Ah Cursed City, now there is a tale to be told, and I don't mean the one in the background (although that is quite good). I lucked out and got my hands on a box and set to painting these. This weekend I finished the eight heroes that come with the game. Here's a group shot. Aside from these models this blog post will be a bit uncharacteristic because I feel like ranting (something I actually try to avoid on my blog). But with the release of AoS 3.0 I decided to follow the Dutch proved that says: "Don't turn your heart into a murder pit." Speaking of murder pits, the fun part first. Here's a group shot of the heroes of Cursed City.
|My heroes stand ready to save the Cursed City of Ulfengard.|
|I tried to follow along with the box art as well as I could, that should make play of the board game easier.|
For those of you not quite up to speck with the latest news around GW, (well sort of latest, it is a few months old by now) the release of Cursed City was an unmitigated disaster. The game was presented as the new edition of Warhammer Quest. After the Silver Tower and Shadows over Hammerhall we could go wild with this one for the conceivable future. It sold out within the first ten or so minutes on pre-release. Another rousing success you'd think. Then the game disappeared. GW reverted to its start of the millennium wall of mysterious silence as PR mode. No one knew what was up with Cursed City until a support agent (allegedly) told a customer it was a limited release that would never return. Despite the internet hue and cry no other comments have been forthcoming from GW. The game sells for silly money on eBay. As it happened I lucked out (as I really wanted the game). The Dutch webstore MiniHobby (for some odd reason) got 100 copies of the box after the bungled release. They opted not to go for 'profiteer mode' and instead raffled off the copies at their normal discounted price. I was one of the lucky ones to get a copy and I've been happily working on the models between other projects.
|An excuse to freehand runes you say? Say no more!|
As these are game pieces with accompanying cards I've been trying very hard to (more or less) follow along with the box art. I'm also taking some extra time trying both new things and those odious things that require patience like the freehanded runes on both sides of the odd cape of the model above. I hate to add more pain to people who wanted this set and can't get it, but it is awesome. I truyly can't understand why no more copies are forthcoming. This is an age where we've gotten used to Made to Order and constant (almost too much) interaction by GW. Why has this box been relegated exterminatus?
|Warhammer 3rd edition (top left) and Age of Sigmar 3rd edition (bottom) have a readable font. The General's Handbook makes you wonder if printed previews were used during development of the book.|
Ah well, as this post is a bit of rant on the bungled release I might as well keep the blood pressure going. I'll promise to get back to my regular cheerful blogs next time. Of late GW has been shifting course. It seemingly decided to go for the smallest font in the world on one hand. Aside from that they appear to think tournament organizers are the most important players of their game. Both these decisions annoy the hell out of me. Lets start with the small font. I'm getting old. There I said it :) How old? This year's birthday present (from me, to me) didn't just consist of a few Skaven, but also a pair of reading glasses (I'll add a 'painting while getting old' post to the 'to write' list). With that in mind, why has GW switched to a 6 point font? This weekend I played a game of AoS 3.0 and me and my equally aging opponent both stood there trying to decipher the obligatory General's Handbook at arm's length. Yes we mostly need reading glasses but not quite often enough to remember to bring them along. Why has the General's Handbook shrunk from A4 equivalent to this evil tiny size? Don't tell me it is to save space lugging it around. I'm transporting an entire army, I can manage an extra booklet. Now get off my lawn!
|My second game of Age of Sigmar 3.0 was a lot of fun. Pictured above my opponent's Terrogheist before it ate most of my army.|
Ah that feels a bit better, now on to part two of my rant. Let preface by stating I fully appreciate the existence of a tournament scene. I don't begrudge them their need for special rules. Their type of play needs a lot of rules as they seem to be looking for the balance of chess mixed with the creativity of Warhammer. I wish them all the best, but I do not share the opinion that they 'play at a higher level' or have a 'mastery of Warhammer'. They play tournaments and are good at that. Good for them. I do not play tournaments. I play narrative and casual games. That is not a lower level, that's a different way to play the same game. Unfortunaly the pretense that tournament games are a 'superior class' has infected GW's game recent design. The latest editions seem to focus on tournament organizers, allowing them to host with minimal house ruling against exploits and 'treating' us to the bland mulch that some call 'playing Warhammer at a high skill level'. Ugh.
- Pick an army based on allegiance and pick a subfaction;
- Discover large parts of your Battle Tome have become obsolete;
- Pick the unreadable General's Handbook supplement to discover the points cost for units;
- Discover more units that either have left your army or no longer have points values and are therefore difficult to include in your list;
- Take the core rules because you need to pick battalions (that are not the battalions in your battle tome (those turn out to have become obsolete (for now)));
- Take the General's handbook because there are new battalions there (only two, more will be printed in different supplements (supposedly) the rest are in the core rules;
- Pick a Grand Strategy, wonder what this is. Check the internet, discover these are in another place in the General's handbook;
- Pick Enhancements, discover (through validation errors in a list builder) that these have nothing to do with Artefacts and the like, but are in a different section of the General's Handbook;
- Realize you have three books open to make a list (General's Handbook, Core Rules and a Battle Tome);
- Realize you're also using software to help you make this list (Warscroll Builder, Azyr or Battlescribe);
- Realize you still can't quite make heads or tails of army building;
- Persevere only to discover upon entering your list in three different programs that each gives you a different total points costs for the army. Then realize two of these applications are build by the same company...that is trying to sell you onto another solution (Warhammer+) that for some reason does not include AoS yet;
- Having build a list you are not done. Now you need to look through the FAQ, Errata and Designer's Commentary (DC) to find out what the actual rules for your army are;
- Realize the FAQ, Errata and DC are not three documents, but three documents per book (for now nine, this will multiply as source books (like Malign Sorcery for 2.0) are released;
- Cry softly (whimpering optional);
- Look at the pretty Warscroll Cards you bought and realize most of those turned useless the day they were delivered because of constant rules changes;
- Shrug, bring an army full of errors to the game, apologize to your opponent, discover the problem is on both sides of the table;
- Have a laugh about silly GW and enjoy the evening (this is the most important step on this list).
And there you have it. The angry internet mob that fulminated at Age of Sigmar's launch. The wailing that a perceived lack of rules translated into a horrible game for stupid babies. Well that mob can douse torches and store pitchforks. What does this give the rest of us? An overcomplicated mess. Tournament organizers still need to add their own set of extra rules because half the point (and all of the fun) in tournaments seems to be finding loopholes and exploiting these. The rest of us are left with the old 'Narrative you say? Just do whatever feels right you fluffbunny you. Now go away.'-approach.
Why complain, narrative games are about creating your own thing? You might ask. That is part of the point of narrative play isn't it? And yes in part it is. But point costing is not only there to bring 'balance' to a game (that in my humble opinion can't and shouldn't be balanced). For quite a lot of us it is a way to easily measure how long a game will last and get a semblance of what matchups will be fun. As much as I loved AoS even before the original General's Handbook launched. The added points made it easier to play. It was rather hard to get past turn two on a game night before it because we kept slamming too many models on the table.
|Oh dear, will I be needing these again in the future?|
As I'm listing anyway here's three reasons why narrative players use 'matched play' when we're actually going to play an 'open or narrative game'.
- It stops us from slamming down half our collection on the table (as this tends to be too much even for a weekend's Apocalypse style game);
- We get a reasonable measure* how long the game will last and whether we'll finish before the evenings over (* time wasted chatting about nonsense not included);
- We sort of get the same size armies, no need for full balance, just a semblance of it is ok;
Getting casual games back on track is hard enough after all the lockdowns of the past year. Making army building a chore that takes hours (with the aid of software) is not helping. If I was magically transported to GW HQ I would propose these changes to Age of Sigmar:
- The previous edition of 40K introduced Power Levels. Instead of calculating the cost of a unit down to the fluffy dice on the Rhino's rearview mirror you get a global sense of what its worth. It would be nice if this was implemented in AoS as well. I suspect we'll be surprised with yet another General's Handbook next year, why not add this? While GW is at it, how about keeping these costs constant until at least the drop of a new Battle Tome for the army.
- Reduce the amount of special rules you can pick that influence other rules. Army Special Rules, Add-on Artefact, Extra command trait, pick a realm rule, addon spells (and in AoS we are lucky enough not to have to deal with tactics and strategems (yet). The strength of AoS was that a warscroll told you everything you needed to know to use that unit. Now you need pages of reminders to help you keep track. I love this site, but it shouldn't exist.
- I you're going to add realm special rules and battalions, create an online place where we can look all of them up. All the addon rules are getting spread out as an edition develops. Look at the mess at the end of 2nd (and 1st) edition AoS and stop repeating that please.
Even fluffbunnies need a bit of guidance to field armies. Personally I would love to get a supplement like the ancient 3rd edition Warhammer Armies. You'd pick your entire army using a few page spreads / These listed rules and minimum and maximum models allowed. The warscrolls and Battle Tomes remind me of this, but utterly fail to deliver. To be honest at this point any system that would allow me to sit and make an army list in about thirty minutes without opening three books and two supporting websites would work for me. I really want to spend the rest of my hobby time either painting or playing the game. So there it is, rant ended, back to our regular programming.
Did I mention you need to get off my lawn! I'm going to have a blast writing my take on Warhammer for elderly people (well 45+ but close enough ;).