Now that I have a few days of digestion and some game time under my belt, I thought I would share my initial thoughts on 6th, and how this stacks up on the close of 6th.
Firstly, let's look at how 5th finished, to set the scene for how things have changed. One of the better ways we can look at this are the rankings as they stand at the end of 5th.
Grey Knights came in 2nd, 4th, and 11th - with Mark Buttle and Simon Farrell both using the popular cheap coteaz squads, transports, a sprinkling of purifiers and psyflemen, while Chris Ward has had an evolution of Draigowing.
Dark Eldar came in 3rd and 12th with a venom spam and portal beast bomb respectively.
David Wilson upset the trend piloting sisters to 6th place, with a list full of rhinos/immolators and an aggressive alpha strike.
Blood Angels came in 7th and 14th with vehicle heavy armies, Pascal favoring storm ravens and dreads while Dean favored the rhino/predator archetype.
This left Tyranids in 8th, the South Island representing 9th and 10th with Guard and Orks, and Hen's Black Templar sneaking into the gate at 15th on sheer determination alone.
So what is the prevailing common factor here? New codexes, and generally very heavy on vehicles. This surely lines up with 9/10 peoples hypothesis - but isn't it great when there's evidence to reinforce it?
Well, from here, it's fair to say that one of the critical success factors for 6th will be that the landscape changes somewhat.
To look at whether this will change, here are some of the key changes that would lead to this:
2+ saves being buffed: In the above top 15, generally speaking, 13 of the players from memory only had ~1 or 2 models at most with a 2+ save. Only Chris Wards Draigowing and Hen's Black Templars had a decent number of 2+ saves rocking around. For those that aren't aware, the change to power weapons so that they're now only ap3 dramatically increased the viability of terminators.
I think you're going to see a resurgence of 2+ armour saves, and armies that can bring a lot, cheaply, will be stronger for it.
Wound Allocation: This will result in peoples placing of miniatures becoming much more careful. It also means however, that peoples firepower generally will need to become more mobile, allowing them to change the order to a certain extent in which the enemy models will die, by changing their own positioning. Focus fire is a critical component to this. Sick of your opponent sticking a durable character up front and bouncing all the saves off a 2+/3++ character? Push a tank right up to them so that model is getting a cover save, then focus fire all the models in the open, or getting a different cover save - and watch the unit drop. Unfortunately a few units can still abuse this thanks to being units of characters and chain look-out-siring, namely Nobs and Paladins.
Allies: This is up for huge debate, and will take quite some time before it amounts to anything more than conjecture or hyperbole. One thing is important however, I don't think events should blanket increase their points to accommodate allies, it should be a decision to sacrifice units in your existing army to incorporate allies. The art of list building is all around the choices you make. What do you put in? What do you leave out? What weaknesses do you have and how can you mitigate them? What you should never be able to do is just take everything, and then a little more on top. I look forward to seeing how future events tackle this, but if I have one hope, it's that some events ban it and other events allow it, so that you truly get a wide mix of armies you come across.
Flyers: I don't think flyers are actually any where near as big an impact as many people make them out to be. Firstly, a lot of cases will actually not require an anti-flier strategy to be in place at all. Secondly, they're not particularly durable once you do get through to them, but if everyone is a bit worried about them, there's always fortifications, but that in itself is another point of interest.
Fortifications: These are actually pretty minor in general. A lot of people getting their panties in a twist over them and just need to chill out! One thing they do however, is significantly reduce the current over the top strength of getting first turn. What im not sure is how these will integrate into tournaments. Overall there is a lot of work to be done on terrain, fortifications and tournaments - more analysis needs to be done on the process.
Cover: By and large it got worse, but easier to get for vehicles/mc's. In some ways it is easier to get for infantry, but also very situational and focus fire introduces some interesting dynamics. I really think working focus fire to your advantage is going to be key.
Premeasuring: I was kinda 50-50 on this one, but now firmly feel this was a great, great move. It will allow people to develop their tactics a lot more also, and lends a lot of strength to certain things such as nightshields.
Random Assault Distance: This brings an element of risk management to the game, and also removes a lot of stupid things that used to happen. I often used to get great benefit out of backing up my miniatures so that I was only barely in assault range, rather than moving close up front, for a variety of reasons. This totally defied logic and now is a lot more interesting. It also gives jump packs a lot of versatility where they can choose to swap their fast movement for a more reliable/faster assault and an extra attack.
All up I really enjoy this change.
Assault changes: Knowing Multi-Assault inside and out lead to some huge advantages over those that didn't. The rules were fairly buried so most people fell into the later of these two categories. This has been significantly toned down, by both losing your assault bonuses and having multiple units over-watch you.
Mysterious Objectives: Units controlling these get decent bonuses. This is a bit of a buff to scoring units, and you would be wise to make more utilisation of this, which will often lead to more meaty troop units, and less "deckchair" units. At any rate, it is one of several factors.
Psychic Powers: There are some incredibly strong powers, and some totally naff powers. Getting these are random. As such, no one will generally build their lists around a reliance on these, which means they won't have the impact many are expecting. Some good fun here though!
So, all up, how does this look when we cram it together and stop looking at things in a vacuum? Well, the game feels like it is quicker. Generally, wound allocation feels way quicker, and way less stupid. No more getting confused with each other as you pull 500 different groups of dice out and then roll per models. No more stupid situations where you're better off firing with LESS weapons. Now, more is more!
There are a few things that perhaps add unnecessary elements to the game, but these aren't overly complex, and, at least at this stage, actually just add a bit more fun to it.
With vehicles and units in them no longer contesting objectives, and the bunker transports usually being less durable, scoring units are going to have to become more durable on their own merits, but I feel this will be one of the ones that people take a while to implement.
It's not the dramatic change from 5th many people thought was coming, and generally feels like an enhancement on it. I'm very positive about it, and I think you should be too. In saying that, I have to be up front and give a caveat. I chose to go into 5th embracing it no matter what, and this had a hugely beneficial effect. I essentially was able to get ahead of the eight-ball and never look back as a result, and decided to do the same again here. You can dislike certain components all you like, but if you do this, you're going to be a worse player for it. Banning elements in general is a poor approach to take IMO, and generally is exclusive rather than inclusive for your player base. You should generally try to avoid saying to someone "No, that army that you've been playing at home for the last couple of years can't be fielded here, go away unless you bring something else. We actually play a slightly different game to Warhammer 40,000 here, we just call it by the same name".
In saying that, if things are optional, ensure you play both ways, so that you don't rely on them, and experience the game in full as it was intended. Anything optional, of which there is not a lot, is intended to be used SOME OF THE TIME. Not all of the time. Not none of the time.
Hopefully you've stayed through that wall of text, and this generates some discussion!