Saturday, 11 July 2015

The inspirational power of losing a game


Last night, after work, I went over to my friend Matt's house and we had a game of Warhammer. It was an 8th edition game because neither of us are bowled over by Age Of Sigmar (to put it politely for the sake of a quiet life) and, contrary to what the internet at large seems to believe about 8th, the game was fun, interesting and only took about three and a half hours.

2000 points, my Lizardmen versus his Orcs & Goblins. I lost as it happens. I spent the first four turns utterly dominating the game, helped more than a little by Matt fluffing endless Fear tests and having the laziest Fanatics known to man. They just didn't want to go anywhere, I think someone subbed out their madcap mushrooms for weed. He had nine of the buggers, they all got activated and the complete butcher's bill for them was two Saurus Warriors and three of his own Squigs. Also, as always seems to be the case with his Orcs & Goblins, his warmachines promptly destroyed themselves when fired.

On the plus side he totally obliterated my usual MVPs the Saurus Cavalry when they utterly fluffed their attacks on his Big 'Uns. My two previous games with Lizards have given this unit something of an inflated reputation, I feel, but a useful one from the psychological point of view.

It all turned on me in the fifth turn. I compensated poorly for some failed charges and my Saurus Old-Blood and his Temple Guard were surrounded: Black Orc Warboss and Black Orcs to the front, a gigantic Squig Herd to the flank. It was all over from there, the Temple Guard were obliterated, my right flank dissolved and I spent the remaining turn impotently victimising Night Goblins for want of anything constructive to do.

And it was really fun. Yes, part of what killed me was chance but it was also partly my own poor decisions. There were genuine learning experiences that will help me in future games, most particularly that Fanatics are not necessarily as horrendous as I previously thought. From now on I'll be a little more confident in charging Night Goblins. Equally, my Saurus Cavalry are not as hard as any of us believed, they just did well in the previous games and I need to be more cautious about charging them into ranked units.

This was the second time I've used Lizards against Matt's Orcs and we're starting to create a storyline around it with the Lizardmen trying to stop the Orcs colonising a series of vital nodes in the geomantic web. His Warboss keeps escaping me, as well, so I feel my Old-Blood So'Kar is going to be pursuing a cold-blooded and logical vendetta against the creature that keeps defying the will of the Old Ones by surviving.

So I'm feeling inspired to write about this game. I'm also feeling inspired to get some painting done, which is useful because the painting table, thanks to my experiments in white spray, is getting seriously over-populated. Currently sitting on or orbiting the paint station on various surfaces are:

5 Ork Boyz with slugga and choppa
5 Ork Meganobz
5 Tomb Kings Skeleton Warriors with command options
Lizardmen Saurus Old-Blood with halberd and shield
Lizardmen Skink Priest with Cloak of Feathers
1 Lizardmen Bastiladon with Solar Engine
5 Lizardmen Saurus Warriors with spears and shields
2 Lizardmen Salamanders
Wood Elves Shadowdancer

This is too much and, frankly, inspiration is probably for the best. I suppose that what's making me happiest is that, after weeks of annoyance and being told that my opinion is somehow objectively wrong, I'm rediscovering the actual joy in my hobby. Long may it continue. 

1 comment:

Matt Charman said...

How dare you besmirch my fanatics sir! I'll remind you that they also managed to kill about thirty of my Night Goblins when said Night Goblins hysterically fluffed their animosity tests and insisted point blank on charging through their own fanatics!

It was a fantastic game, though. It was full of thoughts and James and I were both punished for mistaken assumptions and ill-considered moves. Both of us exploited the other's poor judgement when it happened. There's something very pleasing that moment when your army is floundering and you notice that a critical enemy unit has just unwittingly presented flank. It's that moment of quick, focused, nerve-jangled thought 'I can pull this back. I have to think about this. I need the right combo of maneuvers and I need everything to come together, but I CAN pull this back'.

That game was a reminder of why, beyond its almost incomparably rich backdrop, we love this game: it's not just a sad exercise in throwing dice around and having enforced 'fun'. That game exemplified Warhammer at its best: by turns ferocious, hysterically funny and edge-of-seat dramatic.

The people in charge of making this game (not, it needs be said, the original creators) have binned off this rich and beautiful world and replaced it with a generic Norse-myth copy. They've binned off a sometimes nail-biting strategy game for an unchallenging dice fest seemingly designed to appease people with short attention spans. But we won't let that stand. We've taken over the lore they discarded and we're proud to keep alive the game and the tradition which they're desperately trying to forget. For anyone interested, we'll be launching a little site for 'The Age of Building'. It should have been done for today but I got distracted. Watch this space though!