Fixing WHFB – Turns

This one has been a long time in my mind. It will likely be the most controversial of my thoughts on fixing Warhammer Fantasy as it’s a big change to a fundamental mechanic of the game.

Part of the issue with all Warhammer games (both Fantasy and 40k) is the amount of engagement a player has when it’s not their turn. Most players, I’ve noticed, often tend to hit a state of attention deficit during their opponent’s turn. People will start chatting with other people around the area, messing with their phones, or even wander off to do other activities – like grabbing another slice of pizza etc…

The only aspects that a player interacts with the game when it’s not their turn comes down to rolling reactions to the other player’s actions and removing dead models from the board. None of these things involve a high level of tactics. Do you let spell X go, cause you are saving dice for spell Y later? Do you Stand and Shoot or Flee? These are not really engaging. The only engaging phase in the entire game is close combat as both players roll, but there is still few choices going on.

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Fixing WHFB – Combat Resolution and Fear/Terror

So I’ve been thinking about combat resolution in Warhammer Fantasy lately. It’s really changed since the old 3rd edition that I started with. The old rules were vastly more interesting to what we have in the modern game, but were a bit more arcane.

After winning in a combat you could do a ‘wrap around’ back in the days of yore. The entailed taking some rear ranks of a unit and placing them on the flanks of the unit you are fighting. You could also widen your frontage with this maneuver. It made sense thinking of ancient battles. If a block of ancient warriors began to beat their enemy they could surround them to finish them off.

But as with most game vs. reality debates, it did trespass on easy to play rules and slowed the game down.

That’s the issue when trying to simulate realism. The more accurate to reality you get, the more unplayable the game will become. Imagine rolling for every model as if they were from your favorite RPG game. You’d be lucky if you finished a turn of combat before the day was done, although you’d get some fantastically realistic results… 🙂 Continue reading

Game Scale and Entry

What is game scale? In short it’s the amount of the game that you need to play.

Scale is a sliding bar for the number of models. Most table top battle games deal with scale in terms of points. Weak units tend to be cheap per model, while the tougher ones and much more expensive. On one end you have what is considered a ‘small’ game and on the other, well, I think Buzz Lightyear said it best : “To infinity and BEYOND!”

Now what a ‘small’ game is up to some debate. A small game of Godslayer is 160 points. A small game of Firestorm Armada is 450 points. A small Warhammer Fantasy game is 1000. But points really are meaningless in reverence of scale. The key unit of measurement is really money. Continue reading

Fixing WHFB – Multiple Wounds

Short one today on multiple wounds in Warhammer Fantasy. The rule is essentially that if wounded after save attempts, that wound will multiply by the multiple wound rule (2, 1d3, 1d6, etc…). I’ve always felt that this is a bit much. It only really penalizes things on the board with more than 1 wound. Basically that’s anything over man-sized (or Orc sized) and characters. The big issue I have with this is the random element is too high for kill potential. Most monsters are relying in high toughness and a mid level armor or regeneration for defense. Characters typically are low toughness and high armor and good ward saves for defense. Larger than man-sized infantry typically get the short end with a middle ground of save and toughness.

The big issue with these defenses if that you get one shot (or maybe two with Wards, etc…) to save the wound. When dealing with singular wounds this system generally works well – but when you are dealing with wound multipliers, it’s save or die.  This is compounded when looking at weapons that are extremely high strength like cannons which allow no armor saves. Continue reading

Beer and Pretzel vs. Competitive.

There is a big separation in the camps in which most gamers fall.

There are those that feel that games should be fun. Relaxing. A hobby. These are your beer and pretzel gamers. For those not familiar with the term, it paints the image of a few friends around the gaming table. Having a few brewskis and munching on snacks. The same general body language of one kicking back after work and watching a movie with their significant other or catching their favorite sport team on TV. These guys don’t care about how the game ends – it’s the journey that counts. Bunch of slackers.

Then there are those gamers would are the win at all costs lot. The ones that are frothing at the mouth if they are losing. The ones that get mad when people give ‘bad tactics’ online. These are what make gaming not fun. These are the problem group – they will tell you how much you suck at life because you aren’t playing to win at a pastime. Continue reading

The Necessity of Redundancy

One of the biggest tactical concepts that many newer players (and some older players) never fully realize is that of redundancy.

Redundancy is essentially having more than a single unit or type of force in a table top battle game. The importance of this is to strengthen a certain position to such a degree that an opponent cannot simply target and remove the threat. Players that hate this tactic will often refer to in in the slightly derogatory term “Spamming”. It’s a delicate balance, however. Having a lot of a good unit/item/etc, is a good thing. Having so many that it means you are lacking in other areas means that you build in tactical weakness.

A common example of this are Ork Boyz in 40k. Ork Boyz are good. They are cheap, have good combat stats, are able to bring incredible numbers. Having a bunch of Ork Boyz is a GOOD thing. But if you built an army with nothing but Ork Boyz you are weak to anything that doesn’t require massed combat troops (Vehicles for example.) Continue reading

Fixing WHFB – Magic

Well, this is it – the big one.

Magic changes in 8th ed. Fantasy have been disliked by many. The system itself isn’t a terrible one per se, but it does have a few subtle flaws that cause it to be vastly overpowered.

It was also considered overpowered in 7th edition too. So what changed? First of all spell casters used to add to the power pool. Depending on the levels of casters involved, each would add a certain number of dice to the power pool and defense pool when it’s your opponent’s turn.

8th edition turned this on its head and made it dependent on a random roll – casters don’t directed add. This is unfortunately heading in the direction of lazy game design that Warhammer games have been rapidly embracing. Winning or losing on random rolls is not good game design. Sure rolling dice is part of it, but there should be a level of expected outcome. It’s why games have stats to begin with. Otherwise we would just play ‘who rolls highest wins’. Continue reading