Friday, July 30, 2010

The Pilgrimage

My next tournament, and the first 8th Edition event I'll attend, is being held in Sydney in two weeks time. Pilgrimage is run by the Sydney Battle Pilgrims and 2010 will be its third year.

This is a slightly different event. Firstly, it is at 2300 points which is rare for this neck of the woods - about 80% of Australasian events are pitched at 2250 points. Secondly, it is aimed at developing new tournament players.

To achieve this second aim, the tournament has a reduced entry price for new tournament goers and they try to match new players up with experienced gamers who take on a mentoring role.

I'll be traveling over with one of my Club members, Tim. Tim has been playing for just over six months and this will be his first Australian event. We've spent the last couple of months playing games, constructing lists and looking at various strategies - both in-game and tournament-wide. Both of us have found it very useful - Tim because he has someone to bounce ideas off and me because I've found it useful to have to gather my ideas into some form of useful strategy.

I applaud the Battle Pilgrims for following this path. In the long term it helps both the new player and the mentor and increases both of their enjoyment.

Check back in two weeks to see how we got on.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Lie of the Land

One of the most disappointing things for me about the advent of 8th Edition has been the speed with which people have wanted to introduce a composition system to remove heinous armies from tournaments.

I am a total believer in Comp systems as I do not believe GW have some savant skill that allows them to produce a ruleset that completely balances the 14+ Army Books they currently have in circulation. Also with the introduction of any new book the lie of the land changes again and a comp system for tournaments balances this.

However with regard to 8th Edition it is far far too early. Most people (including TOs and the internet warriors) have only had a handful of games at best. How can they hope to have the level of understanding with regard to the new system that they had at the end of 7th. How much better is it to play the game as GW have presented it and then with 3 (preferably 6) months experience look to counter any egregious builds.

Instead we now have largely 7th Ed prejudices been used to formulate composition rules. Check out and you'll find a post from a guy looking to implement a Europe wide system. To be brutally honest it reads like a "Crimes Against Bill" where he has catalogued anything that caused him problems under 7th Ed. In most cases there is little or no demonstrated relevance to 8th. And how can there be? I'd wager he's had less than 10 games.

I have been involved in putting together two Players Packs for upcoming tournaments - Call to Arms @ 2250 points and Skitterleap III @ 2400 points. In both cases the single composition constraint is that the TO retains the right to veto any list that he believes would impinge on both players having a fun and relatively fair game. That coupled with a warning that if your intention is to somehow break the game with some heinous army then neither events are the tournament for you, is all you need.

In most cases this would be applied where somebody had a very high chance of dominating a phase to the point whereby it became stupid......the TO doesn't need to define it in a pack with anymore than "I'll know it when I see it".

Given such a backdrop the onus is on the players to not be a tool.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The 8th Edition Warhammer Rulebook

Prior to the release of the 8th Ed Rulebook you could visit any internet forum and you didn't have to stay long to stumble over a thread that bemoaned the price of the new rules and commentary on how GW was gouging its customers.

Fast forward two weeks after release andvisit the same forums and you struggle to find a complaint.

Yes, the book is more expensive than in the past - but look at what you get compared to previous editions. Five hundred plus full colour pages that are a celebration of the hobby we enjoy. Well I might be starting to sound like a fanboi, I do think that the full rulebook is integral to the 8th Ed experience.

There has been a seachange from 7th to 8th and the new rulebook is a demonstration of that. The new edition is as much about the spectacle of the game as it is about the rules. So in the new book you get not only a far tighter rules system that seems to introduce more fun and remove niggle from the game, you also get an introduction to what the game can be. 300+ pages of eye candy that gives you inspiration to get more out of your hobby.

Yes, I'm sure that most of us will read through it once and then put it on the shelves once we get hold of our mini rulebooks. Every now and then we'll get it out to look at something, reference a model and I'll bet spend an extra five minutes reading pages we stumble across.

But the important thing is that the seed has been planted. More terrain, bigger games etc.

Hopefully the demonstration of the spectacle by GW in the rulebook will inspire people to devote time and energy on the aesthetics of their armies.

The lack of complaints at the moment shows that a large proportion of their customer base is for now "drinking the Kool-Aid".

Death of the Uber-Skirmisher

With the advent of 8th, one thing that you would quickly realise if you were a Plague Censer Bearer is that "you're not in Kansas anymore, Toto".

Under 7th no self-respecting Skaven army went anywhere without at least one unit of PCBs. These uber troops could clean out charging Chaos Knights, deal with blocks of Dwarf Longbeards etc through a combination of their gas attacks and high number of re-rollable Str 5 attacks. A favourite ploy was to put them in front of a unit of Chaos Knights daring them to charge in a pact of mutually assured destruction (but for half the points investment and the removal of the Chaos key threat).

Not anymore! The introduction of Initiative steps for combat and stepping up for casualties has seen the effectiveness of PCBs reduced significantly. Now they are more support troops with a different (primarily flanking) role.

And this is one of the refreshing things about 8th. You need to learn new tricks and tactics. What has worked in the past may not necessarily work now. I'm sure Wardancers in a Wood Elf army are waking up to a similar realisation.

So strap yourself in Dorothy - it's gonna be one hell of a journey!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Product Review - Battle Magic Cards (GW)

With the release of the new edition Games Workshop have released a set of cards covering each of the spells in the 8 main lores. I recently received my set and fully recommend them to all players.

Each card has a full description of the spell (effect, casting values etc) as well as the specific attribute of that lore. Given you can now only take one of each spell from a given lore (sans signature) they can be used in game to designate at a glance what each wizard has. If your opponent wants to know what a particular wizard has and how it works then you can just pass him the card and he can read it himself.

I have been using a set of home-produced cards for my Skaven and it stops a lot of confusion and reduces the chances of mistakes/misunderstandings.

GW intend doing a set for each of the race-specific lores - and indeed have produced a set for Beastmen. These sets are likely limited run and I understand that the Beastmen one is already sold out. The next in line are Daemons and I have pre-ordered to ensure I get a set.

While a lot of the aids GW release can be thought of as gimmicky and of limited value, this is certainly not one of them. Pick yourself up a set, you won't regret it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Spectacle of 8th Edition

One of the points remarked on in numerous forums regarding 8th Edition is just how much better the games look. I would like to reiterate that point.

Yesterday I had two games down at my local club and it was interesting just how many people were attracted to the tables. The aesthetics are better on two fronts.

Firstly, there is more terrain. Because terrain is not the impediment to movement and shooting that it was in 7th Edition there is far more of it on the tables. This makes the battlefield look like a battlefield. I am hoping one of the upshots is that people will dedicate more time to their terrain and how it looks as it is no longer the negative it was.

Secondly, the units are bigger. Now this may change with time and as tactics develop but we are still in a honeymoon period. The rules confer advantages to big units and therefore people are embracing this part of the game. Yesterday we had an ongoing combat with a Plague Furnace with 25 Monks and 50 Lothern Sea Guard. A unit of 40 Skavenslaves barreled into the flank and they were in turn hit by 15 Swordmasters. In 7th ed you typically saw minimal sized Slave and swormaster units and never saw Sea Guard.

From a spectacle point of view the game looked great - and attracted onlookers.

Long may it continue!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

8th Ed Combo #1

Ran into my first real 8th Ed combo today.

Lvl 4 High Elf Mage with Book of Hoeth and Shadow Magic. Banner of Sorcery in the army.

Deployed a 50 man unit of Lothern Sea Guard in front of me. The eyes of the Plague Priest on the Furnace lit up and it gets deployed in front of it. Up goes the Storm Banner.

44 shots at the Furnace do nothing (as per odds) but squeaky cheeks moment when the Miasma reduces the Plague Priest's Initiative by 3 and then he passes the follow-up Pit of Shades by rolling a "1".

The Furnace trundles off towards the LSG. My magic and shooting is ineffectual and then the trap is sprung.

The Seaguard charge the Furnace and the Priest thinks Xmas has come early. The High Elf springs Mindrazor and with the Book of Hoeth there is very little I can do to stop it....besides pray.

No such luck. ASF plus higher Init plus 15 Str 8 attacks ensures the Furnace is little more than matchwood.

Well done to my opponent.

Having seen the Book of Hoeth in action with Shadow and the backing of a lot of dice (3 channels plus Banner of Sorcery) I'll treat it with more respect next time. Far more than a one trick pony it is a very effective combo.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Stone Thrower - Direct/Indirect

One thing that wasn't addressed in the FAQ concerned direct/indirect fire with a stone thrower.

The important rules are as follows:

(Pg 114)"To fire a stone thrower, take the small round (3") template and place it anywhere completely within the war machine's line of sight, outside the stone thrower's minimum range and within its maximum range."

(Pg 115) "An indirect shot does not require line of sight but is otherwise treated as a normal shot....."

Now I would contend that these two rules only cover two of potentially three possibilities.

The first rule is clearly a direct shot but the phrase "completely within the war maxchine's line of sight" is restrictive. The second rule is clearly an indirect shot and this does not require any line of sight.

So what about the third possibility? Where the target is within line of sight but the template can't be placed completely within the war machine's line of sight". I don't believe that the rules cover this possibility. The recent FAQ gives us nothing to go on either for this instance.

If asked to rule at a tournament one way or the other I would be inclined to go with a hybrid - if you can place the template so the centre hole is over the target model and completely in line of sight then it is a direct shot.

This ruling is clearly assumption because as I said I don't believe we have an answer in the rulebook.

Appreciate any thoughts? Comments?

The 1" Rule - Redux

The new FAQ has made no amendment/errata/FAQ concerning the exceptions to the 1" rule.

There is a general exception in the BRB regarding the 1" rule when charging but omits any consideration of overrun or pursuit.

Given no change was made in FAQ v1.0 I believe we have to conclude that was the intent.

That is certainly how I'll be playing it from here.

Sidenote: You now can't move within 1" of a building unless you are to garrisoning (moving into it). This stops the old 7th Ed trick of move up to the building thereby denying somebody the chance to move in (or effectively assault the unit). More evidence of the move from avoidance.

GW Recovers the Fumble

New rulebook FAQ pdf up:

Well done GW. And belated well done for amending the initial Army pdfs

A Brave New World indeed!

Friday, July 23, 2010

TLOS - The Case for the Defence

One of the aspects of 8th edition that has caused the most "noise" is the move to True Line of Sight (TLOS). This has a lot of people up in arms and already we are seeing a push to "house" rules, the nudging of Tournament Organisers to implement "fixes" etc. One criticism of TLOS is that it doesn't allow you to hide models and that as a consequence it fundamentally changes the game.

Well guess what? You're right it does!

But before we start changing things - infinitely high hills etc - let's pause and thing why it has been introduced and what effect limiting would have. I'm willing to give GW their due and say that such a fundamental change has been implicit in a lot of their thinking.

So where does it impact?

Charges - the charge range for 90% of units has been some cases significantly. This mechanic is fundamental to 8th Edition. By restricting Line of Sight you are impacting on that critical aspect of the game by limiting targets. It also has flowthrough effects on Frenzy and the points you spend to insulate yourself against the negative effects.

Magic - Mages can now cast spells that are game-changing and with the alterations to PD generation and use, it can be argued that this can more easily be achieved (Lvl 1 picking up 6 dice). However with big reward comes big risk and a key aspect of the new miscast table are the explosive effects suffered from losing control. By making it easy for a mage to hide outside a unit you are removing a lot of the potential risk (and therefore checks & balance) of attempting Big Magic. Forcing them inside a unit for protection from ranged attacks comes with a trade-off.

Skirmishers - they have been generally downgraded in the new rules but one of the benefits they get is that they are Stubborn in terrain. If they have a ranged attack TLOS lets them sit in a forest etc and shoot out. This means that they are fulfilling their role as a harassment troop type and need to be dealt with. If the forest blocked LOS then one of their advantages is diminished.

Monsters - 8th Edition has given Monsters a new tool.....Thunderstomp. But it has also with TLOS made them more vulnerable to ranged attacks. I'd wager GW considered this trade-off when looking at the rules. If we limit TLOS are we going to get rid of Thunderstomp. What about the immunability from normal Killing Blow for characters on ridden monsters? Not a monster but the Stank is now we think that TLOS was factored into that change?

Scouts - under 8th scouting units don't need to be hidden instead just outside 12". Again this is no doubt influenced by TLOS and the lack of viable hidey spots for the scouts.

I'm sure there are a lot more interactions that you can think of given a few moments. My point is that it is a new game and I'm willing to give GW the benefit of the doubt in believing they have looked at these interactions. Now I may be wrong and in six months I could be leading the charge for changes. However I think we should give the rules a chance before changing one aspect that does have significant flow-on effects.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Crux of 8th Edition

Following on from yesterday's post, something Dan Heelan said on a recent Heelanhammer podcast really summed up what I think is the crux of what GW have tried to do with 8th Edition. Essentially Dan said that GW have listened to the complaints of what people have said they don't like about the 7th Edition game.

Ruminating on that this afternoon I think he is right and here's what I think GW have addressed:

1. Predictability of Magic

In 7th Ed, magic was largely predictable and to a large extent people set themselves up from a defensive standpoint. You knew if you had 5 DD plus 2 scrolls you could stop most things especially in the Comp environment which had a 10PD max cap. Yes there was still one die raising and the odd game changer got through but it was rare at the top end of tourney play.

8th Edition is much more fickle. You can't rely on it either way as much as you could. The ability for a Lvl 1 to pick up 6 dice means it is high risk/reward. You can build a magic phase to defend against it but the certainty is less. For my Skaven list I've gone through the books and built a list that can grasp the winds of magic if they are there but can also go a game without me getting anything off. I think this reflects how magic should be.

2. Avoidance/Points Denial

In 7th you could arrive at the table identify targets that you would destroy with little or no risk to yourself. Dark Elves were the masters of this followed by Lizardmen. I can list how this was so - shades, hotek, engine, etc - but they were done to death on any internet forum.

GW have addressed this in so many ways in 8th Edn.

Firstly, they have changed how terrain works. There are very few safe places to hide now. This is great in my opinion as it brings avoidance back to the pack as a tactic. Your Engine is no good in this game - put him behind a wood. Not anymore you won't. While you're getting your points your opponent will be able to target yours.

Secondly, half points are gone. Now you have to destroy something to get its points. This should mean more risk. Coupled with this no points for quarters....again you need to commit to destroying something.

Last week I killed 48/50 Marauders - in the past I would have been happy with 25 of them. Now all 50 have to die for me to get anything - so wounding then hiding has gone as a plan. Couldn't even nullify this by grabbing four quarters.

So well done GW, more aggressive play.

Third, what appears to be the weakening of skirmishers relative to blocks. This is in terms of relative maneuverability between the editions, the restriction of charge arcs etc. Fighty skirmishers - wardancers, censer bearers etc - will find it harder to get the job done.

3. Stepping Up/Steadfast

In 7th a fast army such as Daemons could hit you hard with little or no risk given average dice. As long as they wiped the front rank out there were no attacks coming back. This usually meant they won on CR and if they had done enough damage autobroke you through fear.

Well in 8th, it's a brave new world. Sure those Flesh Hounds will still deal damage but if you have a block with 10+ models you'll likely get to attack back. And if you have more ranks then you are stubborn.

This stops the blitzkrieg style tactics of armies like Daemons and it will be interesting to see what tactics they develop to adapt.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Victory Points

One of the biggest changes in 8th Edition (and one that has received little coverage as yet) is how victory points are determined.

To score any VPs at all for "kills" you must now wipe out a unit/model or have it fled off the table during the game. No more half points for characters, no more VPs for fleeing units - 8th just got a lot more brutal.

So what does this mean for army design? Well last week I faced a Khorne Marauder horde of 50 and killed all but 2 models from shooting. Guess what? No VPs for me.

As a result I am now factoring into my army units that can act as the "clean-up crew". This units/models have the potential to do enough damage to depleted units to harvest the points. For Skaven, Gutter Runners with slings, Warlock Engineers with Warp Lightning or Warpmusket fill this role. Lizards might use Terradons, Daemons Screamers or single Fiends.

All armies have their candidates for what will be an important new role.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Product Review - Large Pine Wood (Battlefront)

One of the great new features of 8th Edition Warhammer is how much better battlefields look. With the change to terrain rules, there is now no real obstacle (no pun intended) to have a battlefied covered in great looking terrain.

At the recent NatCon I received a prize of Battlefront's "Battlefield in a Box" terrain. In this case it was their "Large Pine Wood". The great thing about these sets are that they are suitable for 15mm right through to 28mm wargaming.

The box came with 5 trees on approximately 40mm plastic bases, a tree stump on the same sized base as well as two outline "wood" bases. Included in the box was a small bag of static grass to finish off the bases. This again is smart thinking by Battlefront because it gives you the option to use an alternative static grass to match the colour of your table top.

The effort required to get these ready for tabletop is literally 5 minutes and they provide both a great looking feature of one that has plenty of in-game convenience. The one alteration I intend making is to fit rare earth magnets to the bases and base board. This will ensure that the trees are easily knocked over and go in their original position (TLOS driven).

They are also very reasonably priced at around USD 25 from an online seller such as Maelstrom Games.

A big thumbs up to Battlefront!!!!

The 1" Rule

Having played a few games of 8th now, I certainly am a supporter of the new pre-measuring regime. It removes so much of the potential for niggle in the game.

I believe the major remaining source of conflict surrounds the new 1" rule. The rule requires that a unit is always at least 1" away from friend or foe except when you are charging.

The rule is very clear but do people see it being rigidly enforced in their games, particularly in tournament games? Personally I intend deploying/moving my units so that they are 2" away from each other (I play Skaven so this does have a marked impact e.g. the reliance on General's Ld, BSB etc). However am I wrong to expect opponent's to also adhere to it?

I can see situations where on Turn 4 my opponent wants to make a maneuver which contravenes this rule and takes exception to be being "anal" about adherence to it.

My current thinking is that this is an issue that needs to be clearly discussed at the outset of the game.

Just to show that this is potentially an issue, here is a link to a thread I posted on

As you can see respondants are split on exactly how they will play it - spectrum covers "Ignore It" to "Insist on It".

All I can say is that you and your opponent should discuss it prior to deployment, especially early in 8th until etiquette emerges

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Horde

Played against the "horde" yesterday and my experiences back up my initial thoughts.

To generate 50 models, shortcuts need to be taken - usually in the form of protection. This leaves them very susceptible to shooting and magic.

They are also vulnerable to a unit that can hit them on a restricted frontage with higher initiative.

In yesterday's game a Furnace with Monk on each side hit them on the charge. This restricted the attacks of the GW Khorne Marauders to 30 attacks. As some had to be put on the Champion and others on the Furnace there was only limited numbers that could hit the PM unit. My Skaven didn't roll particularly well but the Horde was still on Snake Eyes to hold in combat.

Yes it could go deeper but that tends to go against why you are using it in the first place.

Personally I hold with the view I expressed in an earlier post. The Horde is one of the new shiny toys in 8th and it will get a run early in the ruleset when people don't know how to handle it. Over time people will work up their tactics and it will become less come.

I think blocks no larger than 30-35 will become the norm.

GW Drops The Ball

After all the good work GW has done with 8th Edition they dropped a big one with the pdf updates for the existing army books.

One shining characteristic of the new rules is the fantastic job Mat Ward has done in providing clarity. Great use of diagrams backed up by clear unambiguous text throughout the book makes it a pleasure to read and the game easy to play.

But why oh why didn't that rigor continue over to the pdfs GW released on Friday.

I can take the change in stats and also the 180 degree turns in rulings but there is no real excuse for the contradictory language that been seen in some of the pdfs. In some cases these are critical to how an item or an army plays.

Two examples:

1) The Ring of Hotek - the errata and FAQ ruling are contradictory. Nobody is now sure whether it only works if the Ring is within 12'" of the caster or whether it continues to work as in 7th

2) Strength in Numbers/Steadfast - Are Rats steadfast on the generals Ld + SIN? Most people believe they know the intent of this rule but others are equally vehement in their interpretation. Potentially army-breaking and it could have been avoided with a little care.

I could go on - the stupid Wardancer ruling re dances etc.

It looks like GW rushed these through in an afternoon to be honest. And it could have been avoided by canvasing their playtest group.

The good news is that GW are looking like releasing v1.1 later this week. Well their response is admirable it could have been unnecessary with a little effort

Monday, July 5, 2010

8th Edition - First Games

Over the weekend I was running Maelstrom VII for Warhammer 40k but took the opportunity to play my first couple of games of 8th Edition.

On Saturday I played Tom's Daemons with a very 7th Edn Skaven list, while on Sunday Gordon brought along his Bretonnians. The list I used on Sunday was very much an 8th Edn list - 5 characters, 4 Rares.

The new rules were very easy to pick up and use. While I'm sure we played some things wrong, all three of us got a good feel for how the mechanisms worked.

I was very surprised how important the new Steadfast rule proved to be. Skavenslave units were able to hold up many their points worth of Flesh Hounds (Tom had two units of 6) allowing the Skaven army to whittle away the rest of the Daemons.

As we all knew Magic is much more fickle - but you don't realise how much until you have actually played it. In both games my Seer used the Plague deck and was able to get off some nice spells. Miscasts were common but I have quickly learned a few tricks to minimise the negative effects. I lost a Mage (not the Seer) but it was not catastrophic.

Both my opponents used Lore of Life and I can tell you that deck is going to get very old, very quick. The Life Attribute Lifebloom is a fantastic bonus to what is a very strong lore - Flesh to Stone, Throne of Vines and Regrowth are all great spells but you have the cheap to cast Awakening of the Wood to tap into the Lore Attribute. As I said I see the Lore of Life being very popular - excellent for Daemons (via a Tz Herald with Mastery of Sorcery)on soooo many levels

One of the biggest changes to the game is one that has drawn only minimal comment - no points unless unit is destroyed. In the second game I chose not to commit my HPA after he took five wounds from a Trebuchet. This meant that I denied Gordon any points for the beastie.

Having now played 8th I am very keen to start developing strategy and tactics with my 8th Edn Skaven.

I can say with confidence I've played my last game of Warhammer 7th!