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. 


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