Blame It On the Fireworks

Excited as I was to get through the new 40K ruleset, well, it was also the Canada Day long weekend.  So, you know, it took me a while.

Also, it's a freaking big book!

But I've gone through it, and I have to say that, not only is it not nearly as bad as all manner of people were just so completely certain it was going to be, it's actually quite good.  Despite the talk of 6th reinventing the wheel, it is, like 5th and 4th before, predominantly a tweaking of the pre-existing ruleset; the shooting rules have been streamlined and simplified, Rapid Fire was tweaked to make standard infantry more mobile and more dangerous, Hull Points have taken care of the 'unkillable' vehicle issue, vehicles can no longer score or contest unless otherwise noted, FNP and cover were both toned down somewhat, and there are more missions than the last edition offered, but without the wild swings that something like the Battle Missions book could be guilty of.  And not only are the pre-existing elements as well handled as could be expected, but the newly created ones are balanced, as well.  The restrictions on Allies are fairly serious, and will certainly stop the creation of any kind of 'super army', particularly if the two detachments are anything less than Battle Brothers.  The Fortifications are pretty reasonable, as well; despite the Chicken Little-ing, they range from '50 points extra for the exact same cover saves Infantry had in the last edition' to 'an immobile Land Raider with fewer powerful guns', and the Fortification Damage Table is rather punishing for units inside and the Fortification itself.  Also, you only get a single Fortification per 1999 points, so you can hardly drown the table in advantageous terrain.  The only real trick with them is that, since they're deployed before terrain, tournaments will have to slot it in extra, oh, five minutes per game for the players to arrange their tables.  Oh, and GW even built rules for how to set up terrain, as well, so there's a moderated mechanism to handle that, as well. 

It's almost like they know what they're doing.

The one element that gives me some pause are the new Flyer rules.  Being immune to assault, needing 6s to hit unless you have Skyfire (which no non-Flyer/Fortification unit does) and getting to fire 4 weapons each shooting phase, at standard BS, are a bit intimidating.  A close look at them, however, reveals as many weaknesses as strengths.  They have to travel at least 18" each turn with just a single pivot of at-most-90 degrees at the start of their movement, which is going to badly hamper their shooting ability given all their weapons are forward-facing; there is no flat-out cover save anymore, and the only way a Flyer can get the Jink save is to make all its shooting next turn Snap Shots; getting Skyfire to shoot at enemy Flyers means losing the ability to engage ground targets with anything but Snap Shots; Flyer transports that are wrecked or explode are murder on their passengers, to the tune of 'S10 AP1 hits on all models', and that unit can't disembark from a Flyer unless it switches to Hover mode, making itself a giant target and limiting its ability to deal damage.  In all, it seems that Flyers are likely to alternate between 'glass cannon' and 'brick with a cudgel', depending on which mode they're in.

Now, what does 6th edition mean for my Tau?  Well, there are a few things.  Deny the Witch is nice, because it gives us at least some psychic defence.  Acute Senses on battlesuits is now useless, since they can't Outflank anyway, but that's more than made up for by the way blacksun filters work; a BSF on a single model in a unit means the entire unit can ignore Night Fight.  Hit and Run is similarly 'if one can, everyone can', which may make Vectored Retro-Thrusters on an 'el or 'o worthwhile.  The Jink save for moving skimmers is a little annoying, since Eldar and Dark Eldar get it too, along with Marine landspeeders and Flyers (sometimes), but it does mean that Tau players don't have to spend points on disruption pods for every vehicle; they basically come built-in, now, and they work against those annoying melta shots from closer than 12" away.  Rapid Fire is explicitly 'half maximum range = 2 shots', which is nice since it means the pulse rifle is no longer being arbitrarily restricted to 12".  The strangest thing, from the FAQ, is that Target Locks no longer function at all; this is weird because, while the Target Priority tests they were predicated on are gone, a new USR called Split Fire has been created that allows for exactly the same thing.  Snap Fire is nice, since Markerlights can now fire on the move; not well, of course, but it's better than a Pathfinder team could manage before.  And between the new 'take casualties from the front' shooting rules and Overwatch, there's a real chance Tau can blunt the danger of getting charged by large numbers of 5+ save models.  Stealth suits now have a constant 4+ cover save, thanks to the Shroud and Stealth special rules; I still don't think they're worth taking, but it's a point in their favour.  And while it's not a tactic I encourage, the Preferred Enemy special rule now allows for re-rolling To Hit rolls for both close combat and shooting; sacrificing an Ethereal to essentially twin-link every gun in your army could be tempting.

So.  Warhammer 40,000, 6th edition.  I've read it, and I think I've understood it, though I'm looking forwards to getting a couple of practice games under my belt to really iron everything out.  But as far as preliminary thoughts go?  I have to say, not bad, Games Workshop.  Not bad one bit.

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