Sunday, 12 October 2014

Is a Dwarf just a Dwarf and an Orc just an Orc?

The class system

In a word, no, not really. At least not in 3rd Edition Warhammer anyway.

True to 3rds flexible form, the way of describing troops is much more customisable than in later editions with the use of the Elite troops system. The four additional purchasable ranks are split in to shock, or missile troops, with respective bonuses. Below are sample statistics for the varying level of Human Elites shock trooper, missile simply has +1 BS instead of WS which is a bit rubbish really.

4 3 3 3 3 1 3 1 7 7 7 7
+1 4 4 3 3 3 1 3 1 7 7 7 7
+2 4 4 3 3 3 1 4 1 7 7 7 7
+3 4 4 3 4 3 1 4 1 7 7 7 7
+4 4 4 3 4 3 1 4 2 7 7 7 7

As these upgrades are not tied to any weapon load out, your veteran troops can be armed with whatever you desire without the use of Warhammer Armies. If you desperately want hugely powerful +4 Dwarves with javelins, then that is entirely possible. I'm not sure why you would but hey, that is up to you.

So that's cool, we essentially have five different ranks of soldier for each race, no army book required, just the basic rule book... Well, technically there is a 6th, but soldier is not necessarily the best description.

The peasants

Human Levies 4 2 2 3 3 1 2 1 7 6 6 6

Levies! A noble general's last resort and a ruthless general's cannon fodder. Skaven do have this sort of troops in later editions of the game in their Skaven slaves but in 3rd every race can take them if they would like to. They cannot really be relied on to actually win a fight and their special, mandatory mob formation means that they will not be as useful or flexible as real troops. However, if you want an arrow shield or a lot of ranks, then levies are an option. Goblin levies especially, at their measly cost of 1 point per model.

For some reason, Levies got me thinking. They are named, they are not -1's. So I began to try and rationalise the Elites system, a particularly silly thing to do about a game revolving around toy soldiers but meh, I was bored.

Starting from the bottom

Levies: those who have not chosen the soldiers life but those that have been pressed into service, forcibly or otherwise. Slaves, potters, scribes, tailors, hairdressers anything you like but probably not a military sort.Terrible statistics and the mob rule limit their usefulness.

Militia: Those that have been given basic military training, they know which end of the weapon to hold and can follow orders, march in time etc. Basic statistics and can maintain a proper formation.

Professionals: People that have spent their life fighting and are making a career of it. They can do everything that a militiaman can but are better drilled and have more than likely actually fought before. The extra point of weapon skill representing their extra training and experience.

Veteran: Professional soldiers that know their way round a battlefield and have the scars to prove it. Hopefully they have even won a few fights and done more than just turn up. Their extra point of Initiative represents their confidence and a few dirty tricks they have picked up.

Hardened veterans: Killing people for a living is a lucrative business, the extra exercise and better food have made these guys stronger than their compatriots, not to mention it is often only the strongest that survive this far.

Seasoned Campaigners: Practised killers that have fought in several campaigns and survived. With the same stats as a unit champion, these guys are something to watch out for.

Beyond list building

So as established, the elites system is a flexible and open approach to list building but what happens when you go beyond the list? To use this system to enhance play not just when writing your army out but in other ways.

In a campaign setting troops would naturally distinguish themselves and the elites system is a great way of giving perks to victorious forces. If a particular unit destroys its own points worth of enemies without sustaining more than 25% casualties, they could receive a free +1 upgrade until they take 50% casualties in a game? Just a little boost to reward well used units and carefully played strategies.

As a direct antithesis to this, if an elite unit repeatedly performs poorly, knock one of their levels off! Obviously this would have to be done with mutual agreement with the view to fun and random dickery, not when people are actually aiming for a competitive environment.

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