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Thursday, August 04, 2005


Wizard Kings

I've really wanted to play Wizard Kings for some time now. I picked up Wizard Kings, Extra Wizard Kings maps, Victory, Pacific Victory and Bobby Lee at a store in Anchorage that was liquidating its Columbia stock over a year ago. The other three games are still in the original shrink wrap.

I was finally able to play with an experienced wargamer. So far I'd only played Wizard Kings with kids age 12-14. It was a little dry for them even though they understood the rules and did quite well. I suggested the game after we finished a game of "Hammer of the Scots". I sold him on "Wizard Kings" by stressing it was based upon the same system as HotS, and that there were no exceptions to the exceptions to the rules to keep the game historically accurate.

We had to knock off early because of time constraints, but he was impressed with the fact that it was expandable for multiple players (I have several different armies that I ordered directly from Columbia). He took the game home to study the rules, I'll take that as a good sign.

I'm not sure I like the game, though. The defender has a pretty significant advantage. For one thing there is a stacking limit of 6 units per hex. There are no limits to the number of units that can cross into a hex that has no combat occurring. Only two units can cross a clear hexside into a battle. Only one unit can cross a hexside with non-clear terrain if there is a battle occurring. It is fairly easy for the defender to see where an attack is coming and build up units in that hex. It is much harder for an attacker to maneuver his units into the hex.

The second advantage the defender has is that he rolls first in combat, and all hits are applied immediately. For example; there is one attacking unit that rolls 3 dice and scores a hit on any 1 or 2 and one defending unit of the same strength, the defender rolls one 1 on his turn, the attacker takes the damage, because of the damage the attacker now only rolls two dice in the battle.

To read my description of the game you might not see that much difference between it and Hammer of the Scots. The big difference is that Wizard Kings has no winter phase, that makes a big difference. HotS discourages "turtling" and encourages offensive play because of the wintering rules. The English player loses many of his units at the end of the year whether they are at full strength or depleted. During the winter phase players must redistribute their units so that there are only one or two per territory or they lose them. There is no mechanism in HotS to build up a huge army for more than a couple turns each round, players must play with an eye toward dispersing his units at the end of the round. These changes make HotS a more offensive game.

Wizard Kings is a game where you want to pick your battles. Seems like the main strategy is to hold back, build up a huge army, and trust your fate to dice rolls. I want to like the game. I like the fact that it is expandable and that there is no minutiae to keep the game historically accurate. I think I will be playing Wizard Kings again, and soon. I will report back.

Good Gaming

I hope you were playing a good scenario, such as one from Chris Farrell's website.
The defender has a significant advantage, but the limited number of blocks in an army and a wide enough front can prevent stalemate.
Which version of the rules were you using? Some argue that the latest set, 1.6, favour the defender too much. Definitely try the rules posted on Chris' site and try both rulesets before you make up your mind.
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