Monday, June 25, 2012
40K 6th Edition: part one
I'd like to start a conversation here regarding the changes to Warhammer 40K that are imminent with the sixth edition, to be released on 30 June.
Everybody's well aware, I think, of most of the main changes - the return of overwatch, Warlord traits, allies, taking fortifications as part of the army list. But one change that surprised me is, in my mind, more fundamental to the way the game plays than any of these.
It's casualty removal. Remember how the sergeant or the guy with the power fist is always the last of the squad to die? Well, unless you deploy your squad very carefully this might be a thing of the past. From now on, casualties are removed from the front of the squad, presumably starting with the model closest to the firing enemy unit. (Although I've not seen the actual text of the rule, it's confirmed by mention in several places in the latest White Dwarf).
I like the thinking behind this change. However, I also think it's going to lend itself to some very gamey tactics - that is, if you remember the rule as you're moving your squad! Players will be careful to have a lasgun-toting grunt a few mm in fronto of the meltagunner. And if the rule is forgotten, and a number of models appear equidistant from the shooter, this could cause friction in the game and, at the very least, one of the ubiquitous "50/50" dice offs that 40K practically introduced to the gaming lexicon.
A more elegant casualty selection solution, in my view, would have been to allow the shooting player to pick the first model to take a wound, under certain circumstances. For example, in our WW2/Modern ruleset, if a squad suffers more than 50% casualties in a single shooting phase, there is a 50% chance that the shooting player gets to choose the first model (and only the first model) to be removed. Otherwise, there is only a 1-in-6 chance of this happening, and the owning player removes all casualties. That represents the lucky hit on the squad leader or heavy weaponeer.
I can also see a pretty serious "transition" period where this rule is forgotten, or selectively remembered by the shooting player ;-)