Kirb your enthusiasm!


"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Friday, October 8, 2010

Warhammer Fantasy for the 40K Player

Like... well, rather a lot of you, I am first and foremost a Warhammer 40,000 player. Although I do play other systems, I can only count my understanding of them to be cursory at best. This is despite the fact that the systems are, by and large, identical. 40K, Fantasy, Necromunda, and Mordheim all use essentially the same systems for everything but movement and magic/psychics. While 40K has moved away from modifiers to hit in the past couple editions, the connections between them are still strong enough that profiles can be translated directly across with only some minor hiccups.

However, this similarity is extremely deceptive, as the games are played very, very differently. For those 40K fans who have been looking to get into Fantasy, or perhaps are struggling to wrap your brains around it, here are some major rules and army differences that may help you more clearly understand how Fantasy breaks down.

1. Movement is completely different.

In 40K, you only have a couple different "speeds." Infantry move 6"; jump units move 12"; vehicles move either 12", 18", or 24" (depending) and most units can Run for an extra d6". In Fantasy, this is completely untrue; M values can range from 3" (for the molasses-like Dwarves) to 10" for fliers, and units can march to double their speed rather than relying on a fickle die roll. This means that if the elves decide they want to run away from the dwarves... well, the dwarves are never going to catch them. Ever. And with the average move speed being 4", not 6", movement is a bit slower and clunkier, especially considering the next point.

2. Positioning is King
In 40K, your facing is basically irrelevant- sure, sometimes with vehicles it matters, but 90% of the time dudes can be anywhere and it just doesn't matter. In Fantasy, where you are pointed can be critical to key game moments. Fantasy is all about maneuvering into advantageous charges and avoiding people's front facings, whether this be because of shooting, magic, or charging. Keeping the enemy from being able to overrun into subsequent units, aligning to disrupt their ranks, hitting archery and war machines from the flanks- these are very basic tactics in Fantasy play and ones that are totally alien to 40K players. Moreover, you cannot simply spin your unit about to face the most advantageous direction- there are distinct limits on how you may turn your men about, albeit much-simplified ones since 8E has come out. With these restrictions come a new type of tactics and strategy, ones focused on putting units into places that are awkward for the enemy in ways that 40K simply doesn't represent.

3. All movement is rolled together.
The big one here is obviously charging, but Running, etc, are also notable due to the change in their sequence. The randomness of charge distance (and the fact that you barely move if you fail a charge) mean that the ability to leap 12"- or, more often, 18" or more- across a field due to getting a charge off (whether on a relevant unit or a vehicle or whatever) is not so much a part of Fantasy. Movement rates are fairly static, and even charge distances can be guessed at with a pretty reliable degree of accuracy, so the battlefield rarely undergoes the abrupt shifts that often characterize 40K as units turbo-boost or otherwise scurry halfway across the field in a single turn.

4. Shooting isn't very effective.
40K play is, broadly speaking, about shooting the enemy; close combat is a secondary option that some armies/units pursue in lieu of it. Fantasy is the other way around: the default way to kill units it the clash of arms, hence the above notes about position being key. Shooting, to contrast, will rarely inflict the kind of devastating casualties you see in 40K; most Fantasy shooting units tend to be hitting on 5s and 6s even under the best of circumstances thanks to penalties for range, movement, cover, etc.

5. Armor saves aren't very effective, but Ward Saves are.
By the same token, very few units in the game (bar lords and heroes) have better than a 4+ save, which is seen as relatively weak in 40K. With strength of weapons modifying saves (rather than bypassing them), armor saves tend to fall in the same range as shooting attacks, most often needing 5s and 6s to come up happy. On the other hand, Ward Saves (i.e. Invulnerable Saves) stack with your normal armor, so having one is an enormous boost to your survivability, often doubling your chances of passing a save. (Math-wise players will note that strength bonuses are thus doubly effective, increasing your to-wound and decreasing their armor save. Higher Str is a big deal.)

6. There are no Marines, and T3 is the standard.
In 40K, you can always expect to see at least a few MEQs across the table from you in any given tournament, and often more than just a few. Marines compose something like 50% or more of all players in the game at any given time, so all weapons and options have a golden standard of usability that they have to measure up against, and anything that breaks the AP3/S5 barrier is automatically included in consideration for an army. Fantasy has no such "defining" army. A wide variety of different armor saves and toughnesses are spread across the many armies, but T3 is perhaps more common than most, and thus when looking to effectiveness, it is a good place to start. (Fantasy players feel free to correct me here, but this has been my assessment.)

7. Magic can change a game, for better or worse.
Psyker abilities, while often impressive in 5th edition, are still just one more model on the table. JotWW is perhaps the most game-changing of abilities, able to take out two or more major models with a single casting. This is the standard in 40K; psykers help, but are simply a piece of your army. By contrast, Fantasy magic is massive. Even the weakest magic missiles are at least equal to a unit's shooting and many powers can simply gut an entire unit, wipe a character off the field, or provide bonuses that will completely swing the tide of a previously one-sided fight. Balancing this is the risk inherent to magic- every army has an innate counter to it (the dispel pool) and everyone has some form of defense (unlike the Imperium-only defenses of 40K.) Just as importantly, magic is unreliable just to cast- a far cry from the 90%+ of psychic tests- and a miscast can wipe a large and expensive unit off the board in a flash. One way or another, the magicians in an army can be devastating.

8. Leadership is important.
Once again we see the difference for the lack of Space Marines, or their equivalent, in Fantasy; whereas universal Leadership 9 and commonplace Fearless/Stubborn are the bane of any strategy reliant on morale and pinning, Fantasy armies tend to have lower Leadership values across the board (8ish) and much harsher rules in the form of Panic, Fear, and Terror (and their respective triggers). The general and BSB mitigate this somewhat, but linchpins can always be attacked and crowded formations punished, so rarely will a whole army benefit from them.

9. Missions are mostly about killing.
Most of the things I've talked about are largely neutral factors; they present a different style of play than 40K, hence why I got into the game. The last, however, is an unfortunate remnant that we can only hope will fade on the day that 9E finally is released. Like older editions of 40K, Fantasy victories are determined mostly by who killed the most enemy units; there are bonuses based on the mission in question and variously for capturing/killing certain key units, but there is no necessity to hold points regardless of damage the way 40K plays- if you are killing them, you are winning, and that's the simple truth of it. With that in mind, of course, it does simplify some of the choices in list-building, but one shouldn't mistake this simplicity for not encouraging maneuver and strategy in gameplay- rather, these aspects will have a simple focus, namely killing the enemy.

Bonus feature: my game shop has started running regular Fantasy tournaments; we're starting at 1000pts, as most people simply don't have the models for much more than that quite yet. With 1K being a pretty darn restricting value, here's a preliminary list; it's overspending on heroes a bit, but I'd like to have a BSB to hold my mans in place in the face of enemy shooting. I don't own any Bolt Throwers yet, unfortunately, so those are on my list to pick up first as I expand the army out. I do have more models than just this, but not a huge amount, so the changes I can make are somewhat limited. The Cannon hopefully deals with any monsters on the field and the Grudge Thrower assists and breaks up formations, as it's very accurate with Master Engineer + Accuracy. Engineers are there to expand the lifespan of war machines where possible. The Organ Gun tears up fast cavalry and skirmishers, with Thunderers supporting the big guns and the block of Warriors getting in the way of anything trying to charge me, hopefully cutting them up in their weakened state.

Master Engineer (General; Rune of Stone, Rune of Resistance)
Thane (BSB, Rune of Stone)
15 Dwarf Warriors (Great Weapons, Standard)
10 Thunderers
10 Thunderers
1 Cannon (Rune of Forging, Engineer)
1 Grudge Thrower (Rune of Accuracy, Engineer)
1 Organ Gun

I'd love to have Rune of Penetrating on the Grudge Thrower to up the casualties it causes, but I'd have to drop something else relevant; would it be worth it to dump Rune of Resistance, do you think, or possibly the lesser Engineers? I'm torn.

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...