Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Chapter Tactics revealed - my initial thoughts on what we now know.

Greetings all - time for me to have a quick look at the chapter tactics stuff we saw revealed last night I think! See more after the break - I think some of the conclusions and the implications of the tactics may be quite interesting!

I'm going to run through these in the order they appeared on the GW article (and presumably therefore the order they appear in the book too). I'll add in consideration of the warlord traits etc where we know about them.

Ultramarines

+1 Leadership. More than any other chapter now then you should really suffer casualties from morale for these guys unless you are capable of rolling horrendously (here's looking at you Mike, sorry!). Not much further to consider here, except for one thing - this would encourage me to take larger units of Ultramarines, because there's less chance of losing them to morale.

Can shoot after falling back at -1 to hit. So, there's all sorts of interesting implications to this one - on the face of it, it sounds awesome and I've heard it described as 17/10, but I think there's a bit more to it than that, so let's have a dig into things shall we?

First off, this tactic only becomes relevant if you're in combat. I know, pretty obvious but it's a significant point the implications of which you'll see in a minute. The space marine list in the index very much splits the units in this regard - there are some that you really want to be in combat (and therefore you won't want to fall back with), and some that you most definitely don't want anywhere near it (who potentially would want to fall back). Excellent, I hear you say, this means that my shooty guys don't have to stay around in combat and they won't get their shooting too hampered.

Sorry to break it to you people, but I think there's going to be very limited practical implications to this tactic, and that's all because of how combat, and specifically combat with marines, works in this edition. Combat is brutal. Anyone who's been charged by an ork boyz mob will tell you just how likely a 5-man devastator squad is to survive something like that (heck, even a 10-man might struggle!). Any opponent worth his salt is going to know that your shooty units can do a lot of damage, and therefore the best way to silence them is combat. But are they really planning on sending a unit of 10 cultists to try and tie up a devastator squad? I wouldn't, I'd send a competent combat unit instead, don't just tie them up - kill them! And what does that mean? Simple really, if your shooty units are getting into combat there's a very low probability that they'll survive long enough to fall back. Add to that, that you're then suffering a -1 to hit penalty for your shooting, which stacks with the movement penalty on heavy weapons and assuming some of that lascannon squad does survive the combat then they'll only be hitting their target on 5's at best.

That is of course all mitigated somewhat by the fact that you can get away with the bigger squads of Ultramarines due to their higher leadership, but when you add it all up together I have to conclude that shooting after falling back isn't a huge benefit to the Ultramarines - no doubt it will come in handy, but it's not going to break the game.

White Scars

+2" on your advance moves, and being able to charge on the same turn as they fall back.

This in itself is not really too much of an issue, the extra distance on your advance move is certainly very handy, especially on bike units which are guaranteed an 8" advance move now, but then bike units weren't exactly slow to start with so it's not drastic. It may affect the army's ability to claim objectives in maelstrom missions, but I don't believe it's such a significant change that it would constitute being 'game breaking' or particularly unbalanced - bike armies are now very elite in terms of numbers of models so they are hampered in claiming protected objectives anyway.

Being able to charge after falling back however is most definitely significant, but I believe more so in a defensive fashion than offensive. In particular here I'm thinking of units that may be vulnerable to being hit first in a combat situation under the alternating unit activation method, that could inflict serious damage if they are guaranteed to go first. For example a unit such as vanguard veterans is capable of really dishing out some pain if they take power weapons, but they remain comparatively fragile when hit themselves - only a single wound means it doesn't take a huge amount of damage to take down such an elite unit, particularly if they're fighting an equally capable and combat focused opponent. Never fear though, because GW have already anticipated that there may be some crucial things you want to do and so even if your white scars opponent insists on falling back and charging you again, use of your command points still allows you to fight significant combats out of sequence.

We have more info on white scars however, as Korsarro Khan allows your units to hit with greater strength on the charge - I'm assuming that this is an aura ability that probably replaces the standard captain re-roll aura, so shouldn't have a significant impact either (if it's in addition to the captain re-rolls then we may see aggressive combat armed white scars units like company veterans hitting the tables, as S5 does make a notable difference when allied with rerolls to hit, even though the lack of attacks in a normal bike unit limits their effectiveness).

We then move onto their stratagem, warlord trait and relic.

The stratagem means that if you are facing a white scars assault style list, then prepare for a first turn charge, because that threat range of theirs (GW quote 26" - I think it's more like 34" based on the index stats) is pretty nasty. However, remember that if they're doing that then they're spending command points on it, and we don't yet know how many. Honestly though, this sort of thing is pretty easy to plan for in your deployment, protecting key units and outright stopping them from getting to others - remember bikes can't move up levels in buildings.

The warlord trait granting mortal wounds on the charge is interesting, but I'm going to sit on the fence until we see how many and how it works - if it's 1 then it's not really too bad, D3 is okay and I can't really see it being any more than that.

The relic allowing an easier casting of smite (I'm assuming it only applies to the psyker with the cloak itself) is interesting, but let's be honest, smite isn't exactly hard to cast at the moment anyway!

Certainly when we look at the above all in conjunction it sounds like a lot - but I think it's definitely succeeded in terms of allowing White Scars to fight how they are represented in the background - never staying in one place, constantly moving around the table and maximising their mobility advantage. As ever with such armies though, this comes at the cost of models - bikes are roughly 2.5 times the cost of a normal tactical marine, and with some much potential for weapons to wound them on 3+ now, and no jink, they might very well hit hard but they will be tricky to keep on the table throughout the whole game (I played a white scars list last week and just about tabled it in 4 turns).

Imperial Fists

First of the ones I'm most interested in here, as my Dusk Knights and Swords of Dawn are both successors to Dorn's men in their background.

No cover saves against models with the tactic, and re-rolls to wound against buildings.

Well, I think I'm pretty happy with this to be honest, I was a little underwhelmed at first, given that we still have the boost of targeting buildings, which I rarely see in my opponents' lists. Prevention of cover saves against their shooting however gels really nicely with their reputation as excellent marksmen (particularly with bolters) without interfering with the aura effects granted by Captains. I think it would have been really simple for GW just to have regurgitated the re-rolls with bolters from 7th edition, but that would have discouraged the use of captains, which is not very IF. Now, the benefit stacks and so you are able to really build the effectiveness of the army in a thematic and synergistic fashion. Interestingly, it also applies to all shooting, not just bolt weapons, thus building on their reputation as marksmen, not just bolter-wielders.

The less said about the re-rolls to wound buildings the better I think, but this is counter balanced by the utility of the first part of the tactics. Obviously here these tactics will benefit a shooting heavy army - which is good for me because that's the way I'm leaning with the lists I've tested anyway.

The only downside is it tends to discourage the use of flame weapons as a worthwhile thing, since a frag missile is pretty much as deadly but has a far greater threat range and profile.

Black Templars

I've already seen a fair few BT players angry about this one - re-rolls to charge rolls. I can't understand why! This tactic has the potential to make Black Templars armies very dangerous on the tabletop, using lots of assault troops as befits their background. I haven't checked the maths, but seen it said that this increases the chances of a 9" charge from 27% to nearly 50% - and more importantly it will preserve those all important command points for other tasks.

A Black Templars charge now has the potential to be truly devastating - multiple units backed up by Helbrecht and Grimaldus will most certainly be capable of significant charges - I'm not talking the importance of getting one or two units into combat here - I'm thinking several big units slamming into their opponents and changing the momentum of a game, with them all likely to be fighting first.

We'll have to wait and see what the specific details of warlord trait, stratagem etc add to this, but it's certainly a very good start for the black and white brigade.

Salamanders

The first response to this that I saw was 'so Salamanders are shit then'.

I really couldn't disagree more with that statement. re-rolling a single hit and a single wound roll each time a unit shoots or fights is huuuge! First off, it affects everyone with the tactic - so gives all your characters that same benefit - each one of them! It also really rewards the msu list building strategy that still makes a lot of sense in the game - the more units you include, the more rerolls you'll get. Plus, it pushes the Sallies player towards taking infantry as (I assume) we'll still see vehicles not getting access to Chapter Tactics (except dreadnoughts). Multiple small tactical squads with a single special or heavy weapon in each will be the order of the day I think!

The only downside to this tactic (and we also found out that their stratagem will be flame related) is that taking an msu army really hampers you in deployment as you will probably have more unit drops than your opponent. Except for one thing - drop pods & transports. This to me is a very Salamanders style list - small units of specialist weapon brothers stacking up on transports or drop pods - I think Salamanders could be very effective in 8th edition!

The third of the chapters to get more details released, they suffered a bit in that respect I think, because we don't get too much concrete information. What we do get told is that the forthcoming primaris aggressors can fire twice if they remain still and can take flame gauntlets instead of bolter versions (sounds good to me!), but as regards specifically Salamander stuff, it seems the warlord trait and relic increase strength and toughness of a character, whilst their stratagem 'boosts the power of flamer weapons'. Presumably this will be via an increase in S/AP. Finally it states that Vulkan He'stan also offers benefits to those wanting to 'bring the heat'. I'm guessing this will be around the effectiveness of melta weapons since they're the only ones not mentioned otherwise.

Slightly disappointed to be honest in the detail of the reveal here, it promises much but doesn't really allow any actual analysis of the implications.

Raven Guard

The second of the Chapters to get more info on, and one that's close to my heart after I had a 2000+pt list of them a few years back.

The chapter tactics themselves are very powerful, giving a -1 to hit if they're more than 12" away. This is extremely significant, given that re-rolls now happen before modifiers, the effect of a -1 modifier such as this is amplified over previous editions of the game. Remember, unless you house rule it that will mean plasma weaponry is more likely to overheat too!

Of course, the Raven Guard's background would suggest that they're also highly adept at making use of cover, and given the standard +1 to armour save granted by being in cover, I'd expect to see these guys operating pretty true to their fluff - even against a full tactical squad firing bolters, you'd then only expect less than 1 wound every 2 turns at ranges over 12".

Shrike then multiplies this even further - allowing raven guard jump pack units to re-roll their charge ranges. Very nice, lurking more than 12" away then striking hard and reliably from the shadows - this is a different benefit to the one we see with the Black Templars, despite essentially granting the same bonus. As with Khan, I'm expecting this to replace the standard chapter master aura re-roll they currently grant.

Again, as befits the Raven Guard fluff - their warlord trait and relic combine pretty nicely to create a powerful combination in the game, allowing the warlord to move rapidly and strike reliably without facing overwatch, but again as is appropriate to the Raven Lord himself, it's very specific to the one model, not something that spreads its benefits across the army. Nice.

Finally, their stratagem allows them to deploy some units (it doesn't say how many) more than 9" from the enemy, meaning you could sneak some really nasty stuff up close and personal.

Yet again, we see lots of very fluff-appropriate stuff here - where White Scars get that brazen, in your face thunderous charge, the raven guard tactics centre around moving quickly and striking without the opportunity for reprisal. I'd definitely consider using these tactics if I were to start another marine army (must. resist.).

Iron Hands

Finally we get the Iron Hands. Nothing much to see here really, it's just what we'd expect. Ignore damage on a 6, essentially the same 6+ fnp they had in the last edition. It does save you fussing over whether to take one of the rulebook warlord traits though, since it's a direct copy.

Nothing more to say here really until we know more, but it will be interesting to see if this applies to Iron Hands vehicles as well!

Iron Hands are due to be covered tomorrow on the warhammer community site, so look for another post from me towards the end of the week covering the next updates.

Till next time,
TBE