Jason, Lovell, Matt, and I got together to bash heads over the new 40k 7th edition rules. In some ways it was a pretty draining affair as we pored over the rulebook for every little thing. But it was also great to get that crew together—I don’t think Matt and I have played 40k since maybe 2010—especially once the game descended into farce, anarchy, and rampant questions of “Dear god, how can we be playing this so wrong?!?!”
A few more photos than those here are in the Flickr gallery.
Armies & Mission
We played the game as a doubles match:
- Joe: 1100 points of Kingbreakers Marines (Salamanders)—Angholan (Vulkan), Rorschach (Termie Libby), Ghosts (Sternguard), various Tacticals, Scouts, Bunker
- Matt: 750 points of Valhallans—Company Command, Primaris, Platoon, Veterans, Sentinels, Leman Russ
- Bad Dudes
- Lovell: 1100 points of Dark Harvest Necrons—Some insane maniac, Immortals, Warriors, Monolith, Bomber
- Jason: 750 points of Thousand Sons—Ahriman, psychic loonies, Thousand Sons, Obliterators
We didn’t even consider trying the new Maelstrom missions yet and wound up playing Crusade (4 objectives), Vanguard deployment. Imperials chose corners, deployed first, and played first.
Thousand Sons reserved everything except a pair of lonely, wayward Oblits. Dark Harvest started their troops on the board near objectives. Kingbreakers Ghosts attempted to assassinate the Oblits on the drop but couldn’t quite pull it off. The remaining Obliterator in turn powderpuffed Captain Angholan with a lucky powerfist strike. Lost in a grief of madness at this death, Librarian Rorschach wandered off into the ruins on his own and charged into a unit of Warriors. He was quickly brought to heel with Mind Scarabs and impaled himself on his own sword. Meanwhile, the Valhallans basically huffed around waiting for something to shoot at, and Ahriman went for pizza until his reserves could finally arrive.
Curving around the left flank into the midfield, Kingbreakers troops strategically created a tactical barricade out of their flaming Rhino wreckage (“Just as planned!”) between an objective and a pack of sneaking Immortals. On the Imperial left flank, Scouts running onto an objective in open ground were swept off the board by late arriving, outflanking Thousand Sons. A big fat Monolith then plopped down onto the objective to claim it for evil doers everywhere. Tacticals on the Imperial right were also wiped out by outflanking Thousand Sons finally showing up for the party, who then secured another objective despite the valiant flailings of a wildly confused, winterized Sentinel. Meanwhile, deep in the depths of the regional HQ bunker, the Valhallan Company Commander sipped his tea and admired his lovely objective and all the troops and tanks doing drills around it, wondering how those nice Marines he met the other day were getting on and maybe he should ring them up to see if they needed some artillery support.
Evil prevails! The unholy alliance of Dark Harvest and Thousand Sons wins with 2 objectives and Slay, First Blood, and Linebreaker, versus 2 objectives and Linebreaker for the valiant but nonetheless dead Imperials.
This was intentionally a goof game to play with the new rules, but even considering that I was way off the ball: Forgot to deploy Scouts, put Angholan and Rorschach in the same Drop Pod accidentally, all sorts of mess. But we did run through a bunch of new or revised mechanics, and there were interesting observations.
Things That Were Changes… Two Years Ago
I think it’s a fairly common lament about40k that for each new edition, or for old players returning to the game, the learning curve would be steeper but you’d be more likely to play correctly if you actually hadn’t played before. It’s just so easy to forget or entirely miss changes and revert or maintain old habits. There was a lot of that going on here. There wasn’t actually much shooting in this game and almost no mixed-weapons fire so it didn’t matter, but despite talking about it I don’t think we did a single round of shooting following the new grouped algorithm. We just kept falling into the old patterns without even thinking about it.
I also have to confess that I’ve been playing assaults wrong for 2+ years now, but in my defense so have tons of people! Say I’ve got a heroic independent character joined with a unit of some of the mightiest soldiers in the galaxy, and they wind up in combat with some chumps. In 5th edition the chumps would have to allocate attacks between the IC and the soldiers, following base-to-base priorities and so on. In 7th edition the chumps just attack the unit and wounds get allocated starting from the guys in base-to-base. Challenges to some extent replace the ability to target ICs. Of course, that’s also the way it worked in 6th edition! I, and seemingly everybody I’ve played with through that edition, just didn’t notice the change or me not applying it. Oopsies!
One change that may affect many people’s armies quite a bit is that there’s seemingly no longer a restriction that at most 50% of an army can go in reserve, unless we missed it. Opposing that though, there is a large number of abilities in the game at the moment that could make that a risky choice. For example, here Matt rolled the warlord trait that applies a -1 to the opponent’s reserve rolls, crippling Jason as he waited and waited until turn 4 to get his guys into the game.
On a related note, I’m not sure at all what to think about the player deploying first now getting to choose to go first or second. I have to believe that makes that roll off even more important, possibly too important, but I can’t tell by how much.
Doubles games/tournaments are going to require some thought around the new psyker phase. We played that the team rolls 2D6 to set the base pool, adds in their combined mastery levels, and creates one big pool the two players share. An alternative would be to have each player create and use their own pool, but then you need to figure out how the opposing players pair up against that, presumably by just letting them choose. It seemed cleaner though to just have one shared pool. That feels like there could be shenanigans, but not more than usual given how loose the army construction rules are now. The critical tweak is to enforce allies matrix restrictions, which would not have mattered here, Jason only used witchfire spells, but we didn’t think about it.
Given the new anything-goes scoring and more robust vehicles, I expect to see Monoliths, Land Raiders, and other heavily armored vehicles to return in popularity for camping out on objectives, in addition to lighter vehicles. The Monolith in particular I think is a revitalized threat given its ability to deep strike directly onto or near an objective to potentially claim or contest it itself, effectively ignore most weapons, shoot at different targets with a bunch of weapons, and portal dudes from all over the place to claim the objective if necessary. Maybe the Blood Angels’ deep striking Land Raiders will also have a bit of a resurgence? In general a lot of vehicles will have to be reevaluated given their newfound scoring abilities.
I’d also expect some renewed interest in Bastions, Bunkers, and such given that units embarked inside buildings explicitly now score. Void Shields also got clarified and buffed in the process, now absorbing the entirety of blasts. A notable real world change is that all of the datasheets are now gone from the main rulebook, so you cannot field an Aegis Defense Line or such without buying Stronghold Assault. That’s unfortunate…
My very early initial impression is that this could be a good edition for the Kingbreakers. Looking at the things me or my army are weak against, I don’t think any of them got much stronger, and some got weaker: Assault armies are almost certainly still less strong than shooting, flyers are a little detuned, and kill points games are all but certainly still going to be the minority of missions at most venues. On the flip side, a bunch of my standard army elements picked back up, more toward the 5th edition metagame.
Transports and Bunkers
Drop Pods and Drop Pod armies are baller now: Quadguns and other Skyfire-Interceptors are less able to shoot the guys spilling out; vehicles are a fair bit more resilient; and now they can even claim objectives, let alone contest. Keep in mind, Drop Pods delivering Troops will also gain Objective Secured.
Rhinos and Razorbacks got the same deal on scoring, including Objective Secured for Troops transports, and improved vehicle robustness. I’ve got a whole fleet getting washed & waxed in the Kingbreakers’ garage ready to redeploy and bunker down on some objectives. The only minor cost to that improved resilience is that exploded vehicles don’t create craters anymore, which I made use of quite a bit. My read on that is GW caved to people neither buying craters nor making their own.
Already quickly becoming a regular of the Kingbreakers’ army, the Imperial Bunker got dramatically buffed as well: Void Shields now only take one hit from blast weapons so they’re much better, and dudes can claim or contest objectives from inside their AV14, hard to damage, Void Shielded party house! That’s awesome!
Sternguard are now more valuable given that they can score. As such though they might be worth playing a touch more protectively to keep alive into the endgame. Their combi-melta access is also even more important in reliably popping vehicles. That said, I’ll have to think about my usual alpha strike patterns. They’re somewhat less likely to destroy a vehicle now, and thus less likely to easily take a vehicle target as well as claim First Blood.
Dreadnoughts might have a resurgence given that they’re stronger and can claim or contest. I’m thinking about mine a bit more, having not played them at all since 5th edition. They did lose the capability to pivot when shooting but can still overwatch, and a full 360 degrees at that, so I don’t think it’s a huge deal.
Landspeeders also got boosted back up a bit: I’ll still miss rerolling their flamers (lazy Salamanders, get back on it!), but since they also can now potentially score, let alone contest, their high mobility is super valuable provided you can keep them alive. No Objective Secured for these guys, but still a notable threat. Also, Landspeeder Storms: Highly mobile, and potentially able to apply Objective Secured to two objectives using the Scouts as well as the Landspeeder itself. That guy’s definitely getting promoted on my to-do list.
Throughout 6th edition I’ve been back and forth on my Predators, but generally not using them as much as I had in 5th. However, I’ll have to serious reconsider the value of a FA13 vehicle camping out or charging forward now that they score and are less explodable.
Very generally, this edition’s continued focus on objectives combined with the even more wide open scoring rules only increases the importance of having a large number of mobile units. Troops themselves are comparatively downplayed a bit since everyone can score, but still important to enable Objective Secured. Marines play that kind of game well, starting from their solid troops choices, boosted by the mission flexibility of all their infantry being able to break up into combat squads before deployment, and aided by their large selection of transports and other vehicles. They actually have even more flexibility and mobility now than previous incarnations, as the latest codex permits combat squads to embark transports together throughout the game, not just deploying out of Drop Pods.
It’s going to take a while to figure out exactly what’s up with the new psychic phase—early thoughts are that it’s a bit clunky though not particularly slow playing, and psykers’ strength chaotically variable between useless and crippling—but I’m totally down with fielding Librarians, so within the Marines’ relatively limited abilities I can ride that wave whichever way it goes.
So far the only big downside specific to my guys is that the Warlord Traits tables seem much much better this edition: More powerful overall and more evenly balanced inside the tables, there are fewer duds. Combine that with rerolling the trait if you have a battle forged army and they’re looking pretty solid. Vulkan, sadly, has a fixed trait that’s useful but not as good as most of those (+1 to combat results). Especially if Librarians make a comeback I could see swinging the warlord role to Rorschach, and would even consider playing Angholan as a generic captain to get access to those tables.
A number of those changes I’m either ambivalent about or against. For example, I think it’s good for empty transports and other non-walker vehicles to contest objectives, but it’s a little weird to me that they can claim. Despite my reservations though, a bunch of changes do seem to tilt in the Kingbreakers’ favor. Whether or not they tip in other’s favor more remains to be seen, particularly psychic armies.
All in all I’m basically neutral on this edition so far, same as I was on 6th. In my mind, two more tiny changes of making traits & powers player selections instead of random rolls, and snap shots being -2 BS instead of rolling 6s, would have made this edition really good. GW though clearly doesn’t value strategy and tactics over randomness. The psychic phase mechanics seem funky but not necessarily outright terrible. Combined with extremely loose army construction rules though the phase almost certainly has a ton of problems, but they seem relatively easy to fix in tournament settings. The real question is how much can be preserved within those fixes, e.g., permitting unbound armies, which I have mixed feelings about.
Again, a few more photos are in the Flickr gallery.