Saturday, 3 June 2017

The long-awaited 8th Edition post

I've been deliberately holding off writing anything about the new edition until I'd actually seen the  new rules for myself, but with copies of the books and box set now at FLGS across the land, including my local, I finally think it's time to make a few comments.

Overall, I like the look of the new rules. The addition of the 'keyword' system as seen in AoS (arguably pioneered by Magic: TG) is very welcome and makes things seem a lot more elegant. There are some interesting wrinkles to the new rules, too, such as Airborne models (i.e. Flyers) being vulnerable to assault by units with the FLY keyword. Yes, finally Stormboyz can re-enact the beginning of the Space Marine videogame and attack those Valkyries. (Those Space Marines still aren't allowed to hitch a ride, though)

Actually the Space Marines in Valkyries thing does bring us to one of the things in the new Indexes that I thought odd- not only are transports still not able to transport models from other Factions, they can't even generally accept models from the same Faction if they're from a different sub-faction. For example if for some reason some of your Sisters of Battle are from a different Order to the others, they aren't allowed in the Rhinos. The Inquisition get the wonderful 'By The Authority of the Inquisition' rule which lets them ignore this restriction, but they then don't get any transports of their own, which is annoying.

The indexes in general are frustrating like this. One moment you find something really fun which inspires you, like the new Acts of Faith or the way Noise Marines make one last attack before they die, and then you run into an inexplicable restriction that seems to have eluded the playtesters completely. A notorious example is that both SoB and CSM now find that they can't equip their squad leaders with a bolter/ combi-weapon and a special close combat weapon. In the case of the Sisters, the Superiors can only replace their boltgun with a special CC weapon and their pistol with.. well, another pistol, which means the one leading this squad is out of luck:

..which is a little embarrassing since that's the squad currently for sale on the GW webstore.

With CSM, it's aggravating since the wording for the Champion's weapon options is almost exactly the same as it is for Marine Sergeants, just with a minor difference (the CSM version says 'alternatively take one of..' whereas the Marine one just says 'one of') which means you can't do it. CSM in general seem to have suffered in the Indexes, with the Thousand Sons and Death Guard ironically hardest hit- there's currently no Psychic Discipline for the Sons (meaning the Sorcerers have gone from a potential repertoire of some 30 spells to about four) and whilst the Death Guard have a Discipline, they've lost access to a huge chunk of the CSM list, like Obliterators, Multilators and Terminators. You can still take those models with the Mark of Nurgle, but it basically does nothing (no +1 T for you) and means they'll have the wrong Legion keyword. Obviously the Death Guard have new toys incoming but possessors of current DG armies with lots of lovingly converted models they suddenly can't use are coming down with a nasty case of Bloody Annoyance which GW is going to have to work pretty hard to cure.

Overall, the Indexes to me feel somewhat slapdash. As a writer myself, I understand how hard proof-reading can be, but if these books were play-tested the testers clearly weren't paying attention, because the things I mention here jumped out on me in a few hours of looking casually through the books. Another howlingly bad example is the entry for a Traitor Knight, which comes stock in the Gallant configuration (fist+ reaper chainsword) with a single Stubber. There are options to replace the Stubber with a Melta, but no options for more Stubbers, meaning that as soon as you try to add the Rapid-Fire Battlecannon with its additional Stubber, or the gatling with its Heavy Flamer, you can't do it. Derp.

Fortunately, the points system comes to our rescue a little here. Since GW have taken the approach of pointing up models separately to their weapons, we can still add those missing options and pay the appropriate points (or ignore the problem completely if using Power Levels) so long as everyone is cool with it.

I'll mention a few other things that jumped out at me. Orks seem to have done well out of the Indexes, with Mek Guns seemingly getting even better (!) and the Battlewagon having a nice combination of rules allowing Lootas to fire out of it on the move without penalty, not to mention the Combi-weapon changes making Meganobz with Kombi-Skorchas pretty terrifying. The aversion to options is a bit jarring here, though, with most Characters having an entirely different entry just to ride a Warbike and the Nob with a Waaagh! banner now being a separate option to the Biker Nobz, meaning there's no way he can keep up with them since apparently he's not allowed a bike.

It's odd in general that some models seem to have had a lot of thought and attention lavished on them- the Ork 'Nauts and the Chaos Land Raider both got the sort of rules they've been crying out for for years- whilst others have been handled very poorly. The Slaanesh 'lawnmower' chariots, which used to dish out bucketloads of dice in Impact hits on the charge, have now been reduced to the terrible rule from AoS where they inflict a single Mortal Wound on a model with 1" on a 6 (or 5+ for the Exalted Chariot) which as anyone who's tried them in Fantasy will tell you is dire. (On the plus side, they at least don't die after taking a single Wound in assault any more). Particularly odd is the way that the Exalted chariot degrades when damaged when the basic one doesn't, and the fact the Hellflayer gets to make attacks with its blades whereas the Seeker Chariots, which have just as many if not more blades, don't, The Soul Grinder has also been horribly treated, losing both Warp Gaze and its Torrent weapon in favour of a compulsory Phlegm Bombardment that you can't even leave off to save points.

I don't want to come over too negative. Overall, 8th Ed is looking like a much better, cleaner, and faster version of the rules and I'm really, really looking forward to playing it. The Indexes certainly will create issues, and a lot will hinge on both how GW handle them, and the tone they take whilst doing it. Hopefully, they'll proceed sensibly.

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