Hey everyone, Reecius here to talk about what we see as the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of 40K 6th edition in these early days.
So, first off: caveats. I know the haters gonna hate despite me saying this, but that is OK.
We have played about 12 practice games now, gone over the rules thoroughly but I AM SURE WE WILL GET SOME OF THE RULES WRONG. It is inevitable with this much information and this little amount of time to process it. This also isn’t comprehensive (although it is pretty damn long!); a lot of the more subtle things will reveal themselves to us over time. Feel free to correct me where I have missed something, but please stow the hate if at all possible. Also, these are my opinions, and you are free to disagree, I am not trying to force my points of view on anyone (and I am sure mine will change with time and more exposure to this rule set).
With that done: let’s do this.
We here at our store Frontline Gaming have a really eclectic mix of gamers, from the super casual to the super competitive and have gotten feedback from everyone. I think it is important to get a diversity of opinions in order to get a complete picture. All of that feedback has gone into this.
Flyers: Everyone at our store really likes the flyer rules. They add a new dynamic to the game, and I think are well done. Flying MC’s too, as they essentially follow the same rules. Fliers are pretty easy to get around now, too, apart from those with Vector Dancer due to their movement rules, so the inevitable flying circus lists we will see will have some pretty serious limitations built in. By giving every army access to anti-flyer firepower through terrain it keeps things fair (and make sure to note, many things like Hyrdas that have Skyfire aren’t as good at shooting ground units). Well done GW on implementing this.
Movement. I like the new movement rules quite a bit, particularly allowing you to move a squad but leave a heavy weapon stationary to shoot at normal BS. Very cool, very fun change. Beasts finally being able to go up stairs? Win. Slow and Purposeful now being able to move 6” is another big win. Snap fire I like as well, as it means you can almost always do something and stay engaged in the game, even if at reduced efficiency. Nicely done.
Streamlining of the USRs is also a nice rule and I can see the forethought that went into this. A lot of rules will be made clear with new books. They had USRs, but this is obviously a bigger push towards a streamlining of play.
Allies. I really like allies for what it is now and what it could be. Allies break the game, but in the way Warmachine is “broken.” Every army can pretty much get everything (sorry Nids) which means that every army when built well will have the ability to fight on a level playing field with anyone else. It isn’t a perfect system of course (we’ve already found some incredibly OP combos), and some of the alliances seem weird, but I believe that with the new books coming out, the crazy combos will most likely be toned down. I could of course be wrong, but I still have faith. Also, with the incredible potential to bring the GW fluff to life with “mini-armies” as we discussed last time, this could be awesome. If you missed that article, think Mercenary forces for 40K that give us awesome new models like Demiurge/Squats, Genestealer Cults, etc. that could be used for a variety of armies. This was a bold move and I applaud it.
Vehicle Hull Points. I really like the new system. Vehicles die faster, but also got better in some ways. Glancing only removes a hull point, but you don’t roll on the damage table. The pen table is slightly more forgiving than it was to any weapon that isn’t AP2 or 1, for whom it is the same (essentially). On the whole, I was ready for the age of metal boxes to come to an end and I think this was a good way to handle it. Perhaps the pendulum has swung a bit too far against vehicles, but for now I like this rule.
Cover. Decreasing the average cover save, particularly for vehicles, was a good move. It is now incumbent upon the players to make sure terrain is fair on a table (not too much 4+ on one side) but most players are fair minded in that regard and I don’t see it being an issue. Now, things die easier which speeds the game up a bit. It also makes heavy weapons better, which needed to happen. Volume of Fire is still king due to the increased amounts of Infantry we’ll be seeing and because of Hull Points, but it isn’t such a big disparity any more. I like the rules for models being out of cover being able to be singled out. It will get a big weird and clunky given the physical reality of some tables and terrain pieces, but in concept I like it for the tactical choices it provides players. The downside though of course, is that movement will be even more important now than it was which will slow things down.
Weapons changes. Making Rapid Fire weapons able to fire on the move as if they were holding still is pure win. Throwing grenades and being able to use them against tanks and MC’s in combat? Great call there and I am stoked to see it in the rules as I have always missed that since 2nd ed. I actually like the distinction now between HtH weapons with AP values, AP 1 and 2, etc. I think it really stratifies the game a lot and makes things like 2+sv armor a real game changer. I think this was a good decision and will make the game more enjoyable and tactically diverse.
Morale. They gave non-fearless units a big boost, and the game is better for it. Being able to rally even if near the enemy, if above 25% (down to a single model if you have an Independent Character) or even below that with Snake Eyes, makes the gap between Fearless and Non-Fearless models not so huge and I think it is a great addition to the game.
Snapfire. I like it. Being able to shoot when charged, stunned, gone to ground, etc. but at a reduced effect means that units can always participate in the game in some fashion. This rule does make the game feel more cinematic and interactive to me, and I like it.
Reserves. I am hoping that in time this will make sense to me but right now it seems truly awful. Only being able to reserve half of your army with decreased cover saves means going second against a shooty army is going to be terrible. Night Fight MIGHT help, but again, it’s a crap shot. Combine this with every book mission having First Blood as a secondary objective, and you have an innate and potentially HUGE disadvantage built into the game. The ability to go full reserves was one of the best changes of 5th ed, IMO, and provided a ton of unique army builds and tactical choices. Now if you go second against a powerful shooty army such as IG with insufficient cover on your side of the board, you are likely going to get smashed with no recourse other than to drop your shorts and take it. Further, you can no longer assault out of reserves, scout moves, infiltrating, etc. I struggle to see the wisdom in this choice as well. Units like Snikrot, Genesteelers of both varieties, out flanking units, etc. all got hosed. I never felt that these units were OP at all, but in fact added a lot of fun to the game. Now these units are greatly reduced in power. Units that come onto the table and shoot well will be fine (I see Drop Pod Armies, particularly Wolves being very good), but assault based units come on, sit there, get shot, then get shot again with Overwatch before finally assaulting. Many of them lack the durability to do this and survive with any hitting power. Bummer.
Random Warlord power and Psychic Powers. I just flat out do not understand the appeal of rolling for an ability that may very well be useless. If they were all good, then OK, I can live with it. But some of the powers and abilities you can roll on the table are just plain worthless in certain situations. If we could just choose, it would allow people to plan and build lists and tactics that they can actually use, or react to new situations. Rolling a crap ability or power that does nothing against your opponent while they get one that is great against you is another one of those situations where you are at a disadvantage before the game has even begun and that just isn’t fun, IMO.
Wound Allocation. This rule is unfortunately terrible, IMO and really drags the game down. It causes a domino effect that adversely affects a lot of the game, most of it actually. The previous wound allocation system upset people because you could diversify a unit with wargear and then spread wounds around, giving a crazy advantage to multi-wound units. This new rule’s stated purpose is to create a more cinematic experience where the guys in front die to incoming fire before the guys in the back. What this means in application is that you have to put your best stuff in the middle or rear of the unit to avoid dying by being the closest model to the enemy. That means your heroic Sargents and Special Weapon toting models will have to be protected through model placement. The game is very fluid now, especially with fliers and such, and players will have to be very, very careful in how they place their models as threats can come from any angle.
This is going to really slow the game down, particularly when combined with the fact that you can pre-measure, and the changed terrain rules (not wanting to leave certain models out in the open, worse cover saves, etc.). In order to not have a squad neutered, you will have to be meticulous in model placement. Range and Tank sniping are back as well, two of the WORST parts of 4th ed. What these mean is positioning yourself through using the maximum range of weapons (easy as hell now with pre-measuring) and/or other units (such as Tanks) so that your models can ONLY see/hit certain models in the other unit so that you can only kill those models. This is mitigated by Look Out, Sir!, but it will still drive people crazy, and again, will slow the game down as people try and set these types of attacks up.
The other reason I really, really dislike the new wound allocation system is how much it will slow down the act of removing casualties. With homogenous units it isn’t so bad during the shooting phase. You roll all saves, pull the closest models. Sounds simple, but the issue is going to come when people can’t tell which model is closest and one of the models is important. This will cause animosity, and conflict in many cases.
The other issue is when you have mixed save units. The way the rule is written, you have to start rolling on the different armor type by itself, one at a time, until the model dies or there are no more wounds to allocate. This is bad. It will slow the game down incredibly, and it pretty much forces people to game the system. Armies that have access to resilient, good save (particularly when you can give said model a reroll on armor and/or FnP) characters can place that model out front, and just take saves on him and him alone until he fails one, and then use Look Out, Sir! to soak the wound on a chump on a 2+. Trust me, this is going to be infuriating, and it will become extremely prevalent. Just as people used wound diversification in 5th because it really increases a unit’s durability, they will use these rules and Look Out, Sir to abuse the daylights out of this system.
Units like Nob Bikers (who are going to be unbelievably powerful now) and Paladins are going to piss people off to high heaven. Each is a character which means each can Look Out, Sir for the others on a 4+, 2+ on any attached IC’s. They are now arguably HARDER to kill than they were before and they can do it without diversifying wargear which saves points. You can use maneuver to get around this to a certain extent, but it will be super annoying. Also, think about how long this will take. Roll save 1 on lead character, fail, roll save 2 (if they have it, and almost everyone can get FnP now), fail, roll Look Out, Sir. That was 1 wound, no on to the next one, repeat over and over.
In combat it gets worse. Since it is really hard to determine who the closest model is in combat, the defending player has the choice to roll the saves one at a time on models that are “closest” in combat. If a unit is largely homogenous, such as a big unit of Gants, this won’t come up. However, if say you have 4 Tac Marines in BtB with an enemy unit: 2 chumps, 1 Sarge and 1 Flamer, you are going to want roll your saves one at a time starting with the chumps in the hopes that they soak the wounds before they get to your more important models. Again, the game is slowing down in a very big way and, again, add in Look Out, Sir and additional saves and this process can take ages. Yes you have the option to fast roll the dice, but it is not mandatory and it will often be detrimental to do so with a complex unit.
Assaulting is also one of the aspects of the game I do not like. Random charges are really awful, IMO (you will see a trend of me disliking random things). I understand why they put it in sense they added pre-measuring and they don’t want units dancing around one another’s max charge range, but the mechanic stinks. Units with the ability to reroll one or both of the dice (such as Fleet) is going to be critical to making an assault army that is reliable.
What you get with this is a situation where you can plan for the average, but the long and short of it is that getting the charge is just a crap toss. In our first game, a Black Templar unit failed its charge from 4.5” away and the unit was subsequently destroyed and that decided the game…on turn 1. Now of course, anecdotes do not make statistical evidence and the majority of the time you will roll a 6, 7, or 8 on the roll, but no amount of skill mitigates this. It really does just come down to getting as close as you can and hoping you roll a high enough number….skill is diminished greatly in this system. I think a superior system would have been choosing to either take 6” OR roll if you wanted to.
The other bummer is that units that only assault will almost always try and get that lucky long assault because why not? They have nothing else to do. Yes, Snapfire may deny them of that charge and result in a wasted effort, but in our experience Snapfire has not been something to rely on or factor into decisions unless it is a weird situation such as a unit with Foreboding cast on it, or with a huge amount of flak fire. So what you will see happen is the long bomb assaults being icing on the cake more often than game winning moves (as the defender with pre-measuring can just make sure he is out of charge range if he needs to), and the short range failed charges being devastating blows. In other words, it will be a disappointment and game loser more often than a game winner, IMO.
Not being able to charge units you can’t see is another big change. It makes sense to a certain extent, but it hurts assault armies a great deal.
The loss of fearless saves is a trip back to 4th ed where we will see combats that never end. I like it on the one hand as it means silly things like monstrous creatures won’t die of fright when a bunch of little guys get splattered, but it also means that as in 4th, we will have these protracted, grinding combats where not much of anything happens. Scarabs, large units of Nids, etc. will just suck units in and sit on them all game. They mitigated this to an extent by limiting multi-assaults, but I like games with lots of action and that was one aspect of 4th I didn’t care for. When you factor in the ability to kill characters out of a unit with Wound Allocation, you can REALLY turn these combats into slap fights when Sarges are killed early.
The pile-in mechanic, while definitely cool and cinematic, slows the game down a ton. Combat now means you will be moving each model in a squad between 2-3 times. Think about what that means for large units: moving every Boy in a 30 strong mob 4 times in a turn (move, assault, pile-in 1, pile-in 2) will take ages, and that is just one squad. Taking casualties from the back of a unit was unrealistic, but I will sacrifice realism for speed and smoothness of play any day.
Challenges are also a cool idea but not so cool in application. They are meant to allow people to fight epic combats between heroic characters, but in reality the mechanics of the game do not support that. Instant Death and Eternal Warrior make combats totally lop-sided. That big, brave Space Marine Captain fighting the iconic Ork Warboss with his Power Klaw is going to get smashed in almost every confrontation. What will happen, again, is that most people will game the system and come up with ways to turn the rules to their advantage, or to at least mitigate damage. For example, I can see people running naked Sarges just to make or accept challenges and take a key enemy fighter out of a combat. Or, characters like Draigo who will beat damn near anyone in a Challenge and have pretty much nothing to fear from it. One of the funny/dumb situations we had was when a Daemon Prince charged a Black Templars Assault Terminator unit and Challenged the EC, who had to accept. His buddies sat around watching him get cut to ribbons, unable to help. That isn’t really very cool or fun. In the end, this will be a system that sounds neat but will be meta-gamed.
Night fight. With the chance to have Night Fight in EVERY game, and for multiple turns, it will become a very real issue to address, but again, it is totally random. You could have 3 turns of it, you could have none, but you will probably have at least a turn of Night Fight in every game. And now that it really changes the way the game plays, long ranged shooting armies that do not have the ability to get around it will struggle. I see why it was put into the game—to mitigate shooty armies and give a small boost to assaulters—it still is too random and potentially game winning/loosing in some match-ups for my liking. Again, I believe a game is most fun when it is determined as much as possible by player actions and not random occurrences. This makes the players feel like they are in control of what is happening instead of just observers of random events.
Transports. I am on the fence on this one. Transports changed so much, keeping in line with reserves so that unless you are in an Open Topped or Assault vehicle, you are going to get shot before you get to do much. Not being able to charge out of a vehicle that isn’t assault, even if it held still or was blown up, is pretty crazy. That means best case scenario, you are getting a turn 3 charge from a non-assault vehicle. You will actually have situations where you will NOT want to destroy a transport as it means the cargo inside won’t be able to assault. Let them drive around in their box, they have to get out to score objectives, and the vehicle can only go 6” for that to occur. The limited range on them means crazy things like Orks on a WAAAGH!! won’t have a charge range that is greater than the range of most weapons, but it is also yet another blow to assault armies. I think it will take some more play testing to really see how we feel about this one.
Mysterious Objectives and Terrain. Again, random effects are not fun, IMO. I don’t want all of my Psykers to randomly die because someone walked next to something. I simply do not enjoy this kind of game mechanic, although I can see how some people would. Mysterious Objectives are annoying as well as it just isn’t enjoyable to deploy in a certain way only to find out that all of the objectives worth high points are on your opponent’s side of the table or you roll detrimental objectives while your opponent rolls beneficial (and some are REALLY beneficial). Through just happenstance, you are fighting an uphill battle. Again, a reduction of player skill and an increase in random chance determining the results of a game is just not enjoyable for me as I value fairness and skill.
Book missions. Some of them are good, and I like some of the concepts put forth, but some of the missions are just bad. I love the secondary objectives, but First Blood is really slanted towards the player that goes first, giving them yet another big advantage.
Crusade is one we’re used to and quite good, I like it. Purge the Alien is essentially modified Kill Points which is a bit of a letdown. The rumor that units would be worth 1 KP per 50pts they cost was awesome, still simple and helped to get rid of the ridiculous situations where a unit of Paladins is worth as much as a unit of Grots. To further compound this, First Blood is worth more in this mission (as it is in the Scouring and Big Guns Never Tire) as it just further pushes first turn into the lime light, particularly when units can’t reserve.
Big Guns Never Tire and Scouring both have some flaws IMO as well. Both can present situations where one player can score more points than the other, which is somewhat offset by those units being scoring, but when you add in the bonus from First Blood as well, they are more of a detriment in most situations than a benefit. Good lists have their scoring needs covered in most cases, anyway. The Scouring suffers from similar issues, further compounded by the fact that the objectives are worth a random amount of points after deployment. It should be revealed before deployment, IMO, so you can plan for it and not get hosed if your army isn’t very mobile.
The Emperor’s Will is Capture and Control but with tie breaker points, I like it. The Relic is a weird one, and really great for some armies, and poor for others. If you have a fast, tough scoring unit and you go first, this is almost an auto-win (Nob Bikers for example).
The deployments are great apart from Hammer and Anvil, which is cool IMO apart from the wonky reserves…they come on from the short table edge, meaning that they will often contribute nothing to the game which further puts you at the mercy of shooty armies. This is also a tough deployment to play in a tight space such as at a tournament, but otherwise I like it.
Terrain. The new Battlefield Terrain rules are fun, but with so much randomness, really not suited for even mildly competitive play, IMO. I think that these can be funny if you appreciate randomness, but frustrating otherwise. Some of them are incredibly powerful, too and can win or lose you a game based on their effects. Purchasable terrain is cool, and I like what it brings to the game in terms of allowing armies to fight back against flyers and manipulate reserve rolls where they otherwise would not have been able to, not to mention awesome modeling possibilities, but unless you are playing in a pre-arranged game, they are pretty impractical. If two people show up with a Fortress of Redemption to a tournament or pick-up game, that would certainly be interesting to say the least.
I think in general assault armies got a nerf, and that short ranged, mobile shooty armies will become ascendant, followed closely by long range shooty armies that can reliably get around Night Fight. With the ability to shoot nearly everything before getting charged, less multi-assaults, and unending fearless assaults, assault armies will really struggle in the face of shooty armies. I could of course be wrong, and I hope I am, but I believe 6th will be the shooty edition more so than any other we have seen. Either way, I look forward to seeing how it develops.
Oh the whole, I like 6th ed, but the things I don’t like I REALLY don’t like and they unfortunately are core mechanics of the game. I think this was obviously a rule set written with the casual gamer in mind and that to fit it into the tournament scene, like Fantasy, it will require a lot of modification. I do think though, that we can mould it into something that satisfies gamers of all persuasions.