As for Magic, I have to admit I don't mind the rules changes much, and actually like the additional main phase after the combat phase, since it allows for mechanics like bloodthirst and adds an additional element of bluffing to the combat phase (will he play another critter after his and mine have wiped each other out if I block or won't he?).
As for players, I know our local game store has an active Magic scene, but I've yet to really check it out. I'm a bit hesitant, since every time I've seen people play Magic there so far, it's been teenagers, and I wouldn't want to be the only person my age joining in. That'd just be sad. I'll have to ask the store owner if there are more old farts playing.
As for Warhammer, the brief rundown I promised:
Generally speaking, Humans are completely average stat-wise, but also tend to be pretty cheap, which allows you to go for an advantage in numbers, which in Warhammer can be just as important as having good stats for your troops. There are two human armies:
Take one half early Renaissance troops, one quarter steampunk artillery and one quarter religious zealots, and you have the Empire. The nicest thing about Empire is their sheer flexibility: doesn't matter if you like to put an emphasis on infantry, cavalry, ranged combat or magic, with Empire, it's all possible while retaining a decent chance of winning. However, this also means they don't really excel at anything, other than long-range combat, which due to their riflemen and war machines is quite good.
A cavalry army of mounted knights (with some peasant rabble on foot as backup, if you wish). A bit of a one-trick pony (pun intended): they're absolutely devastating on the charge, but if their initial offensive doesn't break the enemy, they're pretty much toast. The heraldry can be tons of fun for experienced painters, though.
Chaos generally has incredibly powerful troops: their basic troops are a match for most special troops of other armies, and many of their special/rare troops are a match for hero characters. The price you pay for that is high, though, as chaos troops are so expensive points-wise that you can only field very few of them. They also lack any ranged combat troops, making them vulnerable to any opponent that can keep them at a distance. There are three Chaos armies:
- Daemons of Chaos
These are incredibly powerful and often highly maneuverable, with powerful magic to boot. Their biggest downsides are that you'll have even fewer of them than of the other Chaos armies, and that they have virtually no armor, which makes them vulnerable to ranged attacks.
- Warriors of Chaos
Strong, tough, heavily armored... you don't want to get into melee with these guys. Fortunately they're few in number and mostly consist of infantry troops, which means their assault will be very slow and vulnerable to ranged attacks and outmaneuvering.
- Beasts of Chaos
I haven't read their latest army book yet and have never played them or against them, so I couldn't tell you too much about them, unfortunately. I do know they're the cheapest points-wise of all chaos troops, though, so their armies tend to be more numerous. They also have a lot of monsters in addition to their regular beastmen troops.
Dwarfs have incredibly tough, well-armored troops, and their riflemen and artillery are more than a match for the Empire, and can be quite devastating. They don't have any magic, but have enough anti-magic to often make sure their opponent doesn't either. Their biggest downside is their lack of movement range and maneuverability, which makes dwarfs a very static army that can be vulnerable to outmaneuvering or swarming.
Elves in general have a good movement range and maneuverability, high accuracy and are pretty tough to hit in melee combat. Their biggest downside, however, is that they're not very strong or tough, meaning that they often have trouble actually doing damage after a succesful hit, and are pretty much toast if the opponent gets a hit in. There are three types of elf armies:
- High Elves
Think Elrond's troops in The Two Towers. They have very good infantry troops and very powerful magic, but their troops are expensive points-wise, leaving you with only a relatively small elite force on the battlefield. Powerful on the offensive, but you can't really afford to take too many losses because there are so few of them.
- Dark Elves
The evil Elves. A bit less expensive points-wise than High Elves, so you'll usually have a bit more of them on the field. A very fast and maneuverable army with good magic and ranged combat options as well. Great if you like to play aggressively.
The Legolas-style Elves, although about half of the army consists of creatures like dryads and treants as well. A very mobile skirmishing army that excels at ranged combat and taking advantage of terrain on the battlefield, running circles around their opponent while pelting them with arrows. Just like High Elves, their relatively high points cost leaves you with a small, elite force as opposed to a horde-style army.
Arguably the best all-round army in Warhammer. Strong rank and file infantry supplemented by fast skirmishers, a lot of big, nasty critters and some of the strongest spellcasters in the game. Their main weakness is their low initiative, which can really turn against you in prolonged engagements.
Whereas most armies will consist of human-sized models with the occasional big monster thrown in, this army is the opposite: the bulk of your forces will consist of the rather large ogres. You won't have too many of them, but they can take quite a bit of punishment and dish it out as well. Their small numbers can be a major weakness, though.
Orcs and Goblins (Greenskins)
Strong and tough Orcs combined with fast, mobile Goblins can make for a lethal combination, especially since you can field quite a few of them due to low point costs. It's an incredibly random army to play as, though, because they're prone to infighting and have some very random magic, war machines and special units that can hit friend and foe alike. Devastating if the dice are on your side, but I've also seen a Greenskins player lose three quarters of his army on turn one... before his opponent had ever touched a single die himself.
The ratmen are the true 'Zerg horde' of Warhammer: your basic troops may be weak, but you really do have a huge amount of them. Their special troops range from gatling guns to giant mutated monsters to ninja's, and those can all wreak havoc on enemy troops while they're bogged down in your mass of cheap rat cannon fodder.
What both Undead armies have in common is that their basic troops are weak, but relatively plentiful and easily replaced. They also cause fear, which weakens the enemy or even sends him packing outright before a blow has even been struck. There are two Undead armies:
- Vampire Counts
Afterstasis will be able to go into more detail, but as I said above: you have incredibly powerful (and expensive) hero and lord characters that can often take on a normal enemy unit by themselves as well as some nasty beasties and cavalry. Ranged combat is virtually nonexistent for them, though, although their magic can pack quite a punch.
- Tomb Kings
These Egyptian style undead are very maneuverable, with lots of chariots and cavalry supplementing their basic skeleton troops. Their war machines also pack quite a punch. It's a very difficult army to play, though, because your units aren't that powerful individually, and you need to coordinate them well to beat your opponent.
Hope that gives you a bit of an idea... if you have any questions, please do ask away.