The release of a new Games Workshop game – Shadow War: Armageddon is an important event in the wargame world. Firstly, since in the view of looming 8th edition of Warhammer 40K, it seems just a test for the new rules. A lot of them are consistent with the rumors and are likely to appear in the new edition. So, let’s see, what’s new.
In general, the rules have many similarities with the old ones. However, there are a lot of changes in the details which you should be aware of. First – there’s no psychic phase. This shouldn’t affect the big Warhammer, since this game is a sort of augmented Kill Team. But there’s a Recovery phase just like in Age of Sigmar – a phase for taking leadership test and retreating.
First thing, that I noticed – al models now have movement distance – like in fantasy Warhammer and old editions of 40K. This kills Unit Types mechanics and makes gameplay a lot easier. Also, running is no longer random and its distance equals your double move parameter. In general, there’re significantly less random parameters now.
Charge now happens in the movement phase – you can attack only the units you see and who are within your double initiative parameter (That’s a surprise). Again, charge distance equals your double move. So – in your movement phase you can either move (lets you shoot then), run or charge.
If you don’t want to be charged, you can hide your unit – if you do so, the enemy will be able to do something only within his normal initiative, not doubled one. Quite effective, especially if you have silent weapons which allow you to shoot from the cover.
Terrain mechanics has also changed. No more random here. Difficult terrain divides your movement into 2, and very difficult – into 4. Considering an average move of 4 inches, you won’t move into very difficult terrain without a reason. All floors and covers are now regarded literally – if there’s a 7 inches’ ladder, you need to move that 7 inches. No more standard 3 inches’ floors. Sure, sometimes you are not able to do so, so wobbly model syndrome is in effect. This creates a lot of problems for people with self-made terrain since all the floors now have to be 3-4 inch high if you don’t want to climb during all your game.
Shooting is almost the same. However, there’s a completely new cover and shooting modifiers system. Now you reduce your hitting result by 1 if the target is covered less than by half, and by 2 if more. So, no more cover saves. You reduce your to hit roll by 1 if the target runs or charges (which is logical). Also, there’s a modifier for too small and too big targets, but it’s said that it works for buildings and mines – not for models. It seems like all these modifiers can make you're required to hit roll more than 6+ In this case there’s one more to hit table which you use only if you’ve rolled 6. Too complicated and not necessary. Usual snapshots would be much better.
Now you can shoot into close combat! However, you need to randomize your hits so you can injure your own models. Definitely, one of the best innovations. Also it says that you mush target the nearest enemy unless he is hidden and there’s an easier target somewhere. Seems logical in the view of a real fight, but completely stupid in the view of a turn based wargame.
There’s an expected «rend» from Age of Sigmar instead of AP now. It tells us how much the opponent must reduce his armor save. It also works for the close combat. From the one hand, it increases the effectiveness of a low-AP weapons, but reduces the usefulness of heavy armor. However, this doesn’t affect invulnerable saves. Also, now weapons act differently at the short and long distance and have Damage parameter. There’re also different types of injuries and limited ammo, but it seems impossible to use it in a full-scale wargame.
Now Overwatch is not what it used to be. It’s a special mode which must be activated at the beginning of your turn. The squads who declared this are unable to do anything else, but they can shoot at the enemy in his turn, as soon as his squad gets into their line of sight and range.
Shooting with blasts (not with the flamer weapons) has also changed. Now you roll to hit as usual and if you succeed, you place a blast marker on the target model. If you miss, you roll both scatter and artillery (!!!) dice to see how far did the marker mishap. It really makes blast weapons stronger.
Close combat mechanics faced great changes, but I don’t think they will stay in the 8th edition. It’s nice for model-to-model combat, but appears extremely complicated when it comes to unit fights. You roll the number of dice equal to your attacks, pick the highest, add your WS and compare this number with the enemy. The looser takes the number of hits equal to the difference. There are also modifiers, dodges, parries, and so on – a lot of stuff, that makes combat easier. Also, the higher your strength, the more enemies armor is reduced. Quite logical. May be well see this mechanics in challenges. This will definitely make them more interesting, not just a wound allocaters as they are now.
Leadership hasn’t changed much. The point is only that now you take all the test at the end of your turn, and that you run towards the nearest cover, not from the table. This makes game much more interesting.
All in all, it really seems that most of these rules are going to stay for the 8th edition. And they look interesting as well as logical. There is no global simplifying, which many players were afraid of. Yes, many mechanics have become simpler, but they already used to be too complicated. Now you can spend this time for really interesting ones – like new Overwatch and Hiding. Also, the number of random rolls is reduced to a minimum, which is great. Now you always know how far will you move run or charge.
And for those, who cry that «It used to better» - It used to be the same. The most part of changes has come from the old 40K and Fantasy Battle editions. So, we hope that they will complement modern rules well.
In the other part we’ll look at the special rules and Kill Team making – the things which are likely to stay only in Shadow War game.