Tuesday, May 22, 2012

8th Edition Rules Change Redux - Terrain

When the new edition came out there was a general call that (in combination with TLOS) the changes to the terrain rules made terrain irrelevant in the game.

I never really subscribed to that theory. It certainly had its impact downgraded relative to what it was in 7th Edition but I still felt that it had an impact on the game. Part of the reason for the general view was that most tables had had 4-6 pieces of terrain on them and those terrain pieces were either hills or woods (sometimes ruins which acted like stone forests). Both had blocked line of sight but woods also slowed movement to half speed and prohibited marching.

What you rarely saw on tables were any other types of terrain e.g. buildings, marshes or ponds etc.

Woods now have some variety to them – if you use the Mysterious Woods’ rules, which we do – so you need to calculate the risk before you enter them. While they don’t limit the extent of movement they do have benefits/downsides if you finish moves in them – both for combat and for shooting.

I play most of my games on a Realm of Battle Gameboard and I love how it works for higher ground and TLOS. I understand that a flat table with hills reduces some of that rule interaction.

While I know some people hate the building rules, I think the introduction of buildings into games has been a large positive. Once the “dirty reform” into buildings was prohibited, most of the problems around buildings evaporated in my view (one rule I would like to see is to allow skirmishers to charge from a building so that you can’t anchor your flank with impunity – or at least burning two enemy movement phases).

(Due to the nature of terrain at the events I run – buildings on base boards – we play that the whole base blocks LoS – that is an abstraction that helps movement. It could just as easily be played the other way – TLOS – but movement would become more "gamey".)

So from my point of view I like the terrain rules (which was a surprise because I hated the removal of area terrain in 40k). I think they can be improved particularly in increasing the penalties for ranked/mounted troops in woods.

However part of my preference for the new terrain rules is the so-called “cinematic” aspect whereby we now see much nicer terrain on the tables – which for me is a key part of my enjoyment.

Rule Change: B-


  1. Like you I'm glad there's more terrain on the table, and generally it's nicer looking too.

    However, as I've said before, I believe forests and hills should block LOS. It undermines my ability to suspend disbelief when my cannon can shoot through a 3-tree 'forest' or your Ironguts can charge through it because they can see what's on the other side.

    I think that forests should also have more effect on movement. Not as bad as they did in 7th Edition, where any formed infantry unit trapped in one would flail around ineffectually for most of the game. But at the very least you shouldn't be able to march through it. Moving formed bodies of troops is hard, and I can tell you that maintaining formations in woods is bloody hard. You shouldn't be able to 'double-time' through it.

    I think that dangerous terrain tests should mean more too, maybe failing on a 2. As it stands, the risk/reward for charging through dangerous terrain is too heavily weighted towards 'reward'.

    Overall, I'd probably give terrain a C grade. In attempting to remedy the flaws of 7th edition, I think they went too far and simplified it too much.



    1. I think your main issue is thinking that they are an actual "forests" of trees. The woods have always ment to represent something like 1-5 trees in a clump, and now with TLOS if you can see it, you can shoot it.
      The whole 8th terrain concept is that terrain no longer "gets in the way", however it does have some negative and positive effects on the game/unit instead.
      As for dangerous terrain tests on a 1 or 2, Im pritty sure if you go sprinting through a forest in light armour and you trip and fall, you wont kill yourself very often...=P A better reprensentaion would be to roll an extra D6 when charging through a forest, and then discard the highest. This would represent it being a bit more difficult to charge through a few trees or an obstical and still keep in with the current mechanics of the game.
      Not being able to march through a few trees is a tough ask. You cant through a river, and a few trees aint no river.

    2. G'day Jossy,

      Thanks for the reply. The thing is, 3-5 trees is not a forest when you see them, they're barely even a copse. In many cases they're just an open field, with no effect on anything. While GW hasn't specified a scale for Warhammer, it's clear that those 3-5 trees represent more than that, in the same way that 40 models represent a regiment/brigade of 500-5,000 troops.

      So when TLOS lets you look through a 'forest' as though it's not there, then there's a discrepancy between what the rules allow and what the models are meant to represent.

      As for movement through a forest, it might be possible for a single man in light armour to go into a forest and not fall over. But 500 men in a close formation? While trying to maintain their spacing (because this is vital; too close and you can't fight, too far and you get isolated). It's hard enough when there's only 10 of you in 3 files; 500 men in 80+ files will simply not be able to march through.

      I'm happy that this is a game, and some abstractions need to be made to keep it playable. I just think that Warhammer should have some internal logic, as a foundation for all the fastastic stuff. We don't know how magic works or dragons fly, but we do know what effect forests have on LOS and on movement. Blocking LOS and preventing march moves are simple ways to represent that.



    3. See heres the thing. The 3-5 trees are not ment to represent a forest, and nor are the rules. They are ment to represent a cospe of trees. So TLOS works well here, as although a few trees get in the way and offer a small layer of cover, they largly would not effect a formation.

      I dont believe there is any discrepancy between the current rules, and they offer a reasonable rendition of the situation.

      This is reinforced by the -1 to hit for soft cover. A number of trees dense enough to limit formation movement would give heavier cover than -1

    4. I think they are meant to represent forests, rather than a copse (and 3-5 trees isn't even that, at best it's shade for stock in what is otherwise an open field).

      I know that relying on GW fluff is always fraught with danger, but here's what it says on p118 of the BRB, under 'Forests';

      -Forests are excellent places for troops to lurk in ambush- the choking foliage offers a great deal of protection against missile fire.
      -Forests are mysterious terrain - who knows what hellspawn lurks in there?

      So GW's own text implies that forests are meant to be just that; lots of trees with undergrowth, affording plenty of concealment and cover. They simply don't duplicate this in the rules.

      You're right that a -1 shooting modifier is insufficient for dense vegetation. I think that's more due to an oversimplification of the shooting rules than anything (why is it just as difficult to hit 50 Skavenslaves as it is to hit 5?).

      We may have to agree to disagree on this one. The way most people play it is that forests don't block LOS or inhibit movement, and that's the way it is. I do like it when tournament packs declare otherwise, and I hope that 9th Edition (when it inevitably is released) resolves this.

    5. Tane, you could make a forest dense enough to actually block LoS, noones stopping you, in fact I think it would be awesome! Everyones just too lazy to do it (I certainly am :P), so we have to deal with it as it stands.

      But to be honest, a typical forest dense enough to actually block LoS would have to cover a good 1/4 to 1/2 the table depending on tree type.

      One thing I would like to be implemented though, would be something like: if you fire a cannon through a forest, on a 4+ it hits a tree or something like that so you can actually get some cover from laser guided ammunition.

  2. Tree rules B+
    They do not act like impassable goround as in 7th. I like the touches where they can remove steadfast and make skirmishers steadfast. I like the mysterious bits although I think woodelves should be able to choose the forest the type they move into. Dangerous terrain rules are fine. Tane - you try charging/pursuing heavy cavalry though forests - its expensive (40 points for a Chaos knight). A chariot is very high risk. The risk/reward ratio seems right to me. Marshes are a 1 or 2 and you won't see many knights (with one wound) going into them.

    Buildings B
    I think the rules work. Maybe there could be something to reflect the size of the two forces - but there again rememebr the Alamo. My only frustration is for cavalry who end up dumbly looking at the building whether they have succeeded or not in the assault. Why can't they reform to face off somewhere else (Ld test if they failed, automatic if they succeeded.

    Marshes A
    I like them (and avoid them usually). I prefer to play mysterious 1-3 as normal and 4-6 as the specials which nobody has objected to.

    Mystical monuments and arcane architecture C
    I don't like them for tournaments or even friendlies as they seem to have too much influence on the game. Great for scenario or campaigns though.

    Hills A
    Whats to dislike?

    Obstacles B
    The mysterious ones are a bit of a nothing and usually not worth bothering with. The cover, dangerous terrain, and defence of them is good. The movement across them is a lot more straight forward.

    Rivers D
    Quite simply they have the potential to ruin the game. It needs less severe restrictions and they should be treated as streams as their scale implies

    The game is a lot more open as a result of the changes and the battlefield looks a lot better. Terrain no longer blocks off large tracts of the battlefield yet still has to be taken into account. Some small pieces of impassable on the battlefield are as a result quite important terrain pieces.

    Enough ramble the dog needs a walk.


    1. G'day Neil,

      I think you're right about the dangerous terrain tests for cavalry Neil. I guuess this is what happens when you play an army that doesn't have any.

      I do think that chariots are not high risk though, when you consider what charging one through a forest might entail. A 1 in 6 chance of damage is insufficient in my opinion. I'd prefer that it is possible for a chariot to charge through, to keep a player's options open if they decide that the risk justifies it. But there needs to be a higher chance of damage or destruction.



    2. The restrictions with rivers are pritty basic. No marching and no rank bonus. I cant see any issue with them. The only difference in game terms between them and forests is the no marching.

    3. Its the combination of the two effects (three - no steadfast). A large unit will take at least two if not three turns to cross the river. In the process they are vulnerable to any charge with no rank bonus and no steadfast. There are only a few troops I can think off who would risk it -killy troops who do not rely on static CR.
      Two armies facing each other who want their static CR or steadfast will both sit there waiting for the other to commit.


  3. Amen to Rivers being poor. Shifting the game so massively in one sides favour before the game even starts is rubbish.

  4. I quite like the new terrain rules..well for the terrain I use anyway.

    The reform/enter buildings is no biggie for me as I dont tend to play verses jerks who abuse the rules with epic reforms to gain movement advantage. However if someone wants to swift reform to turn unit around and enter-no problem. With our tournament terrain I find the building footprints to be waaaay to big. For TLOS I tend to get my opponent to agree to use as presented, but use the footprint as the base of the building for charges. However I would prefer to use the building as the building.

    Case in point-random deployment game 1 Horned Gobbo. We used the footprint of base as the building = 80% of my right flank was a "building" despite the true footprint being less than 1/2 the size of the base. Caused mega deployment problems unnecessarily. However, the terrain piece (high elf tower) looked really cool and would have still worked if played as presented with the building as the actual building.

    Personally I would like to see more of these used in general. They are no longer the pain in the @$$ thing they were in 7th and do wonders controlling cannons giving monsters some breathing room. They also give crappy troops a nice combat boost for when the scary elite troops come marching in.

    Love the mysterious element-hate the fact that unless it is the dangerous terrain one they have zero impact on the game. They need to do SOMETHING to impede movement/hinder lazer guided artillery.

    Mystical monuments:
    Other than the well (cos it's funny)I dont really see the point of these unless really just want a fun game. However I have found that when using them 9/10 we forget and they end up just being an impassible piece of terrain. However, some of the cool ones can be fun (haunted mansion, wizards tower, buggs brewery etc)

    Rivers: right there with you Neil. Too much influence on game.

    Hills: Ordinary hills are fine. However I would like to see more of the crazy hills being used-but I guess that once again comes down to "remembering it is special".

  5. My main issue with buildings, is that you get detached from combat after each round, meaning the opponent gets a round to shoot/magic you between each combat, (while you can't reciprocate) making it near impossible to clear out harder troops from buildings if needed.

    Otherwise, I'm fine with terrain rules, though mysterious gets forgotten by me and pretty much every opponent I've played most games its put in-use

  6. The Elven tower you refer to Joel was played differently in our game.
    Ben and I agreed that the tower was the building and the 4 minarets were impassable. You could get a 5 wide (possibly 6) 25mm regiment between the minarets. I did charge it with my chaos knights against Bens Marauders and there was a fight between horsemen and the hellcannon around it, so it was used. It seemed to work fine.
    I'd forgotten about that detachment from combat bit James, yep it is a pain.