Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Uneasy Truce


British and German Soldiers Christmas Day 1914

It's an uneasy truce I have with WFB's 8th edition. As I've mention in previous post I am somewhat soured on the game for a variety of reasons. Mainly the inability of the tournament scene to catch up to changes in the rules. I don't have huge problem with majority of the new rules, they're if anything, consistent. A quick overview of my personal troops doesn't bode particulary well in 8th. My planned Lizardmen build got squashed by army percentages, ok, move on I can still make them work but there is really only varieties of one build that seems to work. I don't have the models to make my Daemons work in the new environment, investing in a ton of metal Plaguebearers a couple months before 8th release, was in retrospect- idiocy and I am not particulary interested in investing a ton more time and money into them. With my beloved Empire, I "hate" having to take the Steam tank every freaking game to be competitive in a tournament..but it is what it is, I dont find 4 Mortars and a Master Engineer or 30 spelled up Greatswords or Flagellants anymore appealing and the fact that the detachment system and my favorite Huntsmen are practically useless is a drag. While I have no love for the huge combat res's of the new game its something I can live with while and tactically plan for.

At certain point you just need to decide that you like the game or you don't. Despite my current cynicism and as much as 7th edition had its issues it was very addicting to me, and the drive to make things work in 8th for me is there. I find my Empire Army quite playable in 8th edition as long as I stick to the things "that work" however constantly having to tie up 600 points with a Steam Tank and a Wizard Lord with the Lore of Life, gets old fast. In a casual game, its easy to mitigate the games shortcoming and throw a list together that "kind of works" when you know who your opponent is, its when it comes to an "all comers" list in a tournament environment that is when things go off the rails. " Composition" as we knew it in 8th ed, is gone, the immediate reaction to the initial overview of 8th ed rules was that 8th ed "comps itself"While that might be true in some instances it is clear wide spread army imbalances remain with books in use over now 3 editions and nothing exacerbates army imbalances more that Warhammer 8th Editions poisonous new scoring rules.

I'm not quite sure why tournaments haven't caught on that playing to victory points is a suckers game, no points for fleeing units and having to totally destroy entire units to get full points for them , I am finding frankly- unacceptable. Several friends of mine would argue that figuring out how to completely destroy entire units is chapter1 of the new WFB tactica. I flatly reject that. For me a "wargame" should simulate a tactical battle, tactical battles are about objectives, goals, and even if the tactical goal is slaughter your opponent to the man, leaving one single soldier of unit of 30,50, even 100..or having soldiers literally fleeing the battlefield earning points toward victory is gaming gone awry.

This type of scoring in a tournament, which by my standards is a celebration of the hobby and supposed to a fun day out where the like minded can match wits on as level a playing field as possible, is counter intuitive toward total absurdity, While not everyone plays to win, everyone still likes to win from time to time. There is no glory is winning a game, where you win because your opponent rolled a "1" on his last shooting attack on your lone model of 30 remaining or because he some how couldn't kill your half dozen fleeing units.

The answer is obvious, remove victory points from the equation, the designers imply this in design, but then go ahead and make 4 of the 6 scenarios determined by VP in the new rulebook, so its not hard to see how TO's have followed suit. Despite play results to the contrary. I'd hope that if you played this game for any length of time or like me last night have tried to take you S3, T3, I3 army out against a S4, T4, I4,or 5! army...you know the feeling that in a VP game without some gimmick or fluke of luck how every game becomes "The charge of the Light Brigade", over and over and over.

Personally I'd like to see an Army Break point system similar to Warhammer Ancient Battles new rules. This would be a wondrous thing for WFB 8th, for those unfamiliar with it. basically each unit you field is worth 1 or 2 points...characters are worth an extra point and units over 300 points are +1 points, whatever the total once you reach 25% of your total -your army is broken and the game is over. (varying conditions can of course apply) While army imbalances remain an elite army will something to think about when it breaks after losing just a few units where the horde can lose many more and not worry about breaking. Having to capturing 2 of three objectives in 6 turns, while worrying about your break point creates a far more interesting game from where I am sitting. It's also clear to me that WFB 8th operates much better on a tournament perspective at 2000 points than any greater. Games of 3000+ points only purpose seem to be for big dumb fun because you're literally taking models off the table as quickly as you've put them on.

In the end its about balance, to keep its relativity the Warhammer Tournament scene, now in the hands of independent operators needs to keep people wanting more The game needs an edge, Big and Dumb is fun...but its easy to get your fill. Appeasing new players and vets- I know isn't easy and in the end its the pageantry of Warhammer that is its initial attraction. The problem is as I play more and more games with far better rules its getting easier to overlook the big shiny elephant in the room, that's currently a 528 page rulebook. Stay tuned, it will be interesting how this spring develops.

4 comments:

John said...

Very well said. I have played a few tournament matches where tabletop objectives determined (along with VP) who won each game. I think this balanced out issues over comp between the various army books.

I think over time you will start to see alot of tournament organisers make serious modifications to how they are organised. The old 20pt scoring system based on VP e.g., 15-5 for winning by x number of VP will be replaced.

Basing tournaments around scenarios also alters how people build their lists, e.g. there are some for which the Empire steam tank becomes a massive liability.

Conspyre said...

The other key thing about the new victory point system is the much, much closer division between wins and losses- the old rules that gave points for fleeing models also required a larger margin of victory. I have found that with the smaller margins, unless the enemy is fleeing largely untouched (as used to be the case with some Vampire Counts forces that relied on the old Fear rules), destroying a couple of units will generate enough points to cover the margin. Yes, there are weird situations where one guy out of a giant regiment survives, even without being run down, but I have yet to personally see it actually happen- WHFB is not terribly kind to fleeing troops unless there is an imbalance like cav fleeing from infantry, or Skaven fleeing from Dwarfs.

John@Plastic Legions said...

" I have yet to personally see it happen"..this seems off to me bill
perhaps I am the hard luck kid here
but its happens to me every other game including 3 of 5 games at core comp, most recently my last 3 Club Night games. basically its comes down luck whether you can finish off the last couple models in a big units, a couple games of losing because 3 late game fleeing units kept 900 points on the board or you left a couple models in 30-50 man horde and I think you'll feel the frustration..sure the first reaction is you need to figure out "how to deal with it", and I did that pre planning for it (taking Pistoliers or a unit of Cav and hiding them until turn 5, for such specific purposes) eventually I came to the conclusion doing so was still often pointless (dice) and just "not fun" and an absurd design flaw in the context of a "wargame"
When you play other games with much better rules (FoW comes to mind as a recent example)
its much easier to see the forest thru the trees.

Lord Azaghul said...

6 months down the road I’m still of two minds about 8th; Most of the time (when I’m not playing vs skaven) its fun. My dwarves got a huge boost. I do miss my BS core shooters being a viable option, but that new ‘workings’ of the game means I don’t have to apologies for taking 2 Organ Guns and 2 Stone Throwers, and my 7th ed style of running 3-4 dwarf blocks is paying off in spades. In short I’m doing very well with this army…all my struggling againt 7th ed power armies has been rewarded.

I think you hit on the bigger issue in your first couple of lines there: My planned Lizardmen build got squashed by army percentages, ok, move on I can still make them work but there is really only varieties of one build that seems to work. I don't have the models to make my Daemons work in the new environment, investing in a ton of metal Plaguebearers a couple months before 8th release, was in retrospect- idiocy and I am not particulary interested in investing a ton more time and money into them.

My O&G army was all fast for 7th ed competiveness. Chariots, small units of wolf ridering, savage boar boys, Lord on a wyvern and a few small NG blocks with a fanatics. It was all fast, hit and run, then pound you in the face, make or break army.
The army is now useless. Fanatics can’t really move on the board, chariot and cav take dangerious terrain constantly, and of course, 4 out of 6 Savage boar boys will be dead before they get to strike.
The only thing that saved me from selling this army was the vast amount of NG I’d had sitting around for a failed 7th ed idea of all ALL goblin force.
Yes I’ve had a few REALLY fun games with this army in 8th, but competative? No way.

To the point: My Dwarves were ready for 8th because they ARE an infantry army, I didn’t play gunline in 7th, and I over bought early on.
Greenies: I don’t want to drop 300$+ retail to make them playable…

And I think a lot of people are in the same boat. I’ve seen the looks on a lot of noobs faces when there Knights of Chaos, just bounce off of a dwarf warrior block. It’s just sad. 7th ed pointage, meetns 8th ed play style. Its one thing to spend 30$ and know you’ve just bought 15% of your army, then quite another when you realized they aren’t playable and you must spend another 70$ to get ‘good’ unit.
I think it’s a rebuilding year for a lot of people, and I think a lot of people are waiting for GW to drop a few army books out…I just hope its worth waiting for.

VP: yeah. I don’t understand why tournies are throwing the ‘fleeing units’ rule out the window.

 

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