Its been a long time in coming but the 9th age has released version 1.2. If you want to see what is going on and what all the noise is about, get yourself over to here and have a good look:
Now, lets not beat about the bush, the update to 1.2 contains a significant update to Magic and Army building. There is stream lining to a few rules but the first two is where its all happening and has the community up in arms.
However, there is a portion of the community whom haven't really fully understand what is going on. Now I will admit to not knowing the full picture, I assist with the Hobby Animation team, but having played Warhammer since the 3rd edition, I like to think I can read between the lines. So what does reading between the lines tell me, lets take a look.
So lets start from the beginning. I mean all the way back to the beginning to fully understand my own logic.
Many moons ago, GW created Warhammer. A fun game that became the beast that creates the large shadow cast by Games Workshop today. The game pretty much defined fantasy war gaming for nearly 30 years and collected a huge fan base. Over the years, GW constantly changed Warhammer, and when I mean constantly and huge, I mean constantly and huge. Each edition came with major changes to rules. Going from 3rd to 4th meant a huge change to magic, combat and army building and a lot of people I know playing at the time stopped. 4th to 5th saw the magic change as the 8 lores where lost and replaced with battle magic. That didn't last long and 6th came along with the lores back again but without cards, and was possibley the best received edition GW has ever done. Eventually we role around to the 8th. The change from 7th to 8th saw more people quitting then I don't know what, yet 8th became one of the most fun and loved editions of Warhammer that GW ever did. Then they went and flushed everything down the pan. Idiots.
However, since the 3rd, one thing has remained constant. The need to redo Warhammer, the need to redo the army books was never built on the dreams of the developers, but built on the decisions by bean counters. I know this because of the being a play tester. Each edition saw new models added and when these models where added, they came with sparkly new rules which meant you had to buy the model in order to stay with the rest of the pack. In other words GW where making you buy more whilst making you feel good about it. Problem is, this led to power creep and unbalance, it led to books being redone with large large gaps between them, and even then, sometimes never fixing old problems. It also led to
So, we have this dark shadow of a beast that is Games Workshop. In recent years they have gone after some strange IP breaches, but they have shown that if they want to, they will take you to down to Chinatown and back. Yes people whom may have made these decisions have moved on, but policies don't and no one wants to put months, years even of work into a project only for some fancy lawyer to come along and shut it down.
Where does T9A edition fit into this? Well, here is my old cantankerous look on it.
T9A is a spiritual successor to Warhammer. It is NOT Warhammer. It can never be Warhammer, because of the IP (intellectual property) that GW owns. What do I mean? Can't they just change the fluff? Unfortunately not. Changing of the fluff doesn't work, because changing a book cover doesn't work. Well if they get shut down just move the server to another location like Russia is another common moan I hear. Why doesn't this work? Whilst Mother Russia will not give two hoots about GW being upset, GW can still go after people in EU countries which access this server just like they have gone after EU re-casters despite them having a server in China.
So, okay I hear you say, but if you change the fluff, what other possible IP part could GW hold?
Think about this really carefully. I mean really carefully. Okay, thought? Lets see if we match. Most of the changes that have occurred for this edition I believe are down to ensuring that T9A is not affected by IP.
One is the 8 lores of magic for each of the old 8 colleges of magic. That was all GWs thoughts and designs, not T9A. Racial magic was also a complete GW idea. This is technically IP. But lets also look at this from another way. Look at all the old spell decks. Most of them contained one or two magic missiles, a hex or two and then one major spell which defined that lore, so there was a huge amount of redundancy. I mean if you put a line through all those magic missiles and hexes which where all but the same, there was very little left.
So T9A could have faced with an IP problem as well as having to look after so many spells which made balancing difficult. Don't get me wrong, I loved having all those spells but until someone sat me down and showed me how much duplication there was and how little flavour that really existed I didn't see it for myself. So by changing the magic, the T9A has first of all created 10 unique paths of magic that are really really interesting. Each one has its own proper flavour, its own magic juice which defines the path. Additionally each race has a carefully selected amount of paths it can access. No longer can almost half the army books get access to all spell paths, in fact no army can access all the spells. Yes that's a huge change, but really when you look at it, it actually works pretty well. Even for say something like Undying Dynasties (Tomb Kings) and Vampire Covenant (Vampire Counts) it works really well.
Its worth point out this is not final, T9A continues to ask for valid feedback gained through battles on the table so if things aren't right, they can be continued to be tweaked. When did you see GW doing that last?
Now what about army composition I hear you ask? This is pretty simple actually, but lets break it down. First off, points are doubled. Why? Two reasons, the first, the logical valid point, is that it makes changing a models value much easier and this is called granularity. Sometimes there have been times when they want to adjust a model up or down the smallest amount, but that brings us into using decimals (0.5, 0.25) which is great, but decimals get lost along the way, whole numbers are much easier to understand. My other more highly cynical view is that again it takes T9A away from GW. Now we know from the old Intel vs AMD years that Intel realised they couldn't copyright numbers and hence we went from the old 486s to names like Wolfdale and Ivy Bridge. So why the cynical view if you cant copyright a number? My reply? Why give anyone any ammunition?
So what is all the extra choices selections I hear you ask? Simple, to stop abusive builds. Does this work 100%? Unknown, I think there is a few further tweaks to be had, but again this is another great part about the project, things can be tweaked further down the line, I don't have to wait 4 years and cross my fingers. It also promotes certain styles of play for each army. TBH all styles of play are possible but some are harder to achieve now. Again a small tweak that helps with game play and the cynical part of me sees it as a small step again away from that GW shadow.
A lot of the community expected points change to make certain things more competitive or to tweak items down but this wasn't on the agenda. That's for 1.3
So those are the major changes, what little tweaks have occurred? Most of them a minor rules changes to stop abuses happening. However, templates and war machines are two which deserve a mention.Templates have gone as have scatter dice to be replaced by an area effect. E.g. if a war machine hits, the hit affects a 2x2 area or 4x4 area. This makes knowing how many models you could potential kill very easy. No more arguments over whether its 15 or 18 models. The cynical side of me sees this as another step into the sunshine for T9A, after all those templates and dice are not seen in any other game for a good reason. GW invented them. Go and look at FoW or Bolt Action, they have templates, but not like that. War machines see a reduction in toughness because lets face it, T7 war machines was always a bit silly. You killed the crew but rarely the machine. T9A does away with that with a lower toughness warmachine but more wounds. Is this better or worse? Only time will tell but I think for the better as long as the points match and whilst I sound like a broken record, the ability for T9A to change stuff is easy, unlike waiting years for GW to change anything.
So there you have it, the T9A has produced an update which changes parts of the game, but lets remember, this game is still a fantasy game. Its set in a fantasy world (which T9A will be showing us before year end), it still has goblins, orcs, undead, elves, dwarfs and all manner of beastly armies and models to which to fight to the death with. There is still magic, shooting and combat to be had and best of all, its an on going project, made by community for the community and at the heart of it is not money, but the desire to produce the best possible fantasy war game.
Lastly someone asked me will there be more army books. Until all the current ones are done no, but after this I do expect to see a few. Hell, maybe even fishmen (one can dream at least....)
Head over to the T9A, download the rules and get gaming, your community needs you!