Friday, 5 May 2017

8th Edition - more release notes and thoughts - Morale

Greetings all,

well here we go again with another post on some release information GW are drip feeding to us on facebook (anyone else noticed it goes up on facebook waaaay before their own community site?) this time we're talking about morale.

Those of you who plays AoS look away now, because the new morale system in 40k is essentially the same as battleshock.

Morale will become a specific phase in 40k, and each unit that takes casualties in the turn must take a test. Roll a D6 and add the number of models removed in the turn (so single model units are immune!) then subtract your leadership value from the result, that's how many models you then lose from the unit in the morale phase. This is a total figure too, so shooting and combat all add in to the single test at the end of the turn.

Now I've spent some time trawling through the comments section on facebook, and aside from the, quite frankly, ridiculous number of comments from people requesting an explanation of how a particular unit or special rule will work (as if there's any likelihood of an answer) it seems that this particular part of the rules is splitting people far more down the middle than any of the information released thus far.

I thought therefore that it would be useful to set out a few scenarios based on my understanding of what they've said, using some of the common themes of comments as a basis, and to take a step back and look at some of the grumbles about the system based on what else we know about the new rules.

'Small units will be much more effective than big ones'

Well, quite frankly, if you've not heard of MSU and you're worried about effectiveness of units then you've not been playing to a particularly high standard anyway. Multiple Small Units (MSU) has been the 'competitive' way to build an army for a very long time (see here for an explanation of how it works).

Yes, battleshock morale will have a lesser impact on small units because of the following facts. Smaller units can only remove smaller numbers of models before they are wiped out, therefore the figure they are adding to the D6 roll will also be less, therefore larger totals won't be possible.

EX1. A five-strong unit with leadership 9 takes three casualties in the turn. D6 + 3 can only equal nine as a worst-case scenario therefore the unit will not be able to take casualties from morale without modifiers to their leadership.

EX2. Same game, but this time a unit of guardsmen are bulked up into a single squad. A fifty-strong unit of guardsmen gets a lot of fire focused on it through the turn, it takes 10 casualties from shooting, then gets charged, losing another 10 men in the fight phase. Come the morale phase, the player rolls a 4 for his random D6, giving him a total of 24. Let's say the guardsmen are leadership 6 (we know marines are now 7), he would then lose another 18 guardsmen to the failed morale, meaning only 12 remained.

But, people, here's the clincher - in the current edition using the above examples the MSU style list doesn't really change, whereas there's a high likelihood that the big blob squad would run and get wiped out. That doesn't happen in 8th, so whilst smaller units are logically less susceptible to morale than a big squad, the big squad still performs better than it does under 7th edition rules.

'Why do I lose more models just for them failing a moral check, did they die of fear?'

Well, no, but there are lots of reasons why a model might no longer be combat effective. No-one is suggesting that failing a morale check causes several models from your unit to die. They might however decided to cower under a rock for a while, or run screaming, or drag their sergeant off to find an apothecary - whatever you choose to call it, they aren't there to fire their guns or swing their swords anymore. They may even have decided to go back to their command post to stick a knife in the back of the callous, brutal commander who's just ordered them to stand firm in the face of a raging Carnifex.

'But what about falling back, regrouping etc, that was a really realistic, effective part of the game'

Well that is still represented by the current rules - specifically the one that allows you to fall back from a combat voluntarily in your own movement phase. The difference being, that falling back now represents a tactical choice rather than something that is forced upon you (but let's be honest, if you lose as many guardsmen as I indicated above, the likelihood is you're going to want to fall back and get some firepower on that kind of unit, so whilst it is a choice, it's entirely possible it will be one with only one viable answer). If you're outmatched, then you can stick around and die slowly (or quickly, depending on your opponent) or you can choose to break from the combat at the expense of not being able to run, shoot, or charge with that unit in your turn. The bright side being that if you do break from combat then your army can help that unit out by pouring fire into the guys you're running away from.

Implications


So, as you can see, whilst it's really useful that GW are drip feeding information to us on the new edition to come, it's also dangerous to look at rules such as this in isolation - it's safe to say that we won't be seeing all the rules for the new edition prior to the day of its release, and therefore we have to make do with what we're given, but jumping to conclusions about how something might work is neither helpful nor necessarily accurate.

Battle Forged Armies


This afternoon, we got another little bombshell of information that I know will have split the community, because it's split my own group of acquaintances.

Formations. Are. Gone.

Wow. Given the investment into formations over the last few years, this is a really big call from GW. I've nailed my colours to the mast before over formations, and I don't think the concept of them is fundamentally flawed. I don't even think there was a need for formations to come with a points cost for them to be effective, I just think that some of them were poorly written and didn't hit the right notes of balance. 

This isn't going to be another article on formations though, this needs to focus on what we were given this afternoon, and that was a glimpse into some of the 14 force organisation charts that we are told are coming. 

First up, let's focus on a personal triumph! I predicted here that there should be a new battlefield role for flyers, and bingo, there we are!

Honestly, no inside track on that, it was pure speculation on my part and a desire to be able to include flyers without snapping up all the fast attack slots.

Interesting that we also see dedicated transports with their own battlefield role, and the retention of the lord of war slot despite us knowing that the superheavy classification is disappearing. 

So what can we deduce from this?

Well a couple of things really, given the force organisation charts we saw, none of which included fortifications or lords of war.

First, we see that you can include a dedicated transport for each other choice you take (at least in each of the FOC's we saw) rather than them being either unit upgrades or fast attack choices. Again, nicely freeing up the fast attack slot for units it should be used for.

Second, Lords of War. Interesting one this - we haven't seen them in any of the three FOC's published, and with the superheavy classification being removed, it seems like these could be very rare in the game, the way they always should have been - after all, the brigade detachment we have seen includes 3 HQ's, 6 troops, 3 elites, 3 fast attack, 3 heavy support, with potentially another 19 units available.

I'm not sure what else we can really deduce from these last couple of snippets, but please feel free to stick something in the comments if you have any insight.

Till next time,
TBE