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WoollyMammoth

The Name Game

18 posts in this topic

WoollyMammoth    449

The new Maggotkin: Nurgle book boasts an unprecedented 9 named chars. This is a big contrast to other tomes, such as Stormcast (1), Seraphon(1), Kharadron Overlords(1), Fyreslayers (0),  Sylvaneth (2) and even the other chaos books Tzeentch (3) and Khorne (6).

It may be a sign of the times, with Slambo, Vandus Hammerhand, Khorgos Khul, Horticulous Slimux and Neave Blacktalon being some of the most recent AoS releases. Now this name-filled Maggotkin tome, and the Malign Portents and its 4 named heralds. A new Death tome was announced as well, with armies organized under Nagash, Mannfred, Neferata and Arkhan .. another 4 named chars.

Whats confusing is that this is a stark contrast to what we saw for the first 3 years of AoS - named chars were being taken out one by one on a 
regular basis. Kroq-Gar became a "Saurus Oldblood".  Queek Headtaker became a simple Warchief. Seemingly unimportant chars like those in Tomb Kings became generic counterparts. The legendary Karl Franz became a simple Freeguild General. Durthu became 'a durthu'. The list goes on and on.

What is the reason for this? Why did these chars lose their names. You might say the lore, but this is often contradicting. An immortal celestial daemon like Kroq-Gar can't survive through the ages while Kroak can? Vampires Mannfred and Neferata made it to the new age, but Vlad & Isabella didn't make the cut? This may make a good case for mortals like Franz, but it doesn't hold up to a lot of chars that were squatted.

You could say that their models were old and outdated, which is true. But here we have old models like Epidemius and Festus being renewed right now. Meanwhile nice plastic kits like Durthu and Kroq-Gar are being changed in that their name is now generic. Some kits like Vlad are not discontinued, just stripped of their rules and made into a generic model. 

My point is that there is really no rhyme or reason to the naming process. GW likely had meetings and just decided on the fly who stays, whos gone forever or who gets brainwashed and sent back out as a generic hero. I wish I could say it was another one of GW's design pivots, but named chars were heavily deleted in the GH:2017 last fall, while at the same time lots of new named chars were coming out and are now coming out just a few months later. So what is the trend? Are we going to see more heroes stripped of their name, or are we in a new era of named chars? 

Named chars have a long and sordid history. Long before I got into the game, there was a generation of "Hero Hammer" where heroes were just too powerful and good and dominated the whole game. I think I got in during the aftermath - in 8th edition where named chars were pretty much exclusively overpriced and unusable outside of thematic games. Most rulebooks had custom generic heroes which cost less points and packed considerably more punch, and/or could be tailored to your list.

In AoS, things are much different. We have great monstrous chars with considerably more wounds and degrading damage tables, and the way the game works chars tend to stick around for longer. Up until the first GH, there was really no difference between a named char and a generic char other than the fact  that you could take only one of the named version. This is a sensible rule (sorry if you are infuriated that you cannot take a list with two Everqueens). Then there was a big design pivot with AoS .. First with Command abilities, spells and artifacts appearing in the  Sylvaneth Battletome, then with points and competitive limitations in the first Generals Handbook.

The command stuff - now tied to allegiances -  works exceptionally well. It allows you to take your simple hero and really make a general out of it. Even with the increased wounds of monstrous heroes, they are still quite pricey per wound. For example, in the new book the points of the Glottkin are equal to 52 wounds of Blightkings. Thats 34 more of the same 4+ wounds you could get by investing in Blightkings for your army instead of the Glottkin. People who play the Glottkin often complain that he just dies too fast and your points are lost far too quickly. Alarielle is similar, though even with 3+ save and lots of healing ability, you are still paying 37.5 points per wound -  one lucky Arcane Bolt could cost you 112.5 points. 

Alarielle is one of the more popular named chars, with her insane synergy, healing ability, 3+ natural save and serious healing spells, she can just as easily heal up 112.5 points as lose it. Regardless, she is still generally unpopular because when an opponent wants her dead, its not that hard to kill her by focusing her down, and these big models come with a target permanently on their forehead. What is immensely more popular is the Treelord Ancient and Durthu. Why? Because though they have less wounds they have the same 3+ natural saves, which can easily be buffed, and then take artefacts and key command traits like ignore rend-1. Combined with their stomps they end up with more staying power than Alarielle by far. In fact, whenever I've seen Alarielle, she was led by a Treelord Ancient general, which does not make a lot of sense thematically. 

The most popular of the giant heroes is likely the Celestant on Stardrake, a staple of Stormcast lists. you have the 16 wounds of a giant, with a 3+ natural save and rerolling 1s, very easily buffed to a 2+ re-rolling ones. If that's not enough, he can be healed by life mages and Lord-Relictors in case he gets in a bind. Add on to this he has the ability to take allegiance traits, artefacts and mount abilities to get the most out of your high-value wounds. -2 to hit in the shooting phase is going to give you a lot of breathing room during your games.

So what is the key difference between the monstrous heroes you see all the time (Durthu, Ancient, Stardrake, Vampire on Zombie Dragon, etc) and those you almost never see (especially in competitive environments)? The NAME. And why is that? Its because of this one, painful line in the GH (pg117):

(Named Chars) .. are singular and mighty warriors, with their own personalities and items of power. As such, these models cannot have a command trait or aretfact of power.

Now, if you are like me, and I think a lot of you are, the FIRST thing you look for in the new tome is the allegiance abilities, the command traits and the artefacts. This is because they are going to set up the mighty power of your general, some of the most key synergy, and fun combos that make list building enjoyable. I understand the concept that Archaon has his own stuff already, but so does literally every non named char as well. Durthu has a 6 damage Guardian Sword, an oldblood has a Sunbolt Gauntlet ....  so they can pick up an artefact and hold it with them, but Arkhan the black has a special blade and a staff so he just has no room to put a Cursed Book at his side? Meanwhile, Command Traits are often key leadership abilities, that many lists cannot live without. For this reason, great named kings and leaders are often led to battle by a lowly hero. From a lore perspective, and a common sense perspective, it doesn't really make a lot of sense that a generic Treelord would be leading Alarielle the Everqueen into battle, but the rules push this due to arbitrary restraints on named chars. 

Now, I know that there are some weird things that can go on. Some of the named chars are pretty crazy. Kroak with the Incandescent Rectrices would be weird, possibly just bringing him back when hes dead. I'm sure people can come up with some examples, but really we are sacrificing 90% of the fun for the 10% of the troublemakers. If Nagash got the back book or the cloak, it would (barely) start to make him worth his points. If the Glottkin could take some of the new artefacts, it would create some wackiness that would finally make him worth fielding. If there are a few kinks, they could simply be resolved in a FAQ, preventing any kind of overpowered combo that dosen't belong in the game (like ... Kroak on a vortex?)

Overall the system is not very good, and high-cost models are not generally worth their points. The command/artefacts start to make up some of the ground where it can work. AoS was supposed to be the age where you can finally take your big monsters and enjoy epic fantasy battles, and sadly we are drifting away from this. The biggest baddest chars are rarely, if ever seen.  With all the new named chars flooding into the game, I hope GW has a new pivot to get back to a game where you can really enjoy the big epic models, and they can that their rightful place at the head of our armies.




 

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rokapoke    673

At the beginning, GW was creating a new world. They decided to leave most of the named characters behind. Now they’re developing more lore in the new universe of the Mortal Realms, so it’s a natural progression to create new named characters. There’s nothing sinister here. 

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someone2040    551

So I don't think I'd necessarily read too much into the fact that Nurgle have more named characters. I mean, before this release, they already had Glottkin, 3 Maggoth Lords, Epidemus and Festus. It's not like the new release bought on a whole slew of new named characters and it's this 'brand new direction' they're going for factions. No, it only bought on a single new one which is just an alternative build for a generic model.

 

That being said, I do think to an extent they have changed direction a bit with named characters. In that now that the world has kinda been built, and there are characters in the fluff that we care about, that they want to include more named characters. So they've rebranded Celestant on Dracoth and Mighty Lord of Khorne back to Vandus and Khul. It means I guess, that it's not a huge leap for someone who's read the Realmgate Wars to go "Oh I want to play Vandus Hammerhand" and hey, you've got a Vandus model.

I really dislike how they went about the warscrolls though for both Naeve and Gavriel Stormheart. Naeve is alright I guess in a way, at least we got fluff on her in Blightwar. It's just disappointing because neither of them really have anything on the warscroll that makes them 'unique'. Those warscrolls could just as easily represent generic versions of those characters. Gavriel is worse because we've got a special character that we know absolutely nothing about. How is he even special?

 

As for gameplay. Well, I think historically GW have had a hard time balancing special characters. They always tend to be on the side of too good or not good enough. Sometimes they offer some unique thing at a well costed price that you can build a good army around. Other times they just don't offer enough for their points. I think what we'll find in this case the GHB is a blessing, as you know, maybe special characters aren't great at the moment, but if that feedback is received then perhaps for GHB2018 we'll see them decrease the prices to make them more competitive.

 

Overall. I do enjoy seeing a special character or two for each faction. I don't want them to become defacto choices though, so I think it's better to err on the case of overcosted IMO as they are more narrative pieces at the end of the day. I just dont' want to get into a case where in 40k they're basically treated as normal pieces, and if a piece becomes too good then all the armies based on that faction gravitate towards using that special character.

 

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someone2040    551
4 minutes ago, AverageBoss said:

I am sad that Festus is still around, but that Prince Sigvald the Magnificent was done away with though.

My hazy memory of the End Times recalls that Festus may have been taken into the Realm of Chaos/Nurgles Garden during the End Times for his good work he did in one of the Empire cities. So he would've survived the End Times in that way.

That being said, I think it's been primarily 'commerical' as to what special characters have been kept around. In that, anything with a plastic kit they wanted to keep, and if they only made special characters then those guys were kept.

To be honest, I kinda wish when they did the grand Grand Alliancing that they made more generic heroes out of named characters like they did with Sigvald. Take the Maggoth Lords for example. Can barely remember what they did in the End Times, they don't have a huge Warhammer history or following, so why not just make them generic Nurgle Lords/Sorcerers on Maggoth. You can use the same rules to be honest, but I don't feel there was any need to transition them from the Old World at all.

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PJetski    196

I'm hoping AOS moves closer to how 40k handles command traits, but I think it's fine that special characters don't get access to artifacts.

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MrCharisma    330

Commercially: they needed to develop new IP and bringing in old characters wasn’t a smart business investment. People had their models... so why buy a new AoS version?

 

WHFB > AoS: it created resistance in the separation between AoS and WHFB. Character needed to be removed so new ones could be created. 

 

Lore: The end times killed them... or they should have died of old age. 

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Nubgan    122

I think the reason you see the named charecters in chaos is because they are everlasting in a way. All the guys from other factions all died essentially, although the winds of magic did preserve their main guys (Allarielle for example). I guess with the warscroll system the way it is though they can do one off releases as the story gets more fleshed out, which to me makes a little more sense.

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RuneBrush    1,447
8 hours ago, WoollyMammoth said:

What is the reason for this? Why did these chars lose their names. You might say the lore, but this is often contradicting. An immortal celestial daemon like Kroq-Gar can't survive through the ages while Kroak can? Vampires Mannfred and Neferata made it to the new age, but Vlad & Isabella didn't make the cut? This may make a good case for mortals like Franz, but it doesn't hold up to a lot of chars that were squatted.

I don't think there was a particular rhyme or reason to it initially.  Some have been explained in various novels and others I think was simply somebody at GW wanted to break away from the old world.

The vampires have been explained that all of them did die, but Nagash brought some back and imbued them with parts of his essence (creating the AoS Mortachs), I'm pretty sure that Vlad and Isabella were proper dead before the end times.  Kroak survived because he's an epic space lizard :D

I think individually we could probably theorise why some characters made the cut like I just did, but I'm guessing some probably were down to somebody going "don't really want him about still, lets get rid of him".  For me one of the worst things GW did was to create named compendium warscrolls, I think it set a precedence that some of our old favourites might have survived.

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Kramer    865
8 hours ago, WoollyMammoth said:

Whats confusing is that this is a stark contrast to what we saw for the first 3 years of AoS - named chars were being taken out one by one on a regular basis. Kroq-Gar became a "Saurus Oldblood".  Queek Headtaker became a simple Warchief. Seemingly unimportant chars like those in Tomb Kings became generic counterparts. The legendary Karl Franz became a simple Freeguild General. Durthu became 'a durthu'. The list goes on and on.

I think your first point is also the reason for your question. GW was building a new world, and at the same time removing the links to the old game. If they started of with new a bunch of new named characters you automatically are going to compare them to the ones you loved and lost. And that's a comparison that's doomed from the start. The character with all the background from the last setting or some guy/girl in a new setting we knew little about. Could work but I reckon the new wouldn't win. 

So for me GW did the right thing. First establish the setting and then named characters after the old have been 'forgotten'. 

8 hours ago, WoollyMammoth said:

Whats confusing is that this is a stark contrast to what we saw for the first 3 years of AoS - named chars were being taken out one by one on a regular basis. Kroq-Gar became a "Saurus Oldblood".  Queek Headtaker became a simple Warchief. Seemingly unimportant chars like those in Tomb Kings became generic counterparts. The legendary Karl Franz became a simple Freeguild General. Durthu became 'a durthu'. The list goes on and on.

What is the reason for this? Why did these chars lose their names. You might say the lore, but this is often contradicting.

For me this is just breaking with the old and still letting players play with their favorite models. Happy I can still field my Queek model even if the rules don't match the old fluff. 

8 hours ago, someone2040 said:

Overall. I do enjoy seeing a special character or two for each faction. I don't want them to become defacto choices though, so I think it's better to err on the case of overcosted IMO as they are more narrative pieces at the end of the day.

And I think you're right on this. Keep them a bit overcosted so you take them for the fun of it not necessarily for the gaming advantage. Or maybe exclude them all together from competitive matched play (but maybe give them indication points for open and narrative). 

 

So to sum up. I think GW did things in the right order. Although it's a shame for factions like Beastclaw that have none (as far as I know) just because they came earlier. It's an easy fix though and hope they just avoid the pitfall of upping the strength of characters just because they are making them amazingly powerful in the fluff. 

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CJPT    175

I have some concerns about this primarily because I most play narrative games, and the more named characters they add the more boxed-in player narratives feel. The biggest recent example of this are the Malign Portents special characters. They've been consistently referred to as generic examples of a new type of character - 'a' Darkoath Warqueen, 'a' Knight of Shrouds, etc - but we've just seen from the Open Day that the boxes have their actual names on them: 'Keldrek, Knight of Shrouds'.

If they're treated as named characters on their warscrolls then I think that's a huge shame. It limits your ability to decide how the character fits into *your* army, and for me that's a big part of Age of Sigmar. I enjoy the breadth of the setting because it has allowed me and my friends to tell stories about our characters in our part of the Mortal Realms.

Sorry - this comes across as a bit of a moan. If they do decide to treat them as named characters, we'll probably just pretend that they didn't. But it does feel like a strange direction to have taken - maybe they have data that suggests that special characters sell better, so 'Gavriel, guy you've never heard of' will do better than 'Lord-Celestant with Shield' simply because he's got a name.

Edited by CJPT

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EMMachine    75
9 hours ago, someone2040 said:

That being said, I do think to an extent they have changed direction a bit with named characters. In that now that the world has kinda been built, and there are characters in the fluff that we care about, that they want to include more named characters. So they've rebranded Celestant on Dracoth and Mighty Lord of Khorne back to Vandus and Khul. It means I guess, that it's not a huge leap for someone who's read the Realmgate Wars to go "Oh I want to play Vandus Hammerhand" and hey, you've got a Vandus model.

I really dislike how they went about the warscrolls though for both Naeve and Gavriel Stormheart. Naeve is alright I guess in a way, at least we got fluff on her in Blightwar. It's just disappointing because neither of them really have anything on the warscroll that makes them 'unique'. Those warscrolls could just as easily represent generic versions of those characters. Gavriel is worse because we've got a special character that we know absolutely nothing about. How is he even special?

I liked to collect and play named characters in my younger years of tabletop and the point you said about Naeve and Gavriel bothers me the most in case of named characters. When you look at my avatar or my blog or the Thread in the painting and modeling board with the same name you know that I'm painting Celestial Vindicaors.

What do we read at Warscrolls like Neave Black Talon or Gavriel Stormheart? "xxx is taken from the Hammers of Sigmar Stormhost and always wears there colours in battle".

So, if I don't want to ignore this I must paint them as "goldboys" and can't use them as my own chars.  Hammers of Sigmar get all the toys and all the others have only the old stuff (if we take the sentence from the paragraph before as a rule it's the case).

The Narrative Standpoint is another point. Did it really hurt, that we had less named characters?

We have a Lord Celestant with Hammer and Sword, the same model (with different coloring) was Gardus Steelsoul of the Hallowed Knights, Thostos Blade Storm of the Celestial Vindicators,  Zephacleas of the Astral Templars and many more. And for the Lord Celestant on Dracoth we have at least Vandus Hammerhand and Sargassus both of the hammers of Sigmar and Pharakis of the Knight Excelsiors. It's sad that the model has only a single weapom option, but they fit in any stormhost and you can create your own narrative with an own Stormhost or just your own chamber in an existing Stormhost (its the same with all other armies too).

The problem with the named chars is, that they have a Legacy created by GW, and often they have to be overpowered to fit with that legacy. Would Archaon have the Legacy to be nearly invincible like in the Realmgate Wars story, if he is everytime on the battlefield and is slain everytime. Not really.

If somebody doesn't care about the background he has no problem playing the models only for there power, but if you look at the narrative you never can hold that legacy on your table.

I also have a nurgle army (with no models painted, what I should change), but why should I buy a Maggoth Lord? There are three models that are named ones, so there is no real way to forge own narrative without making inconsistencies with existing background. I got the model for Gutrot Spume, but only to put him on my chaos Warshrine.

Having mainly generic characters enchourage the creativity of the communty instead of using only the named characters because they are stronger.

41 minutes ago, CJPT said:

I have some concerns about this primarily because I most play narrative games, and the more named characters they add the more boxed-in player narratives feel. The biggest recent example of this are the Malign Portents special characters. They've been consistently referred to as generic examples of a new type of character - 'a' Darkoath Warqueen, 'a' Knight of Shrouds, etc - but we've just seen from the Open Day that the boxes have their actual names on them: 'Keldrek, Knight of Shrouds'.

It would be sad if they were named once (in case of order it would be another "goldenboy" and I really would like to take part in the painting contest (perhaps with my nurgle army) I would need the warqueen. But there is another case where I think, that they hopefully can have generic Warscrolls. In Dezember GW released two Primaris Lieutenants for 40k ("Blood Angels Primaris Lieutenant Tolmeron" and "Dark Angels Primaris Lieutenant Zakariah"). Both are named on their pack with the name, but the codex doesn't have a datasheet for the named character only the generic one.

Edited by EMMachine
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Xelotath    98

GW have been doing that a lot recently, with most of the Deathguard characters they were advertised as named characters when in actuality they are generic. I think that will be the same with the Heralds, I mean I doubt there is only one engineer in the entirety of Sigmars stormhosts. 

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Killax    1,714

AoS is still GW's testing ground for all kinds of new game design. It's the newest game, they know the mayority of players won't flip tables if they are going for different approaches.
So to awnser the question, why do some named characters remain and others don't? It's again testing the waters. There is no real logical path in this and typically I believe the only reason why Chaos kept the mayority of it's named characters (but most certainly not all) is because of popularity. Not only AoS, also 40k. A lot of AoS models are also sold to 40k players for conversion reasons. 

In terms of keeping some Named characters more relevant I'd say some stil really are and some just arn't. The Command Trait 'fix' is one I agree with but for the most part the Named characters who arn't taken come with a cost that doesn't reflect their ability. At the same time I also think most players prefer going for 'unnamed' characters so they go as wild as they want to to personalize that model. 

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Memnoch    25

I much prefer generic characters over named ones. I'm working on my own Stormhost with my own color scheme and the golden boys and girls have no place there.

For instance, I will get Gavriel (and put him in a silver armor with a helmet!) but I will probably never use him until he gets a generic warscroll. If someone wants to run a  generic Lord-Celestant with a shield as Gavriel from the fluff(?), then that makes a lot more sense to me than having it the way it is now.

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WoollyMammoth    449

They are getting way too cutesy with named chars now, as evident in chars like Neave and Gavriel. They only are hammers of sigmar? More appropriately, it should be "Neave Blacktalon, Stormhost Assassin" and the rules should be like, you can represent her as Neave (of hammers of sigmar) or as a generic assassin.  There is nothing really about her scroll that makes her a super amazing named thing. Especially Gavriel, who is simply a celestant with a shield same as the one on the dracoth or stardrake; both of which can be without a name. There is absolutely no reason for it. 

Continuing on this theme ... I don't care about them killing off old chars in the lore. In fact, I wish most of these living chars had died and were replaced with unnamed counterparts (Durthu style). Vlad for example could have been an awesome "Vampire King" scroll, but they lazily just made him nothing. For a lot of players, the GH:2017 was a huge let down. One of my friends plays Free Peoples (Empire from WHFB) and after they just deleted all the named people he said "now I just have 15 Freeguild Generals". There is absolutely no reason they cant make some of this stuff generic (as they did for many others) instead of just delete the scrolls.

Another thing is - there would be no problem if they deleted all the stuff while there was an incoming release of new stuff. But deleting the stuff and leaving the factions empty really sucks. Tomb Kings were deleted because there is supposedly new similar stuff coming. OK that was 3 years ago now....

How about you let us enjoy our stuff until you plan on giving us something new to replace it?

Command abilities are getting out of hand. They range from being the most important key synergy piece in your army, to a ****** attack that might cause one mortal wound. They have also largely been replaced by command traits. Its really time to re-asses this. Most of them can be adjusted to simply be abilities that they have, not tied to them having to be the general.  

One of the most important points of my post is that all big things are generally points inefficient and BAD, but the synergy with command traits and artifacts helps make up some ground. While named chars are unable to take these, they are left as a great way to loose to many points. There are some rare cases where you can support them with a ton of synergy to make them fieldable, but its typically not good to bend over backward to get your named char on the board.

Nagash is the best example of this. no amount of rules are going to make up for the fact that that you are bleeding points with every wound. With all the crazy things that people can do now, there is no way to keep him alive for very long. At 600 points he would still be be barely fieldable. The proper solution is to make him customizable and let the players work him into their lists.

Edited by WoollyMammoth

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Kaleb Daark    436
On 1/12/2018 at 3:44 AM, AverageBoss said:

I am sad that Festus is still around, but that Prince Sigvald the Magnificent was done away with though.

I wouldn't look at it as done away with, more an opportunity to re-invent.

As everyone has said above, festus was taken back into the nurgle bosom as were most of his servants, and I can imagine that GW's story arc will re-invent much of what it can especially if they were fan favourites and can be feasibly ported to the new story arcs.

 

For many of the mortals they ere of and locked into the old worl, chaos champions its easier to do as the gods can pull their champion into the realm of chaos and re-forge them so to speak.

Who's to say that we don't see Wulfric spat out back into the realms with seafang able to cross planes and realms of existence  -he'd make an amazing ally for the Darkoath warqueen as she invades the other realms. (wish listing I know)

 

I'm still hoping that we'll see tombkings re-invented, especially as Setra was resurrected at the end of end times not by nagash but by the chaos gods.

New heroes are being born as the story progresses, new named characters who feature in the storyline.  All the old characters of wfb were built up over 30 years, and were just on one planet - think about that in the context of the next generation of personalities spread across the infinity that is the eight realms.

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