As I start once more to get a feel for the game a few rules begin to stand out as off or a bit broken, one of these being the power of stone throwers - particularly in comparison to bolt throwers - to the point we partially house-ruled them during the siege game. Another aspect then reared its head during our Sunday game, and further thoughts since make me want to take this further.
I'm clearly not the first to notice the power of war machines in 3rd edition, it's quite a common theme over on the Oldhammer forum and in fact Dreamfish and Gaj have already introduced some house rules which attempt to tone them down somewhat.
I think those rules take the toning down a bit too far - while you don't want stone throwers to be the focus of a battle, having them being devastating but unpredictable is part of their charm! That said I've always stuck to 3- or 4-man throwers, the large template from a 6-man thrower adds another dimension.
With this in mind these rules attempt to make a couple of things less broken -
- The accuracy of speculative fire in the rules as written
- The attractiveness of stone throwers as a way of killing opposing characters
Speculative fire as written seems far too powerful, since it's meant to represent the crew chucking rocks at a target which they don't actually know the location of - speculatively. They might have seen a unit move behind a wood or hill but they've no real idea of where it is, and certainly not the exact location of the unit leader (unlike their controlling general).
With this in mind in the siege game we doubled the "miss" chance, so that as well as deviating twice as far the missile also deviated on rolls in the range 1-16, rather than only 1-12. How to handle the direction of the additional deviations is up for debate, you could roll an extra d12 for these but I like the neatness of having everything resolved with a single dice roll, like this -
You could also ban the targeting of characters with speculative fire - or, in the words of Erny, just remind your opponent not to be an ass!
Survival of the fittestIn later additions of Warhammer there's apparently a rule called "Look out sir" where a character, if targeted by a war machine, is only hit 1 time in 6, with a normal trooper being the true target the rest of the time.
To be honest I mainly object to this rule on account of its name - it doesn't seem to belong in a Bretonnian or Empire army, never mind orcs and goblins! It also seems to give characters a bit too much immunity compared to the rules as written, so I'd suggest something like this instead -
Heroes are quicker, more ruthless and luckier than is typical of their kind. As a result, when associated with or leading a unit, not only do they not get hit by ordinary missile fire, they're rather less vulnerable to war machines as well. If a hero is a target in this situation then roll 1d6:Aside from the above two suggestions I'm also not sure about the points values of stone throwers, particularly in relation to bolt throwers. I've noticed that Warhammer Armies doubles the cost of both of them compared to the 3rd edition rules, but stone throwers still seem rather cheap for a couple of reasons -
5-6: the hero spots the incoming projectile, or perhaps reacts quicker to a warning shout, and manages to move out of the way. They take no damage
3-4: the hero is slow to react and only manages to avoid harm by shoving past their fellows, inadvertently pushing one of the troopers into harm's way. If there is a "spare" trooper (i.e. one not originally within the target area) they take damage in place of the "hero", if not no additional damage is caused
1-2: the hero is hit as normal
- For a target you can see the hit chance is always 40% with a stone thrower (13-20 on d20). By contrast for orcs or humans (BS of 3) the hit chance with a bolt thrower is 50% under optimal conditions but given any modifiers (long range, soft cover) this swiftly drops away
- For stone throwers any target under the template is automatically hit and you then just need to cause a wound for each individual model. For bolt throwers second and subsequent casualties are subject to diminishing returns - not only do you have to wound the previous target in order to have a chance of wounding further targets, but also the strength of the missile is progressively reduced. Therefore bolt throwers just aren't the mass killers that stone throwers can be.
Countering this is that bolt throwers don't present a threat to their own side in the event of a miss, and also have no minimum range, but taken overall still seem much worse value than stone throwers. I feel then that stone throwers should cost twice the points of the equivalent bolt thrower (as in fact was the case in 2nd edition).