Friday, April 15, 2011

Alive & Kicking - Empire in Flames TO's Analysis (Guest Post)

Guest post time. Here is a wrap from 2010 NZ ETC player Chris Cousens who recently was the TO for Empire in Flames in Melbourne, Australia.

So, another Empire in Flames has been and gone, the first big Victorian WFB event for the year.

The tournament results make for some interesting analysis. EiF was run under 8th edition rules. Magic stayed just as the rulebook said, and there were no caps on unit sizes or army selection. Combattle was used, and some of the tourney regulars who hadn’t used the system before were very positive about this.

So without sabotaging the magic phase, and allowing people to use lord-level characters, surely the games were a disaster? How could people have fun playing WFB by the book? Strangely, the games were lots of fun, by all reports. People had loads of fun. The game, magic included, works fine and EiF showed it. The top armies all included level 4 mages, although Sean Davis had equal-best battle score with just a level 2. That said, there was a massive spread of variety between those mage lords, using Death, Light, Heavens, Greenskin and Skaven magic. Add in tournaments run in the last 6 months that have been won by armies with NO mages, and I think we have a pretty solid body of evidence that the magic phase doesn’t need tampering with. In addition to this, massive horde units didn’t define the tournament. While some of the armies at the top featured units of 30+ elite troops, most had a mix of unit types and sizes, proving once again that balanced, all-comers lists are not only more fun to play with and against, but also more successful in gaming terms.

TOs who decide to ‘monkey with the magic phase’ or aggressively limit the unit choices available to players are, in my opinion, reacting to a rash sentiment primarily espoused by ex-eminent members of the WFB community. Simply citing that 'we changed the rules and our games were fun' is missing the point. Your games are fun even if you change the rules because Warhammer is fun, not because you have made it better. It is only by comparing games with and without magic, that you are currently playing, that you can even begin to come to any kind of valid conclusion. Trying to discourage people from utilizing the magic phase reduces the variety of tactical approaches and decisions within the game, and I think that's a step in the wrong direction, especially given how much effort goes in to using composition scores to preserve variety.

People who have learned how to play the game are now finding that magic is not the dominant factor in determining the outcome of games, and plenty have changed their minds about needing to change the rules of the game. Anyone who claims that Warhammer is ‘30% luck’ is sorely mistaken and should rethink their tactical approach. And in a ‘rebuilding phase’, which the WFB tourney scene seems to be in, the best way to attract new and enthusiastic players is not by changing the rules of the game that they rock up to play.

Which brings me to the great success of EiF, which was the massive turnout by new and upcoming players. Apart from the high standard of painting by new players, this group had some great results in the overall stakes, and the best sportsman award. The attitude displayed by all those who attended, and especially by those who have not attended many tournaments previously, made for one of the most relaxed tournaments I have witnessed. People were playing in the spirit of the game, and it was refreshing to see people bringing this kind of attitude into the tournament scene. I hope that these players will continue to attend tournaments as it was a pleasure to meet you, and I look forward to a chance to play toy soldiers with you!

Congratulations must go to the winners of all the prizes – displaying the full range of skills that define the hobby. Be it painting, sportsmanship or battling, this tournament has made me think much more positively about tournament WFB than I have in some time. I hope that similar success is had by future tournaments.

Well said Chris - and I'm glad to hear the Oz scene is alive and well,


  1. VERY encouraging, a pleasure to read :) Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Well said Chris, if more people had your kind of outlook I probably never would have made a one way hop away from fantasy to 40k.

  3. Agreed, hard caps are keeping me away from playing fantasy in tournaments and I'm concentrating on 40k instead. I beleive that if its in the army book then it is legitimate, after all thats why GW play tests the books before they are released.

  4. What a great post!

    It is a shame that the "doomsayers" who slammed the new WHFB rules for tournament play. I love the changes to WHFB and was very happy with the new rulebook despite being thrown initially by it's cost.

    It is encouraging to see a great attitude from a Tournament Organiser and the results from games played and players positive responses.

    This hobby should be fun :)

    Happy Gaming,


  5. Yes it was some of if not the most fun I've had in a very long time playing WHFB. I managed to finish second , except my army wasn't painted so dropped off to 7th overall, but who cares, I had a blast at EiF.

    I feel that taking a combined arms list with multiple units not only is superior to a min max 4 horde/units list, it's more fun to play with and against. Just have to be prepared to lose every now and again, as there are NO auto win design armies with combined arms. Unless you're really good. :)