Eighth edition has been out for long enough now that we’ve had a decent chance to see it in action, argue over the new rules and shake out all of those Seventh edition holdovers that we kept for a while – I can’t be the only one who said ‘I’m sure it’s a rule, let me just look for it’ when adjusting to the new system. So now I’m looking at my collection of miniatures and figuring out how to convert my Seventh edition armies built around Seventh edition restrictions and taking advantage of Seventh edition rules into shiny and new Eighth edition forces… I’m Octimising.
I have three armies (well, two and a half if I’m honest); my Dwarfs which were my welcome back to the hobby after a break, my Daemons which I built specifically for the 2009 ETC and my Chaos Warriors which are in the process of being finished for the autumn tournament season. Three very different armies that have been affected in very different ways by the new rules. Because I almost exclusively play in tournaments I have to build them as all-comers lists, not for me the luxury of being able to tune the armies for a particular set of opponents! Let’s take a look at how I’m modifying these three forces to bring them up to date.
Firstly the Dwarfs were always a solid force and the new rules have made them much better in almost every way. The traditional weaknesses of the Dwarfs were that they’d never get a charge against an opponent that was awake and that you didn’t get very many Dwarfs for your points. The new charge rules mean that Dwarfs aren’t at much of a disadvantage in charge distances any more and that getting charged is no longer as devastating as it used to be. The days of getting charged by elite cavalry, taking your entire front row off the table and then working out how much you’d lost by are over. The flip-side to the new charge rules of course is that now, even though they will be getting charges about as often as everyone else, they’ll still be going last against anything with a pulse. I see this as a Mithril-plated opportunity to put great weapons on everything! I did a bit of maths and worked out that there’s almost no advantage in giving Dwarfs hand weapons and shields if they have the opportunity for great weapons instead. It works out a little bit worse against really poor quality chaff like Skaven slaves, Zombies or Gnoblars but, against almost anything else it’s at least as good and in a lot of cases much better.
Another rules change that has a significant impact on Dwarf lists is the way that victory points are scored. No more VPs for half dead units, you now need to kill everything or it doesn’t count. Why does this affect Dwarfs specifically? Well, this means that gunline armies are going to find it difficult to score points – especially if the table has as much terrain on it as the rulebook asks you to place. A canny opponent will pull the last few stragglers out of the line of fire and hide them behind whatever blocking terrain he can find. You’re going to need to chase those guys down and hammer the victory points out of them. This means that not only is the (very boring) Dwarf gunline now a losing prospect but so is the classic Dwarf turtle formation. Your units will be all over the board because you will be surging forwards and bringing the fight to the enemy and you will be chasing them off into the corners. Oathstones just got even more pointless! Luckily for me, my army was already built to be a combat-oriented force so I don’t need to suddenly shelve all my Thunderers but I do need to beef up my combat blocks. My normal selections are 18 Longbeards (6×3) including the Lord on a shield and Battle Standard Bearer, 15 Warriors to bodyguard my Runepriest, 15 Ironbreakers as the central pivot of my combat line and 12 Slayers because they are cool. I like the idea of Steadfast, leadership 9 troops with a reroll to all leadership tests so I’ll be adding a rank or two to most of those units. These points will mostly come from my Gyrocopter which now has no role to fulfil, it should be a great choice to chase down fleeing units except that it has no movement characteristic so it cannot pursue (making the Swiftstride rule rather pointless in this case). The other thing it was useful for was boiling enemy warmachine crews to death but that’s a tall order now as crews use the warmachine’s toughness. The only realistic use for it is declaring charges against already fleeing enemy but I’m not sure I want to field a fragile and expensive unit just for that.
Next in line for Octimising are the Daemons. I built a filthy horrible list because a: I have no shame and b: it was specifically for a hard-nosed tournament where you either brought your cheesiest cheese or you went home. My list has all the things that will make tournament regulars roll their eyes – why yes I do have Flamers, Flesh Hounds, minimum size Horror blocks and a Lord of Change with all the usual options. If it makes you feel any better, I always suffered pangs of guilt when I put it on the tabletop. In contrast to the Dwarfs, Daemons have had their wings clipped a bit by the new rules. Firstly the new army selection rules mean that they’ll probably have to add a lot more core troops than they routinely field. I know that for my 2000 point army, I only had about 400 points of that tied up in core so I’ll certainly need to throw in some more rank and file. I do get the chance to vary the special and rare choices a bit more as I’m no longer limited to a set number of slots but, as most of these choices are fairly expensive, I don’t gain as much as most armies do.
So what’s in line for these servants of blasphemy? Well, as it happens there’s been a wave of new releases for Daemons so I’ll be experimenting with the army a little. I bought two boxes of the new Seekers and I’ll probably add some Bloodcrushers too so I can experiment with daemonic cavalry. Unfortunately, the new combat rules mean that those expensive cavalry units will be taking some attacks back – this probably isn’t a big deal for the Bloodcrushers but Seekers really won’t stand up to a cold-steel massage very well. Remember up the page where I said that elite units taking out your entire front rank and going straight to combat resolution were a thing of the past? Well this is bad news for Daemons. I’m really an edition too late to turn up to the Bloodcrusher party.
One of the strongest weapons in the Daemonic arsenal was Fear. In Seventh, this could be an autowin button while in Eighth it has been toned down a lot. I’m going to build my units around the expectation that they’ll be stuck in combat for a couple of turns. Magic too has been calmed down. Horror heavy lists (like mine) aren’t such a great idea any more because you won’t automatically be able to cast with each of them like you could in Seventh. If I generate less than about 9 dice, then the likelihood is that Mr Feathers will suck them all up – yes he can throw out a Boon of Tzeentch but I’d really need to use two dice for it or have a 1/3 chance of not being able to cast anything else for the turn – which makes it less useful than it used to be. In addition the mishap chart is now a whole lot more dangerous; especially for a high value model who’s also the general.
Of all my armies, the Daemons are the ones that are the hardest for me to Octimise. It’s not as simple as for the Dwarfs where I just added more bodies to units and refitted things with great weapons. The way that Daemons play has had to change because their old tools simply don’t exist in the new ruleset. I’m thinking that core heavy is the way to go – Daemonettes and Bloodletters in particular - backed up by a couple of support units such as daemonic cavalry and Flesh Hounds.
Finally then we come to the Chaos Warriors. These are a work in progress still so modifying the list is easier than for the other two as I still haven’t got around to painting most of it. Previously it was a Tzeentch themed list with a small unit of Knights containing the Battle Standard, a mid sized block of Warriors and a small unit of Chosen all led by a Sorceror Lord and all sporting the Mark of Tzeentch. The remainder of the points were spent on Marauders with flails, Marauder Cavalry and Chaos Hounds. Now I’m very seriously considering adding a second rank to the Chaos Knights – as now they get supporting attacks as well as just the bonus combat resolution. This also reflects the fact that I can’t reliably throw them into the front of an enemy unit and expect to see them win and overrun in the same turn. Chaos Warriors with the Mark of Tzeentch and a Parry save are now godlike so I’ll be adding more to that unit. The Marauder Cavalry have got better too, now that they get supporting attacks so my unit of ten is great for flanking units that are locked up with the Knights or Warriors and running them down. The Marauders on foot may get cut as I make the army into more of an elite warband but I need some more practice games to see how this will work out. It’s tempting to build them into a Horde formation but I’m not sure how useful that is given that the rest of the army is super tough and won’t be giving up VPs easily.
As I work on these armies I’ll be updating the efforts on my painting blog, check it out and feel free to comment on the articles there.
How are you Octimising your armies? Tell us in the comments below!