Marching Towards the Old World – 8th Edition

Hi All,
This is one of the more conflicting parts of the series for me. On the one hand, this edition was the one that killed Warhammer Fantasy. There are glaring issues with the rules as they were written, and it is easy to see a few are thinly-veiled cash grabs. Additionally, the army book balance is very bad in this edition, with armies having only one or two builds, a lack of any differentiation for sub factions. This edition appeared at a time when GW didn’t realize they could coax money out of players and instead relied on beating it out of them, which leaves a few scars. On the other hand, this edition saw the release of some of the most iconic models, the armies looked amazing and the rule book simplified and expanded magical items. With a few tweaks we have seen this rule set be adapted in a variety of ways that players ares still using.

Fantasy Skaven

What to Keep:
When I think of what aspects of this edition can be kept, I think there is more here than initially meets the eye. To start with the first major new addition, I like the Steadfast rule (for the most part). For the uninitiated, this allowed units with more ranks than an enemy unit to ignore certain negative modifiers for its leadership. It helped infantry stand up to small, elite cavalry blocks that dominated the game in 6th and 7th. Aside from this rule here are my other notes:

  • All magic items, weapons, etc being housed in the main rule book, not the army books.
  • Elimination of the Step-up rule, allowing surviving models the guaranteed ability to fight back.
  • Restrictions on duplicate magical items.
  • On the one hand I liked the focus on larger-scale units as it made the game look better but made it very hard to jump into the hobby.
  • The addition of stomp attacks to larger models.
  • Random charge distance.
  • Skirmishers ranking before combat.
  • Pre-measuring allowed.
  • Always Strikes First + Higher initiative means you re-roll failed hit rolls.
  • First two ranks of missiles units shoot.
  • Musicians allow units to swift-reform and still shoot.

What to Change:
As before I will bring up the Steadfast rule again. I think it should be negated by flank charges, or other shenanigans otherwise it is just too powerful. Additionally:

  • All elves always striking first in combat *facepalm* This was so dumb.
  • Bring back charging units fighting first in combat.
  • Winds of magic are too random, and spells are too good, thus one bad roll could end a game. Maybe a system where you get 1D6 + combined wizards levels for the number of dice. If that is too much maybe only 1/2 combined wizard level, rounded down.
  • Along that line tone down the power of the spells in general.
  • Get rid of the folding fortress item, GW’s first attempt to sell terrain as part of regular games.
  • Allow units to use magic items if they want, don’t force them to. There were situations where you had to use magic weapons even if they were a worse option.
  • Re-balance the army books, bring back kindreds, bloodlines etc.
  • Cannons are too accurate, add more randomness in their firing steps.

So there is a lot to both keep and change from this edition. I think these sentiments capture the complicated reactions from players that the edition elicited. I think you could make the argument this era represented the lowest points, and, in some ways the high points of Warhammer Fantasy (the models in particular, and the Island of Blood starter was an exceptional value). Hidden amongst the major changes that people still fight over, you have some real quality-of-life changes that made the game simpler and smoother.

What do you think? Are there any things from 8th edition that I missed or that you disagree with? Let me know in the comments!

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