Thoughts of a Newbie

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  • Thoughts of a Newbie

    Hi guys and girls

    I recently played my first proper games of 9th Age and I thought it may (or may not) be useful to give some feedback from my perspective as a newbie.

    Firstly a massive thanks to all the people who have put work into this project, the results are amazing and everyone should be very proud of what they have achieved to date.

    My background: my brother got me into 'the game that was' right before it was blown up (thanks bro). I played a couple of small games of 'that game' and enjoyed it a lot. Due to RW commitments I very rarely get to play but AoS was not for me so I thought we would play out 8th until we got bored of it. Then he showed me 9th Age and I have been watching with interest, now finally getting a few games in. I am a fan of strategy games (Total War etc) so have a basic grasp of tactics, I know you are going to be a sad panda if your horses charge a wall of spears and canons blow stuff up ...... that sort of thing. However I am new to table top stuff.

    As such I thought it may be of interest to those in charge to get a new players perspective. I play HBE because .... dragons won over dinosaurs (and IoB was cheapish) I have a decent selection of units. We played 1.3 rules probably wrong because they had only just been released. I played a few games against BH and WotDG. My opponent was experienced but helpful.

    Firstly it was loads of fun, even when I was getting massacred because I did something stupid. Anyway some thoughts:

    • Rules: The game is complex and as a newbie hard to grasp. I fully appreciate this is because it is a complex game (as it should be) however a beginners version or scaled down rules sheet would be really beneficial to break people in more gently. The RB is overwhelming to new players especially those who dont have someone to help them learn or no background in table top gaming. I remember reading this is in the pipeline once V2.0 is released and is something that I would fully endorse and feel it would be an asset to the project. That being said I felt the rules were well written and clear.
    • List building: I really like the idea that each army has its own percentages (heros/core etc) however I felt that it was a bit over complicated. Whilst I have very limited experience with both the old and new systems (and only HBE) I felt the execution was slightly more convoluted than it needed to be for example heros and ridden monsters being in different categories and most of HBE core being in two categories took a while to figure out. I use battlescribe which helps.
    • Magic: I like the new lores and have no issue with the reduction in them however personally quite liked having more even if there was overlap in spells. The games I played I mixed my lists to experiment with different units. One game I went magic heavy and felt it had very little impact on the game and the points were not worth it. I had a game with some magic and again it had little impact on the game. Last game I went no magic (aether icon) and played a wrath WotDG list. This was the most fun game and I didnt miss not having a magic phase (neither of us did). Personally I dont feel the results of the magic phase scaled with the points committed to it in the same way other phases do, maybe I am missing something and will find that sweet spot. I found it hard to justify an expensive magic phase as I never knew what spells I would get, I personally think that allowing mages to have greater control over the spells they take will make the magic phase more viable.
    • Unit customisation: I notice that recent editions have stripped away a lot of the unit options available (maybe HBE less so than others?) which I think is a shame but I understand new stuff will be added to the full AB's when released, I look forward to that.
    • Balance: To my very inexperienced eye the games seemed balanced and fun. There was no game I thought was an auto lose or win.
    • Art work and fluff: Wow.... for a project of volunteers it is staggering what has been achieved, there are some very talented people here.
    Some HBE specific stuff. I really like the book and think it has a lot of good stuff. Below is the stuff I struggled with (advice welcome) although I fully accept that my noobishness may be the issue here.
    • HBE characters: Maybe its my noobishness but HBE heros/lords seem... well ... crap. I tried a few variants and every time he got butchered by anything and everything. Am I missing something? Maybe I was unlucky with my roles but it didnt feel worth it to make a fighty lord on foot as he couldn't compete with other lords or heros. Even regular infantry chopped him/her up. My dragon was fun but I played against limited artillery.
    • Spearmen: I usually took a block of 30+. I appreciate they are the 'basic unit' but they dont seem to be either killy enough or defensive enough to do anything. Their only roles seems to be to have enough bodies to hold something up for the inevitable butchering or for a flank charge. They get lots of attacks but never did any wounds (against both other core and other cav) so usually lost combat by some way. I dont see how you could play them in anything other than a large block.
    • SM: awesome unit but hard to keep alive into combat always took a block of 20 as every game at least half of them got shot up (1 Hellcannon shot killed 11).
    • Mages: Magic never quite clicked for me seemed very expensive for what it did.
    Sorry for the wall of text I hope it is of some use and offers an alternative perspective. Thanks again to all those involved in making 9th Age happen, it will probably be a while before I get to play again but I look forward to it.
  • Welcome to tabletop games! I am really glad that you enjoyed your games :)

    I like the idea of a newbie-friendly document or tutorial (I have one in my native language written by fans, but something official would be nice).

    For list building, in WFB 6th edition instead of point percentages they used units, so for example at 2000 points in WFB 6th (4000 points in 9th age 1.3) you needed minimum 3 core units, 0-4 special units, 0-2 rare units, max. 4 characters, with 0-1 Lord and the rest Heros (Lords were Archmage and Prince for High Elves, Noble and Mage for Heros).
    This led to a lot of min-max in competitive games, where for example you would only take 3 minimum sized core units to make points for monsters, characters, elite units, etc. Or people would only take Chariots as core with Beastmen (facing a list of 12 Chariots was...annoying).

    The 9th Age uses both percentage points for different categories and 0-X limitations (for example Highborn Lancers are 0-4 if I remember correctly).
    The fact that Ridden Monsters count towards Characters and their own Category is to avoid lists where 75% of the points are monsters.
    It is a bit tricky in the beginning, but I think it does a good job to keep armies balanced and it is easily tunable if the designers want to modify the allowances.

    For Magic, I believe there is an ongoing discussion on how to rework the Magic system, since many people find it underwhelming.
    I haven't played 9th Age yet (I returned to tabletop wargaming very recently) so I don't have my own opinion on this.

    For questions related to HBE I would direct you to the HBE sub-forum, but some of the things you mention have been debated for years.

    Spearelves are indeed there to provide full ranks, be steadfast, and give some defense to your center typically, but you can't count on them to do many wounds unless they face T3 enemies. They are decent against cavalry (due to rules for Spears, they get AP(1) and Lethal Strike).
    You can use Spearelves as a unit to keep your mages safe, or as defense block to hold the enemy if you make your Battle Standard Bearer join them. By themselves they will hold maybe 1 or 2 rounds depending on what you are facing, but just 1 turn is enough for you to be able to countercharge if you positioned correctly.

    Swordmasters are a glass cannon unit, you take them to deal massive amounts of Wounds. Since they are T3 5+ SA models, they will indeed die to whatever shooting your enemy has, so you can opt for two strategies.
    The first one is take small blocks of 5 to 12 with champion and musician (or with nothing, but champion is pretty useful), and use them for countercharging enemies held by your Spearelves/FlameWardens/StubbornLions, or to threaten other small units. If the enemy shoots them well, they were not very expensive anyway and he is not shooting your big units like your Knights of Ryma or your Dragon or whatever expensive killy unit you took.
    The second one is big blocks of 20+, which you need to protect till they get to close combat since they are expensive, and this is usually achieved with Charm of Cursed Iron and with Druidism to Raise Wounds on your unit, and also to apply buffs to them (see other Druidism spells).

    By the way I haven't tried it yet but I think Divination is pretty strong to support HBE units. Have you tried it?

    Sorry for the long post, I hope you keep enjoying the game and welcome again!
    "They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library."
    Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

    The post was edited 5 times, last by elendor_f ().

  • Thanks for the advice all, really useful, hopefully I can put it into practice soon. I have been checking out the HBE sub-forums for further advice/guides etc and that is all really useful as well.

    elendor_f wrote:

    By the way I haven't tried it yet but I think Divination is pretty strong to support HBE units. Have you tried it?
    I have only tried Pyromancy so far (only played a few games) but will certainly experiment and try divination next game. Ill try different SM unit sizes as well to see how that works. I really like the unit so I'm keen to utalise them as best as possible.

    Marcos24 wrote:

    Also don't forget you can try and block line of sight from shooters using bigger troop types to place in between. And if you use smaller units of SM they become easier to hide and maneuver while another unit tries to take the ranged units out!
    Thanks, ill give this a go next game.

    nmaier wrote:

    The most important takeout? You had loads of fun! That is great to hear.
    Definitely, I am looking forward to getting a game in again!

    Thanks all.