Monday, 14 September 2015

Regarding the 9th Age Project

One of the bigger Warhammer community projects right now seems to be the so-called 9th Age. I've been keeping my eye on it from time to time since they started, and they have finally released their Ravening Hordes list in an alpha stage. While I like quite a few of the changes to the main game that they have done, I'm less impressed with the army lists themselves (and that seems to be a pretty common reaction from what I can gather from the Warhammer Forum). Though they are still an early draft, if their current direction is something to go by, then I don't see them as much of an improvement to the game at all, for the following reasons:

  • Oversimplified rules. Most of the units' unique rules are gone, with nothing to replace them. I'm all for streamlining, but there's a limit to that too.
  • Changed unit names. While I understand that they want to avoid copyright issues (something I still haven't had a problem with from GW even after 5 years), they have changed so many of the names you don't even know what units they are supposed to be without looking at the stats and rules. Most of the name replacements are rather poor too, like "Elves of Nature" replacing Wood Elves, or "Monstrous Rats" replacing Rat Ogres and so on. They have said they want input from the community to improve this though, but they are going a bit over the top in their effort to not provoke GW's lawyers by changing already generic names into even more generic names.
  • Whole units missing from the army lists. Not sure if this is just an oversight, or if they really intend to leave them out completely.
  • Weird internal balance and points costs for many units, that does not really solve any of the previous problems they had.
  • Very basic layout and formatting. I know it's an alpha version, but I would at least liked to see something akin to GW's RH-lists in terms of graphical quality. Right now, it's a strain on the eyes to read the unit entries.
  • The time-span they are planned to be used. According to the 9th Age, they are a temporary solution until the complete army books are finished. It took me 3 years to put out my army books, and then I had nearly full creative control, did not have to make up all background or art from scratch, and I had a ton of free time as a student. So even if the 9th Age guys would be able to release one whole army book every 2 months (which is unlikely, coming from the DoW project which took over a year), it would still take them almost 3 years to just finish the official armies.

Apart from that, they seem overly ambitious. They have stated that they plan to release complete army books for all factions, and then even expand into uncharted territory, just like WAP (that is, this website) have done. However, based on previous community projects, there's only 4 books besides the ones made by me that I would hold up to a good enough standard as far as army books are concerned, and those were made by 4 different people each focusing on a single book for the course of at least a year.
The 9th Age consists of 6 top members who plan to make least 16 army books, without using any of the official background, any official art or any official names. In my experience, these projects tend to run out of steam in the first 1-2 months and then finally die down altogether.
They have said that they want the community to get together and want to assign 5 people or so working on each book, which they will then supervise. Call me a Negative Nancy if you like, but unless they have a member of each team being reasonably skilled at graphic design/editing/writing etc, I think we are in for a very inconsistent stream of not-Warhammer books.

With that in mind, I believe I will probably need to step in. So after I am finished with Skaven and Beastmen, I will probably try to go back to the official 8th ed books and give each of them updates to fix internal and external balance, as well as adding new units and background. And in the case of the Elf books, fix the awful additions to their fluff by Mat Ward. Yeesh.


  1. Keep up the good work! Here are my brainstormings and thoughts for the 8,5ed

    - Magic needs to be more stable or less random. Something like 7th edition would be welcome so power and dispel dice are gnerated like how many wizards you've etc.

    - Keep the 90 degree arc. Tweak the checking if the charge is front/flank/rear from the whole unit, not just from the front rank. It's harder for big units to get flank and no need to go for weird 135 degree arc that I've seen in some rules and small and fast units should've the natural advantage in this.

    - I'd tweak the Bolt Throwers and Cannon shooting. War Machines would be 360 degree shooters but Bolt Thrower and Cannons get tweaked in the following way:
    - Place a marker and roll both artillery and scatter. Move the marker as with Stone Throwers except you can modify the result with the crew's BS. This is where the cannonball hits the ground first time or Bolt Thrower's bolt starts a low fly. Now work as you've used to with cannons so you draw the line and roll the bounce/low fly distance etc.
    - The scattering should balance out the 360 degree arc pretty well and this time even bolt thrower's bolts don't disappear in the air. With high BS, chance with hit marker and bolts act like cannon balls it should be a good chance that BTs hit at least something if not the target and at the same time it makes Cannons more random.
    - Cannonball strenght should weaken just like BTs though it likely doesn't matter much.

  2. Looking forward to yours. I wasn't too impressed with theirs either. I took a look at Warthrone rules as well. It's looks more complicated than 8th, but there seems to be some good rules that could fix some issues with 8th.

  3. Imho, you should rather get on board and help them develop a version of the game that would be used by the whole community. Your knowledge and experience seem too precious to be invested in competing projects.

    1. I had that in mind, but to be honest, that would be more time-consuming than just doing everything myself, due to creative differences and debating everything back and forth. One of the things that are holding me back is their insistence of not using any of the official names, including ones that are not actually copyrighted by GW, which frankly takes away from it feeling like a Warhammer game. That said, I would not have any problems with them (or anyone else for that matter) using my ideas for their project if they find something that strikes their fancy.

      As far as competition is concerned, different versions of the same game will always exists. Heck, there are still people playing 3rd ed Warhammer today! More choices does not really hurt the game, player's just need to agree with each other which rules they like best :)

    2. Yeah your vision is likely very different at least the brainstorming blog looked different than 9th age. I hope you can deal with all or if you need help you can get it when needed.

      I'm lso not impressed by the 9th age. They just try too hard too much. When they try that hard they really should make something else just like Jeff mentioned the Warthrone.

  4. Any chance of tweeking the fluff in the official books a little to to tie in with your army books? or would that be too much work?

    1. My books are already tied in with the official books, using pretty much every single reference GW has ever made. I don't have any plans for adding more background from my books into the official ones though, but I do plan on adding quite a bit from WFRP to flesh out each book though.

    2. Cool. I Look forward to it

  5. I you're going to rework all the army books then I have a few suggestions:
    -Make units that can be customized to be ranged or melee units (such as goblins) able to choose between a champion that is either a better shot or better fighter than the rest.
    -Make magic missiles reliant on BS, shots with a magic missile do not suffer to hit penalties for long range or multiple shots. Lord wizards have +1 BS over their hero counterparts, the Daemon Prince starts off at BS3 and can exchange one WS and I for +1 BS up to three times. Do that three times and the Daemon Prince also loses 1 attack.
    -Make Always Strikes First not be a universal rule for the elves. Only leave it on units where it makes fluff or thematic sense such as Wardancers/Shadowdancers, Witch Elves, Sisters of Slaughter, Swordmasters and Phoenix Guard.
    -Move Pistoliers to core, Empire Knights to special and Demigryph knights to rare. This helps differentiate the Empire from the other heavy cavalry dominant nation and makes Pistoliers more useful.
    -Re-work choppas, an Ork on foot can choose to wield his choppa in two hands, if it does so, it gains +1 strength for the first round of combat and armor piercing for all other rounds. In all other cases (choppa and shield, mounted, two chopps) the choppa has the armor piercing special rule for the first round of combat, the rule also affects magic hand weapons wielded by an Ork. I feel that the 5th edition version made the most sense.
    -Make it that combat lords have +1 strength or toughness over their hero counterparts either by increasing one of those stats in the lords or decreasing one of those stats in the heroes depending on whether there are rank and file troops of the species with +1 strength or toughness over the norm. So a Skaven Chieftan would have its strength lowered by one and a Bretonnian Lord will have its strength increased by one.

    1. Some more suggestions.
      -Killing Blow wounds automatically and ignores armor against swarms, monsters, and monstrous _______. Killing Blow still won't slay these in a single blow. Allows killing blow to remain useful in an army that spams monstrous infantry or chariots.
      -Re-work Empire infantry. Combine the various versions of their basic unit into two units, 'Empire Soldiers' and 'Empire Marksmen'. Both are 4 points base, start off with a hand weapon only and have the option to upgrade to light or heavy armor. Soldiers have all the typical melee options, marksmen have a mandatory option to take a ranged weapon. Detachments and Regimental units rules are removed instead, Greatswords gain a 6" aura that causes units within the aura to be stubborn and Ld8. Empire Soldiers can countercharge for units that are within 6" (just like in the regimental unit rule) and Empire Marksmen can stand and shoot as if they were the ones being charged for units within 6" (also just like in the regimental unit rule).
      -If you do decide to remove Always Strikes First from most elf units it means that removing the re-roll to hit part of the rule is now unnecessary, in addition, you could make it that Always Strikes Last causes successful rolls to hit be re-rolled if the attacking unit has lower initiative.
      -Give humans, beastmen and orcs the chance to be WS5, all Empire Inner Circle Knights, Bestigors, Questing Knights, Black Orcs, Demigryph Knights and Hippogryph Knights should be WS5. Demigryph Knights and Hippogryph Knights also gain A2 base (they're supposed to be stronger than your typical knight). Apply the same principle to your army books.
      -Add a few missing options like Greatswords being able to replace their Great Weapons with Halberds and an option to upgrade a single unit of Greatswords to be WS5 S4 for example.
      -Tone down Maneaters a bit, lower their BS to 3 (they should have +1 WS/BS over other Ogres, making them as good shots as the leaders is a bit iffy) and S, A and I by 1. They already have a slew of special rules and if you make an Ogre Bruiser that is characterized as the leader of a Maneater unit he shouldn't have any stats be weaker than the Maneater leaders stats.
      -Having WS be one over the norm should also increase initiative by 1. Prevents sudden jump in units from I3 to I5 based on receiving a promotion.

  6. I feel like you need to go back and really research the 9th age. Get involved on the forums, get to know the developers.

    Don't let ego divide the community. Join up! Offer your expertise in earnest and make it so we can all enjoy Warhammer for years to come!

    1. A bit passive-aggressive there Bob. I don't think you will convince anyone like that.

  7. I have to say I agree with Mathias.
    Don't get me wrong, I believe community involvement and player content is what Warhammer (whatever edition it is) needs to thrive. Heck, I'm trying to do it myself. And I believe many players consistently overlook using custom content (and even official Supplements) in favour of simply the Core book and the Armybooks.

    But given that official support for 8th is gone, should the best course of action to build up something *so* different? Do we *really* need to change so much, that it starts to feel weird to play it?
    The problems with 8th are not that many. A few major ones in the Core rules, and mostly fixes here and there in the armybooks (which u could fix just by tweaking points and a few choice stats). No wishlisting. Minimalism is key, so that there is minimum disruption of rules and people can still refer to the books they know and love (and bought).
    Done and done. Could all be summed up in a couple pages (smaller than some erratas I know *cough skaven!* cough).

    I really don't want to be negative: I think the 9th Age Dev. team has a great altruistic goal in mind, and are trying to help the community. There are great rules tweaks in there. They should keep building it (in whatever form it may end up).
    But different people want different things out of their game, and at times like these, the differences come out. It may be that 9th Age will become the "competitive distillation ruleset" of Warhammer 8th, like CoreHeim became for Mordheim. But non-competitive players will shun it, because they are looking for something different in the game. And that is fine, as long as we are comfortable with the rift this may create.
    PS: don't change the official names of the units, 9th Agers. You are signing your Ruleset's death sentence :P

  8. Keep up the good work! Youve been outting in the work that should of been done a long time ago

  9. A question - can I use Dogs of War units as mercenaries in other armies? If yes - how?

    1. Look in the Other downloads section and find the For Hire list. You can hire units in your army according to the unit designation: Special, Rare etc.

    2. Only the regiments of renown can be used in other armies, check the RoR book for their inclusion in the official armies. If you want to include generic mercs, you need to add them like an allied contingent (Pikemen + merc captain as a general for instance).

  10. One thing on Albion: isn't the level 4 mage overcost atm? 250 points in comparison to 200 (most of other human level 4 sourcereres). Just wanted to know, how came that.

    1. But thats why the mage is truly powerful. Strenght 4, WS4, 2 attacks, and the same Leadership than the normal general. And we're not mentioning the powerful triskele... Triskele+woad paint means Ward save 2+ vs magic :)

  11. By the time they cut out all the background it's no longer the same thing at all. And taking the Matt Ward out of the Elf books is the best idea I've heard out of any of these projects.

  12. Was wondering where you would shake out on this particular issue. Honestly? Glad to see where you landed.

    I don't say much here (or anything at all), but I've been following your work for a very long time. And I agree that 9th age is likely going to be a tournament scene ruleset, which makes sense since it's being written mainly by tourney players/organizers, for the same group. I like a more fluff based, fun approach to things, armies that can be built on a theme without being hamstrung, and I don't think I'm going to get that from 9th age.

    Looking forward to see how you approach things!

  13. 9th age is going for balance, not just tourney balance. It will make the fin fluff lists way more fun because almost any build will actually have a shot a winning. A big part of the project is removing the "auto includes" by toning down OP units and buffing the weaklings.

  14. I completely agree with you, having spent a considerable amount of time over there, it seems to be a mess. Moving away from the established background has my gaming group saying no way!

    Keep up the good work.

  15. It seems to me that we'r at the crossroads:

    1) we want that wfb has not disappeared - so we need constant support of a large number of players - ETC tournaments offer just that! and they'r using 9th Age.

    2) there are only six people and they obviously need help! - they have desided to change names & it can be understood (GW is watching) - You can get in touch with them and tell how to do it mostly painless) well as the rules & fluff.

    Loking for our success!

  16. & the last but not least: all of us can get tired of playing the same ruleset again and again for years, so it needs to develop, 8th editition is playable for some time (maybe years)...they'r trying to set 8.5 ruleset - it's interesting. Show them your work!

  17. I dig your site, I like what you do... but man... you come off as pretty arrogant on this one.

  18. Yes nice project, but the attitude is poor.

    Openhammer and 9th Age joined forces, maybe you can still join. It's pretty clear that it's better if there's one big initiative, and 9th has much better cards..

  19. I seriously object to comments on 'attitude'. I fin it really absurd to expect that someone who has been working on his own project of consistent effort and quality for years, to throw it alle out of the window and throw in his lot with a project in which he does not believe, end perhaps even goes int a direction he does not agree with and thinks my in the end not be viable.

    One could even ask the question whether the 9th age people should not have consulted Matthias before the went on their own project. But I don't, because i think everyone has the right to his own projects.

    Let a hundred flowers grow.

  20. Just wondering, what are those 4 other armybooks you consider good?

    1. Dwarfs of Chaos by Kevin Coleman
      Chaos Dwarfs by Thomas Heasman-Hunt
      Norse by Grim Squeaker
      Nippon by Tyler Stone

  21. First of all I just wanted to say "Thanks" for the updated Bretonnians.

    Here are some house rules that we use here in Eau Claire, WI that work well for us.

    Unit Strength: Took the rules for Unit Strength in previous edition and added it to our "8.5 ed"

    Flank and Rear charges/combats: Used the same rules as of 7th ed.

    Magic: Using current rules with following modifications
    Up to 2000: Caster gets 2D6 dice, Dispel gets highest number of dice
    2001-3000: Caster gets 3D6 dice, Dispel gets highest and lowest number of dice
    3001+: Caster gets 4D6 dice, Dispel gets the 2 highest number of dice

    Fear/Terror: Use modified 7th ed rules. 7th ed rules apply and test is taken every turn until passed. If passed then the only rule that is in effect is the autobreak if outnumbered unless Insane Courage kicks in.

    Removed the "pre-measure" option for all phases.


  22. Any chance you are thinking about making a sigmarite book?

    Also thanks for all your hard work on Dogs of War, they are one of my favorite books

    1. Based on the Sigmarines? Not from me, since they are not part of the Warhammer world.

      Glad you like the DoW book!

  23. You should really consider helping the 9th age people. I am merely a Warhammer fan looking for a home and while 9th age is not perfect I am currently leaning that way. However seeing your rules and knowing your style (I am an avid Bretonnian player and your book is amazing and I love using it) I think if you were to team up with the 9th age people you could guide them to the correct path. I am with you that they seem to be trying to soul suck warhammer (IE dropping the zany tables and flavor from units) which is something that I think many in the community do not want. I do not want however a million splinter ways to play I just feel like there has got to be a way for everyone to pull together. Please at the very least consider it one more time.

  24. I am inclined to agree. T9A is a poor knock-off, though it is far better than KoW — that game system is just retarded. I see this project as the only TRUE heir to Warhammer Fantasy and as long as it lives, Warhammer lives!

  25. "In my experience, these projects tend to run out of steam in the first 1-2 months and then finally die down altogether."

    Two years later... And we're still heeeeeere.