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Classic Hammer » Warhammer Fantasy » 6th Edition
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As promised...
Just Tony
... I had mentioned that I could isolate the point where WFB jumped off in a direction I wasn't happy with, and that I was going to start a thread about it.

The Wood Elves book.

Don't get me wrong, I am REALLY unhappy with the way Chaos was handled, but the Wood Elves started what I consider the 7th Ed. mindset. I had given that descriptor to the Dwarfs book, but after rereading my army books I noticed something about the Wood Elves book.

1. The elimination of 0-1. Previous books had appendix lists where 0-1 was removed but other restrictions were applied, allowing for the maintaining of balance. The Wood Elves was the first book where this simply did not happen. It also set the ground for every book after it to eliminate 0-1, unless I missed a unit somewhere.

2. More special rules army wide than any other book at the time. Most armies were never more than two SRs in the army section, and less than half the units with special rules. Wood Elves changed that, and it carried over to the rest of the books.

I'd say in all honesty if I run Wood Elves in 6th, I'm sticking with the Chronicles list.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
Lol, we seem to disagree on a lot of things Just Tony, though you make some good points.

The Wood Elf book did have a lot of special rules- but it is also, in a way, two armies. You could say the same of the Chaos book though, I suppose.

Personally, I loved the 6th ed Wood Elf book because it was clear how the army was intended to play, and the writer did an excellent job of achieving that goal.
The army was highly mobile- full of 'glass hammer' units intended to get the charge and break the enemy quickly. Shooting was also highly mobile, with rules to encourage the archers to close with the enemy, then fall back- which is much more interesting than the static bowline I had experienced playing with Wood Elves in all previous editions (and sadly as reoccurred in 8th).
I loved my 6th ed Wood Elf army- it was highly themed, heavy with core, contained a lot of variety- and was still very competitive! That's an unfortunately rare achievement for many forces.

One big problem with Wood Elves, as was highlighted to me by my main opponent at the time, is that they were a guerrilla warfare style army in a game that simply wasn't built to handle that kind of thing well. The forests Wood Elves loved were nigh impassable to most other armies, and their speed and manoeuvrability were nearly impossible for some forces to counter. I remember literally running rings around a Chaos army once- my shooting was doing pitiful damage, but I had made my points on his weak units, and was able to simply prevent losing points for the rest of the game - that's not a fun experience (but it was a tournament...).

I also loved the 6th ed Wood Elf magic list, though many bemoaned it as terrible. I always found it very powerful- but also subtle. It was much more fun and difficult to use than the magic missile heavy other magic lists, or any of the lores of 8th ed.

The chronicles list isn't bad- I played that for ages- but that playstyle seems so dull and static after 6th (and the return to that is part of why I hate the 8th book). If I remember rightly the chronicles list has the Acorn of the Oak of Ages magic item- that thing is horrible. Given the old terrain rules, that item is an easy way to take a unit or two out of the game very easily, with no counter.
I have no problem with how the Wood Elf army is setup. I lost badly to those a few times with my dwarves, but I would chalk it up to not thinking critically as to how to defeat it. I would tend to think that it would be different playing against them now.

I started to question GW's infinite wisdom when the 7th edition Empire book came out with the mechanical horse and the rocket battery, right after an OnG army book that was WAAAG'ing every game with a diminished animosity. After that it went down hill every army book that came out from there. On top of that, the models started to become atrocious.
Edited by TinyLegions on 22-01-2016 11:21
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Just Tony
But think about the two books that came out RIGHT BEFORE those two. Wood Elves and Dwarfs. If you can, compare the 6th Ed Dwarfs book with the 6.5 Ed Dwarfs book. It's a real eye-opener.

And once again sometimes it's about the precedent set, not how badly the book starting it did it. 7th Ed's ASR creep started with High Elves according to most, and that is definitely where the uncharacterful ASRs started, and the lists afterwards definitely did it worse. Dark Elves come to mind immediately. I'd say WE is where 6th started to lean into 7th, and HE is where 7th's AB paradigm started in earnest.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
I would concur that the WE, Dwarf and perhaps Ogre and Brettonian army books had the 7th in mind whether they had the actual rules in hand or the general concepts. That is common for GW to do that with the last few armies before an edition change. Despite that, I still did not have any major problems with them, and thought that they were not that overpowering compared to what we saw later on.(nor were they every considered to be the army books that broke the edition) I have said this before, but personally, I don't see any incentive in playing the 6.5 Dwarf book with the exception of one rune that was a good one. I don't know whether I would play the Chronicle army lists for WE and Brett, or the army books that were released, but I am willing to play against either one.

The OnG and Empire book were where I realized that I did not like where things were heading, and none of the army books after the dwarf army books really did anything for me. It was both the rules as well as the ascetics that started to turn me off. It may have been later than you, but we did eventually come to the same conclusion.
Edited by TinyLegions on 22-01-2016 14:11
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Wasn't the Wood Elf book released really late in 6th Edition? I remember that I had dropped out before the book was released (and they were my main army; I played perhaps a year or two into 6th Edition with the Wood Elf Ravening Hordes list, which was actually quite fun and well-designed). The early 6th books were definitely quite similar to 5th Edition, with the common magic item list paralleling the Warhammer Magic box set and common magic item cards. The part of the 6th Edition army books I didn't like was the division into Core/Special/Rare etc. (which made army building much more rigid) and, conversely, the increasing trend to allow every army to hyper-customize (Undead become VC and TK, Chaos becomes Hordes and Daemons, Vampire Counts get individual Bloodlines... I think Wood Elves may have received some mechanic like that as well). This really happened after the Empire and Orcs & Goblins books. The result was that every army you faced across the tabletop was structurally the same (two core choices, a rare and a few specials, led by a lord and a couple heroes) but with different window-dressing (Daemonic Army, Blood Knight army etc.).

It led to a very, very strong feeling of false-choices and the banality of playing the game (no matter what you did, it was the same old slog week after week). It led to me having less fun each game, because the creative decisions about how you could play the game were replaced by largely false choices about how you could tweak your army list within the Core/Special/Rare restriction.

I eventually felt that the game was now less about scenario-making and playing and more about list-building (with all the "gaming is serious business" trolls that that attitude brings out of the woodwork). At least in earlier editions, you had the tremendous flexibility to design armies for any narrative scenario that you could imagine. Want to try an army entirely made up of Empire artillery against an army entirely made up of Wood Elf Warhawk Riders? You could do that in the 90's, and a lot more besides. Each time you knew you were playing against the Wood Elves (instead of some specialized sub-group of them, which were inevitably chosen not because they presented fluffy or interesting choices, but because they were gamey and overpowered within the rigid confines of Core/Special/Rare structure). I mean, don't get me wrong, I like some customization... But when the core IP of the army is watered down by sub-groups, it loses that flavour... At least for me!
Edited by Galadrin on 24-01-2016 12:45
Just Tony
And I disagree wholeheartedly. If you give someone the option to build their army out of regiments with no restrictions, you're going to get the most severe elites possible. 5th was exactly that for me. Character heavy elite armies. 6th simply brought the fluffwise core of the armies to the fore.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
It probably depended greatly on who you played with. Level headed and friendly players removed the need to have game balance entirely, since they would always bring fair and fluffy armies so that everyone could have fun anyway.

Even in the 90's tournament scene, when you faces off against complete strangers, the tournaments always judged your victory points on numerous levels... Points for best painted army, points for fluffiest army, points for gamesmanship, points for most reasonable and balanced army. I mean, we all knew you could do broken stuff in the 90's... We were the ones that came up with the term Herohammer after all. But we also came up with great ways to get around that... See, for example, the long list of restrictions you can add to your game in the 5th Edition rulebook... No monsters, no lords, no magic items above a certain point value, no level 4 wizards... We got by ok! "Broken" army books and rules were never a problem if you understood the point of the game was to have fun. The ability to embrace that reality and enjoy the ultimate freeform nature of 4th/5th is what made Warhammer Warhammer, for us. I can totally respect it, though, if what made Warhammer Warhammer for you was playing with a very balanced, fair and carefully cultivated ruleset. I recognize 6th Edition is all of those things... It's just that those weren't the "fun things," for us! It's like a flat Coca Cola without the fizz... You need the little chaotic bubbles to make the magic happen (even if it is messy and gives you a headache sometimes)!

I would note that, however, in the 15 or so years of Warhammer Fantasy using the Core/Special/Rare set up, they have never solved the problem of "broken armies" and, in many ways, have handicapped weaker armies in ways that weren't possible in the 90's (since some army books could do a lot more scary things within the Core/Special/Rare structure than other army books).
Edited by Galadrin on 24-01-2016 20:51
Just Tony
What you miss is that nothing stopped you from experimenting with your friends as far as alternate lists or even throwing the FOC out the window. What the problem is, and you're seeing this with AOS even more so, is when you don't have a comped version of a game where people can load up on the cheese, you will have a cheese convention. Pick up games become that. And honestly the only lists in 6th that could pull excessive powergaming within the Core slots were the Empire 1+ Cav army, Empire and Dwarf Gunline, and Chaos. And honestly, a balanced army would have counters for all of that. Even the Chaos one.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
I'm sure that's true; any game can be played freeform and I wouldn't be surprised in Pirinen himself recommended this somewhere in the rules. There is no need to be slave to any specific mechanic and it is your game at the end of the day. But you have to also admit that, with the right players cheese is also either not a problem or itself a lot of fun.

I guess that is what I'm left with... Complaints about cheese seem to throw the baby out with the bathwater... 90's Hammer had so much great stuff in it. Not only aesthetics (the art, the models, the story with the sense of irony and humour), but also just piles and piles of cool stuff... Familiars models, Light Wizards with acolyte pyramids, spell and magic item cards, tons of templates, goofy units like Netters, scenario packs, the Chaos box set.

I've been trying to drum up support for 4th/5th for about a year with little success. Of the editions prior to 8th, 6th is definitely the most popular (just ran a poll on Warseer about this, but I have seem the reurgence in 6th elsewhere as well). You're probably right; most people probably did move on to 6th without looking back (tired of the problems you mention). 6th is a difficult edition to criticise, as it is pretty well-rounded. I dunno, I guess I just didn't find it more fun than 4/5e. I don't think I played a cheesy army (Wood Elves with large blocks of spearmen and archers)... I just somehow found it more fun nonetheless. Can hardly find anyone to agree, though, so maybe I'm the odd one out!
Just Tony
Fun is relative. I can count on one hand the armies in 5th I ran into that were balanced and not min/maxed at the percentage level. I also am at a loss to think of any time I DIDN'T come across a character with the Tress of Isoulde, Potion of Strength, AND the Hydra Sword. What I like about 6th is that there's NOTHING comparable to that sort of combination.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
Just Tony wrote:

Fun is relative. I can count on one hand the armies in 5th I ran into that were balanced and not min/maxed at the percentage level. I also am at a loss to think of any time I DIDN'T come across a character with the Tress of Isoulde, Potion of Strength, AND the Hydra Sword. What I like about 6th is that there's NOTHING comparable to that sort of combination.

Well, Tress of Isoulde (and thus that magic item combination) only existed in 6th Edition... 5th Edition didn't have that item or that combo. In any case, it sounds like you played against a lot of Bretonnians (Tress was Bretonnian only), which is understandable if you feel burnt by Herohammer... They were the only army that, with allies, could take 100% heroes.
Edited by Galadrin on 26-01-2016 07:29
Just Tony
No, the Tress was indeed one of the magic items in 5th. Maybe the Isoulde part is wrong, but the Tress was ported over directly from 5th.

Tress - hit on an unmodified 2+
Potion of strength - +3 S I believe, could have been +2
Hydra Blade - each hit becomes D6 hits

THAT is the kind of combo you saw in 5th, at least around my state. That is the kind of thing that shouldn't have been possible in the first place. 6th thankfully killed that with army exclusive magic items.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
Yep, the hit on unmodified 2+ is a 6e thing. Do you know what the item that inspired it in 5e was called? I've scanned the 5th edition Magic and Bretonnia book a couple times and haven't seen anything that does that. This is not to say there weren't ridiculously powerful magic items. Before it was errata'd, most players interpreted the Hydra blade as turning your total hits into d6 hits each, rather than each hit model sustains d6 hits instead of 1. Good lord that was a scary time! There were also a lot of other magic items that required later errata because they weren't interacting with the rules as intended: remember Heart of Woe and Von Carstein's Ring? Vampire goes supernova and then pops back up, good as new! I think 6e has some rule about only 1 magic item of each type on a character, probably because of the Woe & Ring combo.

Did you ever try playing with the rules suggestions in 5e to limit characters or magic items, or the rules in White Dwarf 222 (if you played GW tournaments, these were standard) that limited magic item point costs per character and allowed your opponent to veto any magic item you bring? Even with just the point costs, you couldn't have anything in addition to the Hydra Sword until you got up to Lord level (and even then, it would eat up 75 of your 125 points).
Edited by Galadrin on 26-01-2016 10:39
Wow, this thread got me digging through my pile of old Warhammer books and I do indeed own a copy of the 6th Wood Elf book (at least I think it's 6th, it's got a yellow dude on the cover). I am sure I never played a game with it, but I can clearly see the problems that you bring up... Way too many special rules and the army composition is really weird. We got Treekin but lost chariots, which seems a forced choice to make non-elf "Forest Spirit" armies possible.

I definitely think the Ravening Hordes list has a lot more flavour and balance. The scouts and waywatchers seem more useful in RH as well (although I'd have to dig out RH from the pile to confirm). Ravening Hordes was so great because all the factions were designed simultaneously, not sequentially (so there was no power creep), and they are playing with the same rules (e.g. all units used the core special unit rules in the rulebook, the same magic item list etc).
I think the Ravening Hordes lists had more balance overall because they were all - ah, yes, heh, as you say: "designed simultaneously, not sequentially ... and they are playing with the same rules"

I really need to read posts carefully. Pfft
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Just Tony
And therein lies the saving grace of 6th being a dead system. We can easily look at the books and see where it went right/wrong when translating from RH to the army books. Hell, I'm wondering if just running RH and adding in the magic items and race specific spells might be enough.

Well, then Minotaurs wouldn't have their Beasts of Chaos rules and we wouldn't have a Doombull. It would render my army illegal without buying quite a few more units. Time to reevaluate...
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
It is indeed the beauty of playing a previous edition in that one can change something that is too much or not enough within the system.
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