Wednesday, May 17, 2017

New 8th Edition 40K Rules - Weapons, Datasheets, Points & Stratagems

In theory this post has caught me up with the information that GW has released but by the time it posts we'll have had another three days worth of stuff. I really need to get onto some stuff for Double Trouble 2. Hopefully later in the week because by then there'll only be a couple of weeks to go. Not long to get your ticket then if you haven't already!

Weapons Part 2
I'm reassured slightly that there'll still be some dramatic stuff happening if your dice are hot on those random shots and damage rolls. Especially with a twin-linked lascannon or two. Twin-linked returns to how it was the past. Basically a single weapon that fires twice the shots of the standard version. It'll be interesting to see how the cost of units with twin-linked weapons are adjusted to reflect this. Something tells me they'll generally reduce points so that you need more models to have a game of a decent length.

Anyway, firing twice as many shots is significantly better than just re-rolling. That makes for some massive damage potential. The twin heavy bolter example is interesting because it seems that AP4 is now a -1 modifier. It follows then that AP3 = -2. AP2 = -3 (as we saw with the lascannon) and AP1 = -4 (as we see with the meltagun). What we don't really find out is what happens for AP6 and AP- though. Will they also be AP0 like AP5 or will they give a positive modifier?

You've also got to wonder how twin-flamers will work. Just double the shots that still automatically hit? That'd be brutal.

Combi-weapons are certainly better (depending on how much we have to pay for them). They don't fit the fluff of limited ammunition for the combi bit but you have to make a choice between an accurate shot for one of the other or gamble that you'll get more damage from firing both. Question is, are they actually worth it? You'll be firing both at the same target so often you'll not bother with the bolter to get the melta a better chance at hitting a tank. Since you can now split off from your unit to do this, would you just be better taking a meltagun where available?

Speaking of which a meltagun is pretty much what I expected. A more reliable anti-tank weapon (in terms of damage) than the lascannon but with lower strength it has less chance of getting to do that damage.

As we already knew. There's no blasts anymore but it seems that weapons that used them will still be useful. A battle cannon won't kill more than 6 models in a unit of single wound models but will be significantly better against units of multi-wound models and hugely improved against a single MC. Your old blast could only cause a single wound to an MC but now you could potentially cause 18 wounds to an MC (or vehicle for that matter). The Leman Russ is looking pretty good right now.

Datasheets
This is the kind of thing we wanted to see. Actual rules and stats from units. It's a shame that the random person on FB didn't pick something more interesting than Rubric Marines but still, there's a lot to unpack. Firstly, special rules are gone. That's about 20 pages out of the rulebook already! I'm a big fan of (nearly) everything for a particular unit being on the same page. There'll still be some army-wide stuff but mostly you'll be able to open the book to the right page for whatever unit you're dealing with at the time. Hopefully this doesn't mean the death of the summary stats page at the back of the codex though.

There's mixed feelings about keeping the points and rules separate. Firstly, this isn't really a new thing. Up until the last couple of editions you had the rules early in the book and the points later. The latest codexes "simplified" this by having a reference page for all of the rules. They presumably though this would be easier but flicking back and forth through a book was a pain. It's promising that they're planning on updating the points to reflect how the meta changes. Besides, once you've picked your army you don't need to know how much it cost. What is strange is that the datasheet has wargear options on it. Why bother putting these on here if the points for them are listed elsewhere? Wouldn't it make more sense to remove this section to save space? You'll have to refer to your army list to see what everything is equipped with anyway.

Anyway, it's interesting that units can still potentially have two different battlefield roles. Opens up the possibility of thematic armies for things like Blood Angels and White Scars where assault troops and bikes respectively can be take as Troops.

I know Keywords are nothing new really but for 40K I think they make a lot of sense. You can easily group units together for things like how they interact with cover, how they're affected by special rules, what vehicles they can board.

Again, it's a shame that we weren't given a more interesting unit as an example. What we can gleam from this though is that Force weapons act differently. Swords are still the lowest in strength compared to axes, staves, etc but they now have better AP! With no Initiative any more you'd have to wonder how much they cost relative to each other because presumably they all strike at once now. You'd have to wonder how Force weapons compare to their Power weapon counterparts though.

Finally, interesting that models within the same unit can have different movement values. Does that mean coherency isn't a thing anymore? I know you could sometimes have characters in a unit that moved differently but had to remain in coherency but with templates gone you have to wonder what the mechanic will be now.

Points & Power Levels
Well, first thing that strikes me here is that the Ambush mission deployment looks pretty brutal if the defender is a shooty army and the attack is combat based! Starting pretty much in charge range looks nasty. Still this is a Narrative mission by the looks of the description.

I'm liking the idea of power levels. Points are all well and good but they're often a little meaningless and you end up spending ages deciding between two 5 pt upgrades to use up those final points. Just being able to pick units to a certain power level cost takes a lot of that nonsense away. Perhaps in my casual games we'll switch to this if the power levels seem reasonably sensible.

Onto some actual points and a tactical squad marine is now 13 pts (formerly 14) but a multi-melta is now 27pts (formerly 10). The rumours of super marines not withstanding, that certainly feels like marines aren't going to suddenly return to their status in the fluff as brutal fighters capable of taking on multiple lesser foes. Of course, we haven't seen how much anything else is yet so we've got no yardstick but it's interesting that they think 2,000pts will be a two hour game. If true, that either means higher points in tournaments or else the possibility of getting a fourth game into a one day event if you stuck at 1,500pts.

Sidenote: I'm in favour of the game being more streamlined but if it becomes too quick to play it will definitely lose some of its identity. Of course we can play bigger games but having shorter games has the potentially to make it feel less... epic somehow.

The big hammer drop here though is Summoning. No more freebie units. Instead you'll be using your "Reinforcement Points" to determine how much you can summon. Also worth noting here than Infiltrate and Deep Strike are still things that exist. I still hope they limit the units factions that can use Summoning (Keywords make this simple to do). You can make whatever fluff argument you like for an Eldar farseer suddenly summoning some Slaanesh daemons but to me it feels incredibly wrong.

There's a big question mark here about whether GW will actually try to keep maintaining balance by tweaking points for weapons/units but at least they're recognising the concept and allowing for the potential to balance things.

Stratagems
The term isn't anything new to 40K. They've been around in things like Planetstrike for a long time. I've never been a fan of them in that guise though as they're an extra thing to choose when selecting your army and more things to remember to do (and more importantly be aware that your opponent can do) during the game.

I'm reassured then that it sounds like everyone gets access to the standard three presented here but there'll also be some for each faction. Providing this doesn't end up with silly amounts I think it's a good mechanic that adds some tactical depth. Deciding when to burn your command points is a key thing to master in games like Space Hulk and I can see it being the same here. Use them early on trivial things and you might regret it when you need them for something more vital later.

Seems like a good way of rewarding people for creating armies that use fewer combinations of factions too and for adhering to FOCs with what they select. I like the Stratagems shown here. You can see that they'll be useful and the costs seem reasonable too. One point for the re-roll, which may not work out anyway, but two points for the Stratagems with guaranteed rewards.

Hopefully there'll be other characters besides Bjorn that affect the amount of command points you receive or how you'll use them. I'm fully expecting Warlord Traits to be a thing of the past (one less thing to bother with in pre-game) and Command Points/Stratagems seem to be a great replacement.

Conclusion
I'm really struggling to find fault in most of what GW is doing here. I'm still skeptical about their ideas of balance and every unit being useful but it all seems to be going in the right direction. The 8th edition of our beloved game is shaping up to be recognisable as 40K but without a lot of the baggage that has made it less fun to play.

Speaking of which, I really hope we get a post on the pre-game sequence (and that it's clearly mapped out in the new rulebook). This has always been one of my big problems with 40K. When it takes some armies about 30 minutes to even start putting models on the table it's easy to see why new players might be put off. If Warlord Traits are gone, Psychic Powers aren't random anymore, etc then maybe we'll get stuck into killing each other a lot sooner. That has to be a good thing.

With the amount of stuff they've already released, you'd have to think that the new edition is coming pretty soon. What they've said though is that every faction will be a getting a "Faction Focus" article in the run up. They're releasing them every other day at the moment. We've had four so far and there's something like 21 factions left (depending on how you define them e.g. are Skitarii and Cults just Ad Mech now?). That means another month and a half unless they either a) increase the frequency, b) merge some factions or c) aren't actually going to cover all of them. If everything stays the same we'd be looking at the end of June rather than the mid-June release I'd originally guessed.

Still, the smart money is on them announcing the date for pre-orders at Warhammer Fest and I'll be there so I can hopefully let you guys know what I find out!

3 comments:

  1. In even older fluff (RT/2nd Ed), Combi-Weapons worked pretty much like this. The point there wasn't that it was a one-shot thing, but that you would use the Bolter while closing the range for the Melta/Flamer, or while the Plasmagun Recharged/cleared a Jam.

    "What is strange is that the datasheet has wargear options on it. Why bother putting these on here if the points for them are listed elsewhere? Wouldn't it make more sense to remove this section to save space? You'll have to refer to your army list to see what everything is equipped with anyway."

    I think this is for Games using Power Levels instead of Matched Play Points. In that situation, literally everything you need for a given Unit is there on the Datasheet, since the possible Upgrades are already worked into the Power Level.

    Different Movement Values within a Unit and Coherency were also a thing back in RT/2nd Ed. Basically, it means you can more easily shift the faster dude(s) around within the Unit (e.g. if you suddenly realize that Squad is going to want to Charge to the left instead of the right), but they can't break Coherency. At least, that's what I expect.

    Pretty sure the difference between Power Weapons and Force Weapons is going to be the Damage stat. Just 1 for Power vs the d3 we see here for Force.

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    Replies
    1. I played 2nd edition but I was pretty young so wasn't really playing to the rules! My memory is pretty hazy. More a case of being desperate to use a vortex grenade.

      Good point about the power levels and wargear. Hadn't thought of that.

      I wondered if power weapons would have the same damage but you could use a Force power to change them to mortal wounds? They're talking about melee weapons today so maybe we'll find out.

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  2. I agree with you, so far there is almost nothing I see as a downside to 8th. I'm not the biggest fan of Primaris at the moment but I may warm to the idea, and that's not really 8th ed rules related anyway.

    I hope this edition brings back the element of excitement of not knowing which army might win a tournament. If your skill and tactics on the table matter more than the list you write, it could be a great time for competitive play, and TOs such as yourself hopefully won't have to put so much work into evening out the factions to make the tournaments more balanced and enjoyable :)

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