This is the first post in what will become a series of articles chronicling my journey into the world of Kings of War Vanguard, a fantasy skirmish game from Mantic Games.
In short, I feel extremely lucky to be beginning this journey.
I recently joined Milton Hundred Wargames Club and shortly after that they were selected to be part of Mantic Games’ ‘Your Club, Your Story‘ initiative. Mantic would select a handful of clubs from around the world, providing them with everything that they needed to get started playing Vanguard. In return, the chosen club members will share their experiences with the wider gaming community, and have a whole lot of fun in the process.
There were only 6 clubs in the entire world that were selected, and I was one of only 6 members from my club to be chosen to take part, so I feel very fortunate.
Each of us has been given a warband starter set, as well as a booster pack for that warband (which contains more specialist troops than the basic warband), we’ve also been given a rulebook, power dice, and some terrain. We were given 3 terrain crates between us, and so we’ve split these as evenly as we can.
Very fortunately, we all received our first choices of warband. I am playing Nightstalkers, cosmic horrors and nightmares made manifest (more on those later), Olly is playing as the Forces of Nature, druids and tree people awoken to protect the land. Christopher is the Abyssals, devils and demons from the underworld. David is playing as the Basileans, protectors of good who wield divine power. Rob is The Northern Alliance, a collection of tough humans, dwarves and ice trolls (and bear riders). Finally, Steve is The Trident Realm, a force from beneath the waves.
Over the next few months we’re going to be building and painting our warbands, and then playing lots of games. The project will culminate in a large multiplayer game at the South East London Wargames Group show in October with what, hopefully, will be a spectacular finale.
We have lots of great stuff planned, and it is genuinely a very exciting project, and I’m extremely pleased to be involved. And, of course, I’ll be sharing my progress along the way.
What is Kings of War Vanguard?
Kings of War Vanguard is a skirmish game that sees elite groups of warriors clash on the tabletop. It is the sister game to Kings of War, which focuses on larger scale fantasy battles.
Being a skirmish game you control between 5 – 15 or so miniatures across a table filled with terrain. There’s a wide variety of skills and units in the game (the rulebook has army lists for 14 warbands), with each warband having its own strengths and weaknesses. My warband, the Nightstalkers, seem to be all about causing fear amongst the enemy, to paralyse them in place or make them flee entirely. Each member of your warband has its own statistics to represent how quick it is, how good at fighting it is, how brave it is and so on (these profiles come on cards which are included with the miniatures, which is a really nice touch).
The rulebook contains 12 different scenarios with varied objectives such as destroying a baggage train, lighting a beacon, assassinating the enemy commander, saving a hostage and capturing a giant.
The miniatures are on square bases (which is something I was unsure about at first, and I had planned to rebase them on to my preferred round bases), but having read the rules it’s clear that a models’ facing does matter in the game, so the square bases are there for a reason.
The rules from Kings of War Vanguard can be downloaded from here for free.
I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about why I picked my faction: The Nightstalkers.
Whenever I get into any kind of miniatures game, the first thing I look at is the miniatures themselves. It doesn’t matter if there is a faction that is the absolute best in the game and have a play style that is incredibly fun, if I don’t like the miniatures, I simply won’t enjoy playing with them and collecting them.
For me, any kind of tabletop war game, whether it be a mass battle game or a smaller skirmish game like Vanguard, is quite an aesthetic thing. I enjoy the spectacle of it: seeing how awesome it looks on a tabletop. Getting down to miniature-eye level to check lines of sight is great fun and really immersive. The miniatures that I collect and paint have to be part of that aesthetic: I need to fall in love with the models.
Thankfully, when I saw The Nightstalkers, I was very taken by them. They seemed to be drawing on lots of things that I loved, from the cosmic dread and Old Ones of H.P Lovecraft to the nightmarish body horror of Dead Space.
Being a huge fan of horror fiction, this clicked with me right away. I like the Reaper models in particular, for they seem to be a fusion HR Giger’s Alien, Dead Space’s Necromorphs and 80’s horror monster Pumpkin Head.
I love the Scarecrow miniatures too, with their spindly limbs and wicked smiles evoking other horror icons like Freddy Kruger or their namesake from Gotham City.
There’s clear Cthulhu Mythos influences too, from the multi-mouthed, tentacled horror of the Mind-Screech, to the head-split-into-a-vertical-maw of The Banshee, to the hulking many-armed form of Butcher, both of which recall the nightmarish Gug from Lovecraft’s fiction.
If you couldn’t tell already, I am absolutely in love with these models, and I can’t wait to get them assembled and painted.
Once I started reading about their background, I was completely sold. The Nightstalkers were once Elves from The Conclave of Heaven, a group devoted to celestial study. They were approached by a higher being and taught how to walk the spirit paths. Soon they strayed too far into the astral realm, and a great magical sundering wrenched them from their mortal bodies, trapping them in a nightmare existence. Now they must feed on the emotions of other creatures, namely their fear. As they pierce the veil and return from the gaps between worlds, they bring with them ancient horrors: cold, alien and unknowable.
I have no idea how they’ll perform on the tabletop, but with a backstory that cool and miniatures as nice as these, it doesn’t much matter to me.
Until Next Time
And there you have it. I stand ready to take on the challenge, and excited at the prospect of entering a new adventure.
Once again, thank you to Mantic Games for their generous donation of supplies, and thank you to Milton Hundred Wargames Club for allowing me to be involved in such an exciting project.
I very much hope you’ll join me for the next article in the series: it should be a hell of a ride.