Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The Flaws of Fantasy

Warhammer Fantasy has seen a bit of a surge at the club lately. Setting up the large regiments, herding the monsters, putting tinder to black powder, it is all the rage since a few weeks. With teh second edition of Malifaux, however... who knows?

The older of the Warhammer siblings is on its eighth edition. It's quite a different game from when I once started this hobby. Most of the changes are for the better, and on the whole, I like Fantasy the way it is right now. However, I'm a demanding little blighter (except the 'little' bit) and like I did with Malifaux a while back, I'll list the greatest flaws of that beast fondly called WHFB.

To be fair, this one is getting better. The lores published in Army Books are largely avoiding the pitfalls here (even though I feel the Slaanesh spell Cacaphonic Choir is pushing it).

The fact remains, however. The eight lores in the BRB (Big Rule - or Red - Book) have some huge mistakes in them. Primarily, the Purple Sun of Xereus and the Dwellers Below are highly problematic.

It's not the fact that they can affect entire units (or, in the right circumstances, armies) in one casting.

It's not the fact that when cast with Irresistible Force, they can't be stopped.

It's not that they bypass every single way models have of surviving, including multiple wounds, Ward saves, Look Out Sir! and Magic Resistance.

It's that they do all three. A single casting of Purple Sun, from the right angle, can rip a low-Initiative army to shreds. And if that double 6 comes up, that's that, game over.

I'm sorry, GW, but your terrain rules suck. Sure, I get why you did away with difficult and very difficult terrain. They were highly disruptive, and I think we might be better off with forests that don't completely block line of sight and slow anything moving through to a crawl.

I even get the notion that random elements are fun.

This is result number eight from a Google search for 'random'. Fitting, I'd say...

But randomizing everything? Is that really necessary? Does every forest in the Warhammer World have to be Mysterious? Do we really need a 2D6 table on which every result of nine equals a river?

We're moving towards skipping the random table, mostly because it has too many whacky results. I'm fine with a few weird things on the board, but once you roll up your fourth Sinister Structure, it's time to look elsewhere.

Did I do this one for Malifaux as well? Ah, well...

Don't ever take a Wood Elf army against Ogres. Or anyone else, for that matter. Don't even consider facing my Empire with a monster heavy force, and only go up against a Lizardman army with Vampire Counts if you fancy a challenge.

Most of the horrendous contrasts are between old Army Books and new, but there are imbalances between the new ones as well. The fact is that it isn't just a matter of rock-paper-scissors, it's that some armies are inherently weaker than others. The strongest possible Wood Elf or Beastman army will be outmatched by a mediocre Warriors of Chaos or High Elf army.

It means that there are armies out there that never (almost, at least; it is a game of random chance, after all) win. Which mean you basically never see them. It's a shame, really. Not that I want to see more of the pointy-eared little bastards, but you know, diversity is nice.

There is something about the word 'diversity' that throws up the most non-diverse pictures imaginable. Sort of how all Chaos Warriors look alike.
My gripe with the scenarios is basically the same as for terrain. What's with the screwballs?

Half the scenarios are fine, determined by the relatively fair measure of Victory Points (more on that later, though) and with relatively simple deployment rules. And then there are the others...

Blood and Glory, which you can actually lose the second you've both deployed, if you've constructed your army wrong.

Dawn Attack, which can spell doom for an army reliant on placement (Vampire Counts can be entirely hobbled by not being allowed to march, if the General gets stranded on one flank, and a lot of the army on the other).

Or my personal favourite: the Watchtower. I hate it. It benefits elite armies, with strong infantry Core choices that do well in units of twenty or less. It benefits Vampire Counts, who can throw up screens of expendable Zombies in front of the tower, and make the garrisoning unit larger. It hurts armies that rely heavily on cavalry or have Core choices that suffer in small units (twenty Halberdiers? Much to few. Twenty Chaos Warriors? Very different story).

Victory Points
One thing.

Killing forty-nine out of fifty models in a unit. Not worth a point. That single model, fleeing or not, will keep you from getting any points from that unit.

They used to award half points for heavily depleted units. They used to award points for fleeing units. No longer. It is possible to build an army that it is all but impossible to get more than a handful of Victory Points out of.

And that's that. The weaknesses of Warhammer Fantasy.


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