Tuesday, June 27, 2017

First Games of 8th Edition

Last Friday Matt and I had our first games of 8th edition. We wanted to try out several different armies in limited time so we decided to have two 1,000pt games followed by one at 2,000pts to test our larger armies. We’d agreed our first game should be Wolves vs. BA for old times’ sake but after that we kept our lists a surprise. From my perspective at least, these were by no means finalised lists that we’d take to tournaments but rather a way of testing out various units or tactics.

Game One – Space Wolves vs. Blood Angels
My list consisted of a rune priest, two 5-man grey hunter packs in heavy bolter razorbacks (ignore the lascannon turret in the pictures, I don’t have two HB turrets!), a predator annihilator (actual lascannons) and Ragnar joined by a largish pack of blood claws. Matt had Lemartes and some death company, a DC dread, furioso dread, two squads of scouts and some devastators. To keep things simple we played No Mercy.
There were a few shots exchanged early on but no major casualties. The death company deep struck (or whatever you call it now) but failed their charge on the predator, even with Lemartes’ re-roll. This allowed me to disembark the rune priest and hunters to charge into them after unloading psychic powers and rapid fire. With no psykers for the BA the rune priest was able to cast at will which meant Smite and Tempest’s Wrath.  It was a protracted combat but Lemartes fluffed a lot of his attacks and that ultimately gifted the combat to the Wolves.

The other big combat of the game ended swiftly with Ragnar single handedly taking down an already wounded dreadnought. He’s pretty handy now with S5 AP-4 sword and two damage per hit. Those two combats pretty much decided the fate of the game. Ragnar went on to finish off the devastators and the other grey hunters charged the scouts. Meanwhile the predator finally did something and took out the DC dread. We decided to call it there since Matt had limited options.

Game Two – Tyranids vs. Eldar
The swarms of guants look much better now you aren't spacing them out!
I’ve never used Tyranids before but I’ve wanted to start a collection for a long time. I figured 8th edition was a good excuse to give them ago so I borrowed Scott’s Tyranids (much to Matt’s surprise). I’d got a broodlord with some genestealer, tervigon with two large termagant swarms, a mawloc and a hive crone. Matt had two wave serpents (guardians and dire avengers), some warp spiders, swooping hawks and the avatar. We were playing the Scouring.

The Eldar went first and the wave serpents made short work of the Hive Crone. It’s strange that it doesn’t get any benefits from flying like they used to. I suppose they’ve got a decent number of wounds though.
The mawloc arrived behind the wave serpents and took a couple of wounds off both. It was pretty underwhelming though and the avatar made short work of it. I managed to do some damage with the termagants and the tervigon replaced nearly all of the casualties. The genestealers and broodlord took down the guardians despite only three of them making it into combat (Paroxysm helped). One unit of termagants charged the remaining dire avengers and the other charged the warp spiders. The remaining spiders fell back from combat and exposed the termagants to a ton of shooting. They were outside Synapse range so the new leadership mechanic meant the survivors ran away.

The avatar killed off the genestealers with shooting then charged the broodlord. Somehow Matt fluffed his attacks and the broodlord got lucky with his invulnerable saves allowing him to bring the Avatar to a single remaining wound. The broodlord fell back to allow both him and the tervigon to use Smite. The tervigon failed twice (using a CP re-roll) and the avatar used his FNP (or whatever it’s called now) to stop the broodlord meaning the tervigon had to charge in to finish the job.  The broodlord was now exposed to the wave serpents again though which easily took his last wound.

That just left the wave serpents, hawks and a couple of spiders but with just the tervigon and some termagants left I’d be chasing them around unable to catch them and they’d easily grab the objectives. We decided to call it so we’d still finish the 2k game at a reasonable time.

Game Three – Drukhari vs. Astra Militarum/Questor Imperialis
Well there’s three factions that have daft names now! Translation: DE vs. IG/IK. I’d got a mixed DE list with Urien, an haemonculus, wracks and grotesques in a couple of raiders, a cronos, wyches in a raider, two lots of kabalites in venoms, an archon in a venom, two ravagers, two lots of scourges and three reavers.
Matt had two Imperial Knights (sorry, questor thingamajigs), three leman russ including Pask, a chimera with vets, a basilisk, a heavy weapons team and some ratlings. We decided to try out the new tactical objectives so we played Cleanse and Capture to keep things simple.

Well, I can’t say I was optimistic at the prospect of taking on two knights and even less so when I realised that Matt had less units too so would be able to go first. Fortunately for me, Matt got pretty unlucky with his rolls for the various battle cannons so miraculously my vehicles survived the opening barrage. With the ravagers and scourges I felt I had a reasonable chance of at least reducing the effectiveness of the knights but my rolling was equally poor and the scourges barely hit the target and when they did only took a couple of wounds off. The ravagers didn’t fare much better. Needing 4s to wound meant I only scored a couple of wounding hits and despite Matt failing his invulnerable saves I rolled low on the damage.

From that point onwards I kept chipping away at the knights, eventually stripping one to half wounds, but never really had much chance against all that armour. Matt slowly stripped away my anti-tank units and then worked his way through the venoms. As a last ditch attempt to kill something I charged my wracks, haemonculus, archon, wyches (and their raider for good measure) into Matt’s chimera which was already down to four wounds and……. did bugger all to it! What few wounds I managed to get (mostly needing 6s) were easily saved. Granted in 7th the wyches wouldn’t have been able to do anything at all (S3 vs AV10) but still!

The points weren’t totally out of reach for me but I didn’t anticipate my army surviving much longer so we decided to call it a night.

Thoughts about 8th so far
Well, I think we can safely say that lists with lots of vehicles will be pretty tough to deal with in 8th. It’s not like this is anything new for Dark El…sorry, Drukhari but it does feel like spamming blasters will be a thing again. With the D6 damage that a lot of anti-tank weaponry does you inevitably need more of these weapons to mitigate the randomness. What used to be haywire weaponry isn’t anywhere near as reliable as it once was. Even though you’re causing mortal wounds the weaponry simply isn’t putting out enough damage to bring down targets with 10+ wounds. Despite my painstaking conversions to give my scourges haywire blasters I’ll probably have to swap them all out for blasters. Not only are they better against vehicles but they’ll be much more useful against monsters too.

Moving vehicles and firing at -1BS with heavy weapons takes a bit of getting used to. The DE vehicles being armed with assault/rapid fire weapons have a big advantage in manoeuvrability (as they should) and FLY makes falling back a viable choice. They’re also much more durable than they were before. They’re not far off double the price but they should mostly make it through a turn of shooting which is better than before! The combination of night shields and flickerfields on venoms actually makes them pretty difficult to bring down even at T5.

It would seem to us that psychic powers can target characters as the rule just says in the Shooting phase they can’t be targeted. That makes Smite a very powerful tool for dealing with them. In general anything putting out mortal wounds reliably is a good thing. Snipers for example, might only be putting out mortal wounds on 6s but since they can target characters they’re a pretty good addition.

Eldar still seem pretty powerful despite some of the reports I’ve read from various sources. Wave serpents put out a devastating amount of firepower, the avatar is a combat monster and the overall mobility that Battle Focus gives is impressive. Once again it seems Drukhari lose out to their Craftworld cousins.

Having never played Tyranids before it’s difficult to draw comparisons to previous editions (probably a good thing) but to me the tervigon seems great. Being able to put up to 10 termagants out per turn with no chance of “corking” and pretty good durability from T8 and 14 wounds is a great combo. The mawloc was spectacularly underwhelming. Even if you manage to get it in range of multiple units, only causing a couple of wounds per unit isn’t going to help it survive the inevitable backlash. I mean it isn’t always going to come up against an avatar but still, there are better options I think.

Factions aside, the biggest thing to get used to was the new pregame mechanics. The actual gameplay itself was pretty straightforward but having minimal units compared to your opponent is going to give you an all but guaranteed first turn. There’s obviously a gamble in this but units in transports only count as a single choice during deployment. The new leadership mechanic makes for a much smoother game. You can take out the majority of a unit and know that, command points aside, it will lose the rest of the models during the morale phase. There was a prime example of this with my termagants once out of Synapse.

I’m still not a huge fan of the charging mechanic but shrewd use of command points can make a big difference here. Hitting with all of your weapons at the same time (i.e. not waiting until the end for power fists etc) is much smoother though.

In general though, I’m really enjoying this latest incarnation of 40K. Starting from scratch when looking at the factions and deciding what will be good or not is refreshing. Speaking of which, starting from next week I’ll be working on my faction review articles so look out for those. I’ve got some more games of 8th a week on Friday so I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts by then.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It has a name...

You may have already read but I'm going to be running a singles 40K event. It'll be held on November 11th at the NWGC but when I announced it at DT2 I hadn't come up with a name or new logo yet. Well credit has to go to James Coldrick but:

I said it couldn't be Blog Wars again so I think this is pretty fitting. Still not convinced that people will understand the name or that it's even clear that it's a 40K event but when has that stopped me? What do you guys think?

More details will be announced once I've had some more games of 8th edition and figured out if what, if any, restrictions I should put in place. I'm open to suggestions as ever.

Anyway, watch this space for more info and let me know what you think about it all. Hope to see a good number of you there.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The 8th Edition 40K Rulebook Review - Part 2 of 3

Cocked up on scheduling so this has appeared in the wrong order! Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll be aware that the latest edition of 40K is being released on Saturday. If, for some reason, you still haven’t pre-ordered your copy why not do it here now

Today I continue my look at the new 8th edition 40K rules with my thoughts on the Shooting, Charge, Fight and Morale phases. If you missed the first part of my review, you can find it here.

Shooting Phase
First thing to remember is that, in general, you can’t shoot if you’ve Advanced or Fallen Back. The other key thing is that units can split their fire. That means your tactical squad’s lascannon can hit a big monster whilst your bolter guys are hosing some infantry. Bear in mind that models with several weapons can fire each one at different targets. This certainly makes things like crisis suits incredibly flexible. Remember you have to declare targets for the entire unit before rolling any dice. There were complaints that this will slow games down but in practice, how often are you really going to fire 10 marines at 10 different targets?

There’s still no shooting into combat. It’s a shame but I suppose it makes sense. With everything having the ability to Fall Back I don’t suppose it’s too big of a deal either. You can always shoot your pistols at a unit you’re locked with though in your next Shooting Phase.

Characters can no longer join units but can only be shot at if they’re the closest target (apart from a few exceptions). It’ll be interesting finding ways to hide your characters whilst you attempt to expose enemy characters.

The weapon types have changed in this edition too. Firstly, twin-linked is gone to be replaced by most of the weapons that used to have it getting double shots. Rapid Fire no longer stops you from Charging. Assault weapons can now fire after Advancing, albeit with a -1 to hit. You’ll have to decide whether it’s better to Advance to be in range for a less accurate shot or not shoot at all. Similarly Heavy weapons can fire at -1BS when they move, a massive upgrade over the Snap Shots of previous editions and again there’s nothing stopping them charging afterwards. Destroyer, Salvo, Ordnance and Barrage weapons are no longer a thing but now have individual rules depending on the weapon.

I'm sure everyone is aware that templates are gone. It seems small blasts have been replaced with D3 shots (although some get D6 e.g. frag missiles) and large blasts are generally D6. Remember you still have to roll to hit after seeing how many shots you get. Templates generally cause D6 automatic hits but vary in range. It's tough to decide whether this makes these weapons better or worse. In the past it was pretty situational but you'd quite often find your opponent would leave their models in a helpful formation to let you get all 10 of them with flamer. You might only hit one model now even if you're right in front of them. Blasts are probably about the same owing to the nature of scatter (which isn't a thing now, even for Deep Strike - add your scatter dice to the pile of useless accessories). All of these weapons are better against single models though as you'll get more than one hit most of the time. This makes things like battle cannons much better against vehicles. Can flamers now hit flyers though? Granted most of them aren't going to do much damage but I can't see anything saying they aren't hit automatically like everything else?!?

Grenades are limited to one use per unit instead of that model firing a weapon and most of them can no longer be used in combat. Melta bombs are now combat only rather than being able to chuck one in the direction of a tank. Makes sense from how they’re supposed to actually work.

Pistols are interesting. They’ve got similar range to the 7th edition versions but you can choose to fire them instead of any other weapons. If you do so, you can fire into a unit you’re stuck in combat with. Obviously only effective in the turn after you’ve survived a charge though. Remember there’s no need to switch to pistols with your marines if you want to charge as they can fire their bolters and still head into melee.

It’s important to discuss the new to Wound chart too. I’ve summarised it in the diagram below to help explain a few things about it.

Green shows 2+, blue 3+, grey 4+, yellow 5+ and orange 6+. The black numbers show the same value as in previous editions, white values are better than before and red ones are worse than before. 

The key lines to look at are S4 which is still the standard value for most infantry based weapons. It’s not worse against anything but is better against anything over toughness 5. Interestingly T5 seems to be around entry range for vehicles and anything up to and including T7 you’ll wound on a 5+. Most of the vehicles that were AV10 are now being wounded on 5+ instead of 6+ so they've been given more wounds to compensate. Obviously a save modifier and good damage is important but as GW have said. Anything can, theoretically at least, kill anything. Toughness 8 is another interesting part of the chart. Little will be able to wound you on a 2+ (granted only S10 could before) and this is the point where S4 starts to need 6s. Also worth noting that T4 is better against S6 and 7 but otherwise the same.

Trying to figure anything out from this table alone is too simplistic though as obviously you've got several shots one some weapons, varying ballistic skill, save modifiers and obviously varying types of save. 

Speaking of save modifiers, these are worth some discussion. AP seems to have been converted as follows:
AP5/6/- = 0 save mod
AP4 = -1
AP3 = -2
AP2 = -3
AP1 = -4

This means that a 3+ saves now gets a 6-up to AP2 and 5-up vs AP3. That's obviously a big boost to power armour but remember that AP4 now reduces you to a 4+. Weapons that previously had S6 AP3 e.g. a Heldrake's Baleflamer. Now wound marines on 3+ and they'll get a 5+ save. They've given it a damage of 2 to compensate a little but in general that's significantly worse against standard marines but strangely more affective against Primaris! 

That's assuming you aren't in any cover which, generally speaking, gives a +1 to your save. A much simpler method and it makes sense that a marine behind a barricade should be tougher to kill than one in the open. Bear in mind the ENTIRE unit has to be in cover for any models to benefit and most big things now have to be 50% obscured. 

A weapon that causes multiple damage will be much more effective against vehicles or monsters but the damage is wasted on single wound infantry. That's a bit of a boost to hordes and regular marines I'd say. 

Charge Phase
As I said in the first post. It's important that all charges now happen before any fighting begins. This was kind of the case in previous editions but you'd often let your opponent charge and fight with a unit before moving onto the next. You won't be letting them off with that now though as charging units nearly always go first in combat. This has massive implications for some units and makes getting the charge hugely important. Sure you can use your command points to strike first but you'll get through them pretty quickly doing that. Once the charging units have fought, you alternate between the two of you to pick a unit and fight. That makes for some tough decisions.

The loss of Initiative is a big deal for some units. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. My Wyches aren't going to like being charged very much. They already got to strike first most of the time when they charged but are now vulnerable to being charged. It's difficult to figure out how much of an impact this will have until you factor in all the movement ranges etc but I can't help but feel formerly high initiative units will suffer. A unit of guard charging something with much better reflexes shouldn't get to strike first in my opinion. 

The actual mechanism of charging is essentially unchanged (still 2D6" move) except you no longer need to get into base contact to be successful. Overwatch is similar too although now units can fire several times if those charging them don't make it in. Flamers become awesome here too with their automatic hits. Again, I can't see anything stopping them being used to full effect in Overwatch, correct me if I'm wrong. Since you can now charge with vehicles I can see their generally higher toughness being used to soak up Overwatch before a squad charges in. I'm glad this mechanic has replaced the clumsy Tank Shock and Ramming rules.

Multiple charges can now happen without penalty (except multiple Overwatch). That'll save a lot of confusion. Just declare a couple of units will be charged and, if you roll enough inches to get to them, you can engage both.

Fight Phase
Characters can now jump into a nearby fight using Heroic Intervention (woohoo no more Challenges!). It might be difficult to get them in like this as they need to be within 3" of the enemy unit. It'll be important to keep them pretty close to your units to get them involved. Obviously they can try to charge as normal in their turn but getting into the fight might be difficult. I'm not really clear on how they're going to work in combat. Can you target them separately? It seems to me there's nothing stopping you other than needing to be within an inch. If they aren't though, how are they going to hurt you back? Timing their pile in will be important.

Speaking of piling in. I've seen some people saying you can use this to engage a second unit if the one you charged was destroyed by another unit. However, in "Choose Targets" it says units that charged can only target the units they charged. In subsequent turns you probably can though. 

You can now split your attacks between your close combat weapons. There'll be some decisions to make for some units but most will be using the same weapon for all their attacks. Speaking of which a lot of the melee weapons have changed significantly. With initiative no longer being a factor most of the power fists, hammers, etc. just give a -1 to hit modifier. That's a huge boost for them and remember they can double your strength above 10 now! 

Finally, cover no longer has any effect on combat. That's a big boost for units that don't have grenades. Well, in a way at least, they'll still need to be the one charging to guarantee going first.

I've liked this mechanic from the point I read about it. Firstly you aren't testing for a unit several times a turn. Second, nothing is getting swept in combat and most importantly no full squads of trained soldiers are running from the battlefield in fear because a couple of their mates died. You'll have to test sooner though as it's any units that have any lost models rather than 25%. You'll get used to which units can skip testing when they've only lost a model or two though:

I've highlighted the 6 on the D6 row because obviously that's the worst case scenario. It means a leadership 7 unit needs to lose two models before it will take any casualties from morale. Remember the casualties are whole models not extra wounds. That's pretty harsh for units with multi-wound models. I've highlighted Ld10 too because that's the point where you'll never have to test on a 5-man unit and a 10-man unit will never take casualties. 

Interestingly, it doesn't seem like vehicles are immune from Morale checks. The majority of them are single models of course but vehicle squadrons could potentially need to test. A quick flick through the indexes though and a lot of squadrons are now treated as separate vehicles after deployment. When you think about it there's no real advantage to keeping them in squadrons anyway since you can't split damage like you used to.

I wanted to cover these separately because I think the changes are a big deal. Firstly let me say that, like some other rules, the rules for these are seemingly randomly placed in the rulebook. It's not like there's tons of rules to wade through though so I can't say it bothers me that much.

A transport has a capacity as ever but can now transport multiple units. You could therefore throw several characters in the same transport or a couple of 5-man squads into a rhino. 

Embarking now just requires you to get all the models within 3". You can't do anything from inside a transport any more which seems to include firing out of hatches although individual vehicle rules will probably allow for this. 

Disembarkation now happens at the start of the movement phase i.e. before the vehicle moves. You don't deploy from access points now but with AV no longer a thing and likewise fire arcs, it doesn't really matter which way your vehicle is pointing. No more emergency disembark etc. You can now charge from a vehicle but obviously with having to get out before the vehicle moves you'll not be getting many first turn charges! Sitting there in your vehicle hoping you survive a turn to charge whilst your opponent moves his units out of range is going to be tough to get used to. Still, getting out 3", moving and then charging is a pretty big range. You won't need to get your vehicle as close as before.

If the vehicle blows up you're only losing models on a 1 now which is a big deal for Orks and especially Dark Eldar but bear in mind you aren't getting a save against it and multi-wound models are just removed. 

Games Workshop has probably written less words in the core rules section than I've just used in these two posts talking about them! That's an awesome thing for new players. The old rulebook was intimidatingly complex. Of course the datasheets are where the complexity comes but they're generally just adding a modifier or giving a re-roll here and there. There's a nice example turn in there to give new players an idea of how everything works together. They've done a great job in getting sets out to stores early so they can give people demo games. Something that would've been unheard of in previous editions.

The rules are much more straightforward. There's a lot less rolling of dice but, early on at least, there'll be a lot more referring to unit entries even just for things like checking how far they can move. Still, you can easily see that games will be a lot quicker, especially when you're used to how your army works. Being able to pick your psychic powers rather than roll for them for example will save a huge chunk of time for some armies. Obviously you might want to change them in each game of a tournament though. 

I think there'll be a lot of "are you sure you can do that?" followed by "well, show me where it says I can't" in the early days of 8th. It'll be tough not to assume things have remained the same from previous editions. Even little things like no longer getting an extra attack for charging or no longer being pinned after your transport explodes. Oh and the Most Important Rule is still there. Such a shame, I much prefer a good argument and the animosity that then hangs over the rest of the game. Each to their own!

It's crazy to think about just how much has been culled from the rulebook. Obviously the USRs are now on the datasheets but there's no longer page after page about vehicles, unit types, etc. I'm all for it. I don't think it's dumbing the game down on any level just making it more enjoyable to play. I still think they missed an opportunity by keeping it as a D6 based system. I'd love to be rolling D10s and the like again and it'd add a bit more variety to the weapons which can feel a bit samey.

One last thought for today: GW said something interesting in their Faction Focus for Ad Mech on Tuesday: "And be aware that if you can get a +1 to hit, you get the bonus hits on the roll of a 5 or 6". The wording of most of the bonus is "+1" to whatever roll. I'm just assumed you'd simply pass a 3+ roll on 2+ in that circumstance. I hadn't thought that you'd therefore have a better chance of getting a six. This is interesting for a lot of weapons which give extra damage (and often mortal wounds) on a 6. I'll try to find examples of this in my faction reviews.

Come back tomorrow for my last post on the rulebook where I'll cover army selection, missions, deplyoments, etc. I hope you're enjoying this series. You can support my efforts to review all of the new material by buying your new models from Element Games using the adverts on my blog. I get a small cut and you get a decent saving on your miniatures. Win-win! Alternatively, click on some of the Google ads if you like. 

The 8th Edition 40K Rulebook Review - Part 3 of 3

Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll be aware that the latest edition of 40K is being released on Saturday. If, for some reason, you still haven’t pre-ordered your copy why not do it here now? Although, you'd probably not be getting it by tomorrow at this point!

Today I continue my look at the new 8th edition 40K rules with my thoughts on the Army Selection, Missions, etc. If you missed the first parts of my review, you can find part one here and part two here.

I'm not going to cover the Open and Narrative Play portions of the rulebook. They offer some interesting ideas for thematic battles but since most of my 40K play is centred around tournaments I won't be discussing them here. They do offer some interesting ideas for custom missions at future events I might run but for my first 8th edition events I'll probably keep things pretty simple. Narrative missions tend to give one side a bit of an edge to represent attacker or defender so in competitive events they're unlikely to get much use. I won't go into Battlezones or the rules for things like Planetstrike etc as they probably won't see much use in tournaments. I might borrow them for my events though in one form or another. I'll also refer to points in my reviews of the factions as I think that'll still be the most common selection method at events.

Army Selection
Keywords come into play here as an army's units much all share a faction keyword. The allies chart and it's associated rules are gone. I can't help but feel this gives Imperial players far more options as everything shares the IMPERIUM keyword. I think as the codexes come out it'll be advantageous to limit things to say BLOOD ANGELS or ASTRA MILITARUM but for now there's no real penalty to mixing and matching. Eldar and Dark Eldar now have AELDARI and CSM and Daemons have CHAOS. That isn't much fun for Tyranids (although they get Genestealer Cults to play with), Orks, Necrons, Tau, etc. I think those armies will be fine though!

Reinforcement Points are an interesting idea. If you want to create extra units e.g. summoning, Tervigons, etc. you'll need to pay for them in advance. This isn't saying you have to decide you'll summon plaguebearers though. I know there's been consternation about this but I think it's an elegant solution to the summoning problems of 7th. There'll still be an advantage to be gained from being able to bring in the right tool for the job in the right place. For a Tervigon you can replenish units for free but newly created ones will need to be paid for. More on these things in the faction posts though.

Interestingly, GW suggest that for a 1,001-2000 pt game (which basically covers nearly all tournaments) you should be allowed a maximum of three detachments. Bear this in mind when I'm talking about detachments in a minute.

The Force Organisation Charts (FOCs) feel pretty familiar with a compulsory core of units to allow you to take other optional ones. Depending on how restrictive they are, you can gain Command Poitns (CP) to spend on Stratagems. We're told there'll be faction specific ones in the codexes but for now we can choose between three:

  • 1CP to re-roll a single dice
  • 2CP to fight out of sequence with a unit that hasn't charged
  • 2CP to pass a morale test automatically
All of these could have pretty dramatic effects but knowing when to use them will be important. I'm not sure they add the tactical depth that GW seem to think they add but we'll see how things play out when we've got more of them to use.

There are currently no faction specific warlord traits so you're stuck with the three mediocre ones from the rulebook. At least you can pick from them rather than randomly generating if you want.

Matched Play Mission Rules
Psychic Focus is a big deal for some armies. Since we've currently only got a maximum of 3 powers available to single faction armies, they'll soon exhaust their faction specific powers and have to use Smite for everything else.

Stratagems (more on them soon), are limited to one use per phase. That means, for example, you can't use several command points to make multiple units fight first.

Reserves can only comprise half of your army now. No null deployment. That's not really that drastic I don't think and remember you aren't rolling for reserves in Matched Play (you do in some Narrative Play missions). Having some tactical choice about when to bring units in is a refreshing change. Don't wait too long though as you've only got the first three turns to bring them in. Presumably units like Swooping Hawks and Mawlocs which can leave the battle are able to return in turn 4 and beyond though. It's worth noting here that Flyers aren't forced to start the game in reserve and it doesn't seem like you can put something in reserve that doesn't have a specific rule to allow it.

The three deployment types we've gotten used to Vanguard, Dawn of War and Hammer & Anvil return but they're joined by three more. Veteran players will remember Search and Destroy but Spearhead Assault and Front-Line Assault are new. It's nice to have a bit more variety to proceedings and it'll be interesting to see how these play out with some armies. Starting 18" away is always interesting for fast moving armies and even more so now there's varying movement values.

Bear in mind you determine the deployment map after placing your objective markers. This was the case in 7th but I'm not sure people paid much attention to it most of the time. Also note that you now control an objective if you have more models within 3". No more contested objectives, well in theory, what do you do on the occasion where both players have a model each which are equidistant or even touching the objective marker?

From a quick skim of them missions it seems like all of them use alternating deployment with each player deploying a unit at a time. This is similar to other games but it makes a welcome appearance in 40K. It's interesting that the person who finished first gets to choose whether to go first or not. There's a significant benefit then in having a smaller unit count but I can't help but feel this a big boost for elite armies that will naturally contain less units. This is probably the first change in the new rules that I struggle with. Maybe going first isn't going to be such a big thing but I really don't see how it isn't!

Let me remind you that Difficult and Dangerous terrain are no longer a thing. Instead we're given classifications for all of them. They generally all offer the same +1 to saves. Some area terrain reduces charges by 2" but interestingly has no effect on movement. Gone are the days of a big monster having a toe in cover and claiming a cover save though as for most of these units they specify they need to be 50% obscured to benefit.

There are still six Eternal War and six Maelstrom of War missions. Most are similar with some subtle changes here and there. The secondary objectives of Slay the Warlord, First Blood and Linebreaker are still there. Here's a rundown of the Eternal War missions:

  1. Retrieval Mission - four objectives worth 3 VPs at game end
  2. No Mercy - basically Purge the Alien - 1 VP per unit destroyed
  3. The Scouring - six objectives with one "Superior" worth 4 VPs, one "Inferior" worth 1 VP and the rest worth 2 VPs at game end
  4. Big Guns Never Tire - four objectives worth 3 VPs at game end but Heavy Support essentially have Objective Secured. Heavy Support worth 1 VP each when destroyed.
  5. Secure and Control - single objective each (set up in own deployment zone) worth 3 VPs at game end
  6. The Relic - single central objective - major victory if carrying it, minor victory to player with closest model if not carried. Can only be moved by INFANTRY and can't be put in a TRANSPORT. Can move a maximum of 9" per phase.

Random game length remains the same with round 6 on a 3+ and round 7 on a 4+. Pretty similar then with Big Guns being returned to a more sensible form where Heavy Support have a benefit not just a drawback. The Relic still seems pretty stupid. You can move it pretty fast. Granted you can't take it more than 9" but that's quite a lot really and could potentially take it with you when charging.

I'll talk in more detail about the Tactical Objectives in a separate section below so I can properly analyse them. You still can't discard impossible objectives but you can spend 2CP to discard an extra one (you can still discard one for free). Importantly they can now be scored in both your turn and your opponent's turn. The missions are as follows:

  1. Cleanse and Capture - three objectives per turn.
  2. Contact Lost - one objective in first turn then one objective per marker controlled in subsequent turns - can use a 3CP stratagem to generate an extra one (still capped at 6)
  3. Tactical Escalation - same number of objectives as round number - nominate a "Tactical Priority" for a specific objective type to be worth a bonus VP. Also get a bonus point for achieving more of their Priority objectives than their opponent.
  4. Spoils of War - as before. Can steal objectives from your opponent and can't discard "Secure Objective X". Get a bonus VP for scoring more of these cards.
  5. Cloak and Shadows - keep objectives secret. Night fighting in effect (-1 to hit over 18") - can bypass this by paying 1 CP to light up an enemy unit with flares.
  6. Deadlock - start with six objectives in round 1 and decrease by one each turn. Stratagems double in cost from round 3.
Nothing drastically different here. There's a few little bonus rules thrown in here and there but I still think Maelstrom will be my preferred way to play the game. Eternal War feels a bit tired in comparison and they've not really done much to rejuvenate it.

Tactical Objectives
The cards are pretty similar but there's a few that have been replaced and others which have been tweaked. Here's a brief rundown:

  • 11-16 (Capture and Control) and 21-26 (Take and Hold) - the same as before
  • 31-36 (Storm and Defend) - give you a 2 VPs for controlling objective X for two consecutive turns
  • 41-46 (Seize Ground) - as the group name suggests, Behind Enemy Lines, Supremacy, Domination and Hold The Line which are similar to before with new additions Advance (get everything out of your deployment zone) and Mission Critical Objective (random numbered objective worth 1 VP or D3 if you steal it from your opponent).
  • 51-56 (Purge) - Overwhelming Firepower, Blood and Guts, No Prisoners and Psychological Warfare, Master The Warp (formerly Harness) are all roughly the same but and Area Denial gives points for clearing out the centre of the board.
  • 61-66 (Annihilation) - Kingslayer, Witch Hunter, Scour the Skies, Assassinate, Big Game Hunter all essentially the same but Priority Orders Received is new and gives you bonus points for scoring an additional objective with your Warlord (stolen from Blog Wars? I'll let you decide - probably not let's face it!).
That means no more Demolitions, Hungry for Glory and Recon (for obvious reasons). Supremacy is gone too but it Ascendency has been renamed to Supremacy to make things confusing!
It's a shame the D3 points are still in there. I think Maelstrom is random enough without keeping that in. Fast armies will still have an advantage in Maelstrom but with no ObSec you won't find it so easy to steal objectives from your opponents with those Windriders. 

There's a lot of subtle changes to the mission rules that will have a profound impact on the way armies are chosen and battles are fought. I can't get over the rule essentially giving first turn to the player with the least units.

Army selection will be an interesting thing in 8th edition. Not least because the indexes make it a pain in the arse to work out how much units cost! I'll get to that in more detail when I do my index reviews though.

Right, that's it for the rulebook. You'll have it in your grubby mitts tomorrow! Come back for reviews of the armies as an when I get through the indexes. I hope you're enjoying this series. You can support my efforts to review all of the new material by buying your new models from Element Games using the adverts on my blog. I get a small cut and you get a decent saving on your miniatures. Win-win! Alternatively, click on some of the Google ads if you like. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The 8th Edition 40K Rulebook Review - Part 1 of 3

Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll be aware that the latest edition of 40K is being released on Saturday. If, for some reason, you still haven’t pre-ordered your copy why not do it here now

You’ll also likely be aware that it’s a pretty dramatic shake up of the game we know and (mostly) love. My longer serving readers will know that I used to do detailed reviews of every new rulebook and codex that was released. This started to become impossible to achieve with rules coming thick and fast from various sources. I think I gave up around the time Skitarii was released but 8th edition sees all those many source materials merged so it seems a great time to start full reviews again. 

I’m going to try and avoid too many comparisons to the old edition but they’ll inevitably creep in but I think the key to enjoying 8th edition is not to worry about the things your army used to be able to do and not to assume that units that used to be terrible still are (and of course, vice versa). It’s probably better to forget everything you know from previous editions too. If the new rules don’t say you can’t do something then assume we can until told otherwise. I’ll give some examples later. 

I’m going to work systematically through the rulebook. It’s not going to be completely exhaustive of course but once you get your hands on the book you’ll be able to fill in the blanks.

One last thing before I start. I’ll talk in general terms about the rules but, from reading through the indices, for every rule there’s a unit that breaks it in some way. For example, you can’t Advance and Charge but Orks under a Waaagh! can. That means I'll nearly always say "in general", "for the most part", etc. since some units bypass the restrictions. Right, onto the review:

Ways to Play
The first thing you’re presented with (once you’ve got past some gorgeous artwork) is that there are now three “Ways to Play”.  I’ll cover these in more detail in the next post but for now: 
  • Open Play is essentially Unbound from previous editions. Bring whatever models from whatever army you want and fight it out. There’s some basic scenario/deployment rules in there but the aim is to get you rolling dice quickly.
  • Narrative Play is pretty self-explanatory. Power Levels (more on them later) are used instead of points and there’s a multitude of fluffy scenarios to play through that help set the scene for more cinematic battles. These come with their own stratagems to really help theme the battles and differentiate between playing attacker or defender in some missions.
  • Matched Play is essentially the game as it was before 8th. Units cost points. as do their upgrades. and armies need to conform to detachments to be legal. This will be the basis of tournament play and, from what I’ve read at least, early tournaments won’t need to worry so much about “comp” as the rules laid out here seem to make for a pretty solid rules pack. I can imagine tournament organisers (TOs) will still limit the number of detachments you can take but the missions, deployment and army selection criteria will mostly be left alone. 

From this point forward all of my discussion will be based around matched play. I’ll also be basing my faction reviews on the assumption that you’re playing in a points based system with a reasonably competitive atmosphere.

Before I start talking about the core rules phase by phase it’s worth noting that they’ve finally started to call them “Turns” and “Battle Rounds” no more confusion between “Turn” and “Player Turn”. The turns themselves are pretty similar to previous editions with Movement, Psychic, Shooting, Charge, Fight and Morale phases. The key differences being that Charge and Fight are deliberately separate phases and the Morale phase is the only time you check leadership.

Veteran players will be relieved to see that the statlines are, for the most part, similar to what we’ve had before. The key difference is that Initiative is completely gone (more on that in the Fight Phase) and the Movement value has returned. Stats are no longer capped at 10 which is worth thinking about when we consider things like power fists doubling Strength 7 up to 14. Vehicles now have wounds instead of hull points and often well into double figures to make them tougher to take down. I’ve not played much 8th yet but I’m in favour of this so far as I think it’ll make tanks feel tough to stop and prevent some of the flimsier vehicles e.g. trukks from feeling like they're made of cardboard.

Finally, WS and BS are no longer a number but rather a roll. These can be modified by various in game effects but it takes an extra step out of working out what roll you need. Not a big deal for veteran players but nice for new guys. Not to mention that it means that your characters will often be hitting everything on 2+ rather than comparing WS. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of this on first glance because it seems a bit strange that really skilled combatants aren’t any harder to lay hits on (in general at least).

Age of Sigmar players will be familiar with them but for people like me who’ve never square-based these are a new way of grouping units together to determine how they’re affected by various in-game effects. For example, some weapons are better against INFANTRY and units with FLY can ignore terrain. Again, there are a lot of exceptions to these things but for army selection purposes, choosing units with the same faction keyword will make things more straightforward and, once the codex comes along for your army, it’ll be clear which units benefit from specific special rules.

Movement Phase
Not the most complicated section but there’s still some important changes. The most notable being that, as I’ve mentioned above, units can now move at different speeds. There’s quite a range of values here too so slow lumbering units will actually feel like that and quick nimble units will too. As they FAQ’d in previous editions, they’ve clarified that no part of a model can move more than the movement value. No sneaky pivoting of my Dark Eldar Raiders then!

Might sound daft but they’ve even clarified that you can’t move through walls. Well, in theory at least. The rules for Ruins muddy the waters a little here. In general though there’s no rolling for difficult terrain and moving straight through a wall. Speaking of which, Difficult and Dangerous Terrain are no longer a thing. Some terrain types will slow your movement by a set value but there’s no longer a random element to it. They don’t specifically clarify it but to me you still can’t move your model through a gap its base can’t fit through. Common sense will hopefully prevail.

There’s a multitude of ways in which armies can be deployed (e.g. Infiltrate) or arrive from Reserves (e.g. Teleport) but most things have to remain 9” away. In general these units arrive at the end of the movement phase so can’t move any more but they can shoot and charge as normal. That means roughly a 1 in 3 chance of getting a charge off with a teleporting/deepstriking/whatever unit. Remember you don’t have to get into base contact anymore.

This is also a good point to talk about Coherency. You still have to stay within 2” of other models but with Blasts and Templates gone there’s no need to spread out your models. My 30-strong mobs of Ork Boyz have suddenly become a lot more bearable to play with!

Advancing (formerly called Run) now happens in the movement phase but it’s still D6 extra inches. It’s going to be an important decision though whether to Advance or not as it still (for the most part) prevents shooting and charging. That means you’ll no longer find a unit suddenly without a shooting target and decide you may as well run them. It also means no more running a unit that just arrived from reserve (as they can’t move any further). Most of us would let our opponent move and run in the Movement phase in 7th to speed things up but having it in the core rules will certainly move things along quicker (pun intended).

A final note on Movement, the rules for ruins say that only INFANTRY can end up on top anything but the ground floor of ruins unless the models have FLY. There should be a semi-colon in there somewhere (page 248 - GW again struggles with punctuation) to make it clear that you can still put a flying Hive Tyrant on the top floor but can’t get a Rhino up there.

Psychic Phase
There are again some pretty major changes here. Firstly, they’ve clarified how many powers a psyker can cast per turn (and attempt to deny). In the indices at least, there doesn’t seem to be a way of increasing “mastery level” by paying points. A Rune Priest can cast two powers for example. Everyone gets Smite plus a varying number of powers from their Index entry. There are no other psychic powers in the rulebook so, for now at least, armies will have to stick to their faction specific powers. That means no Invisibility for all and no Summoning for non-Daemon armies (again, for now at least).

You can choose which of those your psyker knows though. Frustratingly an army can only attempt to cast each power once per turn (in Matched Play). Even if you have several psykers who all have the same power you can only use it once. That’ll be pretty frustrating for Tyranid players who want multiple units casting Catalyst. It does mean the psychic phase won’t go on for hours though as you’ll quickly work through the limited number of powers your army can cast. It’s worth noting here that Summoning (now Daemonic Ritual) is no longer a psychic power but I’ll talk more about it when I get to Daemons.

I’m a big fan of the new mechanism for casting powers. No more piles of dice for psychic armies. Each power has a set value you have to achieve on 2D6 to successfully manifest it. Your opponent has to roll more than your roll to Deny it. Simple but effective. Smite for example has an 83% chance of a successful cast without modifiers (although remember you can’t pick your target). 

I’m also a big fan of Deny being limited to Psykers only but being able to block buffing powers too if you’re in range. It always seemed daft to me that Guardsmen could prevent a psyker from targeting them with a power. It means it’s probably a good idea to include psykers for defence purposes as well as for their offensive power. Also worth noting that if you get your power off on a double six (and don’t die in the process) it’s nearly impossible to cancel it.

Perils now happen on a double one or double six again but there’s no table to roll on to see what happens. Just a pretty good chance the psyker will die from it and if they do every unit nearby will suffer too. Should make for some dramatic psychic phases and saves you looking up the Perils table because who could remember anything other than 1 and 6?

It’s worth talking about Mortal Wounds here. They ignore absolutely everything, invulnerable saves included. That makes for a pretty simple mechanic and makes anything that can cause them pretty damn effective against everything! It seems to me that the variously named versions of Feel No Pain can still be taken against Mortal Wounds though.

One last thing here, the ranged effect powers will, unless stated, affect the psyker too. The same goes for Characters with aura effects. It was one of those things that was always assumed but wasn’t explicitly stated in the original rules.

That'll do for today. I'll be back tomorrow with the Shooting Phase, Assault Phase & Morale Phase then some more on the missions, army selection and terrain etc.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Double Trouble 2 Painting Competition - Best Character & Best Vehicle/Monster (pic heavy)

Just like in the original Double Trouble, the painting competition at DT2 was split into four categories with £50 worth of Element Games vouchers up for grabs: Best Painted Army (£15), Best Conversions (£15), Best Painted Character (£10) and Best Painted Vehicle or Monster (£10). Players could only enter one category so it was up to them to decide which one to enter to give them the best chance of winning.

Today I'll cover the Best Army and Best Conversions entries. Much better pictures this year as we weren't playing in a cave like last year. Still, apologies as ever for the picture quality. I have to dash out and take these between entering scores and trying to eat lunch!

Best Character
Just three entries here which was a bit of a surprise for me really. Walking round I thought there were a few models that deserved the spotlight but I guess you can't force people to enter. First up, Jim Maynard's Terminator Librarian (5 votes).

In second place, James Coldrick's Emperor's Children Horus Heresy character thingy (seriously, someone correct me please) (6 votes):

But the winner was Luke Capper's Dark Eldar Succubus (16 votes):

Best Vehicle/Monster
There were five entries here. Entries could either be a monstrous creature or monster (obviously!). This is usually my favourite category as I'm a sucker for the big stuff and it didn't disappoint this year. First up, Ian Plumpton's Baal Predator (1 vote):

Closely followed by Chris Buckle's Iron Hands (cunningly disguised as DA) Land Raider (2 votes):

In third place, Mark Hinson's Tau (or is that T'au) Riptide (3 votes):

The runner up, Ben Houghton's Necron Canoptek Tomb Spyder (4 votes):

But way out in front with a whopping 17 votes and the biggest margin of victory in any of the catergories was David Irving's Fire Raptor:

As I said, I didn't play in the event so there are no battle reports from me. This therefore wraps up my coverage of DT2 but I'm sure you'll find some of the other bloggers writing up their own reports. If you want to keep track of developments with the event and find out when the next one will be then join the Double Trouble group on Facebook.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Double Trouble 2 Painting Competition - Best Army & Best Conversions (pic heavy)

Just like in the original Double Trouble, the painting competition at DT2 was split into four categories with £50 worth of Element Games vouchers up for grabs: Best Painted Army (£15), Best Conversions (£15), Best Painted Character (£10) and Best Painted Vehicle or Monster (£10). Players could only enter one category so it was up to them to decide which one to enter to give them the best chance of winning.

Today I'll cover the Best Army and Best Conversions entries. Much better pictures this year as we weren't playing in a cave like last year. Still, apologies as ever for the picture quality. I have to dash out and take these between entering scores and trying to eat lunch!

Best Army
There were five entries for Best Army. First up Thomas Capper's Blood Angels (1 vote):

Next we have Cal Goodger's Iron Warriors (1 vote):

In third place, Peter Barrett's Alpha Legion (2 votes):

A surprise (to me at least) runner up, Dave Weston's awesome Ravenwing (9 votes):

The overall winner was Jack Turner's Ryza Cult Mechanicus force (14 votes):

Best Conversions
Just three entries here. First up Kai-Uwe Müller-Joswig's Wulfen (1 vote):

In second place Matt Calow's Legiones (7 votes):

Finally, in first place and a thoroughly deserved winner, Ian Connolly's incredible work on his Top Gun inspired Ork Army (19 votes):

Some stunning and inspirational stuff there. Come back tomorrow for the entries in the single miniature categories. If you want to keep track of developments with the event and find out when the next one will be then join the Double Trouble group on Facebook.


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