Saturday, June 7, 2014
7th Ed Baptism of Fire!
Finally got a game of 7th Ed in. And I must say it was a blast! The Tactical Objectives and Psychic Phase makes for a very different flavor of 40k. A lot of myths and preconceptions were debunked, though this is just based on the one game I've had so far. Certainly different from what we're used to - and for me that means all the previous editions since 3rd.
We played the first Maelstrom of War mission: Cleanse and Control. In this mission, there are 6 objective markers, and in each turn each player needs to have 3 Tactical Objective cards. The mission specifies Vanguard Strike deployment. My oppenent Dom chose the nice Cityfight table, which was pretty cool. Been awhile since I played on that one.
I used the last Thousand Sons list I built in 6th Ed: Ahriman, Lord Ka'Kaa the Lord of Change, 2 favored Thousand Sons squads (one with Rhino), 1 pack of Pink Horrors, 1 Heldrake, 1 Land Raider, 1 Defiler and 1 Predator (autocannon, heavy bolters). There's a total of 5 psykers in the army, with a potential to generate 10+d6 warp charges in total. I got lucky with Ahriman, who managed to get Invisibility and Iron Arm, on top of Prescience and Psychic Shriek (the Tzeentch Primaris was free). Lord Ka'Kaa also had Prescience. However no one got Doombolt - pity, as I would have liked to try the new rules for beam powers.
Dom fielded his Dark Angels army, led by Master Belial, 2 squads of Assault Terminators (thunder hammer, storm shield), 1 Dark Angels Veteran Squad (meltaguns) in Drop Pod, 1 Dark Angels Tactical Squad (plasma gun) in Drop Pod, 1 squadron of 3 Ravenwing Land Speeder Typhoons, 1 Land Raider and 1 Land Raider Crusader.
I'm not going to give a blow-by-blow batrep, but just to share my thoughts on the new game (and it felt like a new game too).
1. Psychic Phase is not so scary after all ...
There was a lot of noise about the new Psychic Phase, and honestly, I think it's really more hype than anything else. My Thousand Sons army can generate 10+d6 Warp Charge per turn. While it's not as uber-extreme as you can take it, it certainly is fairly above average. On top of that, with sorcerers like Ahriman and the Lord of Change, plus free Tzeentch Primaris for the Thousand Sons sorcerers, my psychic power list was pretty long. And as I mentioned, I got lucky with my rolls, getting gems like Iron Arm and Invisibility.
However, casting powers is now not as predictable. Combined with abysmal Warp Charge rolls (I think the highest I rolled was 3), I had 11-13 power dice to play with when all my psykers were still alive. Still looks decent right? Well, the reality is that master sorcerer Ahriman hogged ALL of my Psychic Phases. Casting Prescience, Iron Arm and Invisibility on himself and his squad pretty much sucked up all the power dice I had. Every turn. All the other sorcerers just watched and lent their Mastery Levels to the dice pool. All those millennia of psychic training gone to waste ...
So rest assured that except for some really purpose-designed psychic armies, the Psychic Phase is not as scary as it sounds. In fact, I really like that it neatly streamlines all psychic activity into its very own part of each turn. Having said that, there are a couple of scary things with this psychic thing ...
2. Invisibility IS scary!
I know much have been written about the new Invisibility. But until I actually tried it out I didn't quite appreciate how amazingly scary it is. At 2 Warp Charges, you need at least 5 dice ro reliably cast it. But allowing only Snap Shots and 6's to hit in close combat against Invisible units means you have units that are extremely hard to kill. Ahriman and his squad were charged by thunder-hammer-storm-shield Assault Terminators, losing only only 2 Rubricae while wiping out the Termies. And the 2 turns that I failed my Invisibility rolls were enough to wipe out Ahriman's squad by shooting and assault, leaving Ahriman alone in a challenge against a Deathwing veteran sergeant.
3. Perils of the Warp IS scary ...
Ahriman actually suffered Perils of the Warp and rolled a '1' on the table. Luckily he passed his Leadership Test, and just lost 1 wound to it. Had he failed, he would have been sucked into the Warp, and perhaps taking some of his squad with him too!
4. I need to go back to Flying Monstrous Creature (FMC) school
My expensive Lord of Change, the great Lord Ka'Kaa, was one scary FMC with one lesser and two greater rewards and also a Mastery Level 3 Tzeentch greater daemon. But with some subtle changes in 7th Ed, I only managed to use him in some very passive roles. He did contribute 3 Warp Charges every turn. He took out 1 hull point from a Land Speeder. He achieved 1 tactical objective. That's it. I guess he didn't do too badly. But compared to his fearsome deeds of old, it didn't seem like much. I'll need to relearn how to use him more effectively next time.
5. Light skimmers die slightly easier now
I love light skimmers like Land Speeders and Vypers. In 6th Ed, my squadron of 3 Vypers or 3 Land Speeders tend to survive battles because the 5+ jink combined with 6 hull points per squadron is always better than it looks. But now, you'd have to make the choice - Snap Fire next turn, or jink? Not always a straight-forward decision.
6. The Heldrake nerfed? Nahhhh ...
There was also a lot of whining about the new FAQ limiting the Heldrake's arc of fire. I frankly did not see the problem at all. This mean flying dude is still a mean flying dude, frying all kinds of loyalist targets almost every turn. Still love it! Still a scary flyer!
7. Tactical Objectives makes it an entirely new game.
And this is no exaggeration. Most players have been trained through countless battles and numerous editions to focus on making sure objectives are achieved before the game ends. This usually ends up in games that typically see shooty armies waiting for killy armies to come to them, or some variation thereof. And a lot of grabbing objectives at the very last minute.
With Tactical Objectives, your army really needs to be flexible. Mobiliy becomes extremely important. The bulk of your forces might be in one corner, just when all the objectives you need to achieve are in another, etc. I'd guess that armies with only one battle plan, or one style of play, would suffer greatly. You really need to have an expanded playbook to handle all kinds of situations.
Tactical Objectives really emphasizes manouver and positioning. It changes how yo
u use your units. In the game I played, my Defiler only fired once at the very last turn. Before that he was too busy achieving objectives. Balancing holding onto a single objective, while at the same time being ready to support other units or grab another objective, all makes for some really interesting tactical challenges.
I find it pretty awesome. Though I must admit there was a point it got a bit too random.
At the very last turn, I was already losing the game. In fact, I thought it was already lost. Both armies were battered. The Dark Angels only had Belial, 4 Termies, an immobilized Land Raider Crusader and 2 Drop Pods left. I was down to Ahriman, Lord Ka'Kaa, 10 Horrors, the Defiler and the Predator. The last Tactical Objective card I drew gives me d3 Victory Points if I controlled at least 3 objective markers. At that point Dom had 9VPs to my 7. Controlling the 3 objective markers was easy enough with the Horrors, the Defiler and Lord Ka'Kaa. I need to roll a 3 or 4 to draw the game, and a 5+ to win. So I rolled the dice. And '5' came up.
While I do feel bad for Dom for snatching the win by ONE lucky dice roll, we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was simply a fun game. Even my Aspiring Sorcerer that became a Spawn enjoyed it!
Looking forward to more!