I have a confession to make.
Despite going on record as one who holds Warhammer’s eighth edition in low esteem and less regard, I maintain a half-arsed, nascent interest in the system and the antics of those who play it. There are some excellent battle reporters on The Warhammer Forum, who are still quite capable of playing Warhammer in a tournamenty sort of way and enjoying it: I believe it’s fundamentally unsuited to that kind of thing, but I have to admire their moxie. There are some excellent bloggers on the House of Paincakes who are still holding each army book up to the cold light of inspection, sifting out the wheat from the chaff (chaff being very important in WFB) and, in general, discussing the contents without just witlessly rephrasing them. And, well, since I started writing for Corehammer I’ve been going back through the archives and reading about their Tale of Gamers and realising hey, here are some solid blokes who are working on a WFB for the working gamer, who has better things to do with their money and time than buy and build two hundred sodding Skaven before they’re even allowed to play with the cool kids.
This has gotten me thinking, never a good sign when WFB is concerned. If I were to take leave of my senses and go there again, how might I do it? How might I approach the game so’s to avoid the bits I don’t like and snuggle up close and tight to the bits I do?
I started out by considering revitalising my Vampires, but I’m rather conflicted about that. I think they belong to an earlier stage of my life, when I was happy to shove big blocks of melee stuff across the board, take tons of casualties, and then sink some reliably-available resources into scraping a win with whatever survived. As we’ve established, a few things about Warhammer v.8 have rather put me off my chips in this respect:
- Random charge distances (harder to co-ordinate engagements, less reliable than shooting with known and consistent ranges)
- Random dice in the power pool (plus other armies being better at casting/dispelling than the one which depends on magic the most)
- The poor resilience of undead units if/when they do reach melee (Steadfast units don’t crumble when they lose combats, Unbreakable/Unstable ones do; the living now outlast the dead!)
- Rerollable psychology tests, and the diminished impact of Fear and Terror (auto-breaking the enemy if they lost by one point was probably a bit excessive, but I’d have settled for cancelling their Steadfast and making them take their Break tests with modifiers…)
- The nagging sense that a ‘fun’ Vampire Counts army is a delivery system for two Terrorgheists, half a dozen Crypt Fiends/Vargheists and the standard-issue ‘blender Lord’, with the rest of the army standing back being wound counters for wizards and trying not to die. Another option involves two Mortis Engines and all the Necromancers I can carry, although that’s still bound to #2, above.
Some of this, admittedly, is not the fault of WFB. My tastes have definitely shifted more in favour of the ranged approach, across all the games I play; I’ve finally come to appreciate that guns replaced swords as standard issue weaponry for a reason. I still like a punch-up in mid-field but I like having enough ranged capacity to force that engagement, and I like the thought of my bunker units contributing something to the game besides being thirty-odd ablative wounds for a wizard.
There’s a small matter of theme involved, too. I have this weird hangup about taking, say, a battery of Necromancers and two Mortis Engines, or a whole bunch of big stompy monsters, or even a Ghoul King as my Lord; all these ideas seem to compromise the essence of my beloved army and move the focus away from the undead Empire thing I have going on. The Ghoul King in particular makes me gnaw the table in rage as I can’t find a model that’s sufficiently bestial and has the appropriately Imperial trappings. (That said, I’m beginning to feel that all these things could be justified, somehow - the cabal of Necromancers could easily assemble around equivalents to the new Empire wizard-chariot-war-engine-things, and if I could build a suitably bestial version of Ruthven, Terrorgheists don’t feel that far-out…).
Also, there’s just something about spending £120-180 (depending on whether I opt for Vargheist or Skin Wolf models, how much a new version of Ruthven onna horse sets me back, how I go about padding the new case…) If I’m going to replace stuff I already own I’d be sort of tempted to do so with a new army, one which more suits my current preoccupations with shooting.
I’ll talk about the other options in the next post.