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Sunday, July 1, 2012

3rd Edition Warhammer Siege

"Such a cool cover for such a flawed book."
Ahh the good old Warhammer Siege supplement for 3rd edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle, was there ever something so promising, but ultimately unplayable? When I was in High School I can’t begin to tell you how much we looked forward to playing this, how much effort we put into creating stone throwers, siege towers, drills, sheds, catapults and other siege equipment to say nothing of the scratch built castle I made that was huge. I don’t think there has ever been a bigger let down in the history of man… ever. I don’t say this lightly either. Read on to find out why.

My friends and I: (Dave and Jeff)  spend a great of time playing Warhammer 3rd edition in 1989-92ish with a fair amount Warhammer before college beckoned in the Fall of 1991. We were all pretty well versed in the rules and how it played by then and were looking forward to the new challenges that Siege offered. We had progressed rapidly from Warhammer Fantasy Role play, to Fantasy Battles to Siege. Each of us had large armies and were some of GWs biggest fans this side of the Pond.

As mentioned above we got our supplies, armies and terrain together and gathered in the basement of Dave's house. I think we prepped for several days before the game actually began, (incidentally Dave's ping pong table was perfect for a Warhammer table). We pointed out our respective armies, Jeff playing his Orc and Goblins were the defenders of the castle and I was playing my Empire army as the attackers. (I recall we rolled randomly to see who attacked and who defended). After noticing some interesting loopholes (I had units of Landerstrum (levies)) that I never intended to bring onto the main board continuously in the remote zones scavenging for supplies to reduce my point costs) is one that came to mind. Mind you I didn't actually have the models either, but they were never coming on the board. We finally go the main game rolling.

I'm not going to bore you with half recollections but skip to the meat of this post.
Finally the strategic phase, foraging, strategic time etc was over  and we got to firing. Now in order to save points I had skimped on ammo for the siege weapons figuring I could scavenge for them. We looked through the rules and nope, no go. I was horrified: I had made such a huge blunder. You can forage for supplies but not ammo. Immediately, one thought: do I have enough ammo. As it turned out I had plenty. (Makes no sense for stone throwers, but I digress). I tried to hide it and grabbed for my dice. Reluctantly I have my catapult fire: it launches and it does middling damage to the wall its facing. Next up the 10-man cannon with barely any ammo. I figure that I’m not going to have enough ammo to do anything to the castle and will have to fall back on a futile ladder and ropes assault.

The dice roll a pretty good result, we then flip to the section with wall damage and look on in horror as one shot blows away the section of wall firing and does so much damage that the secondary collapse blow up the entire facing to say nothing of the orcs that it vaporizes in the resulting collapses. 

We then stare at each other dumbfounded. Did that really just happen? Did we miss something in the rules?

I can’t stress this enough, the three of us literally stopped the game, looked at each other then we huddled around the rulebook, looking at the relevant rule sections. Now the three of us had each taken turns reading and it's still "what the Hell?" We also figured we had the rules down pat, but, nope. We had read the rules right and the castle wall was history from one -shot.

A nano-second later we all come to the same conclusion. Did they play-test this at all? And that pretty much ended that game right there. We tried a couple more scenarios and the results were pretty much the same.

What a disappointment, one of the greatest of my 30 years of gaming.

We weren’t into 40K so we never tried the 40K rules for it. One would imagine that if gunpowder weapons could blow up a fortification with one shot then what lasers, bombs, siege dreadnoughts, etc would do to it. Sure the energy fields might have made them last a tad bit longer, but ugh, who wants to game that out?

So that was my first pretty much only brush with Warhammer Siege and it sticks out in my mind like a sore thumb. The rules could not have been conceivable tested in anyway shape or form. It’s probably fitting that the large (as in 3 foot castle), counters, siege engines and the like are mostly long gone now. It would be too painful to look at the time and effort put in for such an enormous let-down. Certainly a low point of me in terms of gaming.

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