We’ve been taking a look at some of the changes to the core rules that will have the biggest impact on your games. The studio has received a lot of feedback about Overwatch – so these updates are designed to make it a more deliberate and thoughtful action. The goal is to help balance melee-oriented versus shooty armies and inject a little more strategy on both sides.
What is Overwatch?
Simply put, it’s the snapshots a unit takes when an enemy is running in their direction, blades in hand and warcries in their throats.
Overwatch plays a crucial role in Warhammer 40,000 – it causes armies that prefer melee combat to exercise a bit of caution as they rush to get to grips with the enemy, and punishes them for charging into heavy firepower. While that’s still true in the new edition of the game, things will work a little differently in practice.
The first and biggest change is that Overwatch has shifted from a standard reaction to a Core Stratagem, costing 1 Command point to perform. As Stratagems can only be used once per phase, you’ll have to think long and hard about your odds of success. For example, Aggressors armed with flamestorm gauntlets are sure to roast some of the attackers, whilst a half-strength Astra Militarum squad may struggle to cause enough damage to warrant the cost.
Once you decide to fire Overwatch, it works pretty much as it has in the current edition, with shots hitting on unmodified rolls of six unless specified otherwise.
Overall, this is a huge boost to massed assault armies, such as Orks or Tyranids, that excel at smashing dozens of units into the enemy line all at once. Where previously, each one of those units would face retaliatory fire, now, your opponent will only be able to target ONE of your changing units, so will have to choose very carefully indeed! Do you stop the rampaging Trygon from smashing a tank or that horde of 30 Hormagaunts from shredding an infantry platoon? No easy choice.
When facing a big gunline unit that’s dug into some solid terrain, this crucial boost can make your opponent think twice, especially if it’s a long-range charge that may well end in failure.
You may find that some units benefit from other special rules that modify Overwatch as well, such as the T’au Empire’s For the Greater Good special rule. One of our favourite new ones is a Battle Trait your units can receive as part of a Crusade force, permanently granting them FREE and improved Overwatch.
Your ice-cold veterans are having NONE of that enemy charge! Free Overwatch attacks like this are few and far between, but they’re worth seeking out because they don’t prevent you from using the Stratagem in the same phase.
Be careful, though – a savvy enemy might be able to catch you off-guard if you’re in their deployment zone. The Strategic Reserves rule allows a unit to deploy on their own table edge, even if it’s within Engagement Range (1”) of an enemy, and proceed to make attacks as though they charged! This is such a situational rarity that it probably won’t come up very often, but a stunt like that completely bypasses Overwatch to surprise unwary or careless opponents.
In general, attackers will want to carefully choose the order of their charges to coax the other player into using Overwatch prematurely, and defenders will need to consider whether they should withhold their Overwatch fire for later. You may find some units or circumstances granting Overwatch without the need for a Stratagem – these will be very valuable indeed!
What do you think about these updates to Overwatch? Head to the Warhammer 40,000 Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram to share your thoughts using #New40K, and stay tuned for more information about the new edition each day.
* Take a look at this article to learn more about how terrain works in the new edition.
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!