This weekend I was invited to join Victor in a test run on the 6th ed rules. AG and Victor had a previous run, and so I benefitted from their prior experience in the set (check out youtube for our primary video). All in all I was pleased with the rules set and believe it makes the playing field a bit more level. Below are the detailed reasons why.
Balance: With the new edition it brings a little bit more balance to the older books. Several rules, like Overwatch, and the randomized dice rolling for charging into combat, make one think carefully before rushing into combat. Many of the armies, like the Tau, will notice that they are much more fearsome than before.
Generalization/Clarification: The rules have been laid out in full detail in the book, and where there may be some confusion, they have built in examples. The old book was good at this, but the new book excells, putting important points in bold and also lists out a majority of the rules from the army books. No longer do you have to search out an individual book for a rule or take a player at their word. Most of the rules are listed in the rulebook quite clearly.
Big Changes: There were a couple of massive changes to the rules which, for the most part, have made great increases in the game play.
- Line of fire would allocation: Now when you advance with your hordes of troops, you quite literally get to watch the front lines wither away. A single shot hits the first closest troop, then the next and on down the line. It’s no longer assumed that another trooper fills in the spot where the last one left.
- Overwatch: The bane of close combatty armies and the blessing of the shootie armies. Overwatch lets the charged soldiers have a response to an assault. Granted they are rolling at an increased difficulty to hit, but it still has a fair chance to ruin a charge if the assaulters did not account for the round of fire. This one alone could make the Tau even more valid of a force than they were before.
- Optional Troop movement: Have a heavy shooter in the army that you never took before because your forces were mobile? Now you don’t have to worry. You can opt to move parts of a unit, but leave other parts unmoved so they can stay in cover or even shoot. This makes it much more beneficial to have a rocket launcher or heavy weapons guy in your squadrons.
- Magic: Once again they changed the magic system up. It seems pretty straight forward with spells, however slightly generic. In making the system more balanced, I think some armies are going to lose some of what makes them unique. My primary army at this time, the Dark Eldar, don’t really use magic all that much, and so at this time I’m kind of on the fence for it.
- Flyers: They now have different rules for flyers and non flyers. Basically it’s really hard to hit them, they move really fast, and it adds a new element to the game. I tend to like this one.
- Challenges: This one is the point I was not such a large fan of. Not that I don’t like the idea of challenges, but the fact of the matter is sometimes it can be horribly unrealistic. In the trial game I played with Victor, there was several rounds where my Archon was in close combat with his Hive Tyrant, the archon was surrounded by his retinue of Incubi. Due to the fact that the Hive Tyrant issued a challenge to him, if he were to decline he would simply sit out the battle. If he were to accept, the rest of the retinue would simply sit around looking at him fighting off a big bad monster.
If anyone thinks for even a second that the Incubi would stop and let their boss have all the fun, they have to be insane. But even worse, if you outnumber them by 5 or more, you get to re-roll at least one dice per every 5 troops that out numbers the other soldier. This meant that my Archon with his 2+ invulnerable save got to re-roll any failed save he made. Virtually that made it so I just piled in more troops to increase the bonus re-rolls and waited out his guy to die by attrition or failing to get eternal warrior.
The Doom of Malantai died a similar fate due to this.
- Armored Assault: Armored vehicles now get hit points. It makes sense, and with penetrating hits you still have the same chance to destroy something, but it kills some of the resiliency that some tanks had. Now if they take a number of hits, they can still be glanced to death. I really liked this rule.
Overall I think that the new edition addressed a good number of rules that needed to be addressed with the old system. It clarified quite a few things and it seems to be that the game is going in the correct direction. Combats are going to be harder, and it gave a much needed breath of life into a game that was getting more and more lopsided every new codex.
Now if only GW would focus on making a complete model line before releasing codices with a bunch of new models in them.