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Topic of the Week - Do we really need core? 
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Malekith's Best Friend
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Greetings!

A bit of a controversial topic, perhaps, but it's something I'd like to discuss with the community: the role of core, and do we really need it?
All game platforms we play seem to have an equivalent of "core" units: WFB, T9A and battleline units in AoS.
Core units seem to have two historical goals:
  • Shape the design or look of an army (you don't have an army unless this is included), and through this the shape and look of the game.
  • Drive up the sales, or at least we suspected it did.
In theory, it also balanced armies, or forced more balanced lists. It supposedly stopped "power combos", though 8th edition kind of let those back in.
Do we really need such restrictions to make an interesting game in WFB, AoS or T9A?

Antony made a big rant on it on his YouTube channel a while ago.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRQtutaTmKM
I'm not a big fan of his screaming, but he does make a few interesting points on the subject.

If we look at historical battles in WFB, the make-up of armies was decided by the location and resources available... not whether there were enough dreadspears available to justify fielding this many executioners.
Removing core requirements in the current state of things would probably lead to core units becoming very unpopular. I can't help but wonder if that isn't the real issue at hand. What would be needed to make units that are now core interesting? Why can't they have merit of their own? And if they don't.. what would they need to be worth it?

Personally, I wonder, if we could balance special and core by swapping the magical banner requirements: limited or no options for all elite troops and considerably freedom for units that are now core. It would allow us to tweak and tune the core units to give them a specific role, where special units already have their role and tend to be naturally proficient at it. It would make it "alright" for a general to show up with loads of dreadspears, instead of being forced to hire executioners, because they need to tackle chariots... Err?!

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Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:02 pm
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Corsair
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In T9A, core is considered a GW legacy which serves little purpose.
I would not be surprised to see it dropped in next edition.
Former core and former special would be in the same, melee category, with ex-core being better at numbers and ex-special better at individual fights.

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Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:25 pm
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Malekith's Best Friend
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That would make an interesting development. I would love to see our core elevated to a position, where they don't need to be core tax to be valid on the table :)

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"I move unseen. I hide in light and shadow. I move faster than a bird. No plate of armour ever stopped me. I strike recruits and veterans with equal ease. And all shiver at my coldest of whispers."
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Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:34 pm
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As far as I'm concerned, if a game system needs to have army composition restrictions to force a player to play a "fluffy" army, and a fluffy army is less powerful than a powergamer army, something is already wrong in the game system.

Why does a certain kind of unit obtain "core" status, in a real-world historical or contemporary military, or in the military of an internally consistent fictional world? Because, all things considered, a certain kind of unit simply offers the most bang for the buck for the entity raising the army. That said, if core units are not an attractive proposition, at the very least it suggests their points cost should be decreased.

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Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:12 am
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If I were designing a tabletop wargame from scratch, ideally I'd have no army comp restrictions at all, but make sure that the points costs and rules generally favour armies that look like 'real' armies.

So, you want to play an army that's just a dozen sorceresses and nothing else? Fine. Perfectly 'legal'. But it will not perform as well as an equal points' worth of mixed infantry, cavalry, artillery and characters. A 'balanced' and 'fluffy' army should ideally also be the most 'hard to beat' army in most circumstances. Make that the goal and adjust the rules and points costs to achieve that.

If the fluff states that most Dark Elf armies include lots of repeater crossbowmen, then repeater crossbowmen need to be good enough for their points cost that most DE players want to include them. Just making them a tax unit is a lazy and horrible solution, IMO.

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Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:47 am
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Interesting point! Actually a very nice idea, to transform the ex-core into the backbone of your army instead of special or characters supported by core-tax. I love the idea of my ultimate dream a Executioner only themed army of Har Ganeth, very specialized yes, competitive problaby not, but absolutely awesome.

Good to hear T9A is considering this idea! Looking forward to what it will bring, nice idea to have 50% of my army based on ex-core such as mass spearman and repeater crossbows. I still have 50 female repeater crossbows modeled waiting to be used and painted besides 60 spears.

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Wed Feb 08, 2017 11:11 am
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To elaborate on the simple fix of just making core units cheaper, I think doing that quite significantly, even maybe shaving off as much as 25% to 35% of their points cost, could do the job. I'd say reducing core points costs has only gone too far when all-core armies start beating fluffy, balanced armies, or when choking the table with core becomes the norm in competitive gaming.

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Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:19 pm
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Another option:
Fluffwise, core units are the ones conscripted and trained specifically for the campaign while special units are veterans with years of training and experience. This means that the general hires the special units as they are but can shape the core units to his own liking.
Rulewise, that means there could be a choice to buy the core units some army-wide bonus (or get some based on who the general or perhaps BSB is). There is a similar mechanic in T9A DE: if your general comes from a cult, all your core is automatically converted to the same cult as well for no cost. The exact execution has some flaws but the idea is cool.

As a side note, I have a half-baked idea that might lead in a similar direction. Imagine the following rule:
"If the BSB has a magic banner, all core units in the army are always affected by it."
- one could play with this quite a lot: all core units, all units without restrictions, all infantry and cavalry units? Only units in BSB reroll range or any unit on the battlefield? This allows to balance the effect a bit.
- poor trolls if I have a flaming BSB; I am sure the rule would allow for quite a few imbalances if applied right away
- on the other hand, it would make the armies feel quite unique - imagine two identical armies, one with +1 movement banner on BSB, the other with flaming banner. They feel quite different I would say.

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Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:44 am
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That's an interesting idea. Perhaps unit specific upgrades? +1WS or +1 I or +1 Ld.. In 8th edition, some of the magic banners already offered this, but then they only made those accessible to special units (except for elves sometimes). I really liked having that option on core. It gives them that extra little push which makes a big difference.
Glancing at a few projects that continue WFB, it seems granting core the option of heavy armour comes up a few times. There seems to be a recurring idea to make them more viable and less of a tax.

But then I wouldn't want spearmen to become "badass", just viable and meaningful.

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Furnace of Arcana, a warhammer blog with delusional grandeur.

"I move unseen. I hide in light and shadow. I move faster than a bird. No plate of armour ever stopped me. I strike recruits and veterans with equal ease. And all shiver at my coldest of whispers."
- The stiff breeze


Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:43 am
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Spearelves are meant to represent a citizen levy, but I'm not sure they are actually trained on a per-campaign basis. I rather thought they'd be more like reservists who are already trained (to a basic level), and that can be mobilized and demobilized as the situation warrants.

Thus, fluffwise speaking, there isn't much of a reason for them not to be present in an army, if it's a sufficiently large battle. Mobilizing a levy that already exists is next to free.

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Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:21 pm
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Konrad von richtmark wrote:
I rather thought they'd be more like reservists who are already trained (to a basic level), and that can be mobilized and demobilized as the situation warrants.

WHFB's HE and DE spearmen (and archers and repeater crossbowmen) are not hastily-levied conscripts marched off to battle with minimal training. Your average elf spearman probably has as much total military experience as a Bretonnian knight. He's just not a full-time soldier, and that experience would have come in relatively short periods of mobilization spread over a couple of centuries.

So, yeah, 'reservists' is more accurate than 'levies' for elvish 'core' troops.

Quote:
Mobilizing a levy that already exists is next to free.

It is for the Dark Elves, because their agriculture, mining and other essential work is mostly done by slaves. You're temporarily losing a few skilled craftsmen and overseers for the duration of the mobilization, but you can easily survive that. For High Elves, it's a much bigger cost, closer to the Anglo-Saxon fyrd system, where long-term military commitment eventually means you will run out of food. This is why conflicts between the two are usually DE attacking Ulthuan and not HE attacking Naggaroth. The HE cannot afford to send half their population off to fight in foreign lands like the DE can.

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"You talk much of 'good' and 'evil' and what is 'right'. To me, there is only my duty to my crew. To keep them mostly alive and whole, to find them good hunting grounds, enough loot to keep them satisfied, enough slaves to spare them too much drudgery. I do 'right' by them, and they repay me by keeping their innate treachery to a minimum. Beyond that, I leave moral philosophy to the Asur. They are more suited to such pointless prattling." - Fleetmaster Kallor Nanelthyirah

My PLOG


Fri Feb 10, 2017 8:58 am
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I couldn't have worded it better, Shadowspite. For many Dark Elves, military service is also the only path available to rise in status. When the war is over, High Elves may hand their spears and shields on the wall and pick up their tools for their craft. Dark Elves just go another campaign.
Their only purpose is to battle, dominate others and inflict pain. It's implied in the armbooks that, should a day of peace come, when all their foes are conquered and dead, they probably wouldn't know what to do with themselves.

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I love me a bowl of numbers to crunch for breakfast. If you need anything theoryhammered, I gladly take requests.

Furnace of Arcana, a warhammer blog with delusional grandeur.

"I move unseen. I hide in light and shadow. I move faster than a bird. No plate of armour ever stopped me. I strike recruits and veterans with equal ease. And all shiver at my coldest of whispers."
- The stiff breeze


Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:42 am
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Malekith's Personal Guard
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Another option to make core options more interesting to give them options based on cities, so marhosias idea but but characters can choice from what city they come (and recruited their core). Not sure how much of our fluff survived, always loved the division of druchii population by the great cities.

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Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:16 am
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Frankly, I think all solutions that add more bells and whistles to core units to make them more attractive, to something like special-lite, are defeating the very point of core. And, in the process, cheapening the specialness of elite special units.

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Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:42 am
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I disagree. All elves should be special. :D And while our special category usually is, core units do not feel like the perfectly drilled soldiers full of skill and grace. There are too many foes the core units have just no chance against and there are armies that can basically make all our core useless (full 1+ armour Empire if nothing else). Basically, I think all elf units should be really good at what they are supposed to do. Our core is supposed to kill things (except dark riders who don't need any change) but is not too good in it. What I would like would be a clear distinction:

- core units are not supposed to fight but are really good at something else (say, interfering with enemy movement)
- special units are supposed to fight and are really good at it

Or the other way around - core units are fighters that can expect to beat anybody under the right circumstances and special units are experts at dealing with certain clearly defined scenarios. (Stupid example: smoke bombers: have some very weak shooting, if they hit the opponent with their shooting attack (not wound), he has a stackable -1 BS.)

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Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:22 am
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All I have to say is: Go ahead and play games without the core requirement.

People complain about core or the core tax. Saying of its just make those units see play. ....yes, that is exactly what it does. Its not a big secret.
Without core, your elites are no longer elite. Simple as that.

Don't get me wrong its fun to play with the force org chart in order to create different types of armies.


Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:31 am
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Marchosias wrote:
I disagree. All elves should be special. :D And while our special category usually is, core units do not feel like the perfectly drilled soldiers full of skill and grace. There are too many foes the core units have just no chance against and there are armies that can basically make all our core useless (full 1+ armour Empire if nothing else). Basically, I think all elf units should be really good at what they are supposed to do. Our core is supposed to kill things (except dark riders who don't need any change) but is not too good in it. What I would like would be a clear distinction:

- core units are not supposed to fight but are really good at something else (say, interfering with enemy movement)
- special units are supposed to fight and are really good at it

Or the other way around - core units are fighters that can expect to beat anybody under the right circumstances and special units are experts at dealing with certain clearly defined scenarios. (Stupid example: smoke bombers: have some very weak shooting, if they hit the opponent with their shooting attack (not wound), he has a stackable -1 BS.)


Well, elves are already elite compared to humans, and most other races out there. A core elf has WS4, which is the skill level of an elite human. Elven core infantry will significantly beat human WS3 core in a straight fight.

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Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:33 pm
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