I don’t understand the desire for Siege

I just don’t understand why people are so keen on siege rules for Kings of War.

By siege rules, I of course mean the “assault” scenario, like the Battle for Helms Deep. Ladders at the wall, battering rams at the gates and an endless sea of bodies getting picked off by archers on the battlements.

While rather spectacular visually, I can’t imagine a more boring game of Kings of War. Two opponents line up on opposite sides of the board. One gunline in terrain, the other combat heavy army is not in terrain. The attacker marches across open ground in a straight line towards the enemy. If enough of the attackers make it to the walls (and the scenario is usually weighted towards the attacker), then they get to roll some dice and kill the enemy. Otherwise the game consists of the defender rolling lots of dice and the attacker just walking forwards and removing units that their opponent kills.

I’ve not taken a survey but I’m going to take a massive guess and say that if you asked Kings of War players what they enjoyed about the gameplay, most of them (myself included) would give answers along the lines of strategy, manoeuvring and flanking attacks. Usage of terrain would probably feature heavily too. None of that is used in a siege/assault scenario. It’s just either marching in a straight line (since you’ll deploy opposite the exact portion of the wall you’re going to attack) towards the enemy while the enemy stands still and shoots you. There are no big manoeuvres, there’s no using chaff to block charges, no weighing up one charge vs another. Straight line towards the enemy. Hope they don’t rout too many units by the time you get there.

For the same reasons, an early-mid war WWI trench assault game doesn’t appeal to me.

This is all my personal preference of course. I dislike mass battles in general because they tend to be, in my experience, simply putting too many units on the board and marching in a straight line at one another. If you have good dice rolls then you’ll win. Otherwise you’ll lose. The units are so tightly compacted together that there’s no real room to move about and no real way of using tactics. You might be presented a couple of charge options every now and again but nothing like the grand strategy you have to use when playing a regular game of Kings of War. Whether it’s a mass battle of KoW on too small a table or 40k Apocalypse games, it always seem to be visually spectacular but as hollow as a Leave campaigner’s promises when it comes to gameplay.

All of this is my personal preference of course. Some people play the game for the visual aspect and that is of course fine. Siege/assault probably appeals to them. However, I play the game for the tactical gameplay and in that category I struggle to think of a worse scenario for tactics than siege/assault.

Now, if you want to talk about true Siege scenarios then my ears prick up. I’m not talking about all out attacks on the castle walls, I’m talking about raids on nearby farms. Attacks on baggage trains to disrupt supplies. Sallies from the castle to break important enemy units before they get swamped. A small band of saboteurs breaking into the castle to cause havoc or lower the drawbridge to let the besiegers attack unhindered. THOSE scenarios are interesting, compelling and have good capacity for tactical gameplay. 

Kings of War Vanguard will likely be ideal for depicting these scenarios, and if there’s a siege campaign where you play a bunch of these scenarios one after the other (perhaps with some turn by turn decisions by the players to influence the scenarios played) then I’m all over that.

Lining up and walking in a straight line towards an entrenched gunline? Nah, not for me.

When I was on the RC, we weren’t in a massive hurry to write a siege scenario. It seemed like a lot of work for little gameplay variety or tactical value. We always wanted to hold off for the inevitable skirmish game/supplement so that we could write a campaign full of siege scenarios. Perhaps we’ll see something along those lines shortly after Vanguard is released, if not from the RC then certainly from the community.

One thought on “I don’t understand the desire for Siege

  1. As someone who has pestered Ronnie for siege rules for a while, I also saw Vanguard as an in to a siege game. In-KoW-game advantages from success in skirmishes definitely the way to go.

    Another reason that I wanted the rules was that I have 2 complete fortresses plus. This offers opportunity to play within the castle while simultaneously defending from external attack. Plenty of tactical decisions to made I think.

    Like

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