G’day Goonhammer readers, we’re back again with a full review of Mantic’s Clash of Kings 2022 supplement for Kings of War! It is thanks to Mantic for providing us with review copies that we have the ability to bring you all our insights and opinions regarding the changes in this exciting update.
Our Kings of War team dive into the exciting new Clash of Kings 2022, starting out with a comprehensive look at changes to factions and army lists.In this first article covering Clash of Kings 2022, we will go over all the changes to army lists. We intend to provide enough detail to get you excited, but we will leave it up to the book to provide the exact numbers. We encourage everyone to buy this book, because it is packed.
What’s in the book?
The Clash of Kings 2022 book, outside of an edition change, is probably the biggest update to a game that has ever been undertaken. In one book every single faction in the game has received at least two pages worth of updates, new rules and points tweaks. With 26 factions in the game (at least until this book came out), that’s already a decent sized rulebook.
As if that wasn’t enough, there are also two whole new factions introduced; the Halflings get their official release, and the Riftforged Orcs make their debut. These armies in standard Kings of War fashion receive pages of background lore preceding the very exciting army lists.
Finally, there are the overall changes to the game including the new special rules, the updates to magic, loads of magic items, and even some fun scenarios to add further variety to your games. The fact that this was all playtested in the year that was 2021 is astounding, so full appreciation goes to the Kings of War Rules Committee (all lovely volunteers) and Mantic for getting this all together.
The part everyone has been waiting for; boosts to their favorite faction! Good news! Everyone gets buffed. And there are a few new units as well. Everyone who didn’t get a unique character in Halpi’s Rift gets one, and all those introduced in Halpi’s Rift have returned. Some factions that needed some more of a specific unit type, for example, hordes for unlocks, have also received them.
A small note though, the balance updates from Halpi’s Rift have also been included here, so while it may look like a unit has been nerfed, that actually happened in the last balance update. In most cases, we haven’t included any Halpi’s Rift changes within our summary.
In addition to new units and unit improvements, we also see the reintroduction of formations. Take specific units, pay some extra points and get extra buffs or abilities. Formations allow for some more thematic and targeted buffs, and, as they are limited to one formation per army, the risk of competitive imbalance is minimal.
As has been reiterated by the Rules Committee many times, Clash of Kings 2022 is about bringing up all units to the same standard. A lot of the more neglected units have been given some attention. This results in armies having a greater range of viable army types, and this will be apparent in our summaries. Even armies that were considered quite good already (fingers pointing at Undead and Abyssal Dwarfs) were improved in order to diversify their armies.
Sisterhood Scouts: Gain additional unit strength and attacks.
Sisterhood Infantry: Become cheaper.
Sisterhood Chariots: Improved melee and no longer Irregular.
Dictator: Can take a unique ability, Iron Discipline, to whip a nearby friendly unit, dealing damage but giving them Vicious and Inspiring (self).
Elohi: No longer Irregular, but cannot be allies in other armies. Have the option to lower defence and increase Crushing Strength for free.
Elohi, Ur-Elohi and Jullius, Dragon of Heaven: All gain the Divine Fervour special rule, which gives Elite to any Human unit participating in the same combat.
Abbess: receives an optional Fury aura for Sisterhood units.
High Paladin on Dragon: Improved Nerve and gains Headstrong.
The Golden Panthers: Gives Pathfinder and an aura of Fury (beast only) to two regiments of Sisterhood Panther Lancers, when taken with two troops of Gur Panthers. Fast and furious.
These are a nice set of buffs for Basileans, opening up some more combined arms approaches, with the Elohi and the Dictator improving the combat punch of the human contingents of the army. It’s a nice, thematic boost as well, as the army is based on humans receiving divine assistance, not having the Elohi do it all themselves.
Speaking of humans, the Sisterhood units have all received improvements, which is not surprising as they were a rather under-used part of the force. Previously, the Sisterhood offerings did have some punching power, but not enough to make up for their cost and low defence. Now they hit harder and in many cases are cheaper. This in conjunction with the changes to Elohi and heroes means that Basileans are going to be hitting quite a bit harder!
Stone Priest: Gains Radiance of Life that can be bought or replaces Surge.
Beserkers: Get a big increase in Nerve and gain Slayer (D6).
Steel Behemoth: The upgrade to Golloch’s Fury now comes with an aura of Iron Resolve for Dwarfs only. The Behemoth also increased in Speed and became cheaper.
Greater Earth Elemental: Gains more attacks.
Battle Driller: Gets Brutal 2.
Garrek Heavyhand: Gains Radiance of Life.
Ironwatch Rifles and Ironwatch Crossbows: Improved melee and unit strength.
Flame Belcher: Slightly increased range and gains Shattering.
Faber Ironheart: A unique hero version of a Steel Juggernaut that has all the same rules but also Wild Charge (D3), more attacks and higher Nerve.
The Royal Guard: Two regiments of bulwarkers, one horde of Ironclad and one Dwarf Army Standard Bearer all receive improved melee and Nerve values. The Standard Bearer gains Very Inspiring and an Elite aura for infantry.
The updates for Dwarfs are very exciting in that they truly expand the variety of viable Dwarf armies. Firstly, now that Inspiring on all characters is unconditional, heroes like the Stone Priest have a lot more utility in armies without Elementals. Instead of an Army Standard Bearer, the Stone Priest can be included in infantry-heavy armies, especially now that it has healing options.
It is to infantry that the biggest buffs have been applied. Berserkers are much better, with a profile that now befits their lore. The ranged infantry units are better, not because you want to get them into combat, but because now an opponent might think twice about charging into them. Finally, the formation grabs a lot of under-used infantry units and makes them so much stronger. It costs a lot, but if going for an infantry-centric force it is a must have.
Archmages: Spellcaster tier 3, and have the option to take Surge.
Kindred Gladestalkers: No longer Irregular. Improved melee, unit strength and attacks
Kindred Archers: Boosted range skill for a defence drop and points hike.
Therennian Seaguard: Steady Aim and a points drop.
Stormwind Cavalry: A unique upgrade for one regiment that gives nimble and a nerve buff.
Drakon Riders: No longer Irregular.
Argus Rodinar: New special rule; once per turn, reroll one failed hit or damage roll for any friendly core unit. Also clarification on the Altar of the Elements rule.
Hunters of the Wild, Dragon Kindred Lord, Lord on Drakon, Tydarion Dragon Lord: Points drops for all, and Nimble on Tydarion.
Kindred Warriors: The new cheapest, pure melee infantry unit; available in most sizes.
Drakon Hatchling Pack: A new flying, Nimble swarm.
King’s Champion: Unique hero, very good. All the special rules; Very Inspiring, Fury aura for Kindred, Duelist, Mighty, Individual and Phalanx.
Kal’ar’s Hunters: One Drakon Rider Lord and two regiments of Drakon Riders. Everyone gets Spellward, the Drakon Riders get Nimble, and the Lord gets Rampage (D3).
We see some great stuff for the Elves. There are boosts for their expensive options, and thanks to their cheap new ones, they have the necessary tools to play the game in the form of cheaper unlocks and objective grabbers. But, they haven’t lost their elite elven feel, and the King’s Champions definitely helps embody that.
The buffs for the Elven shooting units are nice. While they won’t put out as many shots as Goblins, at least they will be better quality now. The cavalry options are interesting as well. Nimble is always nice on a fast, hard hitting unit, and it’s cheaper than the Wine of Elvenkind.
The formation lets you play around with the smaller units of drakons, instead of the hordes as we always see. The Spellward keeps the smaller units safer from being lightning bolted off the table. It is an interesting direction for formations to boost underused unit sizes, not just underused units.
Elf Clansmen: Small price increase and a defence drop for improved range value.
Human Clansmen: A defence and points drop, with a non-unique upgrade to buff defence, allowing the option of leaving them as is.
Pack Hunters: No longer Irregular.
Ice Kin Hunters: No longer Irregular, better melee, higher unit strength and more attacks.
Hrimm and regular Frost Giants: Slayer (D6) in melee.
Lord: Extra attack, option to mount on horse.
Lord on Chimera: Points drop.
Clarion: Up in points but gets better melee and more attacks.
Ice Elementals: Lose spellcaster 0, Icy Breath is now Ice Shards; a ranged attack that is otherwise unchanged.
Orlaf’s Raiders: Two human Clansmen Regiments with two-handed weapons and Orlaf the Barbarian. All units in the formation get the Berserker keyword, the Clansmen get Vicious and Orlaf gets Inspiring and aura Slayer (D3) for Berserkers.
The biggest change here is the change to the Ice Elementals. It is hard to see how this one is a buff, with the ranged attack affected by Stealthy etc. now. The only upside is it won’t be affected by Hex, which would have been a strong counter to it. The change was needed however, Ice Elementals were extremely cost efficient; they could deal damage with Icy Breath before being Surged into combat to deal even more damage.
The rest of the changes are nice, if not as dramatic. The changes to the Clansmen helps give the units distinct roles, as there are a lot of infantry options in Northern Alliance, which had, until now, a lot of overlap. We continue to see buffs to Titans, and the points drop on the Chimera is great, as he was one of the most expensive dragons in the game.
The Northern Alliance formation is an interesting one. The nerve and lower defence on the Clansmen will make them prime targets to get shot off the board, but if they can make it into combat, they will hit very hard for their points.
Forces of Nature
All elemental units as well as Druids and Forest Shamblers gain the Elemental keyword.
Greater Air Elemental: Gains Crushing Strength.
Greater Fire Elemental: Improves in melee value.
Greater Water Elemental: Improved number of attacks and Regeneration.
Tree Herder: The Wiltfather upgrade made sacrosanct.
Unicorn: Lightning Bolt is more expensive.
Scorchwings: Increase in defense and attacks.
Pegasus: Gains Nimble.
Gladewalker Druid: Gains an aura that enables nearby elemental keyword units to reroll hit rolls of 1 for a number of different spells. On top of this, a unique upgrade, Ring of Harmony, enables the Gladewalker Druid to cast buffing spells twice per turn.
Centaur Bray Strider: Can now be taken as a horde.
Riverbourne Naiad Wyrmriders: The Forces of Nature’s flavour of Wyrmriders which get Thunderous Charge (2).
Nature’s Wrath: Two Air Elemental Hordes and a Greater Air Elemental all become Waterbound (keyword) and get regeneration. The Greater Air Elemental also gives out an aura of Brutal to Airbound and Waterbound units.
The updates to Forces of Nature have focussed on what is the best part of the army; the elementals. Instead of buffing all the units, the monster variants of the elementals have all been improved. In addition, the Gladewalker Druid now specifically buffs elemental units, so having a few of these amidst the swathes of elementals is a good idea. Finally, the formation mixes the elements up to give the most under-used of the elementals, the Air Elementals, some durability and punch, both of which were lacking. Expect to see a lot more variety in the different elemental units taken, particularly where the Greater Elementals are concerned.
Ogre Warriors: Increased Nerve for Regiments.
Ogre Sergeant: Gains Elite and Steady Aim.
Ogre Boomer Chariots: Gain Stealthy Aura.
Red Goblin Scouts: Increased Nerve.
Ogre Hunters: Gains Slayer (D3).
Giant: Gains Slayer (D6).
Red Goblin Slasher: Increased attacks to 10 and can be upgraded with a goblin-specific Fury aura.
Mammoth: Gains the Rampage (D6), and can be upgraded to become The Big Deal (see new units).
The Big Deal: A mammoth with extra Brutal and Very Inspiring, as well as a special rule that allows it to bestow Brutal on a target unit for a turn, termed Call to Greatness.
Crocodog Wrangler: A monster on a cavalry base, the Crocodog Wrangler is a bundle of special rules such as Duelist, Vicious and Crushing Strength that make it a perfect character hunter. The best part is the special rule it has that allows it to charge through Ogre units and see through them, going Through the Legs like a cheeky attack dog.
Hell on Wheels: One Ogre Warlord on Chariot and two Ogre Chariot regiments required to give Rally 1 to the Warlord and giving all Rampage (D3).
The Ogres are a very solid army, and the changes in Clash of Kings help increase its flexibility. Not mentioned above is the change to Inspiring, making all Inspiring unconditional. For Ogres this is a major change as the armour has a lot of heroes to choose from, but few that had standard Inspiring. Now there are many sources, including more such as The Big Deal.
The other changes just help the units that were always lagging behind in unit selection – Ogre Warrior Regiments get better, making them a viable choice that will also increase unlocks. The Stealthy to the Boomer Chariots is interesting (because of the smoke from the guns?), and might be taken to mitigate ranged attack damage. Don’t expect to see less Siegebreakers, but at least the rest of the army will vary quite a bit.
Trident Realm of Neritica
Thuul and Thuul Mythican: Gains Wild Charge (D3).
Leviathan Bane: Made cheaper, but also reduced Piercing, however the extra piercing can be bought (bringing it back to the original price).
Depth Horrors and Depth Horror Eternal: No longer fearless, but instead have Fury.
Coral Giant: Increased number of attacks and gains Slayer (D6).
Kraken: Gains Rampage (D3).
Riverguard Sentinel: Javelin gains Piercing.
Naiad Centurion: Gains Ensnare and can have the Trident of the Drowned Sea, gaining a ranged attack with Piercing 1. Best of all, units damaged by this trident are Disordered.
Siren: Increased range to Enthrall spell, and using the spell requires a Nerve test to be taken on the target unit.
Greater Water Elemental: Increased attacks and Regeneration.
Riverguard: Gain Piercing on their Javelins, but decrease in Defense.
Oceanborne Naiad Wyrmriders: Gain Nimble compared to the regular Naiad Wyrmriders.
The Hidden Ones: Two regiments of Thuul and one Thuul Mythican all gain Pathfinder. The Mythican gains a Thunderous Charge aura for Cephalopods only.
In a similar manner to Ogres, the Trident Realms gain a lot from universal Inspiring, as theirs was an army of many subfactions; the Naiads, Thuul and Riverguard. Any characters within these groups now Inspire all, and can be taken for their utility as well as their support.
Of all the subfactions, the Thuul were the least taken. The buffs and the formation make the Thuul units much faster, moving through terrain and hitting harder. These berserker-type units are finally going to see some action (and they should, they look great!).
Adding to the uniqueness of the Trident Realms, the Naiad Centurion and Siren both have received interesting special rules that can really mess with the opponent. Disordering or pulling units at range is powerful, as it can disrupt battle lines and plans significantly. Coupled with the other sources of Enthrall and Wind Blast, expect the Trident Realms to ruin some plans in games to come.
Abyssal Halfbreeds: Gain Fury.
Taskmaster on Chariot: Improved Melee and gains Rally aura for slaves only permanently (no longer need to purchase).
Hellfane: Reduced in points cost and gained Rampage (D6).
Blacksouls: Can get a unique upgrade Fiery Bulwark to get Iron Resolve that heals D3 (not just one).
Iron Caster and Supreme Iron Caster on Great Winged Halfbreed: Reduced in points and can now take regular Heal, instead of having a Heal that worked only for Hellforged units.
Ba’susu the Vile: Can upgrade a troop of Gargoyles to be Ba’su’su’s Vile Brood which gets Crushing Strength 1 and increased Nerve.
The Damned of Yaygar: Two regiments of Immortal Guard get Crushing Strength at the cost of Defense, while one Infernox gains Inspiring and an Elite aura for infantry.
The Abyssal Dwarfs have been quite a strong army, so compared to some other armies, the buffs are a bit light on the ground. The changes that are here, however, encourage the use of many under-utilized units. Abyssal Halfbreeds truly need Fury, and it harkens to their Abyssal nature. Similarly, the Helfane previously fell short alongside the other titan options, yet a points reduction and extra attacks make it a very exciting choice.
Like Dwarfs, the Abyssal Dwarf infantry were considered lackluster compared to Obsidian Golems and Grotesques. The formation provides some punch to the infantry, while the Iron Caster can now heal them (not just golems) and inspire them! They are also cheaper, so taking multiple to support a mass of infantry units is perhaps a viable build.
Empire of Dust
Apaphys, Champion of Death: Slightly cheaper.
Reanimated Behemoth: Improved melee and gains Slayer (D6).
Revenant on Undead Great Burrowing Wyrm: Reduction in points.
Revenant Champion: Can now take the Surge spell.
Skeleton Warriors: Now have the ability to exchange some defense for Crushing Strength 1.
Ahmunite Pharaoh on Royal Chariot: Surge spell has become cheaper to take, and can also be upgraded to become Rahs the Undying. Rahs has Very Inspiring, slightly better Nerve and when part of a multicharge, can allow nearby skeletons to use his Melee value in combat.
Revenant Chariots: Gains Brutal, become cheaper in points and their optional bows now have Shattering.
Sandborne Wyrm Riders: Large cavalry unit that moves relatively fast, is quite tough with Crushing Strength 1. They don’t have Shambling, which is good in one sense as they won’t rely on Surge to cover distance, but bad in that the usual fun of Surging in hard hitting units is not possible. Instead they have Pathfinder, for terrain mitigation.
The Bone Shakers: Two Revenant Chariot regiments, one Revenant Chariot legion and one mounted Revenant Champion are required for this formation, all of which gain Rampage (D3 for the regiments and the champion, (D6) for the legion).
In an army of many ‘auto-include’ options such as the Soul Snare and the Monolith, it can feel like there are limited choices with which the rest of the army can be made. There are now reasons to use more units of standard skeletons, thanks to Rahs the Undying, as well as the ability to get Crushing Strength on regular skeletons. More sources of Surge is also helpful. If there are only a few units that can cast Surge, then most players are forced to take only bigger, more powerful units to maximize the value of each Surge cast.
The other playstyle being heavily encouraged is that of faster units; Revenant Chariots and the new Sandborne Wyrm Riders. Such units will enable Empire of Dust armies to put greater pressure on enemy flanks, but also reach some of the more distant objectives that would otherwise be out of their grasp.
Forces of the Abyss
Archfiend of the Abyss: Improved Nerve and cheaper in points.
Chroneas: Improved melee and can heal nearby units when it deals damage in combat through new special rule Temporal Ruptures.
Molochs: Despoiler Champion upgrade gives Vicious and Brutal.
Lower Abyssals: Swapping defence for Crushing Strength is now free.
Tortured Souls: Gain Thunderous Charge (1).
The Well of Souls: Lifeleech has increased to 5, helping it mitigate the damage it absorbs.
Zaz’u’szu The Betrayer: Lightning Bolt reduced to 4, however the Betrayal special rule can add up to 4 dice to both Lightning Bolt and Bane Chant, yet for each hit scored, a target friendly unit takes a point of damage.
Ba’su’su the Vile: Can have the same upgraded Gargoyles as Abyssal Dwarfs (see above).
The Oathbreakers: Slightly more expensive Abyssal Guard that have Rally 1 for infantry, Crushing Strength and Vicious against heroes only.
Kah’za’ah’s Torment: One regiment and one horde of Lower Abyssals and a Despoiler Champion who gains Inspiring and an aura of Lifeleech (+2). Upon death, the Lower Abyssals explode with D3+1 Piercing (1) hits, and making the enemy unit Frozen
The Forces of the Abyss are known first and foremost for their shooting, so Clash of Kings has provided ample reasons to invest into the melee side of the army. Melee units such as the Lower Abyssals, Chroneas, Molochs, Tortured Souls and the Oathbreakers all bring up the punching power of the army.
The true buff is to the Abyssal’s ability to grind. The formation, combined with the Oathbreakers, the Chroneas and the Well of Souls, will see regular infantry units replenish and mitigate wounds at an astonishing rate. Removing hordes of Lower Abyssals and Abyssal Ghouls will be much tougher when properly supported.
Fleabag Riders: Increased Nerve.
Goblin Slasher: Increased number of attacks and can purchase an aura of Rampage that affects Beasts only.
Giant: Gains Slayer (D6).
Trolls: Can be upgraded for free with Det’ Packs, which explode upon the death of the trolls to deal D6+1 Piercing (1) hits onto ALL nearby units.
Goblin King: Can become Groany Snark, a flying goblin king in a Mini-Winggit Flight Suit. He gains Thunderous Charge and Blast (D3), but occasionally the suit will backfire and damage ALL nearby units.
Winggit: Can now select from two different profiles. Ramming Speed! Gives improved Nerve, melee, Thunderous Charge and Vicious, but no ranged capabilities. Bombs Away! is more like the original Winggit with Firebombs and Eye in the Sky, however it now has reduced Nerve.
Grogger’s Lugg Lads: The unique horde option of Luggits! Lots of attacks and fearless nerve coupled with all the goodness of regular Luggits.
Gorp’s Explodo’matic Bangstiks: One Goblin King on Fleabag gains an aura of Elite and two regiments of Fleabag Riders increase their Thunderous Charge. Melee hit rolls of 6 are resolved at Blast 2, however it also causes one point of damage on the Fleabag Riders.
The Goblins, like the Abyssals, are best known for their considerable firepower, yet this was at the expense of melee-centric Goblin armies. This was not because Goblin melee units were poor, they just couldn’t remove units like War Trombones could. Hence many of the buffs to Goblin melee units are not simple increases in attacks (except for the Slasher), but rather punchy additions that all come with a downside. From Det’ Packs, to Groany Snark and the Bangstiks, everything can do quite a lot more damage, but chances are the Goblins won’t come out unscathed. But fear not, the Lugg Lads bring a horde of Luggits to ensure that at least something in the army will punch reliably well.
The Winggit change is probably the most interesting of ‘side-grades’ in the book. Compared to the original Winggit profile, and how it was used for its ranged damage and synergy, it is now worse (less Nerve). However, the option to make it tougher but purely melee, is a bonus. These flying terrors will be used quite a bit differently from now on.
Bloodworms: Gain Fury and a nerve buff.
Portal of Despair: Gets an optional Radiance of Life upgrade.
Shadowhulk: Gains Slayer (D3).
Banshee: Gains an optional upgrade that allows it to cast either of its spells on a second unit close to the first.
Soulflayers: Gain extra attacks.
Shadowhounds: Speed Increase.
Horror Riftweavers: Improved melee, unit strength, a points drop and the addition of a Spellward aura.
Beaststalker Doomhounds: Three troops of Shadowhounds. All units in the formation get Slayer (D6).
Butchers and Reaper Souldrinkers get a mention as their changes from Halpi’s carry over, and Doppelgangers get some clarification on how their Doppleganger ability works.
More buff to Titans here, but a smaller one as they already hit better than most Giants. Radiance of Life is a nice upgrade for a grindy list, along with the buffs to Bloodworms Soulflayers finally get some extra attacks, allowing them to hit harder than a wet noodle. The Banshee option is nice but, unfortunately, it still doesn’t compare to the unique Banshee hero (also included here).
The Horror Riftweavers’ glow up is great, they may actually see the tabletop as a reasonably fighty and buffing monster. Shadowhounds are also quite interesting now with the extra speed and formation. Having extremely fast, Nimble, small based units that can hit the flanks even harder now will definitely be a tool worth exploring, and I (Urr) will be adding this formation in and giving it a whirl.
Giant: Gains Slayer (D6).
Godspeaker: Tribal Magic is now improved by both Orc and Troll regiments and hordes (instead of just Heavy Infantry).
War Drum: Dread upgrade is now cheaper.
Morax Mansplitter: Gains Inspiring.
Skulk Raider Chariots: No longer Irregular and have improved Nerve.
Skulks: Gain Steady Aim and can be upgraded to Skulk Raider for improved melee with Pathfinder.
Gakamak: Improved Nerve and cheaper.
Molgurk’s Mad Mob: One Wardrum on Chariot gains Bane Chant and two regiments of Gore Chariots gain both Slayer and Rampage (D3).
The Orcs never had any trouble crushing opponents underfoot, but like so many other armies, Clash of Kings has plucked the neglected units and brought them into the limelight. Skulks have improved like the Gladestalkers have, going from being an odd shooting unit that was bad at shooting, to being better at shooting and pretty good in melee. The changes to Tribal Magic might not seem much, but bringing Trolls (which are already Irregular) doesn’t mess up the synergy of Orcs as much as they did before. All this combined means Orc armies will be more than just loads of Morax, but still expect lots of choppy goodness.
Lykanis: Can receive the unique aura of Slayer (D3) for nearby beasts.
Skeleton Warriors: Can lose defence in exchange for Crushing Strength.
Vampire Lord: Can be upgraded with Blood Rage which reduces defence but increases Crushing Strength and Lifeleech.
Ghoul Ghast: Can purchase a Thunderous Charge aura for Cannibal units.
Soul Reaver Cavalry, Vampire Lord on Undead Dragon, Revenant on Undead Great Burrowing Wyrm, and Lady Illona: Reduction in points cost.
Zuinok Iceblood: Made permanent from Halpi’s Rift, now has Veil of Shadows spells in addition to Fireball and Surge. New Necrofire special rule allows each point of damage with Fireball to heal nearby Skeletons and Revenants. New Witchfire special rule grants a form of Elite for Fireball.
The Shambling Blight: Two legions of Zombies gain Iron Resolve and Phalanx while one Goreblight gains Rally for Shambling Blight units only.
The Undead are a good example of a way to buff an army by only tweaking the heroes within it. The changes to Zuinok Iceblood, Lykanis and the Ghoul Ghast all encourage their respective unit types to be taken. These units are already quite good, but fell short in comparison to some more cost effective units, the Zombies.
The Zombies are indeed the cogs of the Undead war machine, but legions of Zombies were very rarely taken. The formation takes what is already a very tough unit to break, and gives it extra Nerve via Rally, making them the first unit to have a Rout value of 29!
The points reductions on many of the monsters is helpful in getting them onto the battlefield more, but the changes to the Vampire Lord are quite fun. Leaning into the more bestial interpretation of vampires. Looking forward to more vampire types in future!
Order of the Green Lady
Vial of Sacred Water: Cheaper by half but now heals D2 wounds instead of D3.
Order of the Forsaken: No longer Irregular and have Thunderous Charge reduced to 1 while gaining Crushing Strength.
Devoted: Radiance of Life upgrade can now be taken on multiple Devoted, and can purchase the Bane Chant spell. New special rule Channel the Sacred Water improves the range of spells while in proximity of Waterbound units.
Order of Redemption: Thunderous Charge reduced to 1 but gains Crushing Strength.
Order of Brotherhood on Foot: Can lower defence in exchange for Crushing Strength.
Greater Water Elemental: Increased attacks and Regeneration, but can also gain Radiance of Life for Sacred Water units.
Order of the Thorn: Spearmen-like infantry unit with Headstrong and Phalanx and reasonably high Nerve.
Brotherhood Centaurs: Light cavalry unit with Crushing Strength and Thunderous Charge, as well as Pathfinder.
Champion of the Green Lady: Unique mounted hero with a bunch of Crushing Strength (2) attacks. High fearless Nerve coupled with Inspiring and Regeneration make this into a tough hero to crack.
The Lurkers in the Lake: Two hordes of Water Elementals, one Greater Water Elemental and one Devoted all gain Wild Charge (1). The Devoted also receives Inspiring and an aura of Thunderous Charge for Waterbound units.
The main thing holding the Order of the Green Lady back from fielding a viable cavalry army was the reliance on Thunderous Charge (2) to smash through enemy armour, which has now been replaced with the much more consistent combination of Crushing and Thunderous. The addition of cheaper and more reliable healing from the Vial and Devoted means that these knightly lads can grind out combats much better than they used to.
The changes to the Water Elementals, particularly that of the formation, help them keep up with all the cavalry, and might even inspire lists of their own. The fact that the Greater Water Elemental can heal some of the more holy knights helps these rather disparate parts of the army synergise. Looking forward to seeing a mix of these units on the battlefield.
Order of the Brothermark
Villein Penitents: No longer Irregular and considerably cheaper.
Villein Skirmishers: Can be upgraded to Initiates of the Brothermark for improved Melee and Nerve.
Order of the Abyssal Hunt: The unit’s Vicious is no longer conditional, and gain Slayer (D3).
Exemplar Hunter: Has vastly expanded in flexibility. Base stats see increase in attacks, gaining Slayer (D3) and Inspiring (self), which correspond to a slight increase in points. Most excitingly the Hunter can become part of three different orders:
- The Order of the Bear for improved Slayer.
- The Order of the Lone Wolf to gain Pathfinder, Scout, exchange Slayer for Rampage (D3) and increase in speed.
- The Order of the Hawk to have improved Ranged Attack along with a Silver Crossbow that has Piercing (1).
Paladin Monster Slayers: Replacing the Paladin Footguard, these are a standard high defense infantry unit but with Fury, Iron Resolve and Vicious for monsters and titans.
Oathsworn Guardians: Crushing Strength (1), Duelist, Elite, Inspiring, Iron Resolve and Rampage (D3) stuffed into a compact infantry regiment.
High Chaplain Augustus: The unique war priest-type hero for the Brothermark. Can cast Heal and Bane Chant, but also has Crushing Strength (1), Elite (melee), Iron Resolve, Inspiring, Mighty and Rally.
Defenders of Righteousness: One High Paladin on Dragon and two regiments of Paladin Knights. All units gain Brutal and the High Paladin gains Cloak of Death.
The Order of the Brothermark was one of the smallest army lists in Kings of War, which left a lot of former Bretonnian players rather grumpy. Clash of Kings has brought in a swathe of new units as well as changes to the few they had, giving them a unique identity as an army of knights; both on foot and on horseback.
The Paladin Monster Slayers and Oathsworn Guardians are powerful infantry units suited to taking down monsters and infantry respectively. These can be reinforced by the improved Villein units, and supported by the powerful package that is the High Chaplain Augustus.
The Exemplar Hunter is perhaps the most fun upgrade to come in all of Clash of Kings. Monster-slayer, infantry butcher, or silent hunter, make sure to toss a coin to these upgrades to get the most out of this hero.
The following units gain Wild Charge (1): Free Dwarf Shield Breakers, Free Dwarf Ironwatch Crossbows, Free Dwarf Ironwatch Rifles, Free Dwarf Spear Levy and Free Dwarf Lord.
Berserkers: Removed for Free Dwarf Berserkers (see below).
Free Dwarf Shieldbreakers: Lose Scout for a points drop, but have the option to buy it back and return to original points.
Free Dwarf Brock Riders: Optional upgrade for Pathfinder.
Free Dwarf Spear Levy: Gain Scout and lose Irregular.
Free Dwarf Ironwatch Rifles & Free Dwarf Ironwatch Crossbows: Improved melee and unit strength.
Herneas the Hunter: Points drop.
Free Dwarf Stone Priest: Can buy the spell Alchemist Curse without the Library of Arcane Knowledge.
Free Dwarf Berserkers: Similar to Dwarf Berserkers, this unit has Thunderous Charge and Slayer (D6) and a Pathfinder upgrade.
Banick Kholearm: An Inspiring dwarf spellcaster that is decent in melee and who’s Fireball always hits on a 4+.
Eryc’s Mallets: One Free Dwarf Lord and three regiments of Shieldbreakers with the Scout upgrade. The Lord gains Scout and Brutal and the Shieldbreakers get Nimble and Brutal.
The Free Dwarfs keep their breadth of Scout and Pathfinder units, and, in fact, expand on them. Cheaper Shieldbreakers without Scout are a nice point saving option. The real juicy stuff is in the Pathfinding Brock Riders, allowing them to take a powerful magic item instead.
The new Free Dwarf Berserkers are crazy good. Fearless, lots of attacks base with more from Slayer, and cheap Pathfinder, so there’s room for a different item that will make these units extremely scary. The formation also helps the slow Dwarfs get some early board control, and brutal is always a nice addition.
Scorchwings: Extra attacks and extra defence.
Ghekkotah Skylord on Scorchwing: Gets Thunderous Charge (1) and Pathfinder.
Ghekkotah Slasher: Extra attacks and a one-off upgrade for Rallying for Ghekkotah.
Ghekkotah Hunters: No longer irregular, and gain Steady Aim for both ranged options
Greater Fire Elemental: Improved melee, and an optional aura of Wild Charge +1 for Salamander units.
Komodons: Gains Ignores Cover.
Firebrand: Gains a new special rule, Crew of Ember’s Dance, meaning that in any army containing Firebrand, Corsairs lose Irregular.
Clan Lord on Fire Drake: Points drop.
Rakawas, the Pale Rider: A unique, fire breathing, giant dinosaur that fills the role of a giant with a better melee skill and more consistent attacks.
The Whispering Scales: One Battle Captain with the Path of Fire upgrade and two regiments of Salamander Primes. All units in the formation gain Scout and Stealthy, and the Battle Captain gains Inspiring and an Elite aura for the formation units.
There’s a fair bit of focus on the Ghekkotah units for these updates, and fair enough, we didn’t see a lot of them. There might even be scope for a full army of them now, though it probably won’t be the most competitive.
A Greater Fire Elemental with Wild Charge for the Salamanders probably is quite competitive. Anything that gets the slow blocks of Salamanders up the field quicker will be useful, and the Elemental hitting even harder is great. The Firebrand change is nice for a thematic army, and this seems a good way of promoting such units without using the formation. Rakawas also seem ripe for conversion potential, as well as being an extremely dangerous unit.
The formation allows for some early board control with Scout, while Stealthy and Inspiring from the Captain will help keep them on the board. There are some good new tools here for Salamander players.
The Sylvan Kin now have two master lists; Forces of Nature and Elves, with new units available from both. Adding the Forces of Nature reinforced the wild theme of these Elves. The following additional units can now be taken in a Sylvan Kin army from the Master Lists: Kindred Warriors (Elves), Air Elementals (Forces of Nature), Greater Air Elemental (Forces of Nature) and Woodland Critters (Forces of Nature).
Kindred Gladestalkers: Replaced by Sylvan Gladestalkers (more on those below)
Stormwind Cavalry: Unique to Stormwind in Sylvan Kin, they can gain Pathfinder.
Forest Shamblers: Horde only unique upgrade giving melee Elite and Rallying (1) for Elves.
Boskwraiths: Gain Pathfinder.
Hunters of the Wild: Points drop.
Archwraith: Gains Pathfinder, Defence 4, and a unique upgrade for an aura of Thunderous Charge (+1) for Boskwraith units.
Elven King: When on foot, can become a Wanderer, dropping defence but gaining increased speed, attacks and Pathfinder.
Elrik Nisleen: His Fireball spell always hits on a 4+, regardless of modifiers.
Avatar of the Green Lady: Points drop and gains Pathfinder.
Sylvan Gladestalkers: The Sylvan variant of the Gladestalkers, like all the Gladestalkers, received a bump in number of attacks, however instead of getting better at Melee, the Sylvan kind gain Stealthy.
Wardens of the Sacred Groves: One Elven King with the Wanderer upgrade, two regiments of Forest Guard and two troops of Boskwraiths. All units gain Scout and the King gains Pathfinder as well.
It’s nice to see that Sylvan Kin are the proper merger of Nature and Elves now. The Wiltfather being cemented as a Sylvan Kin only unit is a relative power boost as no one else will be able to ally him in. Though Sylvan Kin may still choose to take other allies, they probably won’t need them now. They have a lot more Pathfinder, as they should, so heavy terrain boards will give them a boost, and negate their low defence. Plentiful amounts of Scout will also improve board and objective control. Not much more to say about these guys, points drops and access to more unit types are always nice, but not ground breaking.
Guardian Brutes: Gains Pathfinder and Brutal, loses Wild Charge.
Tribal Trappers: Improved melee.
Chieftain on Minotaur Chariot and Minotaur Chariots: Increased speed and waver value, at the expense of Strider. Unique upgrade for a regiment of Chariots, The Stampede, giving Strider, Pathfinder and increased nerve.
Longhorns: Gains Rallying 1 for Herd units.
Great Chieftain: Points drop, and a unique upgrade giving Dread and aura Wild Charge (+1).
Hydra and Scorchwings: Can be taken from the master list now.
Avatar of the Father: A new Herd-themed Beast of Nature unit. It’s much better in combat but doesn’t have a ranged attack.
Flaxhoof: A solid new cavalry hero that has a Thunderous Charge aura for Centaurs.
The Silent Hunt
One Tribal Tracker and two regiments of Tribal Trappers. All units in this formation gain the Ensnare special rule. The Tribal Tracker gets increased nerve and gains a Vicious aura for Trackers. In addition, whenever a unit from this formation is attacked in melee while in terrain, the attacking units immediately receive D3 points of damage.
Widely considered a bottom tier army, the Herd was getting overlooked in competitive play until it won this year’s US Masters, and now it has got some nice new options. The Stampede returns as an old favourite from the second edition, while the new heroes and monsters will provide an extra bit of spice, with the Avatar of the Father being a clear standout. There’s some changes with speed, as the Chariots get faster while the Brutes get slower, but the Brutes will hit harder and the Chariots should survive a little longer. The loss of speed stats can also be remedied by the new Wild Charge aura on the Great Chieftain. Across the board, the Herd still hits extremely hard, and now they’re just hitting harder. Plus, now they have a dragon! And who doesn’t like that?
Kingdoms of Men
Militia: Points drop.
Mammoth: Gains Rampage (D6).
Giant: Gains Slayer (D6).
Mounted Scouts: Points drop for Blackpowder Weapons.
Fanatic Instigator: Gains Individual, and an option for Rallying 1 for Berserker.
Beast Cavalry: A standard Large Cavalry unit, with the option of Fly or Thunderous Charge and Vicious.
The Monarch: A Kingdoms of Men Dragon unit, with options to buff Knights or Berserkers or gain Slayer (3).
The Brigand: A ranged hero that can only be taken in the new formation.
Outlaws: Two troops of Bowmen and The Brigand. The Bowmen get Steady Aim and Volley Fire, which, when issued a halt order, the Bowmen can choose to have both the Indirect Fire and Ignore Cover special rules until the end of the turn.
Overall, a pretty good set of rules. The Monarch and the Beast Cav will definitely see play as a competitive option and as a theme/hobby one. It’s nice to see Kingdoms of Men get more options, too, as they tend to be the place to look to bring your army from other systems over. We keep seeing nice buffs for Titans, and that happened here, too. Points drops are nice, and can help you theme your list the way you want it. The big miss here is the formation. It’ll be hard to get much use out of troops of Bowmen, especially with a lot of other factions’ ranged units getting buffed. Gladestalkers come to mind here, and because of that we don’t think there’ll be much play for the Brigand, unfortunately.
The League of Rhordia
Halfling Unit Updates: Relentless upgrades for the units from the Halflings army list.
Duke: Upgrades for Rallying for Knights, and the foot version can take a two-handed weapon.
Halfling Braves, Halfling Knights & Halfling Master Sergeant: These units have all had their glow ups to match the units from the Halfling army list, with some small differences for the Knights and Sergeant.
Dogs of War: There are now three unique Dogs of War: The Shields of Hetronburg, The Razors of Berlonviche & Beasts of Targun Spire. Each has a regiment and horde option, and these modify the basic stats and special rules of the unit considerably.
Duke Hetronburg: A new Large Cavalry hero, he has decent combat stats but his main benefit is Rallying 2 for Cavalry and is Very Inspiring.
The Loyalists: Two hordes of Halfling Braves, two troops of Halfling Knights and one Halfling Master Sergeant. All units in this formation get Iron Resolve and Headstrong, and the Master Sergeant gets an Elite aura for Halflings.
There was some concern as to how the League would end up after the release of the Halflings army, but we’re happy to report that they will be fine. The upgrades to the Halfling units have made it over, but in the League they keep their theme as loyalists and don’t completely overshadow the human half of the list. The new buffs for knights can let you focus your list in that direction, or ignore it completely and go heavy on infantry with hordes of Halfling Braves and Dogs of War. The Loyalist formation also lets you play with some new Halfling toys while you build up some of those nice new Mantic models to make a completely Halfling army.
Death Engine Impaler: Gains Wild Charge (D3) and Rampage (D6).
Scurriers: Better melee.
Shredder: Extra attack.
Nightmares: Vicious all the time instead of just melee.
Hackpaws: Can now buy Plague Pots.
Shock Troops: Fixed the wording so now all units sizes can take Phalanx.
Mutant Rat-fiend: Radiance of Life heals D3 for non-abomination core Vermin.
War Chief: Optional aura for Vicious melee for infantry.
Birthing Daughter: A new infantry hero that Inspires and provides an aura of Strider to expendable keyworded units.
Smoke, Mirrors and Death: One Death Engine Spewer and Two Shredders. The Death Engine Spewer gains an aura of Iron Resolve for Tek units, Inspiring and Steady Aim, and all units in the formation may redeploy after deployment (before Scout moves).
Redeploying your war engines after you see where your opponent has put their juiciest targets down seems pretty sneaky. And Death Engine Impalers just got a nasty boost as well, so moving up the board with Inspiring and Iron Resolve on them seems like a pretty solid strategy. The Mutant Rat Fiend and War Chief buffs are nice for a grindy infantry list, along with Phalanx working as intended now. Scurriers still probably aren’t worth taking, but it’s nice they got some attention. They might still work in a casual setting.
The Birthing Daughter depends on how much terrain your local group uses, so is a situational nice boost. Overall, there’s a nice mix of buffs for the Tek and Vermin themes in the list, so regardless of what your style is, there’s something here for you.
The Last Breath: Buffed to Piercing (2).
Slave Death Engine Impaler: Gains Wild Charge (D3) and Rampage (D6).
Taskmaster on Chariot: Gets melee 3+, and free Rallying for Slave units.
Slave Warriors: No longer Irregular.
Slave Nightmares: Vicious all the time instead of just melee.
Golekh Skinflayer: Extra attacks.
Cryza’s Gore-Impaler: An extremely strong unique monster-chariot hero with a lot of attacks and the unique ability to overrun units as though they were individuals if it routs them.
Lowest of the Low: One Taskmaster on Chariot and one horde and two regiments of Slave Warriors, all with the Last Breath upgrade. The Taskmaster gets a nerve bump, an aura of Vicious for slaves, and a new special rule to automatically force a friendly core slave unit to rout and activate it’s Last Breath.
The formation here could be quite fun, though we don’t know how competitive it will be. Detonating your slaves then charging though where they used to be to finish off the unit they hit seems quite cool, but Last Breath only does so much damage that it might not be enough. Do note, the formation’s Taskmaster is not limited to only blowing up units from the formation, and the unit does not need Last Breath to be removed, which might come up as a way to move objective tokens so your opponent doesn’t grab them off a unit they will destroy in the next turn.
The rest of the buffs are solid, especially for the Nightmares and Death Engines, but Cryza’s Gore-Impaler, ho boy, there’s a reason to play Ratkin Slaves now. This guy is crazy good. He is very fast, very strong, and overrunning units is going to catch so many people off guard. Being able to blast through a screen and then kill a real unit and maybe move enough to be behind the line in a turn is going to be savagely good.
Impalers: Gain Fury, and a points drop.
Blade Dancers, Mikayel: Points drop.
Summoner Crone: Unique upgrade so that Wicked Miasma also affects Elf units.
Cronebound Shadowhounds: Speed 10.
Cronebound Shadow-hulk: Slayer (D3).
Cronebound Banshee: Height fixed to two.
Cronebound Archfiend: Points drop, increased nerve, and swaps Fury for Stealthy.
Blade Dancer Neophytes: A new cheap melee specialised elf unit, very similar to the new Kindred Warriors from the Elf list.
Twilight Gladestalkers: A replacement for the Kindred Gladestalkers from the main Elf list. They have the Dreamslayer Venom special rule, meaning their melee attacks always damage the enemy on a 4+.
Soulbane on Dread-fiend: A large cavalry hero. A slower, stronger version of the Soulbane on horse.
La’theal Bleakheart: A unique Summoner Crone with an inbuilt Stealthy aura, and a special ability to strip an enemies’ Stealthy and Spellward, plus it gives all spells reroll one’s to hit for a turn.
The Crew of the Black Hydra: One Soulbane on foot and one regiment and two troops of Blade Dancers. The Soulbane gets Rallying (1) for the formation, lowers his defence and gets some extra attacks and a speed boost. All units get Wild Charge (1) and extra attacks equal to their current damage.
There’s a lot of new units for the Twilight Kin, and we think the Blade Dancer Neophytes will be seen as a new cheap option. The buffs to the elven parts of the list are especially nice, so they won’t feel like a tax to bring the other good stuff the army has to offer.
The Rules Committee have done a good job keeping the identity of the Gladestalker units separate across the elven factions, and these ones feel very nice when they hit something with high defence and put the pain on it. The new defence boosts for the elves from the Summoner Crone and La’theal are another nice buff to the normally fragile Twilight Kin. While not likely to happen, it has also been confirmed that Mikayel doubles his attacks after Host Shadowbeast has been applied, giving him a whopping 32 attacks if the spell is cast perfectly.
The formation will be another interesting one to play around with. Blade Dancers are always liable to being shot to pieces, but now there are more tools than ever to stop that from happening. The best part is that taking damage will only make them stronger; feed the rage with pain!
Bloodbound keyword: Added to Human Clansmen, Huscarls, Frostfang Cavalry,
Lord on Frostfang, Thegn on Frostfang, Skald and Lord on Chimera.
Reavers: Gain the Wild Charge (D3), and Mask of the Reaper has a points drop.
Night Raiders: No longer Irregular, buffed ranged value, and loses Scout, but the Wolf Handlers upgrade now gives Scout, and is limited to three units.
Fallen: No longer Irregular.
Lord: Extra attack, and the option to take a Devoted Icon, a unique upgrade that gives an aura based on the aspects of Korgaan, or a mount.
Kruufnir: A new Monstrous Infantry hero. With a solid set of stats and an impressive amount of special rules, including the awesomely named “Bring me their Head”, he’ll be a great support unit and hobby opportunity.
Sliksneer’s Shriekers: Two Horse Raider Regiments and a Lord on Horse with Icon of the Warrior upgrade. The Raiders get melee 3+, and the Lord is allowed to take the Icon despite the usual restrictions.
Last of all, we have the Varangur, and they get some nice tools to help them play a mixed arms force. Firstly, the extension of the Bloodbound keyword to human options from the Northern Alliance list that were missing it (those that probably should have had it in the first place). This will definitely help you get some real value out of your Transfusion, and with the new magic options, there’s some space worth exploring for more Magus (Magi?) in Varangur lists.
Reavers should be able to hit first against most non-cavalry units now, and maybe have a shot at a second hit, too. The changes to Fallen and Night Raiders expand your unlock and board control options.
The Lord’s auras can be quite powerful, though situational or meta dependent, so a Lord on foot should be a valid competitive choice, along with Kruufnir for infantry heavy lists .
The new formation is quite nice too, especially if your army is more Steppe than Viking themed. It gives you a fast, hard-hitting force on the flanks that can also pepper fire to clear chaff as they move into position.
Every faction has received some love this Clash of Kings. Even the most powerful armies in the meta were featured, yet in ways that encouraged the use of the more neglected units. Most excitingly, some of the less fleshed out theme armies have expanded considerably. These armies have gained more units, and in so doing, a greater identity.
The next few months will be the most exciting Kings of War games since the drop of 3rd edition. Everyone will be testing out new lists, tactics and combinations because all the changes are just fantastic. Somehow with only a few additional rules or stats a unit can go from dull to exciting, and the diversity of builds for armies, at least at this point, appear vast.
In our next article, we will cover the rest of the contents of this amazing book. The lore, new armies, scenarios and magic items will all be featured.
In the meantime, make sure to order your copy of Clash of Kings 2022, either to download or hard copy. This is a must-have book for every Kings of War player.