Friday, 5 June 2015

8th Edition Memory Lane


 

So, on the back of the news that 8th edition is soon to follow the Old World and be sucked into the voidable abyss (question: is Archeon Game Workshop personified?), and inspired by Facehammer’s recent episode (believe the title was Russ talks about the events he has podiumed at (I could be wrong) – it was fun, you should listen (unless you’re Gav Thorpe, in which case you should probably give it a miss)) I got to thinking about the wild ride that was 8th edition. And though, what the hell, let’s have a look at how my rose tinted glasses look back on it:

Not many laughs, and no breaking news this time, just a gentle walk down memory lane 

 


8th Edition: The Raf Story

8th, it is fair to say, came along at the perfect (or worse possible, really depends on your interpretation and point of view – when I check my bank balance after a night out at a Cardiff event, or when I crawl into the office having forgotten to take a post tournament Monday off I am pretty sure it is the latter) time for me. I had been on a break from the game for a good long time (better part of a decade if I had to hazards a guess). I still kept abreast of things, but didn’t really play. Before this time I was what you’d call an enthusiastic amateur (because we are such professionals now……), working in a games workshop store that had a fiercely competitive local scene, but never attending events.

 

And then podcasts happened.

 

I have no idea how I stumbled upon them, but it would be fair to say they changed my life. Bad Dice, Heelanhammer and Podhammer  became staples, and before I knew it I was sucked in. I poured over the tactical discussions, considered the combo implications and pondered the full implications of utter avoidance (all without playing any games).

One thing stopped me though – 7th edition. I get why people liked it, but I actively despised how it played, and how it looked on the table. The chances were I was going to escape unscathed!

 

And then the announcement that 8th was coming out… came out.

 

On the day or release I bought 8 Island of Blood sets (mistakes were made…), and then proceeded to buy an army every three weeks (no, I didn’t paint them, I have never liked painting) or so as I got caught up in the fever of it all (the keen eyed reader will be unsurprised to find out this was before I was married…). I started playing games at the local GW on Oxford Street in London, and got to know the bunch of reprobates that would eventually lead to what for me is the defining aspect of 8th edition – tournaments.

 

 

The first event I ever went to was the Unseen Lerker GT at Warhammer World – what’s not to love! To think there hasn’t been an independent WFB event there since is sad. Run by the ever unique Bobo here I got my first taste of competitive uncomped 8th edition Warhammer (I was, at the time, vehemently anti-comp). I don’t remember too many of the details – I remember my first game was against a zombie dragon, and that I played Greg (from After Ulanor and a million other podcasts) in a ridiculous game that lasted all of 20 minutes, and larger than like Ol from Og Games.

Regardless, I loved it.

Not addicted, but could see the attraction.

 

My next event was the Masters Open event – this year they had decided to have a couple of  normal tournaments running alongside the WFB and 40k Masters at the old Eye of The Storm venue. This was the perfect event. The Open field was small, we all hung out and chilled nicely and met some further stalwarts of the scene. It of course helped that I won, but the real driver was the Masters event itself. Sure, I hear from the players now that it was kind of terrible – all uncomped early 8th filth, but watching it was very cool. And I saw the twenty minutes where Bobo lost the masters in spectacular style (ask him about it, he likes to relive it).

 

I decided after this weekend that, sod having all of 11 competitive games of Warhammer in my ‘career’, I was going to qualify for this Masters.

It was a nicely ambitious goal.

Unfortunately RankingsHQ no longer exists, so I can’t remember the journey fully, all I know is that I got there.

 

Not that long after that I achieved my second self-appointed goal (top Vampire Player Icon), my third (getting to number 1 in the rankings) and a couple of years later, my fourth (top Lizardmen Icon) after which and there were, quite simply, no more lands to conquer until this year when  I qualified for the England ETC team.

 

But anyway, anyone would think this blog post is all about me!

 

 

8th Edition: The Game’s Story

 

My memory of the edition as a whole is really a series of flashes of memories.

Let’s see if we can string these along into some sort of narrative…

 

 

8th burst onto the scene.

-          Internet descends into vicious madness (I know this is normal, but seriously – RANDOM CHARGES!, striking at initiative!, STEADFAST!, BSB rerolls!, deadly spells!, terrain has no effect!, DEADLY MISCASTS! PREMEASURING!!!!)

-          Some Australian podcasters get their fans to pay for them to go on holiday to the States where they go wild and never podcast again.

-          Warmahordes makes a big splash and is the best game ever (I say this, because even on this obscure little blog they will find me and insist on saying it if I haven’t).

 

The scene is full of big units. Magic is all about the hexes and buffs, ballistic skill shooting has gone the way of the Dodo.

Combat characters are all but pointless, warmachines marginally less so.

Infantry is King (classic examples being Bloodletters, Marauders with Flails, Grave Guard and Black Guard).

 

-          Nothing is released (army wise) for the game from July 2010 when it came out to March 2011… yes, 7 MONTHS later. The game was getting *very* stale.

 

And then…. Orc & Goblins come out!  

The result, if anything, was that it made the book worse. No more Waaagh charges was a big deal. General reaction to it is *meh* and they continue to not be seen on the scene.

The scene continued to be stale…

 

A couple of months later… Tomb Kings!

Yay! Ahem… OK, so they couldn’t march, they had BS shooting (still terrible) and big tough things with lots of toughness that died to lots of attacks (available everywhere). They were, by and large, as successful as their O&G predecessors.

They *did*, however, introduce us to units of Monstrous Cavalry (proving once and for all that being first is not the same as being best).

 

 

Four months later and the big bullied babies of 7th edition were coming out. Eagerly I ordered and advance copy of the book and picked it up at an event (assume it was a Tempest (seriously, they don’t make events like that anymore), as it was in Stockport (and no, if not for WFB I would never have been to Stockport… it has a lot to answer for!)). I even bought a massive monster thing with Ogres on it!

I read the book on the train back that day, and boy was I utterly disappointed! It’s such a sparse book. Nothing about it to me reached out and seduced the imagination. I sulked (though maybe that was because I was in Stockport come to think of it…).

Now, I may have disliked the book, but damn it had an impact.

My first exposure to them was in the final game of Valhalla where BryanTheHobbyKiller pushed Mournfang forwards and obliterated Ghouls. All the Ghouls. If there had been more Ghouls he would have obliterated the too.

-          The scene was rocked. The very existence of such a unit was not something that anyone was ready for. The sky was literally falling (or being eaten). The simple fact was, not every army *could* deal with them without serious redesign, and that took time.

 

In many ways this, some 14 months after the editions release, was the real birthing cry of 8th.

 

 

 

Fade to a few months later and the news is that Vampires are coming! A splash release in White Dwarf brings us Banshees and Wraiths as characters, and Terrorgheists!

The vampire list of the time was Vampire Lord (with Fencers Blades and the Helm of Coolness, probably with Master of the Black Arts), Ghouls (lots of ghouls – they could be raised beyond their starting size) and lots of Grave Guard with 4+ regen, magically charging all over the place. What heady joys was the new book going to bring us?

-          Sure, we all knew that they were going to nerf some things (recasting spells was probably going to go, as were the magic charges), but they have Ogres Mournfang and Move-And-Fire-Chariot-Cannons, this was exciting! Were bloodlines coming back?!

To the eternal pain of all VC players ever since what we actually got was easily the most balanced book of the edition. Lots of cool stuff, very little (if anything) ‘broken’ and nothing undercosted. And we got no bloodlines (not really anyway)

-          One thing I will never forgive them for is making Blood Knights quite so terrible though…

 

What followed as an epic fall from grace. Vampires, one of the most successful races with their old book in this edition, were eviscerated as a top level tournament force in the UK – from the book’s release in January 2012 no max point event was won by vampires until April 2015 [you’re welcome kids ;) ]

 

 

The Empire followed. The impact of Empire took a while to be made, but boy was it made. 1+ armour save became a THING. This crushed the life out any remaining infantry as an effective fighting force, and the perpetual rise of the MSU continued.

The most notable thing in the Empire though was how they managed to find an endless supply of DemiGriffs hiding in a forest somewhere.

-          Oh, and GW FAQ’d Monstrous Cavalry to be better. So that was a thing.

-          The other notable thing is they almost singlehandedly killed the game.  From its release in April 2012 we didn’t get a book until February 2013 (TEN MONTHS LATER!).

The scene was incredibly stale. Empire, and 1+ armour saves, were everywhere.

 

These were the Dark Times of Warhammer.

 

 

2013 arrived and brought with it a tidal wave of unbearable filth… Warriors smashed onto the scene (helped by being uncomped for a good long while (unlike Vampires…. #NotOverIt)) and the bare cheeked cheapness and ease of putting an army together.

-          Daemon Princes, Chariots, Unkillable Tzeentchian BSBs, Skullcrushers, Trolls and Chimeras arrived and, to a large extent, have never really left. On the plus side, it was more fun in some ways than the old book. Unfortunately they killed a lot of options as viable. (No, I don’t feel sorry for them either).

 

A MONTH later Daemons!

I have to say, I rejoiced. The death of the Bloodletter legions was a Good Day. I also believed what all the players were saying, expecting the book to be a bit too unreliable to be a real force. I was happy, this felt properly chaotic!

Of course, we all were idiots. What had actually been released was arguably the most powerful Warhammer Army Book in 8th edition.

 

Of course TWO MONTHS later High Elves came along and killed Daemons as a competitive force* [*according to the internet]. This was actually a pretty cool book, other than that stupid banner. Quite clearly the banner was meant to be 75 points, allowing only BSBs or Dragon Princes to have it (and it would still be good), but no. 50 point stupidity spoils the taste of the book to the point where not even Phoenixes or Alith Anar can save them (and Alith Anar can save anything). Around this time we saw the noticeable rise of ballistic skill based shooting. All in all, the army ended up being quite dull, the most effective build for a long time probably being the Light Magic gunline.

 


 

OK!

-          They have introduced Monstrous Cavalry all over the place.

-          All but one book has at least one magic lore to call its own.

What would GW do to the Children of the Old Ones? Perhaps a return to spawnings – they were cool! Goes without saying there were going to be some cool monsters, and reptilian Monstrous Cavalry! Maybe a Skink Warchief, those little vicious lizards should have a Lord character. And, well, something else in Core. Maybe an option for Cold Ones in Core in the right situation (Throgg is out there after all…). IMAGINE HOW COOL CARNASAURS ARE GOING TO BE!

The pictures started coming out (on this very blog) and there is an *awesome* new monster kit!

And then.

Oh dear.

What a dull book.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my Lizards and their spaceships, but WOW that is an uninspiring army book outside of characters.

Bitterly disappointing.

 

 


Ha!

I’m not saying I blame the following entirely on Ben Curry (though his name *is* in the book), but wow did Dark Elves not piss all over this game.


I think the least that is said about Dark Elves the better really…

 

 

Dwarfs followed and had a limited impact on the game. Dwarfs are cool (fluff wise) and Gyros are cool (on the table) and, come to think of it, Hammerers now hit *really* hard. But not much really changed (or at least not enough for anyone to notice).

 

Wood Elves got people down under all hot and bothered (not to be confused with hot and bothered down under… or should it?) but really, a slight deal about not all that much. They have taken them away from being hippy peace elves, which I guess is cool enough.

 

 

 

So, those are the books that *made* 8th edition what it was – though in many ways that’s doing it a disservice. Half the fun was the 7th ed books working in this edition, and the transition between them. This allowed individual armies to rise and fall in power level throughout. The meta (other than during those two insanely long release-free windows) has been a shifting tide. We have seen the infantry hordes give way to MSU, the rise of the solo characters, the fall of monsters, the emergence of Monstrous Cavalry, the rise of cavalry and, in some armies, the rise in infantry hordes all over again.

My biggest regrets is that Beastmen, Bretonnians and Skaven never got the 8th treatment.

 

 

The End of it all

 


I guess it would be a disservice to not mention the End Times party that served as a send-off to everything we have known and loved (and seriously, if you have not read the books, listen to Garagehammer’s coverage, it is truly second to none).

 

·         Nagash coming out was probably the single coolest thing I have experienced in the hobby. I have loved him as a bad guy since my first encounter  in the old army book [less the Clown of Doom, more the peerless Mark Gibbons drawing]. This statement of intent (NAGASH WAS COMING BACK!) was awesome. And no, not for one second did I think that it would end up as it did… Yes, his rules are a little bit silly, but he is a god, I was cool with that.

·         Glotkin bored me. Maybe it’s because, unlike Nagash, I am no chaos fan boy, and I find Nurgle the dullest of the pantheon. Karl Franz Ascendant was an eye opener though!

·         Khaine came along and I loved the twist in the plot. Rules wise of course this was all beyond silly by this point.

·         Thanquol… Skaven were a tad OTT here, but Lizardmen got to do a Cartmen impression and go home. The death of the Dwarfen race suitably tragic and heroic. In many ways the rules here were even worse, as Stomfiends are seeing use in normal games…

·         By the time Archeon came out it was all over bar the singing. Sort of funny that in the end it was Manfred who screwed everything over, but still.

Overall, a truly epic way to see the, well… the End Times.

 

 

So, that was the world that was.

What really sticks out in my memory?

 

 
 
8th Edition: The Highlight Reel

 

Army Books:

I have already rambled on a bit about the books, but two of them really stick out to me over the course of 8th.

-          First up was the Empire. No, not vastly overpowered, but the sheer length of time between their release and the next book meant that, for what felt like an eternity, we lived in a world of 1+ armour saves and cannons (and no, this is not a Good Thing).

-          Second up is the Lizardmen. I was so excited about this book, and so bored after its release, it was sort of heart-breaking. Not saying it is not good (it is), but the whole thing was just rather limp.

 

Meta:

I touched on the journey the meta has taken over the years. The crazy days of the infantry hordes are a distant memory for me, and when I think of 8th I envisage the dearth of combat of infantry we have seen for a good while now and vague images of overly MSU and character heavy builds. I am not a fan (conceptually, it can be fun to use).

 

Units:

8th has seen an explosion of units that never existed before… which of these stand out?

-          Most striking: Mournfang. The absolute carnage unleashed on the scene by their arrival frankly has no parallel

-          Best: Warlocks, obviously. Let’s not even talk about it.

-          Worse: Blood Dragons. Seriously, you can get two Warlocks for every Blood Dragon….

-          Most impressed by: the humble skink cohort. 5 points a model of epic win. They have done so much for me, far prefer them to their skirmishing cousins

-          Least impressed by: Ghouls. Seriously. 10 points a model or incredibly situational pseudo usefulness.

 

 

Tournaments:

For me, 8th edition *was* tournaments, so plenty of memories here! There are so many related aspects too…

 

Venue: Well, I’m not going to go an embarrass anyone with pointing out which is the worse, everyone in the UK knows that. The best, for me, had to be either the old Eye of the Storm venue before Maelstrom games collapsed (seriously, it was 5 minutes from the in-laws. *Gaining* Mrs points for going to events cannot be underestimated). The best venue though has to be the new Firestorm Games venue in Cardiff. That place is very impressive.

 

Food gets discussed a lot in tournament feedback (more so when someone drops the ball than when they do something well). The worse meal I had was probably at the unfortunate event at the venue not named above, but the best is tougher. Firestorm Fours was impressive, with Pizza Hut for everyone, but the stand out winner has to be the food at Call to War at the BIG Bristol venue. Seriously, I would have paid the entrance fee for the food alone (I’m now hungry just thinking about it…)

 

The social side of things is easy. Almost all events have a great social side, from chats at the bar/in the local pub at SCGT to watching people going for a swim in a canal. It’s all about who you are with, and meeting up with people with the same passions (though too many wargammers seen to love heavy metal for some reason… I’ve never understood the link). I hear great things about Mersey, but *the* place to go and have fun at an event is Cardiff. Everything happens in Cardiff (they can have that slogan for free (though I will take a cut of merchandising rights…).

 
You see everything in Cardiff...

Touching on the social side of things, Team Events burst onto the scene as a real force during this edition and I LOVE them. It’s actually impossible to put a finger on the “best” one. I would highly recommend anyone that can to take part in the Bjorn Teams and Firestorm Fours events, and am sure the team event at BIG will be equally great. It’s impossible to really describe why, though Byron put it well in the latest Facehammer Podcast when he mentioned that all the things you would say to describe to someone that didn’t know the hobby why it was so fun is embodied in it.

If I *had* to (and I do, I have decided and am the boss) pick a favourite it would have to be the Bjorn Teams though. I like the added complications and implications of the Swedish system… and we won it. So there.

 

The past years have been so full of memorable games that I have forgotten most of them (…)

The emotional swing of my game at London Burning when a Hellheart made ALL of my wizards cascade, only for them all to survive and the game to swing irresistibly to victory is fresh on the mind. That said, in all honesty, only two games really stand a chance:

The first was at my Midlands Open. To say the comp pack had some holes would be, well, fair… My opponent, Jon, had an Ogre army (I was running classic 7th edition infantry VC). This was a win/loss/draw event with 301+ points for the win. Jon had more than 2100 points in one unit of Ironguts, and he had been having all the luck pushing forwards at people and taking them off. To make matter worse, this was the last game of the event, and I had a real chance at my first big podium. Not overly sure on a plan, things went bad when I immediately miscast and lost all my spells. Channelling the powers of a certain podcast, I proceeded to catch him with a ghoul conga, engineering a flank charge with Grave Guard and eventually managed to take him off. That was fun.

 
The second was a much better game. It was a masters game two years ago vs #FatCraig and his Skaven. The scenario was watchtower. To say this was a bloodthirsty game was to understate it. I think by the end of the game there were maybe 5 models on the table. I won’t go into too much detail – suffice to say I won the game when my Slann, the last surviving member of the tower’s garrison, was turned into a Slannrat. Thinking the game was lost, my scarvet ripped off the Grey Seer’s head and the ensuing panic check had the clanrat running for the hills, leaving me closest to the tower.

Good times.

You probably had to be there for that…

 

Placings are not something I care too much about most of the time, fully appreciating that the one event winner in the room will have, most of the time, had the additional bit of luck needed to elevate them over the rest of the top ten. That being said, finally breaking the 8th edition Vampire Counts drought and winning London’s Burning is something I will remember for a long time.

 

Some people get worked up about trophies. I don’t particularly mind (I find them rather annoying most of the time as I run out of space to store them ;) ). My favourite trophy was easily the one at Valhalla (think that was the name…) for finishing second. It’s this cool metal Viking helmet on a stand, about the size of a mug. I like things like that.

 

Raf’s prize for best overall event:

Sorry, but this is actually an easy one (and there are a lot of good events out there). Clash Of Swords wins this easily.

The event build up (even if he uses writers with dubious reputations), the attention to detail, the atmosphere, the social side… quite simply, it’s the fact you know that Mo has just gone all out to make it as good as he can. Bravo mate!

 

 

Hobby:

Well, this may be a secret to y’all, but I have no patience for the painting side of the hobby. That being said even I can appreciate pretty things… The armies that really stand out to me are a Night Goblin army I played against on the Friday before an event (sorry, can’t remember the gentleman’s name :( ), Steve Wren’s Empire army at SCGT with the very cool movement trays/unit fillers and, my favourite amongst them all, Ben Johnson’s Daemon army (believe it’s been in White Dwarf if you want to check it out).




I should say, being colour-blind I have a real preference for bright colours and overall army effect on the table means more to me than technical brilliance.

 

Pet Peeves:

I try not to get too worked up about stuff (any stuff, not just Warhammer). I do have a couple of pet peeves though:

-          Over-celebrating skill-less victory. You see this all the time. A cannon goes off (“ten from the back”), opponent roles a 1, general/lvl4/whatever killed. Immediate celebration, fine, getting that luck is all good. Fondly remembering it as some sort of Alexandrian triumph, not so cool.

-          This ties into a broader point of people misremembering games, forgetting the outrageous fortune that handed them victory and recalling it as all “part of the plan”… not so cool.

-          The one I do find most annoying is when people don’t appreciate when their opponent is taking a joke list. Crowing about beating someone who is taking a deliberately bad list for a laugh… not so cool.

 

 

Podcasts:

This was the golden age of media interaction in the hobby, and it is impossible to really outline favourites without it seeming to be dissing other good podcasts. Personally I like my content focused more on the game than on ‘exploits’, but there are options out there for all pallets. That said, big shout outs to:

·         Bad Dice Daily – that incredible run of 5 podcasts a week was probably really the pinnacle in WFB audio entertainment.

·         Heelanhammer – production quality has remained top notch throughout, a highly professional and entertaining product.

·         Garagehammer – I love almost everything about this show, and their story coverage is really second to none.

·         Dwellers Below/Watchtower – yup, putting them both together because they are colonials. Something great about getting a view onto the Australian scene again.

And many, many others whose runs have either been epic or short. The amount of time, effort and commitment that podcasters put in is really awe-inspiring.

 

Twitter:

I literally wouldn’t use it if it wasn’t for this. Not sure my life would be any worse come to think of it… but still, it’s cool.

 

 

 

How to finish this rambling… ramble?

Well, that seems pretty obvious. One thing has stood over all others during 8th… We all love them, even if we pretend we hate them. I am, of course, talking about #Gates.

These are so cool I was going to do a whole blog on them, but alas time and life can be rather demanding.

 

These gates range from the big and serious to the silly and funny…

Which ones come to mind?

 

#BrothersGate[description redacted due to threat of legal action]

#GatewayGate – The Gateway King brought low by rogue dice.

#Extrea1Gate – I’ll just leave that one there…

#PodhammerGate – lads get people to pay for their holidays, are never seen again

#ToiletGate – the straw that broke the camels’ back in relation to a venue I am not naming for some reason

#SelfVoteGate – this is also known as “Doing a Steve Wren”

#SlowPlayGate – the inability of someone to push daemons at someone in under two and a half hours… Ends with best outburst ever seen at a masters event

#ShardGate – naughty Will

#MaelstromGate – the whole collapse of that business and the months leading up to it was ugly ugly ugly

#HristoBreaksACompPackGate – the very first time a Folding Fortress is not banned…

#ExtraFuryGate – One of several the normal unimpeachable Jack got himself into, along with such exciting episodes as: #RailroadGate and #DrawGate

#WeeBoyGate – a child travels the country bullying David Sweeting

#KillingBlowGate – still too soon….

 


Yup, some of the above are definitely only #Gates with an effort of will, but that’s half the fun :)

 

 

 

 

So there we have it, my recollections of 8th edition, or at least as many of them as I can recall (that being, by and large, the definition of recollections) in the time it took to throw these words on a screen.

 

I know the news ahead of Age of Sigmar is scaring people, but I for one am very excited about the future!

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time….

 

 

Raf

 

4 comments:

  1. Excellent read Raf. Thanks for putting it together.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Raf- Great read as always. Your 8th edition career eerily parallels mine. Just replace references of VC for O&G and England with USA. Ourt love of Lizardmen is mutual! Looking forward to meeting you next month in prague

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks man!
      Looking forward to Prague!

      Delete