July 20, 2012
The first thing I was struck with upon receiving my book was 'Woah - this thing is HEAVY!' The tome is over 450 pages of high gloss stock sandwiched between heavy duty covers and weighs over 4 pounds (which is more than my laptop). As you would expect, the book is beautifully illustrated with artwork and crammed full of fantastically painted models. Too much of the art is recycled for my taste, but I suppose the thing would have been the cost of small car if they used all new art. There are multiple fold out pages that have simply amazing Apocalypse level scenes of models and terrain. The rules only take up about 120 pages and include lots of examples, photos, etc. There is a new sidebar found throughout called 'Forging a Narrative' that gives loads of ideas on using the rules to add story elements to your game.
The next two-thirds of the book is fluff on the 40k universe and the armies that inhabit it, lavishly illustrated with 'Eavy Metal models. I kind of wish GW would put out two books - one with the rules and a companion book with the rest. I LOVE the background and history that comes with 40k, but I'd rather not have to muscle around this mammoth book at the game table. I'm sure the box set due out later this year will have the streamlined paperback mini book like last edition and I'll have to grab one from ebay.
The final section of the book is hobby related - painting, advice on campaigns, and scenario ideas. One of these includes the 500-point 'Battleforce Recon' mission for one hour games and a side bar called Suicide Squads for 200-point skirmish games. Every model counts as an Independent Character and you ignore Unit Coherency, Break Tests for 25% casualties, and the like.
So what's new? Here are a few things:
The core rules now include rules for aircraft so you can have air to ground assaults (and even air to air dogfights) in addition to the deep strike capabilities many of these vehicles afforded in the past. Again, not deep analysis, but these seem a little over powered at the moment. Flyers moving full out are hard to take down without dedicated Skyfire weapons and for the time being only Imperial Guard have the option to take these. I'm sure as new codices roll out options will increase. The cynical side of me thinks GW wants to sell more models by making flyers something you need in your army to compete. If I want to outfit my current collection of five armies with air support, I'm looking at HUNDREDS of dollars to add one or two models to each force! You can safely ignore flyers if you are not playing in tournaments unless one of your 'friendly' group starts the arms race...
A new slot in the force list (HQ, Elites, Troops, etc) is Fortifications, effectively giving you the chance to add defensive terrain as part of your army (and coincidentally encouraging the sale again of more models). I haven't played any games with fortifications, but it seems like they are easily destroyed by troops armed with Melta Weapons and you might be better served by adding extra troops instead. However, there is a 50-point choice of an Aegis Defense Line (basically barricades) that allows you to place a line of cover that might be a good choice. You can upgrade Fortifications (including the Aegis Defense Line) with Skyfire weapons to help combat those pesky fliers. Of course, GW only offers Imperial buildings at this time. These are easily converted to Chaos or Ork fortifications, but you'll have to break bad with your modeling skills for Eldar, Tyranids, and the like to include them in these armies (or come up with a narrative of why your Aspect Warriors are slumming in Fortress of Redemption).
Vehicles have been changed to include a new mechanic called Hull Points. Glancing Hits no longer result in a roll on a chart (and thus no longer end up with your vehicle as a smoking wreck from a lucky shot). A Glancing Hit simply deducts a Hull Point. Penetrating Hits also deduct a Hull Point and give a roll on a damage chart. If you run out of Hull Points, your vehicle is Wrecked, effectively coming a piece of terrain. Again, not deep analysis, but as most vehicles only have three Hull Points, it seems like concentrated fire will reduce one vehicle to terrain each turn. Vehicles have gotten a boost with the ability to move and fire more weapons than last edition so maybe the added maneuverability and smart play will compensate for what seems to be weaker tanks.
Warhammer Fantasy has had this rule for years. You can basically use your big-bad to single out your opponent's big-bad for a one-on-one in close combat. This is suppose to add a new dimension of heroism to the game with epic boss fights, but I think it simply encourages piling on extra junk on your characters. On the plus side, you can sacrifice a sergeant to one of these beasts to keep it from rampaging through your whole unit.
Ok - there's a lot more and a lot of subtle stuff (like random charge distances), but this post is long enough. The bottom line is it's still 40k. The basics are the same and only time will tell (or one of the Mathhammer lot) how the changes effect the balance of the game over the long term. In my inexpert opinion, infantry will be more important in 6th than it was in 5th which seems good for the way I build armies.
Next Friday I'll have an update on my Tale of One Gamer project...