Over the past few articles, I laid out how a veteran 40k player should go about taking up Fantasy. I explained it from a nuts and bolts perspective on strategy and list building, as well as a more philosophical standpoint about how to play the game in a way that will lead to maximum enjoyment by minimizing the potentially frustrating aspects people always cite as reasons for not enjoying Fantasy Battles.
So in this final installment, I thought I should list the many reasons why I enjoy the game, and why a 40k player should even both with it. These will be what I consider the aspects that make the game great, and hopefully will get you interested in picking it up too.
|Just a bit more character than your 40k army|
1. General aesthetics. Simply put, the armies in the game are beautiful across the board. Two fully painted armies, lined up across from each other ready for battle look simply stunning in a way that two 40k armies do not. The mix of ranked infantry, knights, warmachines, and big monsters look fantastic. Even if you prefer the sci-fi genre to the high fantasy genre, you have to admit the Fantasy Battles armies set up on the battlefield look amazing. Two huge Fantasy armies are simply cooler looking to see on the battlefield than 11 Rhino hulls lined up across from 13 Chimera hulls.
2. Army specific aesthetics. While the game itself has a great aesthetic, the individual armies have aesthetics that are quit strong. Compared to 40k where something like half the armies are one flavor of Space Marines or another, the variety in Fantasy Battles is simply stunning. A huge zombie army of Vampire Counts is about as different looking as can be from an Ork chariot based army or a Dwarven gunline. If you cannot find an army that doesn’t make you excited to assemble, paint, and play based on looks alone, you might not be cut out for wargaming.
3. The armies have character. 40k does a pretty good job of making red space marines ‘feel’ different when playing on the table top than grey marines. An admirable job really. It’s like taking a paint-by-numbers and making a halfway decent piece of art out of it. Fantasy is far superior in this regard. A Tomb Kings army plays and feels completely different than does a Daemons of Chaos force. Simply put, the armies all have incredibly varied play-styles and thus very different feels. This level of variety is especially good for an opponent, because instead of playing 3 games against marine armies that feel more or less the same to play against, you get to play 3 very different opponents with totally different aesthetics and feels.
4. Multiple paths to victory. I touched on this before, but unlike 40k, there is more than one way to win. You can play shooty, fighty, magicky, a combination of two of the three, or all three in balance. And within those categories it breaks down further. You can have a shooty force with lots of warmachines. You can have a shooty force with lots of small arms fire. You can have a fighty army based on MSU elites. You can have a fighty army with chariots. With hordes. With big monsters. The options are there to fit whatever play-style you enjoy. And the best part, most army books support more than one playstyle, so even if you commit to an army, there is enough variety within the book to buy a few new units and play the force in a totally different way.
5. Heroic heroes. One of the hardest things to learn when you first take up 40k is to not spend tons of points on characters and wargear for characters. New players ALWAYS make this mistake. Why? Because we WANT badass characters leading our armies and cutting down swathes of enemies. It’s just cool. GW has listened and in recent codices, characters have, in general, become more dangerous and cost effective to use. But in Fantasy, characters are literally the lords of the battlefield. Every character is an eternal warrior, as there is no such thing as Instant Death. A tooled up fighty Lord on a monstrous mount is a one man wrecking machine who can go toe to toe with entire units on his own. A properly equipped wizard lord is capable of unleashing spells that can decimate armies. In older editions, it was completely out of control, hence the old nickname, Hero-hammer. Thankfully, after some much needed balance, the game is not Hero-Hammer any longer, but characters are still incredibly powerful compared to 40k characters. The inner newbie in you who thought Marneus Calgar was the bee’s knees will be very happy indeed with Fantasy. But as I said before, you don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) go crazy with characters if you don’t want to, because of the many paths to victory. But the option to bring bad ass characters is there, and that should be very pleasing to a lot of players. Especially if you do as I say, and play the game semi-competitively, rather than fully competitive.
In conclusion, there are a ton of reasons to give Fantasy a shot, these are just a few of them. And in my opinion, some of the best reasons. Give the system a chance. Pick an army whose visual aesthetic appeals to you. Find a play style within that army book you like. Throw some dice! Don't get caught up with who wins or loses, good luck or bad luck. Enjoy the so-called "randomness" for what it is when you don't play the game to ultra-competitively: the material for epic stories with your buddies when recounting the great games later on.
I hope I've convinced at least one of you to head to your LGS and browse the Fantasy section. Maybe you'll go home with a shiny new battalion box set and some hobby inspiration.
Have a good weekend folks.