Wednesday, 12 March 2014

What would you wish for?

Hi all, my first random musing for a while, and it's inspired really by another blog I frequent occasionally and its review of the space marine codex. Now I'll admit I'm a big fan of the current codex and the balance it has, but the review I read felt like that of a different book, and when I read it again I realised why - it seemed to really focus on the negatives and why this unit didn't have access to this weapon, or why this piece of wargear should be left behind.

So today I'm going to talk about wish listing, and in particular what I'd like to see going forward - I am going to try and be reasonable however, and try to keep my wishes balanced.

Two things here, the first being the cover mechanic, including jink.

It always grates with me that against ignores cover weapons such as flamers, models don't get a jink save. After all, I wouldn't want to try and hit a speeding jetbike with a flamethrower! What I think would improve this situation therefore is to amend jink so that if a weapon ignores cover, you have to roll to hit the models under the template using your BS as normal, representing the ability of the firer to hit a moving target with such a weapon. 

The second part of my cover concerns are how easy it is to get a good cover save, making weaker troops more survivable than they should be. Take for example a marine squad and a ork mob in ruins hit by a frag missile. If the ork mob goes to ground their cover save is 3+. If the marine squad does the same, their cover save is also 3+, so the number of casualties is the same on average. There is therefore no allowance for the fact that the cover is stopping some shots hitting them, but their armour would still protect them from the remainder. I would therefore like to see the cover mechanic changed to strip out hits rather than wounds. So in the example above, the orks would still go to ground to avoid two thirds of the hits, which wound as normal, reducing their casualties by the same amount as the current method, but the marines would probably stay on their feet, reducing the hits by half for the cover, and then saving any resultant wounds using their armour. Now I realise this makes marines much tougher to weed out of cover, but surely that's more 'realistic' than the ork and marine having the same survival rate.

My second wish for the core rulebook then is the assault rules, or more specifically getting into assault. Having played this edition now since it's release, the one thing I've noticed above all else is that getting into assault is now much harder than it ever was, and that means that assault units suffer. Every avenue seems to be closed at the moment for minimising damage to assault troops - they can no longer assault straight from deep strike (which I can sort of understand for teleporting units as they get their bearings, but not for units arriving by deep strike via jump packs etc), transports no longer allow assaults, infiltrators and scouts can't assault etc. the result of this (in my opinion) is not that  assault is dead, but that it's not viable for non dedicated armies. What I mean by that is that if you fill your force full of close combat troops, you'll still get into combat, but for those armies taking a balanced mix, the assault units are so reduced by the time they actually get into combat they're no longer effective. 

So my wish here would be to allow assaults on the turn troops arrive, but at the expense of shooting in the shooting phase, whilst increasing the overwatch to BS2 against those units (they're not taking cover from incoming fire, so have more time to aim weapons). Teleporting and burrowing units may still not assault in the turn they arrive, as they need to orientate themselves on the battlefield.

So on to specific codex wishes then, and I’m going to limit myself here to 1 per codex I’m familiar with (DE, SM, BA and Necrons)

Space Marines.
Terminators. Warriors inviolable in the fluff. On the tabletop, aim a squad of rapid firing lasguns at them and some will die. I mention it quite a bit at my club, but I once lost 6 terminators in a single turn’s shooting to a ten man guard squad firing three shots each. That’s an extreme situation, but a S3 weapon fired at BS3 only needs 36 shots to guarantee a terminator kill. Sounds a lot, but when that represents 2 turns firing from a small squad it’s not so much. Against Tau and marines that’s 1 in 18 shots. In short, I don’t consider that 40 points of terminator is tough enough, particularly given the firepower that tends to be levelled at them. So what would I do to toughen them up? Well there are plenty of options here. An extra wound each would make them equivalent to Ork Nobz, which sounds about right, or making their 5+ invulnerable save additional to the armour save would also work. An extra point of toughness would achieve something similar. Given that there seems to be a determined effort in the codex to avoid 2W marines (if I recall correctly centurions and attack bikes are the only ones outside of hq units with more than 1 wound) I’d be inclined to say that having the terminator armour equipped with a 5+ save taken in addition to the 2+ version would be the way I’d go.

Dark Eldar.
Well where do I start? The fragility of these guys is such that they either win big, or get totalled by turn 3. The changes to jink I mentioned earlier would make a big difference to the survivability of their transports, but what issues does the codex have? I have three main beefs. 1) Severe lack of twin linked or multi shot AT weapons – you can pick up lance weapons everywhere but to avoid needing to take several blaster armed squads, wasting shots from poison rifles at vehicles simply because you need to take the tank down the lances on ravagers etc need to be more reliable. 2) Almost no ‘ignores cover’ weapons in the entire codex. It somehow doesn’t seem right that one of the most technologically advanced races in the galaxy can’t do anything about guardsmen hiding behind a wall. 3) Almost no armour save exacerbates their fragility. As a DE player I get used to not taking armour saves despite the warriors all wearing very cool looking armour plate.

So I’m going to break from my ‘1 per codex rule’ here. 1) Dark Eldar anti tank would be much more reliable if the dark lance was a heavy 2 weapon. A game I played recently the a DE player declared himself not worried by my land raider as he’d blown up in the first turn the only other he’d played against. A little maths proved that little assertion unsupported, as on average, 1 in 27 shots from a dark lance (not counting cover) will kill a land raider. Make them Heavy 2 and that stat doesn’t change, but all of a sudden a Ravager with three of them should do some damage to it each turn. 2) Name me a weapon that you never see in a DE army? That’s right, the humble shredder. Change this from blast to template & torrent and all of a sudden you’ll see them taken a whole lot more (though the blaster still provides a viable alternative target), it’ wouldn’t even need an AP value to be useful given the way torrent templates can be placed. 3) DE armour looks very cool, it should actually do something in the game. I’d personally tweak the fluff to make them all constructed like ghostplate armour, either giving them a 6+ invulnerable save in addition, or making their normal armour save invulnerable (the latter would be my preferred option, units would be viable without being totally at the mercy of things like exploding raiders.

Blood Angels.
On the whole I like the Blood Angels codex a lot and there’s not much I’d change. Assault squads however have one major drawback. Chainswords. Now I realise chainsword rules are located in the main rulebook, but as blood angels can take assault squads as troops this affects them more than other marine units. I’d like to see one of two options. Introduce a rule whereby chainswords reduce armour saves by 2 points, so terminators would get a 4+, and guard would get nothing. This is partially due to game effect, but mainly because otherwise the chainsword is no more dangerous in combat than a bayonet, and that just doesn’t sit right with me.

This is going to be a bit of a strange one I think, overall I’ve always been disappointed by the lack of wargear options in the necron codex (no sergeants etc, which given the highly stratified and ordered structure seems wrong), but the main issue I have is that despite having supposedly more highly developed engrams and programming, Necron combat units have the same lowly initiative as a Tau fire warrior. I’m not saying make them strike like the Dark Eldar, but an initiative of 3 or 4 wouldn’t be unreasonable.

So there you have it, my wishes for codex updates and the next set of 40k rules. What do you think? Let me know your opinion and if you have any ideas within the ‘reasonable, balanced’ requirement of this article I’d love to hear them (so no changes for assault squads to have power weapons and bloodthirster stats, alright?)