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A look at Wrath of Kings at GenCon

Another of the games I tried while at GenCon was Wrath of Kings. Now, I have to admit, I knew a lot about the game before GenCon, having helped out with some stuff before (like, check out my Battle Report in Ravage Magazine Issue #3). But it's one thing to work with the rules, and another to actually get to see those models out on a table being used and watching others playing it and enjoying the system.

Wrath of Kings is a gaming system with a difference. I've been gaming for quite a while and never found a system quite like it. In both how you buy models for your army and how those models interact and attack one-another sets WoK apart from other games.

First off, every model is free... sort of. There are no army points for individual models. Instead, the amount of different models you can take is based on the Rank of the model (higher-ranked models are rarer and thus more powerful) and the size of game you are going to play. So any Rank 1 Infantry "costs as much as" any other Rank 1 Infantry. The Force Organization Chart then tells you how many Rank 1 Infantry (in this example) you are allowed to take. Simple as that. There are other, further, options within the Charts, but that's something for a more advanced look once the game finally hits the shelves (which, personally, I don't think can happen fast enough).

The next part of Wrath of Kings that make it different is how attacks happen. WoK uses exclusively D10s. When a model attacks another, it rolls a number of D10 depending on the attack it is doing. Those rolls are compared to the Defensive Chart of the enemy. There are many different possible results on that chart from "strike" which causes a hit, to block, parry, dodge, miss and so forth. There are critical hits called "Overpower" results that can add an extra die to the attack as well. Now, it may initially seem like all the different "miss" results are superfluous. "Either you hit or miss. What's the deal?" you might say. Well, most attacks have special abilities that will alter your opponent's Defensive Chart. So you may have an attack that says, "Block = Strike 1." So when you roll against your opponent and get a Block result, you actually score a hit. This unique system creates nearly an infinite amount of special abilities (all of which are straightforward and easy to understand) and potential variation in troops, as two could have the same offensive abilities, yet different defensive charts, and thus play differently on the battlefield in certain situations.

The game uses an alternating activations style, something regular readers of my reviews will recognize as something I like immensely. It means you're never far from it being your turn and with the Defensive Chart, possibly having counter-attack options on it, there's always something for you to do (in a good way), even when you're not currently activating models.

Another unique aspect of the game is the Morale system. Games of Wrath of Kings aren't simply "beat up the other guy until they're gone" affairs. Instead, each faction has certain agendas they are trying to work towards and certain "modes of operation" they operate in. So your army might be trying to plunder an enemy ammo dump or escort prisoners back to camp, or find and pay off an informant in the enemy army. All of these will affect morale in your and your opponent's force. First one to 0 morale loses. Each game will be unique simply by changing what specific goal your leader is trying to achieve that battle.

There's still a little bit of time before the official release, but this is a game you should be on the lookout for. It's got me exceedingly excited and I can't wait to unleash my forces on those at my gaming store.