KS Questions

A few questions for you KS experts out there:

  1. Are the SNA’s, stats, and artifacts for the various NPC’s always the same or do they change from game to game?

  2. Are there any published lists of the above NPC details? Or is KS like early 1650 where this is DITCOP info and veteran players use that advantage over newer players?

  3. When it comes to recruiting NPC’s is it possible to recruit the best ones - Sauron, Saruman, Gandalf, etc early in the game, or only in later turns?

  4. Do certain NPC’s lurk around certain regions of the map, or are they located in any old hex they feel like?

  5. Are there dragons, ents, eagles, balrogs and woses as in 1650 that are recruitable into your armies? Thinking of the Witch King and his chances of survival.

  6. Has anyone written a KS strategy guide yet?

Much thanks!


Hi Adam,

Here are the pages on the MEPBM Wiki related to Kin-strife:

Kin-strife (Third Age 1450)

Artifacts in Kin-strife (Third Age 1450)

Kin-strife Encounters

There are only two articles about Kin-strife that I know of here…


I plan to do a major update to the Kin-strife Encounters section of MEPBM Wiki in the coming weeks.

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Thanks Raven. Very useful on the artifacts. I missed that somehow.

The stats and SNA info on the key NPC’s are still a mystery, as are the dragon, etc encounters.

Anyone care to share their wisdom?

Not claiming to have wisdom here. In the interest of a level playing field, here is what I know about NPCs in Kin-strife:

  1. NPCs are in their starting locations for Turns 1 and 2, and then they move. They will also move the same turn in which a player character “reacts” to them. So if I move a character to the same hex turn 1, and then my character issues the order to react to them on turn 2, you missed the chance to “get” the encounter if you’re moving there on turn 2 in the hopes of grabbing them.

  2. You need emissary rank. Specifically, the rule-of-thumb advises your character to have an emissary rank at least equal to the emissary rank (or highest rank) of the NPC you intend to recruit.

  3. My understanding applies to “Good” NPCS responding to Loyalist characters. The neutral NPCs are dangerous and shrouded in mystery.

  4. Some characters are champions, able to issue 3 orders per turn once they are recruited. If they die, you will always have the SNA that they enable your nation to have.

That’s about all I know! And no, I won’t dish out a spreadsheet on NPC skill ranks, etc., but I think you can find that info somewhere.



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Thanks Mo! That’s very helpful. I appreciate you sharing your experience!

And no, I won’t dish out a spreadsheet on NPC skill ranks, etc., but I think you can find that info somewhere. <<

Honest question - why not?

In the early days of MEPBM I recall driving around to each other’s houses to trade binders full of photocopied turn sheets. Maybe you did to. Anyway we did this so new players would have a chance vs veterans. If one team knew the enemy starting agent names when the other didn’t, or knew which artifacts granted curses while the other didn’t, the game invariably ended very badly for the newbies.

Another question:

are there standard duo’s for KS gunboat as there are in 1650? If so where might I find those? (I couldn’t find the 1650 duos on the new Wiki either in case anyone knows where they’ve gone to.)

Yes, the standard duos are: Eldacar/Rebels; Rhovanion/Arnor; Horselords/Quendi. And for the Usurpers: Castamir/Elendin; Southron/Hithlum; Morlaen/Witch-realm.

Could go without neutrals or pre-aligned neutrals. Fun stuff!

I don’t want to give an excel sheet out regarding NPC ranks/powers and so forth because I got it from allies in my game. In future games, I would feel willing to.

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The SNAs for the NPCs vary from game to game but there are some patterns to them. An example of this is that The Blue Wizard and Istar Luin seem to always have a lost list spell access as an SNA.

The stats seem to always be the same.

Their artifacts are always the same, but the numbers change from game to game.

Somewhere in the rules it states that not all NPCs are recruitable in every game. But if they are recruitable, you can move to them on T1, if you spent the points to get their starting locations. The starting locations vary from game to game. Your chances of success also vary. I think you need a minimum of a 50 emissary or better, with a 60 or better being ideal. But you can recruit the best ones at the beginning of the game. Succeed or fail, you stand a chance to gain or lose some points in one or two stats. For some NPC’s nothing happens if you fail. The only one I have seen that killed anyone is the one Dragon NPC, and I have seen him kill multiple high level emissaries. Well, actually Sauron kills as well, but that is only upon a successful recruit. He takes the life force from the emissary that recruits him. So don’t send Murazor in to recruit him. You generally want to send in an emissary around 60 to recruit him, which means a little later in the game.

Some NPCs have more localized areas that they stay in and some wander all over the map.

I didn’t even know there was a wiki out there with info on KS. The majority of the information I have is from the 8 games I have played in or am playing in at this time. I am sure that there are people that have information that isn’t on the wiki. I try to record every encounter and riddle and any other pertinent information that comes my way.

Because it takes an emissary skill of about 50 or more to recruit an NPC, some nations have an advantage in recruiting them. Some nations start with 50+ emissaries that are not army commanders and can move out right away to recruit. If your emissary happens to be a commander, you might have to spend 2000 points or more to move another commander to his location so you can transfer the army and move. For some nations, they will need to purchase every available nation option for boosting emissary skill to get one viable emissary. But then they will lack in pop center or military improvements.

One more thing, for some NPCs recruiting them is not always the best option. Some have other options in their encounters that give you far better rewards in the long run. I think every one that has played at least one game knows about Koashun. *** Clint, as of November 2019, the food issue still is not fixed. I think when this get fixed, it should be a set amount of about 10,000 food. Whatever random amount is currently set in the code is still not working right.***

If you still have more questions, jump into a game with a friend and give it a go. There is a chance that someone in the game on your side has played a few games and will hopefully be willing to share some info. I would avoid a gunboat game until you have played a few games and have had the chance to get a feel for the game and to collect some extra knowledge. I am currently playing a gunboat and a grudge game, which is the limit of my $50 a month for gaming right now. When my gunboat ends, I will most likely be hopping onto another solo adventure. Going solo is always an adventure.

I haven’t seen any critters joining armies. You can recruit NPC ents, eagles, a dragon, and a balrog, but no extra army power from them.

Good Gaming!


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I forgot to address your question about a strategy guide. I do not really see one coming out. There might be some best practices for certain nations, but the strategy is really dependent upon what the various nations take for all their setup options. You only have so many points to spend, and they tend to go really fast.

The one failed strategy I have seen in multiple games is the Arnor Mage nation. The Witch Realm is coming whether you like it or not. Don’t waist all your points on mage stuff and leave your nation ready to be raped. Every time I have seen this strategy attempted, whether on my side, or against me, it has failed and left an Arnor nation pillaged and burnt. This is a big downfall to the loyalists, as Arnor can be one of their biggest military nations and also a good nation for sending gold and other resources to other nations that might be needing help. The only way I see this option working is in a grudge with the dwarves as loyalists.

If you have an option to take all steel weapons and armor for your starting troops try to make it happen. This can be huge in the first 5 turns when you are running up against inferior troops.

Loyalist bread basket nations should be Arnor, Rhovanion, and Quendi.
Eldacar, Rebels, and Horselords tend to need resources from other nations.
Eldacar has very few pop centers at game start and even though they can take the option for naming 40 emissaries, their one emissary that will be 40 or more is usually not at their capital and in command of an army. Rebels start up against Elendin and Castamir forces and tend to lose against a combined attack. They also have multiple other pop centers that are scattered and undefended. But some of them are hidden. Horselords typically will be fighting the Hithlum and will need to support a northern and southern front for at least the first 10 turns. Possibly more depending on what the Hithlum is doing. Decisive attacks against Arnor and/or Rhovanion can cripple the economy of the loyalists.

The Southron, Castamir, and Morlaen are the bread basket nations for the Usurpers. Hithlum will be fighting the Horselords and will need to stand as many armies as he can either defending or attacking against them. Elendin also needs to max recruit to either push into Mordor or Rhovanion, or to defend against attacks coming from them. Witch Realm needs to max recruit to attack/defend against the Quendi, Arnor, Rhovanion, and possibly Eldacar. Steel should be supplied to these last three nations as often as you can, as well as mounts and leather if possible.

Castamir should always take the boon to give pop centers to his allies. The MT, T, and V should all go to these last three nations. Different people have different ideas on them. The camp will got to either of the other two resource nations.

Loyalists should always try to boot the WR from the north. After that it is a one front game.

Economy is rarely an issue and natsells tend to get close to 50K plus after the first five turns.

The DS navies start out greater than the loyalists. Keep your eyes open for beached ships to try to capture when you can. If one side can take a decisive advantage here, it opens up the DS to attack north into Arnor or the Quendi to sail south to raid the southern coasts. The Quendi should always beach there ships in a hidden non-plains hex to keep the DS from capturing them. That is, unless they are using them.


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Super helpful Jeff. Thanks for taking the time to shed some insight. It’s funny, but I think off the cuff you just wrote the best strategy guide for KS that’s been penned to date. :+1:

I was wondering about NPCs a little in KS.

The rules state that you can only hire 1 NPC in the turns when character limits are the same. Does this mean if you don’t get one before turn 6 you can’t get a full complement? Or are you able to catch up later?


@ Artarkis, you can catch up later, i.e. hire two NPCs during the second naming batch and up to five in the last, provided you have free char slots

I agree that Jeff did a great job to write up some helpful tips. Don’t have much to add, despite that you should take the relations seriously WRT recruiting NPCs, especially the neutral ones. Me and my teammates repeatedly failed in recruiting the blue Wizards with really high ranked emmissaries (80+). Then in a grudge game our opponents consequently upgraded all their relations and had no problems recruiting the neutral NPCs with em 60s. Several nations have options to improve relations in their Setup, so take a Closer look there if you want to go for NPCs, because it could be cheaper than building a high-end emmissary.

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Thanks for the info. In the one game I saw I repeatedly saw 90+ emms fail to recruit anyone.

At least 4 of the 6 nations on that side were friendly related too.

I’m in several KS games at the moment and there is one thing I’m noticing. A player who reads the rulebook materials, one who is unfamiliar with KS and NPCs, might assume the following:

  1. You just learn the NPC starting location on your nation set up for Turn 0 (it’s cheap to buy this information for some nations related to some NPCs).

  2. Make sure you have appropriate emissary rank before you move to recruit that NPC.

  3. Presto! You get the encounter, issue the RECRUIT reaction, and you’re good to go, picking up a valuable asset.

But there is a problem with presto: some of these encounters (in an interesting twist) are worded in a way that another option or two might be more appealing, or might make more sense, than the simple recruit option. Players who get these encounters will know what I mean. They will think, "Yes, I want to recruit this guy, but given this particular situation in this encounter, maybe I “recruit” the NPC by responding with “X” response?

Others are more knowledgeable than I am on this topic, no doubt. But could that be a reason why a 90 emissary with “Friendly” relations all around, and all the other “boxes checked”, fails to recruit an NPC? In that situation, you gave the wrong response?

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I did think this maybe a case, the Gandalf encounter certainly has possibilities. I am technically I’m my first KS game, although I have seen another one. My NPC recruit attempt went really badly. I am not sure that one had other favourable options though.

Relations are key in this format. Also the number of NPCs you have is a consideration as well as the NPCs level that you are going for. So it’s not a simple operation. Hence sometimes you simply get them, and other times it’s a lot harder.


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Just an FYI when you play against me, I will NEVER take this option. I guess that will make it easier to defeat me when you play me.

Kinstrife is more a character game than a military game. The team that develops the best characters will win, IMHO.


After some thinking, I came up with some more points to add to that what Jeff wrote.
It is very hard to eliminate a nation by taking out pop centers, in a grudge game I’d say impossible. Both sides do have enough spare backup capitals and gold reserves to keep a struggeling nation afloat. Also, both sides have exclusive control of large areas of the map, at least after they have removed the few enemy pop centers in that region. For the DS this is the South, Harad and Umbar region and Khand. For the FP, this is Arnor/Eriador.
So the key to victory is to convince the other side that they can’t win the game.
This leads to a completely different onset compared to 1650 or 2950 games, and to much longer games. Most I have played went well into the 20s. So I completely agree with Tim – the key to victory is developing characters AND recruiting the best NPCs.
Both sides have roughly the same options to develop good agents, mages and and emissaries. The FP have a little advantage WRT to mages via the Istari NPCs, and the DS can recruit their Nazgul/Spiders for better agent skills.
Intel spells are important, and early research of artefacts might decide who can build SM squads faster and get more agent artefacts.

Good points Mormegil.

You taught us that it is a character game in our second match against you. I was convinced we had won that game on turn 15 when we controlled most of the map. 10 turns later we conceded when your characters totally took over and overwhelmed us.

Don’t try and win kinstrife via the military. You have to build characters, both agents and mages for a longer game.