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woensdag 21 september 2011

Special Characters in Fantasy - yay or nay?

Saramoff is doing a OK review over on 3++, where they occasionally take a break from posting cracking 40K stuff to dabble in the Fantasy side of things.

When he wrote his Special Character review (which you can find here), it made me realise there is a fundamental difference between special characters in 40k and Fantasy.

Taking Special Characters is a lot more 'special' in Fantasy than it is in 40K.

Most of the 40k army lists that are out there use Special Characters to one degree or other. Seriously, try googling "Draigowing army list" and see how many hits you get.
Now, part of this is to do with the fact that certain Special Characters allow certain units to be taken in a different FOC slot, like Logan for Space Wolves, Draigo or Coteaz for GK, The Baron for DE, etc, etc. If you want Wolf Guard as Troops, you need to take Logan. Simple as that. And sometimes these unlocks can lead to a player being able to create a very good, or just plain better, list

Another reason is that sometimes a Special Character is just an almost impossible to skip way of making an army better, like Grotsnik for Orks, Eldrad for Eldar, or Vulcan for Vanilla Marines. Sure, you can make a good army without them, but taking them makes your army better, so why wouldn't you?
Lastly, we have the fluffy reason. The Chaplain Cassius in a Tyranid Wars Veterans army or a Yarrick IG Army. These don't add anything particularly good to your army other than fluff, and this makes them by far the least taken characters.

One thing to note is that hardly any 40k player will be suprised to see a Special Character set up on the table across from him. There is this mentality in 40K where it is completely O.K. to take a Special Character. This.probably stems from the fact that it has been years since every codex had the little "use only with opponent's permission" caveat. 40k players are no longer bound by having to ask permission to use part of their codex, haven't been for a while, and it's showing.

The taboo on taking Special Characters in Fantasy seems to be somewhat larger still.

Of course, hardly any Special Characters in Fantasy have army list Unlocks (Skaven has some, Chaos Warriors have one). So, your army list stays the same no matter which character you take.
Secondly, while it is true that some characters do make your army as a whole better, this is far less prevalent than in 40k. No army wide buffs that I can think off, and not many unit buffs either (Skweel comes to mind).
Finally, a lot of the Special Characters in Fantasy are iust not worth it, point for point. While recent 40k codexes have great Special Characters that are very points efficent (Coteaz, the Duke, or the Baron), Fantasy does not. Just look at the OK Special Characters for examples. Golgfang is only worth it if you roll high for his magic item allowence, and don't even get me started on Bragg or Greasus...

Now, a big reason Special Characters aren't used a lot in Fantasy currently is that some of the 7th ed books have Characters that are just plain over the top (Teclis, stand up). As a whole, for tournament play or even organized club games, it is just easier to ban Special Characters altogether than making a subjective selection of which Characters are allowed and which aren't.

Fantasy seems to still be about asking your opponent for permission, so to say, and Fantasy players on the whole have a very different view on the taking of Special Characters than do 40k players.

So next time you die-hard Fantasy players play a game vs a mostly-40k player, be attentive and discuss how you will handle the Special Characters issue and avoid any akwardness during the game...

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