Saturday, August 25, 2012

6th Edition Concepts - Characters and Challenges

The more you play 6th edition the more you realise that, whilst the core rules are essentially the same, the seemingly subtle changes will actually make a big difference to how the game plays. For example, the combat mechanics are pretty similar once you get past Overwatch and Random Charges. However, one siginificant difference is the Challenges mechanic which can have dramatic effects on the outcome of a game. Let's have a look at an example first.

Mephiston was undoubtedly a combat beast in 5th edition 40K but can he still cut it? In 5th edition if Mephiston charged a unit it was probably only ever going to go one way and he'd be free to do the same to another unit in the next turn. However, in 6th edition that unit could use characters to it's advantage. Let's say for example that it was a squad of 8 grey hunters with a wolf guard led by a rune priest. Now in the past Mephiston has cut down a lot of the squad but I've sometimes been lucky enough to finish him off with the power fist and wulfen. If I don't get lucky, chances are after a couple of rounds of combat Mephiston will emerge triumphant (if a little battered) and look for his next target.

In 6th edition the Space Wolf player can hold Mephiston up quite a bit with challenges. Assuming Mephiston doesn't make any challenges (which he might do to ensure the rune priest dies) the Space Wolf player would challenge with the Wolf Guard. This means all of Mephistons 7 attacks can only kill a single marine. Granted Mephiston is unscathed but he's still pretty impotent. In the next phase the Space Wolf player challenges with the rune priest who again dies. Finally, Mephiston is allowed to let rip on the remaining grey hunters who have sat and watched for the first two phases. Mephiston's six attacks aren't going to kill them all off and maybe the wulfen gets a couple of lucking rending hits and scores a couple of wounds. Chances are you lose the combat and stay locked because he's going to catch you. Finally in a 4th combat phase Mephiston finishes the job and moves on.

In this way you've held a deadly combat unit up for 2 complete turns (4 player turns). That's quite a big chunk of the game and he's probably only just killed his points back by the end of turn 3. In 5th edition he'd have probably only taken 2 player turns to do the same and be looking for another target in game turn 3. On the flip side if you didn't challenge at all it may have been possible to keep the power fist alive long enough to hurt him a bit but really you're going to struggle especially when any 6s to hit for Mephiston are going to go on either the power fist or the wulfen.

I didn't really intend for that example to take so long but the point is that single model units now really struggle to be effective in combat because of challenges. There's a lot to think about when deciding to issue a challenge or not though. If you're the only controllling that single model unit do you challenge any characters that are a threat and hopefully finish off his squad in the second phase leaving you free again in your turn? Do you let your opponent decide whether to challenge or not and if he doesn't, punish the mistake?

I can't say I've really worked out what the best approach is with challenges. It's partly why I've written this post to try and get things straight in my head. With Slay the Warlord as a secondary objective challenges are a good way of claiming a VP too. It's easy to slam into combat and forget all about them though if you've still got your 5th edition head on.

I have to say I'm not a huge fan of the mechanic but I think that's probably because most of us are still playing 6th edition with 5th edition lists. There's been a lot of debate about wolf guard for example and how to design them for challenges. High initiative is going to be pretty important here too. Thinking about my darl eldar wyches the hekatrix with an agoniser could feasibly kill off a soft 2 wound 3+ save character before they strike but would struggle against 2+ armour. As players we need to look again at every part of our army lists and really think about how each unit performs in the new rules.

I for one am interested to see how the game of 40K evolves as people actually start remembering to play all of the rules in 6th edition rather than still trying to play 5th. These are certainly interesting times for our hobby.

5 comments:

  1. Yesterday my Shas'O with 2+ 4++ and feel no pain, 2 broadsides and 3 shield drones assaulted into a 10 man tac squad (it was that or be assaulted next turn). He challenged and the Shas'0 accepted (should have accepted with the broadside team leader). Either way, the sgt died, but the combat was then joined by 3 TH/SS termies and Vulcan. This time I challenged, and Vulcan accepted. The combat started bottom of turn 1 and due to the challenge, even though he killed the broadsides and shield drones, it lasted until the bottom of turn 5. My Shas'O effectively removed 3 units from the game by tieing them up in that assault and preventing his thunder hammers from being able to deal any wounds. In 5th the combat would have been done by the bottom of turn 3 at the latest.

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    1. Ha. I found Yancy. I love running into people I know IRL when I go on a link clicking spree! (Usually it's Eric I find...)

      That was a hilarious game to watch. I'm still amazed the Tau lasted that long in Combat... especially after the Vulkan-nators got involved.

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  2. I think the challenge rules have set up a brand new dynamic for how you set upi your characters. For instance, Yancy's Shas'O is a prime defensive set up - whose job it is to hold a combat for as long as possible. We will be seeing offensive set ups which are aimed at dealing with units - and will normally need the support of other characters to divert challengers and of course we will see the character assassins, such as mindshackle necron lords whose job it is to go toe to toe with enemy characters!

    It's a whole new level of gameplay!

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  3. Love Challenges! Constantly chucking my sm captain in to fight characters to get victory points and just cause it is fun. But soon I will have Draigo to mess around with and dominate battles. However i see your point in not liking them, it is annoying having guardsmen tied up in combat and not just get them all killed so a battle cannon can just pop a pie plate on them.

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  4. Hi Alex

    Very good points buddy!

    I think the single 'very hard to kill' character has some very good uses provided you use them right.

    They are great for holding up large expensive destructive units led by a character. I've recently charged Logan 'the destroyer' into a big paladin squad lead by Draigo and a grey knight librarian. It was fantastic - it took logan ~ 4 rounds of combat to munch through drago in a challenge, then the libby, then he munched the rest of the squad that was left.

    What I learned fro this is you have to be very careful puttng a hard to kill character in a 'hard unit' as a single 'logan-like' individual can hold up that unit whilst the rest of logans army runs around beating up the rest.

    All this is entirely dependent (as always) on whether or not you get to choose the engagement you want.

    Rob (Gen 40K)




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