- Victory points. Three for objectives, one for secondaries, with a tiebreaker of First Blood baked in. This is huge, as it gave T.O.s more room to play with interesting mission designs, and players a much easier way to play a tournament level game at their home table. I'll toss in here that our number of missions doubled, bringing in newcomers of the scouring, big guns, and the relic.
- Torrent of fire. Gone are the days of allocating your own wounds, and it now matters where you place your dudes. This is huge tactically.
- Vehicle rework. This covers everything from how they get cover (25% obscured? That's a 5+), hull points, AP modifying damage results, explosion strength (sorry DEldar), and disembarkation.
- Allies. The ability to take units from multiple books, great for those of us who always wanted traitor guard or for our CSM to summon Daemons. Equal parts marketing tool and way to prop up failing armies.
- Randomness. What do I mean here? The significant amount of additional die rolls. There's the split between choice of deployment zones, and choice of first turn, warlord trait, mysterious objectives, psychic powers, and so much more. Sometimes dice are rolled to see how many dice are rolled. That adds a lot of time and more charts and tables to the game.
- Characters. These brought with them challenges and "Look out, sir!", as well as precision shot.
- Flying. This includes both vehicles and monstrous creatures. With this came snap shots, something that cascades into the vehicle rework and other things. Oh, and there's skyfire too!
- Assault rework. This brings hammer of wrath, mods to jump infantry and other unit types, and combines the above mentioned snap shot to grant overwatch. Oh, and random charge distance. Some things modify that but it's still there, for better and worse. There's also the addition of "Our weapons are useless." allowing units to choose to flee against enemies they can't hurt. Sure, they still get the chance to sweeping advance, but no more being tied up for years by an Ironclad or Furioso. On the whole though, this was a nerf, forcing armies to get overwatched and allowing their enemy at least one turn of full ballistics fire against a charging unit almost guaranteed.
- Cover rework. Gone are the days of standardized 4+. Ruins are directional, area is down to a 5+, and going to ground is min/max'd into 2+ cover. And gone to ground units can snap fire. Monstrous creatures claim cover as infantry. There's also jink, a baked in cover save for bikes, skimmers, and flying things under certain conditions.
- Interceptor. The ability to fire on enemy reserves before they get to fire on you is beyond devastating.
- Stronghold Assault, Buildings. The ability to play with destructible terrain out of the BRB in tandem with the ability to buy additional structures (with guns) is pretty big. If tables were a bit too sparse for the liking of your army, you could remedy that. For a price.
- Escalation, Lords of War. Adding apocalypse sized toys to standard play, another exciting step into "if we make a model, you can play with it". For those players forging a narrative, there's some exciting implications with all that that trend entails.
And now for the subtle wording shifts that didn't redefine the game, so much as come to exist as a result of a needed FAQ or larger scale macro changes.
- Rapid fire. This was the biggest update to try to make rank and file infantry more viable. Moveing no longer forced the firer to "double tap" at 12".
- Night fight. This was a change from rolling random distance to fixed cover save mods. Oddly, one of the few "less random" changes.
- Break tests. Units are always allowed to attempt to regroup, even when enemies are within 6". If you're under 25%, it takes snake eyes, but you're allowed to roll for it. Unless there's an independent character attached. Then you regroup on their leadership.
- Grenades. These can be thrown as a ranged weapon and used in CC against monsters, both handy new abilities. Oh, and defensive grenades up your cover save at close ranges. Woo Tau!
- Artillery. No longer a vehicle, and due to torrent of fire, hits are no longer randomly distributed. Huge boost to the playability of the TFC and Big Guns for Orks.
- USRs. ATSKNF got big rulebook'd, FnP got updated (only stopped by ID, reduced to a 5+), two new rules with Blind and Fear (both mostly useless and highly overvalued by GW).
- The Armory. Codices now have points for wargear all in one place, and have unique special "one per army" items, at least one of which are almost always too good to ignore.
- Deployment changes. Gone is the awful dawn of war deployment (replaced with short edge deployment) and spearhead has been "rebalanced" into the triangles of vanguard strike we have at present.
There's that. The list is a lot bigger than it seems, at least from my perspective, and trying to roll into the new game felt natural on release day. So, what, in my opinion, was or wasn't successful out of those big lists of changes?
- Vehicle rework. This is really really debatable as there are those who don't like that a series of "glancing blows" can just knock down a vehicle, but it's better than what we had in 5th where a vehicle was either alive or dead in a single lucky shot. The lucky shot is still out there, but most armies are going to try to glance you out, which means that there's more LOS blocking hulls floating around, and fewer explosion rolls to cope with. On the whole, I'm a big fan.
- Torrent of fire. We're using models that have to be modeled with specific wargear, why (until now) didn't it matter where you placed them? This adds tactical depth, which is much appreciated.
- Cover rework. Defining ruins as directional and making area terrain a 5+ was a big move. It's personal bias but it was really obnoxious to play my marines against non-marine army X just to have them say "well, you ignore my armor save, but I'll take a 4+ cover save" was a real kick in the 'nads. Making most cover a 5+ went a long way to balancing those armies that start in 5+ or worse.
- Allies. I love allies, both as a roleplaying tool, as well as a balancer to try to prop up weaker books. Not just that, but if you were going to start a new army, what better way to help get them on the table sooner than by allowing you to slip in what models you have alongside your existing army. Traitor guard became a big thing, and my sorcerous Chaos Marines can summon up some Daemonic allies.
But, with every list of success, there should be consideration given to conducting a similar examination so as to determine a list of failings, to determine what one hopes to see addressed not only personally, but on a broader scale as well.
- Infantry. This isn't so much a failing of the core ruleset, but a failing of the codices (we'll get to those in a brief moment). Each book brought with it another impeccable tool for eradicating infantry. Most of the time it came mated to the Ignores Cover special rule, but not always. Nevertheless, the fact that each book progressively became better and better at killing scoring choices meant that instead of seeing 3-4 troops choices in a list (since troops got cheaper and objectives mattered more), players scraped together every point they could save, to dump them into, you guessed it, the stuff that kills infantry.
- Psychic powers. So, when we overhauled the way psykers generate their psychic powers, two or three tables rose head and shoulders above the rest: Divination and Telepathy, with monstrous creatures rolling on Biomancy. Ignoring the weaknesses of the Pyromancy and Telekinesis tables, the fact is that Telepathy and Divination are hugely powerful. Between the two of them, they have more game defining powers than all of the 5th edition codices combined (going under the assumption that there were 3-4 big powers from 5th: Null Zone, Weaken Resolve, JotWW, and Blood Lance). Divination contains the primaris power Prescience, as well as Perfect Timing, Misfortune, and Forewarning. Telepathy has Hallucination and Invisibility, and the primaris power Psychic Shriek. In addition to the psychic powers getting more powerful (and prevalent, thanks multiple mastery levels for cheap!), codices got fewer ways to interact with them. Specifically, against shooting attacks and debuffs, most units have to pray for the magic '6' to show up on the die to stop those powers. If you want to stop the other guy's buff powers, you have to be Tyranids and bring the right bug close enough, praying for a miscast, or be the super special Space Wolves who got to keep their Runic weapons, while all other Space Marine chapters "lost" their psychic hoods. This is a classic case of changing too many variables at once, and everything going to hell in a hurry. And that doesn't even consider the Eldar's powers.
- Cover rework. Yes, this was a major success of 6th edition, but a bad hole in the wording allows a unit that's gone to ground to potentially claim a 2+ cover save. Never minding that pinned units can still fire snap shots, making it challenging to deny a unit's fire output.
- Allies. Marines with marines battle brothers, whatever. It's mostly redundant anyway. Eldar/Dark Eldar?! What?! Tau brothers with Space Marines and still yellow with CSM?! There's a line between "propping up weaker books" and "damaging the game" and we've clearly passed it. Generally speaking, units in books are costed (hopefully) in accordance with what's available to them in their own book. Splicing in the ability to cross psychic powers and various one to many USRs between units and books was going to end up a recipe for disaster in the long run. For GW, that meant about a calendar year, as I hope we all remember the summer of TauDar.
- Codices. And herein, as the bard would tell us, lies the rub. The core ruleset does at least as many things right as it does wrong. But the codices is where everything truly ends up amiss. I'll delve into specifics below, but in summary, the BRB picked up a lot more USRs. And the codices continues to have more rules that were crazier and more over the top. Kind of defeats the purpose of consolidation.
With the BRB evaluated top to bottom, now comes judgement day for the codices proper. We'll be going in release order.
- CSM. In a shift from the norm, we didn't open 6th edition with Big Blue, but rather, the bad guys. They did an okay job kicking things off, with rules changing for cult troops (marked HQ and primary detachment required), marks, and icons. Iron Warriors got the warpsmith and dinobots, Word Bearers got cultists and the dark apostle, Night Lords got warp talons, and Alpha Legion got the shaft. On the whole, the book saw buffs to Slaanesh, and Nurgle remained constant. Khorne and Tzeentch got nerfed, with the unique Tzeentch psychic table taking the cake for "worst discipline in the game". Biggest problems ended up being the two must-take relics (burning brand and black mace), the baleflamer toting heldrake (remember that whole eradicate infantry problem? not a good start here), and the ability to shotgun 6 dice at telepathy in a desperate attempt to grab invisibility and/or hallucinate.
- DA. These guys were about on par with Chaos. Their native troops were "trash" (boo stubborn) but their swaps were stronger for the most part, even at the added expense. Their flyer was trash (a trend of overcompensation stemming from the baledrake), but their banners were great, as were their big three named characters (Ezekiel was no slouch either). They got rad grenades to make their plasma affinity more bearable, and saw two new "elite elite" units in their knights. A solid release, if a little bland or underwhelming in certain ways; at least, after the FAQ hammered down the power field shenanigans.
- Daemons. This was a dual release across Fantasy and 40k, and the army is now approximately the same across both systems. It's now a horde army, not dissimilar from Tyranids (lots of little 'uns and a few psychic big 'uns). That said, their core concept still ignores large swaths of the big rulebook (mostly fearless, invulnerable saves or better cover abound), which means means its still not balanced. Tzeentch and Nurgle take the cake here, with rerolled saves and divination access on the former, and stealth/shrouded combo on the latter. Fateweaver got "rebalanced" but you still see him all the time because of the must take relic (Grimoire of True Names) that lets units work their way up to a rerolling 2++. On the whole, their relics and rewards system makes them random like CSM, but in the good way, since you can always opt out to something solid, making CSM just look like a disappointment. The army also picks up something called the Warpstorm, which opens up infinite range unstoppable shooting attacks, which is super interactive (/sarcasm). It keeps winning major events, no matter what they do with it, suggesting that they still don't know how to balance this army.
- Tau. This codex got a minimal rework, but the gist of it was a buff to suits and ethereals. Suits have baked in blacksun filters (immunity to blind and night fight) and multi trackers (fire an extra weapon in the shooting phase), and the ethereal is a pseudo-psyker, handing out buffs without the chance to table your own army if slain. Broadsides got a weapons rework, exposing the codex to a newfound weakness to AV14 (explaining the fusion gun buff), but granting them access to a metahammer of dakka in the form of twinlinked 4 shot autocannons. The codex got new suit systems, in addition to toggle skyfire, and interceptor. And our first "Knight class" model in the Riptide, leading to "Trip 'Tide" list construction as the model rapidly showed its self to administer devastating firepower, mated to a nigh indestructible chassis. Markerlights are in many more places than only attached to pathfinders, and the codex is simultaneously less reliant on them. Fire warriors got defensive grenades, and the codex got its own special rule (supporting fire), the combination of which does much to reduce the weakness to assault. Likewise, the codex continues the trend of awkward and or disappointing flyers, as the fighter is underwhelming, and the bomber does better in dogfights (even though a typo says that it has no bombs). The codex saw 2 new named characters, and significant buffs to the existing three (plus the return of Aun'shi). The last thing to note about the codex is the presence of "that guy", and no, I don't mean the player. The codex has three relics that for an impossibly cheap price offer twin linked, reroll to wound/armor pen, and ignores cover, no dice rolling required, and the only chance to stop it is to off the carrier (possibly difficult as he can easily end up in 2+/4++ with T5 and 4 wounds).
- Eldar. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you what I'll consider the best all around codex in the game. Easier to play and less random than Daemons, and stronger than Tau. The army got a sizable buff in the form of its new Battle Focus special rule, turning it into an army of jet pack infantry. Not just that, but their shuriken weapons got "rending", making for a nice counterpoint to Necron gauss. Past that, the codex saw general points savings, and rebalancing of the aspects against one another, the induction of the wraithknight (duct tape two wraithlords together and you've got it), an easement on how to make wraiths troops, and options for CC wraiths, in addition to D scythes for regular guard (woo ap2 flamers). There were a few relics which are useful for your solo allied HQ, but nothing too mind blowing. The book had "okay" flyers (a first since the baledrake) And then there's the two biggest things: Wave serpents and psychic powers. The serpent shield is the perfect meta tool, allowing players to look at lists still designed to pen vehicles and tell them "No." and against glance out lists, they gain d6+1 S7 shots that ignore cover. Add to that the fact that scatter lasers twin link all the other guns from the firer, and that's a mess of "magic" strength dice, mated to a very very durable chassis. For what you pay, it's one of the best bargains in the game right now. And then there's the psychic powers. For a scant few points more than a ML2 marine psyker, you can get a farseer. Baked in invulnerable save? Check. Three wounds? Check. Way to mitigate perils baked in? Check. Add to this the unique Runes of Fate table, with a primaris power that allows you to twin link a unit's shooting, as well as Doom and Fortune (plus Divination access) and Farseers are once again top of the heap for psykers, and by a wide margin. Warlocks also get their own psychic table, which can turn on or off shrouded for a unit (woo seerstar), as well as give wounds back to damaged units (why won't that Wraithknight die?!), and buff/debuff armor save values (smells like fantasy). See what I meant about "best all around book"? All it costs is rolling a ton of dice (long games ahoy!).
- Space Marines. This codex came out after a large bubble of Apocalypse and Fantasy (thus the summer of TauDar), and many players, such as yours truly, were wondering what exactly would become of the book. There had been a high power trend earlier that calendar year, but the two power armor books show before that were looking... less than stellar. But this book brought wonderful fluffy diversification relative to its predecessor through the new chapter tactics system (mostly balanced forbidding White Scars), and a new breed of weapon: Grav. Grav was custom built to down the big nasty knight class models from Tau and Eldar, but outside of that specialized task, it was generally less stellar than Plasma, except for the fact that the rules for the weapon were so poorly written on their first pass (thanks Cruddace) that they've needed a FAQ since they released to answer how they wound multiple save values, as well as their interactions with vehicles and cover/invulnerable saves. The book only saw two new units release: Hunter/Stalker (bad) and Centurions (okay). But that was alright as Legion of the Damned picked up ignores cover (including on their relentless plasma weapons). There was also the artillery rework on the Thunderfire Cannon (which got updated with barrage). But the big damaging thing for the book was the points drop on bikes. If Ravenwing were "okay", blue bikes are "nuts". Massive points savings. Relentless for Grav. And the ability to take the best duelist in the game (chapter master with Shield Eternal). The Stormtalon is actually pretty good, again, the first flyer you'll actually see fielded by a 6th edition book other than CSM. All in all, a good book, if one outshone by the three that preceded it.
- Tyranids. If Marines were working to dial back the power level of the other three books, Tyranids spiked it. GW overcorrected not only for an assessment of "book that's going to capitalize on the best parts of 6th" but also for "Daemons are too good, let's not make that mistake again". Realistically, I can buy that in a group think situation, a book full of monstrous creatures and cheap as chips infantry, could appear too strong, especially when considered in a vacuum. And that's how we ended up here. The book is the only whose psychic MCs can't roll on biomancy, still struggles with ranged engagements, and has no idea what an invulnerable save is. There were some strong buffs, such as flyrants (compensating for lack of biomancy), Mawlocs (so that they compete with the Exocrine), and Venomthropes (compensating for lack of innate durability). Each of these was well and good, but they also came mated to a nerf to synapse, making leaving synapse range even more punishing than before. Likewise, for an edition that has focused on shooting with a significant nerf to assault, focusing on fast assault units, speed comes at the steep price of durability for this codex. The biggest disappointment is that their "knight class" kit - the dual flyer box - is so laughable that it dies to a single round of assault from a tactical squad. Over time, there have been a few "patches" to the codex in the form of dataslates, but it still remains one of the most challenging books to play out of, not only in terms of tactical requirements, but also in terms of financial commitment.
- Imperial Knights. This codex is the first brand new army we've seen in some time, which is great. The less great part of it is that it has been just about the most controversial codex release ever. Even more so than Grey Knights or Necrons back in the days of 5th edition. This is because the codex cosists entirely of scoring super heavy walkers which are equipped with strength D close combat weapons. Did you bring enough anti-mech? No? Guess I just win this game. Your troops? Unless they're Necrons or your marines brought AT weapons, they're useless. The codex has driven a further wedge into the list building phase, in that it further emphasizes the impossibility of writing a balanced list. Bringing weapons which adequately cope with knights will cause a list to struggle against Daemons, Tau, and Tyranids. A single Knight has about the points efficiency and potency of a Riptide or Wraithknight (per point) but allowing for a whole army of 5 of them to be scoring seems less than wise.
- Militarum Tempestus. On the heels of Imperial Knights came another new army. Kind of. The Militarum Tempestus and their rebranded Scions (formerly Stormtroopers) got their own book consisting entirely of themselves and their new transport, the Taurox (Prime too). This release was a major anomaly in that not unlike Legion of the Damned or the Inquisition (codices consisting entirely of a small subset of units from a larger parent codex), MT saw only a physical release, which is even stranger given that most other codices saw some manner of digital release in parallel with their physical release. There's been some whispers of this being a limited release codex, and that's the strangest part of it all: the notion that only a few thousand people could legally run the army. Past that, unlike Inquisition or LotD, the only way to get this codex to not take up your allies socket is through use of the included dataslates, which in some areas you can't bring without it being your primary army. By far, this release was the weirdest.
- Astra Militarum. This is the rebranded Imperial Guard, brought forth as a result of some legal battles started by GW pertaining to various names, words, and phrases. On the whole, this codex release was a minor rework, involving releasing plastic kits for some units, and removing those units which didn't have models. Disappointing for generals which had converted or put significant love into those choices, but generally speaking the rework was worth it, allowing the codex to shine a little more evenly in terms avoiding that 5th edition syndrome of "X is Y but better in every way". The Vendetta got a nerf, as did the Hydra, and the codex see its infantry decimating weapon in the form of the Wyvern. There's been some splitting of hairs regarding the Chimera and the Taurox, and Ogryns released into outdating themselves with their counterpart Bullgryns (which in turn are outdated by Knights). The book also saw a buff to acquisition of support personnel in terms of primaris psykers and techpriests. Orders also got expanded to try to emphasize infantry over tanks, and yet the HQ section also allows for bringing a Tank Commander, who is eligible to be your warlord. Our big relic here is a bubble of preferred enemy. Otherwise, the biggest thing is that this book dethroned Tau for having the best warlord traits.
Wow that's a mess of codices. Some people have complained that there's 6 codices yet to be updated on the eve of our new BRB, but the fact that we've seen 8 regular codices, 2 new, and a direct digital update to an army (even if discounting that Templar are in the Codex now), that's as many new codices in two years as were updated in all of 5th edition. GW really stepped it up this time around. Some people were overwhelmed by the flurry of updates, but I was delighted. Having come from games where product releases faster than once a quarter, the two codices a year format felt really slow.
And there's not just the codices themselves. This edition also saw Codex Supplements, allowing sometimes drastic play variants on a codex. Sure they cost you a whopping $50 for about two pages of rules, but for those who love playing a specific warband or craftworld, these were a godsend. Without further ado, here they are.
- Iyanden. Our first supplement was very very conservative in terms of the changes to its parent codex. The Warlock council changed to Spiritseers and you got the ability to take a Wraithknight as you warlord, as well as to grant battle focus to your Wraiths. Nice, fun, and fluffy for an army that's all about Wraith-nouns.
- Farsight. Farsight is by far the most drastic supplement. The troop swap (crisis suits) would be replicated in other books, as well as the mandatory "cost" (bonding knives) to play out of the supplement. But where the book ended up truly divergent was the inclusion of the named characters (whose wargear allowed you to "cross the streams"), as well as a pair of relics combating the biggest weaknesses of the Riptide (Jaws and melting its self). For those who looked to play Tau for their gundams, the book was a huge boon. The problem was that it came paired with the ability to ally with the parent codex, meaning that the tournament impact was immediate, with players now able to squeeze in ~5 riptides.
- Black Legion. This supplement aimed to play up the BBEG of CSM: Abbadon. Chosen as troops, and bringing Abbadon himself allows you to grab some WS BS 5 terminators to party with him. The cost of all this craziness was VotLW on everyone, but that's not too bad. The relics were solid, and worth considering as an alternative to the regular ones. The problem with this book though, like Farsight, was that it could ally with the parent codex, making for 4 Baledrakes flying around.
- Sentinels of Terra. Easily the worse supplement we've seen yet, the Sentinels of Terra let you squeeze in more centurions if you so desired (odds are you probably don't), and changed out siege experts into blitzers. The relics are ignorable, and the only character we got is the ability to take a tactical squad (with a captain for the sergeant) as a HQ. Ick.
- Clan Raukann. On the complete opposite end of that spectrum came Clan Raukan, where we got a relic that was TSE 2.0 (Chains of the Gorgon) and a few nice gribblets to try to make Dreadnoughts more viable.Sadly, there were no characters here, but that didn't keep the book from being worth considering.
- Crimson Slaughter. If the above supplements were well established spin-off factions (in the fluff sense), Crimson Slaughter came completely out of
left fieldDark Vengeance.
Following all that is the broad banner of direct to digital releases. This covers the whole range from codices to dataslates.
- Adepta Sororitas. This was a full codex update, taking the army away from the WD "codex" and bringing it into 6th, complete with an update to points costs, relics, and a warlord traits table. You still don't see them played due to lack of model support, but that's another issue in tandem with the middling at best power level of the book. No flyer support is kind of a kick in the teeth.
- Inquisition. Take all the inquisitorial stuffs out of the GK codex, and cut Inquisitor Valeria (no model!). Add in warlord traits, relics, and the fact that they don't take your allies socket, are battle brothers with all of the Imperium (woo Coteaz casting for IF las devs!), and an inquisitor can be your warlord. As per my latest tournament report, this is really being used to prop up / supercharge Imperial armies as Coteaz is way too good to ignore.
- Legion of the Damned. Now your Imperial army can take this Space Marine unit without giving up their allies. It can be your primary, but compels you to take allies if that's what you're after. It's not special, but it exists.
- Be'Lakor. This formerly fantasy only Daemon Prince has his first set of 40k rules, courtesy of the advent calendar dataslate. It's an HQ option for either Daemons or CSM, with a custom warlord trait (revolving around fear). This "unaligned" Prince has eternal warrior, and shrouded, mated to knowing all the telepathy powers, all for a very reasonable price. Expect to see this guy, especially at larger events. Removing the randomness from one of the two most powerful psychic tables is very very strong.
- Tau Firebase Support Cadre. So, remember how Tau got those Broadsides and that Riptide? You want one too without taking up your allies slot? Enter the dataslate. The models gain Tank hunters (for free) and gain Preferred Enemy: Space Marines (defined the same way as VotLW) in exchange for surrendering to the Space Marines Hatred: Firebase Support Cadre. This is super damaging in almost every case, not only for the Tau having to surrender their special toys, but for everyone else getting their toys. The best shooting units in a shooting edition? Yikes.
- Adeptus Astartes Storm Wing. Two storm talons and a storm raven, all to share strafing run with the raven, and allow the whole formation to come in with a single reserve roll. It's a cute trick, but you won't see it without a player committed to running a raven instead of just three talons.
- Eldar Ghost Warriors. With this formation, you take a bunch of wraith stuff (no dedicated transports allowed) and firing over/through them gives 4+ cover instead of 5+, but only to Eldar. That whole no transports allowed thing? Kind of a deal breaker for all the short ranged infantry that the formation requires.
- Reclusiam Command Squad. It's a Chaplain. With a Command Squad. In a Razorback. So, an assault focused model, and rule. In a shooting focused codex, transport, and unit.
- Cypher. This was our Christmas present from GW and all in all, it's pretty impressive. The model himself got solid rules, and his formation allows him to bring Chosen with ATSKNF. If you've got friend who play Dark Angels, consider running him to mix things up a little, as he makes for a fun addition, but on the whole, the knock to your warlord's leadership might dissuade more than a few people.
- Tyrannic War Veterans. Wow. I'm not entirely sure why you don't see this one more often, especially since people do play Ultras. Take a bunch of sternguard and allow them to give ignores cover to a bunch of Storm Talons.
- Helbrutes. Released to support the new plastic kit, this dataslate did a lot to make dreadnoughts viable in the CSM codex, remedying their biggest weakness: lack of gap closer. There's also some fun stuff in terms of cultists worshiping a 'brute and throwing themselves in front of oncoming fire for him.
- Rising Leviathan (I, II, III). So, remember how I mentioned that the Tyranid codex got some DLC that really dialed it up? Three big fat dataslates, each of which focused on a different size of bug and stage of a Tyranid invasion. The first was all about Genestealers and Lictors, allowing tighter infiltrate ranges and a few other negligible perks based on what you take. It's not a bad slate, and definitely gave a boost to those armies or players who wanted to run lots of 'stealers. The second slate is the one you hear the most about, and revolves around primarily small and midrange bugs, but there's a few big ones in there for good measure. You've got your run of the mill endless swarm stuff and warrior synapse node stuff, but by far the biggest thing here was the skyblight swarm, which allowed for units of gargoyles not only to score, but to score regardless of an enemy's attempt at contesting. And there's a chance that those gargoyles come back when destroyed. Oh, and the rest of the list around those gargoyles is 7 FMCs. Isn't this fun? The third dataslate received little fanfare, as its work towards making certain big bugs more viable simply wasn't effective.
Perhaps its telling that we haven't received any significantly sized dataslates since the Tyranid series finished, either indicating "all hands on deck" for codices, or possibly that the business model wasn't paying off as planned. Whatever the case, there were at least as many positives that came out of the 'slates (Cypher, Be'Lakor) as there were damaging formations (Firebase, Skyblight), so the odds of hem continuing are about 50/50 unless the profit margin isn't there (it is).
6th edition also brought with it updates to the "spin off" rule sets of editions past, with variant rules covering games both big and small (or just multi-player).
Expanded and Updated Rule Sets
- Apocalypse. This was a well established rule set that had aged well beyond the point of being playable. It was originally written for 4th, and limped through 5th, before finally getting its much needed update last summer (bringing two new plastic super heavy kits in tow). This is designed for 3k+ a player, and absolutely no holds barred. Strength D got overhauled, we saw new templates released, and a massive rework was applied to strategic assets and formations. The assets aren't any more balanced, but they're easier to use and understand. The formations feel logical, organic, and relatively speaking balanced, which is in and of its self very exciting. Space Marine battle companies are structured and rewarded, and most every faction has a similar such formation (in addition to countless others). If you haven't gotten the chance to let your hair down and try out this ruleset, there's probably a game being played at a FLGS every 1-3 months in your area. I'll almost guarantee it.
- Kill Team. This takes us in the completely opposite direction of the above rule set. Kill team centers around 200 points of models and a highly restrictive FoC, but allows each model to function independently. This takes a radically different tactical approach than even standard tabletop gameplay, and is exciting in its own way since you can rack out a game in 20-40 minutes. The rules are digital download only, but for the reasonable price tag, I'd insist that they're worth a look.
- Carnage. The only variant I haven't yet played myself, this is designed for 4 players to throw down on one table. Everyone's wanted to do it at some point, why not try some "approved" rules for it?
That's it. All of it. The whole thing. A complete publication (and slight model) summation for the last two calendar years, the years of 6th edition. Ten codices. Six supplements. Twelve digital only releases. Three variant rules sets. And two expansions to the main rule book (Escalation and Stronghold were covered as part of my BRB breakdown). Balance may be off, but nobody should accuse of GW of not at least trying to appease everyone screaming for new toys.
All that said, it's time to look forward. To truly peer through the mists and examine what you've heard, seen, or read elsewhere about what is to come. I'll try to stick to what's bee substantiated via images of a forthcoming White Dwarf (no I won't be reposting those images). The header for the next section is indeed labelled Revised 6th. Some of the rules are perhaps drastic enough to suggest that this is 7th edition, but they likewise feel smaller than what we encountered jumping from 5th to 6th.
Rumors for Revised 6th
- Psychic Phase. This is a significant enough confirmation to make people question if we're looking at Revised 6th or just straight up 7th. Not unlike GW's square based system, the photos indicate a more sophisticated breakdown of how spells are cast including miscasts. This also looks to add another random layer to the game, based on how much "warp charge" is manifested. We're also seeing a new Daemonology discipline added, which doesn't surprise me. 6th edition included "conjurations" as a spell type but we didn't see it anywhere. I'm anxious about how well this is going to work out, largely because number of psykers seems to directly correlate with amount of available charge (Seer councils and Tzeentch Daemons rejoice) but the potentially greater chance to mess up (and mess up big) mated with the ability for enemy psykers to attempt to combat one another's efforts can hardly be entirely a bad thing. There are worries though that those three armies (Necrons, DEldar, and Tau) which have no psyker support will be left out in the cold though, struggling to compete when they miss out on an entire phase of play.
- Objectives Deck. This too seems to be extremely significant, in that how the game is won might be drastically changing at a fundamental level. According to the evidence presented, victory points are accrued throughout the game in a variety of ways. Depending on what exactly these 36 objectives are, I'm fully in support of anything that moves the game away from the "I'm standing in the right place at an arbitrary time and everything up until this point hasn't really mattered" thing we've had with the game the whole time I've played is great.
- Allies. The matrix is getting overhauled. That's all we know. And it can't end up any worse than it is already.
- Army Composition. And here is where I contemplate selling every model I own before they nosedive in price. There has been an announcement made that an army may be composed in one of two ways: "Battle-forged", which promises bonuses for adhering to the FoC (which appears to be remaining the same) or there's "Unbound" whose only restriction is the allies matrix. Why would that prompt me to leave the game? The current FoC is broken, and rewarding players for adhering to it is pointless. Even upping the game to mandating 4 compulsory troops nerfs armies (like Marines) who are already sinking 600~ish points into their three troops choices, while those like Daemons can get away with spending <400 points on 4 troops. Add to that the PTSD from watching the collapse of the MechWarrior clix game. For those of you who don't know, that was my first "tournament" miniatures game. I played MageKnight in my home with friends (baby's first D&D), but MW I played at events. And the last year or two of MW releases were "anything goes". It was all mercenaries, noting with any allegiance, or construction of "Bring an army only comprised of X". The game devolved almost entirely into a dogpile of taking the best stuff from everywhere. Considering that the game at present is almost that (3 riptides and a heldrake? sure!), and that Battle-forged doesn't appear to be changing that (still praying for % comp, but that's in the wishlist), and they're so willing to exacerbate the problem that they're opening the door to "Just bring stuff". Yes, there's the notion that tournaments (especially my local ones) will be branded "Battle-forged" events, but it ignores the disturbing trend that has brought us here. I've been enjoying 40k because of its similarities to Go. It, like Go, was a game of territory control. Killing, though satisfying in its own way, never won you the game. It was a means to an end regarding protecting those assets which would win you the game, creating a series of choices for players as to whether they should kill the other player's troops, or focus on killing the things which would kill their troops. And that interesting game of choice and territory control is now completely gone. As stated, the things that murder infantry have gotten better at it. And also more durable. The interesting choice is gone. You don't have to choose to kill my not troops, because they can't hurt you, and me choosing to kill your not troops if foolish because I can't. And territory control is similarly disinteresting. Troops have gotten faster, usually by being able to hide in reserves for a few turns, then zip out and grab the necessaries at the last moment.
On the note of army composition, we head into my personal wishlist for the new edition.
- Percent Comp. The current FoC no longer functions as intended. Compel a 30% minimum expenditure on troops and their dedicated transports. The winning list at Adepticon spent fewer than 15% on troops. This allowed for 4 FMCs and a Heldrake. The biggest way to push back against "murder lists" is to let them take less murder. The biggest problem here is for those codices who have no native troops capable of dealing with Imperial Knights, namely Daemons, Tyranids, Tau (forbidding Farsight) and Orks. That about a quarter of the armies out there that just can't cut it against a list composed of 3+ scoring knights is a huge huge balance problem. In my opinion, the answer is to eliminate the Knight primary, but it's too much to hope for GW to do that. So, through the course of my wishlisting, I've conceded why it won't come to pass, or at least why it shouldn't.
- A Two Pronged Resource System. We've had the discussion before, but 40k needs something other than just a points total to balance it. Magic has mana. Clix games have orders. WM/H have focus and fury. These games are generally regarded as balanced. There is still a power disparity between like items in each system, but generally speaking, the games are functional and complex. Yu-gi-oh has no resource system, and is widely regarded as among the most broken game systems ever created. 40k... well, you see where this is going. There needs to be something more than the loose social contract to define and create interesting choices for players, both during the list construction and gameplay phases. We've toyed with a lot of ideas for what this could end up being, but none of them have been examined in significant depth for a variety of reasons. That said, a full time staff of seasoned designers should have been able to do this, do it well, and do it some time ago. And they haven't.
And there's my personal wishlist for where I'd like to see the game go. Will it? Won't it? Time will tell.
- I can't speak for any of you, but this little metacognative monologue has been quite eye opening for me. I'll play whatever the new rules come up with, but odds are, at the end of the day, I'll be hanging up my hat. The models are great, the fluff is scrumptious, but I'm done playing a vaguely socially constructed beer and pretzels game. If I wanted to find out which of my friends was the most horrible and have there be drinking involved, I'd invite people over for Cards Against Humanity. Some have asked me where I'd go, and I'm not sure I'll go anywhere. I almost ruined friendships over Magic. WWII doesn't strike my fancy. And WM/H is chess with expensive, poor quality models. This may just be the closing of a 10+ year chapter of my life, and hardly the death of my first lifelong passion these last 12 months. I want to be wrong. I want to see this new ruleset with the same bright eyes that first fell on 6th on release day. I just don't see that happening.