Saturday, 3 May 2014

I Want My Tears Back

By order of the Wishmaster

It is hereby decreed that henceforth the practice of any form of magic other than that of the Lores of Life, Beasts, and Athel Loren, shall be explicitly and strictly forbidden within the territory and dominion of the Meadows of Heaven. 

This law is to be enforced under pain of exile if Asrai, banishment if Forrest Spirit, or Death if outsider. 

Furthermore, the worldroots that link to the Meadows of Heaven are hereby commanded to be sealed, and the entryways to the Dreaming Wood cordoned off with mystical wards. The only points of entry to the Meadows of Heaven shall continue to be the mystical pathways of old, and the Elvenpath. 

Take heart Asrai, for while the rest of Athel Loren may have lost it's way, we still carry the true ways dear. 


So yeah. I got my limited edition copy of the new Wood Elf army book today, for Warhammer Fantasy. 

I myself am.... not impressed with it. 

It almost worked for me. I was almost happy with it. It could have been great. But for me it isn't. 

It's certainly more effective in-game. I won't dispute that. But that's not what bothers me. I'm about as close to the total opposite of a 'competitive gamer' as you will likely find. I consider metagaming and theory calculations to be the tools of the devil. I don't consider a unit finished until it's painted, based and named with at least a couple of paragraphs of backstory (something I've picked up from Battlefleet Gothic). I will never change an army list when I write it, because I consider my armies to be casts of characters and chronicle their adventures that way, with each game being much like a chapter in a book or an episode in a TV series. It was never a question of in-game effectiveness for me. 

No, for me the devil's in the detail. It's the little differences. 

My problems with it can be divided into two areas: the mechanics and the background. The mechanics first. 

In case you didn't know, there used to be a rule in the last Wood Elf army book called Asrai Archery. Now, normally in Warhammer Fantasy if a unit moves it takes a penalty to it's accuracy with shooting. What Asrai Archery did was remove that for all Wood Elf units - a Wood Elf with a bow could move right up to their maximum move distance and still rattle off an arrow or two at maximum accuracy. And I LOVED this rule. It fit in perfectly with the background - Wood Elves are meant to be the best archers in the Warhammer world, and this rule reflected that wonderfully. Even better though, it gave the Wood Elves their distinctive approach to battle - fast, fluid guerilla warfare, with constantly shifting battle-lines. With the old Asrai Archery rule, there was not a single Wood Elf unit that should be standing still (unless they were in a really, really, really good position, and even then it was debatable), just like it's described in the background. 

What's more, this rule gave me just the sort of army I wanted. I like to be devious and take the sneaky approach in strategy games (I tend to enjoy playing as the Brotherhood of Nod in the Command and Conquer computer games for example), and with a Wood Elf army at my command I was all set to win battles with diabolical ploys and cunning manoeuvre warfare. I wanted a highly mobile force. But at the same time I don't like painting horses, so I didn't want much (if any at all) cavalry in my army, Warhawk Riders excepted (but they're birds, which I'm happy with painting). And at the same time my Tau background in Warhammer 40,000 (and Daemon Hunter background in Diablo 3) has left me with a preference for gunning down enemies at a distance, so I like it when my forces have lots of firepower. The old Wood Elf army book catered to this perfectly, by allowing me to field an army of relatively fast, mobile infantry with some bonuses to make their shooting extra-potent. And I loved it. 

Now, however, that rule is gone, and so while you can field an ultra-mobile force with fast cavalry or a formidable gunline with infantry, you can't quite fully combine the two styles into one the way you could in the last book. Which means now I can either field a static gunline, which I don't want, or invest heavily in cavalry, which I also don't want. It's fine for others, who are happy to adapt, but for me, who is loath to change their army, and reasonably stubborn on top of it, I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. Now, there is a kind of magic arrow you can give some of your units in the new book that removes the movement penalty for shooting (as well as every other shooting penalty possible), which would have satisfied me completely.... if it could be taken by everything. But it's for core units and combat characters only (and even then only generic combat characters), which doesn't fully compensate for the loss of Asrai Archery, as that rule affected every Wood Elf unit, not just  a few. 

But there's more than that. There's also the addition of Multiple Shots to everything. In case you don't know, Multiple Shots is a special rule in Warhammer that lets a unit fire, well, multiple shots when it shoots, at the cost of a reduction in accuracy. The problem I have here, is that I always felt Wood Elf shooting should have more emphasis on accuracy over raw volume of firepower (in contrast to the Dark Elves, which I felt were the opposite with their repeater crossbows). Now this again wouldn't be a problem with me, as most of the units with this rule have the option of firing single more accurate shots instead, if it weren't for the fact that the new Bow of Loren magic item is stuck with it. The fact that said Bow of Loren can't be used in combination with magic arrows any more just adds insult to injury for me. 

Then there's the loss of Spites, and Kindreds, which were two sets of very characterful options from the last book that never made it over, and that gives me no end of grief, for I do love me some good characteful options. In fact that's the big reason why I also don't like the loss of the Lore of Athel Loren, which I adored. But that isn't too much of a problem with the new book, as it is relatively easy enough to emulate with a magic item and some clever spell selection. 

Then there's the background. I don't particularly like a lot of the changes there. Divvying up Athel Loren into only 12 different territories was a big sticking point, as I don't feel it allows for as much freedom when creating one's own force. I vastly preferred the older incarnation of the Sisters of Twilight. I could write pages and pages on every single change to the background I did not agree with. 

But it is very late, and I'm tired, and all ranted out for tonight. Maybe I should have opened with the background change complaints...