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WFB: So You Want To Play Fantasy? List Building Pt. 2

11 Minute Read
Jul 16 2010
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We’re back to finish up those stylishly new 8th Edition Fantasy Lists!

Mr. Black here, continuing from last week’s introduction into 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy list building. For a full recap check the original article located here, once you’re finished there we’ll move on.

A Quick Recap of the Lists

Warriors of Chaos

  • Sorcerer Lord of Tzeentch, Dispel Scroll, Infernal Puppet, Lv. 4 Wizard Upgrade
  • Warriors of Khorne x20, Full Command, Dual Hand Weapons
  • Warriors of Tzeentch x20, Full Command, Sword and Shield
  • 1100/2500

Dark Elves/Cult of Khaine

  • Crone Hellebron
  • Death Hag, Cauldron of Blood, Battle Standard Bearer
  • Witch Elves of Khaine x25, Full Command
  • Witch Elves of Khaine x25, Full Command
  • Witch Elves of Khaine x25, Full Command
  • Witch Elves of Khaine x25, Full Command
  • 1675/2500

Now, two things to note here: as some of you might have noticed, the Sorcerer Lord for the Warriors of Chaos list is currently illegal, the Dispel Scroll now eating up the Enchanted Items slot on characters. I do apologize for not catching this last week, so let’s go ahead and make that corrections now. I will however mention this does bring about an aspect of list building that is quite common- sometimes things just slip, it’s human nature. The benefit is noticing these things early on, easier to modify that way than had it happen at the very end when we’re making final modifications.

The other revision comes to the Cult of Khaine list, and I’ll admit I was hesitant about even suggesting it at all since we’ve come this far in the article series, but in the end, it’s something that bears mentioning, as while it’s not a specific factor of list building, it is one for overall play and something I deemed worthy to talk about:

Revised Warriors of Chaos

  • Sorcerer Lord of Tzeentch, Dispel Scroll, The Black Tongue, Lv. 4 Wizard Upgrade
  • Warriors of Khorne x20, Full Command, Dual Hand Weapons
  • Warriors of Tzeentch x20, Full Command, Sword and Shield
  • 1115/2500

Revised Dark Elves/Cult of Khaine

  • Crone Hellebron
  • Death Hag, Cauldron of Blood, Battle Standard Bearer
  • Witch Elves of Khaine x12 -x6
  • Witch Elves of Khaine x9 -x1
  • 1385/2500

Yes, you see that right, I have cut down the army from four big blocks of Witch Elves to seven smaller blocks, all lacking command. I will explain my reasoning in a moment but first I will briefly speak upon what impact this has as far as list building goes…

Basically, when making a list, for most any game system, seldom are you ever going to write the whole thing up, play with it, and find it’s perfect immediately. I encourage everyone, especially if they are starting a system for the first time, to hold off from buying an entire army, step yourself up gradually, play small point games, working your way up, until you’re comfortable with how the army plays. You may, as I did above in play-testing, find that a particular method or load-out actually suits you better than what you initially believed. And if that happens, then it’s alright to go back and change your initial plans… Another reason it’s good to do this early, so you can see the changes you wish to make and implement them while you’re just getting started, rather than at the end when you may end up stuck with items/configurations that simply aren’t as good as you originally believed.

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In the end, after testing it out, I found that the smaller blocks of Witches were better due to having a more target rich environment. It disallows the opponent to focus fire on one large unit until they are all dead. Likewise, in close combat the units will boast 24 attacks each, 30 with the Blessing of Khaine. That is enough to take down most any unit, and should they end up losing combat? Then only twelve Witches lose their Frenzy, rather than a whole block of 24. As I said, in the end I just found the change for the best, and I can’t in good conscience offer tactical advice when I’ve found a better method.

Now then, let’s move on to actual issues that deal with army composition, rather than play style and tactica!

~Can My Army Survive the Magic Phase?

Magic in 8th Edition is a potent and scary force. The basic Lores of Magic have all received a major overhaul and every one of them is either deadly to your army or gives your opponent’s a serious advantage. Now, I won’t speak of magic on the offense as that particular subject varies widely from army to army. Some Army Books simply have better magic than others. What is almost universal though is the need for magic defense!

The good thing is most codices have some internal method of solving this problem, and the ones that don’t still have access to high level Wizards for an added boost to dispel attempts, as well as access to the three or four Common Magic Item variations of the Dispel Scroll (of which the basic scroll is still the best).

Taking a look at the Warriors of Chaos list you’ll see I already added in one item to assist me in magic protection, The Black Tongue, which turns any unsuccessful cast into a Miscast, and as I’m sure you’ve seen (or will see) the new Miscast Table is outright deadly for Wizards and those around him, even the lightest of blow-back (usually) causing a wound to the Wizard in question.

I would however, like to see more protection and synergy in some other key Magic Items, and the only way to do this is to add another character with access to said items. Since we already have a Sorcerer Lord of Tzeentch, and Khorne wouldn’t be caught dead with magic, I’ll add in an unmarked Sorcerer.

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  • Chaos Sorcerer of Death, Lv. 2 Upgrade, Infernal Puppet

Wasn’t a huge fan of the Fire Spells, as potent as they are, I simply enjoy the stat-reducing flavor of the Lore of Death. In the end I believe it will better help my melee Warriors crush their enemies. The inclusion of the Infernal Puppet means that when an opposing Wizard does miscast (of course you all see the combo here with The Black Tongue) we can ensure that it is as brutal as possible while likewise hoping to lesson the effects should our Lord experience such.

Moving onto the Cult of Khaine… We run into a small problem… Given the limitations of our army (namely wishing it to be all Khainite), we have struck the problem theme lists often incur… No one in our army can take any decent magic defense items! We can’t even take a Wizard to assist in Dispel least we break theme! It is at these moments you as a player will have to make a decision: Do I break theme for the sake of having a stronger army? Or do I bite the bullet and deal with it, kicking ass while limiting myself?

In the end the choice will be your own, but for me I chose to maintain my idea and theme. Sure, I could have added a Dark Elf Master with the Ring of Hotek and Dispel Scroll and claimed “She’s dedicated to Khaine!” but I’m a puritan, so I’ll make my choice and stick to it, better or worse.

~Shooting, Can You Handle It?

Whether you’re doing the shooting or having to wade through it you must consider this: That guy is shooting at me… How do I stop him? The good news is most every army has some Fast Cavalry unit that is cheap and efficient enough for this task, and I will almost always recommend taking a unit or two specifically dedicated to the job of Warmachine hunting. Warmachines, ie Bolt Throwers, Cannons, etc can cause serious damage to any army and they should never be ignored. Luckily, most of them are crewed by bare bones troops who can’t take a hit, so you’re small unit, despite it not being able to take on much of anything by itself, will usually be on equal footing with the crew, and since charging gives you an automatic +1 to combat res you’ll be going in with an advantage.

An important thing to note is that even if the opposing army does not contain any warmachines these small harassment units are still viable, capable of march blocking (though not nearly as easily as 7th edition) enemy units or providing a little extra hit were needed. I can’t recommend running these units large enough to deny rank bonus’ (as it takes two full ranks to do such), but despite a small size they will still add Flank and Rear charge bonuses… Plus more units on the table is more units, and that is never a bad thing.

For Chaos I’ve added two units of Marauder Horsemen equipped with Throwing Axes and Flails, insuring they can deal some serious damage on the charge while also boasting just enough ranged power to get the enemies attention. The current list is as follows:

Warriors of Chaos

  • Sorcerer Lord of Tzeentch, Dispel Scroll, Infernal Puppet, Lv. 4 Wizard Upgrade
  • Sorcerer of Death, Infernal Puppet, Lv. 2 Upgrade
  • Warriors of Khorne x20, Full Command, Duel Hand Weapons
  • Warriors of Tzeentch x20, Full Command, Sword and Shield
  • Marauder Horsemen x5, Flails, Throwing Axes, Musician
  • Marauder Horsemen x5, Flails, Throwing Axes, Musician
  • 1452/2500

For the Cult of Khaine there is only one logical choice: A Harpy Coven. Being the reincarnation of Witch Elves they fit in well with the theme and likewise fit what we are looking for, boasting a modest number of attacks but a high mobility and low cost, perfect for the task at hand. I’ve only included one unit though, as the Cult of Khaine army fears shooting far less overall… That may sound strange but the logic behind it is the army boasts no large units, so any enemy shooting will be limited to the total damage it creates… Should we add larger units later then the Cauldron of Blood’s 5+ ward blessing will assist them.

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Revised Dark Elves/Cult of Khaine

  • Crone Hellebron
  • Death Hag, Cauldron of Blood, Battle Standard Bearer
  • Witch Elves of Khaine x12 -x6
  • Witch Elves of Khaine x9 -x1
  • Harpy Coven
  • 1440/2500

~Decide If You Want Any Shooting of Your Own

This doesn’t apply to every army but since most have access to shooting in one form or another I’ll mention it. Do you wish to include any artillery or shooting of your own? It is here that the traditional Dark Elf army and the Empire army will kit out most of their remaining points, spending it on Cannons, Bolt Throwers, Repeater Crossbowmen, Rifle Companies, and all the things that one typically sees when facing a gun-line army. This is a central theme and was probably thought of way back when the armies original core concept was developed in my first article, so those types of armies have probably been advancing along just as the rest of us have through these processes.

I would go more in depth here, but as I just stated if it’s a fully dedicated shooting army then there just isn’t any further need to mention it- You’ve already been doing it, so just add more.

For the rest of us, however, we should consider if we want to add an element of shooting into our existing forces. It can really help out, giving us a reliable way to soften up or just outright kill units, allowing our melee forces to focus elsewhere or at least have a better chance to survive the forthcoming onslaught.

Just remember, shooting is a luxury in Warhammer Fantasy, most conflicts will only truly be decided when your forces clash face to face, so any opportunity to strike them before they arrive is a godsend. For the Warriors of Chaos army I simply couldn’t pass up the chance to take a Hellcannon, arguably one of the best artillery pieces in the game. It got a serious boost in 8th Edition with the removal of range guessing as well as the way templates work, and I’ve seen it do nothing but good in games thus far… That and the fact that the typical methods of killing warmachines (like those we discussed above) simply don’t work against it. It’s as scary in melee as it is at range!

~Add Something Scary

We’re now at the point everyone has been waiting for. We’ve covered the basic core selection, chosen a powerful character, and looked into our counters to both magic and shooting, now we’re at the step were we get to add those big scary units to the army. I will mention that one problem I see is people tend to do this as one of their preliminary steps, deciding that a particular unit is “badass” and “cool” and adding it in before considering just what the army as a whole needs… And while this is fine if you’re going for sheer “cool” factor, I’m establishing here a methodical approach to list building, one that incorporates looking at various generic problems most armies will face and then working through them, only after solidifying the base of our army looking at the “bells and whistles”. Just remember, establish a solid core army, capable of dealing with the various threats you will encounter, then feel free to add those big nasties.

On that note, the point of this section is to pick a unit or two that will really put fear into your opponent. Create a unit that if they ignore then it runs the risk of smashing right through their lines and one that if they deal with they must put a disproportionate amount of effort into stopping. For the Warriors of Chaos army there are several of these units available, but I have a soft spot for one in particular: Chaos Trolls.

In the new edition of the game infantry may attack in two ranks, as we all know, the limitation to this is they only get one attack… Not so for Monstrous Infantry, such a the Trolls, who can claim up to three attacks per rank. This means that a mere unit of six Trolls can put forth eighteen S: 5 attacks, followed by three Stomp! attacks. Not only this, but they have Regeneration, which means that they will get a good save regardless of the Strength of the unit they go up against, combine that with the Mutant Regeneration special rule and you have a unit that, if left unchecked, will only grow stronger and meaner as the game progresses. It was for those reasons above, the sheer combination of hard-hitting attacks and a great defense, that urged me to include two units of them into the army.

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Warriors of Chaos

  • Sorcerer Lord of Tzeentch, Dispel Scroll, Infernal Puppet, Lv. 4 Wizard Upgrade
  • Sorcerer of Death, Infernal Puppet, Lv. 2 Upgrade
  • Warriors of Khorne x20, Full Command, Duel Hand Weapons
  • Warriors of Tzeentch x20, Full Command, Sword and Shield
  • Marauder Horsemen x5, Flails, Throwing Axes, Musician
  • Marauder Horsemen x5, Flails, Throwing Axes, Musician
  • Chaos Trolls x6
  • Chaos Trolls x6
  • Hellcannon
  • 2197/2500

For the Cult of Khaine there was only one logical choice. When people combine the words “Big” “Scary” and “Dark Elves” in the same sentence they are always talking about one unit in particular: The War Hydra!

Now, some may instantly say “They don’t have the Khainite special rule, so you can’t include them!” … And they would be correct, except only three units in the entirety of the Dark Elf book actually have the rule, so some liberties must be taken to avoid having a boring army. And I can justify it since the fluff states Hydras are one of Khaine’s chosen animals, being used often in his ceremonies and taken to war in his name (the other being the Manticore, the literal embodiment of Khaine).

War Hydras boast some much needed brute strength to the army in the form of an obscene number of melee attacks as well as a potent breath weapon, capable of destroying entire units all by itself. It’s true that such attacks took a hit this edition with only being able to be used once per game, but honestly it was a needed fix, especially for the Hydra, who is already under costed for what he can do. The addition of the War Hydras creates a nice backbone to the Cult of Khaine army, forcing the opponent to now choose if they wish to direct attention to the rampaging Hydras or the masses of Witch Elves moving toward them, either selection paving way for their forces to be overrun by deadly creature or elf.

Revised Dark Elves/Cult of Khaine

  • Crone Hellebron
  • Death Hag, Cauldron of Blood, Battle Standard Bearer
  • Witch Elves of Khaine x12 -x6
  • Witch Elves of Khaine x9 -x1
  • Harpy Coven
  • War Hydra
  • War Hydra
  • 1790/2500

Looks like we’re all out of time this week students, but as you can see our lists are coming along. Next week we’ll be adding the final touches and revisions to them, so stay tuned for that. In the mean time your homework is to go over each of your choices thus far and rank up it’s importance in the army. Is it there because you want it to be there or because it actually serves a purpose? If it serves no purpose, what are you lacking? What are the units that can fill that gap? Also keep a look out for any growing synergies you see developing in your list, next week we will use those to our advantage using our last points and finishing our finely tuned armies!

~Fantasy 8th Edition has just hit the shelves and we’ve entered that weird phase were everyone is delving to figure out what “works”. What changes have most effected your army? What about your play-style? Is 8th Edition really the whole-new-ballgame that so many have claimed, and how has it effected your thinking when you go to create new armies?

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