Here’s the thing: if you liked Warhammer Fantasy Battles, there are a bunch of reasons that you should be thinking about Hail Caesar as its newest edition.  Here are some bullet points for you:

  • Like Warhammer Fantasy, Rick Priestly wrote Hail Caesar.  Also, As you did with Warhammer Fantasy, you can buy miniatures for use with Hail Caesar from Bryan Ansell and the Perry brothers and a lot of the other sculptors and producers who have worked for GW. 
  • Like Warhammer, Hail Caesar represents large-scale battles between exotic and varied armies that each player can choose for her or himself.  I painted my most recent army because I thought they had cool hats, cool shields, and they get to field elephants.  Yes.  War elephants.  Cool hats, cool shields, and cool war beasts is pretty much why I started painting High Elves for Warhammer.
  • Like Warhammer, Hail Caesar has really cool source material.  Warlord Games (producer of Hail Caesar) is also partnered with Osprey Publishing, and so high-quality sourcebooks for each army, and even each type of unit (with excellent color sections to use as a painting guides), are readily available.  Most of these books retail for less than £10.00 on Amazon.
  • Like Warhammer, the units are grouped onto larger unit trays or bases, so that moving a whole division in Hail Caesar takes less time than moving one unit of 40K Orks.  Admittedly, watching the movie Gladiator takes less time than moving a unit of 40K Orks.

Hail Caesar is obviously one of Priestly’s projects, and when you play it, you will clearly see that it is an evolved version of the WFB rules.  All of the units will move, then shoot, then fight, and the core mechanic is not a new one – roll to hit, they roll to save, hits can modify a break test.  There are a number of things that are different, though, and these are a great improvement on the core mechanic.  More bullet points for you:

    • Movement is much more free and easy – there is no wheeling or strict formation changes, and troops generally travel across the board pretty quickly while still being threatened by missile troops.
    • There is also a level of uncertainty in activating your units, so sometimes your turn ends very quickly (before you wanted it to).  This means that each player isn’t waiting around for too long, even though the turns are “I-go-you-go.”
    • Finally, everything is…less.  You will see (and even recognize the names of) some of the special rules that make each army unique, but they are obviously modest, and they would never break the game.  “Tough Fighter,” for example, allows you to reroll one attack, and "Stubborn" allows you to reroll one save.  What would be out-of-balance special rules in WHF are here small adjustments that don’t cause one player to absolutely table another.  These special rules still matter because HC requires you to throw fewer dice in general, but they never make the opponent feel completely discouraged.
    • It must also be said that, regardless of what you think about the play of Age of Sigmar, there isn’t much of a community left of players.  I have no doubt that the AoS community will grow again, but a lot of people have been turned away.  The Hail Caesar community, on the other hand, seems to be growing rapidly.  At the most recent Strategicon (the main gaming Con in Los Angeles), we had 21 participants in the Hail Caesar tournament.  It was the biggest gaming event of the Con.  The Age of Sigmar table, on the other hand, stood empty for two days in a row, and on the second day the people putting on the game didn’t even play.

    Some of the tables for Hail Caesar at Strategicon
    If you are like me, you are missing the relationship that you used to have with GW, with Warhammer, and with their creative output.  Age of Sigmar is a lot of things, but one thing it is not is the Warhammer that I fell in love with.  What I am telling you is that the writers and artists and modellers who made Warhammer what it was are still actively working in the hobby, but you can’t find them anywhere near GW.  The company Warlord, and the game is Hail Caesar.

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