Hi folks. Since last weekend’s reveal of the new edition of 40k, we’ve seen various news emerge on the changes we could see going into the new edition. Today I’m going to explore some of these ideas. Note, this is just my take on what GW has revealed so far!
Like any speculation, take everything with a generous pinch of salt.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more interesting potential new game mechanics.
Stacking to hit modifiers:
Capping hit modifiers is the first change that immediately jumps out at me. As a T’au player, this is pretty good news. A shooting army with mediocre ballistic skills is drastically limited when opponents start stacking hit modifiers.
The person with whom I most often play 40k plays Drukhari, which means that he has access to the lightning fast reactions stratagem. This stratagem puts a -1 to hit modifier on one unit for the shooting phase in which it is used. Furthermore, plenty of Drukhari units have a native -1 hit modifier, meaning that for the first couple of turns of the game I was almost always shooting at -2 to hit. Dropping a Markerlight on the target would help, of course, but re-rolling 1s can only get you so far.
As a defensive strategy, then, it was a pretty good one. But in the brave new world of 9th edition 40k, I’ll be capped at -1 to hit.
I mentioned above that this is good news for T’au players, and it obviously is, but I’m more than a little skeptical: does capping modifiers to +/- 1 go too far? Would this rule have been better capped at +/- 2? This is a tricky one.
I’ve no doubt that -3 to hit modifiers should be removed entirely. That is where I would draw the line. Entirely negating a unit’s shooting output is not fun, and it has been the cause of a lot of feel-bads over the course of 8th edition.
But armies that we would somewhat pejoratively describe as “glass hammers” need some way to mitigate incoming firepower. For example, many Drukhari lists would take a real hit if their native negative hit modifiers were removed. The Venom is a pretty strong contender for the best transport in the game at the moment — and if not the best then certainly top three — and one of the reasons for this is the native -1.
It’s more than that, however. Drukhari players can force opponents to expend more resources than they would’ve liked in order to destroy a Venom if the Drukhari player stacks a second -1 modifier with the lightning fast reactions stratagem. This was a strong strategy, and it forced good opponents to carefully consider how to best engage the Dark Kin in their shooting phase.
Capping modifiers at +/- 1 removes these considerations from the game.
However, I’ve no doubt that the designers of 9th would have considered these cases. I’m sure there’s a good reason in the context of 9th as a whole to cap modifiers at +/- 1 instead of +/- 2. It’s too soon to tell whether this change will turn out to be a positive one.
New terrain rules:
We certainly know that we’re getting more terrain rules. Many people in the community have said it over the past week: this will be a welcome and long-awaited addition to the game. Indeed, one of the weaknesses of 8th was the sparse terrain rules. The ITC tournament pack is the global standard for competitive play, and it provides additional rules for terrain in order to add more line-of-sight blocking elements to the game. I think that this was an essential change for tournament-level 40k. Almost none of the terrain available at Games Workshop blocks line-of-sight entirely, and in a game that relies on true line-of-sight to determine visibility, this was a problem.
Moving to a terrain system that can incorporate high-level tournament play as well as beer-n-pretzels 40k will be a great move.
Practically speaking, what can we expect? We know that all terrain features on the board will have specific tags that confer different rules depending on the tag. For example, the obscured tag will completely block line-of-sight across the terrain piece. This is the only tag that we’ve heard about at the time of writing, but we could reasonably infer that there will be a variety of tags that confer a variety of benefits and drawbacks.
The game will move in a slightly more abstract direction, then. While your model might be able to see you opponent’s tank across the battlefield, intervening terrain will dictate whether you’ll be able to shoot at it.
Like any change, this will come with benefits and burdens. In the latest Signals from the Frontline episode, Reece mentions that when teaching kids how to play 40k, the true line-of-sight mechanic was particularly useful, and it’s easy to see why. If your bad-ass super soldier can see the lurking alien beast, he can blast him! It was as simple as that.
Way back when in the distant past of 4th edition, I remember the manager of my local GW store complaining — in a jovial fashion, to be fair — that his Tactical Squad could see those Genestealers. “They’re right there. Why can’t I shoot them!?” No doubt they were a couple of inches into a forest or some such thing, rendering them impervious to bolter fire. You get the point. A more abstract system brings its own issues to deal with.
What else can we expect? Command points are getting a refresh. As James Workshop said last week: “less soup and more super soldiers.” Say goodbye to the Loyal 32 and the Rusty 17, then. I’ve read a variety of rumors on this point, so yet more salt is required here, but one of the more compelling involves paying for detachments from a pool of pre-generated command points.
For example, your army might start with, say, 20 command points. Taking a battalion detachment costs four command points; taking a vanguard detachment costs five command points; taking a detachment from a different codex costs eight command points; and so on. The numbers there are entirely arbitrary, but you get the idea.
From what I’ve read and heard so far, I think this could be an excellent change to the game. Not only will it give my beloved Battlesuit boys some extra command points to play with, but it will also make it more feasible to play themed lists without sacrificing command points. At the moment, for example, I play classic triptide T’au, but if it were feasible, I would move to an all-Battlesuit Farsight Enclaves list (Farsight did nothing wrong). By the sounds of things, 9th edition will provide some handy tools to do so.
9th ed Lists:
Finally, I want to mention something that isn’t related to the new rules of the 9th edition but will nonetheless have a significant impact on our lists in the new edition. The rules design for Forge World will now fall under the same team that designs the regular rules. I’m particularly excited for this change. There are a bunch of great Forge World models that just aren’t worth taking because of out-dated rules. I’m sure your faction has a handful — the T’au certainly do.
Making the design team responsible for these rules will bring them in line with the latest ruleset, and, with any luck, will provide interesting alternatives to regular codex units that are appropriately pointed and have solid rules.
I imagine that over the next week or so GW will begin to preview some of the actual rules themselves, so keep an eye on the Frontline Gaming network for commentary and analysis. It’s a great time to be in the hobby.
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!