Over the past few months Games Workshop have been drip feeding us snippets of the rules for the new “The old world” game setting which got me to thinking what I would do if tasked with developing a ruleset for the new game.
In one of their blog posts that discuss having played lots of battles using previous rule editions to pick out the best bits of them, but any serious fantasy player already knows that 6th edition was best 😉 Besides there have already been fan made versions (Warhammer Armies Project & The 9th Age) based on 8th edition which are fairly popular, so it seems like a reasonable idea to try using 6th as a base.
There are other solid reasons for using 6th edition – it has army books for every major faction which unlike 7th aren’t horrifically unbalanced (I’m looking at you Demons of Chaos) and plenty of additional game content from White Dwarf and Campaign books. It’s also the edition which I played the most of so I am most familiar with it.
This is all about creating a new game ruleset so it’s obviously necessary to make some changes and not just use 6th edition verbatim, so what are the areas of 6th edition which could use some refinement, reworking or throwing away and remaking from scratch?
6th edition works best at between 2000 and 3000 points and is pretty good between 1000 and 2000 however both above and below those point totals, the game starts to fall down. In some cases it’s not even possible to build legal armies for small points values and at higher points values you start running into issues with units, upgrades and magic items of which you are only allowed 1 per army.
Another point which bothers me is the allocation between special and rare choices at 1k and 2k you have a 3:1 and 2:1 ratio respectively, yet at 10k it’s 6:5. With the disparity between the choices you get at each level between armies eg chaos only get a single rare option while empire are spoilt for choice in their specials it can make building larger armies a bit dull.
Magic in 6th edition leaves a little to be desired; the core mechanic – rolling dice to cast spells is pretty solid, but there are a few issues with the system; for example using lower level mages simply as batteries for higher level mages or if your army isn’t magic focused, needing to take mages simply to hold dispel scrolls. A lesser encountered issue is that some of the miscast results scale very badly (eg ending the whole magic phase) when you are playing larger 5-10k point battles.
Psychology plays a huge role in 6th edition games; a failed panic test at the wrong moment can be a turning point from which you can never recover, similarly break tests from combat can see a super expensive unit destroyed after being run down by light cavalry. Fear and terror causing enemies are especially powerful.
6th edition toned down how strong characters are compared to 5th edition and it mostly lands right, the one area that I think it shows weakness is in the special characters; they are either over powered or not worth their points/slots cost but most have a cool magic item or ability you’d like to use.
The last possible issue with 6th is the huge advantage you get for charging, making the movement phase super important and heavy cavalry a must take (if it’s available to you); at the same time most infantry are reduced to being chaff to throw in the enemies way so that your heavy units can get a charge in.
I’m going to explore what could be done to make improve these factors and make a refined or rekindled version of the 6th edition rules over the course of a few posts but also look at how, using my new rules as a framework you could create a marketable product that also drives sales of models without compromising the rules of the game (A frequent complaint common about the huge horde armies required to play 8th edition). While you are free to play test these new rules, I don’t currently intend to turn it into a fully functional system like Warhammer armies project or the ninth age, though if the new old world release turns out to be a disappointment as many fear, who knows?