Games Workshop has been trickling out information every few days about the release of Warhammer 40000 8th Edition. There’s been a lot of speculation without even seeing one solid rule but the rumors are flying. I wanted to take the time to talk about some things we definitely know, some concepts we’ve heard, and what could those mean? In this article we’ll go over what we know.
What We Know
So let’s talk about some things we definitely know. We know there will be movement characteristics for each unit. We know that charging will allow at least one (if not all) attacks before the charged unit can strike. And we know that templates are out. That’s a lot to cover right off the bat.
For me, movement characteristics are going to totally come down to execution. If just about everything moves 6″ except for big monsters that move 9″ or orks that move 7″ just because they get a bonus, then fine. I just want it to be consistent and obvious. Every unit being an arbitrary “oh this just moves 8 inches and that moves 10 inches and that moves 11 inches just because” is going to drive me nuts in the middle of a game. That’s more mental load for a game and not less. Hopefully base size and kit like a jump pack will make it obvious how far a model will move. In 7th you could just say “Hey this is a jump pack unit” and your opponent would know all the rules associated with it, not just its movement. The loss of those unit type templates that everyone could look up in the core rule book makes me wary of how well this will go in competitive play. I don’t necessarily trust my opponent to read all the way through his super unique snowflake rule and remember to tell me the negatives his units take for their cool ability.
We also know that units that charge will get to strike first in some capacity. From a fluff perspective this feels natural. From a gameplay perspective though I think an Ork Nob charging with 4 or more powerfist attacks is going to get frustrating. Oh, or when I bayonet charge with however many guardsmen I can bring to the table. That’ll be 100 or more attacks before you get to do a thing. One thing that could make this more balanced is definitely overwatch although we haven’t heard much about how overwatch will be represented in the game. I’m concerned because I haven’t heard it mentioned in particular and I think that was a good way to balance shooting units that are awful in close combat. At least they got to do something before being torn apart. If we’re trying to find the line between game balance and fun it’s always nice to actually be able to do something in your opponents turn instead of just watching as they cut through your army. If Games Workshop doesn’t take that into account, welcome to 40k Lite, Assault Edition.
Alright we got through those first two, now let’s talk about templates. I’ve been cautiously optimistic so far but this one hurt for me. A big part of Warhammer 40k is firing my big guns and doing big blasts that hit multiple units or using flamers to punish enemies who get too close. From a gameplay perspective though templates add a layer of tactical positioning. They keep opponents from clustering models, whether that’s right at the edge of their shooting range or nearly base to base to brace for a charge. Many times I’ve seen players spread their units to max out 2″ just to get charged and not be able to strike with all their models in combat. Players who try to get the most out of their units by clustering up have to risk getting pounded by artillery or other blast weapons. Templates add a level of risk/reward as well as a level of randomness which I think is exactly what a game needs. If artillery and blast weapons just turn into D6 wounds or other random amounts that just feels like firing a blunderbuss, not shooting my big artillery guns.
Now on the other side, the way 7th had handled blasts was definitely not great. Players rarely agreed on how many models were covered and the scatter direction was almost impossible to align exactly right. That’s fine in normal play with friends but I’ve definitely seen it cause conflict in tournaments. Maybe the lack of templates will help speed up the game just by limiting conflicts?