Friday, August 13, 2010

War of the Shrine: The Review

Well now, that was a bit epic, eh? I wanted to play a massive, massive game and, with a bit of mucking around to make it work with a space that honestly was much, much too small to contain the result, I did so.

Looking back, I both agree and disagree with my thinking. I decided to go everyone against everyone because I knew Chaos alone was much larger than any other army, but everyone against Chaos would be overwhelming the other way.

The High Elf contingent is frankly too small to be anything but an ally. The Dwarf and Warriors of chaos armies would have to fill the core maybe Dwarfs, High and Wood Elf against Orc & Goblin/Warriors of Chaos would have been right.

I could have set it up with a proper field, the Dwarf-led contingent defending the Shrines on one side of the field and the WoC/O&G army attacking.

In some ways I think the 5+ Ward for holding a shrine was too powerful. On the other hand, it allowed High Elf Spearmen and High Elf Archers to withstand much more powerful units for surprisingly long amounts of time.

I did love the altered rules that moved units around, even when in combat, to allow charges that might favor the weaker armies.

There were a few key moments that, had they gone slightly different would have made a huge difference. For example, if the White Lions had been able to either slay the Troll or he had not somehow managed to stay in the combat, they would have had a powerful unit they would have been able to use to rescue their chariot, etc.
However, when they got locked in the combat, it became a grind and frankly, having just 1 attack each was insufficient.
I know it is purely subjective, but I "feel" like I have poor rolls, and numerous combats in this game reinforced that...units with frontages of 6 that were elite (White Lions, Miners, Hammerers) getting full attacks and often doing not even a single wound in any given combat...
When time after time, needing 4s, you hit 1 or 2 times in seven tries, it feels pretty pointless. It would be one thing if Warhammer were not a 6 turn game...but it is.

And when your ELITE troops cannot take out chaff (see "Miners v. Night Goblin Archers, Miners v. Night Goblin Spearmen) in 2 or 3 turns, it is obvious your elite troops are not worth their points.

If anything, this game made me LESS likely to take ANY troop that has just one attack each. I rely on numbers to overcome poor rolling (I think it was four times Prince Chrysolopsis rolled 1 or 2 hits in 5 tries needing 3s against Dwarf Pirates (aka Thunderers). That was discouraging...and then when once or twice those failed to wound, suddenly I had a "combat monster" who could not even WOUND chaff troops in multiple attempts. Nor is that the first time I have encountered this is actually a regular thing.) and you simply cannot do that with one attack per model.

Still, there were some great moments like the Repeater Bolt Thrower crewman standing alone against the charge of the rampaging Chosen.
It is moments like that which comprise a significant part of my enjoyment of the game.

And this game presented some other interesting moments. On a field with as limited of terrain as this one, the tactics were few to choose from...though there were some.
It was an interesting question of how to break out from the cramped position both the Warriors of Chaos and Orcs & Goblins had at the beginning of the game.
That issue was further complicated when every wing was held up; the High Elf Archers who would not die, the Dwarf Hammerers, Warriors, and Warriors in the center, and the Treeman/Treekin on the right.
At every turn, I found it was a struggle to get past those road blocks which prevented the Warriors from bringing their overwhelming numerical power to bear for quite some time.

Across the board, I actually figured the Night Goblin Archers would die in one or two turns...and they also clogged up a key portion of the field for quite some time, which restricted the Orc and Goblin lines from getting into action.

I was surprised by how long the Goblins could stand, though not surprised by how little damage they did. Even with 13 attacks, when needing 4s to hit, 5s to wound, and the opponent having 5s to save (or, in this case, two rolls needing a 5), they simply have no hitting power.
They would have needed 40 attacks a turn to have a chance of doing damage.

It comes back to that, again and again. the Wardancers, with a similar strength, were many times more effective despite having fewer guys attacking because just a handful of models could wield 3 attacks each quite often.
Of course, they also could die to the flick of a wrist to even S3 enemies...

It showed to me once again why, in 7th edition, no matter how cheap they were, blocks of low S, low T, low A troops were simply a bad, bad, bad idea to take. They could be out-maneuvered by anyone who they could hurt and could not hurt anyone who was willing to fight them.

Nor were Dwarf Cannons all they were cracked up to be. time and again they over-flew their target or stuck in the ground just in front of the target. I must have shot 20 times with cannons throughout the game...and done maybe a dozen casualties.
I look forward to seeing a Dwarf Gunline in action in 8th...I think they will prove counterproductive, needing so much space and not being capable of taking out entire units. They should deal some damage, but will be losers for that due to the new scenarios and victory conditions.

I suspect the Juggernaut will be seen but rarely. He is too expensive and characters with only 5 attacks simply do not do enough damage. Even against a squishy Elf he struggled to wound...and when he faced T4 troops it was even worse.

The Chariot continues to disappoint I have yet to roll higher than a 2 when it charges, meaning 3 Impact hits. This speaks again to my "trust" in die rolls.
I know I have a 66% chance of garnering 4 or more impact hits. Yet in nearly 10 charges now, I have yet to do more than 3.
When I have a unit that depends for its effectiveness on rolling a single die to see what happens, I have little faith...Spawn, Chariots, the magic missile that routinely does 2 hits when I roll d6+1 and they are routinely at S2 or 3 when I roll d6+1 for strength...these things all reinforce my scepticism that I will have a good result with anything which rolls low numbers of dice.

This, of course, affects/skews my perception of how I want to build my army.
For example, I have little interest in playing a dwarf army. They are slow, to take out tough targets like Ogres, Hydras, dragons, Knights, or tanks, they need to rely on single die rolls from cannons. Not going to happen for me.
To win a close combat, they need to do large amounts of damage with very few attacks. Not going to happen for me.

At the same time, I do not want to play the same army all the time. I love my Knights, Dragon ogres, and Shaggoth and...well, at the moment, due to how pathetic my magic results have been, those are really the only units I enjoy using, and even the Shaggoth has been remarkably ineffective more often than not...but I still love the model.
I think I would really enjoy playing a Savage orc army if not for stupidity and their S being too low to really be effective. If I owned more Orc models, that would probably be the way I went.

It is my real hope that in 8th edition I am able to use more Marauders and Chaos Warriors. the Marauders kind of goe against type for me...they have too few attacks (unless I mark them for frenzy) and are way too squishy...but if they are up against other low A, squishy models they might be worth it.
Actually, with the new step up and steadfast rules, they would also be worth it so long as I can protect the flanks.
Same with Chaos Warriors. Well, except the squishy theory, having 2+ save and T4 means they are not squishy, but I have had major problems keeping them alive past the charge.

Speaking of things which should be better...I get the "fluff" of Slayers, but they are one of the worst units in the game.

They struggle to wound large targets..which are, or should be, their primary targets...and with utterly no defense, they die far too easily. It only gets worse for them in 8th where their low edition means they will get wiped out before they even attack unless they take large units...which they are too expensive to take.

As 7th edition draws to a close, I will look back at it fondly. It made Chaos Knights...scratch that, ANY Knight...a bit too powerful on the charge as they were favored to not only defeat enemy infantry (and often other units) of vast numerical superiority on the charge, but beat them without getting attacked back and by such a high number the opponent was almost assuredly going to break.

Every glass cannon had that same overpowered ability. I will not miss that, even though losing it hurts me more than most. It was kind of cool not needing to make armor saves, particularly in light of the sheer number of times I would fail 2 of 3 or 3 of 4 saves needing just a 2+.

I also will not miss spending 1200 points or more on Magic, seeing an opponent spend 200, and not being able to get off any meaningful spell. No more scroll caddies can only be a good thing.
This game was a fine example...even without allowing anyone a single scroll, there could not have been more than 5 or 6 spells cast successfully all game long...and those that were simply got irresistible force.
Ironically, the dwarves then failed every turn in their attempt to dispel either that put an Exalted Hero in play...

Anyhow, looking back, I thoroughly enjoyed the game until turn 6 when it turned into just a bunch of dice rolling. Not that I do not enjoy that from time to time, but there was no skill seeking to get the right charge at the right time, or select the right target for shooting.

If 8th edition fixes some of the issues of 7th...heavy shooting armies being devastating, inability to use magic, every9one getting to fight instead of just chargers...the Warhammer can only get even better.


Fullur said...

Very cool read. Thanks for posting.

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