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Although the situation doesn't apply to the group with whom I play, I've noticed on various forums and tournament guidelines this notion of banning the use of special characters. Why is that? I am new to Warhammer Fantasy so it may be a reflection of naivete on my part, but it seems that the characters in the game lend it ... well, character.
There is such wonderful lore and background regarding for the various armies, often reflected in their special character choices, that it seems to me that leaving out the special characters diminishes that lore and the character of the army. Who better to lead a unit of White Lions than Korhil? The Phoenix Guard without Caradryn? Now I can understand that in smaller games, one can simply not afford to field heroes and they certainly would not appear at every battle ... but the complete banning of their existence?
Along similiar lines, I have read in places where people field Caradryn with White Lions or suggest placing Korhil with the Phoenix Gaurd. I suppose I am overly "fluffy" in that I completely don't understand this idea. How does on justify the silent Caradryn leading White Lions, or the Phoenix Gaurd being lead by a White Lion?!
Is this simply a different, competitive/tournament oriented mindset that ignores the lore and background of the setting? Do characters become little more than placeholders for bargain purchasing of statlines and gear?
I think it comes from the "open tournament" format that people are used to and under those conditions, people don't want Special Characters which COULD be unbalancing to the game. I like how in 6th Edition they give in the Army Sourcebooks flat out permission to use special characters that DO NOT have to be cleared.
Personally, some of my favorite battles, including my sole 1st place tourney win, took place with special characters in them. We did in 5th edition Warhammer a "2500 Point" UBBER army list, where you were REQUIRED to have a special character that was ARMY-LEADABLE/GENERAL in it, and this character alone was the only one that was exempt from other house rules, like no magic items over 50 points and such.
I used Thanquoal, the legendary Grey Seer of the Skaven, with the Fell Blade, Warpstone Armor, Seer Stone, and something else on a Screaming Bell. A powerfull force to be sure.
Considering that in this battle, the rat-bastard went head to head against and killed Karl Franz and his Griffon, Malekith on his chariot; and Nagash himself with all their tricks, I think it was a pretty good day weekend for me that weekend.
Basically it's down to the fact that lots of the special characters are severly underpriced for what they do - often you couldn't build up a lord or hero to do something similar by taking items from the magic item list without a) giving them more points worth of magic items than that level of character can take or b) breaking the limits on the numbers of magic items you can take of the same type (i.e. the special character has multiple talismans or enchanted items etc).Essentially yes. There's nothing stopping you fielding an army as close to the fluff as possible but I'd imagine for a number of armies you can play a fluffy army or an army with a chance of winning. While having fun should always be high on your list of aims when playing the game, personally I like to think I've got a chance of winning. As long as putting Korhil and Caradryan in each others unit is legal I'll do it (or at least I would if my friends and I used special characters as anything other than nice hero or lord models)Is this simply a different, competitive/tournament oriented mindset that ignores the lore and background of the setting? Do characters become little more than placeholders for bargain purchasing of statlines and gear?
I'm generally against taking Special Characters in my armies for several reasons.
1) I don't want to use a pregenerated character. I want MY general to become a living (or unliving) legend on his own merits.
2) Many times it seems unfluffy to take them. Karl Franz wouldn't be leading a 2k warband. I'd play him in no less than 5-6k, in front of an Army.
3) Last and least, many special characters are overpowered/underpriced. Again, this matters more in regular games than megabattle-sized encounters.
Thunder rolled across the sky; and it rolled a six.
They are also overcosted/underpowered. For every Teclis there are two Tehehuain(sp) or Greasus Goldtooth. There are a few special characters that are very good values but most of them are not worth their points for what they bring. It is the same with units and items. Why do you see Chaos Knights in just about every list and Forsaken in none? Pretty much every DE player equips their lord with the Pendant of Khaeleth but you hardly, if ever, see anyone with the Gem of Nightmares. It is because one of these is a good value and the other is not.3) Last and least, many special characters are overpowered/underpriced. Again, this matters more in regular games than megabattle-sized encounters.
I think there are a couple of reasons that Special Characters have been singles out for this unreasonable dislike. One is that they are the focal point of the army so they automatically gain more exposure and scrutiny. If you play against Kairos and two units of max. Flamers you will notice Kairos more even if the Flamers end up taking out more of your army. It is the nature of Characters. Second, in previous editions Special Characters usually were overpowered. This was done on purpose. They were high-powered characters that you needed opponent permission to use because of their potentially game-breaking abilities. They were for special games when you wanted that Epic feel to a battle. 7th Edition books have made them main-stream(even necessary for some builds) and put them back into balance with the rest of the army books.GW creates the possibility for fluffy list making by giving stats to characters they have created. Players take what they are given and use it to their greatest advantage. You may see it as being unfluffy where others are just looking for the best combos to win a game.Along similiar lines, I have read in places where people field Caradryn with White Lions or suggest placing Korhil with the Phoenix Gaurd. I suppose I am overly "fluffy" in that I completely don't understand this idea. How does on justify the silent Caradryn leading White Lions, or the Phoenix Gaurd being lead by a White Lion?!
Personally I like Special Characters and will use them when I want to. I expect that my opponents will do the same. For me it is not about the Special Characters but the overall make-up of the list. I will not enjoy playing against a Win At All Costs list regardless of if it has or does not have a Special Character. I will enjoy playing against a list I find fun no matter who the characters are. It comes down to your personal playstyle and finding opponents who share the same desires for the game that you do.
I don't particularly mind if an opponent uses them, especially if it fits the army. Kurt Helborg in a cav-heavy list seems acceptable. If the character is only in there to provide overpoweredness, I'll mind a little, but still play.
Necronid brings up some good points; not every character is a Thorek, and the overall list is what matters most. Two steam tanks is pushing it, regardless of the general.
Thunder rolled across the sky; and it rolled a six.