BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

EDITORIAL: Mr. Black (Re)Looks At Fantasy

6 Minute Read
Aug 19 2011

What has rekindled this interest? Hmmm…

“What’s my Fantasy? Why do you ask?”

“… Yeah I like what I see; did you see those new Ogre Kingdom models, they have a giant fat man riding a mammoth thing … No, I’m not really into those kinds of things…”

“Do for fun? Well Clan Skryre Skaven, Dark Elves, specifically a Witch Coven of Khaine… Yeah, it’s fun… Just a bit unbalanced in some ways…”

“Has it been bad? Not really, just needs some touching up, but it actually looks like they’ve been working on it. So no, I wouldn’t call it bad.”

“… No, you listen, if I’m going to pay $1.99 a minute to talk to you, we’re going to talk about what I want to talk about.”


Mr. Black here, dear readers, and shall we have a nice sit-down-and-talk about everyone’s favorite Fantasy-based miniatures game from Games Workshop?

As we all know, the new edition of fantasy came out not too long ago- an edition released with the specific intent to “save the game” as it were with it’s balances and reworkings, basically pushing it into the realms of High-Magic fantasy and away from the (semi) historic-tactics which we had seem in earlier editions…. I won’t get too much into that, as the people reading this should be well aware of that fact anyway, but if you’re not then let me just say basically the game used to be about strategic flanks, knowing how the dominoes would fall should you charge/retreat/press on/etc vs how it is now with high-powered characters, game-altering magic, and a few randoms mixed in.

Is it any less tactical? It could be argued either way, really, but personally I’d have to say no, the new edition had just a bit of it’s familiar tactics shelled out. The trade-off? Fun. The game is honestly a lot more fun these days, and I can actually picture normal people playing it vs the old mental image of gentlemen in smoking jackets with pipes (ok, I do miss that aspect of it).

League of Fantasy Battles and Gentlemen of Intellect, Circa 2003

Issue being… Well, let’s just say Fantasy does have it’s share of issues at present (Go yourself Lore of Life), the irony being that most of them were created by the very edition meant to save the game… Irony, fun, isn’t it? I will get one thing out of the way immediately though- Fantasy is in no way a bad game, it’s quite good in fact, and I recommend it highly- the issue though is some things need fixing, the silver lining however is that, low and behold, it seems Games Workshop, the cold emotionless corporate machine of the gaming world, looks like it actually gives a damn all of a sudden.
How’s so?
Well that’s what we’re going to talk about:
1. Holy Hell an Errata!
The Power Scroll, “Any double friendly wizard rolls causes Irresistible Force”, a simple item when taken out of context, but to those who really know the Warhammer Fantasy game you understand how stupid that effect is. Basically, it means your already powerful spell, that could potentially cripple the enemy if cast successfully, will become irresistible/unstoppable with some 80% (ish) success rate. Not just good for 25 pts, a damn near auto-include in any army (re: most of them) which contained one or more powerhouse spells. To sum things up- it became an auto-include in army lists, and frankly to me that’s the preliminary sighs of a badly designed item. 
Yet, just this month, we saw something unexpected, something that honestly made me call a friend of mine a liar and set fire to his lawn because of such (yes, that was me… and no, I’m still not really sorry)- White Dwarf Official Errata changing the effects of Power Scroll!

“During that casting attempt, the casting value of the spell is halved. You cannot choose to boost a spell when using the Power Scroll.” Also item cost changed from 25 pts to 35 pts.

What they actually changed it to is rather unimportant to me- the real focus is mostly on the fact that someone up at GW actually went “Hey, you know, maybe we should do something about that instead of just letting the FAQ department give each other Piggyback rides all day.”. Recognizing your issues and actually fixing them is a huge step in the right direction in any situation, and this one is no exception (sad as it is that I have to congratulate that).

2. New Units… Not in a Codex? Madness!

Speaking of White Dwarf, did you know the Vampire Counts also got new, codex-legal units in this month’s edition? Seriously, that harkens back to the old “Chapter Approved” days now doesn’t it? All in all I have to say this is yet another great move- something that manages to keep armies fresh (and purchases up, coincidentally) between the 3/4 year stints that most have to wait for a new army book. Is this something I would like to see cross back over into the realms of 40K? Hell yeah, new stuff is new stuff, and as long as it isn’t anything stupid I believe more army options are always a great thing to see. 
I mean heck, with the new Vampire Counts releases we saw not only a great looking new monster but a completely different variety of Hero and Lord choices, ones that went so far as to even create a new theme of army to play! An added side effect, I will note, is that we’re also seeing the reemergence of White Dwarf as, well, being worth it’s cost, which I think many will agree was getting a big steep for the bland (and often incorrectly-ruled) battle reports and Lord of the Rings advertisements. 

3. Have You Seen These Models??!

You can’t look at those and tell me they aren’t a big heaping pile of awesome.

So, given all this, what does the future hold? 
Optimist: This is a great sign for the future of Fantasy! We can see that Games Workshop is putting a lot of love into their eldest system and truly working their best to resolve the issues present to create a balanced, fun gaming experience that players will enjoy both aesthetically as well as tactically. I expect more “fixes” and balances, as well as a host of new models with exciting rules to be coming our way over the course of the next few months!

Pessimist: There are a few signs I see that worry me- what we’re seeing here is a wholly uncharacteristic move by GW, a sign that says to me they’re worried about the future of Warhammer Fantasy. They overhauled the system, made some serious and major changes and now it seems many of said changes are not working out. The move to “save the system” may not have been as successful as we want to believe, and thus GW is now pouring an extra helping of “Buy This!” onto the system in the form of minor rules changes (re: changing Power Scroll when in fact the cause of the problem is several overpowered Spell Options) and some new tidbits and models to sate the community while they decide how to bail themselves out.
Which one is it? Well that’s why  posted both of my conflicting opinions, as I’m really not sure which one of them carries the greater weight. And that, dear readers, is our discussion topic of the week: 
How do you view the changes to Warhammer Fantasy? Is this a step in the right direction or are we trying to lead a dead horse to water here?

~Got an opinion that you just don’t think others will understand? Or do you simply wish to write me a nasty hate email/have any questions? If so, feel free to forward them to [email protected] Meanwhile, tell me what’s going to happen to Fantasy over the coming times. -Mr. Black

  • 40k 'Ard Boyz Blues- Making it Better?