Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I "Get" Fantasy... I think...

So yesterday in classic Stelek fashion, he posted an epic rant about Fantasy.  It's quite good, and he makes a ton of strong points.  I'd suggest everyone who is interested in Fantasy give it a read.  

When I first read it, I was bothered.  Maybe I am one of the "Fantasy Experts" who don't really "get" the game whom he was railing against.  I think I have a pretty good grasp of what makes 8th Edition tick, and how to build an army that can win in it.  Plus, I usually agree with most of the concepts Stelek says when he talks Fantasy theory.  So why did I feel like he was talking about me?  Mostly because I thought the past few DE lists he has posted that I saw were kinda, well, bad.  Very odd, because many of his lists are quite excellent. 

So I thought, I should go through his rant and pick out the points where either I disagree, or where I want to go into more depth.  Follow along!

2) However, unlike in 40k, in Fantasy–not only are Stubborn/Unbreakable units common, you can generate them in virtually any army.

This is very true.  The fact that most armies have stubborn units, or can simply be stubborn by virtue of having more ranks than you, adds a balance depth to the game.  It is the factor that allows cheap horde armies able to compete toe to toe with more elite forces.  Some would argue, in fact, that the cheap horde armies have the advantage in combat.  Crown of Command is an asskicker.  Believe it.

3) Almost everything is a LD test in Fantasy, barring Magic (psychic powers). So if you have your General and a BSB nearby, you get improved LD and a re-roll. This means you can take shitty troops, make them super LD units that rarely run, with re-rolls. 

Yep.  Battle Standard Bearers and Inspiring Presence mean that cheap troops that aren't armored heavily are often better than units that invest points in armor over bodies.

4) Being unbreakable is great. Until you are dead. Grail Reliquary and Plague Monks come to mind. So too do hordes backed by crazy LD options. Skaven and Lizardmen can do both remarkably well. LD10 with rerolls, or LD7 unmodded with re-rolls and/or 3D6 dice? Yeah, good times.

More truth.  Skaven and Lizardmen generally have to be killed to the last man.  And generally, they will wear you down before you wear them down.  This is a good place for me to bring up the dichotomy between WoC and LM.  Both feature powerful casters and elite infantry and big monsters.  But Lizardmen are better.  They also have good cheap infantry and significantly better at the leadership games.  And sadly, they are better at shooting than WoC, too.  Both are weak against shooting and warmachines, but at least the LM have magic that can counter that.  The WoC are left out.

 5) When you have your General, you don’t want to lose him–because he’s worth points, and earning points is difficult. You don’t want to expose your standards either, nor your BSB. This is why killy Generals are generally considered ‘bad’ by me, if someone brings along a bigger knife, your General is going poof. Or worse, his unit goes poof, your General snacks on a champion, and then loses combat when challenge is refused, still leaving a couple killy heroes on your General along with standard combat resolution to make you run. 

This is very true.  You general is worth more for his Inspiring Presence than he is for the handful of models he could potentially kill over the course of the game if you equipped him with fighty equipment.  However, Stelek usually keeps his characters barebones for this reason.  I disagree, I think they should all have some kind of defensive equipment.  If you get him a 5+ ward and it keeps him alive for even one extra turn, it is worth it.  I'm becoming very convinced that the BSB and the Inspiring Presence models should be able to take hits, because they are coming.

6) So, most people run these big ass units towards the enemy, trying to buff them so they won’t disappear and give up points. They try to minimize the damage you can do to their army by having huge blocks. Which is funny when a couple purple suns run over their super units and they aren’t so super anymore. Add in a hundred plus shots a turn, and your life sucks when you play that way. What’s the usual answer to that? “Well Skaven with a Storm Banner, blah blah fucking blah.” Yeah, it’s a single item. You have magic then shooting, right? You have Spirit Leech, for example? Kill the BSB. You have a magic weapon that lets you snipe enemy characters? Use them. Got any suicidal template droppers you can get into the enemy army? Oh dear, storm banner doesn’t affect them. Playing say High Elves? Vaul’s Unmaking. It’s not like you don’t know which unit the banner is in, you know. It’s as if these things are insurmountable obstacles, but they aren’t.  

Agree, and not too much to add. 

Now  while you have more potential to run across the tabletop, what happens when there are numerous cheap units in the way? Right, not only can you not move around them (with rare exception) unlike 40k where you often can do an end run around blocking units, or shoot holes in them and then charge (not allowed in Fantasy–it’s charge first, shoot later–although a few armies can magically shoot you then magically charge you) 

Here I disagree.  You can smash into them, wipe them over and overrun into the next unit usually.  The general response to that is, "well my units will be at angles so you can't overrun and if you do you'll be out of position and set up for a flank charge."  This doesn't work in practice.  In reality it's not my one unit vs. your one unit, and I will rarely be in a position where I'll get flanked after wiping out your unit.  I'm much more concerned about getting flanked for FAILING to wipe out your unit.

but you also can’t multi-charge (against competent players, generally speaking)

Again I will disagree.  If you are loaded with MSU units, and I declare a charge with 3 of my, let's say chariots against one and you flee react to the last one, I will redirect my charges into your other MSU units.  And you will be taking tons of leadership checks for panic.  Yeah, you'll pass most of them thanks to BSB and generals, but not all of them.  The more your units have to flee react the happier I am.  

You can't have it both ways.  You can't say my ability to cross the battlefield to your money units will be stopped because your side of the board is littered with MSU throwaways, but then say that I won't have anything to redirect my charges to.  Either the battlefield is clogged with units, or it isn't.   

11) In short, Fantasy is not something you can walk your crappy ass 7th edition armies into and do well with. 1 big caster, 1 little scroll carrier, 1 BSB, slide these two small blocks into a horde, call it good. NO, it doesn’t work! Play 8th edition.

Good statement to close this out with.  My Daemons opponent from this weekend had a very 7th Edition-y list, and he paid for it.  The units (Fiends, Bloodcrushers) are all very good at wiping out the first row of enemies each turn and not getting hit back.  Unfortunately, that is a 7th Edition concept.  In 8th you need units that can win combats reliably over the course of 3 turns.  Or lose the combats, but not run away, and give time for help to arrive.  Either you have to be killy and tough or steadfast/stubborn.  Oh you don't do either?  Sorry about your luck.


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