It's here.......The long awaited 8th Edition went on sale and like a bunch school kids, four of the Cold Steel Mercs queued up after midnight to get our sticky little hands on the rule books. Our plan was simple, get the books, retire to our hotel and scour the pages so that we could play our first game as soon as Element Games opened on Saturday morning......Alas, we aren't school kids any more and before we joined the queue, we had several pints and more than a few bottles of red wine before the midnight hour. With rule books in hand, we retired to our rooms well lubricated and promptly fell asleep......Oops!
Fortunately, the rules, or more specifically, the Indices had been floating about for a couple of weeks, so we already had our armies ready to go.
My first game of 8th would be against my old mate Neil and his Khorne army. I was really happy to play Neil first as virtually everything I've learnt about 40k has come from playing against him. Don't get me wrong, I've learnt plenty of lessons from playing against others (and I'm sure Neil has), but what we do learn, we will happily share with each other and explore these findings to see if we can develop them further. We can do this because there is literally no egos to get in the way when we play against each other. What I mean by that is that we have played against each other so many times that (unless it's a tournament game) we care little for the result and will quite happily go back a phase or purposely do something tactically unsound if it means we will learn something new. We'll also ask each other's opinion when we're playing on what we think our next move should be.
Now I know what you're thinking, I'm making him sound like some great gaming Sensei and his ego will swell to unhealthy levels, but fear not, he doesn't read the Blog anyway, so I can say anything I like about him and he'll never know.......such as the real reason I like playing against Neil is that he has never beaten me, he drinks as much as I do and he bears an uncanny resemblance to Kate Beckinsale*
|*Sadly, only one of these things is true ;-)|
I have already posted what I was using here , but I thought I'd go into a little more detail about the list and share my thoughts on what I was thinking. The list I came up with had units which I like and which I thought would give me a good idea on how the game works. I avoided taking Lords of War or flyers because I wanted to know what 'regular' units were capable of.
Daemon Prince, Wing, Malefic Talons x2
Herald of Slaanesh, Seeker Chariot.
Herald of Slaanesh, Seeker Chariot.
5 Noise Marines, 4 Sonic Blasters, Blastmaster.
5 Noise Marines, 4 Sonic Blasters, Blastmaster.
5 Chaos Spawn
5 Bikers, 2 Melta, Chainswords, Powerfist
Predator, Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons.
Feel free to skip this section if you aren't interested because I may ramble and some of my reasoning may appear contradictory at times......such is the way of theory-hammer! ;-)
Obviously, all this theory-hammer is concerning Match Play and tournaments. I don't need GW to tell me how to play campaigns or special scenarios. That said, while I have been playing campaigns for years, I still appreciate GW's efforts in this area and I'm sure I'll use many of the ideas in those sections to help enhance my campaigns, it's just that Narrative play isn't what most people play when they go to a tournament.
After reading (some of) the rules and countless GW Community posts on 8th edition, I quickly came to the conclusion that the Battalion detachment was the 'standard' detachment that closely resembled the old force organisation of previous editions. The only real difference was an additional compulsory HQ and Troop choice. This would give me a reasonably balanced army with 6 Command Points to play with.
With Formations consigned to the 7th Edition bin, GW have given players much more options than the 'standard' detachment. Vanguard, Spearhead, Outrider and Supreme Command detachments all seem like they have the ability to make a mockery of any attempt at a balanced game, it doesn't take a genius to work out that an army consisting of 6 HQ's and 6 Heavy Support is going to skew the game. It will be interesting to see how Tournament Organisers handle this, because at the moment, it feels to me like 8th might as well be unbound.
Time will tell.
So with that in mind, I'll be focusing on the Battalion detachment with maybe a Super Heavy Auxiliary detachment added for the foreseeable future.
There are lots of things I like about 8th edition, one of the things is the change to Psychic powers. In 6/7th edition I really didn't like how convoluted and time consuming psychic powers were. Be it spending 20 minutes rolling for all those powers or trying to keep track of who had what power. In the end I just gave up on the Psychic phase, if an army used a lot of them I would often lose all interest in playing. On more than one occasion I had said to players "Just pick what powers you want, I won't be keeping track of them."
Not so with 8th, at last we can pick our powers and the mechanism to cast them is simple and elegant. They are no longer the devastating, all powerful and fun-sapping mechanic that couldn't be stopped.
Another thing that feels like a vast improvement was the death of the Deathstar. No more Thunderwolves/Bikers with a bazillion characters giving them a 2+/3++ re-rollable save and 2+ FNP. A Character can no longer join a unit but is still capable of enhancing a nearby unit's performance. Playing Chaos, this hurts us almost as much as it does the Imperials; because although the Imperials could stack far more USR's onto their units than Chaos could, Chaos characters still appear more fragile than their Imperial counterparts.
Imperials still have much more access to a 2+ or 3++ save than we do and are generally more survivable.
Chaos doesn't have bodyguards to help out our characters like the Imperials do, so snipers will be far more effective against Chaos than they are against the lapdogs.
This is not a complaint by the way, it's just what was going around in my head when I was looking at what to use as an HQ choice. I see HQ's more of a utility unit that enhance other units rather than a beat-stick unit now. The days of my Chaos Lord riding around on a bike may be coming to an end as the utility he offers is considerably less when compared to a other HQ's, especially those with Psychic powers.
Daemon Prince (Chaos Space Marines)
It's been a long time since I used a Daemon Prince (4th edition I think), but after reading the blurry images of the Chaos Index a couple of things immediately stood out to me. The Chaos Space Marine Daemon Prince is superior to the Daemon Prince from the Daemon army. They're both the same number of points in Match Play but in Power Levels the Daemon version costs 1 PL more.
The CSM Daemon Prince has 2 fewer wounds than the Daemon version but thanks to the game mechanics this is actually an advantage. Because the CSM Prince has only 8 wounds, it can't be targeted unless it's the closest model (apart from snipers). This is pretty important in its survivability. The Daemon version has 10 wounds, so anybody can target him, come what may.
The CSM version also has a leadership of 10 compared to the Daemon version of 9.
The raison d'être (for me at least) is the CSM's Prince of Chaos ability (re-roll 1's to hit). The Daemon version of this ability only affects Daemons (same god) but the CSM version affects Daemons (same god) and the same Heretic Astartes Legion.
So immediately the wheels began to turn (ever so slowly, but at least they were moving!). A Daemon Prince could use its abilities on my Noise Marines and my Daemonettes.....hmm.....a plan is formulating.
Herald of Slaanesh on Seeker Chariot
I wouldn't even have thought of using a Herald on a Seeker Chariot but for one thing. 8th Edition has killed the Grande Cavalcade and the Seeker Chariot.
Formations are gone so the Cavalcade is no more but the real problem is that Seeker Chariots can no longer be used in units of 3, they are single units. To make matters worse, their Hammer of Wrath ability has been replaced by Scything Impact (roll a D6 for every enemy model with 1" after it has finished its charge move, on a 6 it causes a mortal wound), which is bloody awful compared to what we had. So I have 10 Seeker Chariots that are unlikely to see any action for a long time.
Fortunately, a Herald of Slaanesh can take a Seeker Chariot and she has a couple of abilities that can help out the army overall.
Like the Daemon Prince, she's a Psyker, so it's another model that can attempt to stop enemy Psykers as well as cast her own powers.
Her ability to add +1 strength to all friendly Slaanesh Daemon units within 6" is not to be sniffed at. Daemonettes are usually wounding on 5's, with a Herald's help they can up this to 4's, which can make a huge impact with -1AP.
The Seeker Chariot improves their toughness to 5 and gives them 7 wounds with a 4+ armour save. Again, because they're characters with less than 10 wounds they cannot be targeted unless they are the closest model. With 6 Strength 4 Attacks hitting on 2+ they're reasonable in combat.....even their Steeds get 4 attacks after they have struck (unfortunately they don't have the Herald's AP-1/Rending). With a 12" move, they look like a solid HQ choice for me.
For the Battalion detachment I needed to take 3 troop choices and for my first game of 8th, there wasn't even a decision to be made really.....
My favourite troop choice. In every edition since they've been available I have taken Noise Marines. I've used them whether they've been good, bad or indifferent. The only decision to be made about them was what would they be armed with. Again, there wasn't really a decision to be made, they would have Sonic Blasters and a Blastmaster. Thanks to Sonic Blasters now being Assault weapons, they can either sit on an objective or march forward with the rest of the army and still lay down a decent rate of fire. I had my doubts about the Blastmaster, but after 666 lashes and a stint in the Pain-Glove, I put my faith in Our Lady's chosen and took two units......to hell with the consequences.
My favourite Daemon troop choice, I love Daemonettes, the only Daemon unit I love more is the Fiend of Slaanesh (Yeah, I know most people can't stand them, but to me they look creepy good, they're quite simply, sublime!).
I had initially looked at our latest incarnation of Daemonette and thought, hmm...they're okay, but they've lost a lot of speed. No Fleet, no add 3" to advance moves.....Howling Banshees have stolen it from us......the bastards, oh how I will make them pay dearly for stealing out ability, I will strike them down with great fury.....Ahem....Okay, so I was a bit miffed about this, but hey, we work with what we have.
While reading all that GW teased us with and looking at how the rules appeared to work, I quickly came to the conclusion that quantity could well matter more than quality. A lot of the shooting that dominated the last few editions appeared to have been reduced in its output. Templates are gone and I was left scratching my head at how Chaos would deal with horde armies? The answer (for me anyway) was to introduce a large unit myself. Cultists have been a solid choice for a while, but as good as they are, Daemonettes are sexier!
I wanted to see just how durable large units are, so I decided to try out a unit of 28. I had this idea of a wall of Daemonettes, with two Heralds flanking a Daemon Prince behind them. The Noise Marines would stay close to benefit from the Princes re-roll 1's to hit as would the Daemonettes.
Objectives are still a thing, so speed looked like it would still be required and as a Chaos player it's always satisfying to be able to close with the enemy quickly. Looking at our options, the Fast Attack section is even more crowded than it was. The Heldrake no longer occupies that section but Warp Talons and Raptors appear to be considerably more effective now, thanks to their Warpflame Strike and Raptor Strike (I've no idea why they can't just call it why they can't just call it Deepstrike) and the way deepstrike now works.
These have changed quite a bit to how they were. No more jink means they can't shrug Heavy Weapons fire off like they used to, but with an extra wound they seem much more survivable against single damage weapons (except Lasguns who now wound on a 5+ instead of a 6+). I've always used Bikers in my Castigators, they're an okay harassment unit but realistically, they have always been more of a distraction unit rather than a game winning unit. I'm not sure if they're capable of this role with the loss of jink and I may very well struggle to find a use for them in 8th. I wanted to try them, to see what they are capable of but with no Lord to boost their combat capability they could prove to be an extravagance.
I was expecting these to take a serious hit from the Nerf bat, but was surprised to see that these looked like they were still pretty good. They're much slower than they were but they appeared to look more than capable of holding their own in combat, so 5 of these seemed like a must take to me.
I wanted to include a vehicle in the army just to see what they could do. At first I was thinking Maulerfiend or Vindicator but Michael had already said he was going to try them out in his list, so I opted for an Autocannon Predator with Lascannon sponsons. The Lascannon appeared to be a much more feared weapon again so I was looking forward to see what it could do.
That little lot added up to 1493pts. It seems incredibly small to me, especially considering it doesn't have any LoW, Fire Raptor or Dreadclaw in it. I can see tournaments embracing 2000pts as the norm.
So that was what I was thinking when I designed my list. I felt it had a bit of everything in it and that it should give me a feel for how things work in this new addition. I had no idea what Neil was using when I designed this list (he has World Eaters, Daemons of every denomination, Space Marines and Tyranids) so I was hoping it would be balanced enough to deal with whatever he threw at me.
As I said in my last post, Neil opted for his Khorne army so our first game would be Khorne Daemonkin against Slaanesh Daemonkin!
We decided to play a straight forward Eternal War mission and rolled up the old home and away 1 objective each. I won the roll to choose deployment so opted for table quarters on purely nostalgia reasons (when was the last time that was in use 4th edition?).
We started deploying our forces in alternate order (another thing from yesteryear) and I have to say deployment is much more enjoyable for it.
Neil deployed Skarbrand as far forward as he could with Be'lakor and two units of Crushers surrounding him. The Skull Cannon on the hill covered his advance with a unit of 5 Flesh Hounds hiding behind holding Neil's Objective. A unit of Berzerkers held the centre ground and behind them (just out of shot) another unit of Flesh Hounds lurked.
I deployed exactly how I had planned to (I think they call that having a strategy....lol)
The Daemontettes held the front line with the Spawn and Bikers on each of the Nette's flanks. Behind them lurked the Heralds and Daemon Prince with both Squads of Noise Marines camped on my objective.
Neil had first turn and despite using a Command Point (CP) to reroll, I failed to seize. Skarbrand jumped forward, while the rest of Neil's army edged forward. Be'lakor tried to cast Smite on the Daemonettes but a Herald quickly shut the power down.
I took Neil's bait and quickly redeployed to set up a charge on Skarbrand. The Psychic phase saw me successfully cast Smite 3 times to strip 5 wounds from Skarbrand, The Predator, Blastmasters and Bikers stripped another couple from him. The Daemonettes charged into combat I used another CP to increase my charge distance to get more in. Figuring that it's much better to charge than be charged, the Bikers went into the Crushers hoping to hold them up.
It turns out charging into any Daemon of Khorne can be hazardous if you don't have the attacks to really hurt them thanks to their Unstoppable Ferocity (+1 strength & Attacks if charging or charged). The Daemonettes gained an extra attack thanks to Skarbrand's Rage Embodied (all units friend or foe gain +1 attack within 8" of him). 56 attacks tore into Skarbrand (re-rolling 1's thanks to the Daemon Prince being within 6") hacking him apart with contemptuous ease.
It didn't all go my way though, the Bikers put 1 wound on the Crushers while they put 9 wounds on the Bikers leaving the Champion on one wound. Fortunately for me the lone Biker held his ground.
With the Skarbrand gone the Khornate army surged forward ready to seek vengeance on the Daemonettes. Be'lakor attempted to cast Warp Time on the Berzerkers to get them closer to the Daemonettes but once again the Herald shut him down. This proved to be an important block as the Berzerkers failed to get into combat against the Daemonettes. The Crushers charged in, hacking down 6 of the lissom daemonettes for the loss of two of their own. The Crushers on the left killed the Biker and another two Daemonettes but not before the Daemonettes had killed a Crusher and stripped two wounds from another. Morale saw another four Daemonettes return to the Warp but the Crushers lost another of their number to morale as well.
We were both stunned at just how much the Daemonettes could stand up to Blood Crushers. The Heralds and Daemon Prince stripped wounds from Be'lakor with Smite and the Noise Marines gunned down 4 of the Berzerkers. The Daemon Prince charged into Be'lakor to try and finish him off but Be'lakor smashed him to the ground thanks to each wound causing 3 damage. The Spawn charged into the Berzerkers and Be'lakor and wiped them both out with ease.
The Daemonettes, aided by a Herald wiped out both units of Crushers and set their sights on Neil's objective.
The Skull Cannon charged into the Chaos Spawn and did an admirable job of tying them up for the rest of the game.....Skull Cannons are very hard in combat!
The Heralds and the 13 remaining Daemonettes moved over to Neil's Objective with the Heralds, Smiting the Flesh Hounds out of existence. The Flesh Hounds on the right were gunned down by the Noise Marines to claim a convincing victory for Our Lady.
Forget what you think you know about 40k, because neither of us expected this. Looking at our lists, we both thought that the forces of Slaanesh would be swept aside by the Neil's army. On paper, it appeared that Neil had a stronger army than mine, but we soon discovered that there were one or two things that we had both underestimated.
Daemon Prince - The Prince of Chaos ability had a huge impact on my army. Rerolling 1's for shooting and rerolling 1's for the Daemonettes' attacks really swung the game in my favour early on. His ability to shut down powers and dish out Mortal Wounds with Smite also paid off.
Heralds of Slaanesh - I really like these, their ability to hide from most shooting makes them a pain to deal with. If something gets close, they are more than capable of inflicting damage in close combat with their 10 attacks and their Scything Impact. Their ability to shut down powers and the obligatory Smite makes them a great harassment unit that whittles wounds off of their prey and can frustrate opponents into making rash choices.
Noise Marines - The boys put in a solid performance. They didn't have a lot of targets to go at but they closed off avenues and denying areas of the battlefield for Neil's army.
Daemonettes - The star unit of the game. I had thought that large units would be difficult for an opponent to deal with, but I never expected them to be so devastating. At 252pts they aren't cheap, but their damage output is phenomenal, especially backed up with a Herald and a Daemon Prince. I think I need to paint another 30 Daemonettes!
Chaos Spawn - These are awesome in combat. Their attacks are -2AP minimum (-4AP with the right roll) and cause 2 damage. The only issue I have with them is their 7" movement, against shooty armies they may never see combat. They're a good counter assault unit and I can't see me dropping them any time soon.
Bikers - The bikes were always going to struggle against Khorne Daemons, especially with very few objectives to hunt down. Despite this, they performed a vital service in this game (only just though). They stopped the second unit of Crushers from charging the Daemonettes, which definitely swung the combat in my favour. It's early days but I'm seeing a use for my Bikers, their 14" movement makes them a great reactionary unit, allowing them to redeploy and shore up my defence or hunt down Maelstrom objectives, especially if my Daemon Prince casts Warp Time on them.
Predator - This really didn't have a lot to do and proved to be quite underwhelming when it did shoot. If I use a Predator again, I will swap the Autocannon for the twin Lascannons. The Autocannon costs 1pt less than the twin Lascannon but I never rolled more than 4 shots with it all game. I'll take 2 Lascannon shots over the Autocannon every time.
8th Edition - The Game
There are a lot of improvements over the previous edition. The game plays much faster (which is especially good for tournament play) and the flow of the game feels better. Even when it is your opponent's turn you feel more involved. I'm a massive fan of the new Psychic phase, it's quick, simple and a player is no longer guaranteed to get that all important power off.
It isn't perfect though (hey, apart from Our Lady, what is?), I have serious concerns about the Detachments and I feel that Spam will still be alive and well. The rules feel incomplete to me, but once I've read them several times and got more games in, I'm hoping that that feeling will dissipate somewhat, but I suspect that they won't feel complete until the Codices are released. Special Rules are still in the game, they're not universal and all in one place, but they are there and they're spread throughout an army's Datasheets and they all have different names now.
These are minor quibbles though and I do feel that the game has improved as a stand-alone experience. I'm not convinced that the hardcore competitive tournament player will think so (not without some form of comp anyway), but regular tournament players will be happy.
Overall, I feel it's an improvement and the positives outweigh the negatives.
Until next time......may Our Lady grant you her number ;-)