Terrain is the king of Kings of War.
I genuinely don’t think I’ve known a wargame that is as heavily affected by terrain as Kings of War. Sure, the immediate effects of cover saves might be obvious in pre-8th ed 40k (much as I enjoy 8th ed, fucking LOL at the terrain rules), but I’ve not seen such massive tactical decisions made based solely on terrain.
A hindered charge can be game changing. -1 to hit doesn’t seem like a lot on the surface, but actually it’s bloody massive! Taking a 4+ to hit to a 5+ to hit is a whopping 33% reduction in damage. We’re not even touching on Thunderous Charge there. Terrain is king and if you can master it, you can master the game.
It’s not perfect however.
Where we’ve come from
Kings of War is only in its second edition, so it’s important to look at where things sat in 1st edition and how much they improved. Here’s a quick summary:
- True Line of Sight, so forests didn’t block line of sight because fucking LOL TLOS
- No counter-charging, so charging through terrain was always hindered regardless
- Movement was 1/2 speed through terrain, not “can’t move at the double” *
- Cavalry had Crushing Strength(2), not Thunderous Charge(2) basic, so barely affected by terrain
- Pathfinder didn’t exist, except for a few exceptions
* 1/2 speed through terrain = fucking lol shambling units stuck moving 2.5″ per turn if they snag on difficult terrain…
Terrain was not widely used in first edition. It was avoided at nearly all costs, and that’s something that I aimed to change in 2nd.
Where we are
While 2nd sat largely under the authorship of Alessio, I pushed for most (if not all) of the terrain changes:
- Abstract LOS. Alessio totally copied my system (with permission).
- Counter-charge was suggested to resolve other charging issues (flank and rear charges), but I pushed for it to ignore terrain modifiers
- Again, me suggesting a simpler system of “Can’t move at the double” through terrain. Easier to do and not as crippling to shambling units
- I’ll take half credit for Thunderous Charge. I pushed for a special rule of some sorts, but the specifics were worked out between me and Dan King
- Pathfinder was pretty much a given. I can’t take credit for that.
The terrain section in the rulebook was largely written by me, however…
Where I screwed up
There are oddities that in hindsight I’d love to go back and revisit.
Hills are… strange… at times. A unit is only on the hill if more than 50% of the base is on the hill. This can cause some real strange occurrences such as where a unit can be 49% on the hill, it’s leader point on the hill, but the unit overall not technically on the hill. Therefore the hill blocks LOS for the unit and the leader can’t see anything.
In terms of cover, units ignore pieces of terrain that they are touching for the purpose of cover. This should be obstacles. They ignore obstacles that they are touching for the purpose of cover, not difficult terrain. Therefore in order to shoot out of difficult terrain and not suffer the cover penalty, the leader point has to be exposed.
It gets real fucking strange when a unit can shoot through 6″ of difficult terrain without penalty, simply because they are touching it. Sitting inside and along the edge of a forest and shooting out without penalty is visually fine to me. Shooting through a forest because one bloke is touching it… not so much.
Note that we had a discussion during development about putting some sort of a distance limitation, so it would be “you can see through 3″ of difficult terrain” or “you can shoot through 3″ of difficult terrain without penalty”, but we felt at the time that simpler was better. I could be persuaded either way now…
That one weird rule
Total Clickbait, but it was a Facebook comment and I just wanted the title there.
As soon as unit is within difficult terrain, no matter how small the portion “within” is, the unit completely ignores the terrain for shooting.
Yeah. That sucks.
That… doesn’t make much sense.
What this was supposed to be, in hindsight, is that any portion of a unit that is within difficult terrain can see and be seen through the terrain. Not the entire unit.
What this change would mean is that in order to see through the terrain, the unit would have to have its leader point within the terrain itself.
Got Three RC Fired!
It didn’t get us fired, total clickbait, but me, Sami and Jason all thought that this had been changed in the FAQ. I specifically remember us discussing it at length (the change does have some strange flaws in certain scenarios) and all of us in a group FB chat said that we thought it had been changed.
But it hasn’t. As soon as a unit touches a forest, it can see all the way through. Hmm.
3rd edition, when it happens, will be a general tightening up of the rules, and I’m sure terrain will be amongst the rules to be tightened up. The rules were a massive leap forward from 1st edition but after 3-4 years of real-world gameplay, there certainly are some flaws in what I pushed for and what I wrote. It’ll be interesting to see what changes are in store the day that Ronnie decides a 3rd edition is in order.