Thoughts on 8th edition

GW has put a lot into hyping up 8th edition and inevitably there is a lot of chat about it. I feel that I may as well post a few of my thoughts on what we have heard so far.

teasers: The first obvious difference is that way the rules are being slowly revealed. With 6th edition the store owners only knew a release was coming just before it happened and had almost no idea of content. 7th was really just a much needed patch job on 6th edition. This time it is different. It is the biggest rules change in a very long time and they want people to be ready. Instead of a surprise reveal, they are letting people understand the core mechanics a little at a time, which is a great idea.

All new codexes: This is necessary for a big rules shake-up, but frustrating for people who have just bought a new codex. However, it is definitely good for game balance. Some of my friends play Sisters of Battle and are still using a 4th edition codex, while I use my 7th ed Tau codex, with lots of juicy formations. When 7th ed came out, the first few formations were very balanced, but then the demons got a very powerful codex and then Necrons got all their cool, special decurion formations and things got worse from there. there is a tendency for new codexes to be overpowered, to encouraging buying the models. A fresh start means we get a balanced playing field. It also means nobody is left behind. When 6th ed brought in flyers, they were a game changer. Unless you had a new codex your army probably had nothing that could hurt them. People needed new codexes, with their own anti-aircraft weaponry and upgrades in order to fight them. They forced a rush to buy new models, but they destroyed game balance for years, while people waited for new codexes. With a clean sweep and a fresh start every army should, in theory, be on an even footing.

New armour rules: The combat rules all seem to follow quite closely to Age of Sigmar.  Clearly this was used for testing what worked well and what didn’t. The things people objected to, like no toughness, are being changed. The things that worked well are remaining. The armour save modifier for weapons is a good idea. You no longer have the all or nothing armour save. Your AP 6 does nothing, your AP 5 does nothing, your AP 4 does nothing, your AP 3 ignores the armour. Hardly. Much better to have an improved chance of punching through, but still allowing some save.

Cover saves: In the old game having marines in cover was utterly useless, except against heavy weapons. Standing a few feet away or hidden in a building. It made no difference. You had the same chance to hit or wound. A tank blows up the building, suddenly the armour is useless, but it’s ok. I’m hiding… really?

Under the new rules the shots are as likely to hit, but the walls might get in the way, so the cover save is a bonus to armour. I was expecting cover to give a penalty to accuracy, but when you see how it works with heavy weapons, it makes sense why it was added to armour. The tank blows up the building, blasting the walls apart, rocks fall, suddenly your armour is not as much help. A las cannon hits, melting through the wall in front of you, along with the armour. It makes sense and seems like a good mechanic to use. It also encourages everyone to use cover more.

No initiative: This rule was probably more for balance than any attempt at realism. In reality a charging person has no real advantage. The defenders have a tighter formation, can shoot the attackers. In an ancient army they can lock shield and set spears. Charging downhill can be good, charging uphill is stupid. Charging on the flat gives no real advantage.

Orcs are a melee army, but are soft and squishy. In the past if Orcs charged Tyranids or demons they would be ripped to pieces before landing a blow. Now whoever managed to line themselves up, ready to charge goes first. I guess this means the countercharge rule is gone. Is this realistic? No. Is it balanced? I don’t know.

In AoS the players alternate attacks, starting with the player whose turn it was to assault. In 8th edition all charging units act first. The difference is that 40K has overwatch. AoS does not. This rule is meant to balance out the combat, but it could skew it in favor of melee armies. It will certainly be good news for the Orcs and Necrons. Since most melee armies already have good initiative, it will probably not change that much for anyone else.

No templates: I liked templates. They gave a great element of luck, but I can see why.  They led to arguments about how many people were under the template. They slowed gameplay and sometimes the rule holes made them absurdly powerful. What do you mean, the template hits every level of the building? But those guys on the top are more than 12″ up. Your template is only 8″ long. Really? Ok. So, your one flamer has just taken out my four squads. Damn you GW! (In 5th ed it was the opposite. The blast hits the building, covering where the whole unit is, but as the unit is split between levels it can only hit a fraction of the unit). The lack of templates will speed up the game and reduce arguments.

No Formations: Really? Ok. Some formations are pretty broken. They give a lot of power to the units in them, as long as you fit the formation. They encouraged themed armies, but they broke the game balance. Scrapping all the existing formations means you still have the same themed armies, but without extra special benefits. However, Age of Sigmar has formations, so I expect that there will be new formations coming back to 40K. The only difference is that we will need to spend points for the special benefits being offered.

Vehicles and monstrous creatures: The line between these was always a bit blurred. A dreadnought is a vehicle but a riptide is a monstrous creature.  Ratling snipers can easily gun down a riptide, but are useless against the dreadnought. Why? Is there really such a difference? Now they are both being merged into having the same rules, like the AoS behemoth. They will have lots of wounds and may have lots of attacks. Getting rid of the distinction is definitely a good thing for game balance and should speed up gameplay. However, the AoS leagues showed that big behemoths and behemoth HQ armies dominated the game. I hope the 8th ed designers have managed to bring a bit more balance to the rules.

Independent characters: This is one that no news has been released about yet, but it is likely to be the biggest game changer. In AoS the heroes can not join a unit. they are always separate. They may offer benefits to nearby units, but those benefits are not usually overpowering. (bonus on attack rolls, bonus on morale etc). In 7th ed an independent character bestows many abilities on a squad. Shadowsun can make any unit have stealth, shrouded and infiltrate. the leaders can be massive force multipliers. They are also great meat shields.

I like to use a Tau commander with viridium armour and a drone controller along with a squad of drones. Not only does this give a 150% upgrade to the drone shooting ability, but it also gives them a 2+ armour save, buy getting him to lead the way. If any AP2 weapons are fired, the drones give him a 2+ look out sir. It vastly improves the durability and firepower of the squad.

If the HQ cannot join a squad then it means no deathballs. No piling on cool upgrades. The opponent can simply shoot past the commander and gun down the drones instead. If the HQ is a squishy summoner they usually need a unit to act as meat shields. Now anybody can pick them off. If 8th ed follows AoS and keeps the hero or HQ out of the unit, then it will make a huge difference to how they are used in the game. I can see a lot more officers getting picked off, not only by snipers, but by massed infantry fire, in preference to shooting the infantry.

I look forward to seeing the final rules, but so far, from what I have read, it really does seem like the GW hype is telling the truth. This probably will be the best ever edition of 40K.

 

Since I wrote this, GW released an update on Independent Characters, showing that they will be treated in much the way I expected. Limiting only snipers and units for whom they are the closest enemy being able to shoot them was also a good decision.

This really looks like it will be the best 40K ever.

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Tau Rules Clarification / Public Service Announcement

This helps to clear up a lot of misunderstandings I had about the abilities of Tau.

IMMATERIUM PRESS

I have been reading a lot of the Tau tactica threads, totally not during work hours of course, and I decided to do a bit of detective work and put together a comprehensive list of which systems work for Overwatch/Interceptor, and which ones don’t. One of my favorite things about the Tau book is how specific the special rules are; for example, many of the shooting buffs specify that they only work in the shooting phase. Bam, no FAQ necessary! Well, almost… I’ll get to that in a minute.

A lot of the support/signature systems and other rules only work in your shooting phase, so they won’t help on Overwatch (which obviously occurs in the assault phase) or Interceptor shots (in the enemy movement phase).

  • Command and Control Node and the Multi-spectrum Sensor Suite both specify that they only work in the shooting phase (so no benefits if firing via Interceptor)…

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Thoughts on 6th ed.

I know it has been around for quite a while now, but I’m a bit slow getting on the 6th ed boat.  I just wanted to put down my thoughts so far about the 6th ed rules.  In general the rules seem well explained, clearer than 5th edition and seem to fix several holes in gameplay.  I’m mostly happy.  Now looking to a few key points:

Snap shots:  Yes!!! Oh the joy I felt when I first learnt that you can shoot at charging models cannot be described.  It also allows heavy weapons to move and fire (badly) which I think is great.  Great rule.

Charging: I like the random element.  The new rules also give less of an advantage to fleet units, in terms of how far they can charge.  It means basic troops can charge further, which is balanced by the ability of defenders to shoot at a charging unit.  All in all, it is an improvement.

Wounding:  It now states that wounds are allocated starting from the nearest model.  It is no longer whoever the player feels like allocating hits against.  It is now possible to stall a charge by shooting the front row.  Thank you GW.  Another great rule change.

Cavalry:  I am so pleased with this too.  The old rules had cavalry moving as slowly as infantry, but charging further.  It made it very hard to get them close.  The 12″ movement makes so much more sense.  I am so pleased at giving all cavalry fleet and hammer of wrath.  I am really going to have to work on finishing my Cadian rough riders now.

Challenges:  not so sure about this one.  I’m likely to be refusing challenges lots, as a mainly guard player.  It adds an extra element of fun though.

Vehicles:  The hull points system makes vehicles much easier to kill.  Instead of several glancing hits stunning the crew and not much else they can cripple the vehicle fairly easily.      It seems to make vehicles less useful and makes extra armour far less tempting.  Why bother reducing the crew stunned to crew shaken if the shot is still going to cripple the tank?  I’m glad they put in the rules about turning.  Some people used to move their vehicles in such stupid and unrealistic ways.  I like that vehicles in squadrons now have a choice of whether to abandon their mates, rather than being immobilised counting as being wrecked.  I tend not to rely on vehicles too much, but my feelings are mixed.  Movement rules are great.  Wounding rules less so.

Fortifications:  I’m really happy that fortifications can be bought as part of an army list.  If there are fortifications on the board, the player who starts in them has a huge advantage.  Rather than that being random, I’m really glad it is now reflected in the army list.

Flyers:  This is the bit I’m not happy with.  In the old rules flyers were cheap, in points terms, compared to other units.  (Makes up for being expensive to buy)  Now they are so much more powerful. They can fire all weapons when moving flat out, they can only be hit on a 6, they are immune to blast weapons (makes sense), can’t be assaulted (makes sense) and even if you hit them they can then choose to evade, giving themselves a cover save.  There is an Eldar flyer with the shrouded special rule, which gets a 2+ cover save if evading.  That’s after only hitting on 6s.  Its madness.  They can make bombing runs against units they pass over, as well as shooting units in front of them, allowing them to split their attacks in a way most units can’t.  The most basic rule of the battlefield seems to be, the army with flyers wins.

It’s not that the rules are unrealistic for flyers.  It’s just that the points cost for them does not reflect all their advantages.  It does reflect the desire of Games Workshop to sell lots of expensive flyer models.  The rules are skewed for flyers.  Taking veteran troops and stormtroopers in a Valkyrie or vendetta was already a very effective way to win battles.  Now it is almost the only way to win.  Air superiority certainly reflects modern warfare, but it doesn’t make for a balanced game.  GW need to vastly increase the points cost of all flyers.

I know someone who immediately spent nearly a thousand pounds on flyers as soon as the 6th ed rules came out.  He then mocks anyone too “stupid” to do the same. (yes, he really is that much of an arse)  I can’t afford to do that.  Fortunately, neither can most of my friends.  I can see us playing with a ‘no flyers’ house rule for the forseeable future.

more thoughts on 6th ed

OK.  6th edition has been with us now for a while and for the most part things are looking better.  I like the new shooting rules.  They definitely hinder melee armies, such as Orcs or Tyranids, but they are more realistic.  The changes to the furious charge rule and the fleet rules also hinder Orcs.  Basically, until a new codex comes out, Orc players are paying over the odds for their troops and are likely to lose.  The ‘nids are in the same boat.  However, this doesn’t make the rules bad.

Vehicles are easier to destroy.  Partly from the new hull points, but also because template weapons have been made far more effective.  Artillery has become a far more viable option on the battlefield as it no longer hits with half strength against vehicles on the edge of the blast template.  This makes vehicles even less effective.  Open transports are better than sealed transports, as at least all the passengers can shoot against anyone charging the vehicle.  A closed transport is no quicker than walking, restricts shooting and is just a waste of points.  I think vehicles need their cost reduced, but it is clear that GW want people to move away from ground vehicles towards fliers.

Fliers are very hard to hit, extremely fast, can fire off all their weapons when flying fast and can get a cover save when they are hit.  All of this makes them far too powerful.  Anti aircraft weaponry is not available to most army lists.  Flak missiles cost an extra 10 points per unit, but are only available in the latest codexes.  That which is available is generally ineffective against ground targets, thus making it quite specialised.  I don’t think the rules are unrealistic.  I just think that they are offering too many advantages at too low a points cost.  Fliers should have a cost which better reflects their effectiveness.  If you can’t afford a flier, make sure to get yourself aegis defence lines with a hydra autocannon emplacement.  For older army lists it is an essential addition.

The other rules are an attempt to standardise a lot of the special rules and I think they generally work well.  There are a lot of ways to add a bit of extra colour to a battle, with random traits associated to objectives, forests and other battlefield features.  6th ed games seem to work well, but the newer codexes have a distinct advantage over the older ones.

Wait until you see the whites of their Aaargh!

The orc trukk is racing across the plains towards the line of waiting troops.  They take aim at the vehicle but it is still too far to shoot.  It rolls forward and stops to allow the troops to leap off.  The orc war leader issues a fearsome Waaargh! and they come charging towards the waiting troops, slicing into them with their axes and slaughtering them where they stand.  Not a single shot was fired in return.

Has this ever happened to you?

What about when facing Dark Eldar or against jump troops moving from transport.

12″ movement by a fast, open topped transport, the troops deploy forward from the vehicle within 2″, the swift troops run up to 6″ then charge 6″.  They can travel up to 26″ in a round without anyone responding in any way.

Most troops in 40K have rapid firing automatic weaponry.  Surely they have time to pull a trigger.

With 6th edition due for release in about a month I sincerely hope that GW have done something to deal with this absurd imbalance in favour of close combat troops.

The simplest solution I can think of is this, interrupt fire.

If a unit does not shoot in the shooting phase they can hold their fire until the opponent’s turn.  They can then choose to interrupt after their opponents movement phase or shooting phase.

This allows you to shoot a charging opponent and the option to wait until after the shooting phase means that attackers need to consider whether to shoot, rather than sprint forward into a hail of fire.

This would not need any significant changes to the game mechanics, but would shift the balance back, so as not to be so heavily skewed against shooting armies.  Will GW do anything along those lines?  I doubt it, but I will be overjoyed if they do.