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Author Topic: A view of the Empire from a new players perspective.  (Read 2947 times)

A view of the Empire from a new players perspective.
« on: February 08, 2010, 07:25:43 PM »
Having recently returned from overseas, I've had the opportunity to save a small bundle which I had intended to blow on upgrades to my car. After much contemplation and finally the realization that you can only "talk" to your car so much before you start looking stupid, I decided to pay more attention to my group of friends.

Several of whom have been into "Wargaming" for a long time pointed me (and my bundle) toward WHFB. So, as per usual instead of being logical, I went out and bought the rulebook and every army book I could find. Not knowing the difference, I also purchased every piece of WHFRP I could find. Then I sat down and began to read.

Now, being the preverbial "noob" to the game, I didn't know heads from tails. Being a student of history though, I gravitated toward the Empire.

Without going into too many details it became readily apparent that the Empire is at once very specific about itself, yet VERY generic on the gaming table. It is the most well defined area of the Warhammer world, yet the army list doesn't lend itself to the wonderful fluff found in both WHFB and WHFRP.

A few random points.

1. Define the Provincial armies. Even if that only means between the N and S (excluding the Kislevites). The source books already comment on the provincial differences (which are many). Not to mention the Empire fights itself as often as it fights invaders.

2. The Emperor has decreed that EVERY province have a unit of Halberdiers. Therefore, like it or not, every army list should have one big block at least.

3. It is mentioned that the northern provinces tend toward the spear, the southern toward the "half-pike". Well, the so called "half-pike" IS a spear at least in OUR own world. 6-8 feet = spear. Shortest "pike" was 12ft or so... you get the picture. However it is also mentioned that many Tilean mercenaries serve in the armies of the south. Wissenland in particular, has a "special" relationship with Tilea (and the border princes... if you read the rpg fluff... which is pretty darn good, though I understand NOW, separate from WHFB) with this in mind, I think a pike unit should be at least a rare choice for the southern provincial armies.

Besides, one of the main reasons the "greatswords" were brought into being was because of pikemen. The overly long swords used to smack the pikes out of the way to make gaps. A unit of pike is a terrifying thing to behold! Even the Romans took great care in attacking them. Only beating them after drawing them over rough ground and using their own version of the games "detachment" system to great effect (i.e. flanking... which isn't as devastating as it should be in this game BTW!!). Sure, keep the Empires troops from being lords of battle, but for what they lack in magic, strength or toughness, let them have ingenuity at least! It's all around them for cripes sake.

I like the stats and point Ideas for Pikemen I see floating around this forum.

I'm personally experimenting with the "Tercio" idea. Reduced to game terms of course. Basically a unit of pike with a rank of handgunners built in. A natural for the empire...

3. The current empire core troop figures are nice... but, why do they look worse off than the militia? They all look like a bunch of hicks all snaggle-toothed and snarling. I understand diversity is the spice of painting, but gees, barefoot as well? Have one (or two) looks at the art and you see tough and dare I say it, PROFESSIONAL soldiers for the most part. As it should be. Yet another reason for Provincial army lists and descriptions. Even if it means just a minor tweak to an average core list.

Basing every empire soldier on the Landsknechts is strange for core troops. Especially when Landsknechts (which is what they look like, I don't care what anyone says.) were mostly ragged mercenary soldiers for most of their existence (though not at first). Their dress was based off the fact that after a battle, they would strip the dead (this is argued about in historical circles ad nauseum) and slash the clothing to make it fit! Becoming a fashion in europe (go figure) for a time. This makes for some pretty nice looking many colored figures, but if you're going to keep the Landsknecht theme just make them look professional as in their early days. Admittedly very common for a while, once the Tercio and units of Arquebusiers became more common (Pseudo-professional armies), the Landsknechts lost their cache and disappeared.

I know, this ISN'T the real world (thank goodness), but if you're gonna suspend disbelief a bit, base it on something that makes a little sense. At the very least something that makes empire players proud to march forth... er, besides using a Nuln "Gun-line" at every game.

The Empire is a by-word for diversity. Why produce a book which shows provincial uniforms, state colors and special units and not wrap the new army book around these themes?

Well, my head is swimming with ideas, but I said I'd be brief, which I wasn't so I'll stop for now.

Offline warhammerlord_soth

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Re: A view of the Empire from a new players perspective.
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2010, 08:27:50 PM »
Welcome to the forum !
 
Great first post.
Have one  on Midaski's tab.  :::cheers:::
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Offline Nicholas Ironfist

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Re: A view of the Empire from a new players perspective.
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2010, 09:38:59 PM »
Hi and welcome to WE. Just a couple of things, people generally agree that WFRP has more deapth if not more soul. Todays fluff tends to be concise to fit into a marketable book. The good ol days of deapth and well thought out fluff and logic are sadly gone.
In WFB little things make a big difference. Flanking makes a huge diference in the game. You take 3 combat resolution points off a block of infantry and add 2 to your own effectivly giving you 5 points of combat res before and blows are struck.....that is huge. In scaven armies where their Ld is based on ranks it is devestating.+1attack,+1 Ld+1BS the numbers aren't big the the difference it makes are significant.
I don't agree with your assessment of the Landsknechts. I always thought they were elite soldiers allowed to dress outlanishly in puffs and bright colours because they were at the thick of battle and weren't expected to survive long? I beleived they dress the way they did not because they were poor but because it was a mark of privilage????
One thing for certain, Empire armies are vastly different in composition, colour and theme. I'm sure you will enjoy each of these as your collection grows. Good luck and happy hunting.
Care not for the judgement of others, but go forth and do as you see fit.

Offline Wolfsgaum

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Re: A view of the Empire from a new players perspective.
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2010, 04:47:49 PM »
I'm not really a fan of overly defining the provinces since that constrains your creativity when putting together your army both as a list and from a modeling perspective. I think the current level of detail in the army book is more than enough and gives plenty of leeway though I really would like to see the more cosmopolitan style of list that 4th and 5th edition had again.

About the Landsknechts and how they dressed. The looted clothing hypothesis is one way to explain the slashing but that idea has lost traction. The more likely explanation is that clothing was one of the few things they had to spend money on being essentially rootless and separate from normal society (at least while in service and on campaign).

Offline Grutch

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Re: A view of the Empire from a new players perspective.
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2010, 08:37:45 AM »
My knowledge of the Landsknechts is limited to a slim osprey volume that I've read twice now.  Shaft's explanation seems to be in line with this but the writer could be wrong too.  As to you asking why there isnt a correlation to these famed troops and our own Empire,  I would say it is because fluff writer's like Graham McNeil are not qualified game designers.   His clumsy hit and miss approach to the 7th Edition Empire book has left me so frustrated with Games Workshop that I have to admit I took a step back from playing for a while. 

We can only hope and pray that GW's design team can come up with a book that would satisfy a lot of issues we as an Empire playing community have with our own army.  This site has been around for 6 or so years and hosts Empire players worldwide,  you would think that a simple game designer from GW could browse through here and get a sense of what their customers might like to see in the next book.   Don't hold your breath. 

-Grutch

Offline Justnorth

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Re: A view of the Empire from a new players perspective.
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2010, 08:46:01 AM »
My knowledge of the Landsknechts is limited to a slim osprey volume that I've read twice now.  Shaft's explanation seems to be in line with this but the writer could be wrong too.  As to you asking why there isnt a correlation to these famed troops and our own Empire,  I would say it is because fluff writer's like Graham McNeil are not qualified game designers.   His clumsy hit and miss approach to the 7th Edition Empire book has left me so frustrated with Games Workshop that I have to admit I took a step back from playing for a while. 

We can only hope and pray that GW's design team can come up with a book that would satisfy a lot of issues we as an Empire playing community have with our own army.  This site has been around for 6 or so years and hosts Empire players worldwide,  you would think that a simple game designer from GW could browse through here and get a sense of what their customers might like to see in the next book.   Don't hold your breath. 

-Grutch

Everything you say is true, but the problem is in the direction GW see their market, and it is not with the slowly ever growing older players, it is with the disposable income of the parental dollar.
GW targets young kids, 11-16 years of age, anyone else they get is a bonus.
11-16 year olds are not interested in historical accuracies or game balance.
Their requirements from the game are far less complicated than ours.
Until such time as GW suffer continued financial hardship then they have little to no reason to alter their market direction.
Sad for us older players but an unavoidable truth.
GW can pucker their skanky lips and suck my arse.

He's French. Since when do his plans have to be feasible?

Offline reynor

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Re: A view of the Empire from a new players perspective.
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2010, 08:05:02 PM »
Quote
I'm personally experimenting with the "Tercio" idea. Reduced to game terms of course. Basically a unit of pike with a rank of handgunners built in. A natural for the empire...

Hmmmm.... Pike & Shot...

Warhammer Historical has rules for pike and shot... I think true pike rules, with 3-4 ranks attacking and skirmishing handgunner detachments would be TERRIFIC.

This gives me a hankering to buy Warhammer Historical Battles...

Re: A view of the Empire from a new players perspective.
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2010, 07:58:45 PM »
Hello again!

Thanks for the kind welcome to the forum.

I've started a computer animation and graphics company and it keeps me VERY busy most of the time. I even hired my first employee!! What he does exactly hasn't been defined yet, but he's the best paid coffee go-for in the world  :icon_biggrin:.

I read this forum consistantly though, as it is a great source of news and opinions. Not to mention a wealth of really good ideas.

I still have time to peruse the Warhammer world from the rules, the "fluff" to the inevitable number crunching. I've even started to read some of the "novels". Some very well done, some pretty darn horrible. It seems the game itself is as variable as any I've ever seen! Sometimes appearing contradictory and not well thought out... which confused me at first.

Then I remembered Justnorths comment and it began to sink in.

The variability of the rulebooks... the army books through the games life appears to prove Justnorths hypothesis to be at least partially true. What seemed at first glance to be the time honored way of refining a rules-set now appears to be a long series of "one-upmanship". Leap-frogging one army after another in order to sell essentially the same old thing. After all, even a small shift in the rules or adding a new "special character" can upset the balance of an entire army. The acrid smell of an "Army of the year" is definately in the air. Marketing to be sure, but we really can't fault the company... that's what they do to stay alive.

As a last comment about the Landsknechts. They were originally hand-picked "Mercenaries" used by many nations (especially in the Holy Roman Empire). Solid troops with a certain "dash" about them. It is also true that ANY army long in the field would look nothing like it did before it's very first battle. Certainly in the era before industrialization and common uniforms. "Face-to-face" combat of massed troops is unlike anything seen since at least WWI and I would say even then nothing like the age before firearms. So every army would look like garbage, elite or not even after ONE battle.

The landsknechts were from an era of "parti-colored" clothing. When "borrowed" from captured stores or the newly dead, they did indeed need to slash and tie the clothing together in order to make it fit... just as every army preceding them... including Hannibals army in Italy. Sources of the time couldn't tell Hannibals men from the Romans they fought against... as would surely be true after 20 years of campaigning in the enemies territory. What is represented by the figures is not what they would have looked like in the field. What they represent, in fact, is the civilian populations affectation for their dress. It became a fashion. So, many Nobles adopted it and many of the wealthier Landsknechts also purchased purpose made "slashed" clothing to boost their status. How many people today or at least a few years ago were buying purposely "worn-out" 100$ jeans!?

However, this wasn't my point exactly.

When you look at the figures of the other armies and look back to our poor empire, I at least, find them sorely lacking. The figs just don't look like the best humanity has to offer. The core troops of the empire, from every piece of art, to everything I've read are considered tough, hardened, and professional soldiers. I'd like to see this in the figures. Grim determination on the face is one thing, but the snaggle-toothed, shoeless "mob" I've been building just leaves me wanting. Especially when I see a friends beautifully painted "Chaos" army arrayed before me... and don't get me started on anothers Woodelves with an "Autumn theme" about them... stunning.

On the bright-side, the "new" Greatswords are proof that GW can make what I'm looking for, at least in part.

As to provincializing the core troops for the humans? I think this would be the easiest way to enhance variability in enforcing what's already built-in. Why not, for instance, have an army made up of Wissenlanders for their pikemen, Averlanders for their excellent horse, and perhaps, against a party of Darkelf Corsairs, some Northmen with a skill set nurtured on numerous battles fought against them on the beaches of their homeland?

The rules don't have to be expansive, just to add color. For instance, after my very first game (against the darkelves I might add) a friend and I over a beer (or three) decided that the DE's as they are, being very covetous of clan position or status, should have a few "variables". We decided that if a certain particular instance occurred on the table top, that the "Assassin" hidden in his troops instead of attacking the enemy special character, would, in fact, go after one of their own. Presuming this rare act would reflect the nature of the Byzantine politicking of the Darkelves. One simple die roll based on particular conditions.

As it so happens, I did try my "Tercio" idea as well during my second game (Which I won!!!). Very simple, a pike block of four lines of six and one additional row of hand-gunners "built-in", one trooper with a "Hochland". They got ONE shot if the enemy was within imminent contact (charging), then would drop back to the rear. Or, if the enemy stayed out of pike reach HG's would hang out and fire at them along with the 10 man HG detachment.

I peppered my enemy for two turns using the idea above before his warriors blood got up and he (Chaos) came at me despite their intended target (we had yet another rule about Khorne warrior blood-lust).
With some good roles, I happened to knock off his leader, then the rest impailed themselves on the pikemen. My detachments then went to work. The swordsmen on the flank really doing well. The downside? This particular player (my best friend) avoided my pikemen like the plague (no pun intended.) for the rest of the game. It did it's job though, holding the center so thoroughly, that I could optimize my flanks while he could not. Effectively funneling his army as he adjusted which made easy pickings for my cannon. It just so happens that I am the worlds best (luckiest?) judge of distance or so it was said around the table after the games. My aim was literally "uncanny" to say the least.

The Tercio idea didn't win me that battle, but it added flavor. We, as a group ARE thinking of having solid pike scare the crap out of the enemy, if not making them just think for a second... I smell a little die roll coming...

An additional "flavor" rule came about using "militia" troops. We made a little table to be rolled against when the unit first makes contact, or comes under a psychological effect. Either the roll has no effect and they respond as per normal, they become useless wrecks OR they become hardened warriors willing to die for their country! (With some benefits to boot). We think this makes militia a more worthwhile choice if your willing to risk it, an extra variable your enemy now has to think about, but most of all FLAVOR!!!!!

We are working on viable, though SIMPLE firearm skirmisher ideas. Perhaps a VERY rare troop choice of "Shutzen", highly trained skirmishers and marksmen... what this will consist of is a Hochland particular troop choice to start, the rest to be fleshed out later... though ideas abound, if only for the "color".

Again, another long posting, my apologies... not much I can do. ADD leads to extreme focus on things of particular interest. This game and it's world becoming one of them.

Thanks for putting up with me.

Offline TexasYankee

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Re: A view of the Empire from a new players perspective.
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2010, 06:03:39 AM »
Man, that SHAFT, sure is one bad motherf- (I'll shut my mouth!)  :-)

Great post, and great read. I have to disagree with you on one thing, however; don't be so judgemental on that snaggled-toothed, shoeless "mob" we call our State Troops. A pretty uniform does not a great soldier make. 187 snaggled-toothed Texans (and others) held off some very well dressed Mexicans numbering over two-thousand for almost two weeks. Lee's often un-shod Confederates usualy ran circle's around the far better uniformed/equipped Union army, espeacialy in the beginning of the war. I can almost see the Stirlander general burning his raging gaze into you right now, deciding wether he should have his Huntsmen fill you full of arrows or simply have the militia dunk you in the Stir!  :wink:

Don't get me wrong! My army is an immaculately dressed group of the most professional troops from Reikland, led by a Baron who chastizes his men for untrimmed facial-hair and muddy boots! I even started a thread about elbow-shields and bare feet, but that is another story . . .  :-D

I haven't been playing long enough to run my mouth about earlier editions and pikemen/different formations and such, but there are also a few things I'd like to see "technically", such as a rule, maybe Empire only, where we can fire in two ranks WITHOUT having to be on a hill, but for now I'm very happy with the game, and hope you will continue to be too.

Again, great post, and keep them coming! (and I, for one, am very happy I was never dumb enough to pay $100 for "worn-out" jeans . . . though I do buy bottled water . . . it's for the wife . . . )
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Offline Siberius

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Re: A view of the Empire from a new players perspective.
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2010, 12:39:49 AM »
Shaft, you need to get on the rest of the forum. You have nice ideas and you aren't shoving it down everyone's throats like some people do!

Get that coffee boy to do all the work and get writing in the other forums.  :wink:
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Offline arselus

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Re: A view of the Empire from a new players perspective.
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2010, 01:01:32 AM »
Wissenland in particular, has a "special" relationship with Tilea (and the border princes... if you read the rpg fluff... which is pretty darn good, though I understand NOW, separate from WHFB)

I'm building a Wissenland army now, and am totally unfamiliar with WH-RPG. Could you tell me, where did you read the stuff about Wissenland, I would be interested in taking a look at it.

Thanks! and Welcome!

Offline wissenlander

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Re: A view of the Empire from a new players perspective.
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2010, 01:59:28 PM »
Sigmar's Heirs, Arselus.  It's good for what ails you (in fluff terms).
Me and Wissenlander had babies!

not together.

finding photographic evidense that Wiss smiles is going to be hard...