Thursday, October 11, 2012

Once Upon A Hobby

Well dear readers, you’ve shown up again for the second of my posts leading up to my Extra Life stint at Flat-Con.  Hopefully you’ll get something out of the articles I’ll be writing up till then and if nothing else perhaps you’ll be able to relate yourself to me hobby wise.

Today we discuss our ‘Once Upon A Hobby’ tales of days gone by.  We’ve all heard the veteran gamers in our area’s lament about how great the old White Dwarf magazines were.  How they had articles, rules, inspiration and just tons of great hobby tips and information.  Gone are those days however, now for advertisement space and just bad battle reports generally having the newer armies win whatever they fight.  (Before I’m lambasted, I’m aware that this is not always 100% accurate so just go with me)  However, if you’re willing to dig a little bit you’d be amazed at some of the wonderful things that you can find. is filled with people trying to unload their old Warhammer periodicals; source books, campaign settings, boxes, rules and even old White Dwarf collections.

If you’re a newer player and you’ve just gotten into the game since 7th edition then I highly recommend you go and get yourself the WHFB 6th edition Rulebook first.
Then I would quickly recommend you seek the following two books to compliment that selection.

Warhammer: The General’s Compendium and Warhammer Skirmish

These are probably two of the absolute best hobby books ever done by Games Workshop and really give you a serious injection of inspiration and hope for the hobby.  Produced in 2002 and 2003 these two books were companion material for Warhammer Fantasy Battles 6th edition which itself was released in 2000.

Now I plan on discussing all 3 books, but let’s start with the 6th edition WHFB Rulebook.  At the rear of the book after getting through all the rules you got the usual pieces that have been in every main book since.  A section full of background fluff and a page or two of each army with some background information on them to help, you on the way to perhaps picking one for yourself that you like.  After that is usually some scenario’s, a small article about terrain and the hobby in general; maybe painting or modeling and then a reference section.

Not so in the 6th edition book though!  Firstly after the fluff and army descriptions indeed lies scenario’s.  However unlike the abysmal choices in the 7th edition book which only contained 3 scenario’s and the 8th edition book which has the base 6 and then a couple more extremely unbalanced ones further on, the 6th edition book contained 9 scenario’s designed for the game.  Were these all balanced?  No, but you knew that going in and the point of them was to help you construct narrative games.  In fact, not only are these scenario’s based to give you some exciting games, but they also each come with a small piece of background themselves about what the scenario’s are based off of in the Warhammer history and the information needed to re-create the historical fight should you wish to do so which is always great fun.

After this is a small discussion of terrain (smaller perhaps then that in the 7th book) and a set of random terrain generation charts!  I love these charts so much simply because they decide what the board will look like instead of the players choosing what could be biased set-ups.  Admittedly the random terrain generation was brought back in the 8th edition book, but still it’s a fantastic little piece in the book that you could drive some serious use out of.  Especially if your looking at building themed tables.  While the random chart in the 8th book says what you place it doesn’t really specify things that should be in what regions of the Old World.  These charts quit specifically parcel it out from the lands of men to the Chaos Wastes and what type of terrain you would find there.  This makes it a little less random then the 8th edition chart and more race/region specific.

Finally you come to the meat of what make this book great and is lacking or completely eliminated from the 7th and 8th edition books.  The Appendices are small sections to help you really get into more in depth gaming.  Appendix one goes through some basics of running campaigns and the different types.  It even has an example campaign as well as some rule for it included.  Something that I feel both the 7th and 8th books were seriously lacking as they only mention it briefly.  The second appendix is really the least important as it simply discusses the concepts of army lists, points values and the game in general principles which every book really does regardless of edition.  The final two appendices though are the points at which the book really shines.

Appendix three is titled Warhammer Skirmish.  It contains the rules to break your game down into a small point squad based combat game.  Essentially it is Mordheim before Mordheim existed and for those who don’t know what Mordheim is think Necromunda and if you don’t know what that is I feel bad.  You essentially run small groups of warriors, usually only 150 or so points worth.  Each model is an individual and thus acts independently on the field running too and fro fighting it out on a small table usually only 2x2 or 4x4 feet at the most.  These can be awesome games where you really cheer on the single man who goes and takes it to the enemy and can be very dynamic and easy to apply your own rules to giving yourself objectives and crazy scenario ideas.  These games are super fun and extremely interesting to me.  Mordheim expanded this idea by giving models the ability to level up and gain skills and different equipment but this is still the basis of it all.  This has disappeared sine 6th not to be revisited.

Appendix four is Warhammer Siege!  Oh my lord what isn’t there to love about this section!  It brings what we all deep in our hearts want to see represented on the tabletop, a full on siege of castle.  There are 14 pages of heavily detailed rules on how to use siege towers, battering rams, ladders and tons of other equipment.  There’s points values and rules, layouts, a special scenario; tons of good stuff to use.  In comparison 7th and 8th edition completely omitted siege games until the release of the Blood in The Badlands campaign book which really simplified all the rules, but also completely changed them.  There are parts of newer rules which I think are definitely better, but it also leaves quite a bit out which I feel should’ve been left in.  Since the rules for siege aren’t really a hard and fast thing I figure you should be able to pick and choose from the two sets the things you’d like to use for your games.

The small campaign the Chuck and I will be playing is going to include if we can manage it both a Skirmish and a Siege game.  The Tree Campaign we’re going to do will be relatively short, consisting only of 3 games, but have a possibility of 10-12 different scenario’s depending on the outcome of the games previous to them.  This however gives us a great chance to do some things that we haven’t before as well as give us a narrative and goal to really strive for throughout it.  There will be articles and battle reports posted a few days after my marathon day so look forward to that too, but here I’ll conclude this post for now.  Look forward soon to reading about the other two books that I’ll discuss, General’s Compendium and Skirmish.

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