Friday, June 25, 2010

On 8th Edition

I enjoy playing the 7th edition of Warhammer.

Partially this is because of the group I play with. Very relaxed, easy going, with the process (that is, the playing of the game) meaning a great deal more than the outcome.

Not that the outcome doesn't matter...if it did not, then we would not tally up points at the end.

But I think all of us would vastly prefer a tightly contested game with many wild swings of fortune than a game that is predetermined.

Now, there are exceptions; whether it is in my head or somewhere else, I really believe I have no chance against the Dark Elf army when using the Warriors of Chaos. I have yet to even give them a game. It has reached the point where even when building my list, I know the game is lost.

Conversely, when playing the Empire (pre-Steam Tank acquisition) I just assume a win. They do not match well with the Warriors of Chaos.

Most of the time, however, when going into a game, I look forward to the process...the unexpected Foot of Gork taking out 60% of the Dragon Princes on turn one, having 3 of 5 Chaos Knights fail a 2+ armor save, and so forth.

Working to get a positional advantage or to overcome the vagaries of misfortune that turned a brilliant battle plan into a desperate situation.

Not to say there were not flaws...the books are FAR from balanced and, more importantly to me, there are key troops in every army purely not worth taking.

For example, when building a Lizardman list, I pure and simple cannot see myself ever taking Saurus Warriors.

This is partially predicated on how I play the game. I assume my opponent is at least as skilled as I am and will no more make a mistake than I would.

The Saurus are so slow they will only ever get into close combat in unfavorable circumstances. They are not rugged enough to withstand a charge from any real cavalry, so they become nothing but "free" points for the opponent as they never, ever, ever get to even attack back. Doing 5 casualties to Saurus is not hard.

This, by the way, is why with the Warriors of Chaos I very seldom take Warriors of Chaos. The only time they have gotten into combat has been when I was charged by Cold One Knights (I did not get to attack back), by Grail Knights (I did not get to attack back), and when I was able to pin an opponent with my Knights.

In short, there are certain troops that at any cost over zero are priced too high for what they do. Note; not what they are CAPABLE of, but what they DO.

I also, as part of my love of fantasy, want to have magic and dragons.

Magic, to put it mildly, has been ineffective for me. I have had 12 levels of magic shut down by 3, for example.

None of this is to say I am crying for infantry to play some huge role or for the game to degenerate into Wizard v. Wizard with everyone else irrelevant.

But in reading over the 8th edition changes now that they are confirmed, I am starting to really get excited.

First off, I love epic combats. Although the outcome was a foregone conclusion, (largely because in something like 8 rounds of combat his 'elite" Temple Guard got to attack me like once), perhaps my all-time favorite game moment was a Shaggoth v. Temple Guard v. Chaos Knights and Dragon Ogres v. Terradons v. Saurus v Chaos Marauders.

It was such a memorable moment I still have it as a picture on my phone (though the Brandon Roy dunk of the year remains my screen saver).

Second, I do not mind losing fact, perhaps my biggest complaint has been that games are heavily weighted in favor of whoever can get off a charge, and any unit not engaged in setting up and executing the charge is just filler.

It certainly appears to me that this specific issue has been addressed in 8th. With the return to the "step-up" rule and the addition of the "steadfast" rule, the idea of my "filler" actually getting to fight instead of having the giant "we are free vp with almost no risk" stamp is in an iron lung breathing its last.

Instead, I actually see a real use for Marauders and Chaos Warriors.

I have to laugh about the complaints that "true line of sight means no more screening units " as the ridiculous "people on a hill have no targeting restrictions" rule meant I was able to actually screen maybe twice. Ever. So there is really very little change.

When it comes to the charge, at first I hated the random add. But the more I think about it, the more I like it.

I have had several games, particularly with the Ogre Kingdoms and Bretonnians, where a bulk of the game was playing chicken to see who would first either maneuver their opponent into being forced to receive a charge or else giving up and allowing the opponent to charge.

At the same time, armies faster than my own (Wood Elf, Skinks, Dark Elfs) were all but un-touchable for me as they were able to elude me through wise use of skirmishing and/or the ability to force me to either give them the charge (which I could not stand up to) or die without responding under missile fire. (though the Skinks, wisely, have yet to charge me)

The ability to reach further than a static distance alters every one of those scenarios. In the ones where I held the advantage, I still do but now, between random charge distance and the altered importance of the charge (striking in I order rule), it is not an unbeatable advantage.

Conversely, when I am at a disadvantage, I am still at a disadvantage, but now it is not un-overcomable.

Whereas before if the Grail Knights charged me I typically would lose anywhere from 3 to all 5 Knights without a chance to attack back, now I have a chance to at least fight, for example.

So overall, although my favorite army elements (the Knights, Shaggoth, Dragon Ogres) got weakened in some respects, the prospect of some massive, epic combats with units I regularly took, but only to weaken my army, like Marauders and Chaos Warriors, makes me excited.

Moving on to magic, I like the limit of scrolls (and hope they eliminate stuff like the High Elf item that makes any double an 100 points, it is far too strong for the points, especially with the new mis-cast table) and the way being a higher level actually means you are stronger than a lower level.

Not sure how I feel about some of the super-powered spells, but love that you should get some stuff more total wall of shut-down.

Basically, 90% of what I heard are rules adjustments I really, really like.

The main downside? Until they release the box set with the small rulebook...I will be playing 7th.

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