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a wargaming blog (plus some other stuff)

There is still Only War!

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Like many other Warhammer 40000 players, I picked up the 6th edition rulebook yesterday. So, it’s obviously a good opportunity to add my own mad thoughts to the chorus of reviews elsewhere on the interweb.

First impressions

OK, I’m obviously getting old because I don’t mind the hefty price tag, but I do rather wish this new rulebook was a lot lighter. As it is, this is about forty percent bigger than the previous version, and by all accounts, about a hundred pages longer than it needs to be.

We all know the baby version of the rulebook will be in the box set later in the year, but guys, it’s HUGE!

On the flip side, this book is a very complete introduction to the game, the background (although the eldar section was a bit lite), the models, and the hobby. Very complete.

The addition of the Dark Millennium appendix is a nice touch and a bit of a throw back to the old Rogue Trader days. I approve.

As always, Games Workshop’s artwork is absolutely top notch, and in particular I liked the pullout double page illustration of Holy Terra. This I is also the first main rulebook to be produced in full colour which is also very welcome and brings GW to similar production levels as their big two competitors.

Oh, and the book marker was a nice touch.

So in summary, very nice book, but completely impractical to haul around, especially if you attend lots of tournaments or events.

The Rules

This edition has a huge number of rules changes compared to fifth edition. Where fifth aimed to streamline and simplify the rules, a good thing in my books, 6th edition adds back in more complexity.

Although the basic mechanics are the same, I think some of the changes will make 40k a very different game.

One of the most fundamental changes is at the beginning of the book where we are now allowed to pre-measure any distance in the game. I’m not sure I like this, however it should remove some frustrating situations where models are just out of range to either shoot or assault.

This has led to number of other changes such as random charge distances, and then snap fire/overwatch rules to balance shootiness versus melee in the system. The certainly with movement/randomness to assault theme is carried through in the special rules and unit types. For example, Fleet now allows you to reroll charge distance but does not add to it. Similarly, beasts now move 12″ and charge the normal charge distance.

Close combat weapons now have an AP value, and for power weapons (and force weapons) this is only 3. Does anyone else think a resurgence of terminators and mega armoured nobs might be on the cards?

Casualty allocation has returned to the fourth edition rules, so only targets in LOS and range get killed, this is a good thing and makes a lot of sense. In assaults, we also seem to have some rules from WFB, namely challenges. Umm could be interesting…

Vehicles now have hull points. With the new chart, it is quite difficult to one-shot vehicles without AP1 weapons, however as you lose a hull point for each penetrating or glancing hit suffered, vehicles are a lot more fragile.  Eldar vehicles with holo fields are particularly nerfed so my pixies will be waiting until their new codex is available. On the other hand, Tau vehicles kind of win here as they can now jink and have disruption pods available.

Actually, the vehicle section is greatly expanded so we have Flyer rules along with Heavy Vehicles in addition to Tanks and Walkers. I sense Baneblades will be in the new Guard codex whenever that lands.

Without going into details, there are a lot of changes in the special rules. One of the most interesting for me is the change in Rage, where models with Rage just get a ‘+2 attacks’ bonus on the charge, and no silly problems with them running towards the closest enemy. This is great and means my Jump Pack Death Company will be rejoining my Blood Angels after a bit of an absence.

Anyway, there’s a lot of new stuff to learn in there so I will report back once I get around to playing a few games and actually reading the book in detail.

Army Building

Army construction has also been changed in sixth. We now have the option to purchase fortifications in addition to the normal Force Organisation Chart, and we also have Allies rules which is rather nice. For example, I think my Tau might be using a Farseer and some jetbikes for now on. I expect most tournaments will restrict players to just the normal FOC, however it is nice to have options and it is a good way of starting a new army.

At the end of the book we also have updated stats for everything in the game, which is handy for vehicles which have a few new stats and abilities.

Games Workshop have also updated their FAQs for all codexes. I suspect there will be a lot of abnormalities until all the codexes are rewritten. Thankfully Eldar and Tau should be earlier on in that process.

The Verdict

As always, GW have put out a fantastic looking rulebook filled with great artwork. Presentation wise, I think this book is a step forward and reminds me of the latest Imperial Armour books, and with a similar price tag.

Rules wise, I think I will like it. It is certainly nice to see some new things such as allies and fortifications, although I’m not particularly fussed about the battlefield terrain tables. The list of special rules seems to be pretty comprehensive, which is a good start, as it the detailed rules breakdowns for different unit and vehicle types. I do think that balance wise, there will be a few problems. This said I always have Warmachine available if I want to play a more balanced game.

Given the size of this tome, a small format ‘rules only’ version of the book would be very much appreciated, ESPECIALLY if available separately, so Games Workshop, please take note!

For me, it looks like my Eldar will really suffer, whilst my Blood Angels and especially my Tau probably gain a little. I’m quite happy with this, because it would be nice to break out both of these armies (neither has seen a battlefield for a couple of years).

So, all things considered I am pleasantly surprised by sixth edition. This said, I’m still going to be playing Warmachine all summer!

Until next time, happy gaming!

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