In the Grim darkness of the far future, people finally worked out shooting was a good idea.
So I Haven’t had a chance to pick up a new copy of the core rulebook yet, and at £45 It would take a lot to get me to do so. Having been spoiled by saga, war-machine and a number of other low-cost-to-entry games over the past few years, going back to games workshop’s ‘super-premium’ prices is painful to say the least.
Nethertheless I was able to borrow a copy of the new core book and scan over the rules to see what the fuss was about.
The first part of any ‘review’ is production quality, but for a GW product there really isn’t any point, its ten thumbs-up and a golden star for looks. The layouts and graphics are works of art by themselves, nothing more needs to be said.
I have owned and played all 5 previous editions, and could write at length about the evolution of the game if I wanted to, but to keep this short, this isn’t the “complete rewrite” that happened between 1Ed and 2Ed, or the substantial remodel between 2Ed and 3Ed. The “leaked 6Ed alpha” which took the web by storm earlier this year had lead a lot of us to believe a substantial rewrite was in the pipeline, however this hasn’t materialised. There was a clear “evolution” going on between 3Ed, 4Ed and 5Ed, and this is continued in 6Ed with the core rules being tweaked but still recognizable to someone who was playing a decade ago.
So that was the high level overview – now onto the dissection
I haven’t covered all the rules changes, just the particular ones I wanted to highlight which either please, or displease, me a great deal,
Players can now always measure distances – this is a very big deal for me, as a personal rule I will not play any game which requires players to guess ranges when the ranges on the table are themselves completely abstract. Range guessing is a shoddy rules mechanic which rewards the beardy and gives no incentive to tactics, and although guess range weapons were removed going from 4Ed to 5Ed, we finally have an ‘open book game’ in 6Ed. Took you long enough.
The core turn sequence is unchanged – the changes mentioned in the leaked alpha never made it through to the final 6Ed. To be honest the Wh40K turn sequence has stood the test of time, so I am glad no change was made there.
The tables are unchanged – the ‘third’ lookup for “Ballistic skill vs evasion score” which featured in the leaked alpha has thankfully been removed, and the shooting rules remains much as they were in 5Ed, with some tweaking.
Wound allocation has changed beyond recognition – with wounds being allocated nearest model first. The 5Ed wound allocation rules never sat right with me, and this method should be slightly quicker. It also requires some thought by players where to put special weapons in squads. No longer will that melta-gun be at the front to get the most range, with the hits being soaked by the squaddies behind. Definitely some additional tactics to think about now in 6Ed, but at the same time I was looking forward to seeing wound allocation being fixed for large games, which I don’t think it is in this edition.
Snapfire is a important new addition. – Heavy weapons (non blast) can shoot on the move on a 6+ to hit. Snap fire can also be undertaken at other times.
Overwatch is a huge deal – I think Games Workshop could take some hints from Wizards of the coast when it comes to the reuse of rule names. Anyone who played 2Ed will remember overwatch allowing players to fire shots “as an interrupt” in their enemies turn. Fortunately in 6Ed overwatch means something completely different. When units are assaulted they may make overwatch fire into the enemy unit which is assaulting (6+ to hit). These shots are resolved after charge declared but before charge distance is decided (See assault), this gives the potential for a shooty unit to defend against an assault, and not just get massacred.
Assigned hits – This was something I loved in the leaked alpha, unfortunately it didn’t make it to pint in quite the same format, but you can see what they were getting at, and the version we have in 6Ed is balanced very well. Snipers who roll hits of a natural 6 can assign hits those hits to specific models in the target unit. Very nice, and long over due.
Charges have changed a lot - Now charge distance is 2d6 which explains how they could allow measuring distances now. This adds a lot of judging risks to the game, assault distance is increased, but you run the risk of it not connecting if you over stretch yourself. I must say I like this a lot, it gives players a choice to make where they weigh up the risk to benefit of making an assault.
No consolidation into new enemy units any more – This needed fixing a while back, nothing more to be said.
No assault after using ‘rapid fire’ – again is kinda busted, so glad this is patched.
“Fleet of foot” got fixed (nerfed) so they cannot run then assault in the same turn. Part of the reason we had to EBay the house tyranid army was you got opening turns of Infiltrate-Move-Run-Assault-Win before the opposing player got a turn. Long overdue fix, although a slight departure from traditional GW “Assault-Hammer” style gameplay.
Characters in close combat can assign hits on a roll of a 6. What can I say I like this a lot, in fact I love it. Characters in squads always got gimped that everso slightly because their toughness got averaged down by their squad mates. Assigning crits to the special weapons and characters in the assaulted enemy unit is that nice little snack that makes buying them power weapons actually worth the points.
Hull points are a big change - Glancing hits remove one, penetrating hits remove one and make you roll on the damage table. When vehicles are reduced to zero HP they go boom. Vehicles, specifically APC’s were buffed going from 4Ed to 5Ed, and it would seem HP benefit lighter vehicles a lot.
Further buffing of vehicles, now being able to fire all weapons at speeds upto 6, any faster and they can still fire all weapons, but only hitting on 6+. Still cant fire anything at flat-out speed.
Proximity wound allocation on vehicle squadrons too. And works much the same as squad members. So now theres some tactics in putting a soak tank forward. Again I am not sure how I like this, and I am hoping some kind of “tank-hunter” special rule will be written in to allow shots to be allocated manually and ignore the soak-tank.
When disembarking, the free “deploy” move of 2” is removed. Now just a straight move. This nerfs mechanized infantry slightly, but the bulk of the nerf cam from the assault rules revision, improvements to vehicle durability should offset this though.
Its going to need playing through a few times before we can really say if its better than 5Ed. But all the Buffs and Nerfs are in the right place, and a few long-standing bugs have been squashed (Tyranid pun unintended by woefully accurate) . Allocated hits are a great idea. Proximity based wound allocation is going to need playing through a few times before we can tell if it’s a good idea or not, likewise with vehicle Hitpoints. Its going to be interesting to see how they errata the 5Ed codexes to fit in with the new rules.
They may just have earned £45 of my money.