Kings of War: Terrain Compendium

Kings of War: Terrain Compendium

23rd October 2021 in Tactics by Elliott Barratt

Terrain, and the navigation thereof, is a huge part of movement in Kings of War. In this article we'll explore terrain types and how they affect movement and tactics during a game.

Terrain Types and Description

There are four types of terrain in Kings of War:

  • Blocking
  • Difficult
  • Obstacle
  • Hill

Blocking, Difficult and Hill terrain must have a Footprint. This defines the boundary of the terrain for the purposes of line of sight and movement. For example, a common forest terrain piece will be a "blob" shape flat piece of MDF or card, plus several moveable trees like this ready made one from Galeforce Nine:

Obstacles are always thin, long terrain pieces like hedges, fences, barricades etc.

Terrain will also have a defined height. Here's some common examples:

  • Hill - Height 3
  • Forest - Height 7
  • Fence / Hedge - Height 2
  • Pond / River - Height 0
  • Small dwelling / House - Height 6 or 7

If unsure, use the formula Height = 1 + Actual Height in inches. So a 5 inch high building would be Height 6.

Movement

Each terain type affects movement in different ways:

Movement through Blocking Terrain

TLDR; You can't.

Unless you're a Flyer. Flyers must start and end their move outside the footprint of Blocking Terrain, but can move and pivot directly over the footprint. All other units cannot interpenetrate Blocking Terrain.

The only exception to this is a Pivot within a movement order. You CAN pivot through Blocking Terrain and other Units so long as the start and final position of the unit after the pivot ends outside the footprint of that Blocking Terrain. 

Movement through Difficult Terrain

Difficult Terrain exists to make movement... difficult! As the rulebook states, Units Moving At the Double treat Difficult Terrain as Blocking Terrain. 

  • If the unit starts within the footprint of the difficult terrain, it cannot recieve an At The Double movement order unless that unit has the Pathfinder special rule.
    • Flying units can move At The Double (and pivot if nimble) if they start within Difficult Terrain, only if their final position lands completely clear of the Difficult Terrain. Moving at the Double means Difficult = Blocking Terrain, Flyers can move over Blocking Terrain if they land clear. 
  • If the unit starts outside the footprint of the difficult terrain, it can move At The Double until it touches the footprint of the terrain at which point it stops, unless the unit has the Pathfinder special rule.
    • Flying units can move At The Double (and pivot if nimble) over Difficult Terrain, only if their final position lands completely clear of the Difficult Terrain. Moving at the Double means Difficult = Blocking Terrain, Flyers can move over Blocking Terrain if they land clear. 
  • If a unit's Charge Movement goes through any amount of Difficult Terrain, then that charge is Hindered unless the Charging Unit has the Pathfinder or Strider special rule. Charge distances are not affected either way.
    • A Flying Unit is only Hindered if it's final position after the shuffle step of the Charge Movement is within the footprint of Difficult Terrain. 

So, what do the above points mean tactically?

Firstly, just being inside Difficult Terrain puts anyone trying to charge you at a disadvantage if they also have to move through that difficult terrain to charge the facing they must (and they do - they can't avoid Difficult Terrain on a charge). This means Difficult Terrain is a good spot to place:

  • Anvil Units whose job it is to survive charges.
  • Ranged Units (especially with the Pot Shot special rule).
  • Objectives that need defending, like in the Raze scenario.

As well as the Charge disadvantage, placing objectives behind or inside Difficult Terrain also means units cannot At The Double over to them in the last turn.

Movement over Obstacles

Obstacles affect movement in exactly the same way as Difficult Terrain. The main differences come with line of sight and cover rules.

Don't forget that Difficult Terrain and Obstacles are different in terms of charges and Special Rules; Pathfinder only negates Difficult Terrain in ALL moves, Strider negates Difficult Terrain AND Obstacles but only on the Charge Move.

Movement over Hills

Hills have NO impact on movement in terms of restrictions, but give benefits when charging:

  • To be "On a hill" there must be >= 50% of the units footprint inside the Hill's footprint.
  • Once on a Hill, the Unit now has a height equal to it's own height plus the Hill's height for line of sight purposes.
  • None-flying units that start a Charge movement order (or start a Surge move on that Hill) and successfully make a none-hindered Charge against a Target Unit not on a hill (If they're on another hill this doesn't apply), then they gain Thunderous Charge (+1).

So tactically there's a few things to remember about Hill:

  • Adding their height to a Unit's height is extremely advantageous for two reasons:
    • Ranged units will now see over most of the battlefield. Long ranged attacks (above 24 inches) benefit in particular. Often this will make the ranged attack benefit from the "Big Target" rule.
    • Unit's looking to gain line of sight for Charges can use a Hill to see things they otherwise wouldn't. As ever, Nimble units gain additional benefit here.

Line of Sight

There are specific line of sight rules for each type of terrain:

Line of Sight for Blocking Terrain

Blocking terrain is as the name suggests; line of sight cannot be drawn through it under any circumstance other than seeing "over" it from or to a higher creature / unit. In this way it's exactly like drawing line of sight through units.

It's useful to think of unit and terrain height in a chart to compare them. In the example below, two Height 3 units are either side of a building. Assuming the building is wider than the frontages of both units, the only thing to compare is the height:

The intervening blocking building is higher than both units, and so line of sight cannot be drawn over. Now take the example of a Giant on one side:

In this case, one of the units either side of the blocking terrain (or another unit for that matter) is higher than the intervening blocking terrain, and so line of sight can be drawn. Note that it doesn't matter what height the Heavy Infantry unit is in this example, all that matters is that a unit on one side is taller than the intervening item. Line of sight would still be valid if the Heavy Infantry unit was anywhere from Height 1 to height 6, with the Giant on the other side.

So, why is this important? Glad you asked - let's take the following top down example from our Charge Compandium:

The red line of sight line represents what the Charging Unit would see if the Target Unit was less than or equal to Height 5. The charge could not go ahead. The green zone represents a now valid line of sight, because the Target Unit is in fact a Giant at Height 6! Always look out for monsters around and behind blocking terrain. 

A useful unit to position in this way would be a nimble unit, as they get the extra pivot to be able to get around the blocking terrian much more easily.

Line of Sight and Difficult Terrain

Line of Sight works basically the same for Difficult Terrain as for Blocking (i.e. just like Units, there is a defined Height for that piece of terrain). However, there are some additional bits to remember as units can be placed inside difficult terrain.

When drawing Line of Sight between two units and intervening Difficult Terrain:

  • If neither unit is within the footprint of the difficult terrain, treat it as blocking terrain / a unit for the purposes of line of sight - i.e. compare heights between the three as normal. Note, Height 0 Difficult Terrain (ponds, rivers, swamp etc) never blocks line of sight.
  • Difficult Terrain does NOT block line of sight TO units that are at least partially within the footprint of the Difficult Terrain, FROM units that are outside that piece of Difficult Terrain.
  • When drawing line of sight FROM a unit whose Leader Point is within Difficult Terrain, TO a unit outside that piece of Difficult Terrain, ignore that piece of Difficult Terrain for the purposes of that Line of Sight check.

Here are some visual examples:

Line of Sight and Hills

Line of sight for Hills is the same as with Difficult Terrain except for the following adjustments:

  • When a Unit is "on" a hill (>= 50% of base within hill footprint) then the hill is always ignored when drawing Line of Sight to or from that unit.

This is the old "on" vs "in" situation. A unit can be "in" the Hill footprint and therefor have Line of Sight be drawn to them from other units outside the Hill (just like Difficult Terrain), or "On" the Hill at which point the Hill is ignored. 

Line of Sight and Obstacles

Obstacles NEVER block Line of Sight.

Cover and Terrain

Terrain affects cover from Ranged attacks in the following ways:

Cover and Blocking Terrain

Blocking Terrain provides cover only as far as the 50% Facing Rule describes, that is, if >=50% of the Target Units fired-at facing is obscured by the intervening terrain or unit, it gains cover.

Cover and Difficult Terrain

One of the advantages of moving into Difficult Terrain is that it can provide cover from enemy ranged fire. Here's how that works:

  • If the Firing Unit is outside the Difficult Terrain, and the Target Unit is >=50% within that Difficult Terrain, the Target Unit gains Cover.
  • If the FIring Unit is outside the Difficult Terrain, and the Target Unit is less than 50% within the Difficult Terrain, check the 50% Facing Rule.
  • If both units are outside Difficult Terrain, but the Firing Unit can draw Line of Sight to the Target Unit, check the 50% Facing Rule.
  • If the Firing Unit is within (any %) or in base contact with Difficult Terrain, and the Target Unit is not:
    • If the Firing Unit received a "Halt" order in the movement phase, the Difficult Terrain is ignored and no cover is applied.
    • If the Firing Unit receieved any order EXCEPT "Halt" in the movement phase, cover is applied.
  • If both units are within (any %) or in base contact with the SAME Difficult Terrain, check the 50% Facing Rule.

Cover and Obstacles

Cover from Obstacles - always considered Height 2 - is the same as Cover from Blocking Terrain, with the following additions:

  • If the Firing Unit is within (any %) or in base contact with an Obstacle, and the Target Unit is not, the Obstacle is ignored and no cover is applied.
  • If both units are within (any %) or in base contact with the SAME Obstacle, check the 50% Facing Rule.

Note, there doesn't have to be a Halt order in the same way as Difficult Terrain.

Cover and Hills

Cover for Hills is similar to Difficult Terrain, except a unit can be "on" a Hill. If either the Target Unit or the Firing Unit is "on" a Hill, that Hill is ignored for applying Cover, as it's height is added to any unit "on" the Hill.

Note, ONLY if a unit's Leader Point is within the Hill's footprint, and the unit itself is not "on" the Hill, can you ignore the Hill for drawing Line of Sight - however, still take the Hill into account when checking for cover. There are no special rules for having received a Halt order - this is always the case.

Big Targets

Never forget, if the intervening terrain (or units) are 3 or more smaller in height than either the Firing Unit or the Target Unit, NO COVER IS APPLIED IN ALL SITUATIONS.