THE collective wargaming world has now had, more or less, a week in which to digest the changes that have been made to the Warhammer fantasy rules. While certainly a lot of the Internet-based doom-mongery that prevailed before the books release has died down there are still the die-hard few that have consigned Warhammer to its grave and will stop playing. However, for the vast majority of players this new edition has been a breath of fresh air, it may not be perfect, there may be some tweaks needed to some of the army books down the road but overall I am actually excited about the changes that have been brought in and look forward to getting hands-on with the game at some point. With our gaming groups commitment to War of the Ring this may be a little further down the line, I know Servitob is still waiting patiently for me to complete my Easterlings.
What the new edition has also done is shift the power of various armies. There are a lot of forum threads around right now discussing the merits of the armies and what “tier” they are in with regards to their perceived tournament effectiveness. This new set of rules hasn’t just affected what armies have the advantage, it has also affected people’s thinking on certain units and some magic items that were previously considered sub-par now have a valid use and others that were must haves are now going to disappear entirely.
What is clear from what I am reading and also from search results generating traffic right here, is that people are very much concerned about the power levels of the various armies. I’d like to think that people pick a force based on the look of the models and the background of the army, not solely on the perceived “ZOMGWTFBBGOMGAWESOMESAUCEROFLSTOMPROFLCOPTERCHUCHU!!!11!!!!!!!!amillion!!!!!!!!!29!!!!!!!1!!!!!!!” power scale. I know that for some people winning is the only option, the idea of having a fun game with your mates is nothing compared to preparing your latest and greatest list to rape the sanity of all who you face at the next tournament.
As Gribblin has already given his thoughts on the rules themselves and I echo what he says, I thought I’d spend today’s post going through the armies and offering my own opinions on how they fare in the new edition. I would ask you all to remember that these are my opinions and that therefore they may differ from your own, this is not a problem for me, neither should it be for you. That’s the wonderful thing about opinions, we are all entitled to our own. Let’s begin;
When the Beasts were released right at the end of 7th edition it was a widely held belief that they sucked ass. This was not an erroneous belief, everyone was aware that 8th would probably give them a bit of a boost and it has. Sure they are still not going to be an army that is going to wipe the boards with everyone but as bigger blocks of infantry are now more desirable so the Beastmen profit. Minotaurs got a big boost with the addition of Monstrous Infantry and the new Stomp attack, likewise some of the Monsters now profit from Thunderstomp, the new Lore of Beasts gives more power to the Bray Shamans and the changes to the percentage system means there is nothing to stop you taking a Beastlord and a Great Bray Shaman.
The usefulness of the Battle Standard Bearer also should help out with all the psychology tests and with big blocks of infantry you should be able to work out some Steadfast combats on a re-rollable leadership 9.
The Bretonnians are somewhat of a quandary in the new edition. While they still benefit from their lance formation giving them ranks only 3 wide and the fact that the damsels now can see quite happily out of their Knight bunkers for spells using the improved Lore of Life, cavalry itself isn’t the all-conquering force we were used to. With a greater focus on infantry those Knights are going to be grinding out long combats with large blocks of footmen, something they will suffer for. Knights want to charge in, do a load of damage and bug out, something which has become much harder depending on your opponent. The Damsel’s magic resistance will also stack with Lady’s Blessing though so any unit of Knights with a spell-lady in there is going to have a 5+ save against direct damage spells, not bad at all really and while you can bulk out your army with oodles of Men-at-Arms that’s not really what the Brets are about. Although their Trebuchet is now the most powerful stone thrower in the game.
Daemons of Chaos
Everyone’s love-to-hate army of 7th edition changes quite a lot under the new rules. There are many who believe that the Daemons are done for, having lost all their power, while others are saying that while they have taken a hit to some of their builds they still remain a force to be reckoned with. The problems that Daemons have are no different from what they used to be, a lack of armour and all round low toughness on their core troops and the fact you pay a premium for those troops as well. Now that Fear no longer auto-breaks units from combat they are going to be in protracted combats for longer, with the steadfast rule being more easily available for virtually any opposing infantry unit, the new and improved Battle Standards and supporting attacks Daemons are going to suffer. However, they still benefit from usually high initiative and some decent special rules, especially when Heralds come into the picture, although these guys can get sniped out of units now. Plaguebearers are now almost useless due to the combination of Ward saves and Regeneration and their appalling initiative. Greater Daemons are still monsters (literally) in combat and can Thunderstomp as well as using their impressive profiles but are easier to pick out with cannons that can now pre-measure. ASF Daemonettes are still going to be sick in combat though, providing you can get them there. Tzeenthcian heralds with Master of Sorcery are now on the most useful spell casters in the whole game though. I still think that a properly constructed Daemon army will be tough to beat but the cheese lists of the past are exactly that, the past.
The Dark Elves were probably the number one army under 7th edition. Cheap units that can chuck out a load of attacks, cheaper monsters that were hard to beat and a pretty tasty personal spell lore with some ridiculous magic items. Not much has changed. You are still going to see nice blocks of infantry, sure the Shadestar probably will never be seen again and their FAQ has changed a few things related to their magic items but these guys are still going to be strong. Cheap blocks of Spearmen are going to be a feature and the second rank being able to fire ranged weapons makes Repeater Crossbows even more deadly. Reaper bolt throwers might not feature as much, 2 wounds at T7 isn’t going to be that hard to kill now either. It is also possible for a High Sorceress as well as a Dreadlord to fit into 2000pts now too. Elves are still only T3 though and will still be outnumbered, they are going to want to really try to strip a unit away because of the number of return attacks they are going to be facing.
That’s it for Part 1 – there are fifteen armies to get through so rather than have one huge post I’ll be splitting this up into several Undead buccaneer friendly chunks.