7th Edition - Initial Thoughts

Friday, May 23, 2014

I picked up the new rulebook, psychic cards, and tactical objectives from the FLGS when they went on sale today at 1pm (midnight in Nottingham). Here's my initial thoughts after a first pass through the rules.
First up, the form factor. I really like that they split the 'Big Book' content into 3 smaller volumes. Carrying around just the rules will be much easier this time until a mini softback version comes out. It's a high quality hardback that is organized really well for the amount of rules packed in. By now most are aware that they've wrapped in rules for super heavy's and added references to formations, data-slates, stronghold assualt, and escalation to further legitimize their place among the rest of "standard 40k".

Most of the core rules are carried over from the 6th edition rulebook with a few simplifications and of course a couple of big changes that have been the topic of much discussion: the new Psychic phase and Unbound army composition.

The simplifications -- focussed fire is notably missing from the shooting phase. Focussed witchfire is still a thing but the rest of normal shooting allocates to the closest model from the firer / shot.

They've also explicitly stated that a unit can only benefit once from a Blessing, no stacking by casting the same power multiple times on the same target:

Excess wounds from a challenge now spill over to the remaining unit:

While the Allies matrix has been revised there has been no toning down of USR combos between Battle Bros; in fact now they can use each others' transports too:

That's a pretty big change that we'll definitely notice on the tabletop. The biggest change has got to be the Psychic phase and the new mechanic for manifesting warp charges to cast psychic powers. It's a lot harder to successfully generate the charges you'll need for some of the better powers and the more dice you throw in the more likely you are to perils (which actually hurts this time around, unless you are immune of course). I really like that there is now a chance of denying any power even if your army isn't being targeted. Bottom line, psychic powers are getting toned down in general, either by limiting their effectiveness, reducing their likelyhood to go off successfully, and increasing the chances to deny. I'm pretty happy about the direction they took with this part of the game.

The new tactical objectives also seem like a good addition to the game. I'll get a better sense of this when I can get some games in.

I haven't fully absorbed the scope of all of these changes but my initial impression is positive. I haven't even scratched the surface on the other 2 books but they look like some nice eye candy. That's it for now. Next I'll try to go through the new rules from the perspective of each of my armies to see what has been gained/lost. Till next time!


  1. I definitely like some of the changes. Psychics deserved their own phase, and they now can shoot all their witchfires, perform blessings after moving or disembarking, etc. The biggest downside is that for high leadership casters, there's a higher rate of failure. Even still, for an army with only 1 psyker, you will get at least 2 powers you can cast due to focus, even at ML1 (and you can always attempt to cast all your powers instead of being limited by mastery levels, you are just limited by how many dice you choose to throw). With the buffing of a few powers (notably telepathy, psychic shriek, iron arm, and endurance) the balancing of divination (which at ML1 before was being spammed excessively from every army that could get it, especially from inquisitors).

    Casting is toned down, but the psychic phase is also more of a tactical mindfuck now, as you throw dice based not only on casting your power, but also based on making denying difficult or impossible. Tzeentch Daemons and Grey Knights truly master the phase, able to throw serious weight into their warp charge pools. You can get a ML3 herald for 95 points, and in a single FOC you can take 4, a ML3 Lord of Change, plus up to 6 units of 20 pink horrors, who generate 3 charges each until their numbers are reduced. That's 33 warp charges, and that's without trying to maximize per point (you'd drop the lord of change for one, as he is expensive per ML). Belakor is a major force multiplier, coming with the entire telepathy discipline and at least 3 warp charges (he gens more if your opponent fails an ld test in their turn).

    The focus/chaos focus is nice, now my marked sorcerers automatically get their god's primaris no matter what, and are free to spend their points elsewhere. Divination for CSM is another interesting choice, I'm happy with that but they did make the new artifact from crimson slaughter the balestar of manon kinda useless, as it granted divination.

    My biggest beef so far is that combat oriented flying monsters got boned pretty hard. Smash is now a single attack, rather than changing your base attack statistic, vector strike was toned down, and you can't charge the turn you change flying modes. The end result is Khorne daemon princes and bloodthirsters aren't great, Nurgle princes with the black mace need to roll Iron Arm to be close to the damage output they were (quite randomly) capable of doing if their daemon weapon was hot. Shooty flying monsters will enjoy staying in the air longer, and if they happen to be grounded and survive, they can at least make a charge, so there's some benefits along with the drawbacks, its just that the monsters affected are different.

    Overall, I'm slight better able to represent a fluffy force, my nurglings are scoring, my nurgle sorcerer who's fluff is his second sight can now take divination for his 2 non-nurgle powers, and his Palanquin's extra wounds will prove invaluable for surviving inevitable perils checks. My Nurgle heralds are now as good at casting as anyone else, previously their LD 8 hurt them compared to daemon princes and greater daemons.

    I do worry that lists with no psykers will be at a disadvantage, but we'll have to see how bad it gets. Certainly the massive psyker heavy lists with 30-50 mastery levels (which you won't see all that often, as they usually make serious sacrifices in damage output) will be able to shut down lists with 1-2 psykers just through weight of deny dice.

    1. Those are some good points. I hadn't thought of the psychic-centric spam builds that Daemons and GK can achieve which can drastically impact how that phase of the game plays out; it's a shame too because I think if both sides only had small to moderate mastery levels / warp charge points the phase could be a lot of fun and more suspenseful. But going up against 30+ is futile unless you too have that many, and yeah I wonder what Necrons & DE are supposed to do against armies like that... maybe they'll receive some kind of bonus to defend against psychic powers that target them when their books are updated, something to represent their ability to resist the powers of the warp or something along those lines, haha. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

    2. Here's hoping more psychic defense gets brought out. My fear though is that even when you have buffs to deny the witch, armies with little or no psykers get only D6 dice to throw at denies. Since you have to deny every successful warp charge, that hinders you pretty quickly. I'm expecting major events to limit this in some way, as it can get ridiculous.

      One thing that was suggested to me recently was that you can throw a single dice at 1 WC powers and have a 50/50 chance of manifesting, with 0 chance of perils. That does make it easy for an opponent to throw all their dice at denying, but depending on how many charges they have and what the d6 roll was, as well as what else you are casting, it does allow you to play it safe for getting off some extra witchfires.

      With the FAQ yesterday burning heldrakes (which, I suppose is ok for the flamer version, which is still useful, but the hades autocannon version, which was one of the few anti-air options for CSM, is now utterly useless, on top of the toning down of vector strikes. I'm seriously worried about flyer spam, my army wasn't great at handling massed flyers before. Still, only a few armies do that well.

      Oh, and no divination for CSM after all, except with the aforementioned balestar.

      Seems to me like the best course is to keep a seercouncil in your bag in case you run into a psyker heavy army and offer to play if you can bring your warlocks and farseer tuned to dispell!