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Wednesday, 9 May 2012

U turn if U want...

Hi all,

Well, I finally find myself with a bit of time to discuss Warhammer Fantasy, which has been much maligned, partly by myself in the past! However, the more I dig into it, the more I find to love about good ol' Fantasy Battle.

Now I will say that Fantasy was my favourite game by GW for a long time. It was not the first game I bought (that honour goes to Adeptus Titanicus, when I was the ripe old age of 7!) But I always felt it was the most rewarding- by which I mean to win, you need tactics, a sound plan and a decent force. I still think that Warhammer 6th Ed was an awesome game, and remains in my top 5 of all time (future article maybe?), then 7th came along and suffered from army-list balance towards the end of its life. 8th- well, this edition was a bit of a shock- a lot of the old truths have been altered, updated and stripped away

Now I did play 8th as soon as it came out- barnstorming 4000 point games on 8'*4' tables. This was using old lists, and the overall impression I was left with was that there was less to do in this edition- the games invariably came down to strolling across the battlefield, charging whatever unit was in front of you and hoping the dice were on your side. So, I figured that I'd tried it, and GW had finally killed the game I new and loved- all my Fantasy models into storage, and the books were hidden away.

Then I moved house. and found my rulebook. Just for kicks (and because it was on the top of the stack of books) I started reading- and all my old pre-conceptions faded away. Most of the elements from the old games are still there- rank bonus, terrain advantage, flanking, deployments and formations. So I picked up a few models and a few of the Army books (Tomb Kings, Vampire Counts, Empire, Storm of Magic) and started tinkering around with the system.

I'll say now that I still think Fantasy benefits from one hard-and-fast restriction. Games should not go above 3000 points without very good reason. The sweet spot for me seems to be somewhere around 2500 points.

My experience of Fantasy over the last few months has been overwhelmingly positive- games flow nicely, there are plenty of decisions to make each turn, and there don't seem to be many flaws in game-play. Are there things I miss- yes. I would love to see range-guessing come back into the game, however it was always an obstacle to entry, so I can see why it's gone. I miss Flying High from 5th. I would like to see a greater choice of magic items in the army books.

The trade off, however, is more than fair. Percentage based armies mean that forces are smaller, and can pull a few tricks with character/unit combos. Random charge ranges I love- This is one of the big plus points for 8th Ed for me, and something I will be talking about in the future. Simplifying Battle Standards, Unit Standards, etc is very welcome. Making Musician more important (for reforms) and clarifying manoeuvres; limiting magic dice fairly; rolling more dice in combat; large unit benefits; Universal Special Rules; deployment advantages; unit types- the list goes on. There have been so many positive changes to this ruleset.

Ultimately the proof is in the playing- recently I took 2 1600 point Warhammer Ancients lists and played a game using the 8th Ed rules (magic, unit types etc were obviously not required) and the rules hold up well- it's a clean tactical game with a great flow and feel. If you can get a good historical game out of the Core rules, then I'm giving it a thumbs up.

To finish this ramble through my biggest gaming U-turn in quite a while, I'll say that I made some basic errors when I first played 8th- I used old armies instead of updating them with lots of characters, specials and rares; also, the games I played were too large. The reason there was no movement and manoeuvre was that the forces were too large! You can't dance around the table if your battle-line is 6' long!

While I have a bit of time off, I'm going to put up reviews of the "new" edition- so for anyone following All Areas, don't be surprised by the stream of posts that are likely to occur over the next few days!

Comments, as always, are welcome.

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