Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Ogres on Advanced Order

Posted by Ranillon on 26. August 2011 22:42

Games Workshop has just put up a bunch of new Warhammer Ogres on Advanced Order including the new Ogre Kingdoms army book.  Take a look:

I don't play ogres and no plan on starting (too many other armies to paint), but these are quite impressive.  I'm sure any Ogres general out there ought to be quite happy with these new models.

More Demons and Dark Eldar -- With Some Commentary About Prices

Posted by Ranillon on 20. August 2011 03:38

Games Workshop has just released a number of new or redone models for you to buy -- and a new all-daemon battleforce. Here are some pictures:

The quality of the models looks as fine as ever, but when you go to check their cost you're likely to -- once again -- experience sticker shock.  I bring that up because over the last few weeks as I've wandered the Internet reading about the hobby I've run into an unusual amount of anger over GW's latest price increases.  This is especially so given that most people seem -- rightly or not -- to see this new move to Finecast as being at least partially an excuse to raise prices, something that is counter-intuitive as the assumption has long been that moving to plastic/resin should have lowered GW's costs.  In other words, a change that should have at least prevented a price rise if not led to a price cut has instead been apparently used to jack up prices and widen profit margins.

Now, a number of other sources have explained that the seeming combination of shifting to plastic/resin and the (now yearly) price hike was a coincidence rather than just a tactless attempt to gouge customers, but at the very least it was clearly a bad PR move on GW's part.  Likewise, without a doubt costs of materials have gone up quite a bit.  Nevertheless, what I find both interesting and worrying is that the anger toward Game Workshop prices seems to have hit a new crescendo.  Sure, it's always been there, especially since GW made price increases routine -- and dreaded -- events, but I don't think the level of vitriol has ever been as high as I see now (at least in my unscientific assessment).  If so it's not surprising -- the economy stinks, people are trying to get by on less, and yet GW is seemingly trying to price themselves out of existence (or so the rant goes).  When you see things like a group of five Blood Knights -- even if they do look fantastic -- costing $99 (yes, that's what I said) it certainly makes it easy to believe the worst about GW's intentions and (lack of) business acumen.

The truth is certainly more complicated than such easy black-and-white explanations, but it does show that whatever good will the miniatures community has toward GW may be experiencing a serious drop off.  I want to see both GW and miniatures gaming get better and better -- which is why I hope that the company will start to take steps to improve their standing with their core audience.  If nothing else I am getting tired of the instant anger and even rage I see whenever the topic GW and their prices comes up.

Visiting Gen Con 2011

Posted by Ranillon on 11. August 2011 01:13

Last week was Gen Con 2011 and like every year I made sure to visit for a few days.

While it was as fun as ever I have to say -- sadly -- that the convention looked smaller than previously.  Attendance seemed lower and the dealer's room was certainly smaller than usual.  Likewise, whereas in earlier years gaming, miniatures, and card games all had their own individual large rooms this year they were all brought together in a single (still quite large) room.  That doesn't mean that Gen Con was "small" by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems that this lousy economy has hit Gen Con like everywhere.

Yet, to be truthful it wasn't that I found really despressing.  No, that came when I was walking through the miniatures section and seeing just about every mini game I could think of being played -- except, that is, for ANY Games Workshop games.  I saw Battletech, Herocliks, War Machine, Dystopian Wars -- pretty much everything.  Many had crowded tournaments going.  Yet, not one single Warhammer, 40K, Battlefleet Gothic, Blood Bowl, or any other GW product game.

Nice Looking Battletech Board at Work

It wasn't always like this.  The first few times I was at Gen Con there were entire Warhammer and 40K tournaments.  Later on there were at least some few boards of GW stuff being played.  But, this time I couldn't find a single one anywhere.  Admittedly, I didn't check every day and hour of the convention, but by any measure the Games Workshop presence was eclipsed by...well, every other miniatures company out there.

Why Isn't There a Similar Sized Space Marine to Contend with this Warmachine Warjack?

In the past you could almost understand GWs disinterest in visiting places like Origins or Gen Con -- they had their own conventions.  But, those have been reduced to almost nothing (with Independent GTs like ours taking up the slack).  Besides, since when it is a bad thing to expose your product to tens of thousands of potential fans?  I just don't understand the GW approach here, but I hope they see how they are hurting their hobby and reverse this trend of distancing themsevles from their own best customers.

Now on to some pretty pictures, namely many of the winners from the Gen Con painting contest (Click to Biggie Size):



Vampire Counts Advanced Order

Posted by Ranillon on 30. July 2011 09:01

Games Workshop has put up some new models for Vampire Counts and one piece of rather amazing terrain (if a bit "busy") for Warhammer Advanced Order.  Take a look:




All fine models, although I have to say that I think I still prefer the older style banshee.

There are also a number of reissues of old metals models as "Finecast" plastics -- which are definitely "fine" when it comes to their quality, but come with a bit of sticker shock.  This is especially true if one remembers that a supposed reason to welcome plastics is that they reduce costs.  I guess in this case GW decided that they are instead meant to (try to) increase profits.

A Look at the Empire in the Age of 8th Edition Warhammer, Part Two

Posted by Ranillon on 23. July 2011 02:40

So, now that we have taken a look at the Empire army with the newest set of Warhammer rules, let's examine the individual units themselves.  To this end I have sat down and worked out a lot of probabilities and general comparisons which you can download as a PDF here.  I'll summarize my findings here: Empire_Unit_Comparisons.pdf (109.13 kb)

Generally Speaking, All of the Basic Empire Troop Types are Effective:  There is no basic weapon armed unit that is obviously inferior to their compatriots in most every situation.  However, weapon vs. weapon swords are undoubtedly inferior, even painfully so.  Thankfully, as Empire Swordsmen get a free upgrade of Weapon Skill and Initiative (both to 4) this neatly negates this disadvantage and places them on a roughly equal footing with the rest.

Believe it or Not, Overall Spearmen Tend to be the Most Effective:  Yes, I am sure that some of you will balk at the very idea, but the math proves my point -- assuming that the spearmen are charged rather charging (not usually too hard to achieve) overall they tend to do slightly better than any other weapon type.  However, this is not uniform in the sense that spearmen are always superior in every situation.  Against higher toughness opponents Halberdiers are a bit better (but only a bit) while swordsmen are only ever better than spearmen on the charge.  As long as the spearmen are defending swordsmen are never better at killing the bad guys, not even against their ideal opponents -- those with a WS of 3.  The extra rank of attacks is simply worth more than hitting a little more often.

Notably, spearmen also have an advantage over other basic types when it comes to armor as they can use shields all the time.  Halberdiers can't do so in close-combat and the 6+ ward save for sword and shield is, at best, a minor advantage that means nothing except against far more rare high-end opponents.  Against regular rank and file spearmen have as good of armor as swordsmen.  It is unfortunate that swordsmen didn't retain their +1 to armor for hand weapon and shield in hand-to-hand of previous editions.  Now that would give them an important advantage.  By comparison, the 6+ ward save is almost trivial.  It won't  come into use all that often, when it does you'll likely be facing powerful opposition able to trash Empire state troopers as a matter of routine anyway, and -- ultimately -- relying on a 1-in-6 roll for anything is folly.  If nothing else you certainly can't make doing so any reasonable part of a plan for victory.

Ranged Attacks Are Far More Useful Now:  On a point-for-point basis ranged troops -- really crossbows and handgunners for the Empire as the availability of bows is limited -- aren't quite as efficient as hand-to-hand troops due to the former's basic cost of 8 points a model.  However, ranged troops possess the obvious advantage of being able to kill at range.  They can start doing damage to the enemy on turn one while your usual Close-combat unit could wait 3 or 4 turns to do so.  That fact muddies the waters when it comes to comparing ranged and hand-to-hand troopers in terms of the point efficiency as in the end it boils down to one question -- how many turns of attack can you get from the former in comparison to the latter.  If your ranged units get just one extra turn of shooting over your CC-units turns of hacking, the ranged troopers become more point efficient.

Now, that isn't all the matters since hand-to-hand troopers have one big advantage over their ranged counterparts, namely being able to cause break tests in their opponents.  A unit of, say, halberdiers that runs down a mob of fleeing orks ends up slaughtering a large amount of the enemy in one go.  By comparison, ranged troops can only whittle down your opponent one model at a time -- and causing possible panic checks is nowhere as potentially deadly as forcing break tests in CC.

That said, the new rules allowing you to always fire in two ranks instead of one single-handedly make Empire crossbows and handgunners (not to mention shooters in general) substantially more effective.  Firing in two ranks likewise allows you to routinely keep your units in at least two ranks which helps when they get into close-combat -- before you either had to give up firepower or a turn of shooting to "gang up"  in the face of an imminent enemy charge.  Any Empire force would now be incomplete without at least a few units of ranged fire to soften up the opposition before sending in your hand-to-hand troopers for the coup de grace.  Likewise, you need to take individual units (not just detachments) of handgunners in order to then include special weapons such as the Hochland Long Rifle.

Going on, crossbows tend to be a bit more effective than handgunners due to the former's greater range.  In fact, the 24" basic range for handguns is especially aggravating as many scenarios result in the two sides starting just outside 24" thereby easily costing the Empire side a turn of firing if they go first or if the enemy refuses to move.  This limit makes me hope for the return of that extra few inches of range with the first shot that previously came with handgunner.  Naturally, bows are better choices if you plan on moving your missile troops, but their limited 24" range and meager strength 3 means they aren't going to kill very much.

Greatswords are Pretty Good for the Cost:  In terms of sheer killing power greatswords are not as point efficient as, say, halberdiers.  However, for their admittedly substantial cost they get a lot of advantages -- 4+ saves, strength 5 attacks, and Stubborn.  That gives them a good chance to stay around long enough to whack things while being able to stick around even in the face of being outnumbered.  I wouldn't take more than one unit given their cost and their status as Special, but they are more of a worthwhile choice than previously.

Mortars are Suddenly Underpriced:  In the past when you had to guess their range and still watch them deviate mortars were usually more trouble than they were worth, even at the discounted price compared to other Empire war machines.  However, now that you can just place the template automatically and then roll for deviation that makes them far more accurate.  They may only be strength 3 for the most part, but the large 5" template and -1 to all saves makes it an effective mass killer of regular troops.  By comparison, cannons are only somewhat more accurate, but retain their role as the killer of big things like giants.  Of all the Empire war machines the Hellstorm Missile Battery fared the worst as it still retains a combination of the inaccurate natures of both mortars and cannons.

Those are some general assessments as to what works now or better than before.  Next time we'll look at some more specific applications of these new ideas and then my wish list of what I want to see in any new Empire book (which the rumor mill has arriving as early as next year).

More to Come....