Friday, July 2, 2010

8th Ed. First Impressions

So I finally got in some games today with Warhammer Fantasy 8th Edition.  I played against a good friend of mine and he played as Tomb Kings.  First, I would like to say that he's an excellent Tomb Kings player that really knows his stuff.  I really wanted to see how 8th Ed. will treat HE, DE and TK, so I brought both my Dwarven and High Elf army to test the waters.

Now I know most of you think Tomb Kings is pretty borked this edition.. and this might be true unless their magic phase works like this:

They still generate PD and DD during their magic phases.
Their normal Priests have a +2 to dispel and their High Priests have +4.
Their incantations work exactly the same as their army book suggests it does.

That's what we played today and we had a hell of a good time.  Keep in mind that the FAQ should be coming out in the next couple of days and we're really hoping for them to rule in this direction.  By using the above and not the +PD on every bound cast, Tomb Kings played very true to their 7th Ed. playstyle.  You had to carefully choose which incantations to let slide and which ones to dispel.  Even though my High Elves had a +5 to dispel on Teclis, he was sweating at every attempt to dispel because a single roll of 1 or 2 could mean that he stops entirely.  Imagine failing to dispel Smiting on one of his Screaming Skulls and for him to cast Urgency on a big units of Chariots that goes smacking into the side of your spears.  Yeah.. that's the way Tomb Kings should play, and they're a damn good army when played right.

I won't get into too much detail, but I'll run through what I thought was the highlights to my 8th Ed. experience:

First thing's first:  We only had time for pitched battles.  Standard 12" from the middle kind of thing with... I forgot how many pieces of terrain.  All you have to know is that we were too lazy to go through and mark every single piece of terrain to see if it had enchanted mushrooms or some other crazy stuff.  We just put forests down and called it rough terrain that forces you to take difficult terrain tests when charging through it.  If we had more time to play, we would of looked at the other missions.  Sorry.

Next thing:  Magic.  I can see a lot of people taking the Lv.4 Archmage to the game and not giving another caster a thought.  This is both wise and unwise because you'll never know what can happen in the magic phase.  Teclis, for example is not so bad this edition because of all the random magic.  Having to reach the casting value to IF and having the chance to lose concentration when casting AND dispelling keeps him in check this edition.  I thought he was just going to completely dominate faces, but with charges being so random and so many things happening on the battlefield, you never know what's going to happen.  Like today for example, I thought I was out of reach of the Tomb Scorpion's "average" roll for a charge and my opponent rolls really high!  I had no choice but to flee.. but it's OK because my opponent just redirected into the side of my Dragon Princes.  Not to mention I held my breath everytime I had to dispel something.  The min-maxer in me didn't want to invest too many of my DD to dispel something small, but if I roll poorly that's it man, I break concentration!  That means the other Wizard or the TK's entire army smites you to no end.  Magic is fickle.. very fickle indeed.

What about heroes you say?  Well, in one game I had Teclis, Caradryan and a BSB on foot with Armor of Caledor and Guardian Phoenix.  For Dwarves, I had a Runelord + Anvil, Runesmith, Thane BSB and a Thane of Fury.  Things can get pretty hardcore in the dead of combat man.  You have challenges going all over the place, heroes dying left and right and even the best can fall because the combats are so brutal.  Caradryan died defending many Elves from a full charge from 6 Ushabti, Teclis got caught by a second Tomb Scorpion after the rallying from the first one, the BSB got mauled by Khalida, the Runesmith got pulverized by Destroyer of Eternities and the Tomb Kings got their faces wrecked by a combination of Cannons, losing combat res by a billion and getting popped in the face by charging Dragon Princes.

Big units of T3 5+ units.  This applies to all normal troops in the game basically.  Stone Throwers freaking destroy your soul!  Now my friend only brought 2x Screaming Skull Catapults that had S3 shots.. but they were absolutely deadly.  One shot landed in the middle and killed 13 Lothren Sea Guard.  Another one landed on a unit of White Lions and killed 9.  Do you know how much damage that does when each LSG is 13 points and each White Lion is 15?  My teeth never cringed so hard.  In my game as Dwarves, S4 re-rolling scatter Stone Throwers threatened his entire army enough that he didn't dare to deploy in the 5x6 formation that I did for my spears.  Having seen what his catapult did to my spears the first game, he kept his units in a thin red line and shot.  Since he was using a lot of skeletal archers, he could get away with it.

Warmachines in general are absolute beasts.  My Dwarf Cannons erased his Bone Giant from the game in one round of shooting (2 cannons) and also took down his SSCs by turn 3.  You aim, you shoot, you get results.  I mean even if you completely sucked at rolling D6 wounds (like me, since I rolled 1 twice), you can see how deadly accurate cannons are.  You pick a spot, you guess 5" away and the you let it rip.  One thing's for sure, the age of Dragons and Beasts are over.  With Dwarves having magical, flaming cannons that do D6 wounds and can re-roll misfires for dirt cheap, there's very little getting in the way with TLoS in full swing.  Thunderers shooting in 2 ranks is also quite ridiculous.  Imagine a small, tiny 5x2 detachment looking thingy shooting 10 shots at essentially BS4 with S4 AP shots.  Now imagine an entire field covered with these since they're Dwarven core.

Shooting.. man shooting was quite interesting.  Being able to kill warmachines to death is something that's new to me.  Who knew that skeletal archers could just move up with Urgency and do Smiting to kill my Organ Gun?  That's exactly what they did.  25 shots later and my Organ Gun is dead because 6s wound anything in the game and my WM only had 3 wounds (because of the 3 crew).  Neither of us played a gunline army and it was a good thing we didn't.  Even though I think a solid gunline army would make a lot of people cry more in this edition than ever before, close combat was where the games were!

Charging and combat.  This is what the game is about now man.  Random charges and pre-measuring means that you have a good idea of where the units will end up, but you never know what can happen.  When that Tomb Scorpion rolled high and managed to get a charge on Teclis' face and the Phoenix Guard unit he was in, I had to flee!  Likewise, when he murdered my Dwarf Warrior squad with his Tomb Guards and overran close to my Dwarves, he had no idea what was in store for him next turn.  Dwarves charging through terrain (eating a few bugs on the way) well over the 6" from last edition and slamming into his units from the front and the flank meant the world to the Dwarven army.  I can imagine the celebration of beard and happiness when Dwarves.. out of all armies, got to charge something.  As if that wasn't enough, combat was quick and brutal. Very rarely did combats last for more than one turn.  With Great Weapons and axes flying hard from the second ranks, there were bodies everywhere.  My Lothren Sea Guard took a charge from the Ushabti, fought bravely in 4 ranks with ASF and re-rolls and brought many of them down before taking good damage in return.  If brave Caradryan had not sacrifice himself by killing two of the monstrosities before dying then the Elves might have lost combat.

What about cavalry or chariots?  They're still good, seriously.  I mean I hear the whine on so many gaming forums that cavalry are now crap and that chariots outright lose to cannons, but who cares?  They're still there to break ranks when you do a supporting charge on the side, annihilate a undefended unit of archers, or murder a warmachine.  It's all good man!  In fact, I'd say they're slightly better than they were in 7th simply because you get to do a quick reform after you win the combat!  I mean, how amazing is that?  And hey, if the other dude immediately turns tail and run, you simply roll a leadership check and charge someone else.  This is a very good thing.  I don't know why people complain when their mighty deathstars of wtfdoom doesn't work anymore and you can't sweep across the entire board with a giant unit of Chaos Knights telling yourself you're the greatest.  I mean, give me a break.  The game is NOT supposed to be played like that and anyone who argues otherwise is just lying to themselves (except Bretonnians).  Play cavalry the way they're supposed to be played;  as flankers and supporting chargers.  A well placed charge can turn the tide of battle instantly in your favor.

Oh and speaking of reforms, here's a neat trick for your TK players out there:  Buy that banner that allows you to reform for free on your Tomb Guard.  It's a great way to reduce the damage done to your TG by Stone Throwers or Cannons simply because you can spread out, reform and charge on the same turn.  When you win combat, just reform into a line again and rinse and repeat.  Just don't get yourself caught out of position or you'll find yourself in a lot of hurt.

I honestly can't remember the last time I saw so many units flying off in so many random directions.  By the end of both games, we had tons and tons of models on the table where they have fallen and we were just too lazy to pick up.  Dwarf Warriors, Elven Soldiers, Undead Tomb Guard and Skeletal Archers were scattered everywhere.  Whether they were horribly mauled by the thunderous charge from ASF re-rolling Dragon Princes, blasted into oblivion by Teclis' unstoppable magic or eating screaming skull pie plates to the face, the end result was the same:  Total and utter carnage.

At the end of the day though, after we recapped and argued over petty rules like huge nerds, the one thing that we can all agree on is that 8th Ed. brought fun back to the game.  I haven't played Fantasy in forever; the playstyle was getting too black and white and having to fight against the likes of Daemons, VC or DE was a chore.  Now it all comes down to units getting blasted to hell before they all smash into eachother and tear at eachother's throats in glorious close combat.  I mean, that's what the game is supposed to be right guys?

Let me know what you think.  I hope my experiences can help capture the true image of fantasy battles in your mind and awaken your inner passion for table-top gaming once more.  Bring on the 8th Ed!


Anonymous said...

arg your first 8th edition game and you bust out teclis?!? geez try a standard list first. SCs banned most places anyways.

Anonymous said...

@Hero: Nice article, especially lol'd at "deathstars of wtfdoom", fantastic name.

@Anon 1: Don't be a pussy on SC's as a bitch-fit's rule. They add character to battles and fantasy. Some are more ridiculous than others but still, its part of the game.

Anonymous said...

I thought the new game seemed interesting from the first, and the game reviews have me thinking that I'll have more fun with it than I did with 7E, which I also enjoyed.

Falkman said...

"Like today for example, I thought I was out of reach of the Tomb Scorpion's "average" roll for a charge and my opponent rolls really high! I had no choice but to flee.."

You do know that you declare reactions before he rolls the charge dice, right?
So you can't choose flee once you see that he's rolled really high, since by that time your chance to declare a reaction is already over.

HERO said...

Well, I just wanted to give Teclis a go because I predicted he wasn't going to be as powerful as he was before. My prediction was correct because Teclis failed to dispel mid-turn one turn and my opponent landed a huge turn. I also failed to cast a spell when I had 5 dice left so all of it went out the window. The winds of magic are fickle, I'll say it again.

@Falkman, yeah it was my first game with 8th. We had a solid idea of how to play and I think that was one of the minor mistakes we talked about after the game. Random charges in general though.. you could pre-measure someone being way out of your comfort zone and choose to hold, then all of a sudden he rolls high and its god awful. I don't know how I feel about this just yet because I'm really good at guessing ranges and making decisions based on that, so I gotta break that mentality and accept the randomness of 8th.

Falkman said...

Yeah it can be a pain, especially when your fragile mages get surprise-kamikaze'd :).

SketchbookGaming said...

While I don't play Fanatsy myself, I can appreciate the enthusiasm in your post and it sounds like 8th is quite the breath of fresh air for the game.
Makes me want to start an army now.

Alex said...

Cavalry will be interesting to see. They only break ranks if they have two ranks, which makes for a pretty expensive unit and you still have to hope it gets into combat intact.

I'll think they'll be good at killing things, but cavalry like boar boyz going last? Not sure.

Kraggi said...

Have to say a great review, very enthusiastic as well.

Cant wait to get my hands on the rulebook this week, then hopefully the FAQ's will be useful and not leave too many questions or loop holes.

All in all a good month.

Turbo said...

just discovered your blog man, i like it. i play dwarves and have always felt they sucked a little worse than they deserved. nice to hear theyre going to be a little better now, shame all the improvements are competing for space in my 'special' allowance.

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