Friday, June 16, 2017

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. 


  1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you never played fantasy did you Alex?

    Fantasy, before it was Sigmar'd, had alternating deployments with the army that set up first going first. Which naturally favoured the elite armies over the horde armies. Of course, knowing this you could work with it. Perhaps this week your horde is arranged in a few massive units, giving you less drops than your opponent, stealing the first turn and probably upsetting their entire battle plan from the get go. Or, better, bring many small units, including several completely inconsequential units (grots will be good for this for my orks) so that by the time you get to deploying anything remotely important, his entire army is deployed... thus you can set up your big guns with an excellent view of their prime targets, whilst putting your own important units out of range/los of his most deadly weapons. It was appreciated as all part of the game. I can accept going second, if I know that your first turn is going to be spent killing sacrificial units and hastily rearranging your battle line before I unleash hell on my turn ;)

  2. I like the Reserves Points system. It lets Chaos Armies get some extra flexibility, and Nids can get some Gaunts upfield in relative safety if they want, but no more masses of free Units. I'd wager that a Terv constantly replenishing a Brood of 30 Termagants could still get pretty obnoxious, tho.

    On the Tactical Objectives, Master the Warp and Scour the Skies both have really important changes. Master the Warp now lets you score it if you deny a power, rather than only if you use one. This means that Necrons and Khorne Daemons can now score it, since they have Units that can attempt to Deny powers, even tho they still can't use any. Scour the Skies now triggers on any Unit with the Fly keyword, which includes Jump, Jetpack, Jetbikes, and Skimmers as well as out and out Flyers. Much more easily achieved, and possible in far more matchups.

    Also, you have this listed as part three of three, but there isn't actually a link to part two, and it doesn't show up in your blog history. Did something fail to post?

    1. Yes it did!



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