Wednesday, 23 May 2012
So, I gave everyone a bit of time after after the torrent of posts, so I hope you all enjoyed the break :) However, it is time to continue with the Fantasy "Review" articles of 8th Ed, starting off right now with the new Troop Types.
The first thing to point out is that for all of the existing units in the game (namely the Softback Army Books) there is a complete Glossary on pages 483- 489 of the Core Rulebook (the big one- sorry, I don't have the little one!) so that you can keep a track of which unit counts as which type, at least until the release for your army arrives.
Starting the roll call- Infantry. Standard Infantry are 20mm to 25mm square base models, the bulk of most armies, and no extra rules apply to them. Saying that, it is the "poor bloody infantry" most armies rely on for Horde, Rank Bonus, Disruption, Centre-units etc- so they are still vitally important.
Then we have Monstrous Infantry- 40mm to 50mm 1-model "monsters" such as Ogres and Minotaurs. Now, asking these guys to have to put 5 models in a rank for a bonus would be a bit steep, so units only have to be 3 wide to count for the bonus. In fact, the wording of the rule goes further- If a unit comprises PURELY of Monstrous Infantry, then 3 models counts as 5- this counts for disruption, ranks, horde and so on- so 3 ranks of 6 Ogres get quite a few bonuses! In addition, all Monstrous Infantry gain the Stomp! Special Rule (see the previous post) and can support with up to 3 Attacks rather than just 1, and these guys are back as real power-house units, although expensive points-wise (for 18 Monstrous Infantry models, expect to pay something around 900 points)
Cavalry are again changed. The most important "tweak" is that the best stat from either the rider or the mount is used for tests, whichever is higher, with the exception of Leadership, Wounds and Toughness, where the rider always counts. They all get Swiftstride, they are still the most reliable long-distance chargers in the army, although only the rider gets to make supporting attacks. In all, Cavalry are not the Death-star units that they used to be, and will hit you harder in the unit budget (they still need 2 ranks of 5 models to disrupt the enemy, same as everyone else), but I find them to be a key part of most of my armies, if for nothing else than the threat they represent to my opponents flanks and the possibilities that gives me in Movement and Manoeuvre.
8th Ed also differentiates Monstrous Cavalry from Cavalry for, as far as I can recall, the first time. They are essentially a best-parts mix of Monstrous Infantry and Cavalry- all the Cavalry rules apply, they get Stomp!, and they get the Monstrous Ranks rule (3 models count as 5). Also, they DO count Wounds and Toughness of the mount if either is higher than the rider- combined with Swiftstride, Monstrous Cavalry are exceptional Flank units. They will have a tough time breaking the front of mainline Infantry due to Steadfast , as part of a combined-attack they are formidable. The one downside to note- they DO NOT gain the Monstrous Support rule, so models in the 2nd rank cannot attack with their mounts, and the riders only get 1 attack.
Swarms are pretty much the same- Unbreakable, Skirmishers and Unstable across the board. I honestly had a chance to use them in 8th yet, so I can only go from theory, but so far I am assuming that they serve the same role that they used to- charge-blockers, redirects and back-line defence.
My favourite new addition- War Beasts :) Finally, dogs don not count as the same unit type as Bretonnian Knights. They are now a fairly basic unit (which is good, because they are also universally cheap, points wise) with Swiftstride, and only count as Cavalry if they are ridden (like Orc and Goblin Wolf-Riders.) Essentially, they are fast-moving large-based infantry.
Chariots have been clarified- again! Importantly, they still do Impact Hits which happen before blows are struck, they Swiftstride, and they cannot March. In general, they are a hell of a lot neater than in previous editions, which I am in favour of, but they are less lethal- which I am in favour of :). In combination with other units, they are incredibly useful- in isolation, they are far more limited in use.
Rounding up, we have the Monsters and the Monstrous Beasts. Beasts, bizarrely, are almost identical to Monstrous Cavalry. They Stomp!, and get Monstrous Ranks, and they are Swiftstriders. I'm not aware of that many Monstrous Beasts, so I can only hope that we will see more of these units in the future.
Monsters are the big-boys of the 8th Ed battlefield. The Core Rules do a fairly good job of dealing with the big beasties (they can't use cover, True Line of Sight etc), so the only extra they get is Thunderstomp!, and they can't enter buildings to occupy them (fairly obvious that :) )
So, a few unit types and Warhammer becomes a whole lot neater. there are very few "Unique" units out there now (like the Skaven Plague Furnace), and as the new books are released they are becoming fewer (VC now have a whole range of Chariots to pick from which they didn't before) which means that there are fewer nasty surprises for opponents in a poorly-worded special rule.
While I am talking about Unit Types, it seems a good time to discuss the usefulness of Command Groups in this edition. Many units can take a Champion, Standard and Musician, which essentially make the unit more hard-hitting and/or reliable.
Champions are pretty much the same as they have been for the last 3 editions. They add an attack or a BS to a unit, and they can accept or issue challenges. Useful, but not vital. Also, the can allocate attacks, and have attacks allocated to them, in combat. in my experience this gives the survival chances of a Redshirt, but it can save an extra wound on the unit or on a character.
Now, unit Standards. these have been a staple for a long time- +1 to Combat Res is always welcome, after all! The biggest change here is that captured standards are now worth 25 Victory Points in the relevant Scenarios- so they are even more worthwhile! Every unit that can have a banner, should have a banner.
Finally, Musicians. This was where people often used to save points (especially Undead players!) For anyone that wishes to reliable manoeuvre their units around the battlefield, musicians are now a priority. They have kept the "win drawn combats" rule, which is handy, and the +1 Ld to rally, which can be handy (especially for charge redirects or baiters.) they have gained Swift Reform. Essentially, the unit can make a normal re-form, but can take a Ld test first- if passed, then the unit can move as normal that turn, and can still shoot after moving. they cannot march, but the ability to change direction and move, in Warhammer, is incredibly powerful- and means that all of my VC units now have Musicians where possible (so that they can reform, move, then Vanhels into enemy units which otherwise would catch them out of position.)
In conclusion, the Unit Types neaten up Warhammer a hell of a lot, and give everyone a level playing field, which is a welcome move by Games Workshop. Looking at the army books which have been released so far (Orcs, Ogres, VC, Empire, Tomb Kings) then it is working- inclusion of various types of unit, as well as re-working old favourites, means that there is a lot less confusion in my games in 8th than in previous editions. I must also say that the new Command Groups rules are hugely welcome- I don't have to agonise about giving a unit a banner any more (100VP's was a lot to give away on 5 man cavalry units when plans went wrong) and Musicians are, finally, useful. In fact, the questionable choice now is the Champion- if a Character is not going to be in the unit, do I really need one? Then again, I can't get past the idea that every unit should have a Champion from a "fluff" point of view...
Comments, as always, are welcome....