Here is some good info for 6th!
First of all, I wanted to give a huge thanks to everyone who contacted us after our last article here on BoLS to share their thoughts on 6th ed. Everyone had good input and it was awesome to hear all the feedback from both those who agreed with us and those who disagreed. There are too many folks to list, but we really appreciate all the honest input and it helped me to write this article which I hope makes getting up to speed in 6th easier for people.
Also, thanks to those who have kicked us in the butt and asked us to stop being negative about some of the rules we don’t like. You know what? You’re right. 6th on the whole is a really cool edition and GW hung their huevos out there with these big changes and despite the fact that we don’t like some of the rules, it is what it is, and as I’ve said, there is a lot more that is really cool about this edition than not cool. Now it’s time to put on our big boy pants and think about ways to work with what we’ve got instead of complaining about what we don’t. That’s what this article is all about!
With 6th ed more than any other edition of the game (I would go so far as to say even more than 2nd ed) the game allows for both the casual and competitive gamer to go absolutely wild with their imagination. You read about a cool story about a PDF force that was working with a Space Marine Chapter in a BL novel? Now you can play it. You want to build an insanely powerful army that smashes everything before it like nothing before? Now you can.
That is awesome! But also terrible! Why? It is now very much incumbent upon the players to communicate with one another before a game and ensure that they are both on the same page in regards to the type of game they want to play. That way, you can avoid situations where people get their feelings hurt and don’t enjoy a game which is the source of the silly divide between the casual and competitive gamer. Since neither type of gamer is going to just up and leave the game, I wrote this article to hopefully help people to identify the things that they may not want to allow in their group if they find it too powerful, or for players to use or plan to defend against in their own lists when preparing for a tournament.
And yes, I think tournaments are going to be just fine and dandy with a little alteration of the rule set by TOs (most of it just for logistical reasons). A lot of us who run some of the larger events have already been in communication about ways to make the big, fun events we’ve all worked so hard to grow even bigger and more enjoyable! And we will too, it will just take a little time and acclimation to these new rules.
And, as always, this list is not meant to be holy writ (there are a lot of OPINIOINS amongst the facts) and not meant to be comprehensive. This is a status report as of where we are now in these early days. And please feel free to point out any rules errors, as that helps us to get us get up to speed faster.
First of all, here is a list of USRs that are given to the entire unit if a single model within it has the rule, and I throw in a quick example of how this can be used with some of them to give you an idea of what this can do. Some of these are game changers! This is a good place to start and gives you an idea of how USRs can stack on a unit to create craziness. We have been digging into this finding loopy combos, and I am sure some of you guys have thought of some, too which we’d love to hear about in the comments section. A good point to note is that only Battle Bro allies get the benefits of stacked USRs as they are the only allies that can join each others’ units. It’s good to be Bros!
ATSKNF (HUGE!) This is arguable better than fearless in a lot of situations, especially now that you will auto-regroup on the turn after you break, regardless of the proximity of the enemy.
Slow and Purposeful (Ghaz [or any mega-armored model] with Lootas can now move, shoot and assault!)
Acute Senses (Wolves attached to a unit can reroll outflank, not bad in a blob with Al’Rahem for example!)
Counter Attack only effects the models with the rule in a unit, a lot of people (myself included) missed that part of the rule.
Fearless (HUGE!!!!!!) This is a game changer. Fealress is VERY powerful now, and can be gotten quite easily. Tar-Pit-a-go-go!
Hit and Run. This is REALLY important to keep units from being tar-pitted, especially considering Fearless saves are gone. A good counter to that counter is to use a second unit to wrap the unit you are trying to tar pit as it can Hit and Run though the unit it is engaged with, but not the second wrap unit. (Khan is a boss with this rule and his bike making him toughness 5, and granting ATSKNF means he is a great addition to a Deathstar).
Infiltrate. Think about what you can do with this, units can get a big boost up field. You can infiltrate in a Transport now (infiltrate a Land Raider, just for fun!), but if an IC doesn’t have infiltrate and is with a unit, he can only outflank with them but not infiltrate. However, if the IC has infiltrate, he confers it onto the squad and Dedicated Transports.
Move Through Cover
Night Vision (Dark Eldar/Eldar Combo. Stick an Archon in a unit of Firedragons and no worries about Night Fighting for example)
Outflank (Saga of the Hunter!)
Preferred Enemy (Necron Destroyer Lord gives it to a unit, yowzers!)
Shrouded and Stealth (Tau and Harlies can pull some cool tricks with this one!)
Skilled Rider (Shinning Spears may be useable now, as they have Hit and Run, too! Also, ICs no longer automatically have Skilled Rider, a change I missed at first).
Tank Hunters (this is pretty huge, too, which again with allies becomes pretty dang good)
So how to handle this? You need to be aware of how these rules interact on the table top so that you are not surprised when you encounter them. You also need to know which ICs can give these to which units when you are building your list and planning for others. When you consider allies, the amount of variables goes way up and the power levels do too which can be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective.
This is the biggie that really opens the door to craziness. The wound allocation system works fine in homogenous units, but in complex units it makes for some really wonky situations and extremely durable units. Just as people used diversified wargear to their advantage in 5th, so they will use complex saves in 6th.
So, how do you use this rule? Place a very durable model or group of models in the front of a unit with a different save and they can soak up an inordinate amount of firepower. The most powerful we’ve found so far is Eldrad Fortuning a unit of Harlies (take the Harlies from the Eldar codex as they can be Fortuned) with attached Archons with Shadowfields. This gives you a rerollable 2++ save on them, and 2+ cover save on the entire unit (in cover) or 4+ in the open, rerollable as well due to Fortune. This is a 1/36 chance of failure for almost the entire unit, with a rerollable 5++ at worst on the rest of the squad if you can deny their cover save. If one of the Archons is Vect, the unit is also fearless. With Hit and Run, Rending attacks, plenty of characters to take or make challenges (Death Jester, Troupe Master), a host of other special rules, the best Psyker defense in the game, and insane hitting power this unit is a really scary deathstar that is a good example of how crazy the wound allocation game can get.
There are plenty of others too, Taking Rune Priests in an IG blob squad gets ridonculous fast. Crons with reroll Crypteks (Stick an Overlord in Front and reroll failed saves), Wolves with a Termie Character and a Wolf Standard (rerolling 1’s the turn you pop it makes the Termie damn hard to kill!), etc. are all examples of how this rule can get crazy. What are some of the crazy Deathstars you guys are playing with so far? My favorite has been taking 3 Cranifexes with 2 Tyranid Primes and using Look Out, Sir! (we’ve been calling it: Look Out, Son! at the store since it sounds funnier!) on the Primes with the Carnies….because that is such a ridiculous mental image (and the unit is quite powerful, too, and blows Flyers right out of the sky)!
Speaking of which, Look Out, Sir is a fairly crazy rule. With it you can spread wounds around a unit, prevent a unit from being taken out of assault range due to Overwatch fire by differing wounds to the rear of a squad, and generally be annoying. You may want to house rule this one to simply state that if you start putting wounds on a model using this rule, you have to keep using it on the same model until it is dead.
How do you counter this craziness? Well for one, these units suffer from Deathstar syndrome. If you can beat the deathstar or play around it, you beat the army. If you can’t, you lose. They are very one dimensional in a lot of cases. Also, typically, these units can only hold one objective, shoot one target and engage only the units they can reach with the new, much more restrictive multi-assault rules. Ignoring these things is often the best strategy. Another good trick (thanks to Blackmoor for this one) is to just toss a disposable little unit in front of the Deathstar, particularly foot Deathstars. This forces them to either waste their shooting on that one little unit, try and walk around it, or assault it. It can really gum up their plans.
Using movement to get around the lead characters can work if the units you are using to do it have enough firepower to actually make a dent in the Deathstar. Throwing a single unit into the flank of one of these units really isn’t going to do much but get that unit destroyed in many cases. Here are a few formations we’ve also found that make it tough to get around these types of units. Note, the red models are the wound soaking models (and yeah, those are my crazy awesome Microsoft Paint skillz in action!). The third is for Bike/Calvalry type bases.
Another tactic is using tank sniping. What that means is using LOS blocking terrain and Vehicles to cut off your firing unit’s LOS to the wound soaking characters so that you can only shoot the parts of the unit you want to. This can be tough to do if the Deathstar is in a good formation, but it is something to be mindful of.
Also, Tank Shocking the unit into a different formation will really help if you can pull it off. Vehicles don’t have the endurance they used to, and they die extremely fast in assault now, so use this tactic only if you think you can deliver a deathblow.
We have also found Barrage Sniping to be a really useful tool (although terribly ridiculous!). What this is is using the barrage rules to pick out models in a unit to hit. The rule states that you determine the direction of the attack as coming from the center of the blast marker. So, if the whole of the marker lands on a particular model’s head, that model get’s hit first. This is a tad ridiculous IMO (sniper mortars?) and with multiple barrage templates gets time consuming to work out as each whole triggers a different direction, but it does work at bypassing wound soaking models. Combine this with the fact that Blast Weapons now hit at full strength under the entire template, and these weapons are more useful than ever.
Focus Fire can also be really useful as this will allow you to target weak elements of a Deathstar unit if they have a different cover save than the rest of the unit.
In assault the rules REALLY get crazy as when everyone is in BtB, the defending player gets to choose who to start taking saves on first so long as the unit has diversified saves. This means it gets more difficult to outmaneuver the wound soaking characters. A way to get around this is by having diversified initiative steps in a unit as this allows you to assault in sections. You can then use model positioning to choose who you fight in a unit by placing models with differing initiative in BtB with models you want taken out. As these models are closest to one another, this means they kill each other first and you can thereby avoid the crazy wound soaking models. Power Axes, and Fists do this quite well, but, you typically want to swing first as when you are in BtB with someone you want dead, it doesn’t do you much good if they kill you at a higher initiative step! For example, stick a high initiative Character on a Power Fist (and only the Power Fist). He strikes before the squad he is with, and the Power Fist must be pulled first as he is closest to the Character. So, making the right wargear and IC choices when constructing a unit is really important. This is another really good example of how the game becomes the meta-game at this level of play. The minutia of model positioning and micro-managing of models is super important as it will make or break you in these types of complex assault where individual models can end up fighting mini-battles within a combat.
Also, look for as many ways to fast roll the dice on these issues as possible to speed up this process. It gets really slow, really fast.
This is another little meta-game that will be really important. Knowing when to challenge with whom and with whom to accept is going to be a critical skill in managing assaults. I foresee a lot of attacking characters and dying characters. Pitchers and catchers as we’ve been calling them (tops and bottoms? Hahaha). After many years of service in the Chapter, a veteran Space Marine Sarge can look forward to jumping into a Warboss’ Power Klaw to die horribly so that his Captain can cut down some Orks. It’s almost as bad as being given the Plasma Gun! You need sacrificial lambs to ensure that your beat stick characters don’t get taken out of the fight. Naked Sarges will probably become common, as well as unit upgrade characters that serve the same purpose. Nob Bikers and Pallies are all characters and so this is easy for them. The point being that you will want at least 2 Characters in a combat oriented unit for just this reason. One to die, the other to kill.
Precision strikes are also something to keep in mind. The ability to snipe will be so pervasive that you have to plan for it (another reason I think we’ll be seeing a ton of naked Sarges!) and units with massed characters will really be able to take advantage of this.
Flyers are going to be a really big part of the game. As of now, a lot of armies are going to struggle with dealing with them. Bear in mind with Flyers that they can’t contest or take objectives (apart from special missions that allow that of course). Quad Guns with the Aegis and a Flyer of your own are a really good solution when dealing with small amounts of Flyers but the flying circus is an entirely different beast. What this is is an army of Flyers that will simply overwhelm your anti-air defense. IG Air Cav and Night Scythe Spam are going to be the big ones that annoy people. It just isn’t a lot of fun fighting an army you can barely hit.
Deathstar units built around shooting and/or durability are good at dealing with these as they are usually durable enough to shrug off the damage or just shoot them out of the sky (yet another reason to run these types of units, unfortunately) as are weapons with high rates of fire, or are twin linked. Toss a lot of dice at those things and they will go down.
Divination is a school of powers for this (and for everything, really) as the default power is essentially guide, but better (works in assault, too and 12″ range). One of the best solutions to this dilemma we’ve discussed is an idea Spacecurves had of simply allowing 1 or more objectives on the table to always give Skyfire. I think this is an easy solution that players and TO’s can implement into their games.
Some simple tactics with Flyers: if you plan on using them a lot, you want to go second when facing other flyers as this allows you to hit them before they hit you (as they will likely come on the board before you). Also, focusing on taking out ground based anti-air units like Quad Guns will obviously be a high priority.
Remember that Flyers are easy to outmaneuver. They can only make a 90 degree turn at the beginning of their movement and then must go straight a minimum of 18”. This makes them really easy to get away from by simply getting close to them or getting around 90 degrees from them. This is another reason why the flying circus will be rough as with multiple angles of attack, you won’t have anywhere to hide.
These guys, as a lot of folks are saying, are Ninjas. Some of them like Fateweaver, are just incredibly powerful (and fun fact: Fateweaver’s staff counts as a Power Maul, giving him +2 Strength according to RAW?!). They follow similar rules to Flyers but have Vector Strike (which works on other Flyers) and they can be shot out of the sky (if you hit them, they have a 1/3 chance of hitting the deck and taking a strength 9 hit with no armor or cover saves). Like Flyers though, they can only make a single 90 degree turn before going in a straight line.
The same things that are good against Flyers are good against Flying MC’s. However, Ground and Pound is a great tactic. You ground the big bullies and then pound the crap out of them. Fairly obvious, but I just wanted to slip that sweet name in there!
The dual movement abilities of these units means they are great for jumping around the board and causing havoc. Their speed and hitting power makes them ideal for taking out backfield scaries like Manticores. Bloodthirster is a unit to be feared again, which is awesome. And, for those who asked, I really don’t see the Harpy as being all that great. With Strength 5 it won’t Vector strike well, its weapons aren’t so hot for fighting other Flyers, and with toughness 5 and a 4+ save, it will get smoked by ground based anti-air units. I am sure some people can find ways to make them work, but I don’t see them being that hot.
Transports and Vehicles
Boy have they changed! They aren’t dead as a lot of folks fear. They are just different. Rhinos are still useful but they should be focused on delivering Shooty units now. Since assaulting out of non-assault transport vehicles is essentially a thing of the past, you want to shift your thinking. With the “run” move tanks now get, you can use a very simple tactic of scooting the transport up, popping out the unit inside, shooting with it, then having the vehicle Flat Out in front of the unit to give them cover (thanks for that one, Hulksmash!) (Thanks to Alarum for pointing out that a dedicated transport that moves and then disembarks its squad, can no longer move that turn. These tactics still work, just not for that specific instance. Thanks for the clarification!). This is really cool because it allows you to react to your own shooting phase. By using these mobile screens, you can capitalize on big plays or react to fumbles.
Vehicles also die horribly in assaults, and you need to be aware of the fact that everything is scary to rear armor 10 vehicles, even Gants (with Furious Charge)! A multi assault can empty a parking lot, quick style.
MSU shooty vehicle lists though, are still scary. MVBrandt and I discussed this one at length, and he made some great points. While Hull Points do make vehicles squishier, they also make vehicles more efficient until destroyed. You cannot stop a vehicle from shooting now unless you take out its weapons (which are now randomly determined on a weapon destroyed result!). What this means is that you can no longer just stun a vehicle and move on to the next one (particularly if they have twin-linked weapons). You need to focus fire them to death to silence them, and then move onto the next one. This means it will be harder to shut down those pesky Psybacks, Chimeras and Lazorbacks than it was before. Add in the fact that only 1 mission uses Kill Points and you don’t have much reason not to go MSU if you are going to use Vehicles.
Another neat little trick is to use a vehicle to limit the amount of Overwatch fire a unit can take as they charge by blocking LOS (Thanks to JP for this one). You can shoot the target with your assaulting unit, then move your vehicle to cover your guys from being shot back with Overwatch. You can also limit the amount of models that make it into BtB in an assault by congesting charge lanes if you want your assaulting units to make it into combat but not fully engage (forcing less of your models to get into BtB by making them go around a vehicle but be careful not to cut off your line of sight as you can’t charge what you can’t see now). This can be useful for ensuring that a combat isn’t a wipe out in your turn, but in your opponent’s turn.
Wow, wow, wow has this changed the game. EVERY list that is going to be used in a competitive setting MUST have Psyker defense if it is not fully Meched up (and I doubt that we will be seeing too much of that once people get used to 6th).
Some of these powers are just bananas. Here is a perfect example: The Doom with Iron Arm. Why? The Doom’s power triggers in each shooting power, sucking in wounds. With Iron Arm he gets +D3 Strength, Toughness and Eternal Warrior. You could potentially have an Eternal Warrior, Strength/Toughness 7 creature with a 3++ and 10 wounds with a no fly zone of 12” around it for anything not in a vehicle. Toss in a Broodlord or two with Aura of Dispair (lowers enemy leadership) and good night, nurse. Yowzers!
That is just one example of many, many crazy combos these new Psychic powers open up. An IG Primaris Psyker with Telepathy and a Psyker Battle Squad can combo up to just devastate the enemy. As a lot of the powers in that school work against enemy leadership, and the PBS lowers leadership, you can get game winning combinations.
As much as I dislike random abilities and effects, it is a mercy these powers are random as to be able to choose them could be too much. For example, the Doom only has a single Psychic power and therefore only has a 1/6 chance of getting his Iron Arm.
Another example of the craziness is taking a Rune Priest with Divination in an IG blob squad. You now have a unit that has ATSKNF, Acute Senses, great psyker defense, and as a default power: reroll all to hit rolls, including combat! Wow. That is a unit that will just smash things with shooting or assault and doesn’t care about needing to charge much as they can simply Overwatch a unit with rerolls to hit, then beat the snot out of whatever makes it into combat. And with the sheer volume of firepower they put out, plus the chance to get a power that allows them to fire in Overwatch with full BS and get Counter Attack (and if you have 2 Rune Priests you can reroll that, too!), that unit can be just a bear to tackle. Throw in a few other choppy characters into the mix and it gets even more powerful. A good counter to this crazy unit it to toss some Fearless tar-pit units at it. Just remember to have at least 2, as this unit can only Overwatch one unit. Make sure the tar-pits are beefy too, as this unit can do a LOT of damage in melee.
Nids can spam Psykers and just go crazy with this stuff (thanks again to MVBrandt for showing me some of these). Stacking maledictions such as Enfeeble can reduce units down to Str/Tough 1! Haha, think about what that does to Nob Bikers or Pallies? Insta Gib them with strength 2! Or, use a power such as Haemorage, or a model with Blood Talons on them to just wipe a unit out that is reduced that low in stats. The buffing powers like Iron Arm and such can make Tyranid MC’s just brutal (as they can for a lot of psyker units) imagine a strength, toughness 9 Swarm Lord with Eternal Warrior?! Who’s the boss of combat now, Draigo!?
And that is just the tip of the iceberg, we’re going to find so many more of these as we go, it’s truly a mind boggling new landscape we find ourselves in.
So what to do in the face of all this crayziness? Allies.
You need to have a way to combat this or be run over by it. I foresee a LOT of armies taking Eldar as allies, even if it is only as Desperate Allies. Why? The best Psyker Defense in the game in Runes of Warding and the obligatory troop choice of Eldar Jetbikes is one of the best 66pt investments you can make. A scoring unit that can go 48” is HUGE in this game now as 5/6 missions have objectives, and typically a lot of them. (Thanks to therhino for pointing out that non Battle Bro allied units can’t score objectives! (BRB pg.112, 123 it is really badly worded but he is right. They can still contest, though.) Even if your army isn’t bros with Eldar, being able to take a unit of them with a Farseer on a Jetbike to hide and then grab an objective (Fortune makes them damn hard to kill) is a great buy. And hey, toss in a unit of Scatter Laser War Walkers so the Farseer can guide them and you have a nice little, self-sufficient sub army that adds a TON to any army that can take them.
Rune Priests will be the hotness for the same reason, and Grey Hunters as troops is never, ever a bad thing.
What do you need in a list in 6th?
A lot! Haha, the game has gotten more complex by a huge degree and now you need to plan for a lot more than before. That is another reason Deathstars will be what I think a lot of players go with at first because they are simple and good against most anything. They make playing the game easier as they require less thought to play.
You need to have a plan for dealing with Psykers, Flyers, Deathstars and the ability to score multiple objectives.
Practice your micro level skills. Model placement is a huge deal now, and you will need to master that skill to play well.
So read your Rule Book, read those FAQs and get that brain of yours working on some new strategies!
What ideas do you guys have for making 6th as fun as possible for every play style?
And, as the article is already getting really long, I will close out with a list of little quirky things that we have found that are good to be aware of that we think a lot of folks will get wrong (and feel free to add to this in the comments section, there are a lot of subtle rules changes that aren’t readily apparent).
- Hammer of Wrath only works for the MODELS that make it into BtB on the charge move. That means that any jumpers that don’t make it into BtB on the charge don’t get the attack.
- You can fire emplaced weapons (such as Quad Guns) with all of the firing models’ characteristics. For example if you have Tank Hunters, Preferred Enemy or Precision Strike, you confer those to the gun.
- We have found nothing stopping enemy models from firing your emplaced guns…which I found out the hard way when mine was used to shoot down my own Flyer!
- Draigo can’t actually take any of the Psychic powers in the BRB contrary to what a lot of folks think (don’t worry about him getting to reroll everything!) only Libbys and Inquisitors in the GK Dex can swap out their powers.
- If you stay 3” away from an objective to claim it, and you roll a 1 (the explosion) on the mysterious objective table, the blast marker won’t reach out far enough to hit you.
- You can deploy 6” out of a Drop Pod!
- Ymgarls, Zagstruk and Vanguard Vets can all still assault out of Reserves.
- Grenades hit on normal WS in assault and now work on MCs. Don’t forget to throw them, too.
- Every Imperial Guard Sarge should have a Power Axe!
- Eldar psychic powers only work on Eldar units.
- Jump troops can only use their jump packs in the movement OR assault phase, but not both.
- Thanks to KGatch113, Stealth Cloaks no longer give stealth, but a +1 to the wearer’s cover save. That means no more Commissar with a giant cape that gives the entire blob squad stealth!