Saturday 26 October 2019

MSU Elves in 3rd Edition - First Impressions


Third Edition of Kings of War is here and everyone who has just received their copy of the book (be it hard copy or digital version) is now pre-occupied with studying this huge tome. 

I am, of course, not different at all! I must admit that it is a bit difficult to focus on writing a few battle reports from the past games I have not yet started. I will do it, if only to keep the full record, but I cannot stop thinking about the new rules, changes and how to adapt to the new reality.

Because of that I decided to write this short blog entry to share some first impressions and to help me decide on the direction of evolution of my current army.

I like the game of manoeuvre and the army where I can use various units together to overwhelm an opponent that would be more powerful in a direct fight in one-on-one melee. That is why when embarking on the journey with the new system a few years ago, 2nd Edition of Kings of War, I decided to adapt my favourite MSU (Multiple Small Units) concept. And that is why I decided to do it again with 3rd Edition.

At this stage I am not going to go into details with the MSU concept, how I understand it and how I realise it in my games. This short blog entry is going to focus on the army I used in 2nd edition and how to adapt it to the 3rd edition of Kings of War.

I hope it will be just the first such blog post where I can discuss the way I like composing and playing with this particular style and with this particular faction.

1. Goal

My objective in general, regardless of the version of the rules for Kings of War, is to compose an army that relies on manoeuvrability and combined arms approach to win its battles. It means that I will always attempt to engineer situations where I can win games thanks to favourable positioning and combined effort of all elements of the army.

I believe I have been able to do it so far with the army that had a bit more elements than typical army of the same faction, Elves. 

MSU Elves in KoW - The Beginnings.

2. Army Selection Rules - 3rd Edition

One of the main aspects that changed from 2nd to 3rd Edition of Kings of War is how you compose your army. 

First, only certain types of regiments and/or hordes allow you to unlock other elements of your army, i.e. heroes, monsters, war engines etc.

Second, the number and type of unlocks also depends on the type of the unit. For example, the horde of infantry has different way of unlocking elements than the horde of large infantry.

And last but not least, quite a number of units are now designated as irregular. It means that for the purpose of selection of the units, these are treated as troop type and require at least a regiment of regular unit to be unlocked. It also means that the irregular units are now going to compete with troops for the unlocks.

MSU Elves - Evolution of the Army

3. Changes to the Army List - Elves

I think Elves, in general, were not changed much in terms of which units are still available in the army list. However, the changes to some of the abilities, and in particular designation of some as Irregular, had a significant impact for me already.

As a good starting point and a reference, here is the army list I have been using in 2nd Edition (2000 points limit):

Outcasts - 2nd Edition Army List

3 Drakon Riders, Regiment, Large Cavalry, Thunderous Charge (1), Crushing Strength (1), Fly, Dwarven Ale
5 Silver Breeze, Troop, Cavalry, Nimble, Bows
Drakon Rider Lord, Hero, Large Cavalry, Crushing Strength (1), Thunderous Charge (1) , Diadem of Dragon-Kind

3 Drakon Riders, Regimen, Large Cavalry, Thunderous Charge (1), Crushing Strength (1), Fly, Staying Stone
Drakon Rider Lord, Hero, Large Cavalry, Crushing Strength (1), Thunderous Charge (1), Mace of Crushing

10 Stromwind CavalryRegiment, Cavalry, Thunderous Charge (2)
Noble War Chariot,  Hero, Large Cavalry, Bow, Thunderous Charge (2)

3 War Chariots, Regiment, Large Cavalry, Thunderous Charge (2), Bows
Noble War Chariot,  Hero, Large Cavalry, Bow, Thunderous Charge (2)

3 Forest Shamblers, Regiment, Large Infantry, Crushing Strength (1), Vanguard, Pathfinders
- Forest Warden, Large Infantry, Hero,  Crushing Strength (2), Pathfinders, Nimble, Vanguard, Surge (3), Inspiring Talisman, Alchemist Curse (10)

20 Palace Guard, Regiment, Infantry, Crushing Strength (1)
- Army Standard , Hero, Infantry, Individual, Inspiring, Lute of Insatiable Darkness

20 Palace Guard, Regiment, Infantry, Crushing Strength (1)

This army 14 elements, 13 scoring units and total Unit Strength of 18. Under the new edition, some of the units became irregular, the unit strength of some changed and Forest Wardens are no longer in the army list.

So long my friend - it was an honour to have you in the army!

My very first attempt to adapt to the 3rd edition is to see what do I need to do to convert my army, as closely as possible, to its 3rd edition version. I came with the following version:

Outcasts - 3rd Edition Army List

10 Stromwind CavalryRegiment, Cavalry, Unit Strength (3), Thunderous Charge (2), Elite (Melee)
3 Drakon Riders*, Regiment, Large Cavalry, Unit Strength (2), Thunderous Charge (1), Crushing Strength (1), Fly, Elite (Melee), Dwarven Ale
3 Drakon Riders*, Regiment, Large Cavalry, Unit Strength (2), Thunderous Charge (1), Crushing Strength (1), Fly, Elite (Melee), Staying Stone
Lord on Drakon, Hero, Large Cavalry, Unit Strength (1), Crushing Strength (1), Thunderous Charge (1), Fly, Inspiring, Nimble, Elite (Melee), Diadem of Dragon-Kind

20 Palace Guard, Regiment, Infantry, Unit Strength (3), Crushing Strength (1), Elite (Melee)
5 Silver Breeze*, Troop, Cavalry, Unit Strength (1), Nimble, Shortbows: 18", Elite (Ranged), Steady Aim
- 3 Forest Shamblers*, Regiment, Large Infantry, Unit Strength (2), Crushing Strength (1), Pathfinders, Scout, Shambling
Lord on Drakon, Hero, Large Cavalry, Unit Strength (1), Crushing Strength (1), Thunderous Charge (1), Fly, Inspiring, Nimble, Elite (Melee)

20 Palace Guard, Regiment, Infantry, Unit Strength (3), Crushing Strength (1), Elite (Melee)
3 War Chariots, Regiment, Chariot, Unit Strength (2), Thunderous Charge (2), Shortbows: 18", Attacks: 6, Steady Aim
- Noble War Chariot, Hero, Chariot, Elite, Nimble, Thunderous Charge (2), Shortbows: 18", Steady Aim

20 Therennian Sea Guard, Regiment, Infantry, Unit Strength (3), Phalanx, Elite (Melee)
- Army Standard Bearer, Elite (Melee), Individual, Inspiring

Wherever possible I kept the same magical artifacts. Main change to the army list is in the form of Sea Guard regiment. It is due to the fact I had only 2 regular units and did not have enough of them to include more heroes than 3. I still lost one Noble War Chariot because of lack of unlocks and points. I decided to do it at this stage as I think I need more sources of inspire, especially that I lost one anyway in the form of Forest Warden with the Inspiring Talisman. 

The new version of the 2000 points list has 13 elements, 12 scoring and the total Unit Strength of 24. It is due to the fact the unit strength changed between the units so I will need to compare it with the other armies to see how good it is now.

Visual Comparison - the look of 2nd and 3rd edition versions of the army on Universal Battle

4. First Impressions

I have not yet decided if this is exactly the army list I am going to use in my first 3rd edition game but I assume that it will not be much different if at all.

Visually it has not changed much but I anticipate that I will need to work more on how to adapt my playing style to the new edition.

First, the fact that Drakon Riders are not nimble anymore significantly affects their manoeuvrability. I will not be able to envelop the enemy as quickly as before so I will need to keep that in mind. Especially in terms of timing and how long would it take to successfully get the units to their respective positions for potential combined charges.

Second, while shooting was never a dominant arm of this force, it played a significant role. I was able to create small breaches in enemy formation, finish off a few stragglers and keep enemy guessing as to what I am going to do more.

I will need to see if the army has the same potential with ranged attacks, as Chariots have fewer now, I lost one of the Chariot Nobles but at the same time Sea Guard is back. However, while the volume seems to be similar, the range is shorter and that also will impact how I am going to use it. I have already noticed, for example, that units such as Chariots and Silver Breeze will not be able to shoot at fliers from safe distance anymore.

Last but not least I would need to see how armies of other players look like at the same amount of points. A few of the forces I have seen so far had quite a number of elements, despite having quite a few hordes. I believe it was due to the fact that they had hordes and heroes or hordes and troops combinations, the cost similar amount of points as two regiments for instance. What is more, I have quite a number of Irregular units instead of troops, which are usually more expensive too.

All these factors are important. I usually needed a bit of advantage in terms of units numbers, in particular scoring elements, to be successful in gaining local superiority. When it works, I can achieve it by good manoeuvring and positioning.

Please let me know what you think about the first raft of the army under 3rd edition rules. I really hope that MSU concept will continue to evolve and that I will be able to enjoy the game of Kings of War with it.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Thx a lot for your impressions, I usually read your reports but i don't comment anything, I try to change because they are much apreciated.
    I hope your enjoy the third edition like the 2, your a apreciated member of the community-
    My greetings

    1. Hi Oscar!

      Thanks a lot for your comment!

      I am glad you are enjoying the battle reports, I will do my best to get them all done in time and regularly. I am very curious about the first games in 3rd edition, I am sure it will be an interesting journey in how to adapt my favourite style to it!


  2. Cheers for posting your thoughts. I’ve always enjoyed reading and seeing the evolution of your MSU lists going back to when it was still Warhammer (even if I don’t post often). My 3rd ed book has yet to turn up in the post so I can’t comment on any changes as yet and frustratingly, my beloved herd is apparently due for a Xmas release so I have longer to wait.

    1. Thanks you! I am really glad to know you have enjoyed my MSU journey, even since Warhammer days! It definitely took a few changes but I managed to work it out previously so I hope I will do it again.

      I feel for you, it is not easy to wait when others can already enjoy some fun. Perhaps you can play games with other faction, simply to get used to the rules?

      In the meantime, until your order arrives, is there anything I can comment on or provide some additional information?


    2. I do (like many) have more than a few armies but I’ll wait to see the book before I play any games with them. As for comments or additional info, I just look forward to seeing how your list progresses in the new edition!

    3. I admire your patience :) Fortunately, the supplement is going to be released this year as well so the waiting this time is not going to be as long as for Uncharted Empires.

  3. Nice post Swordy, I do enjoy seeing how people are adapting 2E armies for 3E - myself included! When I started hearing rumors about the Elf changes I did think of you and wondered how your MSU lads would be affected. I hadn't caught that the Forest Warden was gone (and I presume only in the Nature list?)

    1. Hi there!

      It will be a process for sure. But that is the exciting part. Although it also means I need to re-think my modelling projects. :) I expect things will be more clear after a few games.


  4. Anyone can send me rulebook third edition? Thanks