Monday 20 January 2014

What's wrong (and right) with Bretonnia

Under no circumstances am I even going to
attempt to paint that heraldry!
So the “scrapping of Bretonnia” rumour is doing the rounds again, this time enhanced by the idea that Wood Elves, Beastmen and Tomb Kings are getting the chop as well. I'm not going to dwell on this because it is bollocks, doubly bollocks when you consider two of those ranges were given substantial numbers of new models within the last four years so let's point and laugh at that idea and move on.

Finished pointing and laughing? Good, let's start.

Another rumour that did the rounds a few months ago was that Bretonnia was getting a new Army Book some time about Quarter 3 of this year so I decided to start a new army in anticipation. Sadly, a lot of the range went out of production whilst my back was turned but I'm choosing to interpret that positively as GW running down soon-to-be redundant stock instead of negatively as a conspiracy to “destroy my hobby!”.

But what would a new Bretonnia book do? The current book will be ten years old next month and whole editions have come and gone in the mean time so a few odd relics of ages past remain that could do with updating.

Before we move on I should warn you that I'm going to do something I've often said in comment threads was stupid: I'm going to compare Bretonnia to The Empire. I want to qualify this hypocrisy by saying that in the past I've warned against this because commenters on rumour sites who themselves say they don't play Fantasy believe the Bretonnian army could be absorbed into The Empire. This is also bollocks: differences play styles, formations, special rules and background scream against the idea. Points costs, however, are based on statistical usefulness and game balancing so the also-human Empire makes a good point of comparison to propose theories against.

All settled? Let's talk crunch:

Lords and Heroes

Characters for the most part are rather reasonably pointed and I was pleasantly surprised to see a Bretonnian Lord has a couple of superior stats to a General Of The Empire (+1 Weapon Skill, +1 Initiative and +1 Attack, as it happens) for only 15 extra points. Eminently reasonable. Paladins and Damsels are similarly reasonable against their Empire equivalents so the only over-priced one seems to be the Prophetess who is 25 points more than a Battle Wizard Lord with a lower Toughness.

What might need a bit of fixing are the Virtues: extra traits you can buy for your knightly characters, some of which are useful, some of which are useless and some of which are blatantly broken. This is no one's fault, edition changes have simply wreaked their customary havoc.

My personal favourite bug bear is the fact that to have a great weapon your knight character has to have the Questing Vow but you have to pay extra for the great weapon on top of the Vow.

Core Knights

Not over-priced, in spite of what people have said to me. Knights Errant are 20 points, Knights Of The Realm are 24. Empire Knights come in at 22 points and I'll take either Bretonnian choice over them any day. The lance formation gives you a bucket of extra attacks. In a lance of nine knights (three wide, three deep) you get the full attacks of seven knights and their mounts plus one supporting attack from the guy in the middle.

Knights Errant, whilst statistically inferior to Empire Knightly Orders in several regards are Immune To Psychology after charging but I have one complaint: the Impetuous rule. If you're in theoretical charge range you have to take a Leadership test to restrain the urge to charge headlong at the enemy. Unfortunately the theoretical charge distance of Knights Errant is 20 inches and that means your enemy cam easily bait you into maximum distance charges to get you nicely out of position and then slam into your flanks.

Whilst we're on the subject, though, I'll take the current lance formation over the old arrowhead idea any day.

Grubby Working Class Yobbos

It was recently pointed out to me that Men-At-Arms are, statistically speaking, Vampire Counts Skeleton Warriors with higher leadership. That's all, really, they're fine, so are the Peasant Bowmen so all that needs noting is that we could really do with plastic Mounted Yeomen and it'd be nice to have Men-At-Arms with the spear option included on the kit.

A Modest Proposal Towards Pegasus Knights

This is a big one because one of the most feared units in our little gaming club are Matt's Demigryph Knights. In light of The Empire's monstrous cavalry being a full 3 points more expensive than mine I humbly submit that one or both of the following measures need to be employed:

One: Give Pegasus Knights the option for barding and therefore a 2+ save. The barding is on the model so it won#t necessitate a re-sculpt.

Two: Give them 3 Wounds. This is absolutely standard for monstrous cavalry and infantry these days.

Beyond that I have no complaints. Questing Knights stand up well and, in all honesty, I never used Grail Knights so I can't vouch for their effectiveness. The Field Trebuchet remains an immensely powerful stone thrower by anyone's standards and I hope it stays as is for the next edition.

So, all in all, a fairly solid army even now so GW can spend more time working out cool new shit for them than bringing their rules into line with anything more than a few token additions and subtractions.

Fingers crossed. 

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