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Friday, 18 May 2012

Warhammer- Psychology (and Special Rules)

Hi all,

Next in this mini-Warhammer series- Psychology? Well there is no longer a Psychology section of the Rulebook- they are all tied into Special Rules.Which, to be fair, is kind of what they always were! So, let's take a look at the old Psychology Rules, and see how they have changed...

Fear: Now that VC and Tomb King are both out as new books, I like the Fear rule! (There was a bit of time there when Skellies were overpriced in the new edition, whichever way you cut it...) Now it's quite simple- any unit that causes Fear has a chance (Ld test for enemy) to reduce opponents to WS1- it's not world-shattering, but it's certainly a nice perk. When opponents fail, then Skellies certainly feel better about WS2 (there is nothing quite so entertaining for long-time VC players as watching Skellies hit Chaos Warriors on 3's:) )

Frenzy: Still cool- +1A and Immune to Psychology in exchange for Berserk Rage- which means that if you can charge someone, you must! The basic change here is that a Ld test will get around the compulsory charge (making Khorne armies far more reliable!), but if failed the unit must charge the NEAREST enemy unit. So it is far easier to block them.

Hatred: Still a re-roll to hit in the first round of Combat.

Immune to Psychology: This is clarified now as Immunity to Fear, Terror and Panic. If a unit is Immune to Psych. then it still can't Flee! as a Charge Reaction.

Stubborn: Basically guarantees Steadfast, regardless of ranks. Importantly, if a character with Stubborn joins a unit that isn't, then both benefit- not sure if I agree with this, but it is certainly easier from a gaming perspective.

Terror: An uber-Fear, and applicable to most Monsters. It causes Fear in opponents, but also when a unit is charged by Terror causing enemy, then they must pass a Ld test or Flee!

Unbreakable: Does exactly what it says! These units are fairly rare, and tend to be expensive, however- they never run. Ever! Unbreakable means that you are Immune to Psych. (see above) and automatically pass Break tests- so even if you lose combat, you stay put! this remains awesome!

Panic!: The big one- and it hasn't changed! :) 25% casualties from any source in 1 phase?- take a Ld test or Flee. Friendly unit wiped out within 6"? Take a Ld test or Flee. Friendly unit Breaks from combat within 6"? Take a Ld test or Flee. The most common form of Psychology, one that you incorporate into your plans every turn (choosing where to force Panic test on the opponent) and one that you should defend against, unless you want your army to run screaming from the battlefield the first time a unit is murdered!

OK, so Psychology is an important part of the game- but aside from Panic they have certainly dialled this down. The thing is, during the course of a standard game, you will now be taking more Leadership tests than ever before. This is simply because anything that could put strain on the mental health or training of the soldiers you command is now treated as a Ld test. Reforming, enemy in close proximity, Panic, quelling Frenzy etc- so Psychology is a bigger aspect of the game than ever before. I love this! By toning down the more horrendous Psychology Factors (Fear and Terror), it has allowed the game to incorporate more Psychological effects, through various means, and finally the training and well-being of your forces is impacted on the tabletop by your opponents actions. What does this mean? That when you build a list, and play each turn, you must seek to defend your men's minds, as well as their person. In other words, keep as many in range of the General and Battle Standard as possible :)!

There are a slew of other special rules in Rulebook- which is great, because they are all in one place, and people will be taken by surprise less often. However, not so useful for a review which is trying to avoid the old TL;DR syndrome.... so the the most notable special rules are :

Always Strikes First: With the new system of attacks-by-Initiative, this is one to watch out for. A few spells give this out as an ability, and various units already have it (High Elves, mainly.) Importantly, if your Initiative is higher than the opponent, this grants re-rolls to hit as well! Get this onto a unit or character at the right time, and it can be a real game-changer.

Breath Weapons: This is a one-time deal. It's a flame-template shooting attack, so flying beasties can line up multi-unit shots, or it gives an extra 2d6 automatic hits in Combat (at the Str of the Breath weapon.) Not a bad little ability, and certainly one to remember- and yes, you can breath in combat the turn you charge.

Ethereal: most of this remains the same, and is just as powerful. There is a slight addition- Ethereal models now ignore special rules, spells, items etc that either slow their movement or prevent it. This means that Ethereal units are some of the most mobile troops in the game, and certainly leads to a few more traps and tricks that you can pull off with them.

Extra Attack: Bizarrely, this now stacks. it is worth noting that Magic Weapon additional attacks don not stack with Additional Hand Weapon extra attacks (magic vs Mundane still applies, as far as I am aware), but I am waiting for the FAQ to confirm that Additional Hand Weapon does not combine with Brace of Pistols for +2 attacks, for example.

Fight in Extra Ranks: This is the old Spear rule, freed up for other weapons. Essentially, units with this rule fight in 3 ranks rather than 2 (Hordes, therefore, would fight in 4 Ranks!)- but only in a turn when they did not charge! Great defensively, less useful offensively.

Flaming Attacks: These now cause Fear in War Beasts, Cavalry and Chariots. I like this change- flaming attacks were a bit hit-or -miss before, because they affected so few units. Now that they have a bit more utility, I am far more interested in taking them.

Fly: Still  very useful (although I really miss Fly High...!)- now it has been brought into line, and allows a 10" unimpeded move, which can be doubled to 20" for a march. They also get Swiftstride (scroll down!)

Loremaster: This Wizard knows all of the spells from the indicated Lore automatically. Given that spells are now restricted to 1 per army, this is the one way that you can double-up spells to throw at your opponent.

Magic Resistance: This boosts your Ward save against Spells- MR(1) is +1, MR (2) is +2, etc. Importantly, Magic Resistance spreads across units- so characters with a splash of it pass it onto any unit they join, making it very cost effective.

Regeneration: This is an additional type of save, usually a 4+. It replaces Ward saves, so you only get the choice now- it does mean, though, that ward saves against Flaming Attacks on a Regenerating model are particularly powerful.

Stomp: One of the new rules, this gives certain creatures (almost universally Monstrous Infantry or Cavalry) an additional automatic hit at their basic Strength. It only applies to Infantry, War Beasts or Swarms (so you can't Stomp Cavalry, for example) and Always Strikes Last- but it's a handy little freebie that can sway combats in the favour of the larger unit-types.

Thunderstomp- The same restrictions as above, but this inflicts D6 rather than 1 automatic hits.

Swiftstride: On the charge, Swiftstride units roll 3d6 and pick the highest 2, rather than 2d6. this applies to all Cavalry and Flyers- and means that they are far more reliable on the charge across greater distances. Not only do they tend to have a higher movement, the extra die chance increases their average charge. Basically, Cavalry and Flyers are amazing Flank units, and surprisingly good Bait units.

Volley Fire: This is basically the Horde rule for the Shooting phase. If the unit doesn't move (and isn't shooting as a Charge reaction), then models in the 3rd rank and further can shoot half of their models (half per rank, total then round down). So an Archer unit 8 wide 4 deep would fire 16 shots from it's front 2 ranks as normal, then an extra 4 shots per rank for a grand total of 24 shots. One to watch out for.

Vanguard: This is a new deployment rule, in addition to Scouts and Ambushers which have been around for a while. Quite simply, after Deployment has finished, but before the first turn, Vanguard units get a free 12" move, as long as they don't come within 12" an enemy. The downside- they are not allowed to charge in Turn 1! It's another layer on the Deployment shenanigans you can pull on opponents- and it also makes the battlefield more interesting. With Scouts as well, the Battlefield now looks like a game is par of the way through before Turn 1 even starts!

Suggest Special Rules for this next Lizardman Unit?

Right- that's the USR section covered! Not comprehensively, I'll admit, but it is a fair body of text already. the main reason I wanted to go through it- to show all of the little tweaks and pulls that have made in this edition to tighten it up, and to make the game flow more whilst adding complexity. Most of these new tweaks are about movement and combat- which are arguably the 2 most important phases in Warhammer! Ethereal units ignoring move restrictions was a pleasant surprise (I'm a VC player!), and I know to keep my eyes open for Stomp attacks and the like now. The Vanguard rule in particular has forced changes on the way I play- March Blockers and Charge Redirect units can be out in position far faster, and really put pressure on my opponent right from the start- which I love! I think that all of these little additions make Warhammer a far more interesting game that it has been for a while.

Well, that's it for now- Comments, as always, are welcome.

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