We have had the 8th Edition BRB in our hot little hands for about 6 months now. All the armchair critics have had enough time to give way to actual game experience. And while anecdotal game experiences has nothing helpful to teach us, there have been some major tournaments held under 8th Edition rules that can show us a few things.
Five Things That Are Better Than The Critics Thought
1. Warriors of Chaos. Everyone knows they are an imbalanced army. They are relatively show, can't shoot, and their magic is near the middle than the top like they were in 7th. But yet they are still winning. Part of me wants to think that since they are the most popular army, they are ofcourse going to have good results just because enough good players with a bad army will still get some good results. On the other hand, there are players with huge units of Warriors just pushing them across the board and still winning. Maybe that's a statement about the level of play of most players, but regardless, they are still winning. And winning can't be denied.
2. Orcs and Goblins. Simply put, they have the tools to do it all, except really strong offensive magic. They haven't won any major tournaments, but they are doing a lot better than a 3rd or 4th tier army is supposed to be doing.
3. Army Book Lores. With the major power boost to the BRB Lores in 8th, many naysayers said that the army specific Lores were dead. Except, you know, for a thing called 'game balance.' Even the lower spells in the BRB Lores are as hard to cast (or harder) than some of the elite spells in the Army Books. Not every army is going to be able to consistently power out 18+ casting difficulty spells every magic phase. Some armies playstyle is better served by casting a lot of smaller spells than trying to force through one or two major ones, and that's where the army specific Lores come into play. Plus some, like the 13th Spell, are powerful compared to the BRB Lores too.
4. Fast cavalry. Everyone predicted the death of cavalry, since they can't break ranks easily. To a large extent, that is accurate as you don't see people besides Brettonians running large units of heavy cavalry. But fast cavalry, especially vanguards and scouts are very, very strong still. I don't think many people predicted how powerful fast cavalry using scout deployment to set up on an exposed flank is. It can be game breakingly good, especially when your opponent sets up in a very linear gunline style and he has to start the game with a unit or two of dangerous fast cavalry ready to charge into his backlines.
5. Fighty characters. Most pundits agreed that with step up and steadfast, fighty characters were done. "Who cares if they wipe out the first rank, the second will step up and get to fight and probably kill him back?" But that hasn't been the case at all. Fighty characters are quite prevalent in good lists for a lot of good reasons. Easy access to flaming attacks, the Crown of Command, easy combat res etc are all good. But the biggest bonus is the ability to turn a run of the mill unit into a very strong one for a relatively small investment. A unit of halberders is ho-hum, but add a fighty character with the Crown of Command for a relatively small amount of points and suddenly you have a stubborn unit that has a greatly increased offensive ability that your opponent has to take seriously.
Anything else I didn't list that everyone else sees winning contrary to early internet wisdom? Part 2 will be things that everyone said were going to be amazing, that turned out to be less than expected.