Warhammer 40k 8th Edition and the Imperial Guard

I’ve been writing this article forever.  It’ll never get done.  At first I started writing based wholly on speculation, and now I’m writing it with my first game under my belt, and having poured over all the rules that are available out there (while also pre-ordering the material and anxiously awaiting delivery).

So.  I am now going to hit “publish” but reserve the right to revisit this at a later date as I get more games under my belt.

No Unit is Invulnerable

And this is very important.  A wall of Leman Russes showing their front armour can be very intimidating for armies that really only have S7 AT options.  From what I’ve heard, there will be no situation where “Our Weapons are Useless” which is awesome.  Potentially terrifying, because now bolters can wreck my mechanized forces frontally.

But then, this is a two-way street.  Land Raiders will also be vulnerable to lasguns, something that the Guard are generally known to have a lot of.  That and units with a truly hilarious amount of dakka, in various flavours.

Part of the reason why this excites me so much is that it reduces the amount of ‘rock paper scissors’ that goes into the pre-game and more favours good decision making on the battlefield.  Not to say that your army won’t be more efficient if you do take those dedicated anti-tank weapons (in practice, this is definitely the case), but you do have other options at your disposal if your Lascannon teams are reduced to charred, smoking boots…

I can already imagine some folks grinding their teeth thinking: “But I want my unit to be completely invulnerable.”  To which I’ll respond: “You don’t find it hilariously grim and dark that the only thing that stopped your land raider was the sheer quantity of Guardsmen corpses gumming up your tracks?”

It’s a game, and I think this change will make it better for everyone.  It definitely isn’t without its subtle complexities, which the most die-hard fan of the 40k universe can get behind.

Our Lady of Blessed Promethium Projection:

For those who are unaware, templates are now dead.  The new mechanic is kind of similar to how they worked in overwatch, except now the weapon has an 8″ range, and D6 automatic hits…

…so…. yeah…The humble flamer kicks ass.  Those who are familiar with my play styles and army composition know already that I fancy the flamer quite nicely, particularly when you can drop them out of valkyries, store them in chimeras, torrent stream a Hell Hound, etc.  You take one aspect of randomness out of the game by stacking up the hits and wounds, particularly when you’re able to use more than one template.

Well, now flamers are good for an average of 3.5 hits per shooting attack on average.  Consider for a moment that it doesn’t matter how many models these flamers are shooting at.  It could be one, poor, lonely carnifex left out in the open.


Vehicles are Durable Again:

Or at least, this is how it seems.  To date we only have the profile for the Space Marine Dreadnought, which appears to feature Toughness 7 and 8 (!) wounds and a 3+ armour save.  That’s not to say that the weaponry tailored to bring down armour are any less effective however.

The only detail we have pertaining to Anti-Tank Weaponry is the Lascannon.  Its strength hasn’t changed at all, but AP works differently, similar to what I understand “Rending” is in AoS, in that it modifies the armour save roll.  At -3, it seems that a space marine would need to hit a 6 in order to survive, and a terminator has a 5+ armour save against this weapon.

Though, I could be wrong.

The thing I’m going to point at then is the new weapon “Damage” statistic.  A lascannon that wounds, and successfully bypasses or gets through the armour will deal D6 wounds on the target.  In every edition going back as far as I remember, this Lascannon had a pretty good chance of securing a 1 shot kill on a dreadnought.  This is now impossible.  It’d take 2.3 lascannons to knock out a dreadnought, after all the armour shenanigans are taken into account.

Where do I see this impacting the Guard?  Everything that’s durable about them in the past has typically had an AV that puts it above the rest of the crowd.  Russes are T8, which is crazy tough to bring down, Chimeras are as durable as rhinos while packing some heavy firepower (Heavy Flamers anyone?) and it’s less likely that your artillery is going to get one-shotted, and they can’t get shaken/stunned anymore and miss a turn of shooting in addition to losing 33% of their health.

The Assault Phase:

I really enjoy the “I-go, You-go” kind of alternating activation.  It creates some tension with respect to which unit will be striking first, in those protracted engagements, particularly if there are multiple engagements active.  There’s some additional gamesmanship there.  I haven’t had an opportunity to test this out (nothing has made it through my artillery barrage yet (huehuehue) but that’s bound to change soon.  I did not enjoy the headaches involved with figuring out if something charged through cover, whether super-heavies struck at initiative through cover (they don’t have frag grenades?! WHYYYYYY)

So this just tosses all that into the wood chipper and makes it fun again.

Layout of Rules:

This is maybe the biggest one.  Before, you needed to have a law degree in order to make sense of some of the rules.  They’d sometimes be self referential (e.g. Zealot = Hatred + Fearless) and generally very frustrating to use.  You’d need the rulebook out to the USR’s, and your codex open to the unit in order to figure out what your units actually did on the table top, which slowed the game down considerably.

Now, you just need to have the datasheet for the unit open, because it has literally everything you need, aside from the ubiquitous weapons that you typically see across the imperium (e.g. common heavy weapons, heavy weapons, etc.).  The Rulebook portion of the core is basically reduced to a reference for mission parameters (which is typically a ‘check twice per game, once at the start and once at the end to figure out who actually won the damn game), warlord traits (of which there are now 3) and the odd clarification on standard game mechanics.

Warhammer has entered the age of exceptional gaming!  Huzzah!

For example, in 7e you had about 10-20 pages (iirc) dedicated to unit types, and how they performed on the battlefield.  These would further be modified by USR’s, as defined by the codex.

Using the humble Valkyrie as an example, you’ll notice a few things based on its profile:

  • Hard to hit is no longer conferred to everything that is a ‘flier’, as only some units have it.
  • “Airborne” limits the types of units that can charge you, and was typically wrapped into the unit type.  No longer.
  • There is a rule that basically outlines the 90 degree pivot before you move, as per 7e.  But this is on the unit profile.
  • “Hover” simply modifies the movement profile, and allows you to move 0″ in the movement phase, which you previously wouldn’t have been able to do (CRASH & BURN), but you’re trading “Hard to Hit” and “Airborne” for this ability.

I can’t begin to explain how much simpler this method of conveying rules is rather than burying it in an intimidating rulebook.  The data sheet reads like a MTG card activation.  Or something from a FFG Armada card.

Now look at the Tyranid Hive Crone:

  • This unit is not “airborne,” so it can be charged by regular infantry.
  • This unit is not “hard to hit”.  I guess it’s slower than super-sonic fighter jets or something!  Makes sense with the flapping of wings!
  • There is no stipulation on pivoting or moving, but the minimum move 10″ remains tied to your profile.  Meaning, you ALWAYS have to move 10″ in the movement phase or you’re removed as a casualty.  This includes falling back out of assault!  But you can do this in any direction.  The Hive Crone can turn on a dime!!!!  Like sharks, if you stop moving with the ‘nid fliers you will die!
  • From a fluff perspective, I love this.  you’ll have tyranid FMC’s raking down infantry like Nazghul, and then immediately flying away to smoke their next target.  From a crunch perspective, you can almost consider the assault phase the new home of your Vector Strikes from 7e.

Now, I’m sure there’s a lot more in the way of changes that I love, but I’m going to save those for another time.  Suffice to say I’m the most excited I’ve been in a long time about my toy soldiers.

5 Replies to “Warhammer 40k 8th Edition and the Imperial Guard”

    1. …right!? I started writing this about a month ago when details started to dribble out from the community page. I must admit I did get a bit excited and strayed from my original topic, the Imperial Guard. That said, with my second game under my belt as of last night I can write a bit more now 🙂

  1. Love that video from Saving Private Ryan. Beautiful.

    One of the things I love the most about 8th edition is (speaking of that video) that the concept of winning the game with list building is gone. A good list is still required, but it’s not going to win you the game by default any longer based on match-up. This removes so much of my 7th angst right there.

    1. Yeah! I saw that vid on the ol’ twitter box and was howling for days.

      I’m not sure if I’m ready to agree with the idea that army selection won’t win you the game just yet. I’m only 2 games in, and I’ve tabled my opponent twice so far (and it wasn’t close). Over time, I’m sure we’ll see some new hotness emerge as total cheese.

      1. List is still a factor, don’t get me wrong, but gone are the days of a guy showing up with all armor, and your list has no anti-armor, thus a wasted game.

        Stuff like that is what I mean. It could happen now, but at least any weapon you have can damage. It doesn’t mean you’ll do well, only that you have a chance.

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