I like it! I spend a lot of time thinking about how smaller-scale 40k
ought to look. This seems like a very playable ruleset. Good job! A few things that jumped out at me:
-No more than 50% of a player’s allotted points value can be made up of units with the MONSTER or VEHICLE keywords
A cap on how many point scan be invested into something as durable as an MC
or vehicle makes sense, but I'm surprised at the 50% cap. If we're playing a 500 point game, 250 points worth of vehicle is still basically any non LoW vehicle in the game. And I think I could just about squeeze in 3 mildly upgraded wave serpents for 375 points if we were playing 750 points. Might be worth lowering that percentage a bit or putting some other limiter on MCs
/vehicles? Maybe only allow a single unit with the monster/vehicle keyword? If my eldar fielded some reapers or fire dragons, I'd trust them to kill one vehicle before my AT
was killed off; I don't know if they could kill two. Note that a 1 unit cap would still allow you to take squads of sentinels, war walkers, speeders, etc.
I remember taking anti-tank out the wazoo when playing 7th edition Combat Patrol because it was so punitive to be caught without the tools to kill your opponent's biggest guns. And that functionally made anti-infantry options in similar slots never-takes. You can't be bothered giving your tactical marines a flamer if there's a chance they'll need the meltagun instead.
-No more than 33% of a player’s allotted points value can be made up of units with the CHARACTER keyword
The percentage here seemed a little strange too. What specifically are you trying to avoid with a 33% character cap? In a 500 point game, I'd still be able to take my space elves' best HQs
. A farseer is just over 100 points iirc
. I could take a beatstick archon or succubus or troupe master or two and still have plenty of points left over. So a 33% cap doesn't really stop me from taking my more optimized options, and I'm pretty sure I'd be playing at a disadvantage if I took more than 33% of my army as characters at such a small game size anyway. I'd probably be doing you a favor if spammed 3 phoenix lords and had the rest of my army be easily-killed barebones troopes, for instance.
Although thinking on it, taking a handful of badass characters and some squishy support mooks also sounds like it could be a lot of fun. What abuse is this cap preventing? I'm probably just not seeing it.
-No unit in the FLYER or LORD OF WAR battlefield roles may be fielded.
Makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, part of me wonders if an exception ought to be made for squishy "flyers" like the harpy. Probably best/easiest to just exclude them to be safe. Their turn 1 charge ability could be disruptive.
Morale and Pinning
Pinned. If the unit was within engagement range of any enemy units when failing a morale test, this movement is considered a Fall Back move and the unit counts as having made a Fall Back move on its controlling player’s next turn.
How does this forced movement work if I'm tri-pointed by the enemy and thus wouldn't normally be allowed to fall back? Also, can my wyches use their No Escape rule to prevent the enemy from escaping as a result of failing their morale test? If they do so, is that unit still considered pinned?
If a unit started the turn Pinned, during the morale phase roll 1d6 and add the number of casualties that unit took during this turn and the preceding turn. If the result is equal to or lower than the unit’s highest Leadership value, the unit is no longer Pinned.
I feel like that might be slightly too much bookkeeping. You'd have to keep two pools of casualties straight for each unit in your army throughout the game. I know that the smaller game size gives you a bit of leeway for more bookkeeping, but I'm not sure it's worth it to spend that currency here. How about just taking another 2d6
morale test and snapping back to normal if you pass? Maybe introduce an action or cheap (free?) stratagem to let characters snap pinned units back into fighting shape? Although that might make pinning too easy to ignore...
Any time a unit without the MONSTER or VEHICLE keywords must take saving throws as a result of attacks made in the enemy Shooting Phase, the player may choose for that unit to immediately become Pinned, gaining +1 to all saving throws.
Consider making units decalre GtG
when they're targeted instead of after the to-wound rolls have been made. It's a bit weird that you can wait to see if your opponent's artillery flubbed its to-wound rolls before deciding to duck.
Penalties and Benefits
for a maximum potential +2/-2.
I like this. What would the impact of allowing all to-hit penalties to stack without limit? I feel like -3 to-hit isn't all that easy to stack up, and I wonder if it ought to stack up if you're firing a heavy bolter on the move at an enemy outside of half range that has a flicker field active. A +2/-2 limit (+/- 1 per player) is reasonable though.
If a shooting attack is declared against a unit that does not have the MONSTER or VEHICLE keywords, any weapons over ½ of the weapon’s range suffer -1 to hit rolls.
Like this rule in theory, but know from kill team that it has some awkward consequences. I'd make it, "...over 1/2 of the weapon's range and more than 15" away..."
That way, weapon's intended for use at a distance continue to be better at shooting across the table than other guns, but things like 12" shuriken catapults and 6" fusion pistols aren't taking penalties simply for not having their barrels pressed to the enemy's chest.
In instances where both players cannot agree whether a model falls wholly over the line, a die should be rolled and the model will receive the bonus on a 4+.
A.) Not a big fan of settling something that's likely to be frequently ambiguous with a die roll. Most people will be sporting about it, but it smacks of improvable game design. Plus, speaking from my experience with 7th edition, you sort of get tired of feeling like you're giving your opponent a benefit they didn't earn half the time just to avoid arguments.
How about having the controlling player place a straight, 1" wide, 1 cm
. thick marker with a clear "front" and "back" against their model's base/hull each time they move/pile in/consolidate/charge? Then, you can just see if the attacking models are behind that marker. That should clear up disputes, and the low number of vehicles/monsters means that the markers shouldn't be terribly difficult to keep track of.
B.) Some vehicles/monsters are radially symmetrical. I'm thinking drop pods and their tyranid counterparts. Not a big deal, but maybe give such units a keyword that lets them ignore the Rear Armor rules? Not sure if 'nid pods would be too good with such an exception.
Critical Damage Tables
After a unit’s attacks against a model with the VEHICLE or MONSTER keyword have been fully resolved, before that unit loses a number of wounds equal to the damage it would have taken, it may choose to ignore all the wounds that would have been caused and instead roll on the respective Critical Damage table below, adding +1 to the result for each instance of 2 damage being ignored, up to a maximum of 12 wounds.
If I'm not mistaken, this technically
contradicts how wounds and damage are resolved in 9th. I recently asked a question in YMDC
about the Cursed Blade succubus. She has a rule that triggers when she rolls a 6+ for a save. Because of that rule, I technically have to roll my saves one at a time and wait to see if the damage from that attack kills her because if I rolled all my saves before looking at the damage, I might be triggering my 6+ rule when she should have already been dead.
What I'm getting at is that I'm pretty sure you technically alternate between making saves and rolling damage and lose your wounds as you take the damage. So then the question becomes: do you declare you're rolling on the table before you roll any saves/damage, or after you've taken all
saves/damage? The former would mean that you potentially end up rolling on the crit damage table despite having passed all your saves. The latter means that you can wait to see if you failed enough saves/took enough damage to kill your unit and then opt to roll on the crit damage table if the damage is sufficiently high.
Also, while rolling on the crit damage table repeatedly would likely end up very punitive (and cinematic), it could also lead to a bunch of fiddly bookkeeping. Maybe streamline this mechanic as a simple 2d6
roll that you take once per game when you're reduced to less than half your starting number of wounds?
Also also, for the sake of flashy cinematic fun, maybe add a "vehicle death chart" that determines what happens to the vehicle when it dies. Mortal wound explosions. Veering off in a random direction per the old ramshackle rule. Becoming wreck terrain. That sort of thing.
Critical Damage Table
No quote for this one really, but you've split up the critical damage results for vehicles and monsters, and I'm not sure why. I can picture any of the critical damage effects from either side of the table having a counterpart in the other. Splitting up the table seems like it has no benefit but risks making the table more punitive for either monsters or vehicles. Ammunition Explosion!
could mean that you've breached my carnifex's venom cannon sac and doused him with his own toxins or rattled the brain leech worms in his devourers and caused them to go into a frenzy prematurely. My wraith lord's star cannon could react violently to have its power source hit by a lascannon. Etc.
Arm Crippled! Randomly choose 1 weapon that the monster is equipped with, including only the ranged weapon with the highest strength that the monster is equipped with, and melee weapons if they have a damage characteristic higher than 1.
I kind of see what you're trying to do here, but using Strength as the differentiator is slightly weird. That method would guarantee that my fire prism always lost its main gun, but my wave serpent could take an underslung shuriken cannon (S6) to avoid losing its star cannon (also S6 iirc
). And my venom's splinter cannon would be similarly protected by its splinter rifles. And then there are russes who can have s9 lascannon sponsons, but their battlecannons (s8 iirc
) are actually the more dangerous weapon. If you want the weapon lost to be "random," but also want to ensure it's one of the best weapons on the model, I'm not sure you actually want it to be random. Why not let the enemy pick a weapon at that point? You'd still be basically guaranteeing that the model loses one of its best weapons, but you wouldn't have weird edge cases where some units have a chance of escaping serious harm by virtue of the options on their datasheet.
And a few more random thoughts:
* Consider ditching chapter tactics? It seems like there's a lot of potential for their benefits to scale very oddly at smaller game sizes.
* Consider ditching doctrines and other mono-faction benefits as well? Technically, you could probably field allies at this game size, but you're probably not giving up much by sticking to a single faction. Not sure marines really need doctrines as a reward for not squeezing in a squad of squishy guardsmen at 250 points.
* Honestly, maybe consider ditching stratagems entirely. When I've taken stabs at small-scale 40k
games, I usually end up getting rid of stratagems and replacing them with a small list of "Tactics" (basically curated and tweaked stratagems) instead. This lets you avoid including something that doesn't fit the smaller scale and gives you an opportunity to add a flavorful ability that fits the smaller scale but would have been too niche in larger games.
* Consider ditching allies by locking players into a single detachment. I like the idea of sending my mentors to lead some guardsmen or having my harlequins pal around with a wandering band of rangers, but this seems like a possible source of balance problems.
* Consider straight up getting rid of any ability that could result in a turn 1 charge. Getting rid of chapter tactics and doctrines would mostly accomplish this, but warsuits, warp time, etc. would still be out there. Being forced to sacrifice a screening unit seems like poor counterplay when that unit makes up a fifth of your army.
Overall, good stuff!