Thursday, March 10, 2011

Greenskin Army Book, Quick Update

I picked up a copy of Warhammer Armies: Orcs & Goblins today. My initial feelings about the book could be generously described as 'cautious.' For one thing, it's only available in hardcover, which seems a strange choice on the publisher's part given their history of softcover rules supplements. For another thing, the customer is obliged to pay nearly another $10 USD for this dubious privilege. Luckily, I've been able to get almost all of my goblins at substantial discounts, so the few extra dollars doesn't scratch my greenskin budget too badly, but that's incidental. The real test of the hardcover's value is the following:
  1. Is the aesthetic appeal of the book worth a few extra bucks (about the cost of an issue of White Dwarf)?
  2. Is the book more durable than a softcover?
I'd answer no to the first question, but given the success of Games Workshop's various limited edition offerings throughout the years, I suspect many hobbyists will answer in the affirmative. Regarding the second, time will tell, but I feel optimistic.

There's no question that the book itself is beautifully illustrated and designed, and best of all, it exudes the "new game product smell," which evokes all of the wonder and possibilities I felt when I bought the Warhammer Fantasy 5th edition box as a kid. The creative copy is on the level of most other GW stuff: adequate. The rules seem a little clearer than the previous version of the army book (I always wondered whether a Night Goblin could take the Spider Banner, for example). As a pragmatic hobbyist, the book seems a bit bloated to me: of the book's 112 pages, under 60 pages are directly related to rules.

Regarding the rules themselves, it's hard for me to speak authoritatively, being new to the army. Overall, the book doesn't feel like a "codex creep"style overhaul, but a fine-tuning. For example, the magic item lists has been slimmed down considerably, now consisting of just eight items, many of which are only available to certain unit types. Among the casualties: the Staff of Sneaky Stealin'. Oh no! But wait. A modified version of the staff's power has been built into the spells of the Da Little Waaagh. That's especially cool, as goblins were previously out of luck when it came to taking advantage of the special rules for Waaagh! magic.

There are also a few new unit types (Mangler Squigs seem neat; the Arachnarok is fun if a bit impractical) as well as a few "unit upgrade" characters, both of which are goblins. Beyond the price and unnecessary (to my mind) amounts of background material, I do have one minor complaint:the army list in the back of the book doesn't include page references for the units, so you need to go hunting. That slows things down a bit. There's plenty more little bonuses, though. The Animosity rules seem a bit more forgiving, and the Warboss' Waaagh! ability (still orcs only, of course) is characterful and potentially devastating. The new edition seems a little more flexible and streamlined than the previous and it's a good time to start a goblin army.

Regarding the actual construction of said army, I've been out of town most of the week and I didn't have a moment alone all weekend, so I haven't made much progress, but I now have the following assembled, cleaned of mold lines, and primed:
  • Night Goblin Warboss on Great Cave Squig
  • 3 unmounted Night Goblin Shamans (Shamen?)
  • 2 Night Goblin Big bosses
  • a Night Goblin Battle Standard Bearer
  • 2 Cave Squigs, 3 Herders
  • 50 Night Goblins with spears, shields, and full command
  • 10 Night Goblins with short bows
  • 18 giant spiders (sans riders)
  • 2 Night Goblin Fanatics
I'm expecting loads more Night Goblins, Fanatics, and a Spear Chukka in the mail any day now. It's going to be tight, but my current goal is to have a legal 1,000 point army primed and on the table by March 27.

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