Tag Archives: Warhammer

Gaming vs Simulation

So we play games. And more games. And if our wives will let us, will will do it while eating KFC and drinking Dr Pepper. Life can be good like that sometimes, relaxing with the mates, throwing dice and generally ganging up on the tyranid player whenever possible.

But here’s an angle I feel has slowly been sliding out of gaming in the last few years. And it’s actually due to gaming systems becoming better. Back in days of old when your average gamer thought chunky knitwear, beards and smoking pipes were the height of glamour, games were generally an excuse to push your finely painted (albeit with a roller soaked in blue humbrol enamel) model Frenchmen around a table; while your friend pushed around some equally dazzlingly detailed Redcoats that looked like they had been cast by the teletubbies on a gas hob with lead stolen from their grandmother’s bathroom.

Rules weren’t really that important. What was important was the detailed historical ‘debates’ about how the Redcoats were better shots because this happened at this battle, and how the French artillery was better organised because of this event blah blah blah. Overall it was a good excuse to have a lively debate about common interests while the wife was busy curtain twitching.

The games therefore were based somewhat in history… which meant they were nearly always simulations. No battle ever fought in the history of the world ever was balanced, and the sock and sandal wearing gamers of old knew this and incorporated it into their games. Then came the sweeping reformations of decent games (popularised largely by Games Workshop), and slowly games became, well, more game like. Slowly, games becamed balanced, akin to chess. No longer were battles fought and won by daring generals who out-manovered a much larger force.

What we now play then, with the likes of Warhammer 40,000 is the super refined, super condensed ‘arcade’ version of battles. It matters not that your army is highly mobile, or that it excels at long range combat – you are going to end up slugging it out in a meeting engagement on a tiny 6×4 battlefield. There is no opportunity on a table of that size for fast units such as landspeeders to actually use their speed to their full potential and outmanouver slow formations. You know they are gonna get crumped in close combat by about turn two, which to me seems daft. A unit like that would harass slow moving infantry indefinitely, much like horse archers from ancient history. They wouldn’t harass the infantry for a bit, then run out of table, then get crumped by an ork with a power klaw. Similar story for some of the massive artillery available. Having a tank with a massive cannon ending up with melta bombs in its exhaust after turn three seems unreaslistic. What the heck was happening before the armies closed to point blank range and the battle began?

Then there is the issue of balance. Games are now balanced so armies can fairly fight each other. This is also taking into account that the battle will be fought on a miniscule field. Makes sense from a fun perspective, but life is never fair.

I hope you can see the point I am making. Modern wargames are essentially games with fairness, speed and fun in mind, and are not true representations of battles fought. If you want a more realistic experience, then hark back to the days of our chunky knitwearing forbears. Make the playing field as big as you can. Set up one side in defense for a change. Let the defenders set up all the terrain (good real-life generals will pick where to fight). Make sure the armies do not in the slightest bit balance. Make up some kind of scenario (battles always had an objective). Most importantly, enjoy the experience.  Let me know how your games fare!

Remember, you will have more excuses when you lose!


Conventions in Gaming – Dice

From my history page it’s clear that I have grown up with Games Workshop, therefore this post will present a pretty clear bias to that fact, historical gaming isn’t my forte and I’m sure old man Servitob can chime in with some extra points once I’m done.

Classic board games and pretty much every tabletop war game I’ve seen all use dice. Varying quantities of dice to be exact. You can get by with a mere 6d6 if you’re playing Privateer Press games whereas in 40k you can easily end up rolling over a hundred. I remember reading a copy of White Dwarf where the author of an article describing the new War of the Ring game was using the fact that you got to roll an ill-fated Southampton built cast iron behemoth load of dice to decide combats. One of the things that can help you pick out closet gamers is the fact that, more than likely, there are various boxes of dice scattered around their house and the odd errant wanderer lodged under a TV cabinet of sofa.

So, why are dice used? Normally this is to add in an element of chance that exists in the real world, just because you line up a perfect head shot doesn’t take into account that at the last minute a random gust may take the bullet off target, or the mark may find some extra cover to protect themselves. Dice naturally represent the vagaries and random elements that can and do take place in normal real life activities (not really just talking about actual combat here, I have much more experience with the virtual kind and am thankful to not have had to experience it in real life). Yet some games let you roll way more than others, some people also seem to be unlucky at certain kinds of rolls. Personally I struggle with Instability tests with my Chaos Daemons and Power Klaw attacks from my Ork Nobs. Servitob has a reputation for unerring accuracy with a blast template too. While obviously the dice do not favour one person over another, we see patterns in the fate we receive. But surely, there can be other mechanics that we can use other than dice? I like dice and sometimes there is something sadistically satisfying as getting a full mob of Orks into combat and then rolling enough dice to reconstruct the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in 3d, however, is this the best way to do things or just an accepted part of our hobby?

We’ve already talked about how different games require different numbers of dice, I’m pretty certain that if there was a game where you just compared the stats of one thing to another  Top Trumps style, it’d be a pretty crummy and boring game (just like Top Trumps). This is why I’m so interested currently with Malifaux, it forgoes the use of dice and instead uses a pack of 54 cards, being a money making venture of course you can buy official faction themed Malifaux decks, but there are rules in the main book that cover using a normal deck of cards, you just need to have two Jokers in there as well. With cards you need a slightly different mechanic than with dice, but just as dice can be re-rolled due to certain rules, in Malifaux you get rules that allow you to add additional cards to a total as well as having a hand of cards that allow you to “Cheat Fate” by swapping the card you drew with one you possess in your Hand. With dice you’re completely at the whim of chance as to whether your re-roll is higher than the previous, but with the mechanic in Malifaux if you really need to cast that spell or win that combat, if you have the cards in your hand then you’re in a much better place to predict the outcome of the action.

I don’t know whether you can call it lazy game design that leads a lot of our games to rely on dice, after all, dice have been in use as games in their own right for millenia and now we use them to add that randomness to our games. Is being able to control things using cards better than the pure random chance of a dice roll? Well, that’ll be down to personal preference and I’m not leaning either way, it’s just nice that someone has come up with another way to play and I believe it to be a nice change of pace from the staple that I’ve seen over the past almost 20 years of war gaming.

As long as whatever system is developed is non-intrusive and doesn’t detract from the ebb and flow of a game I’m all for trying out something new. I’ve played dice games and I’d played card games. I’ve even played card games that have used dice, but I do think that while it’s easy to fall back on using dice as Malifaux demonstrates, using something a little “out of the box” can add an extra dimension to a game that makes it stand out against the ever increasing crowd.

Nurgle Daemons Poison Loren Forest – Story at 11

Following on from my recent escapades with the all Slaanesh army I knocked together an all Nurgle list.

I wasn’t expecting it but I managed to get in a game yesterday but this time the Vampires had been substituted for Wood Elves which had me a lot more worried. To kick off I’ll throw my army list down.

Great Unclean One: Level 3 Wizard, Staff of Nurgle and Noxious Vapours

Herald of Nurgle: Level 1 Wizard, Slime Trail, Noxious Vapours, Battle Standard Bearer, Standard of Sundering

Herald of Nurgle: Level 1 Wizard, Slime Trail, Noxious Vapours

16 Plaguebearers: Full Command with Icon of Virulence

15 Plaguebearers: Full Command with Icon of Virulence

15 Plaguebearers: Full Command with Icon of Virulence

Beast of Nurgle

Beast of Nurgle

Overall from looking at it on paper I was hoping that it would be tricky to kill. I only had two units with a Herald so knew the one that didn’t have Regeneration was going to bear the brunt of whatever was sent my way. This wasn’t built around a particular army to counter but thought that it would be a decent force to have a go with.

I ended up facing Wood Elves, who I already have a healthy respect for especially in the hand of my usual opponent. Hopefully the hard to kill Daemons would prove their worth.

I ended up winning the roll to go first and handed it to my opponent, I was wary about doing this but it would mean I’d get the last turn for capturing table quarters but I had to take my time to think if it was the right thing to do. The Wood Elves moved their cavalry forward as well as Wardancers, Dryads and one of the heroes, everything else got ready to shoot. I had picked the Lore of Athel Loren with my Standard of Sundering, so despite three casters they were all at -2 to cast (with the exception of the Treeman’s bound spell) and I had a whopping 6 dispel dice anyway. I think the Wood Elves got off one Tree Singing the whole game. Shooting picked of some of the Plaguebearers from the non heralded group.

I just moved everything forward and got a couple of Miasma of Pestilences on the Heralds, none of the Rancid Visitations (either cast by the GUO or his bound staff) went through. I was facing 3 dispel scrolls.

Second turn Wood Elf noble charged the Great Unclean One, more shooting thinned out the non herald squad and I lost some from the non-BSB herald unit. Turns out that this Noble had been geared out for killing Greater Daemons (or at least the Keeper I used the last time). he was Alter Kindred and had an Annoyance of Netlings so I’d only be hitting on 6’s. So, first round of combat I rolled two 6’s as my Noxious Vapours made him strike last, he had also declared a challenge which I accepted (puny elf thing). Two auto wounds from Poisoned Attacks and he failed one of his 3+ ward saves which meant the ward save was now gone (some magic item) and I knocked a wound down. My guy also took a wound so we drew the combat.

Over the next few turns I didn’t get anything magic off other than Miasma of Pestilence on the Heralds. my Plaguebearers got thinned although the unit with the non BSB Herald saw off  the Treeman. The Great Unclean One saw off the hero as well as a unit of Warhawk Riders. The Treeman killers got flank charged by Dryads after pursuing the Treeman and rear charged by Wardancers. Slime Trail paid for itself there. I got a rear charge with one of the Beasts into the Wardancers. The Dryads fled and the Wardancers were killed as they were surrounded with no way to run. In the next turn I failed to declare a charge on the Glade Guard with the survivors of that combat. Another unit of Plaguebearers (the non-Herald one) took charges from the Wild Riders and Glade Riders, leaving only the unit champ remaining, however, I did see off the Wild Riders and the Glade Riders died when the BSB unit charged them. I ran my other Beast into Waywatchers and proceeded to do no wounds and suffered one back from return attacks. By this time though a lot of the Elves were gone and I had only lost 1 Beast due to a bad instability roll.

We totted up the victory points after turn 6 and I had a Solid Victory, I had lost around half of the one Herald unit, nothing from the BSB unit, 1 Beast and 1 wound off the other, the third Plaguebearer unit was down to its Champion only and the Great Unclean One had 9 wounds left. I grabbed two table quarters too. Now, I can’t claim that this was all down to pure tactical genius. The Wood Elves found it hard to wound anything I had and I was passing more of the normal ward saves than I usually do (so in retrospect I probably hit averages) but backed up with the Herald giving the one unit regeneration is stuck it out amazingly well.

I’m not sure about the Staff of Nurgle as I spent a lot of time in combat and therefore it was useless, I may use those points elsewhere the next time. I have also yet to try and combined Gods army, but with another mono-God army working really well I had a lot of fun. I don’t consider Nurgle to be overpowered they did what I expected to do in terms of soaking up punishment and it was a good game even if the final result did make things look a little one sided.

News Update

For anyone that is not a regular reader of Games Workshop’s monthly hobby mag and is blissfully unaware of the number of other sites reporting this across the Interwebs, the next army to be released for 7th edition Warhammer is going to be the Skaven. New Clanrats are on display in the magazine (alongside a lot of stuff dedicated to Space Hulks return), personally, I’m not sure about the models but another army coming out should mean that the “Daemons are too overpowered” argument may receive some further dilution.

Also, not much of a surprise though, the next 40K release is yet more Space Marines, this time in lycanthropy flavour. New Space Wolves will be hitting the shelves soon.

Slaanesh Vs Vampire Counts – Expose

As part of the Uncharted Seas trial day (still gutted that I lost both of those games) I am now reporting on the events that transpired during the evening of that same day. We had 3 people there (myself included) during the day and then that went down to 2 of us in the evening when we had a 2000pt Warhammer game planned.

My friend and I have been battling back and forth over the past couple of months with our Chaos and Vampire Counts armies. Tweaking each one after the game and trying out new things along the way. Due to some luck on my part my all Cavalry Warriors of Chaos are 2-0 up in this rivalry. I knew that Mr. Vampire had gone and picked up a Varghulf and I had mentioned looking into a Shaggoth and dropping both my units of Chaos Hounds as they really are quite useless against Undead due to their poor leadership and the fact they are to secure my flanks and sit way outside of General Leadership range. I’d like to think I went one better! I still stuck with my Chaos but swapped things around to the Daemonic variety with an all Slaanesh army based on a strong core of Daemonettes.

I had picked up the Daemons book a while ago and have many models for this army, I never played it and was amazed by the uproar when the book first came out about how no-one would ever beat Daemons as the whole book was full of cheese and in general was overpowered. I had been thinking long and hard because rumours abounded about the Warriors of Chaos release and I knew that they’d zoom up my “must buy now” list as soon as they hit the shelves. So when they did I bought up some and my Daemons languished around and ended up on round bases for a couple games of 40k. With the Vampire threat around I wanted to try them out, not least because it would negate the Psychology part of the game. I can consistently roll LD+1 for every unit I own and any re-rolls always end up higher than the first set. In an effort to keep things exciting I went for mono God rather than stick with the expected Khorne/Tzeentch combination that people hate to come up against.

Now, I won’t give a full battle report, these are going to just be my observations about how the army worked. I’ll leave a proper battle report for when I take photos and notes. My list was as follows;

Keeper of Secrets – Lvl 3 Wizard with Torment Blade

Herald of Slaanesh – Battle Standard with Banner of -2 Leadership and Siren Song gift

The Masque

19 Daemonettes with Full Command and Banner of Ecstasy

20 Daemonettes with Full Command and Banner of Ecstasy

20 Daemonetters with Full Command

5 Seekers of Slaanesh with Musician

2 Fiends of Slaanesh

More models than my Warriors army and not a lot slower really considering how much stuff has a 20″ threat range. I’ll give a run down of how each unit performed, I already have an all Nurgle list planned for my next game to try that out. The Herald got slapped in with the 19 stron unit of Daemonettes.

Keeper – This guy is amazing, I love him to bits. Ok, I’ll admit his save is rubbish and is the only caster I have but he eats through stuff and being so fast makes him difficult to deal with, normally he wasn’t close enough to the Masque and Herald to benefit from Ld bombing for his Torment Blade but still, he took 2 wounds the whole game and ripped up some stuff. Expensive but worth it.

Herald – Worth the points and then some. Sitting in the middle of your opponents army with Always Strikes First on a unit with a load of attacks kept me around a lot longer than I had any right to be. This one unit survived four turns of being in combat before finally dropping to a horribly failed Instability test on the last turn… they will be making a comeback as I am very much thinking of sticking with mono -Slaanesh in the long run.The Sire song pulled in the Vargulf who got Combat Ressed to death leaving an entire flank of the Undead army without a Vampire to allow them to march. I’ll keep that in for sure but not sure how much more mileage I’ll get out of it now the trick has been displayed.

Masque – 90 points well spent. She killed a Vampire and Necromancer in close combat as well as stopping a Wraith unit and Banshee from going anywhere with her minus D3″ movement. That Wraith unit then got charged by a Daemonette unit and the rest is history. The rest of the time she was reducing the Vampire Lord and his unit with -2 Leadership. Although, I never did manage to kill the Lord to force crumbling…

Daemonette unit 2 & 3 – No ASF but still deadly on the charge and the Banner of Ecstasy means that I lost less wounds than I would normally do on my horrible Instability rolls (when I remembered that the unit had the banner that is). Unit 3 took a while to get back into the fight after seeing off the Wraiths but I know how much damage they can do if you leave them unchecked in your flank.

Seekers – These guys acted as a speed bump to the Black Knights who were a lot more expensive. Not the ideal target for them to go against but it meant that the flank of my army stayed safe while the Keeper got around the rear and caused problems. If I can get a flank or rear charge I am sure they will be awesome but the one round of combat they were in I rolled horribly and did my usual 10+ for their leadership test after it.

Fiends – I am going to split them up in my next game. They didn’t do a whole lot as I missed with most of their attacks for the one turn they made it into combat. I need more mileage with them to be able to come up with a valid conclusion.

The biggest weakness of this army is the toughness 3 dominance. You have Elves that at best have a 5+ save, even if it is a Ward save, you won’t be making many of those in a game. However, the army did prove surprisingly resilient and I liked how it played. It’s quick and gives your opponent multiple threats to have to look after, no-one likes a Greater Daemon roaming around the place.

The game ended up in a draw, mainly due to mistakes on my part playing with a new army, I believe that with a few of those mistakes undone (missing declaring charges for 2 units in a turn for instance) I’d have probably eeked out a minor Victory. Our games have always been bloody so far and this one was no exception, the combat Vampire Lord is solely responsible for wiping out my CR advantage over the last 2 turns by just how many he would kill in his return attacks and I had nothing that could declare a challenge, not that I would with anything other than the Greater Daemon and even that would be a risky prospect.

I have yet to try any Tzeentch or Khorne units and I have the feeling that when I do I’ll experience the “cheese” factor so many people have complained about the Daemons possessing.

“What do you mean 5 armies isn’t enough?”

I don’t know if anyone else experiences this, but I have an inkling that many do;

That urge you have whenever you see a new army for whatever game tickles your fancy and you end up with this overwhelming desire to go and spend your hard earned cash on something for it. There are even those times when an army you have previously discarded as one you will “never collect” actually inspires you out of the blue.

I’ve often mused that once you get into miniatures wargaming it becomes more of an obsession than a hobby, hordes of metal and plastic end up taking over your home and heavens help you if you are married or co-habiting… I have a couple of army cases that are full of stuff and STILL these things are all over the house.

Currently I have the following forces;

Warmachine: Cryx and Cygnar

Hordes: Skorne

Warhammer: Warriors of Chaos

40k: Orks and Daemons

And I am just waiting for my Uncharted Seas fleet to arrive through the post.

Last year I managed to clear out a lot of stuff to try and consolidate my collection, I sold Space Marine, Dark Eldar and Necron armies for 40k in order to get my Orks. I sold my Dark Elves as I wasn’t playing Fantasy and my Khador from Warmachine. I also managed to get rid of my Confrontation Celts and Daikinee due to the changes that Rackham made to their game. All in all I sold a lot of pieces and my main game since has been 40k. However, even though I know that I don’t want to be in the same situation again with having millions of models all over the place I still find myself being tempted, quite severely, that leads me to have to rigorously put down my own will.

I like my Orks, they are brutal and seem to fit with how I play. My Daemons are really an accident as I got them for Warhammer but on the eve of the Warriors of Chaos release and ended up with an army of them instead and converted the Daemons over to 40k. Yet, after having two battles with my Warriors I am now looking at the option of using my Daemons in Fantasy for a change. I have been facing the new Vampires and have to say that I am finding them to be a tough challenge. I have won both the games I have played but they have invariably been horribly bloody affairs but highly enjoyable nevertheless. I am now looking to throw a spanner in the works by changing what I field.

I never design an army around beating a particular opponent, I tend to throw an army together to face whatever would come along, even if I know pretty much exactly what I will actually be facing. The Daemons have a unit that I do not currently have in my collection. It’s not one I’d be using in 40k only for fantasy and therefore I am reluctant to go out and spend money on the stuff (I’d be doing a conversion as well) just to satisfy things for one game. I’ll proxy with my opponents permission. But really, the crux of this post is that after playing with one army, I get the urge to look into another and then I go work out an army before I have to take a step back and realise that to do this would mean another batch of plastic. Another few nights of actually assembling everything and another lifetime of having to provide storage for all these extra models. I just find it very hard to settle on any one thing and with having multiple games that I like to play this just makes it all the worse.

Should I just give in to the obsession of gaming, or is there a way that I can curb the desire to create new forces with which to surprise my enemies?