That's right ladies and gents I'm back. After a nice long hiatus in which I barely touched a model I've finished reading the Night Lords omnibus and have been reinvigorated to get back into the game just in time for 9th to arrive.
No, I did not get an advanced copy of the rules, GW does not deem me important enough, but the basic rules were released in PDF form on their website. So that is what I am looking at today. Bear in mind there are going to be more holes in my analysis than Swiss cheese as I do not know what many of the more nuanced rules are going to be such as missions and terrain and I am not going into the details of the other teased rules and stratagems. I'm only talking about the rules that I have in print right in front of me.
So without any further self deprecation lets start this shit show off with a bang. COHERENCY is now required between 2 models if the unit is larger than 5 models. This means a ton of things but the most noticeable is that there will be no more daisy chains stretching across the table to hold 3 objectives, block "deep strikers" or assault lines hitting multiple units (more on this later). However it does still look like you can have small clusters of a large unit separated from each other and still maintain coherency. For example, if you have a unit of 30 cultists and lose 10 of them, you can pull 10 from the middle area so that you are left with 2 groups of 10 models, and as long as those individual groups of models maintain coherency then technically the whole unit is still in coherency.
To add to that there is now a UNIT COHERENCY CHECK which is done in the MORALE PHASE after a MORALE TEST (more on this later as well). If your unit is not in coherency, then you remove models one at a time until it is.
These 2 changes to coherency have hurt combat units pretty badly. Not only can assault units not spread out as much to optimize movement from charges, pile in, and consolidation, but there is an extra step that can be used to remove models that the assault unit may be trying to tie up. I think this check should have actually been done in the movement phase, giving players a chance to bring their units into coherency before removing stragglers. Death to the Possessed Bomb.
ENGAGEMENT RANGE is a new term that basically means that 1" bubble around a model that you can't enter except in the charge phase. When you are within ENGAGEMENT RANGE you are locked in combat. The ENGAGEMENT RANGE is not only 1" around the model, but it has a 5" vertical limit as well, meaning that your Knight, Mortarion, or any other big baddie can now smack those pesky scouts out of the first floor of that ruin, as long as they can get within 1" horizontally of them. There goes a whole knight stratagem out the window. This also means you don't have to actually get a model on the same level as the unit you are attacking, you can just stab your knife right up through the floor. However, that also means that enemy models can't actually move directly below you since they can't move within ENGAGEMENT RANGE.
Models and units WITHIN and WHOLLY WITHIN have been defined. This definition is pretty clear with little room for interpretation. Lets hope GW can stay consistent with this terminology and not add words to muddy the waters.
Wobbly Models have also been somewhat cleared up, which I now interpret as that this is a means of keeping models safe. You must be able to actually fit the model in the location, however, due to it's precarious position, you may want to place it elsewhere to keep it from getting damaged. Key words being "physically possible to place the model in the desired location".
There is a COMMAND PHASE now, we don't really know what it does but there will be some stratagems or abilities that take place in this phase. Oh, and if you have a battleforged army you gain a CP. That's neat.
Movement has changed a bit in that there are now modes of movement that apply to the whole unit. These modes are NORMAL MOVE, ADVANCE, REMAIN STATIONARY, and FALL BACK. Note that it appears you can no longer keep some models stationary while others move, if one model moves, the whole unit counts as having moved. Advance rolls only apply for that phase, so you will have to roll again if you have an ability that lets you move again, and it seems like reinforcements can come in any turn. Of course this is the basic rules, so there might be a match play rule in the actual rule book.
Transports have gotten a bit of an overhaul as well. While you can EMBARK on a transport if your unit is WITHIN 3", when you DISEMBARK your unit must be WHOLLY WITHIN 3". Also, you can't EMBARK if the transport is WITHIN ENGAGEMENT RANGE. How do you like the use of all those important keywords? I like it.
The shooting phase has a couple big changes in it as well in that Monsters and Vehicles can shoot while in combat. They can only make attacks against an enemy unit within ENGAGEMENT RANGE but they can declare targets that are outside ENGAGEMENT RANGE. This only really comes into play if you can manage to kill the unit within ENGAGEMENT RANGE before resolving the other attacks, or if a weapon has an affect that only requires being able to target something. This is a huge boost for shooting armies and a huge detriment to assault armies.
LOOK OUT SIR has an neat addendum added to it as well, a character has to be within 3" of a vehicle, monster, or unit with 3+ models as well as not be the closest to be ineligible to target. So if your character spaces out more than 6" from any other units in order to maximize his aura abilities, he can get picked off even if he isn't the closest model. You also still ignore other characters with 9 or less wounds for determining if another unit is closer.
BLAST is a new weapon ability that shows up on some weapons that have a random number of shots. When targeting units that have more than 5 models you can't score less that 3 shots when rolling for the number of shots. If you roll less than 3 it just counts as 3. When targeting a unit that has more than 10 models then you automatically make the maximum number of shots. Now the examples they give are grenades, and there are a couple armies out there that have stratagems that let them throw multiple grenades, can you imagine a buffed up Blight Bombardment getting max hits for each grenade? Mother fucking OUCH!
There are a couple of real big changes to making attacks, first of which is the blanket statement that unmodified hit, wound, and save rolls of 1 always fail and unmodified hit and wound rolls of 6 always succeed. On top of that hit and wound rolls CANNOT be modified above +1 or below -1.
I like some of these changes, it brings some of the top units down and some of the bottom units up.
There is one significant change in charging and that is that you have to make it into ENGAGEMENT RANGE against every unit you declared a charge against or else the charge fails. This makes it increasingly difficult to pull off charges against multiple enemy units while still trying to maintain COHERENCY.
It becomes even more difficult to kill things in combat now the "support" range is cut down to 1/2", and models can only support another model if it's 1/2" from an enemy model. So you can be in ENGAGEMENT RANGE but more than 1/2" away and other models that are beside it won't be able to attack since the first model isn't within 1/2". This is probably the most convoluted and asinine rule in this edition.
MORALE TESTS got an overhaul as well. While the basic test works the same, if D6 + models destroyed is higher than your Ld then you fail, the result is drastically different. If you fail, you lose one additional model, then you make a COMBAT ATTRITION TEST whereby you roll a number of D6's equal to the number of models left in the unit and on a roll of 1 an additional model flees. If the unit is below half strength when the test is made then the COMBAT ATTRITION TEST fails on a 1 or 2.
So far things are not looking good for horde or assault based armies. Blast weapons are looking to do a ton more damage against hordes and the new COMBAT ATTRITION TEST along with UNIT COHERENCY CHECKS are going to bring the end of high model count units. While UNIT COHERENCY, multi-charge requirements, and the 1/2" requirement for "support" attacks are going to make combat far less effective. Of course it's hard to tell really without the full book, who knows what terrain rules and stratagems will be available? Well, we know some of them, perhaps I'll dig some of those up for my next post.
Man it feels good to be back in the saddle. Thanks for reading and, as always, feel free to leave a comment.
Until next time, keep them dice rollin.