Posts Tagged ‘tactical blether’

(Yes, he’s going to write about wargaming again. Sorry.)

Someone check the Book of Revelation for signs of the looming apocalypse – yup, I’ve finally had a proper game of 8th Edition WFB. Ironically, after protracted flirtation with Vampires, Ogres, Empire, and Orcs and Goblins, I ended up going into battle with a force mainly composed of a Chaos Warrior army I first bought while recovering from suspected malaria in 2009 (ah, happy days).

It was a bit of a shock when I recently realised that I’ve been out of the game for over eight years, especially given I was only really in it for seven prior to that. And my involvement as a ‘serious’ player – someone who thought about winning in a systematic way and went to tournaments and so on – only really started in my last year or so. Still, I have found myself increasingly missing the challenge of actual wargaming, probably partly due to the unique tactile and immersive nature of the hobby (compared to computer and board games, anyway), and finding myself very disenchanted with 40K these days, I finally had the motivation to cobble a decent WFB force together.


I understood that 1500 was a reasonable sized game for fantasy day at the local gaming venue, so this was what I brought along. To be fair, this was a stretch and definitely involved scraping together (almost) everything I could get my hands on. Marshalling the very small horde was a winged Khornate Daemon Prince with various toys, supported by an Exalted Hero and a Sorcerer of Fire. A dozen Chaos Warriors and twenty Marauders bulked things out a tiny bit, with mobility provided by two minimal units of Warhounds and some spear-chucking Marauder Horsemen. Rounding things off was a minimal unit of Chaos Knights.

I procured an opponent prepared to put up with my endless checking of the rules (and tendency to still use 6th ed rules regardless), although – he eventually revealed – he was using an (it seemed to me) extremely competitive Orc and Goblin list: a huge block of about 100 Night Goblin archers, a much smaller mob of 15 or so Savage Orc Big ‘Uns, two Bolt Throwers and a Doom Diver, and a selection of characters. As a long-term Orc player in the wayback, this wasn’t a list I would ever have taken, mainly because he was cherry-picking characters to suit strategy rather than theme: a Black Orc Warboss but no Black Orc infantry, for example, and a Goblin Battle Standard in a Night Goblin unit (I found myself getting misty-eyed for 5th when this sort of thing wasn’t so easy). We’re back to the old question of winning ugly vs. losing pretty, and I will hold up my hand and admit that my insistence on playing to theme and aesthetics is probably one of the main reasons why I am at best only a very middling player of any of these games.

And, fairly predictably all things considered, I got tabled in four or five turns. While his war machines were a reasonable target for my Warhounds, it quickly became apparent I had no realistic way of countering the magical bombardment coming out of my opponent’s Great Shaman, and short of a series of lucky flukes no chance of breaking either of his units in combat (the 50+ 5+ poisoned shortbow shots coming out of the Night Goblins every turn was a bit troubling too).

List aside, some of the rule changes in 8th did trip me up a bit. I was not completely clear on how the challenge rules operated, resulting in the Daemon Prince being beaten to death by Savage Orc rank’n’file while the champion hid at the back of the unit, and the ability of units to reform even in the middle of combat was a hell of a shock. Big units now seem incredibly resilient, especially when accompanied by a general and a standard bearer (again, the 5+ poison coming off the Night Goblins made this unit considerably nastier).

I managed to kill one bolt thrower, a handful of Savage Orcs, and about 30-40% of the Night Gobbos, this last mainly due to repeated castings of Piercing Bolts of Burning on this massive unit. My opponent assured me this was not a disastrous performance, but I found myself inclined to make The Face as the game went on and the sheer extent to which I was out of my depth became apparent. On the other hand, the challenge of mastering this new version of the game and coming up with a more competitive list is a rather engaging one.

Several things occur to me. First is the caveat from a strategy tactica on a major gaming site, stressing that if you play without a strategy against someone who has one, you will almost certainly lose. Fair enough. I need to play smaller-points games where I don’t need to put all my points into big fragile targets like Daemon Princes and actually think more strategically when making my unit selections. Quite what that strategy will be I will need to think about.

Second, the complete absence of cavalry or monsters from the Orc and Goblin army was notable. On one level this is a blow as I do love a good monster in my armies (doubly so given I’ve recently bought a big box of various monsters and monstrous cavalry), but I suspect I love winning more. The prevalence of big block infantry in the current meta(if this game was representative) will entail dropping stuff that can’t stand up to infantry in a protracted slugging match. I can’t currently foresee a time when maxing out my Lord allowance on a Daemon Prince will be a good investment, and the same really applies to spending 250+ points on a 5-strong heavy cavalry unit.

Thirdly. A rather good, if unfinished, guide to army design in 8th Ed, stipulates a number of must-take units for any army capable of employing them. These are a battle standard, a large cheap infantry block, a small fast (cheap) sacrificial unit, cheap core missile troops, a cannon or stone thrower, and a chariot. Knowledgable readers will already have noticed that not all of these things are present in the Chaos Warrior list, but even so this looks like a decent place to start thinking.

And lastly, of course, how did my existing army actually perform? ‘Terribly’ is of course the glib answer, but I did kill a bolt thrower outright and took a hefty chunk out the Night Goblin ubermob. The units responsible were the Chaos Sorcerer and the Warhounds. My Slaaneshi Beasts army in the wayback included, if memory serves, four units of six Warhounds and I think more will be joining the current army. And having seen the Night Goblin Great Shaman dominate this game, I think I shall try including a Chaos Sorcerer Lord in a couple of games and see how that goes.

Of course, given the lack of focus on massed infantry in the Chaos list, it has occurred to me to switch back to my old Vampires project, with plentiful (if cruddy) cheap skeletons and zombies available. That would mean either not playing for months while I paint massed undead, or getting games in with a weak Chaos army, not learning much useful about my own army, and probably becoming very depressed by repeated drubbings. I shall stick with the Chaos Warriors for now.

At 1000 points, I can include the Warhounds, the Warriors, the Marauders, and a Chaos Sorceror from the existing list. Unfortunately this exhausts my current supply of units from the ‘recommended’ list (can’t even afford a lvl 2 Sorcerer and another character at 1K). Glancing over my various options (Horsemen, Knights, Dragon Ogres, a Giant, and so on) I suspect the least bad option for such a small game is a small unit of Chaos Ogres and a couple of Spawn of Slaanesh.

But looking at that ‘recommended’ list again – a battle standard I can well see the value of. Cheap sacrificial Warhounds I need no persuasion about. I was thinking in terms of a chariot already. I suppose a larger Marauder infantry block, possibly with a Mark, is also a possibility – I will need the ranks. However, there aren’t really any core missile troops in the list, and is a Hellcannon going to fill the same role as a regular cannon? Back to the army book I fear. At least I have plenty to occupy me.


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