Friday, August 26, 2011

My First Warhammer Fantasy Experience: WHFB through a 40k Player's eyes!

Once upon a time, thought people who played 40k and people who played Fantasy were the same folks. Over time, I learned that there can be a divide in some gaming circles, most often driven by a lack of knowledge about the "other" game. For me and the areas I have played in, Fantasy has always been that other game.

Now, I am doing a bit of traveling and here in the Maryland/ Virginia area, there is quite a bit of Fantasy gaming available. Never one to back down from a challenge, I accepted an offer from Wolfson to learn the ways of the Old World. Here is a little review based on my first game of WHFB. I am keeping it simple and exploring the phases of a turn through the eyes of a 40k player.

Alright, Wolfson is a lurking author here (maybe not anymore, haha), but he has some serious experience in Fantasy and quite a few armies to throw down with (not to mention his 40k collection). We weighed out some options for my first game. I knew he would want to throw down his Brets and I also knew that their book was old and likely would make learning 8th even more confusing. After briefly entertaining Chaos, I chose Skaven for my first game. (I'm gunning for you, Rhellion!)

When we went to the table to start setting up, I thought I was just going to whip down some models and deploy. Wrong. In Fantasy, the players roll for how much terrain will go on the board and then place that terrain, one player at a time, until it is all down. Each type of terrain has variable effects on units nearby and drastic (sometimes good, sometimes bad) effects on units that walk into them.

My thoughts: I think this is pretty cool. We rolled a TON of terrain (10 pieces) and I think there is something to be said for this method of set-up. Since the terrain is set up before players pick sides, neither gains too much of an obvious advantage in the set up. Obviously, there are layers of strategy here for experienced players, but I was so new, I was just trying to keep it away from me.

I think if 40k players had to set up terrain this way, it could alleviate some of the whining that can come up in competitive play about tournament terrain set-up and maybe there is some potential playtesting in my future. Anyway, onto more Fantasy!

Once you are both deployed and have your troops on the ground, you begin your turn. The first thing you do (before movement) is declare any charges. Since there normally are no 1st turn charges, we went to the movement phase.

In Fantasy, each unit has its own movement value and can even march for double its movement. Units move in bricks for the most part and because of their formations, rotating a unit or wheeling, also eats up some movement. It's not really all that bad and with march, you can generally get set up the way you would like to quickly.

Once you have made all your moves, it's on to the Magic phase, which turned out to be one of my favorite things about Fantasy so far. In the magic phase, you roll to dice and add them together for the total dice you roll to use for magic. Your opponent then gets the value of the highest die as his amount of dispel dice (the dice he uses to try to shut down your magic). Now, you can determine how many dice you wish to use for each spell (some spells only need you to score a value of ten, others need 25, so you can see where you need to think about dice a lot). I wanted to get off Curse of the 13 so bad since I knew Rhellion seems to like it so much (lol), so I would try to make it work and eventually I did, but for a few turns, I went back and forth with Wolfson, not being able to stop his magic, unable to cast mine, shutting all of his down and ... finally wiping out a unit of cavalry with the curse!

These phases were tons of fun and involved a deal of strategy for each player in each phase (how many dice do you want to roll? Do you want to bluff him to draw out his dispel dice, and then cast a big spell?) I don't think this would translate very well to 40k and it probably shouldn't. This is one of those things that makes this game really unique and is enough by itself to turn me on to the game.

After Magic is the shooting phase, which works quite a bit like 40k, but cannon type weapons can bounce and just slam units! Shooting was a lot of fun with the Skaven, though I did manage to blow up a lot of my own stuff! After Shooting, there is the Melee, where any close combat is resolved and if memory serves me, I think that is it for one turn.

My thoughts on the game as a whole? I really liked it. The things I hear 40k players say about the game are that there are a lot of rules and that it takes more time to play and that it is too complex. I happen to think the complex parts of the game are refreshing and make it a fun counter balance to 40k. I think that time can be an issue, but, just like 40k, after enough games, it should get very smooth.

LD makes for interesting games as players attempt to stack different little army mechanics in to protect their guys. There is really so much that I would like to spout off about, but I still don't really know what I'm talking about, but you can get the idea ... sort of.

I really would like to get some more games of Fantasy in and need to pick up a mini rule book. I think I can get a better feel from the game with more experience and I plan to play the field a little more to see what army  is really my style. As I go through the motions of learning this game over the next few weeks, I will keep up on the basics through a 40k players eyes and maybe get good enough to throw together a fun batrep (and actually know what I'm talking about).


  1. Cool!

    I wouldn't say Fantasy is any more complex than 40k, especially after 8th Edition. Armor and AP is certainly a lot easier and intuitive - if you're Strength 4, you have -1 armor save to wounds you cause.

    Panic and the like are easy to keep track of and show actual morale in the game... like it a lot.

    Two of the things most people whine about in 8th Edition would be things you seem to like - random terrain (which you can easily ignore if you want) and the magic phase.

  2. Good write up. I bought a (mostly) used fantasy army (dark elves) thinking it would take off with 8th edition. But I have had a hard time finding new players like me. Muggins and I played a game recently and it left me hungry for more.

  3. One of my favorite things about Fantasy are 2 very different things about 40k: Movement and Magic. Skaven are a cool army to get an idea for Fantasy because they can be very strong in all elements of the game, though they are also unreliable.

    If you are going to be playing as Skaven for a while, one very important tactic to use is your unit RANKS. Skaven have low leadership, but get +1 LD up to +3 per rank bonus. ALso, you want your rats to be Steadfast while they wait for the real heavy hitters (Hell Pit Abomination) to join the fight. I noticed by the pics a couple units were 6 wide... I recommend 5 wide for extra ranks through attrition.

    Also, you cannot normally shoot into combat, unless you are Skaven. Skavenslaves allow you to use ranged attacks (which also includes magic) into combat. So keep your ranked up, steadfast Slaves who are also using the general's Inspiring Presence in combat with the enemy's elite unit for as long as possible... while you continue to pelt them with cannonball shots and magic!

    Also, I am sorry to say, Dreaded 13th Spell can only be used against Infantry (not cavalry).

  4. Also if any other readers are interested, I am hosting a 2000 point Warhammer Fantasy tournament at Pandemonium Games in Garden City on September 3rd at 10:30am.

    Cost is $10 and there are no special composition restrictions.

  5. I explained the skaven ranks for ld and why you have your buses because it's more efficient. The trays he is using are for another army and the game was for learning purposes. The lists were not even the same value we had just thrown some stuff on the table to go through the basics and have some variety.

  6. Next up I think we are doing chaos and vampire counts I will be better prepared and we can step it up a notch and get more competitive

  7. Having pet rats myself that first image is just, disturbing.

    Imaginary evil rats on the other hand is good stuff:) I've looked at a few low point WFB games at my LFGS and I've got enough plastic bought to build a little army to play with. I think that Fantasy looks like a lot of fun to get in to and to be frank, people who actually hate a game really should leave it, at least for a while. I think that's more healthy for them and their surroundings.

    Me, I'm looking forward to trying out the dreaded 13th spell (but not on Cavalry apparently:)) and causing mayhem with unstable shooty rats with lots and lots of glowering green:)

  8. @Rhellion that sounds cool, I wish I could attend. Going to a Warmachine tourney at GS that day.