Making ‘Kill’ work

Off the bat I need to be honest and say that I seriously dislike ‘Kill’ as a scenario. I feel that it leads to stale two dimensional games and significantly increases the likelihood of my two least favourite things happening in wargaming – boring stand offs where armies trade shooting attacks and/ or running away to conserve points.

When playing Kill, if you manage to route an enemy’s key unit on turn 1 or 2 and score yourself a lot of points, the correct thing to do is to spend the rest of the game avoiding combats wherever you can and only picking up more kill points here and there when it is safe to do so and there is little to no risk to you. Its a boring game for you and your opponent, but it would be the best strategy to win the scenario.

Kill favours armies that are elite and highly manoeuvrable, and its not like these armies need a boost as it is. In 3rd edition, Unit Strength is now a variable stat that changes across units – these days not all regiments are created equal. This means that included in the points cost of a regiment of Men at Arms is their Unit Strength 3, which is one of the reasons that Zombies at Unit Strength 2 are so much cheaper than them. But in ‘Kill’ the differences in unit strength are irrelevant, and the Zombies get their discount for free. In other scenarios, basic regiments of infantry are excellent scoring objectives – in Kill they’re just a liability.

While this comparison doesn’t seem very important when looking at Men at Arms vs Zombies, it becomes more important when looking at large infantry hordes vs infantry hordes. In ‘Kill’ large infantry hordes are just plain better.

The other reason I don’t like Kill is that it messes with my beloved Northern Kings Scoring System. I absolutely love the Northern Kings Scoring System (although I am a little bias because I co-wrote it) as it encourages positive play and makes sure that its always worth carrying on playing even if you only have one unit left and you can’t possibly win the scenario. But the one scenario that it has never worked well on is ‘Kill’.

The Northern Kings scoring systems awards points based on three things;

  • If you won, drew or lost the game
  • ‘How well’ you won the scenario e.g. how many objective tokens you held at the end of the game
  • How many points of your opponents army you killed

For most scenarios, this means that you have to juggle three different things if you want to score the maximum points. You have to win the scenario, whilst also killing the majority of your opponents army, while still having enough of your own units left and in the right position to score the maximum additional points for scenario. All of these criteria means that, by design, its pretty difficult to score the maximum points.

In Kill this juggling falls down because all you need to concentrate on is killing your opponent. This will allow you to a) win the scenario, b) score additional points for ‘how well’ you won the scenario and c) score the bonus points for killing your opponents army.

For all of the reasons above we’ve never used ‘Kill’ in a Northern Kings event – we’ve dealt with the problem by ignoring it!

However, we’re soon planning on properly releasing a written up copy of the Northern Kings Scoring System, along with a breakdown of how we recommend you award bonus scenario points for each scenario. This will be available for anyone who wants to use the Scoring System in their own events, and the idea is that you can easily copy and paste the scenarios you want into the scoring sheet.

So with that in mind, I decided that rather than just leave ‘Kill’ blank or accept that the scoring system is subpar, I’d have a go at modifying ‘Kill’ so that it was more dynamic to play and fits in better with the Northern Kings Scoring System.

Kill – Northern Kings Style

I wanted to keep the scenario simple and ideally not incorporate any brand new mechanics to the game. I find that a lot of fan-made scenarios have a tendency to try and add lots of complexity and ignore the basic Kings of War ethos of ‘keep it simple’.

With that in mind, I though back to a scenario that hasn’t been in the game since the main rule book scenarios in Version 2 – ‘Kill & Pillage’. This scenario combined (unsurprisingly) the Kill and Pillage scenarios; the victory conditions were the same as Kill, but at the end of the game each objective you held was worth an additional 200 kill points.

I didn’t feel that I could use a complete copy of ‘Kill & Pillage’ as it still wouldn’t solve my issues with the Northern Kings Scoring System, but I felt that the concept was definitely solid as fighting over the objective counters would make games more dynamic to play and punish sitting back and refusing the engage.

So taking inspiration from ‘Kill & Pillage’, I came up with this…

The game is played exactly like any other game of ‘Kill’ and you can still win the scenario just by killing one unit. But there big difference is, if you want to score top marks in the Northern Kings Scoring System you’re now going to have to kill enough points to win the scenario, kill the majority of your opponents army AND have enough units left at the end of the game to hold at least five objective markers.

Plus, if you feel that you have no chance of winning the scenario (maybe you lost a key unit early in the game to a bad nerve roll), you can instead focus on holding as many objectives as you can so that you will at least still score some nice bonus points in your defeat.

What do you think? Have I managed to improve ‘Kill’ or just added an extra layer of complexity that doesn’t add anything to the game?

Or is ‘Kill’ a hopeless cause that should not be included in tournaments at all?

3 thoughts on “Making ‘Kill’ work”

  1. Kill has its place. I think tournaments are not that place.
    A nice easy game for demos or when you’re more interested in rolling dice and laughs than displaying tactical genius.

    I would suggest just doubling the bonus points for killing stuff, but advising against using the scenario.

    I must add that the only scenario in historical games (at least in ancients) is to kill half your opponent’s army first.

    Like

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