won't go over those - but if you want to see them you can check out my older posts here and here.

What truly makes this starter set superior is the actual Getting Started booklet.

This 32 page booklet does EXACTLY what it should - it introduces new players to not only the game, but the entire hobby.  There are sections on assembling your miniatures, focusing on the minis that actually come in the set, but it is general enough to apply for any.

Including talking about making them rank up

And it identifies the minis, and how to build the options for the different units.

Then it has a painting guide for the models in the box as well.  This isn't one of those master level guides that I remember from old copies of White Dwarf that have you mixing shades and layering up the smallest details (to the point of adding 20 layers on an ass cloth).  It is a quick description using the "Army Painter" method - which is a fantastic way for someone new to the hobby to get started.  The only way these guides would be better were to actually include the paints it recommends (which would make the cost too high - though it would be great if Army Painter would put together some paint sets for these).

Not only is there a hobby section, but there is also a background piece here as well, to give new players a sense of the world and what is going on.  8 pages (with pictures) focusing on the armies in the book, but hopefully whetting the appetite for the new players to find out more - either with the Hardback book, or the new novels.

It also has simple army lists using the models in the set, showing pictures of the units as well as the point costs (540 for Northern Alliance, 560 for Nightstalkers).

Next it has a very quick 10,000 ft view of the basic idea of the rules.  This is NOT a reference, but a way for someone to get started on their own (when they don't have a friendly neighborhood pathfinder to show them how to play).  Movement - Advance & Charge.  Ranged attacks.  Melee attacks.  Nerve checks.  Just enough to get someone interested before digging into to the Gamer's Edition.

The book then has a simple campaign for these two forces.  Three linked battles that new players can play with these models in an afternoon.  Lastly it even has a mention (ok, this is an ad, but forgivable) of how to expand these armies.  It wraps up with a paragraph about each of the other 'core' armies (core being the armies in the HB rulebook).

Ok, enough about this booklet.  What about the new models - the clansmen?

These are new hard plastic sprues - the first non-kickstarter ones done by Mantic in quite a long time.  It is a double sprue - one hold bodies, heads and some arms, the other the rest of the arms and shields, as well as two snow foxes.

Nice quality, and good detail for these.

For those who like options - well this sprue is full of them.  The sprue makes 10 clansmen or pack hunters.  There are 5 different bodies (2 of each) and 5 different shields (2 of each).  There are three accessories (2 backpacks and a bundle of javelins) to add to the back of a model as well (giving 4 options (one of which is not having adding anything).  There are then five different hand weapons (again 2 of each) and five different javelins (also 2 of each).  Lastly there are 10 different heads (no duplicates here).  So how many variations are there?

5 bodies * 5 shields * 4 backs * 10 weapon arms * 10 heads.  5*5*4*10*10.  That means 10,000 possible unique variations.  To top that off, the arm to body joint is flat - so the arms are have a theoretical 360 degrees of placement - though honestly a realistic arc is only about 150 or so.  Still that is a LOT.

Plus there are two foxes.  These are static, but no one is going to be paying attention to them anyway :-).

I like that the sprue is intended to make two different units.   Unfortunately by being able to do this, it doesn't have the options necessary for either of the units.  The clansman can take two handed weapons - but they are not included.  Nor would they be easily convertible since the left arms are all molded to shields.  The pack hunters actually default to bows - but there are no bows.  Javelins are an upgrade that costs +5/+10 points.  Also, pack hunters are only De 3+ - so they shouldn't have shields, javelins or not.

A suggestion would have been to make the left arms separate from the shields - then at least there would have been a little wiggle room to convert the options.  (Ideally the left arm would just be an arm - the hand would be either part of the shield, an empty one, or a few holding arrows).

I did ask, and maybe Mantic will put out a resin conversion kit for 2 handed weapons and another (either combined with it or separately) that would have bow arms, empty left hands and a few with arrows (enough so that you could replace all the shields on pack hunters with empty hands).

The sprue is packed however, so I can understand them not having room to have all these options (though it makes me wonder if maybe the solution might have been to do what they did with the Salamanders and Naiads - the bodies are separate so the sprue can fit all the options.  Of course this is all easy for me to suggest sitting here not having to figure out how to put things on the sprue and market and sell it.

One other point you will want to check - there are a couple of pieces that are very specific - namely the legs for the foxes and the upper arms for two of the shields.  These actually are marked on the sprue - so pay attention to them BEFORE you cut them parts off.

The fox legs are designed to only fit one way - but being as small as they are you will have to take a little care putting them together.

The only drawback to these will be getting enough for the units - since there are only two foxes to ten clansmen.  So for one swarm regiment, you need 15 foxes - which is two hordes of clansmen.

The clansmen go together nicely - though if you are going full model count (i.e. ranks of 5) you will want to be very careful how you model and place them.  Even before the new edition, I preferred to use 8 per regiment (the current PMC (Preferred Model Count)).

 At this point I'm not making any pack hunters for my demo army (because they are irregular, and with Large Infantry regiments NOT unlocking anything, I need two full regiments for heroes.

My planned Northern Alliance demo list is now
2 Regiments of clansmen
1 Troop of Half Elf Berserkers
1 Troop of Ice Kin Hunters
1 Regiment of Snow Trolls
1 Regiment of Ice Elementals
1 Skald
1 Ice Queen (w/ Bane Chant & Heal).

(I'm keeping the Huscarls and Frost Fang riders for the Varangur theme list coming in December).

Because it is all fun and games . . .


  1. thanks for the in-depth look at the content. was waiting for some reviews to come out... While I do like the quality on the sprues and I will certainly pick someup..., however, the "minor" problem with the default weapon option not being available for the hunters is such a weird thing. its really not minor at all, is it? do you by chance have any 28mm archer arms available you could try to fit (northstar, conquest, perry miniatures)... I assume some of them will work but still.. weird choice...

    also, the hunters really only differ with the weapons right? I do not have my rulebook yet, so difference between clansman and hunters is bow/javelins vs twohanded and single handed axe... well and being irregular I guess...


Post a Comment