Mitch Pelham, aka, Mr. “14 Hellhounds” and also top notch player and guy, weighs in on the recent Big FAQ. Read on to see what he thinks about it.
The “Big” Faq and revised Factions FAQs have been released and are here to turn the Meta on its head–or will they?
Hey guys, Mitch “Damn that’s alotta Hellhounds” Pelham here. and I am ready to dive into the pile of FAQs, go over some of the most notable and interesting changes and explore how they may affect the game. In this article I will be focusing on the BRB changes, rulings and in the Big FAQ PDF. There’s a lot to unpack. Let’s take a deep breath and dig in.
Battalion and Brigades
Starting with something fairly straight forward, Brigades and Battalions got bumped up from 9 and 3 cp each to 12 and 5 respectively. This is a nice change in general though it seems like the argument for a Brigade over 2 Battalions is pretty weak since it’s only a 2 CP difference which is even less then it was before. A lot of monodex armies will be glad for the change though. Be expecting to see Tau, Dark Eldar, Tyranids and Astra Militarum to be swimming in CP.
Next up we have a big clarification. Basically, vertical distance is disregarded for making charges yet you still have to measure base to base to make sure you are 12 inches or closer to have them as a valid target for a charge. This is a weird one, as it requires you to measure two different ways and yet you can still have a unfailable charge. Also, it’s important to remember if you aren’t infantry, then fly only gets you on the top or the bottom of the ruin. A big win for Jump pack models–that is if they can fit in to be in combat–which brings us to…….
So let’s break this down. In the past when a unit made a charge against a unit on another level and all of said unit couldn’t be placed, “wobbly model syndrome” was used more often than not to keep things moving. Iit also made sense from a fluff-and-gameplay perspective that say guardsmen weren’t keeping a bunch of Deathguard from storming into their ranks simply because there wasn’t quite room. This ruling–sticking to the within-an-inch-of-bases–is a big deal and creates some issues.
Ok, my intention with this article is to break things down and give all of it a chance. However I am calling it now this is the “Drop Pod Doors count as part of the model” ruling in this FAQ. I can see where someone made this ruling, thinking it made sense, but the potential to “game” this is immense. It creates so many scenarios that will make no sense. Take the picture above for example. Technically the only unit that can charge and make it into combat is the Predator. Now you might be saying, “Well, just kill one of the Inceptors, and then charge,” but here’s the thing. With this ruling, you would only be able to swing with just that one model as the other models will be more than a inch away. Now if the 1 inch measurement for being next to a model in combat isn’t base to base, then it might not be so bad. But even then, that’s just adding more measuring and more room for disagreement between players. It feels like an ill-considered ruling through-and-through, and with the other rulings impacting close combat armies, it definitely feels unneeded.
Next up we have another ruling that nerfs assault:
This is another rough one on assault-based armies, specifically Nids and Chaos. However, it makes Swarmlord more valuable. By itself is not a massive nerf. Overall, it just eliminates some tricks we all had gotten used to seeing in the meta.
This one is small but a great clarification. Deepstriking transports protecting their passengers from being intercepted is great news and could give new life to Drop Pods, Tyrannocytes and Elysian Valkyries, which leads into our next FAQ answer.
This one is actually a question I submitted and while they clarify one part, the answer raises another question. So they can disembark, but can they move?
A really interesting ruling that makes leadership auras far more useful, especially with things like Eldar negative leadership combos getting even stronger with Dark Eldar.
Ok onto the big ones, the rulings that have been setting facebook groups on fire.
The Rule of 3: As the guy who is known for running 14+ Hellhounds, you may be surprised to hear that I am a big fan of this one. I think it’s a great change that doesn’t limit people and encourages more variety in list design. Something to keep in mind this rule is 0-3 DATASHEETS not keywords for any non-troops and transports, so it really is not that limiting. (Also keep in mind, squadrons fall under this, so you can still have a bunch of tanks or whatnot easily.) This is a great way to adjust the state of game for several reasons.
One, it limits how much you can expect to face in any game–no more trying to come up with lists that can handle 10 Plague Burst Crawlers or 6 Shield Captains. Narrowing this makes the game more accessible and list design easier for newer players. Secondly, it makes balancing the game easier. if a unit is miscosted or a rule too strong. This limit acts as a inbuilt guard until a unit can be rebalanced. I have seen some Tau players asking how this affects drones taken with suits, as they refer back to the drones datasheet. I could see this being a question for Space Wolves as well with different characters being able to take Fenrisian wolves with them as well. So it needs a little clarification, but all-in-all, a great rule that moves the game forward. Anyone want to buy some hellhounds?
Ok now onto the Big one, the rule no one saw coming.
Deep breath. So, there are two parts to this rule, and I want to focus on them separately, as I think one is much more simple than the other. So first, the Power level reserves rule.
I am a little baffled by this one, saying we need to use power level as well as drops to balance our reserves. To be clear, I think adding more rules to reserves to make it less gameable (i.e. Flyrants in reserve and spore mines on the table) makes sense, though doesn’t the rule-of-three handle a lot of that already? Further going with power level in matched play just seems bizarre.
Now this is not a article meant to rant and rave or bash GW. They are doing what we have always wanted and updating the rules set regularly and trying to give us the best game they can. However, I do feel some constructive criticism is warranted here. Specifically, why power level? Now, maybe they meant to put in for Matched play to use points, which fair enough. But if not, this rule creates some issues.
For starters, power level is not used in Matched play outside of rare exceptions (Daemons Summoning), so it’s a whole new set of numbers to learn to make sure you and your opponent are deploying legally, not to mention that Power Level has thus far not been adjusted in FAQs or Chapter Approved. Secondly, power level fluctuates based on thresholds, which is hugely confusing. For example, a squad of space marine scouts is PL4. Add one scout, and you are now looking at a PL8 unit. Or, as a example of “game-ability,” let’s take a look at wulfen. A 5-man squad is 155 points and 13PL, however if I add one wulfen, the unit is now 183 points and has a power level of 26! That’s the same as a Shadowsword. This also screws over Wulfen and other elite infantry, as they are almost impossible to fit into reserves unless you take the smallest unit possible. Please GW, make this work off of points and save us all a lot of headaches.
Moving on to the second half of the new Beta rules: Ok, I think this one caught everyone off-guard. To sum up, all deepstrikes and reserves for the first turn must be in your own deployment zone. First, let me say that I believe we need to give everything a thorough playtesting. Simply refusing to engage with the proposed changes helps nothing. That being said, I feel like this ruling came out of nowhere. There are entire codexes that seem to be built around the idea of deepstriking turn one. Is this an about-face on that? If so why Deepstrike assault armies? They hardly dominate the meta, and things like the Flyrant list would be taken care of with the rule of three. Outside of that, the new reserve rule also takes care of that issue. The thing is, I know the rationale is to limit reserve alpha strike armies, however those armies evolved out of the idea that, to be able to win, you need to be able to survive going second.
This rule simply takes us back to “Firsthammer.” Combined with the half-your-force-on-the-table rule, going first is now more important than ever, as you can still reserve. If you go first, you get to both shoot first at half your opponent’s army, and then you get to deepstrike first on the second turn for maximum board control. Not having to worry about first-turn deep strikes and charges fundamentally changes list design and biases the game towards shooting in a meta that already favored it. This feels like its leading to….
The argument against this is that monodex lists struggled against the alpha strike of these reserve lists. Now my father always told me, “Don’t come to someone with a problem but with a solution,” and I have some.
First, the simplest solution seems to be penalyzing going first. These deep strike alpha lists came from the idea that you needed to be able to survive going second, and if you go first, you nuke and/or board control your opponent off the table. Why not impose the “no deepstriking outside of your deployment zone” restriction to just whoever goes first? This leads to a asymmetrical dynamic that rewards being able to project board presence top of turn one.
Combined with the rule-of-3 and half of your army being on the table, it offers an incentive on going first or second based on list design or trying to thwart your opponents strategy either way when you win the role off. It adds layers to the tactics and overall strategy in everything from list design to deployment and reserving to balancing the advantage of going second for scoring objectives, which currently is an afterthought with the new ruleset. It adds depth to the game without complicating the game. Do you want to go first and shoot all the things? Cool, you can build to do that. Want to create a more cagey army that plays to the objective? Go for it!
My second suggestion is more involved, but I still think it has merit. Instead of nerfing armies, how about improving units that see little to no play. By that I mean things like Sicarian Infiltrators. Give them some twist on the scout ability, make sure every army has some unit or ability to interact in this part of the game, namely being able to buffer first-turn deepstrike armies. Now I know changing rules for units is a big ask, but it seems to me that with the FAQs, they are already doing it, and anyone looking to play competitively has to have these FAQs on hand. So, I don’t see the difficulty in making better some units that don’t see play and at the same time, balancing dexes to handle Deepstrike armies.
My third suggestion is not a new one, but I think it should be reconsidered: Simply limit the detachments to reflect what Games Workshop thinks should compose an army.Iit seems like alot of these new rulings would not be necessary if the Outrider, Supreme Command, Vanguard etc. detachments did not exist or were limited to one per army. This certainly isn’t an idea original to me, and while I do like these detachments in a small dose, they seem tailor-made for abuse at this point.
My last suggestion is definitely the most extreme, but at the same time I think it has the most to offer for creating a more interesting play environment: Sideboards. OK, bear with me. I propose a 500-750 sideboard for the tournament format. It allows players to build a core force with the flexibility for the extremes of the meta, and allows players to feel like they can really equip a force to handle anything. Now the downside to this is like anything. It will be optimized and gamed, but that’s sort-of the whole point of this article–no matter what you do, gamers will game it, and accepting that is important.
Now all of that being said where do we go from here?
I love 40K, and I am guessing anyone reading this article does too. I want to see this game and the competitive aspect of it grow by leaps and bounds, and I am sure all of you do too. In that, we need to include the rules and FAQ writers and the play testers. They want what’s best for the game as well.
From here where do we go? First and foremost, we need to stay positive and realize whether you are for or against the new changes presented by the new FAQs and beta rules, we all love this game and this hobby. I have seen amazing acts of of kindness and support from this community ( #Brandwillnotbeforgotten). We have gotten what we have been begging for for years–a living set of rules with a GW that listens and pays attention to the feedback from the community–so we need to do just that.
Play the hell out of these new rulings and document the issues we come across. I know I have a Major and a GT coming up in the next few weeks, and every example of unchargeable units will have a picture to go with it and will make its way to GW. We need as a community to pick up the slack and give them the feedback they need to make good decisions with the ruleset. Instead of flooding them with complaints, let’s swarm them with well-thought-out examples of where things may not be working as intended.
I plan on playing a ton of games with the new rules, and I would love to be surprised to find my initial impressions wrong, but the only way to find out is to put in the time on the table. Change is always frustrating, but we should embrace it and see how it works before we decide how we feel about it.
Thanks for reading. I hope it was worth your time.
Seriously though, you want to buy some Hellhounds?
What do you all think? Do you agree with Mitch? How are you settling in to the post-FAQ meta?
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