Monday, April 24, 2017

Thoughts on the New Edition of 40K Q&A Session

I wasn't intending to post again so soon after the report from Battle Brothers so go back and read that if you're interested. I also want to take this opportunity to say that no matter when 8th edition is released, Double Trouble will still be using 7th edition. The event is just under six weeks away (tickets are still available...) and I don't think it's fair to suddenly change the rules for it when some of us won't have had much chance to playtest. Perhaps I'll run an event later in the year making full use of the new system once we've all had more time to get to grips with it.

Right, this post is just a collection of thoughts I had after watching the Q&A video that GW posted on Facebook. You should go and check that out first if you haven't already. This post might seem a bit randomly ordered but it's the order I thought of things as they were talking about them. I've tried to add headings to make it easier to follow but they're a bit vague. Anyway, here goes...

Movement
I'm really pleased that movement values are back. It feels a lot more realistic that everything moves at a different speed. Sure the different unit types moved differently e.g. bikes and jump units but all of the footslogging stuff moved 6". That doesn't make sense to me. I imagine Terminators being slow but tough and wyches being lightning fast but flimsy. Obviously they tried to incorporate this with initiative and things like Fleet but it never really felt right. It also will hopefully simplify things a bit. That might not initially make any sense but I think a lot of the special rules won't be necessary any more which will save a lot of book work during the game to look up the less common ones. I'd welcome any system that doesn't require me to constantly check the rulebook/codex for things I don't remember clearly.

Morale
I know the morale check thing is kind of old news now but I haven't had much chance to thing about it. I like the idea that units don't fall back anymore. Well, that's assuming they don't eventually do so. All of the models in the game have supposedly been fighting these wars for years (if not centuries or even millennia) yet they fall back when a handful of their squad die. It's one thing making a tactical withdrawal but having no say in it and legging it off the field never felt quite right. Obviously some units bypassed this but a lot that should've didn't e.g. CSM. At first glance the new mechanic seems strange:

"Roll a D6, add that to the number of models your unit has lost this turn, subtract your Leadership and take that many additional casualties"

The problem is we're thinking of applying it in our current system. They've said in this latest video that stats are no longer capped at 10. Let's say Space Marines are Ld 12. They'd need to lose 7 models before they lost anything and that's assuming you rolled a 6. That would make them effectively fearless without needing a rule for it. An Ork unit might get better leadership depending on how many models are in the unit at the time of being shot at. Would make sense from a fluff point of view too. Basically, like a lot of things there's a wait and see element but this sounds promising.

Vehicle/MC Damage
Vehicle/MC damage charts are yet more evidence that they're returning to a lot of the ideas from the earlier editions. I only hope that having a chart for each vehicle/MC doesn't get too complicated. It'd be nice if they release a PDF of all of these so you can print them out and have them to hand. If not I'm sure some enterprising person will make some - might even be me! We'd definitely need some way of keeping track of these things. It sounds more fun though. Obviously it was there in the current edition but taking out a dreadnought's legs feels more thematic than just immobilising it. Hope this pans out as well as I think it will. The most important thing is HP is gone so you'll actually feel like you're hampering a vehicle by doing some damage to it rather than it being at full strength with 1 of it's 9 HP remaining!

Having a damage chart for each individual vehicle is an interesting idea. I like that vehicles get weaker the more damage they take. Let's face it, this was the old system that they're basically bringing back. My concern is that it'll over-complicate things and it'll be difficult to keep track of what damage has been done. It's certainly more fun though to think that you're ripping an arm off a dreadnought or damaging the tracks on a tank than simply stripping hull points.

Damage, Templates, Modifiers, etc.
I was initially concerned about their comment that everything can hurt everything. Whilst I know it's frustrating to feel like your army can literally do nothing to your opponent (this happened with my Venoms this weekend against Astra Militarum), it doesn't make sense that a poxy lasgun could damage a tank with incredibly thick armour or shielding. However, it seems their bringing Damage back as a stat for the guns. If you aren't familiar with it, check out the Necromunda/Shadow War rules. It was instead of instant death and it's a much better system. Be interesting to see how it all works out and interacts together.

Speaking of which, modifiers to hit sound like they're back which I'm in favour of. If that takes away things like cover saves from the game then I'm happy. It's stupid that my space marine in the open is as easy to hit as one who can barely be seen in the gaps in a barricade. He'd be taking his armour save most of the time anyway! Cover really doesn't feel cinematic enough to me. It always felt much better in Necromunda and early 40K though. Making me want to flick through my old rulebooks to see what they've borrowed. Perhaps I will when we finally get 8th. I've got 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th on the shelf above my head.

One of the things I'd hoped would return from the old editions were the other dice! Bring me back my D20! If stats are going to go above 10 then I think a D6 system will be too limiting. It'd also be a good opportunity to flog us some dice and give a bit of variety to things. On that subject, I'm probably one of the few people in favour of the removal of templates. Of course their an iconic part of 40K, I get that, they're limiting though. They've never felt quite right to me either. A flamer isn't filling the room with gouts of flame, it's kept them in a very neat teardrop instead. A space marine with a frag missile can't hit something 10 feet in front of him because it scatters away. Whilst scattering back onto yourself is entertaining it doesn't make much sense. Templates/blasts have always been a source of argument at tournaments too so anything that minimises that has to be a good move.

The biggest thing for the removal of templates though is that deployment will be significantly quicker. Not having to spend time spreading out your unit whilst avoiding the scenery etc is a bonus. When I've played games against lists without any blasts it's refreshing to just plonk the models down and get on with it. Anything that makes games quicker whilst also making things feel like they should is fine by me.

Faster Games
Speaking of quicker games. I love the idea that a game could be done in 90 minutes. That might mean we could get four or even five games into a single day tournament. That makes a big difference to Swiss Pairs for a start. We might have to all accept that things don't feel as resilient as they used to though. More decisive battles would be cool. We played some Armada this week and it's limited to six rounds to the damage comes thick and fast and ships are blown up pretty quickly when things fall right. I wish 40K were that dramatic. Of course it is at times but often you're chipping away at a huge fearless unit for several turns or combats drag on for the whole game. Having epic games that take a whole day to play are part of the joy of 40K at times but when it's a one-sided affair at a tournament and it drags on for two hours after the point you know you've lost is no good for anyone.

Command Points and FOCs
I'm intrigued by command points but perhaps a little worried that they'll be the thing that gets exploited. It'll add a new tactical dimension having a pool of command points and deciding when to spend them for maximum effect. Having different ways to spend them depending on faction is a nice idea too. I also like that FOCs are still there but there'll be more to choose from. I can only pray that they don't feel like Formations. If the only bonus is command points then they probably won't but only time will tell. From the snippets we've got so far it does sound like there'll be less opportunity to break the game. Supposedly all of the myriad units in the game will be useful in some way. I'd welcome this but I'm hugely skeptical that this is possible without removing some of their identity in the process.

Melee
I really hope close combat can come back to the fore. Recently, apart from a couple of exceptions, it's all been about shooting. Combat has always been my favourite part of any game and it's frustrating that a lot of my favourite combat-centric units aren't much use at the moment. The charging unit hitting first makes huge sense! Obviously there's Hammer of Wrath but it doesn't really feel right.

Allies and Filth
Sounds like they've reduced the opportunities for creating dirty combinations. That's a good thing to me. Allies are all well and good but they've stripped away a lot of the identity of the armies. Dark Eldar for example have been reduced to a means to webway our wraithguard into a battle. I'd have preferred them to get rid completely but I wasn't really expecting this to happen. Seems like they're still there but there'll be a big benefit to taking an army from a single faction. Reducing the number of combinations might sound like a road to monotony but the game at the moment is almost impossible to keep track of for those of us who don't play several times a week.

Conclusion
It was funny watching the comments coming in on FB as I was watching it back. As ever with these things there's going to be hordes of people overreacting to the snippets of information that we've got without seeing the rules as a whole. I think that's the key thing here. Wait until you've got the rules in your hand and have had time to digest them before you start burning your models (yes, I know it was a parody). As a community we like to make snap judgements on things. I know I'm making positive assumptions here too but I think that's healthier than all of the negativity around at the moment.

I'm reassured to hear that it sounds like there's been hours of playtesting which wasn't just in-house. I'm sure the old editions were playtested too but clearly they're bothering to think about how all of the rules will affect all of the armies and their individual units. That's got to be a good thing even if they don't get it quite right straight away. I'm a little insulted that it sounds like most of the playtesters were American. I know the tournament scene is bigger in terms of volume of players there but still. I like Reece and Frankie from Frontline though. Their ITC system has really helped standardise things over there. I don't agree with all of it but still, it's a step in the right direction.

I actually enjoyed blogging about this stuff. I'd like to return to my codex review style posts when the new stuff comes out. Make it easier for everyone to get to grips with things (including myself).

In summary, I'm cautiously optimistic. The idea of regularly updated rules with full community involvement is what we've all been asking for. BB has definitely benefited from a "living" rulebook and I think 40K will too. Let's just try to take 8th as a clean slate and not spend too much time making negative comparisons to the current game. 40K is far from perfect in it's current guise!

New factions!! I hope they really mean that. Not just a new chapter of Space Marines. Would be cool to rediscover some of the lost legions though....

5 comments:

  1. Cheers for the run down and thoughts. I missed the twitch but have seen a few summary posts - yours has been one of the more comprehensive.

    I too would enjoy a return of your codex breakdowns, although I acknowledge the huge time sink they must be for you.

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  2. Vehicle Damage, from what I heard, is still going to be way simpler than 2nd Ed. Sounds like one Damage Table per Vehicle, sort of like the way AoS handles big monsters, rather than the 3-6 different Tables per Vehicle that 2nd Ed had.

    In a similar vein, I got the impression that while anything could theoretically hurt anything else, there were going to be plenty of situations where it's a major longshot. Like yes, a Lasgun can hurt a Russ, but it needs a 6 to Wound, and then there's a good Save, and then it still has 14 Wounds left after you manage that.

    In terms of outside consultants, I think they just went to where there was a more developed and standardized Tournament circuit. Tournament AoS took off way faster, and got way better organized, in the UK first, so they turned to UK TOs for the General's Handbook. The US has (as far as I can tell) rather more organized and standardized Tournament systems, while the UK is pretty fragmented, so they went with the guys whose systems were collectively used for 2/3 of a continent. It will be interesting to see how a system that largely had input from US TOs ends up changing things like the ETC Format, if the Tournament scene becomes more standardized internationally, or continues to have major regional variations.

    Honestly, I don't think I've ever been looking forward to an Edition Change this much, and I've been through 5 of them so far.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah I think the 'damage charts' they were referring to were more like AoS damage, so for example if something has 20 wounds, once it loses 4 of them, its BS or attacks stats drop from 4 to 3, then once another 4 wounds go it maybe drops a point or two of strength etc.

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    2. Fair enough. I have literally no knowledge of AoS!

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  3. Thanks for the thorough summary! Exciting times ahead for 40k.

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