Monday, April 17, 2017

Shadow War Armageddon: First Thoughts

Shadow War: Armageddon came out last weekend with a pretty big hype train behind it. Copies of the boxed game were sold out pretty much everywhere, and scalpers were selling them online for huge sums of money.

Included in the boxed set are the rules, terrain, dice, templates, tokens, and two kill teams: space orks and space marine scouts.

I managed to grab a copy of the boxed set. I wasn't really planning on it, but when I walked into my FLGS and it was on the shelf, I guess I couldn't resist. I didn't really need the terrain or marine scouts, so I sold those. My son and I put together the space orks together so he can have a gang sometime down the line.

The thing that got me really excited is the ruleset. It is based on Necromunda, the old skirmish ruleset released in the 90s where drug-addled poor people fought in gangs against each other. It was probably the best thing GW has ever done, and maybe my favorite ruleset ever. The campaign rules were amazing and really led to narrative-laden scenarios where the models you've played with for months are being laid low or running on the path to glory.

The glory days
I was a little miffed at first - I really wanted a new Necromunda, not necessarily just 40k with Necromunda rules. The whole thing about Necromunda was your guys started off really garbage and got better and eventually they were the best garbage! With 40k, your guys are trained killers with super armor and huge weapons.

I managed to get by it, and I'm glad I did. The rules have a few changes to make it better, and I think more appropriate for 40k with all the armor and high-powered weaponry. When you run, its -1 to hit you, which is really nice against all the longer range shooting etc.

The campaign is much simplified, but maybe that's not a bad thing. Gone is tracking all your wounding hits, participations, etc. Instead, you choose one guy who survived a game and he can make an advance. 'Juves' have to fight three times before they can get an advance.

Territories are gone as well. Your guys don't mow the lawn or trawl slime pools for cash. Instead, you just get 100 credits to upgrade a dude or recruit a dude. There is no bank.

These changes definitely simplify the campaign and make it easier for new players, which is OK. I don't really mind it, actually. There are still skills and characteristic advances.

The one thing they should have fixed and added to the game would be alternating activations. This is a modern rule design - nobody should have to wait around while their opponent blows them away. It would also be easy to add to a game like Necromunda. We could house rule it but I think with most GW games if its not official its not gonna take off.

The models are the models, they're from 2000 or whatever and they've been sitting in a warehouse somewhere. The terrain is something a lot of people wanted, but I couldn't get into it. It's  expensive, doesn't cover a ton of the board, and is extremely overdesigned with CAD. Skulls, skulls, skulls. I sold mine on ebay.

I have to give GW props for releasing the rules for almost all the factions for free. That is pretty great. My genestealer cult guys are really fun to paint and to me, they're probably the best way to get that Necromunda feel.

I am not a huge fan of the balance issues - there are some factions that I think are probably just going to be better. Anything that allows you to ignore cover or get huge ballistic skill (Tau and Skitaari, at least) will be really good. Terminators are amazing. Toughness 4 or 5 gangs are going to be really good too. It seems like in every group there is only one special operative really worth taking.

Maybe it's the nostalgia, but I really like this release. I'm painting a gang of Genestealer Cult guys and showing up for our store campaign. It has inspired me to pick up an extra box of troops from another faction to paint as well. If you've been there off the 40k train for a bit, I definitely encourage you to jump on and give Shadow War a try.

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