[WFB] Eighth Edition Step By Step – Statistics, Conventions and Movement

This week, I do not have much time on my hands – every evening is taken up with either rehearsals or performances of the play what I’m in, and so what time I do have is trapped time, when I’m sitting around waiting for cues to shuffle on and pretend to do stuff.

Trapped time is good reading-and-thinking time, though, so I’m spending the week battering my way through the WFB.8 core rulebook.  It’s proving impossible to approach like a completely new game, but I’m going more slowly than I ordinarily would, looking for things that are a bit weird or a bit exploitable, that I’ll have to remember and have references to hand for lest I be accused of cheatering.

It’s a wall of text.  I’m sorry.  It’s taking long enough to read and write up this stuff without spending more time hunting for pictures.  At some point I’ll go back and do some proper diagrams for the fiddly bits, once I’ve actually painted/based the Lizardmen.

Core Principles

Statline, yes yes, we know how that goes, but here’s an interesting twist: models are removed if their S, T or W are reduced below 0, so it’s possible to debuff models out of existence without killing them.  That this appears in the core game rules rather than in niche cases suggests it can happen quite often.

Casualties are evenly from either end of the rearmost rank, so you can’t game the removal of the dead to get your models out of close combat with one of two units engaging them from the front, or take all the casualties off one side of a screening unit to open up lanes for the friendlies behind.

Unit facing is distinct from line of sight, so something in the front arc of a unit can’t necessarily be seen (and thus targeted) by every model in that unit.  Perhaps some sort of template will be needed?

All distances between bases are measured between closest edges – good, no woolliness.

Bases are part of the model, templates that touch a base touch every location on a model – so if you clip the Dragon’s base, you hit the Dragon and the rider.  That’s interesting.

Love or hate premeasuring, it’s fairly well justified here, and it looks like one of those game-over-simulation things.  Speaking as a person with poor eyesight and spatial reasoning, for whom ‘parallax’ is a swearword, I embrace premeasuring, although I look forward to the extremely, umm, precise opponents who insist on measuring everything, repeatedly.

Line of sight, alas, is woolly.  From your model’s eyes to any part of the target, not counting weapons or banners.  This could be entertainingly cumbersome to check, especially since I’ve been doing the Warmachine ‘volume to volume’ thing for a year or two now.

Sequencing issues seem well settled by the ‘active player’s choice’ solution.  Implication: particular rules will work inconsistently depending on whose turn it is and what advantages can be gained from having things resolve in a particular order.  Not a bad thing if you’re prepared for it.

All turns are player turns unless otherwise stated.  Developers had better stay on the ball with that one.


Apropos of nothing, there’s a lot of Dark Omen homages in this section, with all the “Enemy Sighted!” and “There’s Too Many Of ‘Em!” that’s going on.  I like.

Everything not engaging in combat must stay 1″ apart.  I assume that includes things like Warpfire Throwers bunkering between units, which means there’ll be a 3″ gap to work with between the two flanks (and less chance of catching something other than the Warpfire Thrower or whatever with a template).

Of especial note on page 13: when A charges B and ends up within 1″ of C, but not engaging it, ‘players may wish to nudge the units further apart’.  Why thank you I think I shall.

Wheeling requires a bendy tape measure, as far as I can tell.  Again, some sort of template may be useful there – just a quarter-circle with distances in inches marked on the inside.

Units turn on the spot by reforming, and can’t move afterwards.  I like the way that Swift Reforms create differentiation between units that can take musicians and units that can’t – it suggests a sense of discipline vs. savagery, although it does throw up the interesting case that Zombies can attempt a swift reform while Ghouls can’t.

The charge sequence is declare one, react to one, declare two and react to two, &c., and then roll the random charge distance and resolve the movement, in any order.  This could be huge for screening units, i.e. “I charge my Dire Wolves left and my Blood Knights right, because the Dire Wolves will be out of the way…”

Page 16: ‘… if there is a chance that the intervening unit will move out of the chargers’ way before the charge is completed, the charge is possible, and therefore can be declared’.  So, if there’s a chance that the intervening unit will either charge something further away, or take casualties from a Stand and Shoot reaction, panic, and flee out of the way, the charge is possible.  Could be interesting against people with itchy trigger/bowstring/gravel-flinging fingers.

Stand and shoot always goes off, even if the enemy doesn’t actually roll well enough to reach base contact – it’s assumed that the enemy closes, then backs off (p17) – good for throwing weapons and other stuff with lousy range!

Charge a unit that’s fleeing and it makes a Flee! reaction, which means it turns to face directly away from whatever charged it before it flees again.  Could be useful for redirecting fleeing models into traps or out of lanes.

Charges can now be redirected after being fled from.  Interesting.  I assume that if the target unit doesn’t flee far enough to make another charge possible, you don’t get to redirect…

Page 18 makes it explicitly clear that units will sometimes flee into places where they’re in more danger, and that this is intentional on the developers’ part.  Could be controversial, but it is what it is and there’s the page reference for it.

ETA: multiple charges on one target unit break the resolution sequence (page 23).  You roll all their charge distances at the same time, try to get as many models in contact as possible, and if you can’t physically fit all the units you’re trying to charge with into the same space, you pick some to automatically fail their charge (and potentially traffic jam other moves/charges, so pick with caution).

You can hold against one charge, stand and shoot against another, and then flee from a third if you want to; indeed, you can Hold indefinitely, but you only get one Stand and Shoot and once you’ve Fled you must continue Fleeing.  I wonder about the gamesmanship potential of this one – “my crappy unit will hold – still holding – Blood Knights you say? still holding – but I’ll flee those Dire Wolves, so that I get to flee this way and pull anyone who doesn’t successfully redirect after me”.

ETA: I also wonder if you can Hold against one charge, and then Flee another charge that’s directed into the same target.  Units that are already engaged have to Hold, but nobody’s actually moved until all the charge reactions have been declared and resolved and so nobody’s engaged yet.

Charging appears cleaner with one wheel allowed on the way in and a second for ‘closing the door’ – one wonders if very fast units can’t charge past intervening models using the full 90 degrees of free wheel (dependent on high rolls for the random charge distance, or on items that grant extra dice on that roll).  If that doesn’t make sense, ask and I’ll put a diagram together.

Another thing for which diagrams are handy: front, flank or rear charges.  Basically, when in doubt you see how much of the charging unit’s frontage lies in the various facings of the target, and go with the numbers.  Units that only need two ranks to do the murderin’s – Chaos Warriors spring immediately to mind – could theoretically have a first rank slightly wider than the  second in order to maximise their chances of being in something’s flank, although going too wide would make it geometrically impossible to complete many charges.

Rallying – less than 25% of starting strength means you need double ones to rally.  That’s the sort of thing I expect to forget a lot.  Years of playing Vampire Counts spoil you a bit.

Models fleeing through an enemy unit now have some sort of ‘test or be wounded’ test, suggesting that large-footprint behind-the-lines flyer drops to catch fleeing stuff and automatically remove it are not as appealing as they used to be.  And you can pass through impassable terrain whilst fleeing (page 25).

Units moved through by fleeing friendlies have to take Panic tests.  #rulesthatVCplayersneverlearn

All other compulsory movement takes place after fleeing – worth recalling for tables with lots of Fanatics, Spawn etcetera on them.

Units can move backwards or sideways at half normal speed.  Unlike a reform, this moves the centre point, and unlike a wheel, you don’t need any bendy tape measures or space to move forward; so it might be possible to shuffle units out of each others’ way with this, especially units with base M6.

Oooh.  Marchblocking is shaken by a Leadership test.  I’m trying not to think about applications of Lizardmen before I’ve familiarised myself with the core rules, but I couldn’t resist looking up Cold Blooded and yes, it does cover this test (it’s Leadership, not Psychology, and there’s nothing in the errata to say otherwise…)

Lone models pivot freely when moving or marching BUT still count as having moved for shooting purposes (must cross-reference that with the war machine rules) AND may not pivot while charging, following the wheel rules instead.  That makes Chariots a bit interesting, as in ‘harder to embed in one’s own lines’ (because they’ll need to get the back of their base clear of friendlies, then wheel – not pivot, so they still need to move forward – and that means there’s almost a minimum distance for their charge if they have to wheel at all).

You cannot voluntarily move off the board.  One to remember for scenario design.

Reinforcements (e.g. ambushing Beastmen) are placed with their backs touching a table edge.  They count as moving already (so they might as well move unless there’s a reason to hug the board edge), and may not march.  There will be a turn of standing around outside combat as charges have already been resolved at this stage.

Over 1400 words.  No pictures.  Need a wash.  Best stop there.  I’ll have a look through Magic tonight.

3 thoughts on “[WFB] Eighth Edition Step By Step – Statistics, Conventions and Movement

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  1. “Charging appears cleaner with one wheel allowed on the way in and a second for ‘closing the door’ – one wonders if very fast units can’t charge past intervening models using the full 90 degrees of free wheel (dependent on high rolls for the random charge distance, or on items that grant extra dice on that roll). If that doesn’t make sense, ask and I’ll put a diagram together.”

    I don’t think you need to be that fast. The ‘charge distance’ is the shortest distance between the units. The route that you take to bring the units into contact has either be a straight line or involve a single wheel. If it involves a wheel, the charge distance (M+2[or 3 drop 1]d6) is still the straight line.

    1. The distance between charger and chargee isn’t the issue. It’s the length of the chariot base and the size of the gaps between units. If the chariot base is between two units, and obeying the one inch convention, it’ll have to move its own considerable length forward in order to have space to wheel freely and not move within one inch of friendly units. A diagram will be forthcoming as I’m not sure I can explain this verbally.

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