Random musings on 40K

I’m going to hold forth a few opinions about 40K 6th edition here. First, I do not consider myself an expert on the 40K game by any stretch. I only have a grand total of twelve 5th edition and five 6th edition games under my belt. That said, I am an experienced gamer, and my history with miniatures gaming, including 40K, goes back 30+ years now (geez), so at least my opinions are informed by this experience.

First, I’ll say I really like 6th edition a lot, much more than 5th. The new game has a lot of tools geared for the way I like to play miniatures games, which is basically as 3D representations of a story. Yes, I’m Mr. Narrative gamer. For this reason, I think I find myself liking a lot of the things the more competitive 40K players dislike. I’ll comment on each.

Allies – Love it. And I like the way it was implemented in 6th. The “tiers” of allies and the way they work together was a smart move and it encourages either going into a game with a narrative, or supports developing one out of the game you’re playing. With allies you can certainly and more easily set up a game inspired by, say, one of the 40K novels. For example, I’m reading Know No Fear right now, and there is a great battle scene with the Ultramarines, Imperial Army (not Guard yet) and Adeptus Mechanicus on one side, and Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Daemons and Cultists on the other. This scene got me thinking about how to make a similar 40K scenario.

RCL (Random Charge Length) – Doesn’t bother me at all. Lots of minis games I have played have something similar. Stargrunt does and yeah, I’ve blown a a few charges in that game too. War is hell. The way I see the RCL question in 6th is, how much of a risk are you willing to take? If you simply play like you did in 5th and close to 6″ before charging, you will probably get in. Sure the dice may hose you, but the law of averages is on your side – you’re more likely to roll a 7 than anything else on 2d6.

Similarly, if you start your charge at a greater distance, well, that’s a risk/reward thing. You could try for a 12″ charge but really, you probably won’t get it. If you do, it’s awesome, right? Again, you most likely won’t. But ask yourself, in what situation would you take such an outrageous risk as that? Maybe the last turn of a game, and it’s the only chance you have of getting a dedicated CC unit into action where it might help? Sure, go for it. You declare, survive the overwatch, roll 2d6 and…wow, you got a 12! You’re in! You and your gaming buddies will remember that one won’t you!

Now, I understand how discouraging it is to be within, say, 4″ and roll snakeyes, leaving your dudes standing there like a bunch of chumps. But again, it was an unlikely result. And more than that, you can build your narrative from it. The Bloodletters were all set to rip into the IG, but they bricked and rolled snakeyes. What could explain that? Maybe the IG guys held them off with the strength of their faith in the Emperor? Maybe they did their regiment’s equivalent of a haka dance? Or maybe it was just the viccisitudes of Chaos? You decide.

RCL is like life – sometimes you suck, sometimes you rock.

Overwatch – Absolutely love it. Lotta 40K players seemed to have shat themselves when they first heard of this. But overwatch fire is a staple of many other wargames and I looked forward to it being in 40K. Nothing in 5th bothered me as much as watching a line of enemy troops come at me and not being able to react in a sensible (i.e. blasting them) way when they charged me.

Overwatch in 6th sounds scary but hey, you still need to roll a 6 to hit. Naturally this makes overwatch fire from large units more likely to cause damage and I’ve seen some moaning about this too. But my reply is, then why the hell are you charging a huge unit without thinning it down some first?

Overwatch in 6th instantly made the game more tactical and I like it. Overwatch and RCL also kind of go together. Say you declare your unit is charging from a distance of 6″. You lose a couple guys to the resulting overwatch fire and now your closest unit is 8″ away. In 5th, your charge was stopped right there, since you could only charge 6″. But now, when you roll for RCL, you still have a chance of getting to grips with the bastards.

Other observations – Seen a few comments about Power Fists being less useful now. I dunno, I had my Captain squish an Eldar Avatar’s head with one in a game a couple weeks ago, so they seem pretty good to me.

Same moaning about Power Swords being AP3. “They can’t kill Terminators!” So what? Hit the Terminators with something that can kill them! Terminators still die if you force enough saves on them. And that complaint sorta assumes that you’re always facing Terminators with your Power Sword armed units. These weapons will still ruin your day. I know I don’t want a unit of say, Bloodletters, getting a charge off on any of my units that isn’t a Terminator (which is most of them)!

Challenges – Perhaps the most ‘cinematic’ rule in the game and I like it. A few months back, Adan and I played a game that was set up to get the leaders of each army into personal combat with each other. We had to contrive that clash, but now, the rules encourage and support an event like that! Yay!

There are ways to mitigate challenges. If your opponent doesn’t declare one, you can. You can throw a scrub against the challenger as a sacrifice. But my approach at the moment is, challenge accepted! Go for it! Get that awesome fight going! If the scrub wins the fight, wow, super awesome! Plus this – if I issue a

challenge to your unit and you have a badass IC, and you decline the fight with that IC and send a scrub in his place, well, you may tarpit me or win, or whatever, but I still get to taunt you for having your IC run for the rear! Sure, there are times when having some other character take the challenge makes sense, but yeah, you big chicken, you knew you just couldn’t hang. 😛

Vehicles – Still don’t have enough games in to tell one way or the other, but I don’t think the changes to the vehicle rules are so terrible. Lotta people say vehicles don’t last as long but so far I see them lasting about as long as they always have. Some gripe that massed infantry fire from certain armies (like Necrons) will blow up vehicles. Well, if that big squad of ‘Crons is shooting at my Rhino, they aren’t shooting at my Marines and I’ll be seeing them soon enough.

I’ve already had the majority of the vehicles I’ve brought in my 6e games survive the entire battle. If anything, hull points seems to have prolonged their lives.

And being able to shoot on the move, yeah, I love it. Doesn’t matter if I need to roll a 6, I can still open up. Should’ve always been this way, as far as I’m concerned.

So, to sum up, I’m a fan of 40K 6th edition and the change it brings. As a “narrative” gamer, this new edition has a lot of things in it that I like. I am having fun with it and that’s really what I want to do most. I expect to play this a lot in the years ahead.

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