Orcs & Goblins Army Book review
A new army book for the greenskins is being released in these days and I got mine a little early. Hurrah! Even better, I have had opportunities to try out the list in battle using an approximate version of the list based on the preview copy my local store received several weeks ago (I have a good memory).
Time for a review, I say!
- The Bestiary
- Waaagh! Magic
- Shiny Stuff
- The Army List
- The Orcs & Goblins Army
- Comparing the editions
- Looking towards the future
Compared to what we got in the previous version (two short stories), this is quite lengthy, though it suffers from the designers apparently not being able to find anything interesting to say about greenskins other than that they fight. Thus there is only a little more than a page on greenskins in general before the book continues to talk about the exploits of the special characters listed in the book with the sections Waaagh Gorbad, Waaagh Grom and so on. This is actually quite enjoyable and well-written, though I do wish there had been something on greenskin tribes, settlements and similar.
In the background of the greenskins, nothing much has changed, though it appears that Grom, on his way through the Empire, laid siege to Middenheim and even entered the city itself, which I don't think I have seen mentioned elsewhere.
Of recent events, there is a tiny mention of the Storm of Chaos, though you might get the idea that Grimgor fought in it all by himself. No mention of hordes of greenskins rampaging over the Empire.
Near the end of this section there is a full page map showing the various rampages of the greenskins, though they seem to have forgotten to put in Waaagh! Azhag (or maybe it just overlapped with Waaagh! Gorbad too much). In addition to the well known ones there are also a lot of little Waaagh!s not mentioned anywhere else, such as the Lost Waaagh! which fittingly disappears off the map!
The final part of the Background section is a page and a half of timeline listing significant events involving greenskins. There are a few new additions here, including a mention of the Goblin Warlord Gorblum, which I believe is the one featured in the battle report of the 4th / 5th edition Orcs & Goblins army book.
The art in the book is over all very good, with a mix of new and older pieces. After reading the new rulebook, where so much of the art was taken from regiment boxes I was quite pleased by this. As usual, when there are enemies that are getting a thumping it's mainly Empire troops, though there are a couple of pictures of elves and dwarfs as well. Nowhere are the greenskins pictured fighting anything else, which is a bit dull - no orcs battling the undead or chaos, for example.
This section contains all the rules for the various units and now also the special characters, each of which has a page or two at the end of this section. A bit odd, but there you go. A good thing here is that each special rule is only listed once (with one or two very minor exceptions), which helps make sure there is not accidentally two slightly different rules for the same ability in the book. On the downside, it requires more flipping back and forth to find the rule you are looking for.
The first two pages deal with the special rules that apply for the whole army. These rules are not listed in the individual entries, again saving space, which is very limited in any greenskin army book. The rules are Animosity, Waaagh! and Size Matters. These three are the most significant changes to the army book (besides magic items) and are what you as a greenskin player must you to your advantage if you want to win. Because they are mainly advantages.
Animosity is now much less of a problem for the greenskins and also much quicker to test for at the start of a turn. You start on one side of the table and work your way across, rolling a dice for each. On a 1 then unit stays put and squabbles, on a 6 they move forward a bit and on anything else they behave as normal. They have eliminated the more amusing results where a unit would shoot or charge its friends, but on the whole these results took a lot of time for very little actual difference. The changes to Animosity makes all units that have to test for this better than they were in 6th edition. The net result is that your army is getting faster, though not all units will be moving at the same speed, despite having the same Movement rate. Coordinating your advance is thus more difficult, unless those who got lucky and ran forward are willing to wait for those who did not.
Waaagh! is a new rule, and I really wish they had called it something
slightly different to differentiate it from the spell with the same name.
Basically it can be called at the start of any of your turns, and gives a bonus
to your Animosity test depending on the unit's race, rank bonus and any fighty
characters accompanying it. A roll of a 1 is still a Squabble regardless of
modifiers and if you Squabble during a Waaagh! the unit takes D6 Wounds (yes,
Wounds, not hits). This rule greatly benefits large units of Orcs and is a
problem for expensive units and units with few or no ranks. It is less of a
benefit for Goblins, since their rank bonus bonus to the test caps at +1, thus a
Goblin unit is much less likely to rush forward than an Orc unit. The reason given
for this is that the squeeky voices of the Goblins are incapable of giving a proper
"Waaaagh!" and having been to a Games Day in the UK and heard all the little kiddies
shouting "Waaagh!" at the top of their little voices, I can agree with that, though
I feel that the cap should have been set at +2 rather than +1.
In practice this has proven to make Orc infantry a lot faster than Goblin infantry. A player who wants the most out of this rule will thus take more units of Orc Boy than before and less Goblins, Boar Boyz and elite Orc infantry. Strangely enough Orc Boyz do not go up in points cost, while all the others do. This does not make a lot of sense to me and seems like a classical example of over-compensating. In any case initial field trials has shown that Waaagh! wins games.
The Size Matters rule is just an extension of the old Ignore Goblin Panic and Ignore Greenskin Panic rules and is basically a list of the various races, saying which ignore Panic caused by which others. I was a bit confused by this rule, since taken literally it says that enemy units cannot cause Panic in Trolls unless they are Trolls themselves.
Out of the minor special rules, the choppas are probably the ones that has received the most attention. They are now hand weapons, only better, which makes me wonder where those highly talented orc smiths are hiding. Personally, speaking as a player in general rather than as a greenskin player, I think they overdid the choppas a bit. Getting the extra armour save in combat and getting the bonus if you wield two choppas and getting it even if you are the one being charged is a bit more than they need. On the positive side it makes big units of Orc Boyz a lot better, but on the other hand they just got a great boost from Waaagh! for no cost increase and don't really need it.
The other special rule that has been most altered is Quell Animosity, which now only applies to Black Orc characters and not to Black Orc units and only works on the unit the character is with, letting you pass a failed Animosity test in exchange for causing hits on the unit. This change makes both Black Orc units and the units that would previously have received the Animosity re-roll worse than before. Personally I suspect that a choice was made early on to not require extra Hero slots for Black Orc characters and toning down Quell would then follow as a necessary change. I personally feel this makes Black Orc characters a bit too tempting, though. They are the only thing that can stop Squabbling and if you Squabble during a Waaagh! you take hits rather than wounds. Well worth the extra few points now that they no longer take up extra Hero choices.
The last new special rule, Armed to da Teef is hardly a special rule at all, though apparently it was one for quite some time during play testing. All this little rule does it makes you count as having two choppas and a great axe. Now, for Black Orc units, this is a bit pointless, since with the new Choppa rule they will have the choice of two Strength 5 attacks or a single Strength 6 attack in the first round of combat - not much choice there. It is worth noting that while there is a rule saying you lose the Armed to da Teef rule if you buy a magical weapon, there is no rule saying that a Black Orc Battle Standard Bearer cannot benefit from it. This could be intentional (in which case it is strange) or it could be an oversight (in which case it is sloppy).
I won't write too much about these, as I am quite frankly not interested in special characters and they could have left them out completely for all I care. However I am a bit concerned that they now seem to be pushing them even more than before, with them only counting as a single Lord each and the background material being almost entirely focused on the exploits of these special characters. I seriously hope this is not a policy change made because someone up in the system felt that the special character models did not sell that well.
Anyway, the characters themselves seem rather dull, though it might just be me who doesn't like special characters. None come with interesting alterations to the army list and in terms of specialness are more in line with the 5th edition ones.
For special rules that only apply to a single unit, see the army list section below.
This section has been shaken up and swapped around a bit. The first thing they have done is to alter the way the Little and Big Waaagh! works. Now all Goblins use the Little Waaagh! and all Orcs use the Big Waaagh! I myself rarely used a Great Shaman, so this is an opportunity to use spells I rarely got to use before. On the downside, this means that Little Waaagh! got more difficult with five of the six spells being 8+ or higher, bumping the average casting level up from 7.5 to 8.17. Meanwhile, Big Waaagh! gets a bit easier to cast (down to an average casting cost of 7.83 from the previous 8.17).
Looking at the spell lists, I am surprised that they did not follow the layout from the lores in the rulebook, where the number for each spell was given next to the description of the spell itself and not as a separate list at the top of the page. That way there was no repeating of the same info, which wasted space. Similarly, where the rulebook has separated flavour text and the effect of the spell and even put the flavour text in italics, this is not done here, making for an over all more confusing layout.
New spell of this season is the Gaze of Gork (similar to the
Gaze of Mork, but better at sneaking through armour and worse at clobbering
tough foes, which you would really think Mork was better at) and the return of
Mork Wants Ya, which lets you do a world of hurts on low Initiative
models. Gork'll Fix It has been drastically altered and now makes an
enemy unit count a lot (though not all) the 6s it rolls as 1s instead.
Skink-haters will love this one. As I suspected, 'Eadbutt has also been
improved, going up in Strength but down in casting cost.
Waaagh! has also been altered, letting all your units in combat effectively benefit from Bash 'em Ladz in addition to getting extra movement! A game winner if it happens at the right moment, but with the downside that your war machine crew will run away from their war machines as well. This follows the trend of having super spells as the #6 spell, but I don't really think it was a very good decision to improve it this much.
Off the list is Mork Save Uz, much to the disappointment of Warpath fans, and just to rub it in, the chance of a re-stop has also gone down. 'Ere We Go is also gone, which I am personally more sad about.
Over all, the lores seem to encourage Orcs for your low-level shamans, who have three spells that are cast on 7+ or less, compared to only one such spell for the Goblins.
The way to generate extra magic dice has also been altered and is now only 1 dice more or less and does not depend on the distance to any shamans. This seems a bit dull, and I get a feeling that they really wanted to keep a remnant of the old rule and this was the best they came up with. Again, large units of Orc Boyz get a bonus, since they are the easiest way of getting that extra Power dice.
The Miscast table is a lot more friendly than it used to, with the odds of dying being reduced from something like 50% in 6th edition to about 25%. Presumably this is because Waaagh! magic is a lot closer to normal magic and thus it would be unreasonable to have an extremely deadly Miscast table. The old, entertaining "Imagine you're a squig" is out and instead we have a result where the Shaman becomes subject to both Frenzy and Stupidity at the same time.
Besides the special rules, this is the section that has seen the most changes and almost all items are now either new or substantially altered. There are now about a dozen magic weapons and the same number of enchanted items, and there seems to be a decent number of interesting combos to make (I am currently having a blast with a wolf-riding Goblin Big Boss with the One Hit Wunda and Brimstone Bauble). On the downside there are only two pieces of Magic Armour and four Talismans, though they are all decent, so that's not much of a problem.
It is far more annoying what they have done with the Arcane Items. We get five: two who seem horribly overcosted, two who seem horribly risky and one that seems okay but which is defensive and dull. There are no items costing more than 10 pts but less than 40, which means there are very fun interesting combos to make. Booooring! With little fun to be had with magic, my instinct at the moment is to go all defensive with a lvl 1 Night Goblin Shaman with the Staff of Sneaky Stealin' and / or Mork's Spirit-totem somewhere. If I take both that's 7 Dispel dice for me and one less Power dice than normal for my opponent for a total cost of 150 pts.
On the plus side, the weapons are affordable (though often random) and a lot of the Enchanted items are entertaining. The Magic Standards are okay-ish, though as I feared they failed to make the Bad Moon on a Stick (previously the Bad Moon Banner) even remotely useful. I must credit the writers with coming up with the first 100 pt magic weapon I have ever wanted to use, the new and improved Battleaxe of the Last Waaagh! (though naturally, when I first field-tested the weapon I got six misses and only a single hit when needing 3s or more).
Expect a fuller review of the greenskin magic items at some later date.
It is worth noting right away that despite a heap of rumours to the contrary, there are absolutely no rules forcing you to theme your army in any way in the slightest. You do not need Black Orc characters to take extra Black Orc units, you will not be able to take 2 Goblin Wolf Chariots as a single Special choice under any circumstance and so on.
It is also worth noting that there are no units that are 0-1 per army at all, apart from the limit on 1 of each type of Big 'Un. Speaking of Big 'Uns, that is indeed also the only restriction on them, you do not need a unit of normal 'uns to be able to take Big 'Uns, for example, and it is possible to have more than one unit of Big 'Uns in the army. However, the cost of upgrading a unit to Big 'Un status has doubled, so it is debatable if they are worth it at all in the new book, especially with all the rules favouring big units.
From the previous three pages dedicated to the Lords, this edition has one page, plus an extra page for the special characters, who are now all just a single Lord each. This has been done by gathering the various Orc Warbosses, Orc Great Shamans, etc. in the same place. This makes sense, since they generally have the same options anyway. One effect of this is that Savage Orc characters now have the same options for mounts as their less deranged cousins, being able to rider chariots and Wyverns, in addition to boars. In fact, all Orc Lords can now ride a Wyvern, should you so choose.
As mentioned above, Black Orcs are now just a single Lord each, and it seems that to make the different flavours of Orcs equally attractive, all three types of Orc Warboss should now be Strength 5. This favours both fighter Lords over spellcasters and makes great weapons less compulsory (something which is further helped by the cheaper magic weapons). The normal Orc goes up a little in cost in exchange for this, while the Savage Orc Warboss gets an even better deal, staying the same cost as before, while getting Strength 5 and Warpaint included in the base cost (the last is true for all Savage Orcs).
The Orc Great Shamans go up in Toughness, presumably to make them more tempting compared to Goblin Great Shamans, while staying the same cost. This is weighed up, however, by not getting access to a better spell lore than normal Shamans.
Over all, I think they managed to get a decent balance between the different types of Orc Lords and the various Goblin Great Shamans. What I am missing, however, is any reason to take a Goblin Warboss other than points cost and wanting a themed army. A simple little note that a Goblin Warboss let you give one unit of Goblins in the army a Magic Standard worth up to 50 pts would have made both them and a couple of the Goblin-only Magic Standards much more attractive.
It is worth mentioning that the old note saying that chariots ridden by characters were selected as separate Special units is now gone and characters with an option to ride in one now just have it listed like any other mount, including a cost. I assume that this now means that they do not take up separate Special choices, which more or less makes up for having our Special choices even more dear than before.
On the subject of mounts, this book reintroduces the old Gigantic Spider and presents the new Great Cave Squig. To be honest the Squig does not seem very great to me (you can't join units, move randomly and will have pretty much no save, not a good thing for a character). Gigantic Spiders, on the other hand, seem much more tempting and I have an old model I am willing to dust off. Both models lack any mention of which type of base they should be on, which they really should have included.
Similarly to Lords, this is greatly condenced and only takes up two pages. It also looks as if they got the wording on the Battle Standard upgrade just about right (this rule is traditionally in need of errata, strangely enough) apart from the Armed to da Teef Black Orc BSB, which may or may not be intentional.
Contrary to what I had hoped, there is no rule at all giving you access to more Goblin Big Bosses under any circumstance, which is sad. However, if you go all magic-defensive (as I currently am), then you save a character slot or two which can be used on a Goblin with a couple of fun magic items.
Black Orc Big Bosses are down in Strength, which parallells the other Orc Warbosses going up in Strength, and is probably caused by him being a single Hero choice. Still, 15 poits for +1 WS, Armed to da Teef and Quell Animosity is quite nice and you get the option for heavy armour. Thus again the normal Orc Big Boss does not seem nearly as tempting as in the previous version and in my current greenskin army both Orc characters are Black Orcs riding around on boars.
New addition here are the Spider Riders, who cost the same as Wolf Riders with effectively the same equipment (they get shields instead of light armour) and are probably slightly inferiour, though they will probably find their way into my army. Wolf Riders go up a couple of points and come with a 6+ save as standard, which is more or less okay (you've got to have fast cavalry), while this save being provided by light armour rather than a shield is not as it messes up how I have assembled my army. Having a heap of Wolf Riders with shields who previously were Fast cavalry, I now have to remove their shields and do some repainting. I suspect that this is done because of some policy alteration forbidding armour upgrades for units to make armies more WYSIWYG, but in that case it is a stupid reason.
Other victims of this silly policy are Common Goblins (now just called Goblins) who go up a point and start with light armour instead of shields. At a stroke my previously 90 point Goblin spear units go up to 150 pts and will probably never see battle again. Thank you so much, Matt Ward, for making so many of my units so overpriced it's not funny. Nobody in their right mind bought a Goblin with spear, shield and light armour when it was 4 points and now it's 5 points instead.
Night Goblins get a slightly better deal since they at least still start with shields and Night Goblins with short bows stay 3 points. I have tried to field a couple of units of 20 Night Goblin archers in my battles so far, and they have yet to earn a single Victory point.
It is also worth noting that the cheapest Goblin unit is now more expensive than the cheapest Orc (or Snotling) unit, which makes them less attractive as support units. You could try to use them as regular combat units, but with all the new rules favouring Orcs over Goblins, I can't see much point in it. It seems very arbitrary to make Goblins more expensive and Orcs better.
Netters for Night Goblins now no longer require micro-management of who they hit and so on. They now work all the time (you roll a dice and probably reduce the Strength of an enemy unit in contact by 1), are a unit upgrade rather than a model upgrade and on a larger unit are probably as good as light armour. The rules lack any note of whether or not a unit netter by two different units of Night Goblins get -2 Strength and if so what happens if you reduce their Strength to 0.
Fanatics have their rules shortened, though not particularly simplified. Specifically, they now have no listed protection from Leadership-based worries, which begs the question of whether or not you can Panic them or what effect hitting them with a spell or similar that would make them Frenzied or Stupid has. Furthermore, there is no note of whether or not the Waaaagh! spell, for example, affects them. Aaaaand, there is no note on whether a surviving Fanatic means the enemy does not get full Victory points for a parent unit of Night Goblins that has been wiped out. In fact, it is still not clear (in fact it is less clear) whether or not Fanatics should be considered units at all in the normal sense of the term.
I was really hoping that the designers would see sense (i.e. that an extra WS2 S3 attack is not worth 8 pts) and cut the price on Goblin Bosses, but they appear not to. Damn.
Other than that, Orcs get a few weapon options cheaper (spears and bows), while Savage Orcs go up two points and come with Warpaint included. I am not sure whether Orcs with spears, Arrer Boyz or Savage Orcs will be particularly good in this version. People have claimed that by making Arrer Boyz only cost a single point more than similarly-equipped Orc Boyz, they become useful, but the problem with Arrer Boyz was only partially their cost, the problem was just as much that you got a missile unit that misbehaved in one out of every six turns (now two out of six turns, but one of those is not as bad as the other) and which took up a lot of space for a unit with mediocre range, Ballistic skill and Strength. I hap hoped to get some sort of volley fire rule in either the rulebook or army book, but I was wrong.
Snotlings get cheaper, but swap their Unbreakableness for being Stubborn on a Leadership of 4 (it's most likely to make them less reliable and not intended as a benefit at all) and Immunity to Psychology. Being now the cheapest, unlimited unit in the army with a unit strength high enough to claim or contest table quarters, I can see some decent use in these gits. And they can block line of fire from enemy missile fire without every worrying about Panic and Animosity. A quite nice change and they now feel much more appropriate than the previous version.
It seems that the designers agreed that the idea of merging the two different types of Squig units into one in 6th edition was a bad idea, since they are now back to two different units again. Yet again they are a bit cheaper if you just look at the unit costs (a large Herd was cheaper in the old edition, since you could bulk out the ranks with cheap Goblins, while you are now limited to two Goblins per 3 Squigs). To prevent unduly long Compulsory Movement phases, Squig Herds now do hits to all nearby units when they break and are then removed (they are Immune to Psychology, so they won't Panic). Effectively what you get is a more expensive Herd than in last edition, but one which is also Immune to Psychology and which will not cause a roadblock when it dies. I am not sure that is an overall good trade.
Squig Hoppers now come in units (our one and only skirmishers!) and move more or less quick enough to be able to do something. In theory, at least. So far mine have yet to successfully charge something. The rules for them could have been better written as it appears to be impossible to change formation with them - whichever formation you start them in is the one they will keep until they get into combat.
Black Orcs get more expensive and lose the ability to Quell Animosity in return for getting an additional choppa and a great axe at 1 pt less than they would have paid previously (had they had the option to choose both). I don't think this is a good trade-off. Furthermore, the Boss went down in Strength but up in cost. What is this, a further attempt to make more Champions ridiculously overpriced?
And for the surprise of the season, Boar Boyz of both types go up four points each for no improvement beyond the general improvements to the army, which are of dubious value for a unit which had few ranks and will now have even fewer, since they just went up in cost. Understand it those who can. Boar Boyz were not particularly good at their old cost and would in fact be quite reasonable at that price with the new Animosity and Waaagh! rules, if you ask me.
Otherwise the Special choices remain much the same as they were. Wolf Chariots get a tiny bit cheaper and are no longer 1-2 per Special, but that is about it. Bullies are slightly more useful in that war machines with one ignore panic caused by Goblins, but I can't imagine that happening all that often. As with the old version of the book, I suspect that my Special choices will be split more or less evenly between chariots and war machines. I may occasionally use Squigs, though I doubt I will field Black Orcs or Boar Boyz very often (it was the other way around in the previous version).
Firstly and most obviously the option for Dogs of War is out, to be replaced at some later date by a separate Mercenary book or something similar (or not).
Secondly, basic Trolls get cheaper, while the upgraded Trolls stay the same (or, in the case of Stone Trolls, get more expensive and get a rather miserable armour save). Was this just to make the upgraded Trolls similar in cost to the Chaos Troll? Who wants to pay 20 pts per model to give a unit of Trolls magic resistance and scaly skin? Basic Trolls, though, are now quite nice and can be taken in units as small as a single Troll, which opens up some nice possibilities. A single Troll is effectively impossible to Panic, doesn't cause Panic in anything else (due to its low unit strength), has good movement, can fight decently, regenerates and causes Fear. Oaky, so even with an Orc Warboss nearby it will still misbehave in one out of every six turns, but in the greenskin army it doesn't get much better than this anyway. I'm quite happy with this change.
Doom Divers have swapped the re-roll Scatter dice ability with one where you can correct the spot you hit slightly after scattering, which I on the whole believe is an improvement. Oddly enough they have lost the option for Bullies, something I cannot understand but which does not appear to be an oversight.
Giants are pretty much as before, though as with any re-print of the rules they get slightly better written each time.
Pump Wagons are now finally 1-2 per Rare choice (they are so random that using them in 6th edition was a matter of pure luck), however, they suffer quite considerably from not being Unbreakable anymore and instead following the same psychology rules as other Snotlings. Thus they make easy victims for light units of fast cavalry instead of being a problem for them. The Pump Wagon rules do not make a mention of what happens if they run into one of their own unit, so presumably they just stop when they reach them (the same applies to Squig Hoppers).
At the end of this section is the summary sheet listing all the stats of all the models in the army. On page 58, instead of in the back where they would be easy to find. Stupid!
The summary at the start of the book has this to say for this section: "Contains pictures of the Citadel Miniatures that make up the Orcs & Goblins army" and that is exactly what it is. If you were hoping for painting advice, for example, then you will be disappointed, because this is all advertising. Whereas the previous version of the army book actually had a halfway decent section here, giving plenty of advice for painting, this has a few selected colour schemes and that's it. Naturally the Giant gets a whole page to himself.
This seems to be following a policy trend, though at least it is not as bad as the Lustria book, which featured pictures of Skaven units that could not fielded in the variant Skaven army list included in the book.
Also included in this section is a sample army list (with a Giant, of course) containing a rather high number of silly unit builds - such as an Orc Warboss on foot armed with a choppa and carrying no protective magic items at all. They did not have to feature a hardcore tournament list in this section, but slightly more sense would have been appreciated.
Since I have both the two previous versions of the army book, I thought I would
Note that fractions of pages are counted so if a page in the bestiary is one half picture of some greenies, one quarter flavour text and one quarter rules, then it counts as half a page of artwork, a quarter page of background and a quarter page of rules. Yes, counting page fractions was really dull, in case you were wondering...
(Note that the 4th edition army book was essentially identical to the 5th edition one and before that there were no separate army book for each race.)
|5th edition||6th edition||7th edition|
|Number of pages in total||120||80||80|
|Assembling an army||8.0||-||2.0|
As you can see, compared to the previous edition, there has been a reduction in the following:
- The amount of actual rules has been shortened. In some places, this can be a good thing (substituting a long, unclear rule for a short and clear one), but as I explained above, the rules are often not so clear. In fact, considering that a number of units have been added or reintroduced to the army list since the previous edition one would rather expect the amount of rules to stay relatively stable.
- Any idea of including tactics has been dropped and replaced by a two page spread of a sample army.
What have we got instead?
- Slightly more background material and, indeed, better background material as well. This is a good thing.
- More artwork, though a lot of it is old.
- More pictures of painted miniatures. To be honest, the previous version of the army book did have a lot of pictures of painted miniatures as well, though at least there were painting tips accompanying them.
Frankly, the book seems a bit too much geared towards selling miniatures for my liking. The hobby content is next to zero, there is nothing useful with regards to assembling an army and and nothing at all where tactics are concerned.
Explanation of the categories
- Pages: Total number of pages, minus cover
- Rules: What you bring your army book to a battle for. Includes bestiary entries as well as the army list itself plus magic and magic items.
- Background: Flavour text, short stories and similar. Maps which show where greenskins live and rampage is counted as background and not artwork.
- Artwork: Drawings of all kinds.
- Tactics: How to use your army.
- Assembling an army: Sample armies and similar. Generally thinly disguised adverts and high on pictures (since the 5th and 7th edition feature unpainted and painted models respectively, I have counted pics in this section towards the page count for assembling an army).
- Painting tips: How to paint your models. Suggestions for colour schemes and banner designs are also counted in this category.
- Painted models: Models painted by the GW painters, without tips on how to do this yourself. If there are tips, the pics count towards the category above instead.
- Summaries: Repeats of information given elsewhere.
- Battle reports: Only the 5th edition book had this.
- Blatant adverts: Putting a picture of a boxed set or another army book in the army book with no content value at all. The line between this and the "assembling an army" section is generally very vague.
- Other: Index pages, intros and so on.
So, what am I changing about my army, then? After discovering that the my army as whole was getting more expensive, as I saw it there were two choices: I could either kick out a few units that were no longer pulling their weight and just settle for a smaller army, or I could swap to units that went up in price for units that stayed more or less the same. I went for the second option, kicking out my Orc Big 'Uns and the common Goblins with spears and shields in exchange for two units of normal Orc Boyz and a unit of 20 Night Goblins with short bows. Other minor changes have also been done, such as cutting down on Shamans and making all my Orc fighting characters Black Orcs and mounting them on boars. The result is an army that is larger than before, but where there is only a tiny handful of models with a WS of more than 3. Waaagh! wins games, and with large units of Orcs, I am more likely to get the most out of it.
Previously, my Special and Rare choices were more or less evenly split between chariots and artillery, with Black Orcs and Boar Boyz used now and then. Squigs and Troll were almost never used. Now, I still use mainly chariots and artillery (though more Boar Chariots than Wolf Chariots) and sometimes take Squigs and Trolls. Black Orcs and Boar Boyz, however, look like they will mainly spend their days packed away and not seeing much action.
I must say that I am disappointed. There are so many things in the army book that just seems arbitrary and so many wasted opportunities. This applies both to the army list itself, but also to such things as the hobby section (they don't call it that, and for good reason) and the background. Anyhow, it will certainly be possible to make a competitive army list with the new book, but there are some units whose costs have very little relation to how useful they are. Furthermore, there is just as much reason to theme armies now as in the previous version (i.e. none at all) which is annoying for those who have faced Night Goblin armies led by Black Orcs and was hoping for some restrictions. Yes, some abusive options have been removed or made a lot less viable, but so have a lot of very reasonable options.
Considering how the latest incarnation of the Dwarf Army Book turned out, I was expecting to be a lot happier with the new book than I actually am. It just seems like a lot of policy changes have been applied from the top down with little regard for the consequences (so it's quite a bit like the latest version of the Rulebook). Common Goblins getting a kick in the teeth with the combined consequence of "There shall be no super-cheap infantry" and "There shall be no more armour upgrades for units" being one consequence. Similarly, there seems to have been a policy stating "Cavalry is too good, jack up the cost" and then nobody bothered to go and check with greenskin players how useful Boar Boyz actually were.
Anyway, field testing has thus far revealed the following:
- The army on the whole is getting faster, though not all units will be moving equally fast, despite having the same Movement value. In particular Orc infantry are outracing the Goblin infantry, since Goblins don't Waaagh! properly and you probably don't want to place Black Orc characters in Goblin units to keep them from Squabbling.
- The army on the whole is getting more expensive. Having converted some older army lists to the new rules, it appears that my mixed Orcs & Goblins army is getting about 5% more expensive. Armies with a greater number of models that now go up in price - such as all-goblin armies - will be hit even harder.
- The expensive Orc units (Big 'Uns, Black Orcs and Boar Boyz) are now even more expensive and start losing their rank bonus sooner than before, thanks to the new rule for rank bonuses. Since it has been pretty much agreed that expensive infantry was not much good in 6th edition and will be even worse in 7th, this seems like an odd change to me.
On the whole, some things get better (often with little regard for how much this was needed) and some things get worse (again with little regard for need), while the army as a whole (if used well) is probably a bit more powerful, a bit more random and a bit more dull.
It does appear - and this is of course a gross simplification but it occured to me - that the author of the army book was handed one sheet of paper of policy changes, a second sheet listing the things he was instructed to work on and a scribbled note to refer to the old 5th edition army book for everything else that came up.
Furthermore, the actual rules are often quite unclear and the layout is rather messier than it should have been.
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