Warhammer Fantasy Battle was one of my favourite systems in the wargaming world and i was an avid player and a tournament organiser locally in Brighton, sometimes venturing slightly further to play. I loved 8th edition (for all its shortcomings) and I was extremely annoyed with GW for nuking my favourite system and replacing it with Age of Sigmarines. don’t want to dwell too much on my opinion about the new system, suffice to say it is very low and I don’t intend to play it. There was not a single game of AoS down my club since the “apocalypse” as well.
When I started reading that “Swedish Comp” crew plus others are preparing new version of warhammer I was excited. With a good track record of solid work on Swedish Comp and improving Warhammer previously I had no doubt that if anybody can manage the job and make it popular enough to start revival of the game, it will be them. i was watching the progress with interest. There is a website, there is a self contained rulebook in few languages, there is a group of people working on each army book (and already made a Beastmen book !), there is a forum and most importantly there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm. ETC already voted to accept the 9th Age (name of the new Warhammer) as a system for the fantasy tournament which gives it huge confidence boost.
You can find everything at: http://www.the-ninth-age.com/news/
So after lots of things constantly getting in the way I managed to arrange game with newly met Italian player Stefano at my local club Brighton Warlords. I chose demons to see how my MSU tactics will work in 9th Age and he came with nicely painted and converted Beastmen (or Beast Herds) .
We had a very enjoyable game which I ended up winning. It took us longer that usual to play as we had top check and double check lots of things, but we both really liked it. As army lists are going to change soon (Demon Legions book is being finalised at the moment) I don’t want to do unit-by-unit analysis. However what I would like to say is by watching Beast Herds lists, a lot of problems seem to have been fixed and a lot of things (such as point costs) tweaked. Majority of units went down in price, ghorgon is 200 points now which makes it finally viable to use, same with Cygor (which my opponent used quite successfully against me). Minotaurs get primal fury and don’t seem to have a rule saying then can only overrun D6, which makes them even better unit that before. All in all it seemed like Beasts are finally fully fledged army that is not handicapped by a bad book.
Now about the rules itself. first change that you notice almost immediately is deployment. You can basically deploy all your units at once if you want to be sure that you will start first. You can deploy one or only a couple or any number in between. suddenly deployment phase itself start having a lot more options. I liked that although it potentially means spending more time on deployment. There are also 3 types of deployment and you got 3 secondary objectives , in 2 of which only units with banners (scoring units) can make you extra points for controlling certain parts of the table. Interesting addition. Movement phase is pretty much the same, although it is worth noting that for example flying units have different Fly value now, so not every flying model moves 10/20. What is really different is magic phase. For starters, you can only use 5 power dice (at the same time overall cost of spells decreased though). Irresistible force means extra boost to your casting, not a spell that cannot be dispelled anymore, so another interesting change here. Also miscast only happens when spell wasn’t dispelled and then its effects depend on amount of power dice used (more dice used- worse the consequences). As for dispelling you can aid the dispel now, so armies that have for example 4 level 1 casters are not handicapped anymore. Channel works differently now as well, with a possibility of only one dice being added but chance is increased by a number of casters in your army. In my opinion it made magic less powerful and slightly more interesting as well. On the other hand I miss a little bit times when you could go “oh well, let’s cast this spell with 6 dice”. But overall I am happy with changes.
Other notable changes I observed whilst playing was how cannons got nerfed. Not to a ridiculous level ,they are still a choice worth taking, but they are simply not laser-guided as they were in 8th edition.
Line of sight rules got changes with certain types of terrain being classified as “obscuring terrain” and blocking your line of sight completely (so you can now safely hide behind hills for example) and higher units blocking your line of sight as well (no more shooting cannons between legs of bigger creatures).
As I played only one game it is hard to give more detailed analysis but I do have to say that I definitely like 9th Age and I intend to play it more. It also seems to be much more balanced that the 8th edition, although of course we will have to wait for other army books to see if that balance will not be disturbed. I can definitely recommend 9th Age to all fans of Warhammer that feel they were in limbo after WFB got nuked by Games Workshop.