Monday, 24 April 2017

8th edition live faq - round up and reaction.

Greetings all! So, having already posted one article this evening, here's number two of the day for your delectation, though this one is very different subject matter. Earlier today the warhammer community team conducted a live interview on their facebook page between the head of the community team and the team leader for the re-writing of the rulebook. I watched it afterwards (huh, who'd have kids eh) and have made notes of everything they discussed. That information is below, along with my own thoughts on what they said (and equally as important, what they didn't say).

I'm going to group things into broad categories so that the information is a bit more easily digestible, then at the bottom I'll look at my own take on things, but first up, let's just get point 1 across - the new edition will drop this year and whilst no further information was divulged as to a more specific date, they did say that there would be more news on a release date very soon.

Fluff & Background

This is staying as a key part of the game - we're not seeing a massive step forward in the background as was done with the old world as part of AoS, but things will move forward in time, and the struggle between the Imperium and Chaos will be brought back to the forefront of the background. Importantly, whilst we know that Cadia is no more, the omission of some planets from the recently released galaxy map (such as Chogoris and Medusa) doesn't mean they have also been destroyed.

Notwithstanding that however, the storyline of the game is to be moved on over the next few years, and there are some big bombs to drop at launch time.

Equally importantly, none of the factions are being deleted from the game, with all the existing armies having a place in the game, with new factions being introduced, including new factions at the time of launch.

There was a lot of discussion over the narrative option of the 3 ways to play, and we'll be seeing supplements/expansions such as planetary assault and cityfight included as time goes by, plus some new styles we've not seen before.

Overall game play

The 40k system is to retain its base use of the D6, and templates will be disappearing (sniff - my poor 3rd edition templates will have to find somewhere to live now - perhaps framed on the wall of my garage?). They will be keeping the overall playing style of each of the armies, whilst this is the most thorough GW have ever been over playtesting and balancing all of the different factions and units with each other (this point was really hammered home several times, including thanks to the playtesters from Frontline Gaming, Adepticon and NOVA who have given extensive feedback over the "long time" they have been working on the edition).

The system has been streamlined, with a 1500pt game looking to take between 90 and 120 minutes (I'm sure there are some players out there who can turn that into 180, haha).

Core rules of the game will be available digitally with some printed copies available in store. The intention is to make the matched play version updated regularly along the same lines as the AoS general's handbook.

Army selection.

Ok we'll start with the big one - there will be 14(!) different force organisation charts in the rulebook. It sounds like these go from pretty small groups of units to very large forces, allowing allies to be used via the small charts or large mono-faction armies to be built (they mentioned a "brigade" level FOC).

Each of these force organisation charts grants you the player a number of command points, and these can be used to directly affect in-game actions, such as allowing a re-roll or letting one of your units fight out of order. These command points are kept in check by only being allowed to use one per phase, but by the sounds of it won't need to be pre-selected as part of the army.

As we've already heard, there will be three ways to play, pretty much ported over from the Age of Sigmar as far as I can tell, however there is a big difference here - those three ways to play will come with two different points systems! As per the existing way of selecting an army, your force will have(!) to be battle-forged to use the narrative and matched play styles, thoguh it sounds like open play really is just a case of bring whatever models you want, regardless of faction. The simpler points system is called 'power level' and from the sounds of it is pretty similar to the points system from Age of Sigmar, with broad points values for units independent of equipment etc. This will give the two armies a broad indication of power level (see what they did there) to allow a game to be fairly balanced without too much detail required. Then we'll have effectively the current points system, with a basic unit or model cost with additional costs for weapons, equipment etc.

The question of an army selection app was raised, and whilst this won't be available on launch day it is set to be released "shortly after" launch.

Codexes will categorically not be disappearing, however, current codexes will not be viable with the new rules, so on day one there will be five books released that contain all the rules for the currently available armies (it sounds like each book will cover several factions). They will then release codexes over time, which will contain more thematic stuff including army themed benefits that command points can be spent on and chapter tactic style themes. Massively important is that all points have been rebalanced for these books. They were really sensitive to the idea that the points values of the units needed to be addressed, with the view that they'd worked really hard to make sure that all the different units were viable.

Stats and unit/model rules

Let's start from the basic principles then - every unit or model currently available will get rules, and will use the same stats from now on, though no stat is capped at 10. This includes the reintroduction of a movement value for each unit, and will see vehicles losing armour values and gaining wounds instead. In a similar way to Age of Sigmar, vehicles (and monsters) will drop in power as they take damage, though this will vary depending on the vehicle's role, so for example a combat vehicle (such as an Ork dreadnought perhaps - my example) may get fewer attacks as it is damaged, whilst a shooting oriented vehicle might drop in ballistic skill or weapon strength (yes, you read that right, Ballistic Skill was mentioned). Further to this, it was made clear that all weapons would be able to hurt all units, so we won't see bolters (for example) unable to hurt battle tanks, it will just be difficult for them and they won't damage it quickly - heavier weapons will gain the ability to remove multiple wounds to retain their efficacy over light weapons in this regard. It was noted that some models (namechecking knights and the lord of skulls) have very big wound counts.

Morale was noted as being changed to the system mentioned in their adepticon release, so basically this has been ported over from Age of Sigmar

The different weapons were described as being very appropriate to how they are supposed to feel, with the example given that battle cannons on knights were great at taking down armoured targets like vehicles, but were less effective at massed horde clearance.

As with Age of Sigmar, the rules are moving to a keyword style system, with this being specifically introduced to get away from the kind of rules exploitation that made death stars such a huge part of the game. By introducing a keyword system, buffing units can be limited to buff only those units it's intended to buff rather than everyone.


Great news

Well, first off, I have to say I'm now getting very excited about the new edition - confirmation that they have undertaken extensive playtesting and rebalancing of points alone is sufficient to get me on board that there won't be the same number of discussions over why such and such an army isn't really playable, or has to work harder on the tabletop to be successful. Resetting the game back to a simple baseline for all armies involved is I think the single biggest thing that needed to be done with the game, and if they've taken that opportunity to streamline a few things then all to the good.

Particular highlights for me I think include the army selection app coming - I got on board with their army selection cd-roms years ago back when they were first released and I love having the battlescribe app to write my own lists with - having access to a dedicated GW app for the same thing will make me a very happy man indeed, especially if it's on the lines of the Azyr app, which I find very user friendly.

Similarly, the idea that there will be so many different force organisation charts means that we should hopefully see (when combined with the rebalanced points) a lot of varied armies out on the tabletop, with allies included in a way that avoids breaking the system, supported by the use of the keyword system they first began using through Age of Sigmar.

Let's tackle that point now then, Age of Sigmar has clearly been a big influence in a lot of the work they've been doing on this edition, from gradual deterioration of larger units like monstrous creatures and vehicles, through the keyword system and lots of other elements besides. I think this is a really good thing, since the playability of Age of Sigmar is one of the huge benefits of the system if you listen to those people who play it a lot.

I also love the idea that there will be two points systems in place depending on your desired level of competitiveness and the ease of army choice - having recently looked at getting into Age of Sigmar I found the points system really odd, but it certainly has some clear benefits in terms of its simplicity of army construction, even if I do prefer a more detailed system myself.

I must say I'm also very pleased at the confirmation of new factions. Now the way it was discussed has certainly led to an interpretation being that there will be a new faction on launch day. However what was said was a little more concealed than the conclusion to which many have jumped - quite simply I think it's pretty likely that the image we've seen relating to the new edition is half death guard half loyalist marine. As far as I'm aware the death guard don't have any particular hatreds amongst the loyalist chapters, though Mortarion himself certainly had a bit of a beef with Jaghatai Khan, and Sanguinius as the instigators of the legion librarius', along with Magnus. However, that clearly isn't a White Scar or a Blood Angel in the picture, which leads me to believe we're getting Ultramarines again, plus Death Guard. And that's interesting because I suspect a lot of you will query why there isn't a new faction on release day - however Death Guard have never had their own codex before, indeed very few of the Chaos chapters get much love at all in that respect. You could quite easily therefore see Death Guard as the 'new' faction, up against the staunch opponents of any kind of corruption, the Ultramarines.

Silence is golden

Now, let's get onto a few things that were, at least to my mind, conspicuous by their absence from the discussion.

First, and possibly the biggest thing I can think that was missing from the session, and seemingly no matter how many times it was posted as a question on the facebook page during the discussion - there was absolutely no reference whatsoever to anything to do with psychic powers or a psychic phase. Very strange, and though we know AoS has simplified its magic spell system considerably, I'm surprised they didn't mention this part of the game at all. Granted, they're not going to spill all the beans at this time, but you'd have thought there would be some information coming through by now.

Second, whilst we got a bit of a look at the force organisation chart, there wasn't enough resolution to pick out any details, so we don't know if there are any new battlefield roles to be introduced - I for one would hope there will be a new role for fliers at the very least, and there was no mention of what categories units would fall into.

Third, we had no mention of formations being a part of the game. Now AoS effectively has their own equivalent, though in matched play situations they require points to be paid for them. As I see it there are two possibilities. The first is that formations are remaining as they are, and will be featured in the new codexes as they are released, but probably won't be available on day 1 in the books they will be releasing. The second option is that formations will disappear and will effectively be replaced by the codex specific command point abilities.

Now I've spoken out on this point before, as a supporter of formations, though I know that the community is pretty much divided on the subject. I don't want to re-hash those arguments again in this article, but I would certainly like to see some army specific command points along the lines of some of the formation special rules available.

Fourthly, the discussion didn't make reference to the missions or objectives that would form part of the game. However, this has since been addressed on the community facebook page, noting that the missions and objectives have been updated as part of the new rulebook, so I wouldn't go rushing out to buy those objective cards if I were you!

I think that's probably enough for now, as always your comments are most welcome, please feel free to add them below!

Till next time,