Thursday, January 15, 2015

Meandering Fantasy Wargaming Post II

This is the Roughwotr version of the annual wrapup post (I don't do those) wherein I reprise an inexplicably popular post from about a Year ago. Look at it, currently the fourth most viewed post on the blog, for some reason. The year since has seen the company in question continue to not go out of business, in fact the new year has been celebrated by a rumoured new edition of one of their two flagship games. On the forum thread where the rumours broke, the natives appear to be restless. Perversely, I think the whole idea looks kind of cool. Well not the whole idea, the bubbles of reality remind me of when DnD 4e came out and they produced a game that looked like it should be cool but.... I didn't really feel like playing.

I remember they had a world shattering cataclysm (or a plague?) and somehow a whole 'new' (I remember reading about them when not so old) race of Draconians arrived in the flagship Forgotten Realms setting via a shard from another world. This is exactly what GW are rumoured to have copied as the central conceit of their new Warhammer setting: jump the timeline forward and then random bits of reality can interact as colliding bubbles so everyone can have cool things. On reflection, that did not do so well. It did give us the teaser video with the annoying voiceover, and.... after not as long as the company would probably have liked, they canned it and made a new edition that rolled back the changes in favour of the old. My response to that was to play other games. No doubt Warhammer fans will too. I think in the process many will be surprised how much of what they already like can be found out there.

Part of the Impetus for this is rumoured to be IP protection. Version I of this post was a lot about the parallels between the "Unique and to be defended to the death Warhammer IP", other Fantasy works, and even history. At the time, I was giving Warhammer a go but like 4th Edition D&D decided to try something else. Unlike some on that mammoth forum thread, I don't think Kings of War is that something else. I read Jake Thornton's blog recently (the author of Dreadball) and he pitched a Fantasy Wargame idea to Mantic, only to find out they'd already commissioned Alessio Cavatore to do his pseudo chess-like thing. I wonder a bit how things could have been very different. To my mind, what Kings of War lacks is soul, compared to what Warhammer players currently have. I'm not a Warhammer player though and this year has been the year of trying to make my own rules. Just before Christmas I finally got to 'Alpha' testing. Book of War has its issues, flying creatures are getting reworked, as are duels, but I kind of like what I've come up with.

One of the best features is that a few of us have collections of 28mm models that are fully useable, with or without explicitly Fantasy elements. My own stuff is Perry C15th Europeans, which is funny when you think of it as I understand more and more of the armies used in Warhammer are composed of the same or similar models. Are Games Workshop a models or a rules company? There is also the potential that parts of Book of War could become a Fantasy addon for Impetvs, as I love Impetvs but was less of a fan of the Impetvs Fantasticus rules. I did like Heroic Fantasy Impetvs better but that is only half worked out. At the moment though Knights can clash with Undead Cavalry, Giant bats chase down Griffons and bands of Orcs advance doggedly as mortar shells burst about them. And there is magic. That's one thing I think Warhammer did very well in terms of flavour. I think Fantasy needs its magic, its role in the game can vary, but it needs to be implemented in a manner that makes it interesting and characterful.

I may yet try and grab a copy of Jake Thornton's rules that he ended up doing for Foundry. However, what I've always wanted was a wargame where a model had its own stantline and instead of set bases, you could vary formations and put some heroes in there. Even with historicals, Warhammer Ancient battles appealed as a platform to play Arthurians (El Cid is another I've seen done well) because of the way the game seemed to zoom in on the individual heroic combatants. Even with War of the Ring, with all its hordes, the Heroes could still stand out. I'm really going for a game where I get something like what I read in the Illiad, soldiers could almost have their own names (but only if talking to someone important...) and the battle was great heroes with their posses of supporting warriors. What I've discovered is that writing a game is a surprising amount of work. It's basically been done while bussing to and from work and occupied quite a few weeks at that rate. So I hope we like it.

It's also motivated me to crack out the Perry models and try and get them finished. Jason has made some very cool additions to his already very cool Undead army and Andy has plenty of LOTR stuff already done and more in the pipeline. Plenty of work to do before I catch up to what either of them have. Here are some of Jason's Ghouls led by a Ghoul Hero. The whole army was led by an awesome Vampiress with greatword and he is working on the other sister as a Vampiress riding side saddle. I've made progress from last year's post at least in that I've got an idea for an Imperial Tank: A Dinosaur with a Howdah and cannon on top.

 The idea was inspired by seeing this video game unit.

 And this child's toy while in a shop. It's still a work in progress but I think personally it makes heaps more sense than a steam powered tank in a Fantasy game. I kind of like the whole nod to the Malaccia Tapestry and the "Ancestral Beasts".  I really need to find my copy: Renaissance people and dinosaurs with a kind of Manichaeism as the religious backdrop.... It's a shame really that more and more the Warhammer people seem to be no longer borrowing from the amazing creations of the likes of Michael Morcock, Fritz Lieber and Tolkien  and instead the rumours are of just porting over ideas from their other more successful Sci-Fi line. They already had tanks. I hear tell they are getting Fantasy Space Marines. Anyway, that reminds me of another great game.

Infinity! We've been playing this since 3rd Ed dropped for free. As further symmetry, this too has its own epic forum thread about a new set of rules. Well I count only 10 posts per page to the 20 on the Warhammer one but both in the vicinity of 100 pages. The Infinity one is about the fact that after giving us a free copy of their rules over Christmas, it is a bad thing that not every army list has been updated yet. I mean it's been a month now, get cracking Corvus Belli. Actually I wish I was joking about the thread, I don't understand some of these people at all. We've been having heaps of fun with N3 at least. Ben has even had a go with my Panoceania vs Jason's Nomads. Ben quickly proved it can be a game of Crits. To the left you see Jason copy my drop-troop tactics vs Adam and get reaction fire from a lowley grunt with a rifle. Ben rolled exactly the right number and down Jason went. Ben did it to Jason's sniper to  later on with my cool HMG robot. I think we have another convert.

I played Adam at this just after Christmas and had a blast. His army is hilarious with a Assassin that impersonates my troops and takes forever to discover. Meanwhile, he is deadly. I am lucky Adam was persuaded to roll for a riskier but better deployment position and failed. Rule #1 of wargames: you can't fail a diceroll if you don't have to make one. The Nomad Ariel strike that Ben took down was a copy of my one vs Adam the week before. The difference is I try and land while their backs are turned and I have a sniper to pop up if they rotate to face the drop-troop. That's what happened to Adam, the drop troop didn't even shoot until later on. The guy with the should slung missile launcher was amazingly lucky vs the amount of shots he took once my sniper had gunned down his friends. Later on, in a typicl Infinity moment, I managed to forward observe some guided missiles on to his Assassin only to have him dodge the first volley using cart-wheels. It's ok though, I got more than one volley.

Anyway, where was I? New Year, more of the different but same. I'm looking forward to it though. I'll get to play a new edition of Infinity so we can finally get into this game with the actual rules. I'll also get to use my own Fantasy rules, or if not it will be because there is something even better out there for me to use instead. Who knows, it might even be a new Warhammer edition. The rumour is it will be a big departure form the past... either way I'll also get to expand upon my Fantasy miniature collection too. As a final note: crazy as writing my own rules from scratch may be, there is a guy who is rewriting War of the Ring, one post of detail laden cost and rules analysis at a time. That's my kind of crazy.


  1. So you did post something about our game. Didn't you get any decent pictures either?
    We need to play again!
    Love the Ankylasaurus with war riders idea.
    Where are your Fallout guys?

    1. Hi Adam. Haven't really done a proper batrep of anything in a while. My fallout guys are sitting in their box. They are in better condition than the rules... But yes we could definitfly get in a game of (Infinity? Impetus?) Email me.