Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Lost RulesMan Articles: The Problem with Warhammer Fantasy Battles


Here I go, dredging my archives again. I need to get back to regularity, had Advanced Higher Spanish today and I think it went OK. I know the final speaking is March 20th though... anyway, here's Past Atrotos.

I'm a die-hard 40k player. I love the fluff, the game, the models and all the peripherals (video games, novels etc.). For the most part this attraction and enthusiasm extends to Warhammer Fantasy as well. The lore and background is captivating; fantastic yet dark enough to feel serious. Most of the models are decent with a few units (Dark Eldar Corsairs) really sticking out as exceptional sculpts.

Fantasy even offers quite a few things that 40k does not. Magic is a force to be reckoned with whereas its psychic counterpart is often lackluster. Monsters make great tabletop pieces and there's a mythological/historical quality to the game that's great fodder for escaping "real life" for a few hours.

What follows constitutes the opinion of a single gamer but I feel it also reports quite well on the true shortcomings of an otherwise great franchise.

I've always had a basic knowledge of the Fantasy ruleset but the latest Storm of Magic release (yes, there was a whole expansion released this summer, though somewhat discreetly) encouraged me to brush up on the system once again and get no less than 10 games in less than 5 days, one of which was well over 10,000 points per side. Here's some things that had me bored out of my mind and frustrated to insanity by turns.

1. It's true line of sight. Only it's not.

Someone explain to me why two units parked next to one another will fervently ignore each other? "Oh well you see that arbitrary square piece of empty space means you can't see those guys." "You can't wheel there, it would take you to within one inch of a friendly unit. No charge for you." "Those gnoblars are in the way - your 12 foot ogre can't shoot over them."

There's no fluidity to simple things like movement and just where things might have been resolved simply with true line of sight the plethora of queer limitations and oddball rules throws a monkey wrench at everything.

2. Is the game too random? Roll a die and find out!

Your 'M' is 4 so you can charge anywhere between 6' and 16'. Hmmm. It's not random though because you can pre-measure everything!

You built your army around an incredible strategy - roll a die and see if it's time to pack up all your models in shame! Cannons have a 1 in 3 chance of misfiring, even the fastest units can fail charge you were counting on and if you like magic make sure you're good at rolling doubles or else expect your main phase to be lackluster (rolled under 4 for power dice 5 turns in a row).

Hey, at least he was consistent in finishing bullets. I'm not as Fantasy literate, but here are my extra little tidbits.

3. The Square Base Modelling Dilemna...

There's a reason why Fantasy loves a setpiece monster. You have room to play around. 40k gives you the freedom to have truly individual squads if you do so wish. however the rules concerning Fantasy regiment modelling are more strict than a Victorian evangelist headmaster. When I made Crusaders from Brettonnian Men-At-Arms, I hated having to work with the models, as they wanted to stand up tall and had no flex in them at all.

4. How Many Points?

Your typical Fantasy list is about what? 3000? Yes, I know a lot of that can come from the ridiculous numbers that tooled-up lords and heroes give you, but I just lack the patience to go through with that. Sorry,

5. The Races

Again, a personal thing, but I just don't like all the Fantasy races in the same way I do the 40k ones. Brettonians as a whole annoy me, especially compared to the slightly more gun-savvy Empire. Dwarfs are tiny and weird. Is it really necessary to have Wood Elves? Add to that my natural aversion to anything Nurgle. That said, I really like Lizardmen.

Anyway, that's the last of these articles I can really add to. I'm prepping a new Inquisitor Caecilius story for next time. It's really tricky to write it so that someone with no knowledge of High Gothic can understand what's going on.

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