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KoW Armada: Faction Guide

KoW Armada: Faction Guide

Ahoy Sailors! As you know I am most and foremost a passionate hobbyist. That being said I am also a pirate, a scoundrel and a fanatical enthusiast of Mantic Games Kings of War: Armada. The latter resulted in few strategy related articles, one of which you found yourself reading right now.

Kings of War: Armada is a game of fantastical sea warfare. Set in a rich world of Pannithor the Armada clashes wonderfully crafted and strongly themed factions against one another. As much as miniatures go, KoW Armada offers a selection of beautiful miniatures from across four factions, with more being released every few months. These factions vary between themselves, not just visually but also on-tabletop, offering different playstyles, themes, strengths and weaknesses. Below I will focus on each faction individually, pointing out some pros and cons, but also offering insight into possible strategies.

Before we start, some notes:

  • I’m not a professional data analyst, might be wrong on some observations. I base my conclusions on data and personal on-tabletop experience. In case of newest releases my assumptions are purely speculative so take it with a pinch of salt. 
  • Math and notes behind average fleet stats can be found in this google spreadsheet.
  • Any tactics and archetypes described here might be influenced by your local meta and scenarios being played.
  • Average Faction strengths does not include Fliers.
  • As more new factions get introduced an Average baseline will start to change. Factions that are now top 2 on certain stats, might fall from grace. I decided not to revisit older factions each time new one gets introduced, but rather make an update every once in a while. The reason is convenience. In my opinion if a certain faction was in the very top of certain average stat, it will still be high, regardless if new faction steals the spotlight.

Basilean – Cleric Faction.

Cheapest on average, best SP to points cost ratio. Not standing out at anything except Move, SP/point cost ratio, healing and damage reduction capabilities (Aegis Shield, Blessed Hull, Light of Ekhos, Halo of Light, Helping Hand).

Ship of interest: Gur Panther with 28SP for 12pts, can be used to screen Heavy Hitters from enemy fire, providing closest target to enemy inexperienced/standard crewed ships.

Basileans can cheat activation order (Jaymes Ellias) to deal unexpected (both direction) broadsides pain with a Heavy Hitter.

Strategy proposal: Avoid close quarters, make use of H, L, IDW going slow and with a side to enemy fleet, while also repairing damage suffered. Going slow means hitting easier, but also being hit easier, here’s where repairing comes into play. Once close go in between enemy ships and fire both ways. Use Gur Panthers for screen against Ram and incoming fire.

Basilean Average strengths:

Movement to cost ratio,
Nerve to cost ratio,
*Structure Points to cost ratio,
Crew Strength to cost ratio,
*Heavy weapons to cost ratio,
Light Weapons to cost ratio,
Close Quarters Weapons to cost ratio,
Indirect Weapons to cost ratio,
Red Turning Angle availability,


Orc – Berserker faction.

Least durable, but also good SP to points cost ratio makes Orcs a Glass Cannon faction. Orc main strength is Boarding Action, ease and damage increase with which it comes into play (Ram, Morax, War Drum of Spite, Ensnared, Rabble Rousing, Grappling Arm, Crew Strength, Let’s Get Them). Although Orcs excell in boarding, they can also pack a solid punch. There’s a tone of C weapons which can be buffed to a point of madness (Morguns, Yinn Greythunder) and can be leveraged for good positioning (Gorfang Bluejaw).

Strategy proposal: Go hard and fast using Boomboats to disorganize and divide enemy fleet formation (IDW). Fish for solo easy targets with important Heavy Hitters, while ganging up on enemy Heavies with your cheap stuff, ram (deal some damage), immobilize (grapple) and keep them occupied – guns silent, move into position with your Heavies and bomb entire cluster into splinters, cheap Orc ships included. In late game use boomboats to their maximum potential, shooting all directions amidst enemy ships.

Orc Average strengths:

Movement to cost ratio,
Nerve to cost ratio,
Structure Points to cost ratio,
*Crew Strength to cost ratio,
Heavy weapons to cost ratio,
Light Weapons to cost ratio,
*Close Quarters Weapons to cost ratio,
*Indirect Weapons to cost ratio,
Red Turning Angle availability,


Dwarf – Hammer faction.

Most durable sledge hammer of a faction, packing top numbers of L-H weapons across the fleet. On top of a Nerve re-roll (Headstrong) Dwarfs have access to a large spectrum of upgrades that can fill any holes in their overall straightforward play style. You need durability? Done! (Master Engineer, Advanced Construction). You need to deal with these pesky Boarders? Easy! (Dwarven Ale). Wanna pack even more punch? Dwarfs got your back! Flame Belchers, Ironwatch Marines). This allows to hone certain ships for specific jobs, like Boarding counter, a tank or a heavy damage dealer.
Dwarfs come in steady and focused, thanks to almost flat speed across entire fleet. Once they pierced your fleet – they’ll be back to bite a piece of your stern. (red arcs, Advanced Engines on entire fleet).

Ship of interest: Hunter, packing a solid 3L and 15SP on a 10pts. expendable platform.

Strategy proposal: Go fast and hard, divide and conquer enemy fleet. Dwarfs seem like a faction that want’s to charge, guns blazing, then go through the middle of enemy fleet, wreaking havoc. Pick weakened targets of opportunity for GrimmStones and Furies. Make use of Engines and red Turn Arcs setting up for Raking Fire. Remember about special tools in your fleet – ships, that thanks to proper upgrades, are very good at one particular thing.

Dwarf Average strengths:

Movement to cost ratio,
Nerve to cost ratio,
Structure Points to cost ratio,
Crew Strength to cost ratio,
Heavy weapons to cost ratio,
*Light Weapons to cost ratio,
Close Quarters Weapons to cost ratio,
Indirect Weapons to cost ratio,
*Red Turning Angle availability,


Empire of Dust – Trickster faction.

Straight off the bat the EoD fleet might come as pretty average. Their stat specialty is NV and they excel at IDW. There seem not to be a common theme across the faction, except Boarding Action mitigation (Curse of Undeath, Terror) and bad turning (Yellow Turn Arc all over the place). Yet the EoD comes with a lot of surprises. Different ships specialize in different things and this is what makes this faction Interesting. Empire of Dust is all about where and when… and with which tool. You need to break an incoming blob of enemy ships? War Galley and Soul Hunter will bomb from afar with all that sweet IDW, while rest will add some H and L to the mix. You need to intercept or go hunting for juicy artillery at the back of enemy line? Kopeshi is the fastest ship in the game and has a solid CS, Terror and Curse of Undeath to sway it’s chance in any Boarding Action. Dust Chaser is a Gur Panther with Light Oars, capable of taking a punch while screening your heavies. Most importantly you can extend your heavies lifespan by cheating SP (Slave Squadrons, Expendable).
EoD is also the trickiest faction, being able to deal damage in pretty unexpected places. On top of situational maneuverability (Windblast, High Priest T’Mork, Light Oars) EoD has a range of damage dealing tools (Balefire, Arkhanten the Cursed Slayer, Soul Thirst, Lightning Bolt, Soul Snare).

Strategy proposal: Leverage IDW and keep enemy at a distance. Screen your fleet with Dust Chasers and make a good use of Slave Squadrons to eat up some of enemy fire. Once amidst tight battle, outflank with Kopeshi to pick valuable targets, while the rest of the fleet does some Soul Hunting AoE, IDW up close and bring down carnage.

Empire of Dust Average strengths:

Movement to cost ratio,
*Nerve to cost ratio,
Structure Points to cost ratio,
Crew Strength to cost ratio,
Heavy weapons to cost ratio,
Light Weapons to cost ratio,
Close Quarters Weapons to cost ratio,
*Indirect Weapons to cost ratio,
Red Turning Angle availability,


The Twilight Kin – Assassin faction.

Stat wise the Twilight Kin fall into the same archetype as Orcs – the Glass Canon. This is clearly backed by the highest Crew Strength to Points Cost ratio, 2nd best Close Quarter Weapons to Points Cost ratio and the fact that C Weapons are present on every single ship, except Tiny Needlefangs.

The main difference between the two factions is how they go about dealing damage and the consequences of getting close.

Where Orcs seem a bit more flexible* and prone to sacrifice with crippled suicide Ram exchanges, the more maneuverable Twilight Kin are focused on well placed Boarding Actions and Glass Canon engagements, dealing massive damage and aiming to cripple, as any retaliation will be devastating to in-fleet synergies.Orc have access to IDW, XL ships, can build ships for either Boarding Actions or Shooting with Morax / Morguns.
Being by far the fastest fleet, combined with access to Shroud (enemy gets -1 to Hit over 8″) the Twilight Kin will get close – it’s a fact. Once in range, assuming key pieces are in place Grappling enemy ships is just a formality (Ensnare, Barbed Harpoons and common upgrades), then it’s Boarding Actions. Here’s where Twilight Kin excel. Blade Dancers, Decimate, Banshee’s Wail improve the odds of defeating enemy ships, but it is the synergies that allow them to outshine the Orcs. Being caught between attacking Blade Dancers and a Banshee’s Wail seem like a quick trip to the bottom of the sea.

Strategy Proposal: When it comes to Shooting the Twilight Kin strength lays in their maneuverability and speed. Coming in fast, turning just before enemy prow to avoid Fire as She Bears Broadsides, unleashing a Raking Fire C salvos up close would be a go to strategy. Then Grapple, then GG. Once Grappled, enemy ships cannot Fire as She Bears, the rest of the fleet can safely position themselves behind a target, either joining Boarding Action or just bombing it with a C Stern Rake.
One thing to keep in mind is the Domino effect. The Twilight Kin rely on in-faction synergies and initial Damage far more than Orcs. When crippled the Orcs can simply throw themselves to Ram, usually getting a great deal out of it. The Twilight Kin have a very high NV to Points cost ratio, but they lack XL ships to hold the fleet together. Once the Twilight Kin start to crumble, the synergies will dim down, the fleet will start to loose momentum and Damage output necessary to pull preferable deals off. Because of that you want to go fast, hard and move to safe positions, be it Boarding Actions or over 8″ and outside deadliest enemy firing arcs.

On a side note: Compared to initial fleets gameplay the Twilight Kin seem like a difficulty level went up. I do believe this is a trend that we will see continued with new releases.

Twilight Kin Average strengths:

*Movement to cost ratio,
*Nerve to cost ratio,
Structure Points to cost ratio,
*Crew Strength to cost ratio,
Heavy weapons to cost ratio,
Light Weapons to cost ratio,
*Close Quarters Weapons to cost ratio,
Indirect Weapons to cost ratio,
*Red Turning Angle availability,


The Kingdom of Men – Marksman faction.

Fast and hard hitting the Kingdom of Men is in my opinion the strongest mid-long range Armada faction. The KoM is basically Basilean ships on steroids, maintaining good Movement, maneuverability and low Cost, while trading fancy rules, IDW and durability buffs for pure Damage output, To-Hit modifiers and insane Nerve shenanigans. With access to Spotter Gunboat Squadrons and Motley Crew, the Kingdom of Men Light and Heavy Weapons shooting is very potent.

The fleet is all about tight formation around Main Battle Ships and two important auras to build around: Solid Command will keep the ships in the fight, even after being crippled, while Spotter will ensure more hits. Large and Extra Large ships can also benefit from a War Wizard, which is a powerful tool to deal with foes that came too close invading KoM’s zone of comfort. Putting a Blaze Marker on an enemy ship is an easy way to force a bad choice between shooting and a risk of being blown up on a roll of “1”, on next activation.

The Kingdom of Men Flagship can be improved with choice of Captains. Kraiger is a solid Nerve buff, while Dead Eye McHardy turns unmodified “9” into Crits, doubling the Crit chance. On a ship like a Conqueror, which is basically a Basilean Dictator, the Critical Hit chance buff is pretty deadly.

Strategy Proposal: Staying at Steady Speed in a tight formation ensures all ships benefit from auras and allows Gunboat Squadrons to keep up. Enemy IDW might be a problem so unless there are C heavy ships closing in, IDW should be the main target, as otherwise the Kingdom of Men dominates Long Range Shooting. For this purpose it is imperative that all ships are equipped with Crows Nests. In case of no IDW and slow enemy fleets the KoM can Anchor comfortably to increase To-Hit chance, except Frigates. Inexperienced Crew, Sturdy Construction Frigates are perfect to be used to screen the fleet and force enemy ships to fire at an unfavorable targets. Because of that they should always be moving, thus more difficult to hit.
Finally, as Nerve is not an issue, the KoM can baldly undertake some high risk high reward actions if things get to close and personal. 

Ship of note: Conqueror, packing a solid 6H, 3L, 3C with a cheaper Veteran Crew and Critical Hits on “9-10” is just a must have. With Master Carpenter, Dead Eye Hardy, Motley Crew and Crow’s Nest this beast is barely 99 points. *Drops the mike*, or rather an Anchor. 

*Movement to cost ratio,
Nerve to cost ratio,
*Structure Points to cost ratio,
*Crew Strength to cost ratio,
*Heavy weapons to cost ratio,
*Light Weapons to cost ratio,
Close Quarters Weapons to cost ratio,
Indirect Weapons to cost ratio,
Red Turning Angle availability,


Elves – Spearmen Faction

Fast, nimble and precise, the Elves sail into Armada with a very interesting set of stats. Although average speed is being dragged down a notch by XL ships, the Elves are the fastest faction on a ship by ship basis. With a Red Turn Arc on par with Dwarfs and the Twilight Kin, the Elves claim the very top thanks to Masters of the Waves skill, which allows them free extra turns at the end of first Move during each Activation. Combined with an immense arsenal of Light Weapons, this extra agility allows for some deadly shenanigans.

When it comes to weaponry the Elves pack the highest L/ship across the fleets and a solid number of H Weapons. They also have access to one IDW vessel type with lack of C being the only drawback to the fleet’s arsenal. This mid-long range weaponry setup is further enhanced with Elven Eyes, allowing Elves to ignore -1 To-Hit for long range shooting.

Up Close is where Elves does not feel comfortable. They come with average CS, lowest SP/Cost ratio, worst NV on average and no C weapons. To put it simply – unless necessary, you really don’t want to engage the enemy fleet up close.

Strategy Proposal: Go steady and keep the enemy fleet at length, making full use of Elven Eyes, buffed IDW and Auto Criting Enchanted Bolt Thrower. Adjust speed to keep Argus Squadrons within aura range and add that extra umpf to your Crits and eventually aura heal with Green Lady’s Blessing before you commit to full scale sailing. Once the opponent starts to catch up, increase Speed and go around and on the back of enemy formation. With low SP and no C Elven ships are a bit too fragile to risk cutting through against probable Fire as She Bears. If you went with Therennian Sea Guard and are within Kindred Bond you may consider Boarding Action to entangle important enemy damage dealer and buy time for your heavy hitters to sink easier targets. Otherwise avoid unfavorable Borading Actions until no other choice.

Assume proper strategy in line with choice of captain: Stormwing Captain (adds another free turn from Masters of the Waves) or Madriga (once per game counts one shooting position as Point Blank for Damage purposes). Both can give you an edge when facing against heavy damage dealers. 

*Movement to cost ratio,
Nerve to cost ratio,
Structure Points to cost ratio,
Crew Strength to cost ratio,
Heavy weapons to cost ratio,
*Light Weapons to cost ratio,
Close Quarters Weapons to cost ratio,
Indirect Weapons to cost ratio,
*Red Turning Angle availability,


These are the Kings of War: Armada factions available for now. I will be revisiting this article to provide updates and add new content from time to time so stay tuned. Personally I hope to get some Twilight Kin and Elves commissions to add more pictures in the future, but for now glorious Four is all I have.

I hope you find this article entertaining. Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments below or via Facebook or Instagram. I would also appreciate if you considered sharing this content with your hobby buds, who might find it useful. Finally if you are looking for a professional miniatures painting service be sure to contact me via this contact form. I always reply within 24 hours, after which please check out your spam folder.

Cheers!







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