Friday, May 11, 2012

8th Edition Rules Change Redux - True Line of Sight

This really is an easy one. When it was mooted it was seen as very controversial change - for some an asteroid had entered the atmosphere.

The Europeans hated it and insisted on v7.5 being played at the ETC where they invented a whole new mechanic they called "Systematic Line of Sight". This was led by the Danes who instituted it at the Giant Fanatic tournament less than two months after the release of 8th. Did they give the actual rules a fair go? No.

It wasn't needed. Even now two years on they can't quite let go. They have a new bastardised system mashing TLOS and SLOS together for this year's ETC.

Guess what? In two years of 8th I can count the number of discussions I've had about TLOS on one hand. The only places were a "problem" is seen to exist is in Central Europe and parts of Auckland. Seriously it is not needed - change your tactics, change your list - you don't need to change the rules.

Hills still matter. You get +1 for charging off higher ground. They give an elevated perch for shooting.

You can't hide half your army behind one looking to create a non-game.

Rule Change: A+


  1. Hmm am seeing a trend with these 8th ed reviews. "8th ed is awesome, people that don't like it haven't adapted, play by the rules as they are blah blah." Not exactly an objective view...

  2. Exactly!

    Pretty objective - because it's mine :-)

    What I'm saying is that as a suite of rules GW have actually done a really good job. The rules complement each other. Where there are problems are where people have tried to apply fixes to individual rules e.g. LOS, VPs etc and these have actually diminished the overall product.

    A pretty simple question - If you take the rules now are the armies more or less balanced than they were at the end of 7th? Does that only apply to the new books? Or does it apply to the legacy books as well?

    I think the answer to those questions is quite clear. The game is as balanced now as it has ever been.

  3. I agree the books are probably more balanced :) But then my own objective view is that while the game has improved in some areas, it's not quite the shining examples of gaming euphoria that you seem to be describing and that there were things in 7th ed that I would have liked to have seen kept which weren't.

  4. I like the new rule and the ones that go with it such as hardcover for shooting through troops and softcover for woods etc. I did not like having to adapt back at Guardcon last year to different sight rules.

    However, I'm not sure that TLOS is consistently applied though.

    We tend to go with a wood outline and any shooting through it is softcover. We don't check/mark where the actual trees are and check if we can see through them. I remember one game where a tree was directly between my tebuchet and cannon. My opponent seemed surprised when I said I can't shoot at the cannon because the tree blocked LOS. I've often wondered about hiding a lone character on foot behind a tree but I don't think people will agree that it is hidden because we tend to play to the outline of the wood.
    Tim and I had an argument when I had moved a mage to fireball a unit of his. I was on a hill and targeting over a fence at the corner of a building. The target could quite clearly be seen by TLOS but because the fence was part of the building model Tim argued that we had to imagine the walls of the building being at the location of the fence. You were TOing at the time Pete and backed Tim up. This was not TLOS.

    I have some sympathy for people who want hills to block lines of sight. It does not take much of a rise to hide even cavalry from view. Our model hills are too low to allow this however and usually cavalry and even infantry can see over the bump. If you think of the height of the ruined bridge part of the Manse compared to the height of our hills you will see that the scale height of hills is very low (about a metre). The answer of course is to model some higher hills, but this invloves time and expense and might have some practicality issues re basing of troops. Most of our tress are also pretty small specimens in scale height. Now we are getting more buildings with a realistic scale height the hills and trees are looking quite low.


  5. >Tim and I had an argument when I had moved a mage to fireball a unit of his. I was on a hill and targeting over a fence at the corner of a building. The target could quite clearly be seen by TLOS but because the fence was part of the building model Tim argued that we had to imagine the walls of the building being at the location of the fence. You were TOing at the time Pete and backed Tim up. This was not TLOS.<

    A bit of context helps though Neil. Prior to the event, it was specifically stated that the buildings went to the edge of their Tim was technically correct :-)

    With your wood example you are confusing cover with LOS, I believe.

    1. It was not a complaint Peter, just an observation where TLOS is not applied. (And obviously I hadn't listened to your instructions at the beginning). There was a line of sight between the units but it was extrapolated that there wasn't. This is similar to hills blocking line of sight because of their extrapolated height.
      With the wood, I am pointing out that in practice we tend to ignore the actual trees and that they are ornamental to mark a wood. You cannot see through a tree, so a model hard up against a tree should be hidden from view just like in the movies. But we just play it that they can be seen but get soft cover. Is it valid for a lone mage for example to hide from view pressed right up to a tree? I think it should be, but we tend not to play it that way.


    2. Any extrapolation wasn't done for don't for TLOS purposes Neil, rather so that people knew where the building finished for movement purposes.

      Your tree question is interesting Neil. I'm guessing he'd have LOS when you wanted to cast a spell. I'd have no problem as long as it was consistent :-)

  6. "A pretty simple question - If you take the rules now are the armies more or less balanced than they were at the end of 7th? Does that only apply to the new books? Or does it apply to the legacy books as well?"

    In 7th armies were dominated by cavalry and skirmishers, infantry took a back seat. In 8th armies are dominated by infantry, artillery and magic, while cavalry and skirmishers now lurk in the background. How is that more or less balanced? It's just a different skew. The system remains unbalanced, just in a different way. If it were truly balanced, there would be equal emphasis on infantry, cavalry, magic, artillery, etc. An imperfect system has been replaced by a different imperfect system.

    1. Disagree with you there completely. Just ran an all cav empire army (pretty much have for the last six months)at a tourney and did pretty well with them.
      I think people just hear the mantra "cav suck in 8th...cav suck in 8th" and they don't actually go out and play with cav to find out for themselves! Which I think was Pete's initial point with the Europeans and TLOS!

  7. @Hobby Horse

    Disagree with you there. The cavalry units just got bigger and I personally find my Gutter Runners just as deadly.

    The Empire I'm looking at will likely be an all mounted army - mix of Cav and MC

  8. I'm not convinced on whether unit types and selections are influenced by 8th edition, or just by being awesome/poor selections depending on the army book.

    Gutter Runners are absolutely hideous to play against; skirmishing Brettonian Bowmen... not so much.

    Ranked Empire Knights are affordable and effective, even in a grind. But I can't recall ever seeing Tomb Kings field their 'heavy cav' equivalent - how can they afford to after squeezing in 3+ Sphinxes and the rest of their cheesey rubbish? :)

  9. If you think that Sphinxes are where TKs are Dave, well let's say you're probably best staying with Warmachine.

    They are a points gift to your opponent :-)

  10. Cheers for the advice. Based on what I'm reading I'll probably take it for a wee while yet.

    It's nice to be out of the loop sometimes Pete, but is this really still that game where the other guy has a cannon (or equivalent) so you just take the model off straight away and give him the points? Some of your reports would seem to indicate that ("My Ironblasters shot until it died. Then he had no answers to my massive units of multi-wound guys. And I won"). Or his cannon blows up so the big monster wins? What a pity... those large kits are such nice models. Shame the game designers invalidated their inclusion (or validated them based on a statistical outlier that the dice would/could/might win/lose the game for you).

    I also hear winning the game until you blow up your own General/L4 caster/BSB through the skill of rolling double ones helps Lizardmen players reach new levels of enjoyment (although I reckon they get what they deserve). Clever of GW though to offer Vampire players the option of a L4 Necromancer (am I right here? I haven't picked up the new book) so you don't have to take a L4 Vampire Lord in order to be competitive. Sad that L4 Vampires are now extinct (I assume... happy to plead ignorance of what is trendy and cool with Vampires at the moment although it appeared Tony has simmered it down to the best of the book with one tournament and minimal playtesting?) and/or that yet another army conforms to the "L4 + BSB or go home" archetype.

    I must say I'm curious now - what does a "successful" Tomb Kings list spam for fun times nowadays? Bow shots? Magic (the ubiquitous L4 + L2)? Bow shots + magic for more bow shots? :) I'm sure I read on this blog somewhere that you'd assembled some Sphinxes... were they just for fluffy bunny games? :)

    Anyway... back to what Hobby Horse was saying... has 8th edition has ruined large monsters? Or are cannon-equivalents to blame? Or the fact that TLOS and a general lack of adequate terrain supplied consistently by TOs at various events means there is no way to have them included in some kind of meaningful way? Or if you want to take a monster you must a) take one with a ward save, and b) be a jammy git and pass all the required ward saves until you make it safely into combat?

  11. He has a point. Warmachine is a much better balanced game. I can only think of one or two units in the whole system that people say are just plain bad. PP did an excellent job of making even fodder troops a threat. However it's has one downside IMO and that is that it's a skirmish game. You dont get the feel on commanding an army.

    TLOS is a mess. No one really uses it. The forest example above and buildings till the edge for movement somehow = invisible bits of building that block LoS to the edge too, show that actual TLOS never really gets used. TLOS along with templates hit all parts of the model has pretty much removed thing like dragons from the game. The only thing that protects a dragon from a cannon these days is buildings and if your lucky enough to have a 50mm base then monstrous units and walls can help.

    The building rules are still a complete disaster. Handlers are messy. Magic is fairly horrific. The chance of a wizard being able to survive long enough to become an arch Mage/slann/grey seer is somewhere in the region of 0%.

    The problem is GW don't care about their rules. They exist to sell models. PP actually tried to make a game that was fun and could be played competitively. GW refuses to do so (for some idiotic reason). Luckily I still find fantasy fun to play even though it's rules are shockingly badly balanced and written.


    1. G'day,

      Regarding dragons and ridden monsters, I think more than TLOS and template rules have taken them off the board. The fact they come from the Lord points allocation, meaning no Level 4, is one factor against them. The general superiority of mages over combat lords reinforces this.

      In addition, Step Up and Steadfast both mean that Mr Star Dragon no longer beats infantry blocks on the charge. A good thing too in my opinion. The ability to smash face with a single model is greatly reduced, making ridden monsters less efficient.

      These aren't the sole factors, but I believe they are key ones in why we don't see so many dragons these days.

  12. @all - I guess then that I'm an outlier in seeing the TLOS working well. I pretty much assume everything can see everything unless behind a (extrapolated) building. The rules seem to work well from my POV, I'm obviously missing the problems you're having.

    @Dave - generally TK lists vary from archer heavy through to construct heavy. The reason Sphinxes lose out is that weight of fire (Str 3 or 4) is extremely bad, as much as single shot cannons. You can check through various online blogs and you'll see quite a variance in the lists. Peter W did well at Equinox with a list that was very very different from say Tim Joss.

    @Dave and @Alex - it is hard for me to make any comment about Warmachine as I've never played it (I'm unlikely to due to limited time and because the models hold zero appeal to me). However a lot of Warmachine players tell me it is a better game with tighter rules, it's more balanced and competitive etc. I take their word for it because I have no point of reference. Hobby time is a precious commodity so it is great they've found something that suits them better.

    I find both your comments around monsters interesting. I don't see too many comp systems allowing 2 Hydras, 2 HPAs and 2 Steam Tanks for example. Where single monsters generally fall down is weight of fire e.g. Beastmen Monsters as much as single shots. Where a monster/large target has protection - be it a meaningful save, some sort of ward, or access to a screen e.g. MI/MC/MB - then it is far more survivable and generally has the ability to influence game.

    Anyway good debate all - obviously not the TLOS rules are the widespread winner I thought they were.

    1. see proper response below, but my biggest issue with TLOS is the assumption that everything can see everything unless there is a building in the way.

  13. I was one of the doubters when TLOS came out, but now believe it's a good rule change, with one caveat.

    It irritates me that forests don't block LOS because they normally comprise only 2-4 trees, which don't block anyone's view. Having spent some time trying to observe targets through trees, it's pretty damn hard to see through a forest. We could put 20 trees down on the table to mark the forest (and it would look better) but how many of us have that many trees? And once units get into the forest, the trees all get moved to one side. Does the forest still block LOS then? Far simpler and more realistic to have forests block LOS.

    Neil mentioned hills above, and I agree with him. I'm happy that a Warhammer hill isn't meant to represent the Rimutakas. But even though they are rises and knolls rather than mountains, they should still block LOS to infantry and cavalry behind them. Simply put, the hills aren't normally at the same scale as the models, and the rules should recognise this.

    Otherwise I think TLOS is pretty good. At least a solid B from me.


  14. TLOS is pretty sweet. Although it would've been useful to include more rules for hills, such as; you shouldn't be able to bounce a cannon ball up a hill (effectively treat it as impassible). This would enable players to make tactical use of terrain but still give shooty armies a chance. You get away with hiding for a few turns but not for all six!

    Otherwise the rules are really good and they speed the game up.

    Grade: A

  15. As mentioned real forests and hills are unworkable in a miniature game. I agree with hills should block LoS to anything that isn't a "large target" and also stop cannon balls. Forest should IMO work so that you can see into or out of but not through.

    Changes TLOS to I can see most things from the current I can see everything unless a big unit is between me and my target.

    The systematic LoS systems from the ETC and giant fanatic tried to implement a system like that that is better suited to a miniature war game.

    These complaints aside I much prefer TLOS to how LoS worked in 7th. Skirmishing hydras hiding in forests only skirmishes could really enter was horrific.

  16. I tend to enjoy the new rules with the following cavaets:

    1) @neil building debate: When I play at home my buildings dont have scenic bases so I never come across the "um actually that picket fence is a impentrable solid steel wall that stretches to the sky" problem. At the Events it would be better to play the base as where building "starts" for the purposes of charges, but play terrain as is for TLOS

    2) @monsters now suck:
    This one is a little more tricky as they dont suck per say-what sucks is that 90% of all cannons shots are done with an odd mixture of 7th targeting rules and 8th premeasuring. Usually the process is "can I see the monster? If yes, I aim at the sweet spot exactly 10.1 inches from the back of the base". Instead the actual rules are "Can I see the monster? If yes, now can I see a spot on the GROUND in front of the monster that I can shoot at? No = damn, have to start the shot at the start of monsters base. Yes = sweet! now how close to the "sweet spot" can I get and still legally see the spot? This makes hitting stuff with cannons a whole lot more tricky unless get a hill or something to put cannons on.

    This + the general lack of obstacles I see being used (my "take anywhere warhammer bag" includes at least 2 long and 1 shot section of wall in the terrain to help fight this!) compound the problem and people end up blaming TLOS not the real culprit-misuse of the cannon rules.

    3) TLOS vs seeing through own units:
    Another bug bear. Only person I have ever played to have an offical personal view on it was Tim with his Tkings-he stated that he could not see through 4 ranks of Tguard and showed me with his laser line thing how silly it was to think that you could. vs -see comment 2). ranked units and non-BS shooting is where TLOS falls over as there is no clear guidance other than "dont be a dick about it" which doesnt apply to competitive play because it is in my right to apply the rules as written as closely as I can when playing...and if that means I can see though my 7 deep bus because the models have nice spacing that so be it.

    SO for me the rules get a B+ for trying and a B- for execution.