Thursday, 18 August 2016
8th edition 40k - a few thoughts/wishes on what I'd like to see.
Now I'm going to try and be all organised about this, and do a proper, well thought out article like what I've not written in ages! What it's not going to involve is lots of agonising over codex balance - that's an entirely different matter for another article at another time. The exception to which is that yes, I agree with all you chaos players out there - Chaos needs an update and needs to be a real threat on the tabletop, otherwise all the fluff in the world about how they're about to destroy the Imperium just won't hold water. At the moment I often feel guilty just playing someone who brings a Chaos army.
First topic on the table for discussion therefore is the turn structure. 40k (and GW games in general) have always operated on the I go, you go (IGYG) principle with each player taking turns to move, shoot, assault etc with all of their units. This method also uses game turns, which constitute a single player turn for each player. Other systems set out their games in very different ways, with individual units activated at a time, or units being able to declare actions in response to actions taken by opposing units.
As with lots of things in life, there are merits and demerits relating to each type of system. The IGYG system can result in one player standing around for a while without much to do, particularly if the opponent brings a horde of models and takes a long time to shift them around the table (been there, over 100 guardsmen, all moved one at a time with each move being precisely measured - I think I went for a burger). On the flip side, a more fluid system allowing for reactions to every action at the time can make things seem like a player is never able to actually follow through what they're planning to do, and in larger scale games can easily result in bloating turn times as thinking times increase.
I'm pretty happy all things considered with the IGYG approach, and if other elements of the game are streamlined then for a competent player then each turn shouldn't take too long. If however more details are introduced into the system then I'd consider breaking the IGYG approach down into individual phases, so both players move their units before moving on to the next phase and so on.
The second part of the game structure therefore is all the ancillary notekeeping and paperwork that goes with it. To be honest, I think 40k is on the whole pretty good here - I also play Star Trek: Attack Wing which is similar to X-Wing and to be honest, the number of cards and other bits that you need to play gets ridiculous sometimes. The only 40k army I've seen getting close to that is daemons and the hideous number of rewards and psychic powers that need to be rolled for each time. No real wishlisting here then beyond a desire to minimise random tables for things like psychic powers, rewards etc, mainly because the psychic power thing will be addressed separately later on, and much of the rest is codex-specific.
Seemingly simple in principle, there are several elements to movement that make it more complex than it initially seems. First is that movement can happen in two separate phases. Now it's true, I get that forgoing shooting to move further makes sense, but why not just add it all in at the same time, when it then becomes a tactical decision rather than just waiting to see if it's worth running when you know how the shooting is going.
So, I'd like to see all infantry move 6" as standard, but you declare during the movement phase if a unit is going to run, in which case they move 9+D3". I think running needs to preclude shooting as it currently does.
Secondly, beast units move ridiculously fast, and given that many of them are also extremely tough they take a lot of the tactical effort out of using them, simply point them at the nastiest shooty unit the enemy has, and tie them up for the game or wipe them out in one go. On that basis I'd like to see them limited to moving 9" rather than 12", but adding D6" in the movement phase if they want to run. That also means that vehicles are still faster than beasts, which is as it should be to my way of thinking.
Speaking of vehicles, this is possibly the most complex part of the existing movement rules, not because they are particularly complex individually, but because of the way they interrelate with vehicle types. so, here goes.
Walkers move like infantry, no problem there, and I also have no problem that super heavy walker move 12", they should be some of the fastest things out there because of their size.
Heavy vehicles only move 6" - yup, happy with that too, and I'm also happy with normal vehicles moving up to 12". This gives us a reasonable spread of movement types and distances. What I would like to see changed however is fast vehicles and skimmers. As it stands at the moment, fast vehicles in the movement phase, erm, aren't. Fast vehicle movement needs to be boosted up to 18" and a rationalisation of which vehicles qualify as fast. I'll address shooting by vehicles in the section on shooting. I don't see skimmers getting any particular movement advantage here.
Turbo boosting - happy enough with the idea that turbo boosting prevents any kind of shooting. As with infantry movement though, I think it should happen in the movement phase not the shooting phase. normal vehicles turbo boosting 6" I'm happy with, but I don't think skimmers should get any additional speed, so 6" for them too. Fast vehicles should be able to turbo boost 12".
As I see it, these changes even out the movement rules, bringing all movement into the movement phase and therefore stopping you from duplicating dealing with each unit, and therefore result in streamlining of the time spent moving models. Fast vehicles, skimmers or otherwise, get a significant boost over other vehicles despite not actually changing their overall maximum speed by being able to move further and still shoot.
You've forgotten transports though! I hear you say. No, I haven't. Transports move as normal for a vehicle of their type, but models can disembark in the same way as some existing vehicles out there, by nominating a point over which the vehicle moved and deploying onto the table wholly within 6" of that point. This gives your transports flexibility over where to drop their units, and doesn't stop them from moving around to protect that unit once they're disembarked. It may not be popular with opponents, but tanks and vehicles have always been used to protect and shelter infantry for as long as they've been around (just watch full metal jacket if you don't believe me. Actually, watch it anyway).
Hmm, interesting one this, and one that's likely to generate quite a bit of debate I suspect as it can be a contentious part of the game given the sort of broken combinations that can be concocted. I'm going to steer clear of addressing individual powers though and stick to more generic changes as per the movement phase.
First up, I'd like to see one major change to denying the witch, that I think would tone down considerably some of the stronger psychic armies out there, and that's that in order to deny a power, you only need to cancel enough successful harnessing dice to take the number of successes below the required number to cast the power, so rather than someone casting a level 3 power and rolling up 5 successes and you needing to roll five '6's, you need only roll 3 (ha!) so that the number of successful dice that harness the warp is reduced to two. That should result in denying the witch being more commonplace and reducing the influence of psychic powers.
Summoning. I'd also like to see summoning limited so that only one summoning attempt may be made each turn, regardless of how many powers are available to place models on the table from nowhere.
Power dice. Again, this wish is all about limiting the power of psychic armies that have little counter, and that's to limit the number of power dice available regardless of what the total power level of psykers in the army happens to be. I'm not going to suggest what it should be limited to, but you get the idea.
To be honest I'm pretty happy with how this works at the moment. Weapon types feel logical, as does the vehicle shooting system. Snap shots are a bit of an issue, and I think there's no reason why blast template weapons and flame template weapons shouldn't be allowed to snap shoot, albeit at BS1. You could mitigate snap shooting with template weapons a little by requiring them to re-roll successful wounds.
I also think that the cover system needs a bit of work, as it's entirely too easy to get ridiculously high cover saves with a re-roll. I think limiting any cover save to a 3+ at best, with re-rolls coming at -1 to the cover save (so 4+ at best) would help. Equally though, limiting the wide variety of ignores cover weapons will help those armies that rely on the cover mechanic for protection.
There are some weapons (ok, a lot of weapons) that need some serious balancing, but as I've said, I'm not going to delve into the details of individual items (ok, terminator storm bolters need more shots, there, I said it!).
Oh blimey, how much does assault need balancing up against shooting. It's a bit of a stumper, because as I pointed out earlier, some assault armies can jump across the board at you very quickly indeed and that can be a real problem for shooty armies. The trick I guess is balancing out the need for a shooty army to inflict damage before being swamped, but not to wipe the table clear in two turns and be able to survive against the dregs that make it into contact.
First up, let's talk overwatch. Specifically, flamers on overwatch. wall of death has to be toned down, either to allow those set on fire to do some kind of damage to the unit they charged (perhaps let them attack before they die, or at least do some hammer of wrath hits) or to limit the amount of damage they can do in the first place. Personally I like the second option more, so wall of death remains as D3 hits, but rather than D3 per flamer, perhaps make it D3, + 1 for each flamer after the first firing overwatch.
I've also got to say that not allowing jump infantry to assault immediately after arriving from reserve is silly. Makes sense for teleporting units, who would need to 'get their bearings' as all of a sudden they're in a totally different environment but any kind of jump pack arrival (grav chutes, jet packs etc) would clearly be able to see exactly where they were aiming and therefore it's reasonable to allow them to charge straight into combat. To mitigate this, I'd say they should only be allowed to do so if they don't shoot in the shooting phase (so no meltagun assault marines busting a tank then charging the contents on the turn they arrive).
Equally, I see no reason for disallowing melee capable firearms (pistols) from being used in combat, so if your dark eldar archon has a blast pistol, let him use it for S8 AP2 attacks in combat! I understand this could become a little over the top sometimes though so if someone wants to do that, limit it to hitting on a 4+ regardless of WS.
Speaking of WS, please can we change the To Hit table to allow hitting on a 2+ - it's ridiculously stupid that a WS9 model only hits a WS1 model two thirds of the time.
Lastly for the assault phase, please please please bring back save modifiers. Yes, they can be a little fiddly sometimes but the idea that a chainsword and a guardsman's bayonet have exactly the same armour shredding power if farcical.
I think that's me done for now, standardise movement into classes, reduce the power of the psychic phase, tinker a bit with shooting but not much, and bring up the power of the assault phase so it's more on a par with shooting.
Everyone happy with that? Of course not! Let me know what you think in the comments!
Till next time,