Kings of War Guide

Last Update: March 14, 2021 4:53 AM /


Kings of War Guide

Kings of War Introduction

Kings of War, currently in its 3rd Edition is a tabletop fantasy wargame from Mantic Games. Kings of War has a focus on large scale unit combat, rather than the smaller individual scale of skirmish wargames. Kings of War does also has a skirmish system, Vanguard, that is fully compatible with the miniatures and units from KoW and also a ship wargame, Armada, featuring the same factions from Kings of War. In this guide, we'll look at the Kings of War key mechanics, the different factions, talk about what you need to play, and also look at Vanguard and Armada.

Kings of War Battle in Progress.

Kings of War Mechanics

Kings of War features streamlined mechanics to keep large battles fast and straight-forward. Players complete their entire turn, activating every unit before passing play to their opponent. Turns consist of 3 phases, movement, ranged, and then melee. Kings of War uses 6-sided dice for all tests, with most unit characteristics being represented as target numbers to achieve on the dice.

The Kings of War rules are short, concise, and very beginner-friendly. Getting started is easy, giving you the capacity to learn the subtle tactics of movement and the strengths and weaknesses of yours and your opponent's faction.

The focus of Kings of War is on large units battling each other. To reflect this, units are mounted on large bases according to their size. Units are considered single entities, and while they have numbers to reflect the size of the unit, individuals aren't removed when damage is taken, which means that units can either be individual units on movement trays or can be built on scenic bases and dioramas. Damage is tracked with counters, unit the unit reaches a point where its nerve breaks of waivers.

Kings of War Goblin Army.

Kings of War - What Do You Need To Play?

To play Kings of War, you need:

  • Kings of War Rules
  • 6-Sided Dice
  • Tape Measure
  • Miniatures for your chosen faction
  • Tokens, markers, or dice to mark damage to units
  • Playing surface (Kings of War is usually played on a 6x4 foot surface, but smaller game can be played on smaller battlefields)

And while not essential, games are improved with scenery. This can be a game mat-loaded with buildings, hills, and rivers, or simply a tablecloth over some books.

Kings of War Products

Kings of War 2-Player Starter Sets.

Kings of War Starter Sets

Kings of War 3rd Edition has 2, 2-player starter sets available. Both sets include:

  • Kings of War Getting Started Gude
  • Kings of War 3rd Edition Gamer's Edition Rulebook (see below for what it contains)
  • 2 Forces

Shadows in the North is the original 2-player starter set and contains the Northern Alliance and Nightstalkers.

War in the Holds is a brand new starter set, featuring the Ratkin and Goblins.

All you need to add to the starter-sets are dice and a tape measure to get playing Kings of War.

Kings of War Rulebooks.

Kings of War Rulebooks

Kings of War has 3 editions of the core rulebook and 1 supplement. The 3 rulebook editions contain the same core rules, with these differences:

  • Free Rules - The Free Rules are available digitally from Mantic. They include the core rules and limited army lists for Dwarfs and Orcs.
  • Gamer's Edition - The physical Gamer's Edition is a softback rulebook, with all the Core Rules, details of artefacts and spells, and 14 different full army lists.
  • Full Rulebook - The physical full rulebook is a hardback rulebook, with everything the Gamer's Edition has, plus an extensive background and lore section for the Kings of War setting.

Uncharted Empires

  • Uncharted Empire is a Kings of War 3rd Edition Supplement. it contains the background and army lists for 12 additional Kings of War factions.

For details of all the Kings of War factions, please see the section below.

Kings of War Spell and Artefact Cards.

Kings of War Spell and Artefact Cards

The Spell and Artefact cards include all the rules from the Kings of War rulebook, in a handy card format, for easy reference during play. You can place the cards near the units that have them so that it's clear to you and your opponent which units have what.

Kings of War Miniatures.

Kings of War Miniatures

Kings of War includes a huge range of miniatures across the available factions. Mantic are also happy for players to use miniatures from other games, as long as they are based correctly for Kings of War. But with the huge range of awesome looking miniatures available, and the great bundles and sets that Mantic have, there's enough to keep any player busy with hobby time just with the Kings of War range.

Kings of War.

Kings of War Factions

Kings of War has 26 Factions available across the 2 books. Below you can find each faction, under the heading of the rulebook their army list is in, along with a brief description of each. Some of the factions are Theme Lists, which have a core faction that they pull some units from, and then include their own special units.  Theme lists have their core faction in brackets listed after them.

Kings of War Core Rulebook Factions

  • Basileans - Devout and religious warriors. Heavily armored and well organized.
  • Dwarfs - The Dwarfs you already know and love. Stout and stubborn with some great engineering.
  • Elves - The fantasy Elves you already know. Few in number, but awesome in ability.
  • Northern Alliance - A mixture of races from the cold and snowy Northern peaks.
  • Forces of Nature - A mixture of elementals and forest warriors.
  • Ogres - A mercenary race. They're larger than Orcs and include Goblins and giants under their banners.
  • Trident Realm of Neritica - A nautical race of sea creatures and sea-warriors.
  • Abyssal Dwarfs - Evil Dwarfs with a love of fire.
  • Empire of Dust - Egyptian and Middle Eastern undead.
  • Forces of the Abyss - Evil demons and spirits.
  • Goblins - Goblins are small, and feature in the Orc and Ogre armies. On their own, they're a horde army of cheap and expendable troops.
  • Nightstalkers - Cthulhu-esque horrors and monsters.
  • Orcs - Bigger than goblins, smaller than ogres, the Orcs are a green tide of focused rage.
  • Undead - Necromancers, skeletons, zombies, and lycanthropes. Anything unnatural with a stubborn refusal to die.

Uncharted Empires Factions

  • Brotherhood - Order of the Brothermark Theme List (Basileans) - A Basilean force with a focus on Abyss hunting. 
  • Brotherhood - Order of the Green Lady Theme List (Forces of Nature) - The Forces of Nature with access to human knights and cavalry.
  • Free Dwarfs Theme List (Dwarfs) - Dwarfs, but with a focus on movement and scouting, rather than holding the line.
  • Salamanders - Elementals and Lizardmen.
  • Sylvan Kin Theme List (Elves) - Elves with a nature theme akin to Wood Elves.
  • The Herd Theme List (Forces of Nature) - The Forces of Nature with a focus on half-beasts, half-men.
  • Kingdoms of Men - An open human force, with lots of troop type options.
  • Kingdoms of Men - League of Rhordia Theme List (Kingdoms of Men) - A human and halfling alliance with access to the halfling engineered Volley Gun.
  • Ratkin - Giant rats that stand on 2 legs. A swarm army with access to some deadly and random engineering.
  • Ratkin - Ratkin Slaves Theme List (Abyssal Dwarfs) - An Abyssal Dwarf army with access to the cheaper swarm Ratkin options.
  • Twilight Kin Theme List (Elves) - Evil Elves with some Abyssal and Nightstalker allies.
  • Varangur Theme List (Northern Alliance) - A Northern Alliance army with a Viking flavor.
Kings of War Vanguard.

Kings of War Vanguard

Where Kings of War is a full army tabletop battle game, Kings of War Vanguard is a smaller scale skirmish game, with a focus on individual warriors and heroes.

There are some differences with the rules though, and Vanguard uses 8-sided dice, and alternating activations, rather than full turns activations for players. It also introduces new power mechanics and a flexibility in actions to reinforces the focus on individual characters.

As with Kings of War, the rules are free digitally from Mantic, as well as army lists for the Kings of War factions and Vanguard token sheets. So all you need to add, in order to use your existing Kings of War army, are D8s.

The Kings of War Vanguard 2-Player Starter Set includes everything, including 2 forces (Basilean and Nightstalkers) the full rules, dice, dice, and a tape measure to get you playing.

With Vanguard being a skirmish game, fewer miniatures are required than Kings of War proper, so beginners may wish to start with Vanguard, and build up to a full Kings of War army.

Kings of War Armada.

Kings of War Armada

Kings of War Armada is a ship wargame, featuring the factions from Kings of War. 2 factions are available in the initial wave, Basileans, and Orcs, with Dwarfs and the Empire of Dust set for release early next year.

You can read more about Kings of War Armada in our review soon.

The Kings of War products used to produce this article were provided by Mantic Games.


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A Potts TechRaptor
| Senior Tabletop Writer

Adam is a Tabletop Specialist for TechRaptor. He started writing for TechRaptor in 2017 and took over as Tabletop Editor in 2019 and has since stood down… More about Adam