Wednesday, 10 May 2017

8th edition - characters and more weapon profiles


Greetings all - another rules update for you from the hallowed halls of GW. This last couple of days we've been showered with yet more snippets of info about the forthcoming 8th edition.

First up, we have a look at characters, who now operate very differently to how they did in 7th.

Characters


First, the biggy, characters can no longer join units. Instead, they will confer bonuses using an area effect and relying on certain keywords to identify affected models. The result of this will be characters now roam the battlefield on their own, instead of surrounded by a squad. To mitigate against the potential for assassination, characters with 10 or fewer wounds can't be targeted unless they're the closest unit to the enemy. Interesting. 

Later on we got confirmation that snipers (ratlings were mentioned but I got the impression all snipers would be affected) will ignore that targeting limitation, which is only reasonable. I guess my two scout sniper squads just got a lot more important!

Finally, a character within a close enough range (not specified) during the combat phase can pile into a combat and fight even if they weren't the target of the charge. Wow, this bit could be huge!

Weapons Profiles


Wow, big changes here too!

First up, twin linked is now twice the shots instead of a re-roll to hit.

Second, combi weapons can now shoot either component of the gun as many times as you like, or shoot both together but with a penalty to hit (-1).

We also see the meltagun damage changes, instead of the current 2D6 at half range, it's now 2D6 and pick the highest.

And finally, we get confirmation of how the 'blast' type weapons are to work in the new edition. Similar to how flamers were explained, these resolve a random number of shots against the target unit - the battle cannon example gets D6 shots, with D3 damage each (wow! these just got a lot better against vehicle type units, conceivably doing up to 18 hull points!)

Conclusions


So, as regards the rules for characters, we've seen a huge change and simplification (no more endless look out sir rolls, or shuffling of models round within units to protect the big guy in the front, or of a single tanky warlord protecting a vulnerable glass hammer unit with his piddly little storm shield.

There are a few implications I can see here therefore.

First, units that can deep strike just became significantly more important. Getting into a position whereby you can force the character to be the closest model and therefore target them with an appropriate amount of fire will be an important strategy in 8th, however the counter strategy is pretty simple - bubble wrapping (incidentally there's nothing implied that suggests you couldn't place your character in the centre of a unit deployed in a ring shape, ensuring that they are never the closest model to anything.

Second, knowing where the characters are and their pile-in range into a combat will also be an important factor in your success - there's no point charging your vanguard veterans into a unit of chaos marines expecting to wade through them like chaff if you hadn't realised Abaddon was standing next to them just waiting for you to do so, and promptly counter-charges and smashes them all to the ground.

I like that the snipers seem to ignore this limitation, it remains to be seen how their weapons work but I can certainly see them having a use on the battlefield once more (seriously, precision shot almost never, ever came into play for me, and I actually used to use them quite a lot!).

As regards the new weapon profiles, again I'm really liking the changes. Twin linked guns are now no longer the 'auto hit' they used to be, but they do now make far more sense in terms of chucking out twice as many shots at the target. I'm quite happy with this, I know the increased accuracy was representative but given the way twin linked weapons were normally modelled (ie on the same mounting point and aiming in the same direction), it always felt a little 'wrong' that they didn't allow you to hit more than once. Now, we will finally see things like twin linked heavy bolters actually doing what they do in the fluff, mowing down multiple targets rather than chugging away whittling the odd couple of guys here and there.

I'm not quite as comfortable with the changes to combi weapons to be honest, the fluff used to be that the specialist element had limited ammunition hence the solitary shot. I'm sure I'll get used to it, and being able to double up the shots for a to hit penalty will be a nice option, and it's probably simply been done to take away the need to remember which models shot their combi weapon and which just used the bolter part.

For melta guns, I also like the new rule, it makes them much more reliable damage dealers up close, whilst not getting them to the point of being obscene - if you want to take down tanks and big creatures then you'll still need to stack up the number of weapons in the unit, but you're less likely to get hit by a random '1' for damage.

Finally, we move onto 'explosive' weapons. These changes appear to need the most thinking about, possibly because of the way they have been described, but here's my take, using the battle cannon profile released (D6 shots, S8, AP-2, Damage D3).

The profile is abstracted a little to make it a flexible weapon, capable against different types of target but not as good against either as a specialised weapon.

So, against infantry units, D6 shots represents the number of models that can potentially be hit by the blast (it's not firing D6 times, just that the explosion is big enough to hit 1-6 models). Each of those is capable of dealing D3 wounds to a single model. So we won't see Leman Russ' killing off up to 18 infantry in a turn, 6 is still the limit, but if they are multi-wound models (like Dark Eldar Grotesques for example) then you could potentially see a unit of six grotesques wiped out in a single turn (if the rolls really go your way).

Against bigger targets however, the D6 shots effectively represents the severity of the hit, multiplied up by the damage  done from each 'hit' to give you a total damage figure. This means that, in theory at least, the Leman Russ is one of those mythical beasts we heard about that's capable of taking out a big creature with one shot (as it should be for the main battle tank of the Imperial Guard) especially if you factor in sponson and hull weapon damage too!

I think what we really see from today's leaks though is that the way weapons work has drastically changed, even if individual weapons profiles (like the bolter) haven't switched up all that much. Or in other words, every day's reveal teaches us more about how the game is going to work and that the dynamics between different elements are not what we thought they were and cannot be extrapolated based on the game in 7th edition - 8th really is a 'start from scratch' process, even if for some of the elements they have decided to keep mechanics the same as now.

Exciting times,
till next time,
TBE