Monday, July 2, 2012

My initial musings on 6th.

Wooooooooooooooooooo it's here!

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.

So in 1st, 5th, and 13th we had 3 Necron players in the top 15, with two different archtypes of army. Myself and Dave Foster play remarkably similar lists, while Ivan Soo has done exceptionally well with a list that mixes Imotehk's scarab farm and the terrain shenanigan list.
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.

Hullpoints: No one feels this change more than grey knights. Before they would sometimes get shaken/stunned many, many times, only to remove them and carry on like normal. All of a sudden they are shedding hullpoints like mad and dying after, normally, 3. In general this will have a dramatic change on the role vehicles play in armies. I do not believe they will disappear, in fact they will continue to play a vital role in armies, but in a very different context to what we currently see.

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!


  1. I should have also added the magnitude of change around disembarking for vehicles. Previously people used to use vehicles as mobile bunkers. Driving up, using them as protection, and if you got near assaulting out of them.

    Now, even if the vehicle has not yet moved, you can not assault after hopping out unless it's an assault vehicle. This offers a huge amount of protection and totally, TOTALLY changes the current dynamics of the regular "push a box of dudemens up the table in boxes" that we used to see.

  2. Just running through your main points:

    Hull Points is definitely a good change, it brings vehicles back down to a similar level of durability as MCs (obviously with some variation). I expect transport spam i.e Razorspam, Venom Spam (Venoms even more so given they are so insanely easy to drop) is going to be toned back and Land Raiders will start to show up more, although not just because of Hull Points.

    Wound Allocation is better, its streamlined and more difficult to abuse which is pretty much exactly what was needed. It will be interesting to see if character sniping/Cannon sniping from Fantasy shows up.

    I'm still on the fence about Allies, I like them in theory because it can allow for themed armies and balance out the weaknesses of some of the older codices. That said they could potentially break the game with unforeseen combos and I don't like how unbalanced they are in terms of who can ally with who (from a gameplay perspective, fluff wise its ok). Imperials can all ally with each other, but Xenos (notably Nids) are the ones who really need options for allies.

    At the moment I actually think fliers are going to be a bit of a problem unless all armies can get a semi reliable way of dealing with them (i.e something with Skyfire). The AV10 ones aren't too bad, since you can just keep throwing stuff at them (including small arms) and anything that hits them will seriously hurt them, but the AV11 and AV12 ones (Necrons and Storm Ravens) are going to be very difficult to deal with since you really need to be firing anti tank weaponry at them to drop them. Necrons can take 6+ fliers easily and everyone who can use Storm Ravens can run 3.

    I'm not sure why people are getting so upset about Fortifications either. The only thing I don't like is the lack of variations (i.e they are all GW kits and they are all Imperial, a race specific Fortification each would have been nice). They seem fairly well costed (sure you can take a massive fort, but its going to mean you have 25% less stuff to actually fight with) and should allow for some interesting builds. The main thing is that 40k (and Fantasy for that matter) are games which favour or even require mobile armies, static armies can do ok but at some point you are going to have to move your ass to an objective if you actually want to win the game.

    Nightshields are now the default upgrade for all DE vehicles imo, you already get a 5+ save for simply moving so there isn't much point bringing Flickers (unless you get them by default anyway). The range drop still isn't that helpful against the real long range stuff, but combined with pre-measuring it gives you a serious edge in the mid range ~24" bracket (i.e where Necrons and Grey Knights fight).

    I'm ok with Random Assault distances, because a) assault isn't as important/decisive in this game as it is in Fantasy (i.e everyone has guns) and b) you have more control over it because you always get to move first, unlike in Fantasy where you can end up in horrible positions at the whim of the RNG.

    Psychic Powers got quite a bit of hype and imo it has largely fallen on its face because generation is random (even moreso than Fantasy is) and the psychic users that people actually use are never going to trade in all their largely superior codex abilities in the hope that they might get a rulebook power that's equal in power. I can't see why I would ever trade away Guide or Doom as Eldar, or swap out Catalyst from a Tervigon. If you could substitute 1 power for 1 roll on the chart/mix and match then they would be great. I'm expecting that all the psychic users in the 6th edition codices will get their own race (or God) specific chart, which is probably going to be an advantage for the older books for once.

    As a side note it looks like my Portal Bomb list is completely dead :(. Dark Eldar appear to be joining Eldar as a mono build army.

  3. I agree that your portal bomb looks dead in the water, but don't think that we're even close to knowing 6th well enough to know what new lists are suddenly viable - and im reasonably confident every codex got at least one because of it.

    1. True, we have a while to go yet and its all theory atm, but so many of the DE options have been nerfed or removed completely. Portals are now completely useless, so any build using them is gone (both my hybrid build and the pure foot build). Bloodbrides and Wyches got worse (Overwatch + FNP nerf) and Incubi got worse (can't fight Terminators at all and still can't fight most Grey Knights). Beasts got slightly better and the fliers are obviously now pretty good, but for the most part it was a case of the stuff that doesn't get much use in 5th to start with getting worse.

    2. As a new player to 40k and just learnt 5th I am glad the changes are not to great.
      I was wondering do you need to run vehicles to be semi competitive ( I play space marines ) or can I run a list with infantry eg tac squads, jump squads, termites

      Am looking forward to playing 40k ( just help start a new wargaming club south of Auckland and the young ones we are aiming at like playing 40k hence my need to learn lol )


  4. Hi Noel and welcome!
    I think we're about to see a new dawn so to speak, where you won't need a lot of vehicles to be competitive as a marine list. Time will tell. I suspect a couple will go quite well however, as some sort of mesh between mech and foot.