Monday, May 29, 2017

8th ed Warhammer 40,000 - Initial Thoughts & Tactics



I for one, am super excited about 8th edition 40K. 7th edition was a fun ride, which quickly went down an ugly road of GW sprinkling rules for armies across multiple codexes. By the end, you need a mule to carry all the books required to play a competitive army. I also thought 7th ed core rules were a nice refinement of 6th ed rules, I also felt the core rules had become far more complicated than they needed to be. 

Enter 8th edition. Let me start by saying I like about 80% of what they have done and hate about 20% of the changes. I love the simplifications and clean up they have done, but they really dropped the ball on a couple key changes that bog down the game or water down certain important tactical elements of the game. 

CORE RULES: 

May I be the first to say, thank fucking god they got rid of game words game turn and player turn and now use battle round and player turn. No longer do we need to argue of the meaning of "TURN". In additions coherency stayed 2" but extended to 6" vertical, which is actually important as pile ins are only 3" in hth. 

  • Units that are split up must re-establish unit coherency in the movement phase.
  • It should also be noted their is no stat caps. So id you are a S6 dread with a dread close combat weapon... you are now S12. 



Movement Phase:

  • Models have individual movement stats
  • Cannot move through other models or terrain features (like walls)
  • Must stay 1" away in the movement phase
  • Fly ignores all riders
  • Falling back, lets you leave combat. Interestingly you can move in any direction, you just cant advance or charge or shoot. (Flying models can shoot). 
  • Fallback is also interesting for hth. If you end up out of coherency, you HAVE to re-establish in the movement phase. So you might be able to force a unit to fallback instead of fighting if they were sloppy in the way they pulled their models.
  • It should also be noted, falling back still can't move through models. So you can encircle units to keep them from falling back...
  • Advance is the new run. Move +d6 and you can't shoot of charge after. 
  • NOTE: There are no rules for difficult terrain. So much like AoS, I expect you can move full speed through terrain features but walls you have climb over the top.



PSYCHIC PHASE:

  • 2d6 equal or greater of the target number to cast
  • SMITE: All psykers get smite. Target 5. 18" D3 mortal wounds. If the result was more than 10, D6 mortal wounds. 
  • PERILS: double 1 or 6 and the psyker takes d3 mortal wounds. OUCH. Expect a lot of psykers to be eating it. 
  • Deny the witch. Another psyker with 24" can deny the witch on a 2d6 if you role higher than the casting psyker. 
  • So expect a lot of armies to have 1 psyker for psychic defense, as a single psycher in the middle of board will deny about half the attempts to cast a power.



SHOOTING PHASE
  • First off you can split your fire, so bolters at infantry and lascannons at tanks.
  • After you pick a unit to shoot with, you have to declare what they are shooting. This means declare you what weapons are shooting where before you roll to hit!
  • Characters can only be chosen as targets if they are the closest target. 



  • New wounding table shakes up the game A LOT. Now everything can be wounded in a 6. 
  • No obliteration rules means you can't just eliminate multi wound models with big guns anymore.
  • Wound allocation is now done by the models owner. So a major tactic of this edition is where you pull models from your unit. Unit leaders can now lead from the front. Special weapons and the like will be the last to die, etc. Although wounded models must be allocated wounds first, so no [reading out wounds across multi wound units. 
  • Saving throws. GW FUCKED UP... So basically you have roll wounds one at a time, which could slow down the game a lot. That said, in units of similar guys or 1 wounds, you can do it in batch and allocate after. 
  • Excess damage does not transfers from model to model. This is important on multiple fronts. A single melta gun can't kill 6 guys, but also weapons with multiple shots and D3 or D6 wounds can do a HUGE amount of damage in a single shot. 
  • Terrain only gives you a bonus if your UNIT is ENTIRELY. So one model not in the terrain features and NO ONE get's the bonus. 
  • Mortal wounds, auto wound AND you get no save. Not even invulnerable save. This is basically the death of death stars and super tough units. I expect a lot of list will be focusing on maxing mortal wound output. 



CHARGING

  • 2d6 charge range, but you don't have to make it to base, only within 1". 
  • You can charge as many units as you want to target, but they can all over watch. This is important though, because you can eliminate a lot of squads at once with a big unit. 
  • The only restrictions to charge movement is unit coherency and the first model you move must be with 1" or the charge fails. It doesn't even have to be the closest. So feel free to scatter in all directions and pick with models you want to be in base with. Just remember you can' go through any models including your own. 
  • Heroic intervention moves a character 3" towards THE CLOSEST enemy model after all charges are complete. I'm assuming this means, it can bring them in HTH, but it doesn't actually say that... 
FIGHT PHASE
  • 3" Pile in happens first. Even if you just charged! The only caveat is that you must end up closer to an enemy. It's an interesting rule because you can count on some jiggering movement after your charge to get more guys in fighting range. So consider wrapping guys around the edges edges before you lock yourself into base to base. This is especially important with Characters, as they will be charging second and have to be in 1" themselves. 
  • Only models with 1" of another unit or 1" of a model in the same unit that is within 1" of an enemy can attack. 
  • Wounds and everything are done as shooting. So wounds can actually be pulled from anywhere in the unit. It doesn't have to be in base on anything. 


TRANSPORTS
  • So transports can hold multiple units now. So expect lots of small units cramming into tanks
  • All models in a unit need to be with 3" to embark, which is actually pretty tight for a 10 man unit. 
  • Disembark is 3" as well, which you can basically add to you movement. So expect a lot of rhinos setting up on table edges, to get the 3" + M + d6 for run or 2D6 for charge. 
  • When a transport is destroyed, remove it from the table. So no more husks of vehicles to hide behind! This is actually pretty significant. In addition, roll a d6 for each model, on a 1 you kill a guy. This is pretty significant for expensive units and great for crap units. Weird change, but a big change. 
MORALE
  • Moral happens at the end of each player turn. 
  • D6 + number of models in the unit lost. Lose a model for every point above the leadership score. 
  • While it sounds like an utter disaster for horde armies, it turns out most of the chaff armies have morale protections. Orks have the mob rule, nids have synapse, genestealers have patriarchs, etc. That said, its a pretty brutal rule, however in hth it's by unit not by total combat. This also favors mutli wound models, vehicles, characters, etc. 



WEAPON TYPES:

In general these are significantly different than we have today. They are also universal rules, which I thought they got rid of... Well, I think getting rid of universal rules is one of their stupidest changes, so I'm glad they did this.
  • Assault weapons can fire, even if you ran... (I mean advanced) in the movement phase. Which is enormous for armies like orks and tyranids that historically have tons of assault weapons and and need to run across the board. 
  • Heavy weapons can move and fire with a -1 to hit. So expect to see things like moving tac squads and the like. I really like this rule. Anything to increase mobility of units is a good thing in my book.
  • Ok... so grenades are thrown. THANK GOD! Honestly, grenades have been an issue for a long time. The 1 point frag grenade has complete made the game unfair for most assault armies. So finally, they simply got rid of initiative and now we throw grenades. That said... I am interested in the fate of might melta bomb.
  • Pistols are in a weird gray area. While, it's awesome you can fire them in hth... You are shooting a weapon in hth! So do they get cover saves for shooting weapons? RAW, I say yes, which would make them less valuable than I initial thought. 


BABY ARMY MAKING 

So formations are basically force org charts, similar to the CAD in 7th. It's actually pretty similar to 30K and how they approach army building, although it looks like you will be able to take multiple formations and multiple allies. 


COMMAND POINTS
  • You start with 3 and add more from formations. 
  • Enter resource management in 40K. Honestly, these are pretty cool. It's a pretty elegant way to add game manipulation. It will be interesting to see where stratagems go. It would be pretty cool if HQs or factions had unique stratagems. As it is, command re roll is ENORMOUS. Especially with weapons doing d6 damage. 
  • You also have some choice to take 3 to 5 HQ, Super heavies or fliers. So get ready for armies of 5 blood thirsters, knight wings and armies of storm talons... It will be interesting to see how people feel about this. 



DETACHMENTS

  • Ok, so the battalion detachment is what they are pushing to be your core detachment. So basically 1 HQ and 3 troops.
  • You have options for 1 HQ and 3 fast, elite or heavy, with the tax of 2 command points. This is a very BIG change. You can basically run some pretty crazy lists. We have also seen some mission and it looks like every unit scores, so any unit is viable. 
  • You have detachments for fortifications and super heavies. I think this edition, you will see a more of these units in standard list. 
  • Auxiliary support detachments actually subtract command point to take a single option of a HQ, fast, elite, troops, etc. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. It basically lets you cherry pick units. So how knows... maybe everyone will be running around with 1 rune priest :p 




CONCLUSION & OTHER THOUGHTS

Overall, It's a pretty easy rule set to consume. The only major outstanding questions I have are around pistols shooting in HTH and some of the odd scenerios with fallback. Like do I get to ignore the 1" move when falling back as long as I don't end in 1" of an enemy.

There are also still a lot of missing pieces like rules for flyers, terrain, missions, etc. but in general the changes made make the game better for the most part.

As a general observation, GW removed all the scenerios where you don't get to "play" the game. So everything from re rollable 2++ saves, to hiding in combats with fearless guys, to null deployment, to late reserves, to deathstars have largely been removed from the game or an element has been added to diminish their relevance.

That said, there are a couple rule choices that I absolutely hate.

  1. Removing universal rules... Universal rules are great because you know them and they work the same for everyone. Now you will have 50 slightly versions of rules like infiltrate. It slows down the game and bloats the rules and the reading. I have zero confidence in GW maintaining identical rules across similar units and if you want to change the rule, now you have to change all the individual units...
  2. Armor facing. Yes. I applaud GW moving towards all vehicles are basically gargantuan creature transports. BUT. It eliminates side and rear armor. Flank and rear shots are huge part of warfare and one of the more interesting elements of 40K from a tactical perspective. If I was the game designer, I would have had one Toughness values, but made side arc -1T and rear -2T. Simplification is great, but not at the expense of rewarding tactics. It literally would have taken a single sentence to add. 
  3. Random damage. I'm fine with random shoots. I don't love it, but it works well for replacing templates and the like. Random damage on the other hand kinda makes the game a beer and pretzel game because your unit output is based more on random chance than your tactical play. For example, let's say I get 6 melta guns in a great spot and hit with 4 of them... I can do anywhere from 4 to 20 damage on a unit. That's an insane spread. So a single guy in a IG squad could do more damage with a melta shot that a 5 man squad of fire dragons that hit with 5 fusion guns. That's just bad game design. It's just not fun... 
  4. U go. I go. I think this edition should have mixed up the U go, I go turn sequence. Either as a 5 command point expenditure or made it U go, I go every phase. A rule set, akin to Epic would have been nice. 
  5. Reserves. So the uncertainty of reserves has always been a weird balancing element. Now, you can basically bring them in whenever and they can immediately charge. Sure, it's clean and easy but their was something nice about managing your list if you reserves didn't come in. We will see how it goes, but I fee like you will have a lot of flyer lists all trying to go second. 
  6. Fallback. Other than the rule being written a little foggy. I actually like that everyone has a poor man's hit and run, but I kind think they should have had a flea rule instead of overwatch. It would add a lot of cat and mouse tactics to the hth part of the game. 
  7. Deny the witch. 24" range is too big. So now you can take a single psyker and shut down 50% of attempted psychic power attempts. 24" radius is a 48" diameter! That's the whole board. Seems like a lot of upside for that 40 pts primaris psyker... It would have been a lot more interesting as a 9" radius IMO.  
  8. Missions. Again, GW decided to have a set of missions that are score and the end and a set that are tactical card based. As with 7th, you will simply see people pick one set or the other and be done with it. Missions that have a mix of secondary objectives, kill points per unit killed, objectives scored as you go and final state objectives rewards and penalizes all the different categories of armies and balances match play. I even would have applauded a pool of random objectives paired with chosen objectives or even something like Epic where you have to complete a couple of several objectives to win. Instead we relive the rock, paper, scissors format of 7th edition, where winning is largely based on army vs random mission selection. 


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