Clash of Kings 2022 Preview: All Things Arcane!

Photo credit: Mantic Games

G’day all. Welcome to a very special sneak preview of Mantic’s Clash of Kings 2022 supplement for Kings of War! First of all, a big thank you to Mantic for providing us with review copies of Clash of Kings 2022, and for letting us preview the big additions to magic!

For those that don’t know Clash of Kings is the year balance update and supplement for Kings of War. This year it contains a whole load of stuff including some new armies, new spells, powerful special rules, crazy magic items, and balance updates for every army. 

Most exciting is that this is touted as the ‘No Nerf’ Clash of Kings, so every army only gets better! For the armies that are already considered powerful, this means the more underused units will be buffed, whereas for the weaker armies, the improvements will be more widespread. That’s not all that’s in here, but you’ll have to wait until the release date to see the rest of the book.

Spicy Spell Updates

Fireball gains the Shattering special rule, which adds 1 to the subsequent Nerve test at the end of the ranged phase. The addition of Shattering to Fireball adds that extra special sauce (as Jeremy Duvall from Countercharge would put it), as it denotes the impact that being aflame has on a person/monster. It also helps differentiate Fireball from Lightning Bolt, which has long been considered the superior offensive spell.

Hex, a spell that exclusively punishes spellcasters for casting spells (they take damage), can now be cast on Spellcaster Tier 0 units. There are a surprisingly large amount of monsters and heroes which can cast spells, but have Spellcaster Tier 0. These rogues would be able to go about casting magic unchecked, but no longer! The Dragons, Tree Herders, Frost Giants, Mind Screeches and Greater Elementals of Pannithor will tremble in fear. Expect to see this more often in games. 

Upskill with Arcane Abilities

There are two unique upgrades available here:

Incantation of the Tempest gives you a 50/50 chance to reroll all misses on all spells it casts this turn, or end up disordered and unable to cast any spells for the remainder of the turn.

We don’t think you’ll see this much in competitive play, where consistency is king. However, it is definitely a fun ability that could lead to exciting moments when someone hits with all their Lightning Bolts and obliterates a unit. The odds are so infinitesimal, it will be remembered for years to come. We don’t think it’ll see much play outside of a straight “blaster” wizard, because if you are in a situation where a spell must go off, you’re better off rolling more dice (ie. cast the actual spell).

The truly useful upgrade, however, is Knowledgeable; adding 1 to your spellcaster tier. That’s right, spellcaster tier is going to be important now! And one spellcaster going up a tier may end up being very important to your game plan going forward.

Library of Arcane Knowledge

The Library of Arcane Knowledge builds upon the spells of the various planes from Halpi’s Rift. Any spellcaster of Tier 1 or greater can purchase a spell from the library, opening up a slew of options for every army in the game. 

What is truly unique about these spells is that nearly all have multiple tiers (1 to 3). Tier 1 is the most basic version of the spell, and the cheapest (in points). Tiers 2 and 3 progressively become more expensive to purchase, however the spell’s potency also increases. A Tier 3 spellcaster such as the Elves’ Archmage can purchase the Tier 1 Mindfog (2) for cheap, but can also show their true arcane might with the Tier 3 Mindfog (4).  

Most of these spells come from Halpi’s Rift or the main rulebook, but have received a once over to make them more balanced. We’re going to talk about our top picks here.

Goonhammer’s Top Three New Spells

Having seen all the new spells within the Library of Arcane Knowledge, we are permitted by the deities of Mantic to reveal our top three choices. These might not be the most competitive, but they are certainly the ones we want to be taking in our lists either because they look the most fun, or they synergize with how we like to play.

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Host Shadowbeast: Host Shadowbeast has changed slightly from Halpi’s Rift. For those that don’t know, it is a buffing spell for friendly individuals that gives them an extra attack for each successful cast. For example, Host Shadowbeast (6) can potentially bestow 6 extra attacks on a lucky individual hero. 

Now, the obvious use is to throw in on a combat caster like a Vampire or Ahmunite Pharaoh, and have them self buff to absolutely shred small units. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you don’t want even buffer Vampires), you can’t cast on the turn you charge. Instead, you need to put this on a support caster, so there is a bit of a tax to turning your Vampire into a blender.

There are a few new magic items that can help with using this spell as well, so I’ll definitely be testing it out. It’s not unreasonable to see a Varangur Lord swinging with 11 attacks, and that’ll be some serious pain on whatever he’s hitting. All you need is a friendly, neighbourhood Magus to say the right words.

Barkskin: A completely new spell that sees spellcasters grant temporary armour to units. For each hit with this spell, a unit gains a Barkskin token. When that unit takes damage from any source, remove one token per damage suffered, negating that point of damage until all Barkskin tokens are gone. Any remaining damage to be dealt is suffered by the unit as normal. 

The interesting part is that the casting value is not simply 4+, but rather equal to the defense of the target unit. Chucking Barkskin on Earth Elementals (Defense 6) would be folly, but very effective on some Gladestalkers (Defense 3).

This spell is going to be great for protecting those berserker type units that hit hard but can’t take it back. This is absolutely going in my list to protect my Nightstalker Reapers, who are always getting wavered the first time they take damage. Potentially adding up to 5 extra health, it’s much less likely that my Reapers will waver, giving me another turn to hit back. It’s also great in that it is a proactive spell, so I can put it where it needs to go before a unit has taken damage. 

Barkskin is my top spell of Clash of Kings.   

Cytoplasm

Alchemist’s Curse: In counterpoint to Barkskin, the Alchemist’s Curse takes what armour you have and turns it against you. This spell has come straight from Halpi’s Rift. Hitting with Piercing (4), this curse will melt every target in Pannithor.

The twist is that the Defense of your target is added to how many dice you roll to hit; the more armoured the enemy, the greater their pain! At Spellcaster Tier 1, Alchemist’s Curse hits for exactly the Defense of the target, but at Tiers 2 and 3 this is improved by 2 and 4 hits, respectively. 

Compared to the iteration of Alchemist’s Curse in Halpi’s Rift, the spell is slightly worse off; the number of bonus hits is less and it is impacted by cover. However, bringing this into the standard circulation of spells is a direct counter to high defense armies like Ogres, Dwarfs and Abyssal Dwarfs. 

Celestial Restoration: Another spell lifted from Halpi’s Rift and given permanence in Clash of Kings 2022, Celestial Restoration is the long range (36”!) Heal with a lot of potential. For each hit scored with this spell, D3 health is regained, but the number of dice to cast is low; 2 dice for Tier 2, 3 for Tier 3. The war machine of healing spells!

It can be tempting to think only of the maximum heals achieved, but the true power of this spell is the reach. Celestial Restoration extends a caster’s healing capabilities to help out those flanking cavalry units or lone dragons when things might have not gone according to plan. 

Flanking missions for dragons and cavalry can be dangerous endeavours. Any misstep is usually fatal, as the distance from the main battlegroup puts them out of range of any support. Celestial Restoration is exactly the spell I need to keep my Archfiend going. One day I will be good enough with my flanking units, but in the meantime…

Joint Pick

Scorched Earth: Scorched Earth is one of those spells that needed to be in the game. Without it, once your opponent has set up a charge they want to make, there’s very little you can do to protect your units, other than sacrificing other units to slow it down. 

Scorched Earth makes an opponent’s charge Hindered, as well as removing Pathfinder and Strider, which can seriously strip down the offensive capabilities of some units. The hammers that rely on volume of attacks suddenly hitting on 5+, and lose some Thunderous Charge, can really turn the tide of battle.

This spell will always be useful in any battle, since everyone relies on Pathfinder or Strider on at least one of their units. The key is predicting where such hammer units will be going and countering their charges with a well-placed Scorched Earth. Not only will this nullify their charge, but will set you up for a devastating counter charge, so be ready for it! 

The casting of this spell might also be the reason your opponent won’t charge. They might calculate the odds and realize their glorious regiment of Knights will only do 4 damage when they charge. Not worth throwing Knights away for that.

Scorched Earth is my (Cytoplasm’s) top pick among spells of Clash of Kings 2022.

Summary

The magical boons within Clash of Kings 2022 are truly exciting. Every armies’ selection of spells has grown exponentially, which enables a greater variety of playstyles. This, combined with all the other changes in this exciting book, means that for the next year no two game experiences will be the same.

The best part about these magical additions is that none of it seems too extreme. The spells taken from Halpi’s Rift have been toned down for standard use, whereas before they were specific to certain Planes of Existence and were rather powerful. No army will be designed solely around any particular spell, instead these spells will bolster all kinds of strategies.

We can heartily recommend that all Kings of War players pre-order the upcoming Clash of Kings 2022, either from Mantic Games direct or from your friendly local gaming store. No players will be disappointed.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.