Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Sun Turned Purple and the Sky is Falling

The most unbelieveable thing happened yesterday: a BoLS writer posted an article about how broken a Games Workshop game is due to changes in a new edition. Bad news, good news time.

Bad news: the author isn’t Iamddj. I was really hoping it was him, because his articles are almost so illogical and ignorant that if I didn’t know better I would assume that it was satire specifically tailored to provoke a response. Instead, it’s Minus67. I can’t recall anything he has written in the past, so it couldn’t have been all that outlandish.

Good news: basically everything he says is a hyperbolic exaggeration.

So let’s analyze the crazy shit and try to inject some rationality.

“These things are so broken that we fear in our local community they may chase people out of the game entirely if Games Workshop, Gaming Clubs or TO’s don’t do something about it.”

Wow! These things must be super serious! Unless the entire community comes together to instantly ban these thing Warhammer Fantasy Battles will be immediately abandoned. Riiiiiight. What an awful attitude your community has. What you’re really saying is, “my local community can’t adjust their lists and tactics to the new edition so we demand that things be nerfed until the old ways are good again.”

1. Dwellers below. Yep it’s powerful. It’s also only 24” range. Your war machines are 48” range at worst. They can only bring one copy of Dweller’s Below, you can bring multiple warmachines and your own magic. I am failing to see how this is imbalanced. They can hurt you, you can hurt them. How about don’t line your army up right on the edge of your deployment zone so you get nuked first turn?

And who says you don’t get Look Out Sir from it? That interpretation is dubious at best. It’s direct damage, unless it specifically targets characters I am not seeing how it doesn’t allow Look Out Sir.

“Here is an example of the craziness that happened at ‘Ard Boyz that can turn off players:

1. Slann uses 6 dice to cast 21+ dwellers on big unit of Grave Guard. Rolls double 6’s causing spell to be irresistible.
2. Vampire player loses 1/3 of unit and BSB with unlucky roll
3. Lizardmen player rolls miscast result, rolls a 10 which will make him lose d3 wizard levels.
4. Uses cupped hands to give that result to vampire lore that loses 3 levels and is no longer a wizard
5. Game is effectively over
6. Player questions why he plays Warhammer”

I put down my army line up right on the edge of my deployment zone. My opponent puts down his IG army of Chimera based artillery. Or his razorback Space Wolf army. He goes first and blows me off the board. Player questions why he plays 40k. How is that any different?

IT ISN’T! Crazy shit can happen in 40k too, especially when you don’t take steps to mitigate it. The VC player didn’t think that Lizardmen players wouldn’t use Cupped Hands? Really? I figured they would. I also figured out how I would deal with it. Learn to play.

2. Power scroll? Seriously? This is what you are crying about? A level 1 wizard can suicide cast a powerful spell. This is not scary, this is not a problem.

3. Teclis is strong in 8th edition. No doubt about it. But the spells he can cast, with the exception of Purple Sun, are limited in range. Anytime he is close enough to cast a 12 or 18 inch spell he is close enough to die next turn. If he is spamming Purple Sun you just have to power through it. Let’s not forget he costs a ton of points. And the body guard unit of Phoenix Guard cost a ton of points. So in 2500 point games over 1/3rd of your army is tied up in one super unit that is doing it’s best to avoid close combat. The rest of your army should be able to destroy the rest of his. Or the Teclis player will allow you get close enough to kill him. He can’t have it both ways.

I swear people are so fucking dumb. The very same people who will tell you that super units in 40k are point sinks and that good players know how to beat them will cry about them in Fantasy. Is it because the systems are so different? No, the answer is because those people don’t have enough Fantasy experience to know that it’s exactly the same. Good players of Fantasy don’t lose to deathstars anymore often than good 40k players lose to them.

4. Book of Hoeth. Why are you complaining about this? If you are playing 2,500 points there is no way your opponent can afford to bring Teclis and another Archmage with the Book. Heck, I doubt it’s possible at 3,000. If you can beat Teclis you can beat a Book Archmage.

5. Purple Sun for anyone but Teclis or Dark Elves is strong but not frightening. The chance of a Level 4 casting it on 6 dice is around 50%. If you want to waste two whole magic phases to cast it successfully once, go for it. I know taking a Feedback Scroll is crazy, but is it any crazier than taking a level 1 wizard whose only job is to suicide a Purple Sun?

Let’s assume they are using Teclis or are playing Dark Elves and they can reliably cast it every turn. Yup that hurts. So does every other spell Teclis or the Supreme Sorceress could cast on 6 or 7 dice. You know what’s great about Purple Sun? It can’t be cast if the wizard is in close combat. So either the 1/3rd+ of the enemy army is sitting in the back casting Purple Sun, and doing nothing else. Or they are at the front and can be killed. What game are you playing? What are you doing in YOUR magic phase? How about your shooting phase? You see your opponent has Teclis with the Lore of Death and you deploy in a straight line along your deployment zone, and you wonder why it eats you up? Get a goddamn clue.

So how do you beat these things? Played balanced all comers lists that have play in more phases of the game than the close combat phase.

1. If you are losing to mega spells or artillery it’s because you’re using too many large units of ranked infantry. Change your army composition to be a balance of large blocks and small elite units.

2. Losing to small elite units? You probably aren’t bringing enough large blocks of killy infantry with BSB who can attrition them.

3. Losing to large blocks? Have you considered bringing artillery pie plates or powerful magic?

I spelled it out in the comments of Stelek’s thread about this, but I’ll expand on it here:

Magic/Warmachines > Hordes > Small elite units/cavalry > Magic

I can’t make it any simpler than that and have it be meaningful. Write better lists, play smarter.


  1. This is the best breakdown of that horrible article. 8th ed. is good, the sky is not falling, your equation is dead on.

    Nice blog, keep it coming

  2. Love that equation - and this entire stream of articles. Great job mate.