Wednesday, July 8, 2015

AoS - Combat Mechanism Issue

AoS was always going to be a hard sell for me as I wasn't really in the "market" for a skirmish game. That shift away from ranked units plus the new aesthetic meant that there were hurdles I needed to get over to embrace it.

Having read through the AoS rules a couple of times now, I have a real issue with one of the key mechanisms in the game. Unlike other GW games, and indeed most Wargames I have played, AoS's key combat dynamic has a singular focus. Put another way - what you are fighting has no determinant on your ability.

In WHFB if you fought something with a worse WS then you got a benefit. If you fought something with a significantly higher WS then you received a handicap. This was even more pronounced in the "to wound" roll where it varied between 2+ and 6+. That has all gone. Now a model has the same to hit and to wound rolls regardless of whether he is fighting a goblin or a bloodthirster.

To me, this mechanic is lazy and dumb downs the game too much. With the added curtailment of tactical movement the game would be prone to becoming a scrum in the middle of the table where winning is determined largely by who can roll the most 4+.

Now I may be underselling it - and if so that will become evident over coming months - but the single-determinant nature of the combat mechanism looks like a real detriment to me. I would think long term playability would suffer significantly.


  1. I think in many regards that's one of the biggest issues with the game the scrum or blob in the middle of the table. If not the biggest problem

  2. Its a horse I've been flogging for the past few days. There are a few white knights out there than take it as a personal offence. It is amusing!

    I've posted on my blog some ways to re-write the rules to make it more engaging and competitive, because we all know GW won't even try. Even then its trying to salvage a dead duck.

  3. That was a killer for me too, the 4+ not the dead duck.

    I browsed LoTR SBG over the weekend, motivated by this shakeup. I'm astounded it's from the same company. Put a noticeable dent in LoTR auctions on eBay this week, as I think a campaign in the southlands would be fun.

    I respect the oponions on FoB and it's good to know what I can't articulate about my gut feeling toward AoS is reflected in the groups greater understanding of WFB than I.

  4. The problem I have is that it is such a fundamental part of the game that I can't see it changing at all.

    The explanation I was given was that GW wanted to move away from their traditional combat matrix chart because it was too complex

    If that is the case I feel that they really undersell the intelligence of their playing base.

    On another note I got to hold the new terrain today - the gate and the portal. Thought the gate was over detailed tbh and wasn't impressed with gate either. Also saw the new RoB tile. It has some strange building detail on it. Overall the three pieces won't be getting my dollar. I'm more hopeful for the other pieces.

  5. Games Workshop have specifically said this is not 9th edition.

    Mayby we should all just forget about if for now and carry on playing Warhammer ?

    1. I could not agree more stay the course keep gong with 8th. If I wanted to play any of the alternative games I would be already

  6. I'm really not sure you are right Pete. It seems to be a confirmation bias at work. Your perceptions of the the complexity of the old system doesn't really bear itself out in truth. How much did stats really change the flow of the game? Most of the time your troops would hit and wound on the same or very similar rolls both across the battle and across games, you just think they don't because you consult the magic table in your head each time you roll.

    Think of this a bit as regression to the mean, sum all the to hit rolls and wound rolls you ever made for a given troop type against all opponents and that is pretty close to what they implemented. Gnoblars still wound on 5's and ogres on 3's for example (actually I don't know if this is right or not, but whatever). All they have done is remove some of the variance in favor of streamlining the system.

    The result is still I want to push the probability in my favor, the major difference being now I do that through external means, rerolls or granted abilities. You'll note rerolls are a lot more common now, as well as flat bonuses. It is effective use of those modifiers that will swing the battle.

    I do cringe when I see things like Empire Swordsmen who automatically hit (40 of them, though I am sure many will cry broken, is it really? Not so much), 4+ rerollable saves (in the absence of rend that is 75% change of preventing a wound), or 3+ to hit or wound rerolling 1's (shades of 3rd Eye of Tz). But that being said that is the game now. There is still complexity there, it is just in a different place.

    The game still boils down to who rolls the most dice with the most favorable odds, exactly like it has pretty much always been....But maneuvering you cry! Maneuvering was merely an attack dice delivery platform, the "most variance accounted for" in determining victory in Warhammer, 1) how much damage you could do, 2) how fast could you do it and 3) where you did it, in that order.

    Not saying there aren't issues with AoS, but I don't think simplification of to hit/to wound is actually not as big a deal as people are making out, it's just more obvious than it was before.

    1. We'll have to agree to disagree Lincoln. I think there is a meaningful difference.

      Hopefully for us all I'll be proved wrong.

    2. I'd argue that your order for the way victory was achieved in Warhammer 8th edition is actually completely wrong with the opposite being the case. If your example was the case then why were MSU Elf armies with relatively low levels of possible damage a turn reigning supreme?

      Easy answer, because they and other lists before them (Skink Cloud etc...) could maneuver in such a way that the opponents ability to roll dice became irrelevant. As someone who played at a reasonably high level with Lizards and Dark Elves, nothing in the game was more important than maneuver. Maneuver is the very means by which you apply your combat power and deny the opponent the chance to apply his and what made WHFB 8th an interesting game for me at least. AoS lacks this and thus is deeply flawed as far as I'm concerned.

    3. Wood Elf Glade Guard with their bows will always wound everything on a 4+ in AOS. If i were to take a unit of 20 and fire at say a giant in 8th edtion i may knock off a wound or two (it would be 6s to wound in 8th). In AOS i could end up doing 25 to 50% of the giants wounds (they have 12 in AOS) in a single round of shooting.

      Even though my army comes off better in AOS i like the old version better. If i were to take 2 or 3 units of 20 Glade Guard in AOS i would be virtual unstoppable where as in 8th it would be a far different matter

  7. I think the combat system is different. It is simpler in some respects but not in ores. I think the simplicity is apparent but the subtleties and tactics are less apparent. On other topics people have already commented about the opportunities for hit and run tactics offered by the opportunities to retreat from combat.

    If you look at other games most of them don't have the skill vs skill matrix. But people have already gotten their positions and some will make a go of AOS and some won't.

    Pete was right in that this fragments the community. I have seen videos ranging from people who like the new game and are enjoying their games and other who have burnt their rule books sold their models and ar off to other games.

    I think the release of AOS may be the best move privateer press ever made. Tournament gamers looking for their competitive fix will flock to it in droves.

    I think, much like earlier editions of Warhammer AOS will need a significant amount of limitations to provide an acceptable cap on the arms race.

    Daemons summoning daemons is an old problem that will quickly get pruned out of the game if people don't like it.

  8. The problem is that they are targeting at preteen kids. As far as that goes they are still underestimating thier markets intellect, but does not change the fact that this rule set was created to help sell models, not be a great game -Nat