Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Eighth Edition is Amazing

So this may be a little late, as 8th edition came out almost three months ago, but it's a fact of life;  Warhammer Eighth Edition is amazing.  I mean, just look at the book.

Sure, you may not like the cover art, but the message is clear.  If you say you don't like Warhammer 8th Edition, your rulebook is going to turn into a rocket launcher that will shoot a GIANT FLAMING HAMMER at you!  Or, maybe it's supposed to be the Ghal Maraz with the twin-tailed comet of Sigmar behind it.  I'm going to go with the rocket launcher.

Giant flaming hammers aside, 8th ed is still pretty great.  Its arrival may not have changed my overall tactics and strategy, but it has certainly altered my list building.  Before, I would rarely field a unit of more than twenty dwarfs, because there wasn't much sense in more than that.  Now, I field a block of forty to fifty Longbeards and a unit of thirty Ironbreakers in almost every game.  I used to take bolt throwers in preference to cannons, but that's changed, too.  With a cannon's ability to hit both monstrous mount and rider, and the fact that it inflicts D6 wounds instead of D3, a dwarf cannon can put out a lot of hurt.  Oh, and my stone throwers became downright destructive against light infantry.  Battles have become even bloodier, with units getting butchered in two rounds of close combat, and I'm not talking about breaking and getting run down.  Magic went from a nuisance unless your opponent filled their list with wizards to ZOMG danger! with a single level two.

I've managed to fit in several dozen games of fantasy in the last three months, as well as participating in the first and (finally) the second round of the 'Ard Boyz tournament, so I've seen a good deal of eighth, from friendly games to 3,000 point slugfests, and I'm enamoured.  Here are my favorite changes to eighth edition.

1) Close Combat
Close combat has become insane.  With two or three times the number of attacks, units die horrible deaths so much faster than they used to.  In my personal experience, I've watched my units of Longbeards and Warriors go from a threat on the charge to slow-moving killing machines that can annihilate most enemy infantry in moments.  With three ranks of WS5 S6 attacks, a horde unit of 'Beards can beat up on heavy infantry and are downright murderers against light infantry.  It's not just the number of attacks that have drawn people to taking massive blocks of infantry, either.  The Steadfast rule is, perhaps, the greatest improvement to the game in the entire book.  It was so irritating in 7th edition to have a unit of twenty get charged by a unit of five cavalry, lose more models, and then break and get run down.  It simply didn't make sense for five models (or even one, in the case of powerful monsters) to be able to kill a fraction of a unit, and for that unit to freak out and run away.  Steadfast and Supporting Attacks combined have completely changed the game.  Gone or less-effective are the expensive units that had few numbers and relied on their killing power to win the day.  Chaos Knights and Blood Knights can no longer be expected to charge in, kill all models capable of fighting back, and break the enemy.  Can they still butcher the enemy?  Absolutely.  But they're likely to get bogged down and suffer some wounds themselves in the exchange.

2) Movement
Quite possibly the biggest simplification that was also desperately needed.  Sure, you still have to deal with wheeling and whatnot, but now terrain doesn't slow you down (unless it prevents you from Marching), and you cannot combine forward, backward and/or sideways movement.  Charging has become infinitely easier, although there is one thing I disagree with.  In the rulebook, it states that you should roll your charge distance and then measure to see if you're in range.  I find it much simpler to measure range, agree on distance with your opponent and then roll.  I've found this settles arguments before they happen.  When you measure ahead of time, you and your opponent are more reasonable, as there is less at stake.  Sure, you may end up needing to roll one higher, or your opponent may end up needing to roll one lower, but that makes little difference in the long run.  Once you've rolled the distance and it's set, and the end of your tape measure is hovering so close to the enemy unit's base that it's tough to call, then whether is 10" or 9 15/16" means everything.  Other than that, though, movement is so much easier.

3) Magic
As stated above, magic has become destructive now.  But you can no longer spam magic as you once could.  Before, taking one or two casters, with notable exceptions, was an excuse to have several Dispel Scrolls.  They really wouldn't have much hitting power with a paltry six or so power dice.  However, now you can take a single caster and have up to 12.  Spells have become much more dangerous, but casting costs have also been increased and with the new limits on power dice, the number of spells cast per phase has dropped significantly.  All of the problems with the magic phase from 7th edition (armies that can just spam spells, mostly) were done away with in a single stroke.  At the same time, your ability to dispel has increased.  An army without a single wizard can still reap a large number of dispel dice, and on an average roll have a good chance at dispelling one or two spells.

All things considered, the changes made with eighth edition are simply amazing.  I'm sure that, as time goes on, people will find loopholes in the rules to give themselves an edge, but overall the game is neater, simpler and much more fun!

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