On Monday I wrote a post reflecting on some of the rule changes in the latest for the 6th edition Warhammer 40,000 which was remarkably well-timed as last night I played a 1500 point game with Jeremy of The Chaps.
Knowing roughly what Jeremy would take I took a straight 5th Company force determined to give the rules a proper shake down with a mixture of tactical squads, an assault squad and a single Razorback, albeit armed with twin-linked assault cannons.
The first thing that became apparent is that vehicles are exactly as flimsy as I suspected. Jeremy got the first turn and moved his Predator forward to persecute a tactical squad holed up in a building. Snap Fire meant that his sponson weapons were all but ineffective but at least he got to fire them which I suppose is something. He didn’t hit anything mind. I moved my Razorback forwards and was able to shoot at the side armour of the Predator. 2 Penetrating and 1 Glancing hit later the tank was stripped of its hull points and left a wreck. The funny thing was that I completely spunked my damage rolls so under 5th edition the Predator would have escaped relatively unharmed.
On a separate note, twin-linked assault cannon on a Razorback is a fantastic idea. Also the fact that they’re rending makes them very scary against most things. More on point though, it highlights how vulnerable vehicles are now to mid strength weapons. Lascannons will only take out a tank if you get a descent damage roll, Contemptor Dreadnought with two twin-linked Autocannon can knock out, in theory, a Falcon Grav Tank in a single turn.
During the course of the second turn Jeremy assaulted my assault marines with his. Otherwise exposed and vulnerable, the 2D6 assault move saved them from being hammered by my base line of tactical marines and two Dreadnoughts, not to mention the follow-up charge from my assault marines. My unit snap fired killing a single marine which was more fluke than odds on which highlights how poorly elite armies, of any stripe, do out of the Snap Fire rule. The only benefit they have is when they charge an equally elite unit as they lack the fire-power to do any real damage.
The obvious rule to keep the game balanced, and fair, would have been to make the Snap Fire rule half the unit’s BS rounding down. This would mean that basic Guard, Orks & Nids would still be on BS1, which is reasonable, and elite units would be BS2. But, more to the point, characters wouldn’t suddenly be reduced to the equivalent ability of a novice whenever someone runs at them despite centuries of combat experience.
The game quickly devolved into each other lobbing shots at range, with my Dreadnoughts stomping about the place blowing chunks out of people until the tide turned against my assault marines and the Dread’ armed with a close combat weapon waded in and started squishing Crimson Fists left right and centre. By the time Jeremy’s Terminators turned up I’d dispatched Pedro and the Chaplain with a lot of shooting and swift kick to the face.
This meant my command squad and Captain Galenus could go toe to toe with the Terminators. I did this for the simple reason that I wanted to see just how tough Terminators had become with the introduction of AP for close combat weapons. And the answer is very. I stand by the statement that the way to win 6th Edition 40k is to armour save your opponent to death so I’d hoped that pouring that many hits into the Terminators would be enough to make them fail their saves. Sadly Jeremy chose that moment to not roll like a bell end. Fortunately his hits back he did so between spunking roles and jammy invulnerable saves I was able to hold them up long enough for the Dreadnought to finish with the assault marines and then mang the Terminators.
But it’s very telling that it takes a Dreadnought to beat the shit out of Terminators. Terminators and their opposite numbers are now nails. And rightly so. Howling Banshees use to be the ultimate Terminator killers thanks to bonkers speed, piles of attacks and power weapons as standard. Until the new Codex is released they have absolutely no chance what-so-ever, the low strength just enough combined with the 2+ the Terminators now get, to inflict harm. Of course what this means is that Terminator squads are probably going to go up in points. This won’t be a total disaster as they will become the linchpin units they were always intended to be.
Now having played the game my feelings surrounding the rule changes have been pretty much confirmed but it’s still nice to put it all to the test. And having assault rules that make sense is certainly refreshing. The flow of the game, fortunately, hasn’t been disrupted too much although any sub-phase that disrupts the flow of play does irk me so. I’m looking forward to my next game, which is a positive it’s just a shame that aspects of what made an army fun – specifically tanks – are now either a waste of points or a sacrificial lamb.