As I read through the new rules and my chosen armies’ datasheets, I plan to squawk about it a little bit. Here’s some of my first impressions thus far:
Games will likely go faster (like a red-painted war wagon). Which is especially good for me, ‘cuz the games me and J would play took forever! But the swiftness will come from the games being way simpler and all the extra rules being on your datasheets, thus eliminating the need to look up rules all the time.
They’ll also go faster because I think models will die faster, overall, despite the addition of more wounds on many of them. Saves are no longer absolute valued, they are modified. So the 2+ all but guaranteed save you’ve been counting on for your termies, Phoenix Lords, etc, is no longer rock solid. Neither is the 66% chance on space marines or any other 3+ save. Only invuln saves can’t be modified, and even they are no protection against “mortal wounds.” Most psychic powers and special circumstances, like being trapped inside a transport that blows up, deal mortal wounds, which you just take, no saves of any kind allowed. Many weapons also do more than one wound, so even though your jet bikes and terminators may have 2 wounds now, they might still lose them both to one hit.
A note on shooting: we’re back to you picking your own casualties, which I always liked from 5th ed. There was something to be said of the “cinematic approach” to first models in the line of fire dying first, but it forced heroes to lead from the back, which is a cowardly skaven thing. When your guys die, you get to decide who dies, preserving your special weapons and coolest models and allowing the fodder to be the first to go. Way more fun that way.
More killy stuff: There’s morale. Models flee the board from failed checks. Models flee. The board. You don’t take additional wounds that you then might get saves on, whole models disappear, no matter how many wounds they have. And you don’t involuntarily fall back by inches. Whatever the numeric difference from your check total versus your Leadership, that many models go bye-bye. Narratively, I would prefer to think some of them left the battle to carry off the dead and wounded, or to rally reinforcements from reserve, rather than bolted from the fight.
The “to wounds” chart is simplified too. Basic math comparisons dictate what you need to wound. Is this weapon’s Strength less, equal, or more than the target’s Toughness? Is it half or twice as much? That’s all you need to know. And everything can wound everything! Even a laspistol might damage an open panel on a landraider’s flank if you roll a 6. (Much more killy.) But with the landraider’s high save and wound total, it’s still not going to bring it down with one shot. (More on that below.)
I’m not saying any of this is bad, I’m just saying models will go faster now. Which is all well and good. If you get a game done in short order, then maybe you can get two in on one afternoon! More fun!
Unit Types, Vehicles, and Realistic Freedom
Another big difference (and also related to model death) is that there are no unit types anymore. Everyone plays by the same rules. Unit types are been replaced by keywords, so certain effects still apply to “the type of unit” a model is, but they don’t have their own sets of rules. Vehicles now have Toughness, Saves, Wounds, and can even attack in melee combat! I was weary of how well this would work initially, and haven’t been able to test it out yet, but it sounds grand!
First let’s look at what this really means: that it frees everyone up to do everything!
There are no more Independent Character rules. Character hero models running solo do not “join” units, and therefore do not have their influence and lives bound to that one unit. The biggest reason for “joining” before was to keep your hero from getting shot to hell all by himself. Safety in numbers, hide in the crowd. Now a “Character” (keyword) can only be specifically targeted if he’s the closest model to the shooter, or if he’s so big as to be an obvious target (designated by having 10 wounds or more). (He can also be picked out by snipers, if the sniper datasheets say so.) So they can be in very close proximity to a unit, or multiple units, without having to turn their backs on others to benefit just one.
While we’re on that subject, there is also no more “locked in combat.” All the effects are kind of still there: you can’t target a unit that is within an inch of the enemy (presumingly fighting) because you might hit them; units so close can only fire pistols at that range, no other guns; they can’t declare a charge against anyone else, etc. But they are not “locked,” per se. They can freely decide to fall back, if they wish.
Another aspect of this freedom is that entire units of guys don’t all have to shoot at the same target. Which is more logical and realistic, right? The missile launcher can target the flying tank that’s rumbling airborne at extreme range while his buds all shoot the more immediate infantry on the ground. Why wouldn’t the most elite fighters in the galaxy be able to split their fire?
Also, if you wield multiple weapons, you can use them. All of them. Split up your attacks in melee and shoot two-fisted. A guy with two pistols can fire them both like the badass cowboy mutha he is. Again, silly rules get out of the way for obvious combat fun.
So generally, models do not become artificially locked into modes—firing as a group, stuck fighting one group, stuck supporting one group—but instead are free to act like real people would.
I was supposed to be talking about unit types, right? So again, no more classifications defining units by certain, separate rules to remember. Everyone is the same type of unit with different descriptors, though some special rules tend to apply to common descriptors.
“Fly.” What we’ve known as Flyers no longer inhabit their own celestial realm of hoity-toitiness either. Full-blown flyers are still harder to hit from the ground, but this is the universal -1 modifier (like cover and firing heavies when moving and assault weapons while running). They have minimum move ranges but now disappear from the battle if they leave the field. And they have an advantage shooting at the slow, vulnerable targets on the ground, and can fire all their weapons even if they advance (run). So, okay, there are some special shooty rules with them. But after that, they function like everyone else.
And the keyword “fly” isn’t just for them. Jet bikes, jump infantry, hover tanks—they all fly! Which means they can all move over models and terrain and, more importantly, they can all shoot at and even assault other flying units! Makes sense, don’t it?! So your jet bikes and jump infantry can use the altitude that comes with their very nature to fly up and attack a flyer as it goes by. The shackles of gravity discrimination by “unit type” are taken off! Only makes sense.
Another huge change is that Vehicles are no longer their own thing either. As I said, they all share the same stat line. They just have higher Toughness, a great Save, and much more Wounds than a walky-talky-fleshy guy.
One of my biggest complaints of 6th and 7th edition was Hull Points. In 5th, my dreadnought could take several Tau missile hits and, thanks to some dice, only be “shaken.” My tanks could take great abuse, as they should, and might last the entire battle. With the addition of Hull Points, three glancing shots that didn’t even penetrate my armor caused my dreadnought to roll over and die. And with the vehicle damage chart, my mighty Chaos Crab Monster would make threatening gestures with his massive claws from the deployment zone, then get hit by a single krak missile and blow up in a fabulous display of shittiness, possibly taking a few more of my chaos marines with him.
No more. No more glancing to death. No more one-shot explosions (unless the weapon just does that much damage to your light assault crafts). Now, you wound a vehicle’s 7 or 8 Toughness, it makes armor Saves and takes Wounds. Most (if not all) vehicles, once reduced to 0 Wounds, still have a chance to explode. Roll a die; on a 6, it blows up. Simple, cinematic, fun, and fair. And a lot less likely to deprive you of your proudest, toughest models on Turn One.
Some vehicles and monstrous creatures also reduce in effectiveness as they take damage. This is another Age of Sigmar innovation that I wasn’t too sure about, but now that I see it, makes way more sense. As a landraider or carnifex takes damage, its effectiveness in battle wanes. So instead of an immobilized or weapon lost vehicle damage result, it just slows down and can’t shoot as accurately.
Unit equality (if I may be so liberal) is the same across the board. No more Jump Troops vs Jet Pack Troops, Cavalry vs Beasts, Artillery vs Chariots, Monsters vs Infantry. Basic tenants rule for everyone. Your stats and datasheets tell you all the now-integrated rules that apply. You have a jet bike? Your Move shows it, along with a turboboost Ability and the keyword “fly”. Period. Done.