My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Trying the new Warhammer 40K and some painting

Warhammer 40K Sixth Edition

Don and I tried the new Warhammer 40,000 Sixth Edition (40K) and I have to say, if you like the 40K rules, this is probably the best of the set. I played Rogue Trader (First Edition), Second Edition, Third Edition, and Fourth Edition, and bought Fifth Edition but did not play it.

I blew the dust off my figures – still looking around for some others that are packed away somewhere, or else are forever lost in my last move – and set up a small force of Ultramarines and Tau. The (illegal) lists I used were:
  • Ultramarine
    • Tactical Squad: 7 Marines with Bolters, 1 with Bolter and Power Fist, 1 with Flamer, and 1 with Missile Launcher.1
    • Devastator Squad: 1 Marine with Bolter and Power Fist, 2 with Heavy Bolters, and 2 with Missile Launchers.
    • Scout Squad: 1 Marine with Bolt Pistol and Chainsword and 4 with Bolt Pistol and Combat Knife.
  • Tau
    • Fire Warrior Squad: 6 Fire Warriors with Pulse Rifles. The Team Leader was upgraded.
    • Fire Warrior Squad: 6 Fire Warriors with Pulse Rifles. The Team Leader was upgraded.
    • Pathfinder Squad: 3 Pathfinders with Pulse Carbines and Markerlights and 3 with Rail Rifles. The Team Leader was upgraded.
    • Stealth Suit Squad: 3 with Burst Cannon and Stealth Suits. The Team Leader was upgraded.
    • Broadside Team: 1 Broadside with various gear and 1 Shield Drone.
The board was relatively simple, with a hill, two woods, and a swamp. The Tau were at the bottom and the Space Marines at the top.

The Board
The game went fairly simply. The Space Marines went first and the Tactical Squad (1) and Devastators (2) for all practical purposes eliminated the Pathfinders (C), who had infiltrated up during deployment. In the Tau turn the two Fire Warrior squads (A and B) focused fire on the Tactical Squad (1) and Don whiffed his saves and failed his morale roll, sending them reeling back. The Stealth Suits (D) jumped over the woods and using the Markerlight hits from the Pathfinders (C), blasted the Devastators (2) into oblivion (again Don failed too many saves). The Broadside (E) lazily took a Marine with a Heavy Bolter out, leaving nothing but his boots standing.


Things looked grim when the Scouts (3) assaulted the Stealth Suits (D). I lost one of the three and was actually able to outrun the sweeping advance of the Scouts, but I could not stop them until they swung around the woods and my Fire Warriors (B) cut them all down, along with the fire from the Stealth Suits (D).

All in all it was a fairly short affair of maybe four turns. That is to be expected, considering we were using a 4' by 4' board and very few troops (20 versus 24 figures). Don saving at about half the rate he should have also did not help.

So what did I think about the rules? They are still, first and foremost, Gotcha' Gaming rules2. What makes it different from the last version I played (Fourth) is primarily three items:

  1. Line of sight can be drawn through friendly figures.
  2. Casualties are taken by the closest figure.
  3. Basic infantry movement increased by 50%.
Line of Sight Changes

Because figures can now fire through both friendly and enemy figures, this has the effect of players putting their troops into solid masses, with little to no interval between figures. The only deterrent to doing this are template weapons, such as the Flamer and Frag Missile – both of which the Space Marines possess in their basic infantry.

This massing of figures only convinces me all the more that 28mm figures are way out of scale with the 40K rules, and should be played with 6mm figures using standard distances, if you want to get a better scale representation. This rule makes 40K look more like Flames of War and the fender-to-fender armored parking lots, so I think it is a minus on aesthetics and a plus on playability.

Casualty Removal Changes

Figures are now removed from the closest point. In addition, the closest figure keeps getting hit until it fails, then the next figure starts taking hits, so the closest figure can't "luck out" with a save and then the damage moves on to the next guy. This is not like Flames of War where you allocate hits evenly using some method of priority allocation. Either you save everything or the closest guy is going to take it.

This might get a little slow if you have a unit with a lot of different stats (Toughness, Wounds, and Saves), but that was always true.

This might lead to a bit of 'gameyness', but it will have to be played more to figure that out. For the Tau it means you get to put that Shield Drone out front and it will absorb all of the hits until it goes out. It can also lead to a "realistic" flanking fire where a unit gets on the flank and might find a different figure the closest, rather than the meat shield (or Shield Drone) you intended to take the hits.

Overall, the mechanic is a positive on aesthetics and playability.

Increased Movement

Infantry now have a basic movement of 6" instead of 4", which sounds small, but has a pretty good effect. For example, with Rapid Fire weapons infantry now is in short range for only two turns rather than three and within range four turns total rather than six. Strangely, this effect would seem to make the game less 'shooty', but I have read from others that it is now more 'shooty'. Part of that, I think, is that Rapid Fire weapons now get to move 6" and shoot, so a unit can back up just as easily as move forward, so moving into cover or backing out of range might make for more shooting rather than assault. Again, more playtesting will tell whether this perception is true.

Summary

I think the Gotcha' Gaming aspect is the major problem of the system, at least for me. I really hate games in which the amount of enjoyment I have comes down the initial die roll to see who goes first. One way around that is generally to have a lot of cover, but that doesn't help much in 40K which typically doesn't account for cover very much.

I have a copy of the Bolt Action rules coming, so I may co-opt the activation rules from them to make 40K a little less competitive and a little more fun.

Painting

As Don is now suffering from the Gaming Blues (I think I infected him), the guy I play BattleLore on VASSAL is working on another project, and I haven't quite gotten my solo campaign ideas straightened out so I have turned to painting to while away the hours.

First up is a Warmachine Deliverer of Menoth. This is the first figure painted – although I have had this unit for almost a decade now – which I use as a guide for painting the rest of the unit. I was mainly experimenting with the new Citadel washes and shades for the reds and browns.

Menoth Deliverer - LeftFrontRight
Next up are Games Workshop's Epic (6mm) figures. Although it might not look as stunning as 28mm figures for a skirmish game, aesthetically they fit the ground scale much better. My intent is to use these 6mm figures, but with 28mm ranges. The question is: what rules will I use?

Blood Angel Tactical Squad and Captain
Above is a Blood Angels Tactical Squad with a Sergeant with Power Fist, a Marine with a Missile Launcher, and eight Marines with Bolters. Also included is a Captain with back banner, Power Sword and Bolter.


This photo turned out a little too red, but are two Blood Angel bikes and a "robot". (No, it is not a Dreadnaught. It is considerably smaller than the Dreadnaught figure.) Yes, I painted the little eagle emblem and the robot's fingers.

Now to figure out the stats for the robot.

FrontRear

Here are some really rare (if eBay is any indicator) Khorne Chaos Space Marines.3 I have some Juggernaughts of Khorne, Slanesh Riders, Beastmen, Minotaurs, and some Chaos wizard type all awaiting to be painted. The Juggernaughts have already been started, and they are looking good.

Front – Showing Heraldic DevicesSide

Here are some Eldar jetbikes that I started years ago, which I finally finished off. I have a horde of Saim-Hann jetbikes and Vypers, but they are based for Epic Armageddon, not individually like these.

The idea behind these, as they are not red, is that they are the more feudal Saim-Hann household troops, and thus less less regimented and more "wild". Think of them as Bachelor Knights or Knights Errant.

The bases are half of a round flexible magnet. They stick to metal lock boxes really well and provide a nice base to grab. (Hopefully I will remember to do so.) And you can fit a lot of troops into a little box!

What I am Going to do with Them

I have been looking at the rules In the Emperor's Name (ITEN), which are a simplified version of 40K. They still seem to have a lot of flavor, but play out easier and quicker. Shooting is basically rolling a die, adding the Shooting Value (which includes the shooter's weapon modifier) to equal or beat the target's armor value to get a hit. If they succeed, the target rolls a Grit check and if they fail, the figure is removed. The Grit characteristic takes into account Toughness and Wounds, and any special life saving rules, so the rolls are streamlined.

I need to read the rules again, and give it a playtest, but I suspect it also suffers from a Gotcha' Gaming turn sequence.

What Else?

I am still looking at rules for AWI that uses a modified Song of engine. The idea is that each unit of 12 figures (four 3-man bases) represents a company. It will uses elements of Song of Drums and Shakos, Sixty-One Sixty-Five, and Drums and Shakos Large Battles. Hopefully something will show up soon.

Yes, I am still mulling over the Company-level WW II rules. I have the dice made and painted and need to make temporary stickers until I settle on the icons and odds.


1 These were actually painted up as Space Wolves and were the old "beakie" plastic Marines that came out during the Rogue Trader days. Very Old School.
2 Now better known as "Alpha Strike" rules, this is where one side gets to move into range, fire weapons and inflict casualties on the enemy, who must also check morale, all before the enemy gets to react in any significant way. The more deadly the Alpha Strike, the more likely you will be able to chortle to your opponent "Gotcha'!"
3 I now regret starting the Blood Angels as the Space Marine chapter, as that makes both sides a base red. Nothing to say I cannot have squads from multiple chapters though.

1 comment:

  1. Cool. I like the 6mm individually based. ITEN looks interesting. I believe Javier gamed it with 6mm as well. I think he reviewed it positively.

    ReplyDelete

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").