Tuesday, 1 August 2017

8th edition tactical objectives - a burning eye review

Greetings all!

Right, so having had a pretty successful reception for my assessment of the previous tactical objectives deck, I figured that with a new edition, I'd have another look as the deck has changed slightly and the implications for each set of objectives has accordingly changed as the nature of the game has altered.

Just a few bits of housekeeping first - as with the last edition, it looks like there will be faction specific sets that change up the cards numbered 11-16. That's fine as they are duplicated by 21-26 anyway.

As I've now got a set of the cards specific to the Space Marines I'll start my review at 21 and look at the marine specific ones last.

21-26

These are the 'take and hold' tactical objectives, and simply require you to control the appropriately numbered objective marker at the end of your turn. These are already notably different however to 7th edition in terms of how they are secured and the implications that has. You now control an objective by having more models than your opponent within 3" of its centre point. Nothing too significant there, particularly since it's going to be pretty difficult to get within 3" if your opponent is wrapping a unit round it - assuming the objective is on a 25mm base and the unit surrounding it is on 32mm, you can't approach within 1" (25mm) unless you're in combat so your opponent only needs to maintain a 6mm gap and you can't even get a single model in 3" unless you charge them, and possibly not even then.

The other tactically significant change with these objectives in 8th edition is that transports no longer guarantee you the ability to control objectives. Drop pod passengers can't get within 9" of an enemy unit in their movement phase so are only useful for controlling objectives away from the enemy (though with the lack of scatter you're not so open to the occasional frustrating situation. Other passengers however must get out of a transport before it moves, so you can't draw a card, move your transport and then surround the objective with your unit as it disembarks.

Is that significant? Slightly. In many circumstances you'll still be able to get hold of them, but what it might lead to is more of these cards being discarded due to needing a couple of turns to achieve, for only a single point. If it's going to be hard to get to, you might as well discard it and redraw hoping to get something better, particularly if you're using a faction specific deck.

The final point to remember here is that the new marine book re-grants a version of the old objective secured rule to marine troops units, so even a single tactical marine within 3" of an objective centre will hold it against an entire ork mob. Argue as much as you like about the significance of this, it certainly makes tactical squads more viable on the tabletop, which they most definitely needed!

31-36

These objectives are titled 'storm and defend'. They're still based around controlling an objective, but this time you score the card for controlling the objective for two consecutive turns. Here's where we see the first big change in the cards. These were previously in the supremacy card deck, but things have been clarified as to what comprises a turn in 8th edition, and you can also now score cards in your opponent's turn! So, holding an objective for two consecutive turns means player turns (a game turn is now called a battle round). That means your turn and your opponent's turn (or potentially your opponent's turn and then your turn in some situations). I had initially though these a little lacklustre in reward terms before I registered the difference from 7th, but now 2pts for these cards is pretty fair I think.

41-46

These are titled 'seize ground' objectives, and fittingly are all about territory.

41 - Advance. Score a point if you have no units within your deployment zone. An interesting one this. Probably not too difficult to score most of the time, but also given the significant benefits you get from having static firepower elements in your army in 8th edition, I think a lot of armies might discard this one - I myself make use of devastators quite heavily now and I don't want to be moving them much, especially not for a single point.

42 - Behind enemy lines. Get units within the enemy deployment zone - 1pt for 1 unit or D3pts for 3+ units. Conversely to Advance, I think this one will see a lot of use - I've noticed that a strong army selection strategy is to have units held back in reserve to allow access to the various parts of the table, so most armies I think will look to have something able to achieve this objective. Personally, I would say it therefore make a lot of sense to keep at least 3 units in reserve able to score you the full D3 if you draw this card in the first couple of turns.

43 - Hold the line. Can't achieve this on on turn 1 (fair enough) but gives you 1pt for having at least 3 units in your own deployment zone and no enemy units. Interesting here, because you can obviously look to score this pretty easily yourself by keeping some ranged units back, but if you're looking to maximise Behind enemy lines then you can easily stop your opponent from scoring this card with the same strategy - drop your reserve units into their deployment zone and they can't score this card without wiping them out.

44 - Mission critical objective. Score 1pt for controlling a randomly determined objective marker. I quite like this, as it also grants you D3pts if you take it off your opponent that turn. Rewarding you with potentially more points for more effort is something I appreciate in tactical objective cards, and this one is nice since it also encourages you to look at taking down enemy units too.

45 - Supremacy. Nothing new here, you get D3pts for controlling 3 objective markers. You could perhaps argue that on a table with 6 markers, controlling half of them doesn't really represent 'supremacy', more 'equality', but nevermind!

46 - Domination. This is more like it - D3+3pts if you control every objective marker. Still nothing new, but it's a card that rewards you heavily for focusing on board control, which is never a bad thing.

51-56

The purge objectives, with a strong emphasis on killing stuff.

51 - Overwhelming firepower. Nothing really new here, 1pt for killing an enemy unit in the shooting phase and D3 for 3. The only thing that's really changed now is that tanks are harder to kill without the right tools, so you can't pick up this card with lucky melta shots anymore.

52 - Blood and guts. This is an exact replica of 51 except the units must be killed in the fight phase. Guess what? GW are encouraging balanced lists here in this section, with stuff capable of killing things in both the shooting and assault phases giving you a better option of scoring more of your cards than if you tailor your list to a particular type of death.

53 - No prisoners. This is the card that rewards focus on finishing units off - 1pt for destroying 1 unit, D3 for between 3 and 5, and D3+3 for 6 or more. Interesting here, because in general you're seeing more units on the table since characters can no longer hide in units and tank wounds for them. I'd say therefore that this card is far more achievable than it was under 8th edition, particularly if your opponent is careless with their character positioning (I've personally sniped Ghazgkull off the table with my flyer because he was placed behind a unit and didn't account for the flyer positioning and 360 firing arc.

54 - Area denial. I think this was another of the supremacy cards from 7th edition. 1 pt for clearing a 6" space at the centre of the table of enemy units, and D3 for a 12" clear zone. Depending on the mission you're playing this could be dead easy or very hard indeed. If your opponent draws this one, you'll need to think carefully about casualty removal, since taking off the wrong guy in a part destroyed unit could allow them to score it where taking a different model would not.

55 - Psychological Warfare. Interesting one this I think - it's exactly the same as it was in terms of 1pt for a failed morale check and D3 for 3 or more, however, I think morale checks are now much easier to fail than before, and in some cases it's now possible to guarantee a failure by applying just the right amount of fire. Certainly worth thinking about!

56 - Master the warp. This one has changed from previously, as it now grants you 1pt for manifesting or denying a psychic power, with D3 for doing that 3 times in a turn. Of course, now that cards are scored at the end of all turns, you can even achieve this one in your opponent's turn, which again opens up interesting possibilities - as a player choosing to cast psychic powers, does the benefit outweigh the potential harm that allowing your opponent to score a point might do?

61-66

The annihilation cards. Again, a strong emphasis on destruction of enemy stuff in this set as you'd expect!

61 - Kingslayer. Classic, D3 points if you kill or have killed the enemy warlord. I like this one, though with the way characters work now it rewards the careful player more (several times I've now seen games where careless positioning of a character has resulted in them getting blasted from the battlefield in short order!).

62 - Witch Hunter. Another classic, kill a psyker for 1pt. Sometimes this one is really annoying, and it's as good a justification as any for allowing redrawing of impossible objectives. Otherwise, you can't really complain, but see the comments on Kingslayer in terms of careless play.

63 - Scour the skies. This isn't quite the tricky objective that it used to be - in general I do think flyers are easier to kill than they were (for some weapons) but the wider range of units with the fly keyword now means it's much less likely you'll have no target for this card. It's also notable that flyers can no longer leave the board, so you aren't hampered by their limited table time anymore.

64 - Assassinate. Well we've got many more characters on the tables than before I think, and there are plenty of ways to target them too. It's a nice card granting you 1pt for killing one, and D3 for 3 so again focus on achieving the card can reward you more greatly.

65 - Big game hunter. This one has changed quite a bit actually - previously it dealt with vehicles and monstrous creatures but it now places a wound threshold on the pts available (1 for a model of 10+ wounds, and D3 for 20+ wounds). Again, it tends to reward you finishing a unit off rather than killing it outright, so there's no real harm in letting some vehicles roam the table with 1-2 wounds left (they're usually pretty ineffective by then anyway) - it's certainly easier than picking on a knight on full wounds! Where there is a big difference however is on units that were previously vehicles/monstrous creatures but aren't any more - in particular things like dreadnoughts will no longer score you this card. Food for thought!

66 - Priority orders received. A completely new one this, and it's a pretty in depth description. Essentially however you draw an extra card and if your warlord achieves it, you get 3 extra points. Not bad, not bad at all, especially if it's a 'secure objective' card he happens to be standing next to! A bit random as then potentially you could be looking at your warlord needing to be the guy that finishes off a knight for example! Certainly tactically intriguing however, but I'm betting we'll see this discarded more often than not!

11-16

Space marine cards. And the first thing to note is that the basic deck gives you a potential 6 points in this section, whilst the marine specific cards grant you up to 15! I'd strongly recommend that you get hold of your faction specific decks people!

11 - Death from above. Kill a unit by something that flies or arrived as reinforcements. Ok so marine flyers are pretty awesome now so shouldn't be too hard to achieve! If anything, I'd say that this is probably easier than securing many of the objectives on the board!

12 - Honour your chapter. Basically, wound a character with a character of your own for 1pt, kill them with one of your own for D3. I'm not sure just how prevalent enemy characters will be just yet, but it certainly opens up possibilities for a marine combat guy who has really good damage potential.

13 - No mercy, no respite. destroy a unit/cause a failed morale check for 1 pt and do it 3 times for D3 pts. Kind of a combination card this one, I don't mind that, and it's another that focuses on destruction of enemy stuff, which always feels good!

14 - For the Emperor! 1 pt for a successful charge by an infantry or bike unit. Hmm, certainly doesn't favour some of the gunline builds, but a good balanced marine list should always have something capable of/wanting to charge the enemy. It's probably not the most inventive though and there's no scaling on it for multiple successful charges.

15 - Lightning strike. Kill a unit from the enemy deployment zone for 1pt. Similar to some of the other cards that reward keeping units for reserve, it's a very marine-appropriate type of card to play. It's benefit isn't huge, but considering it doesn't prevent you from achieving it with your starting units that's not unreasonable.

16 - Emperor's retribution. Essentially, taking objectives off your opponent. I really like this one, you get D3pts for doing it once and D3+3 for doing it 3 times. Ok, so the last part is unlikely but it feels very thematic to me, and I think the reward is appropriate to the effort it takes to achieve.

Conclusions

Wow, what a marathon that felt like while I was writing it!

There have been some really significant changes to the cards this edition. On the whole, I really like them, they've kept the relative simplicity of some of the sets, whilst adding in a little complexity to others. It's really nice to see that we no longer have three duplicate copies of the secure objective cards, and whilst its a simple tweak to the third set, it does provide a very different set of challenges (no point trying to use a unit of 10 grots to hold an objective in the open for two turns for example, whereas an objective in cover in you deployment zone is probably an ideal target!

I think as we can see, it definitely benefits you to get hold of your faction specific cards (or will do). A potential extra 9pts within the deck for marines is a notable difference over the course of the game, and could be a difference maker!

As always, it also makes sense to look at the full range of cards you might be asked to achieve when writing your army list, and ask yourself how you are going to achieve each one, and do you have the right units for the job? Master the warp and behind enemy lines are classic examples of this - taking units that can deploy from reserve and sticking in a psyker as one of your hq requirements means you're giving yourself the option of up to 4pts more than if you didn't do that (ok, technically behind enemy lines is possible without reserves, but it's often not easy, particularly in early turns).

Let me know your thoughts, have I missed anything, tactically speaking here?