Monday, August 30, 2010

One Lucky Little Grey Seer

Yesterday I had two games down at the Club. Both 2400 points and both Battleline. The first was against Anvil Dwarfs and the second versus Three Herald Daemons.

For me, the most memorable thing was my warmachine blowing up Turn 1 in both games - superior Skaven technology, my a#$e! [Note: Never trust Clan Skyre]. That, and my Grey Seer Morskitta defying the odds again.

Not only did he see off his second Dwellers Below but he also took on and finished off a Fiend he had previously "Wither"-ed in close combat.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Big Magic Redux

After much discussion I see that Australia's next big tournament MOAB has removed the ban on spells that have a minimum casting value of 15+. The change was largely driven by feedback from the Australasian gaming community who, quite rightly in my opinion, wanted to play the new edition as per the book before deciding if any restrictions are needed.

Now I'll go on record saying six months on from here I'll be fully supportive of what restrictions the local gaming community deem necessary but at least at that time it will be informed decision-making.

For instance it is my view that the effects of Big Magic were compounded at Pilgrimage by tinkering with the Victory Point conditions. The rulebook only gives points for dead or fled off the table but at Pilgrimage units fleeing at the end of the game were also deemed destroyed. Now I understand what the tournament referee was trying to achieve but in making that change he inadvertently gave a boost to the effect of the big spells.

The Ripple Effect!

Changing one rule no matter what the motivation can have undesired flow-on effects. The Dwellers Below and Purple Sun spells test different characteristics. By removing them you give a decided boost to those armies susceptible to them - and importantly give the green light to building bigger units with greater impunity.

In the upshot of the decision on MOAB, I see that some have declared it "open slather" and have indicated that the tournament will see the most egregious combinations imaginable. Hopefully that's not the case for the participants involved, I'd hope the motivation of those attending is at least in part to ensure both parties have a fun game. However that aside, worst case these "combos" will be tested on the table rather than via Theoryhammer and against the background of the full gambit of rules rather than in isolation. From this we'll either see an evolution of tactics to deal with it (if possible) or a clear identification of a problem.

Then at least the decision to institute constraints with be informed AND importantly will more likely be driven by the community as a whole.

Friday, August 27, 2010


I read a lot of the forums and blogs related to Warhammer. One thing that has really surprised me since the advent of 8th Edition is how divergent my views on Leadership are from what appears to be the mainstream opinion.

For instance, there have been a number of threads/blogs critiquing the Warriors of Chaos army. In these it has been put forward that spending points on a Chaos Lord is a waste and even ( that buying a BSB is frivolous.

I couldn't disagree more.


8th Edition has seen a number of important changes.

1. The advent of Steadfast

2. Introduction of more Leadership-based tests e.g. Combat Reform, Swift Reform, March, Frenzy etc

3. BSB-generated rerolls on all Leadership-based tests

Whereas in the past you might make 3-4 tests per game per unit if you were lucky, now it can be upwards of 10. I would think that you would want to take every opportunity to maximise the chances of passing as many of these tests as possible. The inclusion of increased Leadership (Ld 9 v. Ld 8) and rerolls (BSB) is vital in this.

While there are more tests, the passing of individual tests can be critical to your plan. The ability to march, ignore Frenzy or to reform have the potential to influence the game by pressuring your opponent and ensuring he has to make unpalatable choices.

Of course it's easy to ignore these factors, not take the higher Ld or the BSB and then bitch and moan how the game is now far more random. Myself? I prefer to maximise my chances of managing risk in this Brave New World!

Terrain Building - Gale Force Nine Woods

Not so much terrain building as base drybrushing and flocking!

I bought 4 sets of the Gale Force Nine Woods from Maelstrom Games during one of their sales. This ended up costing me around NZ$100/AUD$80/US$75/GBP45 and from this I got eight woods.

I've got to say this is extraordinarily good value for money. The woods pack away into the supplied boxes for easy storage. great for clubs or home gamers - and ideally suited for tournaments.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Building Rules in 8th

I think I must have been one of the few people who didn't mind the rules for buildings in 7th Edition. Whereas most people saw the rules as a hindrance and groaned when they saw a building on the table, I thought they offered a new set of challenges/tactics/opportunities.

Well 8th Ed has taken those building rules and cleaned them up.

The first rule to remember with buildings is that you can't come within 1" of the structure unless you are garrisoning it. This stops the old 7th Ed trick of moving up to the building and then stopping anybody entering it - effectively giving you a buffer zone whereby you couldn't be charged.

The second change is that buildings no longer appear to have a capacity - although shooting is restricted to 5 models per level.

You still can't charge out of a building which means that you can get marginalised if an opponent want to stop you from exiting.

Once you come to combat there are a few things you must remember:

1. Only one unit can assault the building

2. The Garrison unit may not flee

3. All types of model can assault the building - but there are different numbers that may fight for each type e.g. 10 infantry, 3 Montrous Infantry etc

4. Only wounds count for Combat Resolution

5. The Garrison unit is Steadfast - but if you are a rat remember there are no ranks in buildings

6. Should the Garrison break the victorious unit can't pursue, it must occupy the building.

A building is also one of the safest places from a template weapon - especially in this world of no partials. Instead of placing the template you hit D6 models.....big difference.

With the tidying up of the rules I think we'll see more buildings on our tables. It's therefore worthwhile making sure you read the relevant sections to make sure you are aware of any bits I've missed.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scoring of Scenarios in Tournaments

I've never been a big fan of scenarios in Warhammer tournaments preferring to play 5-6 rounds of Pitch Battle. With the introduction of 8th Edition you can see Games Workshop have designed the game whereby their scenarios encourage the building of a balanced, primarily combined arms, army.

In this part of the world, tournament scoring is typically 0-20 Battle Points rather than Win-Draw-Loss approach. However two of the six scenarios in the main part of the rulebook - Blood & Glory and Watchtower - have definitive victory conditions to give a win or loss.

At Skitterleap III (2400 points)in early October we will be using the new scenarios. In order to meld these into the existing scoring system adjustments need to be made.

My intention is to have achievement of the win worth 1000 VPs. This will coincide with the threshold required to achieve a 15-5 battle score, therefore all other things - banners, vps etc being equal you'll get a 15-5 if you win.

Victory points will be determined as normal on top of this however the adjustment will have both a floor and a cap. The winner will have their score adjusted by up to -4 Battle Points on the downside and +5 battle points on the upside, giving a possible score of between 11-20 Battle Points. The loser will be able to score between 0-9 Battle Points.

Achieving the objective ensures that you win the game and score at least 11 points. I believe that such a system preserves the integrity of the scenario while allowing TOs to use the 0-20 system (thereby giving some differentiation in scores).

I'm interested to hear other people's thoughts.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Terrain Building

Over the weekend I built some terrain for the tournaments I run. These pieces all used the new Lord of the Rings/War of the Ring terrain set released by Games Workshop three or four months ago.

I bought four of these sets from Maelstrom Games and here are 2 1/2 of them painted up for use on the GW Battlemats. The rest I will match to my Realm of Battle Gameboards.

The pieces were very easy to put together and paint. I used a Tau Ochre over a black undercoat and then used various greys/stone to get them to the desired colour.

Currently working on some marshland which I'll hope is finished this week.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Skaven Army

Here's some photos of my Skaven:

Slaves - I've used the Clanrat models.

My Furnace with Crippleclaw my Plague Priest

Another Slave unit

My Rat Swarms

The Gutter Runners on GF9 skirmish trays

The Rat Panzer - a looted Steam Tank I use as WLC (it's up on blocks)

Plague Monks

My Poisoned Wind Mortar and Doomflayer

My Clanrats

The Hell Pit Abomination - made out of a plastic action figure

My second WLC

More Clanrats - with Seerlord Morskitta, BSB Lhikit Craventail and the Engineer with MR (Dwarfskin Umbrella), Brolly Gnaw

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Product Review - Skirmish Trays (GF9)

Obviously one of the biggest changes to 8th is how you move skirmishers. Now they are ranked up rather than being an amorphous block. Each model is meant to be 1/2" away from the next. This flies in the face of existing movement trays. Well I knew it wouldn't be long before a commercial product became away.

Gale Force Nine ( are the first cab off the rank. I have used GF9 trays for my Skaven army because they do a square edge that fits well with my paved bases. It also provides a lip on which you can base fences and walls to help with movement. The skirmish trays follow this pattern with a solid half inch between each figure.

Available in both 20mm and 25mm sizes, GF9 have produced a range of different sized trays from 5x1 to 5x5.

Turnaround from the USA to NZ was around 10 days from point of ordering.

They are also doing a series of Horde trays as well.

I'm very happy with the product. The GF9 movement trays are a little more expensive than the average but the quality of the precision cutting and materials certainly makes this worthwhile in my eyes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Big Magic

I think that the biggest talking point to come out of this weekend's Pilgrimage was in relation to the "Big Spells".

These are the potential game-changers that can turn a game around. The spells that fall into this category are Purple Sun, Dwellers Below, the Dreaded 13th Spell etc. It has quickly been recognised that there is very little you can do to stop these spells if an opponent is willing to throw up to six dice at them. They have a 26% chance of getting the spell off. The perception coming out of the weekend is that it takes very little tactical skill to do this.

From this the next major Australian tournament MOAB will be trialling on all spells that have a minimum casting value of 15 or higher.

I like to turn this around a bit.

I believe that there are way to insulate yourself against these spells being game-changing. If the spell is going off with IF then the mage is taking a miscast as well. Items such as the Infernal Puppet allow you to punish the magic user. Warriors were the most popular army at Pilgrimage and if you know big magic is on show then you should be investing the points. Similarly, Lizardmen have Becalming Cogitation which if used correctly means big magic should never be an issue. Again Lizards were one of the more popular armies at Pilgrimage.

For other races the answer is not as straight forward however (depending on the race of the spellcaster) I would be doing as much as possible to target the unit they are in either with magic or shooting. By concentrated firepower you can reduce numbers to such an extent that should a Panic test be failed it requires a double one to rally and re-enter the fray.

Finally the defensive player will have heard the truism "avoid putting all your eggs in one basket" well this is especially true at the moment. Insulate yourself so no single game-changing spell is so, aahhhh, game-changing by spreading characters across units. You know what spells the opposition has when you deploy so you are at least forewarned.

At the end of the day the effects of big magic will likely cost you a game from time to time. Like a miscast will.....or a failed Leadership check.....or when you fluff all your attacks.....or your warmachine misfires first turn etc. Unfortunately we have to live with that.

A knee-jerk reaction banning the spells that require 15+ to cast is really unjustified at this early stage of 8th Edition.

Disclaimer: I'm a Skaven player and this affects my Dreaded 13th Spell. In the six games over the weekend I certainly never tried to cast it. Why? Well the 26% chance I get a miscast, followed by the 17% chance I roll Dimensional Cascade, and then the 50% chance I die is all too much for this little Grey Seer (all 2.16% of it)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pilgrimage - 2300 Points of Skaven

Over the past couple of years Pilgrimage has joined DogCon, Convic and Orktoberfest as one of the Big 4 Australian tournaments. It is hosted by the Battle Pilgrims in Sydney and this year was the debut of Castle Hill College as the new home for Warhammer tournaments in Sydney.

A particular attraction this year was that it was the first big Australasian tournament under 8th Edition. I posted my list on Friday so scroll back to their to find it.

Briefly my games were as follows:

Game 1 - Dave Kinsey (Dark Elves)

Dave weathered a first turn onslaught that saw the majority of his Witch Elves and Black Guard die to a combination of shooting and magic. My Abomination charged his Hydra and prompted died but my Furnace was able to withstand the combined attentions of remnants of Black guard, Dreadlord and Hydra. Dave's Pegasus Master cleaned up my warmachines and gutter runners.


Game 2 - Katie Garbutt (Lizardmen)

Battle for the Pass. I was small up in this game going into the last turn as a result of picking off the weaker Lizard units. Unfortunately I was unable to get the last remaining Saurus in a block I had decimated and was looking at probably a 12-8. My Furnace was into the Temple Guard block and they were being buffed by Slaan-driven Light magic. I concentrated all my attacks and was able to remove the last Temple Guard removing Stubborn from the unit. This meant Katie had to make a Ld 7 test with a re-roll. She was very unlucky and failed both. This gave me an extra 1000 VPs.


Game 3 - John Salter (Lizardmen)

I knew early on that I would find it very difficult to get points out of John's list. A Focused Rumination Slaan with Life means I have to kill multiwound creatures outright in a turn to get any points or hope for unlucky rolls on any Ld tests he does. As it happened I killed one Stegadon and later in the game misfired a WLC to eke out a very narrow win.


Game Four - Paul Clague (Skaven)

This would have to rate as one of the strangest games I've ever played. My Grey Seer was sucked into the warp trying a three dice Warp Lightning on Turn One. So no Magic Defense and no Leadership. I retaliated by throwing as much as I could at Paul's General's unit and managed to panic it off the board. End of Turn 1, no generals left.

Paul was marginally ahead when a moment of Warhammer Gold occurred. I got off Plague with IF and when the dust settled there were 250 missing rats. The Plague had hit four different units (three of Paul's and one of mine) and then the miscast was resolved. Given the lack of Leadership on the table we saw a practical example of the "ripple effect". Paul took about three times the damage that I did and this turned the game. With the numerical advantage I ground down Paul's army to a Vermin Lord, three slaves and a BSB.


Game 6 - Sam Moore (High Elves)

Battle for the Pass. I had a horrendous numerical advantage over Sam's army. He did have the tools to hurt me with magic superiority (Life & Death) and 3 units of Archers plus a big block of Lothern Seaguard with the Flaming banner.

The key decision was activating the Storm Banner early and getting off Warpgale on Turn 1. This meant that Sam was an additional -3 to hit and I was able to close the distance to his line. My warmachines targeted first the Seaguard and then the White Lions. Both were depleted sufficiently that when my line hit my numerical advantage did the damage.


Game 6 - Ken Ferris (Warriors of Chaos)

I have been playing Warriors of Chaos a lot recently and when I saw Ken's build I did not think it was as strong as the armies I had played. It appeared to rely very heavily on its Magic Phase to do the damage, the rest of the units not really being big enough or hitty enough to do real damage (his Chaos Knights excepted). Now I might be mis-reading Ken's army but that was my assessment. I was therefore quite confident in the matchup and felt I could play a considered game which would try to deplete units from a distance then hit the weakened parts.

Ken did not have great dice over the course of the game but I felt my plan was sound and would have prevailed regardless. At the end he had a knight and his BSB left while I had lost a unit of clanrats and two units of slaves.


That gave me six wins and 100/120 Battle Points. I suffered a comp modifier relative to my opponents of -6 which reduced my Battle Points to 94. This result was enough to place me 5th out of the 84 participants. To say I was happy with this is an understatement given what I thought were realistic targets going into the weekend.

The list performed extremely well and I thought I always had credible options in forming my battleplan. No particular unit stood out as best performer, all having their victories and defeats.

I am looking to make some changes to the list prior to my next tournament in 4 weeks time. These will significantly change the way the list operates and is part of an evolving process after seeing some of the other armies perform over the weekend.

The icing on the cake was picking up the trophy for Players Choice for Best Presented Army.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back from the Front

Seerlord Morskitta had a great weekend at Pilgrimage.

The Skaven fought two Lizards, Dark Elves, High Elves, Warriors and another Skaven. I won my six games scoring 99/120 Battle Points which was reduced to 94 when comp penalty applied. This was enough to place me 5th out of 84 participants.

More importantly they were really enjoyable games against six great opponents. I will do a write up tomorrow.

I was also lucky enough to win Players Choice for Best Presented Army.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Pilgrimage Skaven List

So this weekend I am playing at Pilgrimage in Sydney. This will be Australia's first major 8th Edition tournament and has attracted between 80-90 participants. The army size has been set at 2300 points and there is a comp system of sorts. Lists are graded as soft to very hard with the judges having a veto.

I'm guessing my list will fall in the normal band as it is very much a combined arms force that can compete in any phase will lacking the ability to dominate those phases.

Lords (340 points – 14.8%)

Grey Seer – General, Skalm (30), Dispel Scroll (25), Talisman of Preservation (45) – 340

Heroes (516 points – 22.4%)

Plague Priest – Furnace (150), Flail (4), Shadow Magnet Trinket (30), Scrying Stone (15), Ironcurse Icon (5) – 304
Engineer – Doomrocket (30) – 45
Engineer – Obsidian Amulet (30) – 45
Chieftain – Battle Standard Bearer (25), Storm Banner (50), Shield (2) -122

Core (598 points – 26.0%)

20 Clanrats – Full Command, Shields – 110
24 Clanrats – Full Command, Shields – 128
24 Clanrats – Full Command, Shields – 128
35 Skavenslaves – Musician – 72
35 Skavenslaves – Musician – 72
21 Skavenslaves – Musician – 44
21 Skavenslaves – Musician – 44

Special (315 points – 13.7%)

25 Plague Monks – Full Command, Banner of the Under-Empire (25) – 225
5 Gutter Runners – Slings, Poison – 90

Rare (530 points – 23.0%)

Plagueclaw Catapult – 100
Warp-Lightning Cannon – 90
Warp-Lightning Cannon -90
Hell Pit Abomination – Warpstone Spikes (15) - 250

So following on from my posts of the last few days you can see I have taken advantage of the relaxation in slots with both my Hero choices and Rare choices.

Those points have had to come from somewhere and, from my 7th Edition list, I've dropped two Special choices (Plague Censer Bearers) and any Core choices that don't contribute to the Core % (Giant Rats, Swarms).

I believe I have a solid magic defense with my Grey Seer and the ability to pressure my opponent in my own magic phase.

The Core troops should be able to use Steadfast where I deem it necessary.

My shooting is very luck dependent - but to a certain extent that's Skaven.

I'll let you know on Monday how I go. My aim is for Top 15 - I'd love to make Top 10 and be disappointed with my performance if I don't make Top 25.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

NZ's First 8th Edition Tournament

This weekend we have NZ's first 8th Edition tournament as part of the Wellington Warlords' annual convention Call to Arms.

A very relaxed approach was taken to composition as to be honest it is far to early to be placing constraints with any degree of clarity. As I posted previously the armies I've seen have embraced the new ruleset without going over the top.

The breakdown of armies for the nineteen participants is as follows:

4 Chaos Warriors
4 Dwarfs
3 Skaven
2 Lizardmen
2 Bretonnians
1 Chaos Dwarfs
1 High Elves
1 Wood Elves
1 Daemons of Chaos

I'm not too sure what to make of this. It does seem that the locals feel comfortable enough to bring out their heavy infantry armies to stomp across the battlefield. I'm sure there will be some surprises - the High Elf list especially is very different.

Best luck to all the participants, I'm gutted that I am missing my first Call to Arms in ten years. However, Tom will be there with his Daemons to uphold the family name!

Skaven under 8th Edition - Part 3

In 7th army construction was driven by slots in each of the various categories - Characters, Core, Special and Rare. The move to percentages greatly changes the game. In the last post I talked about how I felt the Skaven benefited through their access to cheap characters and an expanded Common Magic Item list. The other big change is to their none-core troops.

One of the biggest constraints on Skaven under 7th was the limit to four Special choices and two Rare. A large number of these choices came in at around the 100 point mark meaning typically you had around 600-800 points in these selections. A lot of other race armies typically had 1000-1200 points. Very quickly you ascertained what was the optimal six choices for these slots - for me it was two times Plague Censer Bearers, a unit of Gutter Runners, a unit of Plague Monks, Warp Lightning Cannon and a Doomwheel (In the Australasian comp environment Double Rares were frowned on).

Now at 2400 points you have up to 1200 of Special and 600 Rare. For Rare in particular this gives far more freedom and I hope we see the blinkered view of no Double Rares disappear as people get more comfortable with 8th.

So this move to percentages I see as a win to Skaven however it is strongly balanced by the 25%+ you MUST spend on Clanrats, Skavenslaves, Stormvermin and Weapons Teams (Giant Rat Packs and Swarms don't count to Core).

The other area where I believe Skaven have got a boost is in Magic. At first glance people are likely to say "Huh? They don't get access to the eight main Battle Lores". That's true but I contend that the Skaven magic decks are made for 8th Edition.

A Grey Seer gets access to both Ruin and Plague decks with the option to change one spell for either Skitterleap or the Dreaded 13th Spell. More importantly, all these spells bar the Dreaded 13th have a casting value of 13 or less. With his +4 to cast this means my Grey Seer, Seerlord Morskitta need only roll a 9 to get off a spell. As a result he is typically getting off 2-3 spells per turn. Yes they can be stopped but generally an enemy will be pressured unless he is also running a Level 4.

Under 7th I generally stuck to spells from Ruin. My favourites were Howling Warpgale, Scorch and Skitterleap. Recently Morskitta has been dabbling in the Plague deck hoping to snag Wither, Vermintide or Plague. The last of these in particular is very devastating in 8th Ed.

All of that said, I think that magic is considerably more fickle in the new edition. As a result I don't build a game plan around it rather using it as an adjunct to the Skaven's arsenal.

However I do see the investment in a Grey Seer as necessary for magic defense and given that he now has the same Leadership as the Warlord (as opposed to one less under the old book), it is even less of a hard choice.

A number of people advocate two Lord choices however it is not a route I have found it necessary to explore yet.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Skaven under 8th Edition - Part 2

There are a number of characteristics that define the Skaven army:

1. Apart from the Grey Seer the characters are very cheap compared to most other armies.

2. Leadership is variable. Base leadership is low but Strength in Numbers and Inspiring Presence can boost it to among the best in the game.

3. The spell decks are very effective.

4. Quantity has its own quality.

5. Weaponry is variable - inconsistent, unreliable but potentially devastating

With that in mind how have the Skaven fared with the move to 8th Edition?

I think the answer is not too bad. Like most armies I believe they have received an overall boost which has leveled the playing field.

Key to performing well with them in 8th is to play to their strengths (no shit, Sherlock!). So what are those?

Skaven have access to very cheap troops (Slaves @ 2 points each and Clanrats with Shield @ 4.5 points). This allows you to build big units that take advantage of the special rule, Strength in Numbers. There is no instance where a Skaven unit should be less than 4 ranks and therefore getting the +3 bonus to Leadership. Place them within 12" of the General and BSB and you have a "rock".

These cheap troops also allow you to take advantage of one of the most important new rules in 8th, Steadfast. Very few armies will be able to match the number of ranks that the Skaven can deploy. As a result all Skaven ranked units are likely to be Steadfast at least for the first round of combat. This is a fantastic tactical situation to be in as it allows the Skaven player to pick where the combats will be fought and plan accordingly. You have the opportunity to set up flank attacks, defend in depth etc with the knowledge that you have reasonable certainty in holding that position.

So in 8th: Steadfast + SIN = Big win for the Skaven

Another win for the Skaven is the removal of slots. Nowhere is this more evident than in the choice of characters. Previously you generally had a single lord and a total of four characters. This has all changed with the moves to percentages - and Skaven along with Orcs & Goblins (and to a lesser extent Empire) are the big winners here. The base cost of an Engineer is 15 points.

Why is this so important? Because all characters have access to the list of Common Magic Items.

Your cheap characters can buy the peripheral items that your army needs - a magic weapon, Magic Resistance etc - without impacting on the Magic Items your main characters need.

This also allows you to spread the risk out across your army by not concentrating too many points in a single model.

So in 8th: Removal of Character Slots = Win for Skaven

Next post I'll discuss the change to percentages on the rest of the army and also look at the effect 8th has had on Skaven magic.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Skaven under 8th Edition

I was recently asked for my thoughts about constructing a Skaven list for 8th Edition and so over the next few days I'll run a series of posts which outline my thinking.

First, some history. At the outset of 7th Edition the Skaven S.A.D. (Skaven Army of Doom) build was one of the strongest in the game. It was based on a combination of magic and Skyre weaponry that had it alternatively billed as "the Gas & Electric Company". Typical features were 2-3 Warlock Engineers, Jezzails, Warp Lightning Cannon etc. The main aim was to blast your opponent off the battlefield. This army did really well at no-Comp events like the UKGT but was hated by all its opponents. In the Australasian environment anything that bore a passing resemblance to S.A.D. was hit very hard with the comphammer. But then things started to change. The big three arrived on the scene and Skaven armies became a very rare sight. Last year I played at the 100 person Orktoberfest in Brisbane and I was one of two people using a Skaven army.

The Skaven army appeared to lose popularity because, in addition to being a huge hobby commitment, it lacked a lot of special rules popular in the more recent armies that gave more certainty to the tournament player e.g. ITP, Hatred, ASF, Fear Causing.

Fast forward to November 2009, and a brand new era was delivered to the followers of the Horned Rat by Jeremy Vetock. Jeremy produced an army book that was both characterful and contained choices that allowed the Skaven army to compete with the tough armies. I don't think it had the consistency to be placed on the same tier as Daemons, Dark Elves or (my #3) Lizardmen - others say Vamps - but on its day and given a fair run of dice it could beat any of them.

The builds that emerged were based around the unbreakable Plague Furanace, multiple units of crazed Plague Censer Bearers, Warplightning and the Doomwheel. The Doomwheel in particular (due to some charitable FAQs) gave the Skaven army a tool that could deal with the big monsters that Skaven feared. Clanrats were relegated to character bunkers in the main.

The army did very well for good players and those who practised a lot. At DogCon, three Skaven armies finished in the Top 10 out of a field of over 150.

List construction really became about competition for the Special, and to a lesser extent, Rare slots. It quickly became apparent that the best mix, in the Australasian environment at least, was a unit of Plague Furnace pushing Monks, two units of PCBs, a unit of Poison Sling-wielding Gutter Runners, a Doomwheel and a WLC. Lists quickly became very similar.

So that's the history lesson.

Next post I'll talk about some of the changes in 8th and how I see them affecting my choices.

Monday, August 9, 2010

New Zealand at the European Team Championships

Over the weekend the NZ team made its debut at the European Team Championships.

The team was made up of three ex-pat NZers (Mark Skilton, Chris Wilcox and James Milner), two recent residents (John Matthews and Dave Grant), Harry Dixon and two Australian ringers (Alex Kin-Wilde and Chris Cousens).

The ETC is played over 6 rounds and the NZ team faced off against France, Australia, Canada, Scotland, Finland and Greece. Out of the 32 teams at the event the NZ team placed an extremely credible 14th. This placed them ahead of England (17th) and behind Australia (4th).

I'd like to thank the Players for all their efforts. It is a big financial commitment as well as an enormous drain on personal/family time. Given the disparate locations of the team (Nelson, Brisbane, Melbourne, Delaware, UK) their performance is even more noteworthy.

Hopefully this won't be a one-off for NZ and their participation will be a yearly outing.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Product Review - Abandoned Factory (Tabletop World)

As I said recently, one of the real pluses of 8th Edition is the ability to have more terrain on the table and that terrain enhancing rather than impeding the battle. I have been building up my terrain for 8th Ed on the premise that it is going to get more use.

One company that caught my eye recently was Tabletop World (, a relatively small operation run out of Croatia. I clicked on their website and saw some jaw-droppingly good terrain. Sold, I ordered the "Abandoned Factory" piece. The sales process was very quick and efficient they have an online order point that links directly to PayPal. I chose the cheaper shipping option but the piece was still with me in little over two weeks.

The factory arrived in a number of pieces - the main structure being a single casting, the roof section another. There was also a sealed bag of all the smaller pieces which ensures they don't get lost in transit.

The quality of the castings are very high. Certainly they are far superior to most manufacturers and I would place the quality at or above that of Forgeworld buildings. There is no flash or lugs on the pieces meaning I could immediately fit the factory together in a dry run of construction.

The factory stands 20cm (8 inches) high so is a sizable building, extremely good for providing cover,

I fully recommend the product. They are not cheap but are great value for money - the factory cost me NZD140 (USD 95)including post. This put it at a similar cost to GW's Fortified Mansion kit.

My factory is going to receive some ratty goodness so it can be a themed piece for my Skaven army. I'm hoping to have some completed pictures up in the next month.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fast Cavalry Dead? No Way!!

Last week I was having a discussion with a local Wood Elf player who was bemoaning the fact that Fast Cavalry were little more than warmachine hunters under 8th Edition.

When I questioned him more I found out that he'd only played a couple of games of the new rules and I told him I felt that he was being far too premature in reaching that conclusion.

So how do I view fast cavalry under 8th? Well there are at least three key roles that they can perform.

1. Warmachine Hunters - the obvious one. Especially with the vanguard move - however I would always carefully consider whether I was going to take advantage of this new rule. Remember the up to 12" move must be made before you roll for first turn so there is potential that you may put the unit into an exposed position should your opponent end up going first and you can't charge if you do. However if your opponent has left their warmachines unsupported then opportunity may present. Certainly you can force him to direct his defensive fire at the unit or risk a second turn charge. This in itself may achieve your objective.

2. Secondary Chargers - the new rules say that you resolve charge reactions and responses as each charge is declared. The BRB FAQ has confirmed that once a unit is fleeing its only charge response to a subsequent charge is to flee again. Therefore by getting your charges in the right order you can force multiple flee moves on a unit in the same phase. Always leave your Fast Cavalry to late in the charge declaration phase where you can take advantage of their long "potential" reach.

3. Late Game "Cleaners" - because you don't receive any VPs for units unless they are wiped out or fled off the table it is important that you have units that can clean up remnants. To me this is a Turn 5-6 function and fast cavalry fulfill this role very efficiently. Generally they have a ranged attack so you have the opportunity to shoot and take those last couple of wounds that turn 0 VPs into something meaningful. Additionally, they have a long charge reach so that if an enemy unit is fleeing you can give them a helping hand off the table by declaring a charge and making them flee again.

So there's three functions for Fast Cavalry. I'm sure that there are more. However suffice to say I would always be looking to include a unit in any army I had that had access to them. I would then tailor their role as circumstances dictated based on the strategies above.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Over the past few evenings I have been helping out one of the Warlords who is umpiring Warhammer Fantasy at the Club's annual convention, Call to Arms.

Unfortunately I can't attend (the first one I've missed in ten years) because I already had flights booked to Pilgrimage in Sydney. However I have been more than happy to help out and to that end have been checking the lists and running an eye over them to make sure there is nothing too silly.

Call to Arms has no additional composition requirements over those in the rulebook. This I believe is the correct road given how new 8th Edition is, however the TO has reserved the right to veto any list that he feels is likely to impinge on the enjoyment of the tournament participants. Nothing I've seen so far has violated that premise.

However the point of this post is to comment on the diversity I've seen in the lists I've checked. In all cases I would suggest that the lists have been a departure from the archetype list for their race that you would have seen under 7th Edition. Unit sizes have changed as have unit selections. Character set-ups are quite different from the latter stages of 7th. No two lists look the same. Some have embraced magic, others have taken what I would consider the bare minimum. The choices of lore are different.

Now I expected to see some variation under the new edition but I'm hoping the diversity that we are seeing is a portent of the future. I know it is a little unrealistic to expect that we won't see default choices develop but hopefully the variety we are seeing is at least in part due to a balancing of the field.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Magic in 8th

I think that GW have done a fantastic job with the new magic system. It was a masterstroke to represent tapping into the winds of magic as a 2D6 roll.

The most important thing is that magic has become truly fickle. The chances of having 7+ PD (before channeling)is 58% - and you'll likely need 7 dice to get more than one spell off. However just as important is the difference between the dice. Over half the time you will only have a 1-2 die advantage which means magic is uncertain at best.

To be honest defending against vanilla magic there are probably only 4 rolls that strike fear into you...5/5, 5/6, 6/5 and 6/6. The rest should be manageable with a Lvl 4 and a Dispel Scroll.

Where things can get interesting is when your opponent has some kind of force multiplier in their list. Examples of these are:

Book of Hoeth and/or Banner of Sorcery for High Elves
Focused Rumination for Lizards
Power of Darkness and Sacrificial Dagger for Dark Elves
Power Scroll for anyone

These change the odds significantly. However it is worth remembering two things. Firstly, the pool can never be over 12 PD at any particular point and secondly, the Book of Hoeth still requires the spell to reach its casting value on the casting roll - a double just means IF.

In these situations you have a limited number of choices - effectively stop the spells you have to and suffer the ones you choose to let through. This will change your gameplan for the battle but the investment in Magic will have left your opponent short in other areas and the key is spotting these "weaknesses".

One strategy I have taken to is to let the RIP spells through (particularly if augment/hexes) and then use my own Power Dice to dispel in my next phase. This has the added advantage of sometimes emboldening your opponent to hold against a charge rather than flee :-)

On the weekend I played High Elves with the Banner and the Book and also the Lizards with Rumination. I knew I was likely to suffer at some stage and this dictated my play style. In the end magic directly or indirectly cost me a unit in the game vs. High Elves but I weathered the storm vs. the Lizards.

I'd have to say that the Magic Phase is probably my favourite phase at the moment as it has become a game within a game and one where careful consideration can yield significant advantages.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Warhammer Podcasts

One of the developments that has really improved the hobby, for me at least, is the rise of Warhammer podcasts.

My current favourite is the Bad Dice podcast (, a British show run by Ben Curry and Ben Johnson. Both of the Bens are experienced tournament players and are part of the English team for the European Team Championships. The show follows a regular format running through news, their gaming weeks before settling on a major topic or interview. The Bens are insightful and very switched on to the latest developments in the tournament world. They manage to produce a weekly show and maintain high standards both in content and sound quality.

The second big British show is Heelanhammer ( Produced by Dan Heelan and Wayne Kemp the show follows the familiar podcast format outlined above. Dan is also a member of the English ETC team while Wayne is less of a competitive gamer. When the show started it ran a pretty equal mix between gaming and hobby aspects. Over the past three months I'd say the hobby aspects have probably halved and as a result the show IMO has suffered. In saying that I still believe it is a quality product but the hobby aspects it covered were a point of difference from its competitors. The banter between Wayne and Dan is excellent and the shows are of excellent quality. Still a must listen for me.

The original Warhammer podcast was Podhammer ( run by Jeff Carroll out of Newcastle, Australia. The show has been going for three years now and it has helped define wargaming podcasts and, importantly, inspired others - not least the two shows above. Podhammer has a crew of regulars, most from the Newcastle gaming community and it is clear to all the rapport this group has. I find the contributions by Kendall Williams and, in particular, Steve Gibb very insightful. Steve is an excellent gamer but is also an original thinker - which can be rare in these days of the internet.

Not dedicated to Fantasy, but the fourth of the shows I listen to is World's End Radio ( Luke Retalek produces this out of Perth, Australia. The Warhammer content is always of a high standard but they differentiate themselves from the others by looking at other aspects of the hobby, tournament gaming etc. I find something in all their shows but if your focus is solely Fantasy then it is easy to pick and choose.

The final show I listen to is Mandollies ( by John Lampe out of Canberra, Australia. While the show is largely NSW tournament focused and split between Fantasy and 40k, the real strength of the show can be some of the guests that John has on there. Jeff Galea has made some significant contribution in terms of interviews and I hope that the show will continue to include similar content in future.

The easiest way to get any of these shows is to subscribe to them through iTunes. This is a free service and by having a subscription you get the latest show downloaded as soon as it is available.

If you do enjoy the various shows then I would urge you to support them. All of them have the ability for listeners to contribute financially to the running of the show whether it be through donations or a subscription to additional content. While a few have commercial sponsors they are definitely labours of love from owners. Good quality sound equipment costs money after all and the listeners benefit from their investment.

As I said at the outset the arrival of Warhammer podcasts has greatly increased my enjoyment of the hobby. They are excellent to listen to when painting etc and can provide real insights and motivation.

If there are any other podcasts that I'm missing I'd love to know so drop me a line.