Warhammer Age of Sigmar: The Great Distractor!

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If you’re a Warhammer nerd like me, you probably know that the reboot of Warhammer Fantasy—Age of Sigmar—has been rebooted again. AOS 2nd edition is out now and is all the buzz among the swarming flies of Nurgle. I never played AOS 1st edition and don’t see any major changes into 2nd, but I have been assured by others that the changes are worthwhile.

Having never gotten into the game, though, now I am tempted. And my friend Josh is pushing the issue. He’s always happy to aid in any corruption, and trying to loop me into a new game and new models is not going to help get my list of novels-yet-to-be written!

Quit trying to shove that monkey on my back, Josh!

Although, I must say… It is a pleasant monkey…

I do like AOS’s approach, versus the latest edition of Warhammer 40K. This is the 8th and most dramatic change for 40K, which is my greater love of nerdly tabletop warfare. (While I’ve always been big in both fantasy and science fiction in general, sci-fi holds a slightly higher spot for me.) I must admit, though—and I think anyone who knows would agree—that 40K and Fantasy get more and more alike with each new edition. 8th-ed 40K took on a very AOS aspect from its former versions. I have now played exactly one game of 8th edition and it was still pretty clunky, since it was my first game. There are things I like and things I don’t.

And from what I can tell, Age of Sigmar does this new approach far better.

I like that nearly every unit in the game has some special rule that it can bring into play. This is especially important given that the stat lines of most units are pretty damn nearly the same. Almost all weapons are some variety of 3+ or 4+ rolls of the dice. If it weren’t for these other flavorful rules for each unit, they’d all be the same damn thing!

40K hasn’t done this quite as well. Maybe because there is already so much variety in the game? Each army has an awful lot of unit types. Maybe, too, because there’s a much bigger variety of shooty weapons in 40K? I suppose there isn’t as great a need for individual special rules with so many weapons and vehicles to choose from.

I also like the new command points rules in AOS, giving players more special stunts to pull per turn. Plus the blending of factions, special formation traits that aren’t overwhelming and are available depending on how “pure” your force is. As well as the free magic weapon and artefacts you can get.

I’m not delving into specifics here because if you’ve read this far, you probably already know more about it than I do. Let’s just say, I like the way this is going. And damn it, I don’t have time for another game and another army!

But if I did…

I bought the huge Chaos grand alliance book the other day. I can envision a Chaos force built from many factions…

  • The core warband would be composed of Slaves to Darkness and/or Hosts of Slaanesh forces. The general would have to be a cool centerpiece model. A Slaaneshi lord on a daemonic mount, for example, or a sorcerer on a manticore. (That model kicks ass!) The Lord of Chaos on foot has the potential to become both a daemon prince and a spawn! Bonus either way. He’d likely not be my commander, but I like the idea of driving him forward, knowing he’s got reincarnation in his pocket whether he succeeds or not. Then I’d have some chaos warriors on foot and some marauders on horseback throwing javelins. (I like to have some ranged weapons in my forces—a variety of tools in the toolbox makes it strategically more versatile.) A badass chariot would just look cool. And I have a box of Empire flagellants still waiting to be put together. I could paint them all chaotic and call them “chaos fanatics” and count them as marauders on foot with flails. J
  • Most of the minions of the warband—the bulk of throw-away bodies sent in to kill or die, or both—would be beastmen. I want a Bray Shaman to lead them. He gives me magic plus the potential for more monsters with his summoning powers. Then two units of beastman infantry with blue war paint striped on them would just look cool as hell.
  • Of course, the overlords of Chaos, the puppeteers pulling strings behind the veil of reality, are daemons! I tend toward Slaanesh these days, so I’d want either units on the table or some on the side for summoning—or both! A Keeper of Secrets or daemon prince, daemonettes, seekers, some mortal hellstriders with big hooked whips. That’s fun shit. Plus, I like the Tzeenchy stuff too. Their characters have the potential to make spawns of the enemy, which is awesome. And having a nice big unit of pink horrors gives me more ranged firepower, and an extra spell to boot!
  • The final aspect of my motley crew: Monsters! Chaos ogres, trolls, chimera, cockatrice, dragons, spawn, warhounds, whatever! The bigger and uglier the better!

Of course, I probably won’t be able to squeeze all that in one army, but you get the idea.

But, like I try to tell Josh, I can’t be starting over with a new game and new models! But it is fun to keep in mind. And maybe slowly, overtime, I might get to doing that. (Even though I already have more 40K shit than I know what to do with…)

Aaaand, everytime time I tell myself I can’t get into it, I come up with more ways that I can… Maybe I’ll just inventory what models I have and see where it goes from there…

 

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Warhammer 40K, neXt edition: Overwatch

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I’ve decided to throw all my radical 40K ideas under “neXt edition” with an emphasis on the “X”. Sounds good for now, right? Might change again by the time I brainstorm more rules; you know, when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting on the throne or something like that.

Today I was waiting at the VA medical clinic and thinking about my previous idea on overwatch revamping. My latest development, then, is this:

OVERWATCH

When a unit declares a charge on yours, you can elect to fire overwatch. You don’t have to, as you only get one overwatch attempt/shot per turn. If you don’t think those guys are going to make it, you might want to save it for another potential charger. You might also decide you’d rather prepare for combat than take pot shots (see below).

In order to muster your troops for a last second volley of shots against a unit charging your position, your squad/models must make a successful Leadership roll. If the unit is influenced by a squad leader or sergeant, HQ model aura, whatever, use that Leadership/modifier, as well as any negative buffs that might reduce their Ld.

If they succeed on their Ld roll, they may fire on the chargers at their normal BS and at the same range as they are when the charge is declared. Weapons out of this range may not fire. Rapid fire, assault, and pistols may fire. Heavy weapons, artillery, and vehicle weapons may not. Once shots are fired, the chargers make their charge roll and move forward to engage. They may or may not fail this charge due to a bad roll or possibly being out of range now due to now-dead models.

If the Ld roll is failed, the overwatch squad attempts to get it together but fails. They’ve spent their overwatch attempt this turn and still are “unready for combat.”

Units that attempt and/or succeed at Overwatch shots are considered “Unready for Combat” when they receive the chargers. This means that for the remainder of this combat round, they count as Initiative 1 no matter their normal Init value. Even if this charge fails and someone else charges them, they still have Init 1 because of their firing actions.

Basically, you need discipline to muster your troops to fire in time. And whether they quite make it or not, they are trying to shoot rather than preparing to fight, so they’ll fight last if any of the chargers make it.

Therefore:

  1. Unit A (assault) declares a charge again Unit S (shooters).
  2. S weighs their options. They decide to attempt Overwatch and are now dedicated to the results. (Just as A is now dedicated to the charge, whether it works or not.) 
  3. S makes a Leadership check. If successful, models with appropriate weapons fire at A where they stand, using normal BS and shooting rules. If they fail the Leadership check, they cannot fire. Either way, they only get one Overwatch attempt per turn.
  4. After resolving Overwatch shots, any remaining A models roll their 2D6 charge range and resolve the charge.
  5. For the remaining Combat phase, all models in S have Initiative 1, against A and any other combatants (even if they couldn’t fire their weapon).  

How’s that sound?!

I like it!

Warhammer 40K: 5th Edition

Guess what I found?!

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It’s been about two weeks now that we finally got all our stuff that was stored in California (coming from Japan) and Texas (left there in 2014). Holy poop do I have a lot of boxes! And books! And Warhammer guys! Finally see it all accumulated in one place honestly makes me feel a little ashamed of myself…

But I’ve learned that if you ever get rid of any of your Warhammer models, you later wish you hadn’t, and maybe even go so far as to buy more to replace the ones you sold! So I won’t get rid of any. But the books, I can do without some of those.

But back to the topic at hand: 5thEdition Warhammer 40K.

I miss this edition! This was the game I came back to in 2008 when I also came back to the Navy and, as a single ensign finally making a decent income, I could actually afford to buy the toys I always wanted. And, boy, did I! Way too many. I can now easily field forces of chaos marines, daemons, eldar, loyalist marines (mostly crimson fists), and space wolves, plus some allied orks, dark angels, whatever!

Flipping through this book makes me really want to go back to it. (No shit, I intend to find someone who wants to play. I probably still have all the codices too!) Some of the things I miss:

  • The Universal Special Rules only take up 3 pages of this mini-sized book, and one-half a page is a picture!
  • Vehicles don’t have hull points. Tanks and dreadnoughts take a beating like they should!
  • A power weapon cuts armor, period. No APs, just make your save or don’t.
  • Only three turns: Move, Shoot, Fight.
  • There’s offensive and defensive grenades, just general classifications. I like that. Offensive grenades allowed you to charge through cover without losing your Initiative (do they still have Initiative at all anymore?!). Defensive grenades denied assaulters the +1 attack for charging. (Okay, maybe the grenade rules weren’t the best ever… What fun are they if you can’t throw them at people and blow them up?)
  • I always liked that there were model types, like infantry, bikes, etc, that all functioned the same way for the most part. So you know the move rate, special rules, etc.
  • You can charge out of reserve and assault vehicles! 6thed, I believe, took away the main function of units like striking scorpions and genestealers by having them walk onto the board and then pause to be shot at. 5thed knew better!

Today we kind of praise 8thedition (which I still haven’t played, but would like to try it) for it being “simplified.” But 5thedition was much more simplified than anything after it. It was easy to play, uncomplicated, and a hell of a lot of fun!

Don’t get me wrong, I like some aspects of the further incarnations, but it sure seems like the adage of “If a little is good, a lot must be great!” was applied over and over again.

Now that I have my toys, I’ll (eventually) try to get me some 8thed games to try it out. But I’d go back to 5thedition in a heartbeat!

A few more of my unsolicited opinions:

FORCE ORG

I do like the new puzzle-piece 8thforce org system. You can basically take whatever you want, but there’s a logic to it, a way to fit pieces together that make it more legit. I always enjoyed that aspect of list-building: that there is some structure you must follow, minimums to meet that keep everyone on an even keel.

But those formations or whatever they were… Basically, the more money you spend the more special powers you get. That crap was unfair. Too much.

For a hybrid version of 40K, maybe you start with the original FO chart, but can purchase extra slots for points. So you can have that 4thHeavy or 3rdHQ choice, but it costs a little extra. (Personally, I think there should be a 3rdHQ slot anyway—those guys are the superheroes of the war, after all!)

OVERWATCH

I don’t think there was Overwatch in 5thed. I both like it and don’t. I think in 8thyou can fire it at EVERY unit that charges you, can’t you? That’s way too much.

I’d almost like to make Overwatch kind of like this:

You get one use per turn of it. If you don’t think the first unit charging is going to make it, hold your fire, save it for that other, closer unit that you think it coming.

Also, you need to make an Initiative test in order to pull it off. If you’re not quick enough, you don’t get your weapons up in time. The trade-off to that could be that you get to fire at your regular BS rather than only hitting on 6s.

And I can already hear Tau players hating this idea! Especially since they generally have Inits of 2. Tau could then have an army special rule like “Disciplined Firing Line” or something to that effect, that gives them a +1 to Init for Overwatch checks.

PSYKERS:

I believe in 5thpsykers can only use one power per turn too. (I don’t have the rule book in front of me right now.) I’d say that can be expanded by the psyker’s level.

I did kind of like the Warhammer Fantasy “Winds of Magic” rules that came over to 40K (was that 6thed?). A random number of dice where you have to use some resource management.

But no, I’d say psyker tests are back to Leadership tests and that they can use a number of powers equal to their level: elite or unit-based models would be level 1, HQ psykers level 2, special characters level 3. They can use that many powers per turn, once each (no repeating powers in the same turn). And they would know that number of powers as well, unless otherwise stated in their special rules (like superhero characters who know all in their discipline.)

“Deny the Witch” I think was a newer development…  We could keep that, but maybe like this: Only a psyker can attempt a Deny the Witch. The “spell” would have to either originate or target a model within 18” of the Denier for them to be in range. They would make their own Leadership test. If it beats (is lower than) the caster’s roll, they deny it. A power that went off on double 1s can’t be denied.

Psychic Hoods extend that range to 24” and give them a +1 (well, -1 really) to their Deny roll.

Okay, that’s enough nostalgia and day dreaming for me for now. Just know that discovering that little lost rule book deep inside a box stored away for 4 years really brought me back.

And speaking of bringing back, BRING BACK 5THEDITION!

Or, as I tell my friend Josh all the time, you can play any damn version you want if you and your buds agree on doing so. So, who wants to play some 5th…?