Thursday, 27 April 2017

8th Edition - unit and weapon profiles

Obligatory 8th edition anticipated cover pic
Greetings all,
so GW are really cranking up the excitometer on us all, and in the last couple of days we've seen reveals of unit and weapon profiles. Here's a few of my thoughts on what we've seen.

Unit profiles

Thankfully (in my opinion) we're still keeping the majority of the old unit profile, it's simple, easy to use and makes a lot of sense to provide key specific elements to each of the units in the game. In terms of gains and losses, we still keep a 9-stat profile, but we essentially exchange a movement value for the initiative stat (smug points have been awarded for my prediction that Initiative would disappear).

The other main changes see WS and BS becoming standard D6 rolls rather than comparative stats. I'm divided on this one, I like that BS is just a standard above which you need to roll, since to all intents and purposes that's what it was before, you just need to cross reference the stat value on a table, which quite frankly just wasted time. I'm less keen on WS becoming a D6 roll rather than a comparative stat. I always liked the idea that the guy with the better WS had a better chance of striking in combat, I just didn't like that you could never hit easier than a 3+. Now we have confirmation that 2+ to hit is a thing in 8th edition, the only question will be who has access to it, we've only seen it for Guilliman so far and given his rarefied qualities there's no guarantee such a value will be available beyond a few extremely powerful models.

Strength and Toughness are still there and still work on the opposing value principle, which makes the decision to drop that from WS even more strange to me. I'm happy to see that comparative element remain though, even more so than WS, models wounding on a fixed value pushes the boundaries of suspension of disbelief for me, and this remains as an extremely good way to represent how tough some creatures and things can be to hurt. It remains to be seen how the table is to be amended in that regard (or if it's even a table), since they've advised that values are no longer capped at 10. On that basis I'd expect it to be that a toughness of double the strength wounds on a 6+ (and vice versa), stronger but not double the strength wounds on a 3+ (and vice versa) whilst equal strength and toughness wounds on a 4+ as it always has. That's basically the same table as now, but simply adding in the ability for even the lowliest weapon to hurt the toughest enemy.

They have already confirmed that we'll be seeing units gaining wounds in this edition, and whilst it was a little disappointing seeing marines stay at 1 wound (in AoS their equivalent Chaos Warriors get 2) we do at least now see a significant distinction with Terminators, as they get the second wound they always should have had. I would still anticipate Centurions getting more than 2 wounds in the long run, but it's good to see terminators getting that boost to their survivability again.

Attacks and Leadership appear to be remaining equivalent to their current values, though we've seen that the method for winning combats will change to more along the lines of Age of Sigmar, with battleshock tests based on a number of models removed and a D6 compared to leadership causing further casualties.

Saves appear to be remaining broadly the same too, although there is the addition of an armour save for vehicles (the dreadnought detailed gaining a 3+ save for what would have been AV12 - will these be directly related? So a 2+ Sv for AV13+, 3+ for AV12, 4+ for AV11 and 5+ for AV10?). This, combined with high toughness and large wound counts are what will give vehicles their durability - using the lasgun example, assuming they still hit on a 4+ for your average guardsman and wound the dreadnought on a 6+, then that becomes 36 shots to get a wound on it, or 288 shots to completely strip it of its wounds, on average.

So, that to my mind puts these guys firmly in the 'as expected' category, and I for one am not one of the outraged few that exploded on the Internet the other night when the reality that lasguns might be able to damage a land raider was released. Yes, they might, but the reality of it is that it will take so many shots to achieve that most players won't even try.

So that brings us neatly onto the second part of this post...

Weapon Profiles

Last night, we saw some more information being released about weapons profiles, with details of the flamer, boltgun and lascannon hitting the interwebs. 

There's probably slightly less to say about this than the unit profiles, but let's have a look at them anyway. Immediately there's a few obvious things jump out at me.

1. Flamers now hit a random number of times, but hit automatically.
2. Boltguns are still specified as being rapid fire, but have the inclusion of a 1 after that type.
3. The Lascannon affects armour to a decent amount, and does D6 damage to its target. 

The text accompanying the article expands on these things a bit further, but let's take a look at them one at a time.

1. Flamer

Range of the flamer is the same as the template used to be, and it should pick up 3-4 hits on average (not with my dice it won't!) when you fire it. Close range is made up for by the potential additional hits, but the crucial thing now is that those hits are no longer dependent on a template. Sounds obvious I know, but that has a couple of consequences that aren't so obvious. 

The first of these is that bunching up your units is now no longer an issue in terms of affecting how many models will be hit. That in itself will speed up many games at the more competitive end of the spectrum, where model spacing and placement could be leveraged to limit the number of hits template weapons could achieve. It also takes out any worry about hitting multiple levels or how you angle the template to hit a target in a building or on scenery etc. 

The second point however, and one that is even less obvious, is that with the weapon now having a range and not a template, the potential number of models in range of it is increased. Previously if there were only three models within 7.5" of your firer, but spread apart by other models out of range, only one of those would be able to be hit by your flamer. Now all three are viable targets. Every model in range is now a potential casualty whereas before the placement of models could limit you.

Finally, the third point regarding the change is that now your flamers can be protected by their squadmates in a way they couldn't before, and full squads are much less limited by the weapon in their own positioning. The previous rules preventing you from covering any of your own models with the flame template meant that sometimes you couldn't even fire some flamers from a unit (deep striking units in particular could suffer here due to their deployment pattern) and interposing meatshields from you own unit was rarely an option because they would hamper the shooting. Now, there is no issue with placing your flamer bearer at the back of the unit and letting rip, keeping the less important models in front and preserving your flamers for longer.

2. Not a huge amount to see here, but the reference to rapid fire 1 has me thinking. I'm assuming that rapid fire weapons will still be able to be fired more than once, presumably at the expense of range as per the current rules, but the inclusion of the number of shots is an interesting one - are we going to see some rapid fire weapons with a number of shots greater than 1 in the first place? Are salvo weapons going to be a thing of the past and simply be replaced by rapid fire 2 or rapid fire 3 for example? It's certainly a possibility in my view, and it would remove a weapon type that I still see some people having difficulties with.

My only concern would be that if they do that, how will rapid fire weapons work, will you still be able to move and fire to full range or will the full range option be limited to those models that stand still?

3. Again, not a huge amount to see here, from previous released information it's exactly what we were expecting, however there are a couple of things to note.

First, a lascannon might deal some nasty damage on a hit, but it's not even a guarantee of a space marine kill anymore as it only has a modifier of -3 (equivalent to AP4 in the current system). We will see space marines standing firm against lascannon blasts in 8th edition, much more appropriate to the fluff I think, where even such a devastating weapon can be turned aside by the might of power armour occasionally. Order becomes crucial here though - if saves are taken after the D6 damage is applied then the lascannon is a very different beast to one where you see if your armour saves the wound and then apply the D6 damage to the model afterwards. 

The explanatory text that came with the weapon profiles makes it very clear though - that damage is only applied to a single model, so even if you get that sought after 6 on the damage roll, it will only kill a single grot (it'll just be very dead).

Conclusions

Overall I think I'm pretty pleased with what I'm seeing here - initial thoughts were that flamers might have gone backwards a bit against the less particular players (you could often get many hits against a careless opponent) but overall I think they'll still remain in their niche - they may even gain some utility against multi-wound single models since those D6 hits still apply.

What do you think, have I missed anything crucial here?

Till next time (I think movement is down as being the next topic),
TBE