Monday, June 19, 2017

Miniature Monday: 6/19/2017

Since it's been too hot to paint, let's talk about something else besides painting miniatures.  You may have heard that Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition was released this past weekend...

I'll be really honest, playing 7th edition 40k had become a chore.  Which is really not something you want in a game, since the whole point of games is to have fun and enjoy yourself.  In order to make sense of what my army build could do, I was cross-referencing two or three books and writing out army lists like they were small codices.  Then during the game I'd have to constantly refer to my stuff, which slowed down the game.  The learning curve was a bit steep even though I did enjoy the games that did go smoothly.  But they were always small games of 1000 points or less, which has the benefit (at least to me) of severely limiting how much complexity the game ends up with.

So with that in mind, I don't consider 8th edition a 'streamlined' ruleset compared to its predecessor.  I wouldn't call it simplified either, because to me that means it was dumbed down.

It's been stripped down to the core of what makes 40k feel like 40k.

What I mean by that is that it feels like 40k without the extreme rules bloat that accumulated from 3rd edition to 7th edition.  Yes, it is simpler overall, but simpler doesn't mean that there is a lack of depth (just like complexity also doesn't mean depth).  Depth here means how many useful choices the player has given the tools at their disposal.  By stripping the rules down to their essentials and turning the unit entries into the player's toolbox, you have an environment where new players can easily explore their options.  The rules are easy to remember and almost all of a unit's rules and gear are on their entry. Extra Credits did an excellent job of explaining depth vs. complexity in this video.

Is it balanced though?  Having played a 500 point game where it was my opponent's lone Imperial Knight faced 16 Ultramarines (9 of which were armed with lascannons), I felt like it was pretty well balanced.  It ultimately came down to some key dice rolls on both our parts to decide the game.  The Knight made some important saves and the lascannons flubbed some important damage rolls.  It's a good place to be for balance, in my opinion. 

An Imperial Knight would have blown the Space Marines to little pieces in the last edition because of the 5" templates it had at its disposal.  While the rapid-fire battle cannon is still a model eating piece of nastiness, it can only hit one unit in 8th edition and normal damage doesn't spill over onto other models.  At the same time, the Imperial Knight felt as durable as they should be.  Prior editions made vehicles like the Imperial Knight into glass cannons.  Sure, they can do horrendous amounts of damage to your opponent's army, but they'd go down pretty quickly to massed heavy weapons fire.

Meanwhile, the way a Devastator Sergeant and a Captain interact made it so that the lascannons weren't quite the waste they've been.  The Space Marine Captain lets you reroll hit rolls of 1 for units within 6" of him and the Devastator Sergeant can give one model in his unit a +1 to hit rolls with a shooting attack.  The problem I'd always had with lascannons before is that they never seemed to hit.

The points system takes a bit of getting used to.  In essence, everything got more expensive.  This is because of the changes to how vehicles work, how characters work, and how you calculate the points for a model.  You have to pay for all the wargear they have, whether it's the stock gear or upgrades.  There's also Power Ratings/Levels, which are basically a flat cost for balancing out narrative games or really quick pickup games.  They're pretty balanced unless you run into that guy who maxes out everything, since they're based on a theoretical average.

As one last thought, I'm quite happy that chainswords are now something other than an alternate name for a close combat weapon.