Warhammer Fantasy 8th Edition - What's It To Me?

We are starting to see more and more concrete rumors concerning Warhammer Fantasy 8th Edition. Over at Dakka there is a really good post that sums up the most concrete rumors to date. As you can tell from the title of this post I am going to look at what these rumors (if they turn out to be true) mean to me.

I am a very casual Warhammer Fantasy player. I have an Ogre army and about half of a Skaven army (which is still a TON of models.) I have played in one big multi-day tournament earlier this year, and I lost every game. I had a blast playing, but it really showed me the discrepancy in the power levels of the armies in Fantasy.

In Warhammer 40k the armies are pretty much balanced against each other. You do see certain armies doing better than others, but only for a little while. Currently Imperial Guard have a bit of a leg up, but just a while back it was Nob Bikers. Armies shift in power much more dynamically than in Fantasy. In 40k anytime you set down your army against another player you a chance. This is not the case in Fantasy.

In Warhammer Fantasy there are a few armies that rule the roost. Chaos Daemons, Vampire Counts, and Dark Elves are currently the king of the hill. It breaks down even more below that. There are almost 'bands' of armies that are grouped together by competitiveness. I am not real familiar with the different bands, but I do know that Tomb Kings and Ogre Kingdoms are at the bottom of the heap right now. What this means - and I have seen it happen - is that if you put pretty much ANY Ogre or Tomb King list down against a well built Daemon list, you will not be able to beat the Daemons. There is just too much of an imbalance in forces.

This just really put me off of Fantasy. I want to feel like I am in the fight - like I have a shot. You should at least be able to compete with any force against any other force, and currently that just isn't the case.

Now lets take a look at the new rumors that are floating around and see what they mean to the more casual Warhammer Fantasy player.

One of the biggest changes that we are seeing is the rumor that army construction will move back to a percentage based system. Apparently this is how it was done in 5th edition. In sixth and seventh edition you had slots like in 40k, with no restriction on points. This allows for 1000 points to be spent on characters and huge 'Death Star' units of Rare or Elite choices that most armies - the ENTIRE opposing army - will have a nigh impossible time dealing with.

If the move to a percentage system holds true you will immediately see a drop in HUGE point cost characters. The current rumor is that 25% of your force will be allowed to be Characters. This means in a 2000 point game you would get 500 points and in a 2250 point game you would get 562 points. With a base Greater Daemon (Bloodthirster, Great Unclean One, Keeper of Secrets, or Lord of Change) costing 450 points this means that would be the only character you would have in a 2000 point game. This is really a game changer. It just seems more fair to me. A Greater Daemon is huge! Their stats are nuts, and they have a supreme amount of power on the table. If there is only one of them running around with no other Characters in the army, this is more manageable that a Greater Daemon and three Heralds.

The same holds true for Vampire Counts or a magic heavy army. You can have an extreme amount of casting dice that can just cripple an opponent unless they spent an equal amount of their points on magic. This pretty much requires you to take scroll caddies - a lower level character who is carrying as many dispel scrolls as possible. If you are only able to spend a certain number of points on characters this will lower the overall amount of magic in a game. Whenever Jester talks about Warhammer Fantasy it always comes up that the magic phase just ruins it for him. You spend hours and hours painting blocks of troops only to have them wiped out by a single magician - what fun is that?

Aside from the reduction in points that will be able to be spent on magic, it looks like the magic phase is getting a pretty major overhaul as well. Currently you generate dice based on what level of wizard your character is - it is a set amount. It looks like now the amount of casting dice that you have will be random. The most probably rumor out there at the moment is that you will get 2d6 dice + an amount for each wizard. No one is exactly sure on this though. This fits in much better with the fluff in my opinion - the winds of magic are ever shifting. This will also take the certainty out of the magic phase.

It also looks like there is going to be an overhaul of the way that you miscast and get irresistible force. It looks like there will be an uptick in miscasts - you will be able to hold dice, but can suffer a backlash, failing to cast spells a certain number of time will force a miscast, and even possibly rolling a double six will cause irresistible force and a miscast? Who knows at this point but it is clear that the magic phase is going to be drastically different and that is ok by me.

Moving on to the actual meat of the game is combat. Currently combat is very fast and very deadly. The unit that gets the charge more time than not wipes out the unit that it charges into without even taking any attacks back. It looks like this is going to be changing a little bit. Currently if you charge a unit you swing first. It looks like that is out the window - combat is supposedly moving to strictly be initiative based. I am not sure what the bonus for charging will be, but there has got to be one. Also, to address the whole not getting to swing back it looks like if your front rank is wiped out your second rank will get to swing in their place. There isn't any real solid information on this yet but I think it's a good idea. The initiative stat is just not what it should be in Warhammer Fantasy. In 40k it really matters that you are I5 instead of I4 and I look forward to seeing that carry over into fantasy as well.

One last note that relates to combat - rank bonuses. It looks like there is quite a bit of confusion on how rank bonuses are going to work. There is talk of getting up to +5 for ranks, but only if you are ten wide, or maybe if you are wide enough you will get a bonus for each additional unit, it goes on and on on this front and we don't know for sure yet.

The last thing I am going to talk about is something that is near and dear to me - Ogre sized creatures. It looks like Ogre Sized Creatures are going to be getting their own size category - currently they are a bit of a grey area between infantry models and monsters models. They will also be getting buffed. Supposedly they will only need to be three wide to get a rank bonus and they are supposedly getting some kind of stomp or slam attack - not a whole lot of info on this one. I say it's about time. Ogres are expensive, big, and should be scary to face in hand to hand - currently they are just a joke.

Hopefully with the new edition we will see a balancing of power that will make it more fun for the casual and new player. Here's hoping.