Last time, I mentioned that I was preparing for a large game. My buddy Steve and I have each been working on our armies for more than a decade, so our collections are pretty substantial. We were hoping to throw down with everything we've got, somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 points.
I counted up the points cost for all of my miniatures and it comes to just about 8,000 before adding in magic items. If I kit out my characters, add in some magic banners, and finish a few of the items in my painting queue, I could push it toward 10,000. But there's a problem:
8th edition Warhammer uses the percentage system for army composition. For anyone unfamiliar with what that means, units and characters are categorized as either Lords, Heroes, Core units, Special units, or Rare units, and each has a minimum and maximum requirement to build a valid army list. Core troops need to make up at least 25% of the total points and Rare troops can't exceed 25% of the total points.
25% of 10,000 is 2500. Here's the entirety of my core units– zombies, skeletons, ghouls, and dire wolves:
Pretty impressive if I do say so myself. 230 models, and it clocks in at...
1565 points. That's 935 points shy. Even if I break down the wolves into minimum units, each with a doom wolf upgrade, and take a magic banner for one skeleton unit, I can bring it to 1620.
That means if I ever hope to play a 10,000 point game I'll need to come up with 880 points of core troops. At 10 points per model, ghouls are the most expensive Vampire Counts core unit, so I'll have to paint 88 ghouls. That means the 48 or so classic metal figures I've got in my parts bin, and the 40 winged hybrid ghouls I've got planned. Those are all conversion-heavy, so this will have to wait a while. Until then, I guess we'll just have to settle for a small, 6500 point game.
I began playing Warhammer during the 5th edition, "Hero-Hammer," as it was known. Characters (even wizard lords) were powerful enough to take on regiments of troops, single handed. The magic phase was governed by a dice roll and used the Winds of Magic cards, meaning the casting player would either dominate the magic phase or be completely ineffective. Army composition was based on percentages and there was an "anything goes" attitude for monsters and allied units.
6th Edition was a total rewrite, and in my opinion the best edition to-date. The army lists were more appropriately themed (one could no longer select from the entire range of Warhammer monsters), and characters were greatly toned down. The focus was on using troops and regiments to fight the battles. Most of the army books were planned out alongside the core rules, so they were mostly balanced with each other. And the magic system was streamlined, with most of the magic items unique to each army book (reinforcing that idea of army theme).
7th Edition felt like a stop-gap between 6th and 8th. The rules were mostly the same, albeit simplified a little.
8th Edition was another rewrite, and feels like a cross between 5th and 7th edition. It uses the percentage system and the oh-so-fickle Winds of Magic (although power dice have replaced cards). It also uses random charge distances, which is counter to the idea of tactical maneuvering, you know– the crux of miniatures wargaming.
I've never been a fan of the percentage system, even when they used it back in 5th edition. 6th edition's system using minimum/maximum numbers of units was so much simpler. The current magic system also doesn't scale well for large games. At 10,000 points, between all of my vampires and necromancers, I'll have 9 wizards for a combined total of 25 spell levels. The Winds of Magic will still only generate 7 power dice on average and maybe I'll channel an extra two dice for a whopping average total of 9, and a maximum of 12.
That means, with 25 spells at my disposal, I'll only ever have enough power dice to cast about 4 or 5 spells in each magic phase. Compare that to the 6th edition rules, which generated power dice based on the level of the wizard(s), meaning more wizards meant more dice, allowing the magic system to scale up with the size of the armies.
New editions of the game usually bring an equal amount of excitement and dread, but 8th edition (while having the most beautiful rulebook ever produced) has felt like too much of a step backward, so I'm looking forward to an update. The rumor is that 9th edition will be another total rewrite, so we'll have to wait and see.
Painting Queue Update
My Hellfire Knights are coming along, slowly but surely. Their shields are finished and I'm working on the fire pattern on the lances. Now I remember why I put these off for so long– blending the red to yellow and then touching up around the flames is a major pain.
Once the lances are finished, I can dull cote them and then it's just a matter of painting the armor and gluing them on their horses.