7th Heaven?

So, 7th ed has been out a few weeks now and I suppose that this is a bit late for a review but I wanted to give it a few weeks for the FAQs to come out and for me to get a game in. Well, the first of those happened very quickly, but the second took rather longer. However, having got a 1K game in with my Space Wolves against my boyfriend’s Orks, I now think that a review is possible.

First up the books themselves. I like the new three volume set, it makes it far easier to use the rules when you don’t have to flick through a 600+ page tome and breaking it down into three books meant that, as we share our rules, my boyfriend and I didn’t have to argue over who got to read the whole lot first! I actually found that I read the rules more carefully this time round, the lighter weight makes it easier to hold and because it’s shorter it makes it easier to cross reference stuff in different parts of the book.

5th, 6th and 7th Ed

5th, 6th and 7th Ed

The books themselves seemed perfectly fine. The contents of the “Dark Millennium” book are not much changed from the previous edition although the layout is different. There’s a massive copy-paste error in the timeline, a couple of millennia of history seems to have been redacted. Perhaps it should have been noticed before publication, but that depends a lot on how good the proof readers are on Imperial history. It’s very easy for mistakes to propagate and it’s an easy place to lose the plot a little. If it had happened in the rules it would have been a bit of a disaster but in the fluff, it’s rather annoying and possibly a little embarrassing for GW, but it isn’t a game spoiler.

The changes from 6th to 7th are quite big but they feel really subtle, maybe because none of them are very counter-intuitive and some, like the psychic phase make the game a little smoother, at least for forgetful idiots like me (more on that bit later). Even Unbound, which has been causing somewhat of a furore on the internet, is just GW codifying that we can actually play with our toys the way that we want to. I don’t get a lot of the “Unbound is evil and GW is the devil who wants to squish competitive play” talk, if they really wanted to do that then they could have just got rid of the force org chart altogether, rather than giving bonuses for playing sensibly. There seems to be some attempt to clarify things and, of course, a whole bunch of new things for people to argue over. 7th is a much more modular game than 6th edition was, letting us choose what extras that we want to add so that we play the kind of games that we want to play. This might be a problem in pick-up games, as there will always be someone who doesn’t want to play nicely and spoils everyone else’s fun, but for planned games and tournaments it’ll probably be business as usual as people select the kind of game they want to play. Once we get over the initial panic then it’ll be interesting to see how the game settles down.

I haven’t played with the Maelstrom of War missions yet, but the change in scoring rules to allow (almost) any unit to score objectives has had a subtle effect on the Eternal War missions, as there are no “positives” to having say, a heavy support heavy army in “Big Guns Never Tire”, or a fast army for “The Scouring” any more. I think that, until I get used to the changes in rules, I’m going to stick to Eternal War missions as I think that too many changes all at once will just confuse me! However, I look forward to trying out the Maelstrom of War missions in a few games time.

I quite like the addition of the psychic phase as it adds a little order to the game, reminding me to actually cast those damned powers and helping plan what my Rune Priest does more easily. I need to learn the phase a little better still (I made a couple of very stupid mistakes in my game this week) but I like it.

For my Space Wolves the advent of 7th has been somewhat of a mixed blessing, the codex is beginning to show its age a little and its probably lucky for me that the Ork codex is (for a little while longer at least) even more venerable. Still, counter attack is back to the way it was in 5th, which makes the decision not to charge something a little bit easier. Regarding the FAQ, I’m going to miss Living Lightning but the Rune Priest is far from useless. I used Divination in my first game of 7th and it was very, very nice. The Rune Priest is probably a little expensive now compared to the Space Marine Librarian but that’s a problem throughout the ‘dex, with some units still being fairly cheap for what they can do (Grey Hunters, Long Fangs) and others being a little too expensive (anything with the word “claw” in it especially). There’s still a lot that can be done with the ‘dex though and the change in the Rune Priest has made me think about what I bring. A little goody that is still there is the Wolf Tail Talisman which was not FAQ’d and so can currently nullify the effects of a psychic power cast on a unit on a 5+. I imagine that we won’t get to keep it for too long but as a 5 point upgrade to Wolf Guard you could build an army with a little bit more psychic defence on a unit by unit basis, which with the new psychic rules might be rather useful.

So on to our first game of 7th. We took 1000 points apiece (Battleforged of course, I don’t think that Unbound is a particularly sensible idea for relearning the game). I took Space Wolves and my boyfriend took his Orks.

My list was:

HQ: Rune Priest with runic armour (warlord)
HQ: Wolf Priest: bike, Saga of the Beastslayer
Elites: 6x Wolf Scouts: 1x missile launcher, 4x sniper rifle and 1x boltgun (I made a mistake when writing my list and forgot to add another sniper rifle)
Troops: 10x Grey Hunters: meltagun, flamer
Troops:10x Grey Hunters: meltagun, plasma pistol (for the fun of it)
Troops: 5x Grey Hunters
Fast Attack: 4x Swiftclaws
Heavy Support: 6x Long Fangs: 3x heavy bolter, 2x missile launcher
=1002 points

His list was:

HQ: Warboss with Mega-armour, Cybork body, Bosspole
HQ: Big Mek with Kustom Force Field, ‘Eavy Armour, Bosspole
Elites: 7x Lootas + Mek
Troops: 20x Ork Boyz: 2x Big Shoota
Troops: 20x Ork Boyz: 2x Big Shoota
Troops: 10x Grots + Runtherd
Fast Attack: Dakkajet with Supa-shoota
Fast Attack: 3x Deffkoptas: rokkitlaunchers
Fast Attack: 2x warbiker +1x Nob warbiker with Bosspole, Power Klaw
=1000 points

The game took a while to set up, I think it took us a couple of hours to get to the end of turn 1, just because we were checking what had or hadn’t changed. The game sped up considerably as we moved on and got the hang of it. We used Eternal War and rolled Big Guns Never Tire and this was when I discovered that the change in scoring now meant that, for me, rolling Big Guns Never Tire was a serious disadvantage as my Boyfriend could get an extra victory point for killing my Long Fangs, which as his long distance heavy shooting was all down to the Elite Lootas, I couldn’t benefit from at all. It’s a pity that these missions are a little bit more one sided now as it did kind of spoil my fun to have a mission which I could do nothing at all with. My bad luck with the set up dice did not end there. At the start of the game we both had units that were next to the four mysterious objectives. My boyfriend rolled 2 and 5, meaning that one objective was just that, but the other gave him +1 to his save, so that his Ork Boyz sitting in a ruin ended up with a 3+ save- all game! I rolled a 1 and a 6. The 6, while ostensibly a very good roll, giving a 2” reduction in charge length, was on the quiet side of the board, while the 1, the sabotaged objective, was right next to my Long Fangs, who now were the main target of the Orks and busy setting off the objective! These two sets of “bad” rolls did spoil my game a little. I have no problem with losing units because I did something stupid, but starting a game with two disadvantages that weren’t my fault did make things a bit miserable! I’ve decided that I should give all the important rolls to my boyfriend in future as I only seem to get the worst results. The same thing happened at the end of the game when I rolled to end the game on turn 5, when I needed another turn or two to salvage a draw (although there was a stupid tactical error there too). Gameplay itself was pretty much business as usual, save for the psychic phase, which I found a nice addition, meaning that I a) remembered to cast powers and b) should have been able to play more tactically, except that in all the excitement I forgot that I could “run”.

Bad rolls aside, the game was good. I lost by three victory points in the end (that damned sabotaged objective) but I learned enough so that at least some of my more stupid actions are less likely to occur in future. I have to play more tactically with my army, I just have to remember that movie tactics aren’t going to work on a flat piece of green cloth.

The new lightweight book was nice to use, it got in the way far less than the old one, we just need a large handful of bookmarks to keep things in place. It was easier to navigate without the fluff and the photos interrupting the flow. I think when we get round to using Maelstrom of War we will invest in the cards so as to keep things clear and cut down on the dice.

Over all, I quite like the new edition. It came out a little too soon but with the explosive growth of the game, I guess in the long run it will be better to have a basic ruleset that fits the more modular style of new codices, dataslates and expansions. I’m wondering if the simplification of the allies matrix might mean that by splitting it into factions like “Imperial”, they’re making it easier to add new armies. Hopefully this will benefit other factions like Eldar or Tau (etc) as well as just Imperial players. The more modular style will hopefully make it easier to run the kind of games you want, by adding or removing the bits you don’t like. Of course, all of this was done before, but now its a deliberate part of the games mechanics.

I’m still waiting for FAQs for Killteam and the Inquisition Codex but everything else seems ok right now. I guess I will play a few more old fashioned games and then look at trying out tactical objectives and unbound games. It should be fun!