Thursday, April 26, 2012

8th Edition Rules Changes Redux - Steadfast

Leading on from the Stepping Up and Supporting Attacks rule, the third major change to combat is the Steadfast rule.

The two armies that I’ve played with in 8th benefit (Skaven) and are disadvantaged (Ogres) by the Steadfast rule so I’ve seen the effect from both sides. Personally I reckon it is probably the best change to 8th in that it has shifted the balance back to infantry. Monstrous Infantry, Monstrous Cavalry, Cavalry and Monsters now need to ensure that they have sufficient resilience themselves when they go into a ranked block. There is no only a limited chance that they will blast through a unit in a single turn, so that even a flank charge is fraught with danger on a steady block (moreso with the ability to combat reform at unmodified leadership if Steadfast).

This has really changed the game and with it list construction. Using my Skaven as an example, my Slave units were 20 or 21 strong under 7th. Now they are 35-40. This means that even another 25 man infantry block has to kill 15 slaves before the unit loses Steadfast. Within the General’s leadership bubble this means there is only 1/12 chance of them breaking. With a BSB I get a re-roll. Given this I use slaves for their intended purpose – a roadblock that ties up a combat unit while I can whittle it away with shooting/magic.

Looking from the other side, my Ogres, I know that MSU is not the way to go across the WHOLE army. I need to have units that have sufficient resilience to be able to last up to three rounds before I break an opponent. Unit size has jumped from 3-4 Bulls or Ironguts to 8-9 models. These are the Hammer units you need to take on a ranked block. I’ve also found that this consideration flows through to my choice of Magic Lore where I am looking for buffs to protect my unit.

So the rule change has been profound and I think it has improved the game immeasurably. To break blocks significant resources have to be committed whereas previously it was more the ability to deliver CR on the initial charge.

Rule Change: A

[Tip: Remember the front rank counts a a rank if it has 5 models in it (3 for Monstrous Infantry/Cavalry)


  1. I like Steadfast as a general rule. Charging 5 Calvary into a unit of infantry and breaking it no sweat really wasn't good for the game.

    Specifically with Skaven Slaves I'm not so keen on it though, the supposedly most cowardly army in the games most cowardly units being effectively unbreakable for forever, and you can still 13th the unit fighting them is a little bit OT.

    I don't feel it makes much sense either. I've killed 20 out of 40 Skaven Slaves in one round before, and they were still steadfast. I don't know about you, but if 7 ft tall, armoured killing machines had slaughtered half of my mates with ease, whilst remaining impervious to my efforts, I'd leg it proper quick!*

    Just my opinion obviously ;)



    *Note - As a WOC, may possibly be a little biased....

  2. >the supposedly most cowardly army in the games most cowardly units<

    Be very careful who you are dissing Ross. I know my Slaves love The Beloved Leader and will perform extraordinary feats just in the hope of seeing his benevolent smile.

  3. Like quite a few of the new rules in 8th I quite like the concept of Steadfast, I just think it hasn't been implemented as well as it could be (mostly since its a new rule this edition) so it needs some tweaking. The shift back to infantry is good, but it has swung back so far that shock cavalry is barely used and MSU as an army concept is dead (particularly when combined with the new VP rules). As it stands basically everyone has to bring a massive block of infantry or they can't compete, which imo is bad for the game (you want variation, atm a Level 4 and a big bus of infantry end up in basically every list for every army).

    I think my biggest issue with the Steadfast mechanic is that the only way to counter/remove it is to mash into someone with another massive block. This is the opposite of what you want in a balanced tactical game, where there should be multiple possible counters to everything. I'm not suggesting a return back to the 7th edition mechanics, but a middle ground somewhere in between would be nice. I would like to see something like units which are engaged in a units flank count as having twice as many ranks (both for rank bonus and for Steadfast).
    This would mean a big block hitting you in the side has a fairly good chance of breaking most units even if they aren't quite as massive(unless you can hold for a turn and reform to face which imo is good from a 'realism' POV), but in the front its still going to be grindfest. It would also give a block of combat cavalry a reasonable chance of breaking an infantry block if they hit it in the flank (2 ranks of Cav, doubles to 4) but charging into the front is basically never going to work (as should be the case). +1 or +2 ranks instead of doubling would work as well, or you could count all the ranks for all the units on both sides for determining Steadfast (so 2 units with 3 ranks each would break Steadfast on a block with 5 ranks).

  4. This is interesting, but for me, Steadfast is not the rule that brought infantry back. Supporting Attacks and stepping up is what did that. Previously infantry would rarely get the charge when there were cavalry around, and that often meant they would not get to attack. Now they attack regardless, and can generally cram a lot more attacks in that a unit of cavalry - especially when you count things like the Horde formation. For me, THAT is what means characters and monsters need resilience.

    I am fine with the Steadfast rule, although I do think losing your rank bonus should probably see it cancelled as well. More ranks being the only way to mess with Steadfast seems inelegant to me. Note that this does not mean I think tournaments should mess with the rule - I just think it could have been executed a little better.

  5. I enjoy the new steadfast rule. I have yet to have a game where there is a steadfast grindfest between 2 uber blocks of doom in the middle of the table....then again I dont use units that can achieve that. If anything I think steadfast has encouraged multicharging to ensure a suffient number of kills to a) win the combat and b) reduce the number of ranks.

    Also it has forced people to think further out than the immediate situation.

    In 7th I could go "hmmmm unit in the front = win and break for overrun leaving me in position x". Is this good? yes = charge, bad = dont charge.

    Now I have to think "unit in the front....combat might hold for a round or I opening up myself up for a flank charge/how do I stop unit Y flanking me?...will I be in a better position if I break the unit in their turn? I have any support units I can bring into the combat if need be to swing it in my favour?"

    To me the 2nd proposition is the more fulfilling situation and IMHO makes for a better game experience. I grade this an 'A'

  6. I think that stepping up would have been sufficient to give infantry a greater role in the game. Steadfast has swung the dynamic too far the opposite way, so that now the game has gravitated to a few large blocks of infantry with a few supporting chaff units. The problems of 7th edition have not been solved, they have just been replaced with more problems. Massive grinding infantry units is not pretty, it's just dull. Fighting to the flanks and rear and still retaining steadfast just makes it easy for guys with cheap fodder troops. As with many of the rules changes, it is too extreme. My rank F (fail).

    1. I disagree with this. To be fair 8th has introduced some new problems, but it has resolved most of 7th editions core problems such as "I have 5 cav that will kill your front rank" situations and the herohammer aspect (which was very dull imo).

      The current scenario of steadfast/step up has enabled core infantry to actually play a role in a battle now, steering the game towards a love it or hate it "big blocks of infantry". Personally I love it, but I am aware many people are still hung up on their MSU elite armys of before.

      The only changes I would like to see with regards to steadfast is greater benifits for flank/rear charges and inititive bonuses for some weapons like lances/spears, and maybe even charging! This would imo bring an additional layer of tactics to a battleine.
      I think 8th ruleset would benifit from some more complexity in this regard.

  7. GW and complexity in rules, goof luck with that, since 6th Ed the rules are becoming less and less complex. In general a good thing, the contradictions in 5th could drive you mad, but I agree it does also detract from the game in some regards.

    Removing unnecessary complexity I'm all for, simplification for simplicity's sake I'm not.