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Friday, June 23, 2017
Warhammer 40K 8th Edition: A Better Version of Age of Sigmar
It's convention season, and I've been super busy with terrain commissions, which means I've been neglecting my blog, and I've barely had time to work on any personal projects.
Even making new products for Skull Forge Scenics is on hold s I work to hit my deadlines. But the store is still open, and my entire range of graveyard scenery is available, so check it out if you haven't already. Thanks to everyone who has supported me in this endeavor. I hope you're all enjoying your scenery! It's always exciting when I see one of my pieces worked into someone's conversion on the Age of Sigmar groups.
I have been following the developments and rumors of the new edition of 40K, and now that it's here, my predictions seem to have come true (mostly). From my July 2015 post, Age of Sigmar, God Help Me:
"[Age of Sigmar] is very close to the 40K turn sequence, and would work perfectly for both Fantasy and 40K with no changes other than swapping words like "spells" with "psychic abilities." All of the 40K models could get their own warscrolls (called datasheets) that would give characters their own command abilities and special rules. In fact, I would bet money that GW is going to adopt this same core rules system for 40K.
"So, you heard it here first: I predict that Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 will eventually use the same 4-page core rules with the "fantasy" and "sci-fi" flavor added via the models' stats and abilities. I don't think the intention would be to be encourage playing Fantasy vs. 40K games, or mixing and matching Fantasy and 40K armies. It's just the obvious step going forward. It would certainly be less of a shock to the system for 40K players because they already use loose formations and employ the "move, shoot, charge" order of actions."
So, I was mostly right– The new 40K did get the Age of Sigmar rules treatment, but it's not just four pages, it's eight. And I must say, these new 40K rules are a better version of Age of Sigmar.
Age of Sigmar, MKII
First of all, I'm very happy with these rules, all of the superfluous nonsense about how to determine casualties and calculate cover saves, vehicle armor penetration, snap shots, etc. is gone. Vehicles and monstrous creatures are just "big models" that have their own damage tables like monsters in Age of Sigmar. No special rules for moving fliers, how to shoot at fliers, and whatever the hell D-Weapons were. Anything that makes a model unique will be in its datasheet rules.
GW learned from the Age of Sigmar release by incorporating the "General's Handbook" material right in the main rulebook– unit points, army construction, scenarios, stratagems, and tactical objectives.
But the core rules really stand out to me as being a template for fixing all the little nitpicks about Age of Sigmar's rules. A straight up adaption of the 8th Edition 40K (maybe with the psychic phase moved to the front) would work perfectly for Age of Sigmar–
Beat It, Priority Roll
First of all, there's no priority roll at the start of the turn. I know that it "adds a lot of unpredictability" to the game when a clutch priority roll gives you the double turn, allowing you to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and sure, that can be really exciting and cinematic. But I find it just that– unpredictable. Winning or losing the game often hinges on a single dice roll.
I know part of the strategy is "planning for the double turn," but how "unpredictable" is it when the go-to strategy is to build an army with as few deployment drops as possible so you can ensure that you'll force your opponent to move first so you can hope for the first-turn-double-turn and steamroll them?
This is exactly the same. Moving, falling back, and running work exactly the same. 40K calls 'running' 'advancing,' which I don't really care for. I understand that in a game where half of the models don't have legs, having your jet bike "run" might sound a little silly, but advancing sounds like what a model does when it walks forward. At least call it a 'rapid advance' or something so it sounds speedy. I'm sure that economy of words also comes into play when trying to right a short, tight rules set, and "a model may advance" is much shorter than "a model may make a rapid advance," and you'd have to change the adjective to "rapidly advancing" in come cases. Nevermind, it's fine.
In 40K, the range for hand to hand combat is 1-inch, as opposed to Age of Sigmar's 3-inches. I'd be okay with that. It would cut down on the snake-eyes-failed charges!
Hero (Psychic) Phase
Having the psychic phase come after the movement phase, allows Psykers the opportunity to move and then use their psychic abilities. That would be a great benefit for Wizards casting spells, and wouldn't require your entire turn to be dictated by where everyone needs to be at the end of the turn so they'll be in range of spells and command abilities.
The range for Denying the Witch (unbinding) is also increased to 24 inches, and does not require line-of-sight to the casting model. Changing Age of Sigmar spell casting to work like this would vastly help to curtail some of the more powerful spell-spamming armies. 40K also doesn't put a limit on the number of times a single psyker can make a Deny the Witch test, so a single Wizard in your army could attempt to unbind any spells he was in range of.
*Edit: Apparently, the number of powers that a psyker can deny (unbind) is specified on their datasheet, so it looks like most can only deny one psychic powerin the phase after all.
40K can probably get away with placing the psychic phase after the movement phase because the psychic phase is only for casting psychic abilities, but the Age of Sigmar includes command abilities, spells, and unit abilities that all occur in the hero phase. Having a skeleton unit's banner replace slain warriors after the unit has already moved would function quite differently than if it happens in the hero phase. A lot of that can probably be changed to simply read "at the start of the turn" or "at the start of the movement phase."
Now we come to the most contentious point– shooting into or out of combat. I don't mind it in the game, and honestly, I was expecting units to fire point blank in 40K as well, but I can see the value in not allowing units to shoot into combat. (At least 40K allows pistols to be fired in close combat.)
Shooting armies seem to be on the rise in Age of Sigmar, and having a way to curtail their fire would be fine with me. I do appreciate the fact that characters cannot e targeted in 40K unless they are the closest visible target. That is something I'd like to see brought into Age of Sigmar. With the right shooting list (particularly one that includes units that dish out automatic mortal wounds) it can e very easy to snipe enemy Heroes. And with true line of sight, it's nearly impossible to screen them behind friendly models.
To Hit and To Wound
Models still have a flat "to hit" stat for Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill, but 40K uses Strength vs Toughness for the wound rolls, and I prefer that to the flat "to wound" value in Age of Sigmar. All those shooty lists (looking at you, Kunnin Rukk!) probably wouldn't be as effective if those arrows needed 6s to wound tougher targets.
The 40K charge phase requires charging units to declare specific targets for the charge, and allows those targets to fire Overwatch at the incoming chargers. A stand-and-shoot option would be very appropriate for the fantasy setting, and would help retain the balance if the unit was no longer going to be able to shoot while engaged in combat.
Chargers only need to get within 1-inch, meaning that close units should never be prevented from reaching their targets. The Heroic Intervention is also a great feature, since characters can't join units. It's basically the same as Age of Sigmar, since they'd be in the combat anyway if they were within 3-inches. This rule is necessary since combat eligibility has been reduced to 1-inch.
There are no weapon ranges; models fight if they are within 1" of an enemy or if they're within 1" of a friendly model who is fighting. I was hoping that this would make the combat measurements less fiddly, but I think it will work out the be the same. There are still 3-inch pile-in moves, and they you're measuring to enemies, and models who are within range of enemies... It's probably just as fiddly, which is one of my biggest issues with Age of Sigmar.
I really like that chargers all fight first, and then the players alternate selecting units to fight. That should at least speed up the I-go-you-go process of the combat phase. It should play out that the charging player attacks with most of his units, then there will only be a couple choices to make, and the receiving player will finish up with the rest of his units.
The consolidation move is a nice way to finish up the combat and take up better positions, but I fear it will just be more fiddly measurements, which might prolong the fight phase (and after they worked so hard to speed it up).
Really surprised this wasn't called "battleshock." That sounded like genuine 40K terminology. This phase works exactly the same as Age of Sigmar, but without the added benefit of an Inspiring Presence ability (unless some of the commanders have a similar rule; I haven't gone through the datasheets yet).
These rules look great, and I sincerely hope some of the changes make it into the next iteration of Age of Sigmar. I'm really looking forward to playing some 40K games, but that's probably not going to be for a while. Maybe a "proper" Space Marine codex will be out by then. Please bear with me during this dry spell for my blog, I assure you, there will be some really cool terrain to show off when it's finished. But for now, back to work!