Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Thoughts on the new Empire army book

It turns out that having an overly active social life can have an impact on one’s painting output. Whilst this is a good problem to have, it does mean I still haven’t finished painting the Blades of Taal, and thus I've no pretty pictures to show y’all.

What I have done, however, is play a few games using the new Empire book. To that end, and because I’m an opinionated muthahubbard, I thought I’d share my thoughts on it. Doing so may or may not constitute a review.

As a precursor, I must confess that I was a little sceptical when I first heard rumours of a new edition of the facial hair delivery system that is Warhammer Armies: The Empire. What was wrong with the current edition, I wondered? The maxim ‘if it ain’t broke...’ seemed to apply, and my fear was that they were going to lead my favourite army into a dark back-alley and leave bits of it bleeding into a bucket. Thus, the question on my (and, I suspect, every other Empire player’s) lips was this: is the new edition actually an improvement?

In a word, yes.

As established in previous posts, the biggest factor in how much I like a rule is how cinematically it brings the Warhammer World to life. The soldiery of the Empire always felt like the heroic underdogs in most of the fights they ever walked into, meeting slavering monsters head-on with little more than pantaloons and optimism. Whilst droves of them would get knocked aside, crushed, stabbed or pulped, they’d fight on, and against all the odds, the Empire would survive (even if most of my state troops didn’t).

The new book has done several things to emphasise this. First off, the characters. Officers (i.e. captains and generals) are now da bomb at holding a line together (thanks to the hold the line special rule), whereas warrior priests are now much more offensive than defensive; they no longer have defensive abilities like the Unbreakable bound spell, which even as an Empire player I can admit is good for game balance. Oh, and Engineers are now totally worth their points. In fact, all the characters feel like they have a role to play, which hopefully means an end to the proliferation of warrior priests present in so many armies – people will genuinely want a variety instead, although as usual it’s possible to give things a narrower theme if you prefer.

Secondly, the state troops. They’ve been significantly improved, with detachments working exactly like an extension of their parent regiments, in that they share their regiment’s psychology rules. This makes detachments significantly harder, and means that they work just as one would imagine. Additionally, the points values for the state troops have all been adjusted (generally in the ‘up’ direction, given the new detachment rules). To my mind, the halberdier remains the bread-and-butter choice. That said, spearmen are now the cheapest option, which makes a previously redundant unit viable again. Maybe I’ll even collect a unit of them at some point. I mention this because one of the strengths of the book, I think, is the way it encourages variety a little more than the last one did, and the last one already sported more variety and flexibility than any other two army books combined.

One bone of contention with many players is the epic nerfing of the mortar. Personally, I’m all for it. Blast markers are horrendously powerful in the current version of Warhammer, and dropping the mortar’s strength down to 2 whilst upping its points to 100 has changed it from being drastically overpowered to being reasonable. I just used it in a match against some Undead, and getting a direct hit on a regiment of skeletons still made an impressive mess without being preposterous.

All in all, whilst I’m surprised the book came out instead of an update to the much-sidelined Brettonians and Wood Elves, it’s a significant improvement on its predecessor. Oh, and as you can tell from the various pictures in here (taken from www.games-workshop.com for illustrative purposes only) it’s also very pretty, which it bloody well needs to be, given the price hike. If I were to have one criticism, it’s that if I’m going to pay £25 for an army book, I’d rather have more content (i.e. richer background material) than a hardback cover and full colour on the inside. But it is very pretty. Hmm. What do you think? Feel free to thrust your opinion into the public domain via the comments box below.


Thursday, 12 April 2012

When Dwarfs go Bad

First, my apologies: between going to France and Devon over the past few weeks, I’ve not found the time to do part two of the freehand tutorial. I shall be slapping it in the face (that means finishing it) this week. Now, moving on... I have something new for the Beard Bunker: a battle report. Kindof.

I find myself wondering if I’m about to fall into some of the traps that sometimes befoul the White Dwarf team when they write one of these. At the least, I guess I can try to restrict my use of hyperbole. After all, dire portents are waxing nigh as the End Times descend upon the Olde Worlde, and who am I to indulge in mere rhetoric as such cataclysmic events unfold?


Now, what the rest of this post may lack in hyperbole, it makes up for in length. You might want to put the kettle on before diving in...

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Butterfly Strikes Back...

Well, as you may have gathered from my last post, things with the Vampires were going quite well. Very well in fact. Then this happened...


How, how does this happen?

For a good six months, I’ve been having this vague itch... to resurrect my bodged Dark Angels successor chapter and not make a pig’s ear of them. A couple of weeks ago, I cracked. I bought a Dark Angels veterans box, a command group box and a devastators set. Then I raided my bits box, leftovers and spares, and found I could make a company master, command group, two tactical squads and three transports. It's amazing what you can make when you dig through those bits boxes!

To top off the speedy army buildy cake, I had a very lovely and generous birthday gift of the Ravenwing Battleforce box (Thanks Em!!). I'm really impressed with the sheer amount of extras included on those frames. It's allowed me to customise all my vehicles without having to purchase anything extra. 

So far I've only managed to finish the first combat squad. I'm taking my time, and the big thing with this army for me is getting my freehand painting skills down. All the chapter/company/squad markings are being freehanded. It's a challenge to keep them consistent but I feel that it's a good thing. Each new army, or unit, should be expanding your skills, and that’s what I'm trying to do here, get my free hand confidence up. Hopefully after a squad or two I'll be up to the challenge of that company standard. 

Until next time