Top 4 Changes to Play in 9th

Heya, heya! It’s Old Man Brad from Art of War here to give you some tips on the changes you’ll face in the 9th edition. So hold on to something because rules and strategies are about to come at you fast and furious. 

Let’s start with one of the most significant changes in 9th:

Look Out, Sir: Characters cannot be shot if they are within 3” of a friendly unit (monster, vehicle, or unit of 3+ models) unless it is the closest target. 

I’ve played some serious games of 9th edition, and the changes to targeting characters have gotten my heroes shot in the face a whole hell of a lot. Take the experience of The OMB to heart, and you can keep your HQs safe and sound in your first games in 9th. 

Credit to Games Workshop
Credit to Games Workshop

This is one of the rules that surprised me in how different it was from 8th and was big in making me adjust my play style. Imagine this: You have 1500 points of your army in front of that enemy Dreadnought, but nobody is within three inches of Uncle Chaplain sitting in the back. Well, it looks like someone is going to be taking a few missiles to the face. No longer are you safe because a unit happens to be closer to the shooting unit. No longer can you simply have a few buffing characters sitting back, holding objectives, and blocking out deep strikes while your army presses forward. That is unless you’re keen on taking some las cannons to the face. I like this change a lot because it makes you change your movement and tactics for the better. 

Heroes will have to have a babysitter unit staying near them, get their sorry asses up to the front, get into the melee, or sit back with the rest of your unmanly shooting units leading from the rear….shame. “Wait Brad, can’t I just have my Farseer hide behind a wall and cower while he casts psychics?” Sure you can, laddy, as long as your opponent doesn’t have any indirect fire. Welcome to the edition where the most dangerous sniper in the land is the artillery piece, and what a crazy sniper it is. Sniper rifles and Vindicares? Naaaah, it’s the time of Thunderfire Cannons, Night Spinners, and the host of other indirect firing units that are now the deadliest snipers in the west when your characters are left without a unit within three inches. This is the change that has taken me the most time to adapt to in 9th edition for sure. 

You will be forced to make decisions on spacing, force aggression, and how many characters you want to take in your lists when making the most efficient list in 9th. For example, when I’m playing my old Craftworld/Harlequins lists, I would come to the table with seven to eight characters. However, after losing multiple characters in multiple games because I just couldn’t protect them properly while engaging the enemy, I’ve now cut that count down to four or five. Similarly, I am taking three or four characters max in my Marine armies, and I’m taking characters that interact well with multiple units that they are going to buff that will protect them during the game. Having characters that buff from a distance is not going to be the optimal way to play when you can lose that Farseer to one volley from a Thunderfire Cannon. I’ve found the most optimal play is to have characters with auras that benefit multiple units that work at similar ranges of engagement. Those units include melee units or ranged units of similar types of weaponry that stay efficient with their buffs and protected throughout the game without losing firepower or melee strength by having to move in a non-optimal way to try and protect them. An example from my new Aeldari builds is the Troupemaster who buffs melee units and is a force in melee himself, which makes him a reliable augment HQ without drawing away from your attack power to babysit him. 

On the opposite side of this, targeting characters is significantly easier and can be done consistently by looking for opportunities during the game, especially once you’re in the later turns. Space Marine Captain Billy is standing next to a unit of Intercessors. Well, looks like a unit’s going to die, leaving Captain Billy to take some multi melta shots to his stupid Imperial Fist insignia (yeah, screw that chapter). You should be looking for these openings during your opponent’s movement phase and devising your plan on their turn so you have more time on your clock once it passes back over to you. You will be surprised how often you’ll see these opportunities present themselves as the game progresses. If they don’t it’s even better because it probably means your opponent is castling. This edition’s missions will give you a massive advantage in board control, so let him sit with his head between his knees as you keep chalking up those tasty victory points. 

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Fall Back: Units that fall back cannot charge, shoot, or manifest psychic powers. 

This might be the single most game-changing mechanic in 9th edition. The fact that flying units can’t fall back and shoot now has added so much to the value of the movement phase, which includes the spacing and screening of units. Without fly being the ultimate fix-all for poor movement, spacing, and screening, you are rewarded for superior planning in movement, charges, and consolidation. With the addition of the 2CP general stratagem to leave combat even if tri pointed, just touching units is a colossal tactic that I can not overstate. This is true even with units that can shoot into combat. Consolidating into a unit/units, even when those units have the firepower to take your unit out in one turn, is a fantastic way to dictate the game and impose your will on your opponents. By taking the choice out of their hands and forcing what they can choose to target in the shooting phase, you can consolidate your use of stratagems to enhance the unit’s defense. For example, consolidating your troops onto the objectives letting you score points in your next command phase. Setting these maneuvers up early is key to putting you at a considerable advantage moving into later turns. As an example, in a recent test game, I used a unit of Vanguard Veterans to engage two Riptides and a Tau Commander. While the firepower of all three of those units should be enough to kill my unit, I forced my opponent spend the entire phase shooting at the Vanguard Veterans instead of my three units of Intercessors that were taking objectives out in the open. I was able to use two stratagems (Transhuman Physiology and plus one to save if damage 1 weapon) to make the Tau units have a harder time killing my unit and making them spend the entire phase killing them. If I had not engaged them or they could have fallen back and shot, I wouldn’t have been able to consolidate all my stratagems on just that one Vanguard Veteran unit and got such great value from those stratagems. 

I can’t stress enough how important the movement and charge phases are to control your opponent’s choices and impose your will on their next turn. More than ever, you have to make solid tactical decisions and start thinking a turn ahead when moving your units to anticipate the battlefield and lock down the board. Shutting down a turn or two of shooting, refusing your opponent the chance to perform actions on objectives, and dictating what targets your opponent can shoot at in their phase is extremely powerful. The frustration of you not letting them make their own decisions can often force your opponent to make non-optimal plays that you can further capitalize in the upcoming turns. 

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Big Guns Never Tire: Monsters and Vehicles can shoot ranged weapons even if within engagement range of enemy units.

This is a game-changer, and I see a vehicle meta coming on the horizon because of it. The standard practice of touching to prevent tanks/monsters/dreads from shooting has now changed considerably because of this rule. Big Gun tanks and walkers kitted out with high volume guns are going to find a place to shine in 9th edition with the output of Punisher Cannons and Leviathan Dreadnoughts coming to mind as big winners. Monsters such as Carnifex and some of the new Necrons monsters also get a big boost with these rules. They can push forward to take the board while guaranteeing that they will continue to leverage their firepower even when engaged by the enemy. Engaging and making assaults into units that you don’t want to interact with objectives or take out vulnerable units that are taking your objectives is an option that is now opened up by Big Guns. 

Now let’s look at the flip side and talk about some counter-tactics to combat this meta predicted by the prophet OMB. As I pointed out under falling back, you can dictate what your opponent is targeting even though they might have overwhelming firepower on those units engaged. But sacrificing units to guarantee primary points is going to be a skill that everyone will have to get much better at with this new edition’s rules and mission sets as it is more valuable than ever. 

Coherency and coherency checks 

Let the OMB save you some sadness and listen to my guide on how to not look like a freaking moron while scooping 24 extra models in my Boyz squad. New coherency rules state that when your squad is more than six models, you have to be within 2” of other models so you cannot, and I repeat cannot, string your models out in the old fashioned method in 9th edition. I see you laughing and saying, “OMB, it’s so easy. I’m not going to get caught with this weak ass play.” Well, let me tell you about how not great it feels to realize you’ve overextended and your line of models starts falling like dominoes when you don’t have a triangle formation for each model after you’ve pulled the end model and you scoop 24 models until you get down to five. You’re going to either have to run 1” or less spacing between models, depending on base size, or you’re going to have to run the zipper formation to keep all your models happy, healthy, and safe. 

This is just the first of a series of articles and videos we have planned for you in the War Room, so check our YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch pages for more ways to be a 9th edition 40k hero and take your play from gretchin level to Primarch level baby!!! 

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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4 Responses to “Top 4 Changes to Play in 9th”

  1. Avatar
    steven pampreen July 23, 2020 11:13 am #

    man, I really missed all my ork characters getting killed by barrage. Glad to hear that’s back again.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy July 23, 2020 10:41 pm #

      I mean, it’s really just back to the way it was in 3rd through 7th Edition, where you could kill an IC by killing its “attached” squad. Characters being completely invulnerable to all shooting was an artifact of 8th, and resulted in a lot of weird and unfun stuff.

  2. Avatar
    steven pampreen July 23, 2020 11:14 am #

    also might want to play with your html a little bit.

    #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own Mailchimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */

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