This review will be different from the ones I've done in the past, namely because the subject matter is pretty different. So that said, some things will be the same. I'm still giving my initial opinion of things as I go, and I'll still be tackling things in order (only in this case I'll be also tackling the books in order as well). Included in this article will be pictures from the books. These are strictly for showing various aspects of the books and aren't intended to replace the actual books.
Legal disclaimers out of the way, let's jump right in.
The books themselves are very nicely made with the pages not glued to the covers, but a flexible internal spine (that is attached to the cover) that reduces the need to gently break the books in, and should help reduce pages falling out over time. The paper quality isn't really anything exceptional, being of the same weight and type that GW has been using for a while now and it does the job so that's fine.
All around, quality wise the books are well made and, at least in my opinion, look pretty good too. How the books look and feel out of the way it's time to grab some popcorn and dig in for a long one because there just is no way to cover this all quickly.
A Galaxy At War
|A section detailing information about codexes and learning more about specific armies|
|More ways to get into 40k's lore and background|
|Just a little info about painting models.|
|A great example of just how close they get with the pictures for some of the models. A lot of details packed into them too that you just don't get to see normally.|
|Some very nice two page spreads showing off a lot of models at once. The fog seems to be a recurring motif in a number of images too|
|Some of these images, especially with the quotes, would honestly make great posters|
The second volume of the collection this book looks into the lore of the 40k universe, shows off very well done color art of all kinds for different factions and the setting and covers the fluff about those factions. It's all presented fairly well, and is the second book I'll be reading when I'm done reading the Rules.
|Armies get a little section detailing who they are complete with some nice artwork|
|Some events even get some expansion, such as Pandorax, which was previously an Apocalypse setting.|
|Even some subfactions get some love|
|The fluff from the appendix of 6th edition makes a return as well, offering up small glimpses into the Imperium and serving as great bits of flavor for the game as a whole|
So let's dive right in, shall we?
Now if you're familiar with the game already, (and if you're reading this you probably are) then a full on play by play of what is in the book will just bore you to tears, and nobody wants that. So instead, I'll be giving each section a brief look at, and highlighting the changes I see.
Core RulesNow it's own defined section, the way model characteristics work, what counts as a "unit", the general principles of the game (measuring, rolling a D3, rolling a D66, scatter dice, how fractions work (always round up), as well as covering markers, templates, scatter, tests and even how casualties work. Of course that's not all, as the Spirit of the Game makes a return, it explains different terminology regarding players, and models, and while True Line of Sight returns, the bit about them needing eyes to see does not.
Turns get clarified even further, with a complete summary (which actually has "start of turn" before the movement phase).
|Lots of things list what the USRs do below a given rule as well, in addition to all of the USRs being in a single section|
Movement PhaseCorrect measurement for movement gets an image, and unit coherency gets explained fairly well (with models being allowed to be up to 6" apart vertically (as in on different levels) and 2" apart horizontally (as in when on the same floor in a building or on the ground)).
Psychic PhaseThe Psychic Phase is back for the first time since 2nd Edition, and gets a section in the Core Rules detailing how it works. While how powers are chosen hasn't changed (though if your psyker specializes in a single school it gains the Primaris for that school for free (Marked Chaos Psykers gain the Primaris for their respective gods instead, even if they don't specialize) and if they have Force Weapons they know the "Force" power for free (it gives all Force Weapons in the unit "Instant Death" now, and it's a 1 Warp Charge Blessing)), the way powers are manifested has.
|The new Daemonology Powers, which are just a small sample of the revamped Psychic Powers|
The current player can manifest powers, while the other player can only attempt to deny those powers. To manifest a power the current declares a target and then takes a psychic test. To take a psychic test the current player declares how many of their Warp Charges they'll use, and rolls a number of dice equal to those charges. For every Warp Charge a power needs the current player needs an equal number (or more) 4+ on their dice. If they roll 2 or more 6s though they suffer a Perils of the Warp (though if they passed their Psychic Test and died from the Perils attempt they still manifest the power successfully).
To stop the powers the player attempting to deny the power follow a similar method, only aiming to roll a 6+ (plus modifiers if applicable). Denying the power doesn't make the power a failure however, it just means that it counts as resolved without using it's effects.
The big thing I see here that this causes problems for is the movement based blessings (such as Wings of Sanguinius), basically making it impossible to use turn one, and making whomever manifested those powers a prime target requiring more tactical play with the models now.
Shooting PhaseThe shooting phase is largely unchanged save for a few things: first their is no more "Focus Fire", so no longer can you choose to target specific models with bad cover saves to ensure you push wounds onto a unit, now it's strictly closest to closest.
And the second, wound pools are resolved completely by weapon. For example a unit of Space Marines with a Melta Gun and Missile Launcher would have to resolve 3 sets of wounds individually and completely: 1 for the Melta Gun, 1 for the Missile Launcher and 1 for the units Bolters.
|Mostly unchanged, though the changes that were made will complicate things for the few armies who can mix weapons in squads|
The new way shooting is resolved a big change it can change what weapons count as being in range based on how many wounds the previous weapon did. I see a lot of players working out things shortest to longest when using a unit with mixed weapons.
WeaponsHonestly there isn't really much different here than before. Bombs are their own type now, and Salvo Weapons are in the image of the weapons and how they basically work:
|The rules actually have a lot of diagrams like this, showing models and detailing how things work|
The only real changes I see here are that there is no limit how far wounds can travel now (starts with models in base to base with the attacker and spreads from there as far as needed and has no mentioning of "engaged" models), you can intentionally declare disordered charges.
Not really much to comment on.
MoraleHonestly, no changes here.
Unit TypesA lot here so let's run down this as simply as possible and I'll save my comments for the end
- Infantry: No change
- Bikes/Jetbikes: No change
- Artillery: Gun models can't overwatch.
- Jump Units: No change
- Jet Pack Units: No change
- Beasts: Automatically pass Dangerous Terrain tests, lost Moves Through Cover
- Calvary: No change
- Monstrous Creatures: No change
- Flying Monstrous Creatures: Grounding Tests are now at the end of the Shooting Phase, and only if the model suffered wounds, can't charge the turn it changes flight modes.
- Gargantuan and Flying Gargantuan Monstous Creatures: Added to the book, but same as Apocalypse
The core vehicle rules are largely unchanged save for:
- Vehicle Damage Table: 1-3 Shaken, 4 Stunned, 5 Weapon Destroyed, 6 Immobilized, 7+ Explodes/Crash and Burn (vehicle isn't replaced with a crater anymore)
- Unless otherwise stated, vehicles are WS1 (Immobilized non-Walkers are WS0)
- While vehicles can't be locked in combat (save for walkers and chariots), but glancing hits count as 1 wound and penetrating hits as 2 wounds for combat resolution.
- Hits are resolved against squadrons from closest to furthest, only moving on to the next vehicle after the first has been destroyed
Anyways, onto the specific vehicle types:
- Transports: Psykers can only manifest Witchfire psychic powers while embarked. Passengers can ignore Shaken/Stunned/Weapon Destroyed/Immobilized with a successful Leadership test (if failed they snap fire instead).
- Flyers: Jink has to be declared before the opponent rolls to hit. If Immobilized roll a D6, on a 1 or 2 the flyer crashes and burns, otherwise it is a crew stunned result
- Chariots: Riders can't disembark, don't get Sweep Attacks (save for Necrons who have it in their codex...for now) and no more improved armour saves for the rider either. Furthermore, if the chariot or the rider is reduced to 0 wounds/hull points the whole thing is removed from play (abilities that restore wounds can return the model to play with a single Hull Point), Player controlling the chariot determines if the rider or the chariot suffers the hits and the wound/penetration results are rolled from there. Additionally models in a Chariot are Relentless.
- Open-topped: No change
- Heavy: No change
- Fast: No change
- Skimmers: Jink change (like Flyers), Heavy Skimmers can't Jink
- Walkers: Gained Hammer of Wrath
- Tanks: When working out ramming add 2 to the strength of the hit from a Super-heavy or Building, Speed is no longer a factor in Ramming attempts
- Super-heavy Vehicles/Walkers/Flyers: Added to this book, follows the same rules as in Apocalypse
- Vehicle Upgrades: Dozer Blades add +1 to the Front Armour when calculating ramming as well as re-roll Dangerous Terrain tests.
Lastly we have character rules (Psyker rules are all in the Psychic Phase now) which are are largely unchanged except for in challenges: excessive wounds roll over into the unit who just lost a character. So no more feeding Guardsmen Sergeants to a Bloodthirster to keep him from butchering your lines. Oh, and if you run out of enemy models to kill and there are still wounds left in the Wound Pool they overflow into the challenge as well. Only characters fight in challenges now too, so forget challenging non-character models.
Battlefield TerrainCitadel Scenery got rules! And they're not half bad.
Lastly, all Fortifications are gone from the book. If you want to bring Fortifications as part of your army I hope you have Stronghold Assault because otherwise the points costs and rules aren't in the core rules anymore (consider it the "Fortifications Codex" I guess).
Choosing Your ArmyThis is where things go from "largely familiar" to "what the heck just happened?"
There are now two kinds of legal army lists you can bring to a game: Unbound, which uses anything you want (following the rules for unit composition and allies) and Battle-forged which work mostly like armies in 6th, only now they use a detachment system (more on that in a moment).
At first it seems like Unbound has a clear upper-hand, after all, what stops someone from just taking an army of Lootas or Bloodthirsters? That's where the bonuses for Battle-forged come in. First Battle-forged Armies count all of their troops, regardless if they're part of the Combined Arms detachments or the Allied detachment as having the Objective Secured rule, that is that they can only have objectives denied to them by other models with this rule. This includes Dedicated Transports for Troops units as well (they count as Troops units and there is no rule that keeps Vehicles from scoring now). The second benefit is that they re-roll Warlord Traits.
But that's not all, because while everything (minus zooming flyers. swooping flying monstrous creatures, units that have rules that say they never score (ex. Death Company), units that are currently Falling back, or unclaimed Fortifications/Buildings (claimed ones count)) scores now (even swarms) and Objective Secured goes a long way, a Battle-forged army has no limit to the number of detachments they can take. That's right, the only things restricting Battle-forged armies are their need for troops who outscore other scoring units. Want 6 Heavy Support slots? Take 2 Warlords, 4 Troops and pick one the HQs to be your Warlord and that Warlord's detachment becomes your primary detachment.
Detachments even apply to Unbound armies (sort of) in that only the models from the same codex as their Warlord count as being in the same detachment (referred to as the "Primary Detachment"). And both armies can take Lords of War, only the Battle-forged army needs an army behind it.
Warlords have changed too. Now they only need to be a character model, unless your army doesn't have any character models (then you can just nominate any model to be the Warlord).
The Warlord Traits have changed as well, with us now looking at 4 tables with some different benefits:
Tactical Traits (only useful in missions with the Tactical Objectives Missions Special Rules (Maelstrom of War Missions namely)):
- Tactical Genius: Discard up to two Active Tactical Objective cards at the end of your turn instead of 1
- Master of Interference: One use only. Opponent randomly discards on of their Tactical Objective cards.
- Well Prepared: Get an extra Tactical Objective card at the start of your First Turn.
- Forward Planning: After Tactical Objectives have been generated on your First Turn, you can choose to activate this ability. Discard all active Tactical Objectives you have and draw a new one for each Tactical Objective discared.
- Master of Fate: While the Warlord is alive, you may reroll the dice to determine how many Victory Points Tactical Objectives give.
- Lead by Example: +1 additional Victory Point when any "Secure Objective X" (X = a number between 1-6) is scored because the Warlord or his unit controls the Objective Marker
- Inspiring Presence: Friendly units in 12" of the Warlord use the Warlord's leadership instead of their own
- Intimidating Presence: Enemy units in 12" of the Warlord use their lowest Leadership, not their highest
- The Dust of a Thousand Worlds: Warlord and all friendly units in 12" have the Move Through Cover special rule
- Master of the Vanguard: Warlord and friendly units in 12" add +1 to their charge and run rolls
- Target Priority: In the shooting phase the Warlord and all friendly units in 12" re-roll to-hit rolls of 1.
- Coordinated Assault: During the assault phase the Warlord and friendly units in 12" re-roll to hit rolls of 1.
- Master of Defence: Warlord has Counter-Attack
- Master of Offense: Warlord has Furious Charge
- Master of Manoeuvre: Warlord has Outflank
- Legendary Fighter: +1 VP for each character killed by your Warlord
- Tenacity: Warlord has Feel no Pain
- Immovable Object: Warlord has Fearless and It Will Not Die
- Conqueror of Cities: Your units have Move through Cover if moving through Ruins, and Stealth (Ruins)
- Night Attacker: If you choose to use Night Fighting there is no need to roll, it's night, and your units have Night Vision
- Master of Ambush: Your Warlord and 3 non-vehicle units have the Infiltrate special rule
- Strategic Genius: +1 to Seize the Initiative, amd while the Warlord is alive you can re-roll all reserve rolls (failed or successful)
- Divide to Conquer: While the Warlord is alive your opponent has a -1 to Reserve rolls
- Princepts of Deciet: At the start of your opponent's first turn pick 3 units in the enemy army. Each of these units must take a pinning test.
The levels of alliance change drastically. With exception to the CSM/Daemon and Eldar/Dark Eldar combos the only armies that are listed as "Battle Brothers" are the same army (and for the record, all the Imperial armies were consolidated into a single entry. Sisters/Black Templar armies are now a go for the like 10 people who wanted to do those without issue). So there are less "Battle Brothers" running around (except the Imperium who internally promoted everything to Battle Brother levels), even the Allies of Conveniance went down, with most allies being Desperate or Come the Apocalypse.
So what about the changes to the levels of alliance themselves? Well, that's where the "no" comes in. Battle Brothers got a boost allowing Battle Brothers to repair each other's vehicles and board each other's transports (why yes you CAN put Ezekiel in a Space Wolf Land Raider). Allies of Convenience remain unchanged with a large list of clarifications, and Desperate Allies remain the same. However, Come the Apocalypse has changed. It's basically now Desperate Allies with an additional rule regarding deployment: you can't start within 12" of each other. Genestealer Cults are back!
So you've built your new army, which brings us to what you're going to play.
Preparing for BattleEternal War missions are still in (those would be the missions from 6th edition), and Altar of War and Echoes of War missions are still legal but now we have Maelstrom of War missions which use the D66 table or the deck of Tactical Objectives cards. Most of the cards revolve around objectives (18 of the 36 cards) based around capturing one of 6 different objectives (they're all numbered and there are basically three results for each), but there are other ways to score points too (if there is more than one value of VPs to be awarded only the highest earned counts for how many you generate):
- Recon: If mission uses Mysterious Objectives score 1 VP for each Objective that has been identified
- Behind Enemy Lines: 1 VP if a scoring unit is within 12" of opponent's table edge, +D3 VP if 3+ scoring units are within 12" of opponent's table edge
- Hold the Line: 1 VP if at least 3 of your own scoring units are within 12" of your table edge and none of your opponent's scoring units are.
- Ascendency: +D3 VP for holding 3 Objectives at the end of your turn
- Supremacy: +D3 VP if you hold at least 2 objectives and have at least 2x the number of objectives as your opponent
- Domination: D3+3 VP for controlling all the objectives on the table.
- Overwhelming Firepower: +1 VP if an enemy unit was completely destroyed during the Shooting Phase. +D3 VP if 3 or more enemy units were destroyed.
- Blood and Guts: +1 VP if an enemy unit was completely destroyed during the Assault phase of your turn. +D3 VP if 3 or more enemy units were destroyed.
- No Prisoners: +1 VP for completely destroying an enemy unit during your turn, if you destroy between 3-5 units score D3 instead, if 6+ score D3+3
- Hungry for Glory: +1 VP for issuing a challenge during your turn, +D3 VP for issuing 3 or more challenges
- Psychological Warfare: +1 VP if your opponent failed a Morale, Pinning or Fear test during the turn. If your opponent failed 3 or more score +D3 VP.
- Harness the Warp: +1 VP for successfully harnessing a psychic power during your turn. +D3 VP for manifesting 3 or more powers
- Kingslayer: +D3 VP for killing your opponent's Warlord (this turn or any previous turn)
- Witch Hunter: +1 VP for killing at least one model with the Psyker, Psychic Pilot, or Brotherhood of Psykers/Sorcerors special rule
- Scour the Skies: +1 VP for killing an enemy Flyer or Flying Monstrous Creature during your turn
- Assassinate: +1 VP for killing at least on enemy character during your turn, +D3 VP if you killed 3 or more enemy characters
- Demolitions: +1 VP for destroying an enemy gun emplacement or building during your turn. +D3 if the building had the Mighty Bulkwark special rule instead
- Big Game Hunter: +1VP for destroying an enemy vehicle or Monstrous Creature. If is was a Super-heavy or Gargantuan Monstrous Creature +D3 VP.
Mysterious Objectives has stayed in unchanged, so if you have those markers from 6th edition with the dice, congrats, you can still use them. Night Fighting is now optional with it being only usable if one of the players declares they want to use it and then rolling a 4+ and instead of limiting range, everyone gets Stealth instead. There are no limits given for Reserves anymore (Death Wing rejoice!) but you can still lose by not having models on the table at the end of the game turn so use this freedom at your own risk.
So what do I think of the new changes? Well other than a Deathwing army looking finally viable (Deathwing Assault being a nice way to get the entire army up close and personal very quickly now without foot slogging the whole board), the new Maelstrom of War rules look interesting and while there is some bookkeeping involved, it's definitely a pretty cool way to approach handling the game and really can mix things up over the course of the game.
Special RulesYou may have thought I'd forgotten about these, but honestly they're pretty far back in the book (the section starting on page 156 in a 208 page book). I'll be doing this like I did the unit information above and only noting changes. If I don't mention it, then it's the same. That aside, let's get into the 87(!!!) special rules themselves:
- Acute Senses: No change
- Adamantium Will: +1 to Deny the Witch tests (not vs Blessings though)
- And They Shall Know No Fear: Automatically passes Fear and Regroup tests. No longer regroups D3", just acts as normal instead.
- Assault Vehicle: No change
- Armourbane: No change
- Blast: Combine the previous rules for Blast and the Apocalypse rules for the Massive/Apocalyptic/Apocalyptic Mega-blast
- Blind: Only one test regardless of the number of hits
- Brotherhood of Psykers/Sorcerors: No change
- Bulky: No change
- Barrage: No change to old rules (not even to Multiple Barrages) and added Apocalyptic Barrage
- Deep Strike: No changes
- Concussive: No change
- Counter-Attack: No Leadership test required (congrats Space Wolves!)
- Crusader: No change
- Daemon: No change
- Destroyer Weapons: Weapon uses the profile's AP value (typically AP1 or 2), cover and invulnerable saves permitted unless the "to wound" roll is a 6, then no saves of any kind may be taken. Counts a S10 for determining Instant Death. Multiple Wounds/Hull Points inflicted don't roll over to the unit, excess wounds/hull points inflicted to a model are lost instead.
- Eternal Warrior: No change
- Fear: No change
- Fearless: Added the FAQ about units that become Fearless cancelling the effects of Go to Ground
- Feel no Pain: Can't be taken against Destroyer Weapons, or wounds that have the Instant Death special rule.
- Fleet: No change
- Fleshbane: No change
- Force: Gives the model with the rule the Force Psyker power
- Furious Charge: No change
- Graviton: As per the Space Marine codex rule
- Gets Hot: No change
- Hammer of Wrath: No change (can't Hammer of Wrath the model inside of a Chariot though, just the Chariot)
- Hatred: No change
- Haywire: No change
- Hit & Run: No change
- Ignores Cover: No change
- Instant Death: No change
- Independent Character: Can't join units that contain vehicles or Monstrous Creatures (sorry Tyranid Prime, it looks like you can't roll with Carnifexes anymore), also can't Infiltrate with an Infiltrating unit if they don't have the rule themselves (no more Infiltrating Warbosses)
- Infiltrate: No change
- Interceptor: No longer allows weapons that Skyfire to fire at ground targets
- It Will Not Die: No change
- Jink: Must be declared when targeted by an enemy unit. Grants a 4+ cover save, but then only Snap Fires the next turn.
- Lance: No change
- Master-crafted: No change
- Mighty Bulwark: -1 modifier to the roll on the Building Damage table
- Melta: Only works on vehicles, clarification on how Melta and Blast works together
- Missile Lock: Models with the rule re-roll To-Hit rolls when using weapons that have the One Use Only special rule (namely Missiles). Otherwise no change
- Monster Hunter: No change
- Move Through Cover: No change
- Night Vision: No change
- One Use Only/One Shot Only: Weapons with this rule can only be used once per battle.
- Outflank: No change
- Pinning: Change isn't in Pinning but in Going To Ground as it prevents units that have Gone to Ground from firing Overwatch
- Poisoned: Strength must be higher than target's toughness to qualify for the re-roll.
- Power of the Machine Spirit: No change
- Precision Shots: It's now a rule and only works on To-hit rolls of a 6 (and it never works when firing Snap Shots)
- Precision Strikes: Now a rule instead of just an effect of being a character
- Preferred Enemy: No change
- Psychic Pilot: Ld10 against Perils now instead of for manifesting powers
- Psyker: No additional changes
- Rage: No change
- Rampage: No longer can Rampage if the unit made a disordered charge that turn
- Relentless: No change
- Rending: No change
- Repel the Enemy: Models disembarking from a building's access points may charge on they turn they do so, even if the building was destroyed
- Scout: If a unit has this rule and Infiltrate it can first Infiltrate then Scout move
- Sentry Defense System: Building with this rule automatically shoots enemy units even if unoccupied. Enemy units may shoot and charge said building, even if it's unoccupied
- Shred: No change
- Shrouded: No change
- Skilled Rider: No change
- Skyfire: No change
- Slow and Purposeful: No change
- Smash: All attacks at AP2 (unless it has an AP1 weapon), and can make a single Smash Attack
- Sniper: Precision Shots on a 6, always wounds on a 4+, to wound rolls of a 6 are AP2, against vehicles S4 (in short, it lost Rending)
- Soul Blaze: Wounds randomly allocated
- Specialist Weapon: No change
- Split Fire: No leadership test required (congrats again Space Wolves)
- Stealth: No change
- Strafing Run: Lost Pinning
- Strikedown: No change
- Stubborn: No change
- Swarms: Now can score
- Tank Hunters: No change
- Template Weapons: Added Hellstorm Templates, otherwise no change
- Torrent: No change
- Twin-linked: No change
- Two-handed: No change
- Unwieldly: No change
- Vector Dancer: No change
- Vector Strike: Uses model's unmodified Strength at AP2 with Ignores Cover. Against Flyers it does D3 hits, otherwise it does 1 hit.
- Vortex: As per Apocalypse
- Zealot: No change (effectively, it has the effects of Fearless and Hatred but doesn't refer you to those rules)
Now there aren't any changes to the weapons listed for either ranged or shooting but there is a difference to Grenades: Defensive Grenades now are S1, AP-, Assault 1, Blast, Blind weapons. They still work as usual in close combat and deny bonus attacks as long as they're not already engaged in combat from a previous turn or have Gone to Ground.
Final ThoughtsAs with every edition since 3rd, this edition is largely the previous edition plus some changes. And frankly after going through everything I'm not against most of the changes I've seen. There was some actual attempt to better clarify some of the rules (although not all of them) and reduce the amount of flipping back and forth from one section to another by including the special rules pretty much every time they're mentioned.
The Psyker changes seem largely positive, but it's even easier to suffer a Perils of the Warp (even when successful) and when you sit down and start looking at the odds of succeeding in these powers, it really looks like a lot of dice will need to be thrown to be consistent with powers, and that just increases your chances of a Perils even further. So while the whole thing was streamlined and there are some really good Psychic Powers it's just far too easy to nuke yourself to really expect a lot of armies to load up on large numbers of Psykers. I almost think Grey Knights might see a slight points drop just because they're less effective overall with getting their powers off when they get updated just because of this.
Outside of a couple of things that made me scratch my head (how you handle shooting for example) the edition largely looks like it's making some decent changes to fix things. I say some because there are still rules that need FAQs to tighten up further and the ruleset opens up some serious floodgates for players to break out the hard cheddar on the table, though anyone who does that to unsuspecting opponents won't likely fine themselves playing that many games so it doesn't exactly have free reign to do things too outlandish.
This edition will largely be shaped by the codexes that come out during it and how they push the game, but as it stands the game isn't looking horrible and at the very least I like the way the core rules are looking. I liked the core rules of 6th and this moves things even further in a direction I like, even if it does misstep a bit in my eyes a little too.