Fresh-Faced New User
So all the back and forth of ‘my edition is better than your edition’, the great work the guys/girls are doing with the 8th Ed 30k project, and the impending arrival of the Horus Heresy 7th Ed Rulebook has led me to ask: is the best 40k/30k ruleset ever within our grasp?
A lot of people like the added complexity of 7th and sneer at 8th as ‘babyhammer’, while refusing to accept that some things in 7th are horribly complex without benefiting the game (I defy you to look me in the eye and say the 7th Psychic Phase is in a good place). Conversely, those who champion the improved mechanics of 8th often fail to see the thematic strengths of 7th (does a blast weapon honestly feel like an explosion in 8th?).
As ever, the best course is usually to cut down the middle between two extremes, so that’s what I’ve decided to try to do today.
Mission Statement: To take the skeleton of 7th Ed and furnish it with the best mechanics of 8th, to use the modern rules to fix the problems with the older system.
The aim is to never cut out simulation in the name of streamlining. The target audience - 30k players - are as a demographic generally older, more experienced and more committed to the hobby, and so are theoretically more inclined to greater depth rather than faster games.
Obviously this would require a ground-up rebuild of points and changes to a lot of weapon and unit profiles. I’m not looking to go into that level of detail just yet, more of a look at the mechanics.
Ultimately I’m toying with the idea of writing a homebrew ruleset. If I can find some kind of consensus on what should and shouldn’t change, I may take the plunge and commit these ideas to paper more formally.
Remember, this is all 7th rules except where I’ve made changes.
1.0 General Principles
1.1 Templates: They stay. As do scatter and Deep Strike. One of the most maligned things of 8th is that these are missing.
1.2 Line of Sight: No changes from 7th. It’s simply better than 8th’s ‘firing 4 Lascannons from a tailpipe’.
1.3 Army Selection: 7th Ed 30k rules. They work, so much better than 7th Ed 40k or 8th Ed Formations/Detachments. That said, the separation of models and wargear points in 8th has merit.
1.4 Keywords: There’s no real downside I can see to having Keywords being introduced. They help prevent unintended cross-effects, and make it easier to apply special rules and effects.
1.5 Warlord Traits: Get did of random traits and let players pick their own. This might take a slight change of some traits to balance them all, but 8th seems to manage it. For abilities that allow a re-roll of Warlord trait, replace that with an ability to take two traits from different tables (so one Strategic and one personal trait, for example).
2.1 Remove the limit of 10 for stats; allow certain units to have Strength values of 12, for example.
2.2 Movement: Bring this straight over from 8th. It’s a more elegant way to distinguish between unit speeds than reams of special rules.
2.3 Weapon Skill: Use the 7th version, but replace the WS/WS chart with the S/T chart from 8th. So 4+ for equal WS, 5+/3+ for higher/lower, 6+/2+ for double/half. It should be harder for a basic infantryman to tag Fulgrim than tagging an Astartes!
2.4 Ballistic Skill, Strength and Toughness: Use the 7th version. It allows some for impossible to wound situations, which is helpful for protecting tanks from small arms.
2.5 Wounds, Initiative and Leadership: Unchanged from 7th.
2.6 Saves: Armour and Invulnerable saves are largely the same in 7th and 8th, and we’re not introducing Mortal Wounds. Feel No Pain changes “cannot be taken if the attack causes Instant Death” to “cannot be taken if the attack’s Strength is at least double the model’s toughness”.
2.6.1 The big change here is a welcome one: a complete, total and utter moratorium on anything that in any capacity whatsoever allows any kind of re-roll on Armour, Invulnerable or Feel No Pain saves. Further, no Invulnerable Saves better than 3++. No exceptions. The God-Emperor of Mankind himself alone may have a 2++, and only if he casts a psychic power to do it. Stamp this in huge red letters on the cover of the rulebook. Change the tagline to ‘In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only 3++ or worse.’ Re-rolling saves leads to hate, hate leads to cheese, cheese leads to invisible deathstars.
3.0 Movement Phase
3.1 Difficult terrain needs to be changed to compensate the introduction of the M stat. I’m thinking of having it reduce a unit’s M stat by D3 if the unit moves over it (to a minimum of 1), and if a unit moves more than 6” over terrain you make a Dangerous Terrain test. Vehicles (and monstrous creatures - anything with more than say 5 wounds) failing that test would no longer be immobilised by a shrub, but would take D3 wounds if they fail their armour save.
4.0 Psychic Phase
4.1 Honestly, I’m open to suggestions here. My best idea would be to use the 8th casting/denial mechanics, but with 7th powers (including Mind Howl instead of Invisibility). Choosing powers is better than rolling for them, so you’d just have to adjust the casting values and tweak the powers slightly so there aren’t some auto-includes and some never-includes.
5.0 Shooting Phase
5.1 Weapons Profiles: The same as 7th Ed, but replace Snap Firing with -2 BS, to a minimum of BS 1. Better marksmen should be more accurate, even when they’re moving or shooting at planes. Flyers in 30k are moving low and slow enough to interact with what’s happening on the ground - they’re not screaming past at Mach 1 30,000 feet up.
5.2 Multi-Damage Weapons: Ported over directly from 8th. These give a genuine ability to counter larger models. It also gets rid of the Instant Death mechanic, replacing an all-or-nothing mechanic with a granular one.
5.3 AP System: Also ported over from 8th as it is more granular and less all-or-nothing than the 7th one. In 7th a Power Sword is no more dangerous to a Terminator than a Cultist’s pointy stick, and any combat monster without AP2 is a laughing stock.
5.3.1 Power Swords/Axes/Mauls would use their 8th profiles, while Power Fists would retain the Unwieldy rule instead of -1 to hit, as we are keeping Initiative.
5.3.2 This does give horde armies more durability, so it may be necessary to tone down the Armour Saves of Solar Auxilia and other light infantry by a point to compensate.
5.4 Twin-Linking: Taken from 8th - simply doubles the number of shots. Two parallel barrels shouldn’t make you more accurate and no more powerful if you do connect with the target.
5.5 Indirect fire uses 3D6 for scatter if the firer moved.
5.6 Add a scaling of templates mechanic - any model with a starting value of 10+ wounds hit by a Template/Blast weapon takes 1+D3 hits instead of 1. Models with 20+ wounds take 1+2D3. This is intended as halfway between 8th ‘Blast weapons wreck single models’ and 7th ‘being bathed by a flamer is no worse than being clipped by one’.
5.7 Gets Hot: Make the damage for getting hurt by Gets Hot D3 to make it relevant to vehicles and monsters, which will have an increased wound tally. There’s potential here to up the ante: allow these weapons to overcharge and double their Damage, but if they choose to do this and Get Hot then they can’t make an armour save against the overheating.
5.8 Bring in split fire from 8th. No more having 19 guys twiddling their thumbs while the sergeant chucks a krak grenade at a nearby Dreadnought. Similarly, no more having the left sponson on a Predator idling while the turret and right sponson target something else.
5.9 Vehicle (and monstrous creature) shooting: Let them move up to half of the M stat and fire Heavy/Ordnance weapons normally, or at -1 BS if they move more than that. Superheavies and gargantuans only get the penalty on Ordnance.
5.10 Cover: The 7th version (post ‘toe-in-cover’ FAQ) of who gets cover is just better. However, the idea of a Cover Save would be replaced with 8th’s +1 to Armour Save (or +2 for things like Aegis lines, or +3 for Bunkers). This is good because it gets rid of the curious idea in 7th that a branch would protect a Space Marine from a Volcano Cannon but not a Lasgun! Essentially it’s the conditions for getting cover from 7th, but the cover bonus from 8th.
6.1 Distances: Replace ‘base-to-base’ with ‘within 1”’. It helps mitigate ‘you’re 6.0001” away so technically that’s a 7” charge’ by giving a little bit of flex in the distance requirement. It also throws assault units a bone by shortening their charge by an inch.
6.2 Transports: Units that disembarked from a stationary transport can charge that turn. This hasn’t led to the feared ‘Rhino rush’ in 8th, but it does give transports some utility for assault units.
6.3 As Snap Firing is no longer a thing, Overwatch for non-Template/Blast weapons require a flat 6 to hit.
6.4 Allow Blast weaponry (other than Primary and Ordnance) to Overwatch, but without subtracting their BS from the scatter - a potentially very dangerous proposition.
6.5 Overwatch requires line of sight (no indirect fire Overwatch).
6.6 Sweeping Advance: If a unit is caught, they lose as many models as they failed their Ld test by rather than the whole unit. It helps take the sting out of a bad roll killing 19 models after one died in combat, and rewards doing more damage than the minimum required to make them fail the test.
6.7 Consolidation: This one is contentious: allow units to Consolidate into combat with other units. Close combat isn’t exactly dominant in 7th, so the leg up is probably welcome for assault specialists. It also punishes castling up and encourages more dynamic, mobile gameplay.
7.1 Remove Armour Values and give every unit a Toughness and Armour Save per 8th. Before you go grabbing the pitchforks, this does not mean removing facings; instead of having front, rear and side AV, all large models would have front, rear and side T values on their profile. It would naturally follow that vehicles replace Hull Points with large numbers of wounds, and monstrous creatures increase their wounds to match. This is to end the odd discrepancy in 7th where vehicles die to one lucky shot, but shifting a monstrous creature requires enormous volumes of high-strength firepower.
7.1.1 This will mean that vehicles suddenly become more susceptible to small arms fire. Given the variable T values, this could be mitigated by giving most vehicles - say a Rhino chassis or tougher - a front Toughness of 8, making them immune to frontal Bolter fire. General wisdom in 8th shows that small arms fire are not a significant threat to vehicles, even if they can harm them.
7.2 With the profile moving closer to that of 8th for vehicles, they could be given a largely academic Leadership value (as vehicles are Fearless), an Initiative of 1, and a Weapon Skill of 0, meaning they could never actually attack in close combat.
7.3 Non-Walker vehicles still would not be able to charge or be locked in combat. They would still Tank Shock/Ram - though they now have a Strength to do so with, and could inflict a number of hits equal to their Attacks characteristic on the unit being Shocked/Rammed.
7.4 Furthermore, the Vehicle Damage Chart would be replaced by the degrading profiles seen in 8th - and that goes for monstrous creatures, too.
8.0 Lords of War
8.1 Superheavies: With the changes to Vehicles so far, the list of special rules for Superheavies becomes a lot smaller. The only point of difference for these would be a keyword and Thunderblitz/Stomp.
8.2 Ram/Tank Shock attacks are as the rules above, but with AP-3 and D3 Damage.
8.3 Stomps become a Blast D3, S User, AP-3, D3 Damage weapon that must centre over a model in combat with the user, and scatter using WS rather than BS. It would have no effect on Superheavies. This is meant to remove ‘stomp sniping’.
8.4 Destroyer Weapons: Allowing Strength profiles to go above 10 and multi-damage weaponry allows the removal of the problematic D-chart. 8th has shown that weapons like Volcano Cannons can be still devastating without the Destroyer rule.
8.4.1 To replace the Invulnerable-ignoring effect, a new special rule for certain weapons - Unstoppable: Rolls of a 6 to wound with this weapon ignore all Armour and Invulnerable Saves. This rule would be applied to Destroyer Weapons, Stomps and Superheavy Ram/Tank Shocks.
9.1 Broadly unchanged from 7th, but with the removal of Look out, Sir! to mitigate tanky character shenanigans. You can still put the model with the Storm Shield at the front of the unit to tank those pesky Plasma shots, but they’re also going to have to wear every Bolter shell, too.
So what do you think? Would you call this an improvement over 7th? Is it better than 7th or 8th and would be something you would prefer to play? Is it a good start that could use some work, or is it just bad and I should feel bad?