TaKtiX: Warhammer

News, reviews, events, tactics and reports for Games Workshop's Warhammer & Warhammer 40K series of games and related lines.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Full Thrust vs Games Workshop

One of the things that has always annoyed me about the gaming industry is the cliques and bitchiness. I like to play what I like, I respect others like different things, and when I take the piss out of certain things (like D&D and YGO), people know it's because I don't take many things too seriously. Unfortunately...
Before giving the colour ideas, though, I must stress that these are ONLY IDEAS - they are suggestions as to how we see the various fleets, and you are still free to paint your own ships any colours you like. If we ever get to the G*m*s W*rksh*p state of saying "you can't play our games unless your figures are the right colours" then I think it'll be time for us to hang up the ol' laser for good.....
Y'see, I like Full Thrust. As a starship combat game, it's very good for mid-level small fleet actions. It's completely different to Battlefleet Gothic, which excels at large fleet actions and has a distinctly Napoleonic/Nelson era feel in tactics. FT is about high-tech ships chasing each other around. Grasshopper is currently organising a new campaign for the Chuckadice group I play with, and I'm looking forward to it, even if I am the FSE (Franco-Spanish).

But I worked for GW for nearly 11 years. The "anti-GW" rhetoric of GZG, creators of Full Thrust and related ranges, always got to me. Why? It's mostly based on outdated prejudice and mis-informed ranting. No big company is perfect. GW itself has made many many mistakes in its history, and gone through a number of management changes. They are, effectively, a monopolisitc cartel, and the stranglehold they have over the UK gaming industry, especially its retail outlets, is damaging tot he hobby. But Tuffley doesn't criticise this. Tuffley attacks GW because of their supposed approach to the hobby itself.

He attacks myths and creates half-truths

you can't play our games unless your figures are the right colours? Excuse me? GW, in my view quite rightly, publishes a lot of painting guides and colour scheme assistance. Why? Because there is strong demand for it. People reasonably new to the hobby (ie their core market) need assistance and help. They don't know what to do, have no idea about colour balance (which, let's face it, isn't taught very well anyway) and seek some method of making the models they've spent their hard-earned on to look good.

People want to make their models look good. They want their models to look 'right'. However, GW doesn't restrict people. They regularly run "design a Chapter" competitions. Their literature makes it clear that there are over a thousand Marine Chapters, millions of Guard regiments, hundreds of Craftworlds. Even the T'au, a new race with few planets, have a different colour scheme for each Sept; want a different colour scheme? Fine, create it, paint it, justify it. Same applies in Warhammer, etc.

Indeed, the rules themselves say this; if you want to use the rules for, for example, the Black Templars, you can, regardless of colour scheme. The restriction is that, for matter of game balance, you can't mix and match different special rules in official settings.

To my mind, kids that want to slavishly follow the 'official' colour scheme are dull as ditchwater. I paint my models as I wish to. I sometimes use a Chapter colour scheme, I sometimes create my own. Thie difference is that, if I choose to paint up Ultramarines, they are Ultramarines. Not BigBlueSpaceMarines with silly squad markings and completely wrong unit insignia. The whole point of having a military unit is that, well, the appearance is UNIFORM. The number of times I've seen Ultramarines that aren't, Dark Angel Terminators painted Dark Green, etc is annoying. Have I, as a games organiser, ever banned someone for having Howling Banshees in green?

Have I bollocks. Mr Tuffley? You've created one of the better starship combat games out there. The new models your company is releasing to support it are truly exceptional. The background is well thought through and realised. Well done. Unfortunately, you've both no idea of the workings of a Market, nor any real understanding of what a new young hobbyist needs to get started. Games Workshop, having made many errors, have learnt from their mistakes. Isn't it about time you buried the hatchet and stopped the perpetual sniping?

Grow Up John Tuffley

Laurence/Tim, you're both commenting a lot, if you want to write the occasional piece, you'd be welcome, let me know?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Warhammer 40,000 - Mobility Matters

Back in the day (or, rather, back in 2nd Edition Warhammer 40,000), unit profiles had a little thing which told you how fast they could move. Your average trooper, such as Imperial Guard or an Ork, could hope to move four inches a turn and fire his weapon, providing it wasn't a "Move or Fire" weapon. Eldar were a little bit faster and, in turn, the Tyranids could really get a move on when it came to charging into an assault.

Now, things have got a little bit different. All units move six inches, some can elect to move a little more in the shooting phase and some get to move a little more in the assault phase. Ignoring special units that can charge an extra distance, when a unit is within twelve inches of another unit, there is the possibility of an assault while, under the old system, it was usually eight inches.

This would not present a problem if other parts of the game were changed to reflect the speed of the system. So perhaps you can understand my confusion as to why the ranges of weapons within the game have remained exactly the same - in fact, in most cases, the effective ranges of the weapons have been reduced down to twelve inches due to the "Rapid Fire" rule.

Warhammer 40,000 - Cities Of Death

I really liked the old rules for Cityfight but, with the release of the new edition of W40k a while back, they all became somewhat redundant. However, Cities of Death should fix all that when it comes out. Oh, and take a look at the terrain they're offering while they're at it. Yes, it looks like it'll be very nice, but one hundred quid? Ouch.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Tau Empire Codex - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Despite the dubious release date (April 1st), the new Tau Empire codex has finally been released and, as with every new codex, it is a bit of a mixed bag. In comparison to the first codex, this is a vast and welcome improvement that the Tau army so desperately needed.

The Good Bits


Additional Wargear
Under the old codex, it seemed somewhat pointless to tell prospective Tau commanders that they could not put more than one hundred points of additional wargear on a single unit when the maximum amount of wargear you could take stretched to just over fifty points. Commanders in Crisis Suits ended up being equipped the same as regular Crisis Suits and, frankly, it was all a little dull.

With the inclusion of extra wargear - including the very handy Advanced Stabilisation System which gives your Broadsides some mobility - there's a little more variation in the army list. Thank you, Games Workshop!

Marine Killing
The inclusion of Sniper Drones (armed with Rail Rifles, previously only usable by Pathfinders) and the Vespid Stingwings means that a Tau player is no longer relying on fielding a large number of Plasma Rifles to take on Marines. The Vespids do feel a little bit "soft" for their cost but, hopefully, with a little bit of cover on their side, they can inflict some serious casualties on those pesky Marines.

The Sniper Drones are, like the Vespids, fairly expensive in points (and pounds, no doubt, this is still Games Workshop we're talking about here) but are outfitted with stealth fields (like the XV15 Suits) and target locks, enabling each drone to shoot at a different unit. Very handy for picking off the remains of squads, if you ask me.

Kroot
I have never got particularly excited about Kroot in a Tau army. They're assault troops that don't have much in the way of armour, aren't particularly fast and can be easily beaten back by any other assault unit you care to mention. However, they've tweaked the way Kroot squads are organised now, so fielding Kroot Hounds and Krootox no longer take up Fast Attack and Heavy Support slots respectively. It always seemed rather daft to take a Krootox as a Heavy Support choice, when you could take the almighty Hammerhead tank.

The Bad


The Problem With Ethereals
If you read through the flavour text of the Tau Empire codex (and the Tau codex before that), it states that, when an Ethereal dies, the Fire Warriors go into a fairly carefully controlled shooting frenzy. I do not mind the idea that a Tau unit should take a break test when one of their beloved leaders passes away at the hands of an enemy, but I cannot fathom why the "carefully controlled shooting frenzy" translates into gaining the Preferred Enemy special rule against the people that killed the Ethereal.

Carefully controlled shooting frenzy does not mean "we hit them better in hand to hand combat", does it? I know it makes the rules nice and simple, but it really doesn't reflect the background. Bless Games Workshop, they're not going to let something as trivial as the background get in the way of a game.

The Pathfinder Problem
I am still of the firm belief that, for the sake of our collective wallets, a Pathfinder team should not be required to field a Devilfish transport. Yes, it does make them very useful and lets them get to a good sniping point a little more quickly, but it's bloody expensive. Especially as the rules say that a transport can only carry the unit they're attached to. Essentially, an eight man squad now costs upwards of thirty pounds.

The Ugly


Vespids
The Kroot, at best, provided a supposedly-pleasant contrast to the neat armour of the Tau. The Vespids, in my opinion, are horrifically ugly. The Tyranids are more attractive. They serve a very useful purpose in the new Tau army but, dear Eris on high, they could have made them look a bit different. Perhaps like those Swooping Hawks the Eldar get.

Commander Farsight
In comparison to the new Tau commander models, and the model for Commander Shadowsun, poor old Farsight looks quite ugly and out of date. Then again, they have changed the rules for him, making him a little bit more interesting. The idea of taking Commander Farsight, and giving him seven bodyguards in tooled up Crisis Suits is amusing in the extreme.

In Conclusion


If you've got a Tau army, well, you're going to be getting this book anyway, right? If you're thinking about starting a new army, now's the time to go for Tau as, well, the newest codex is always the best one. There's enough new things in the book to make the Tau seem interesting again and, luckily, things like the new wargear will not require much in the way of converting models.