Saturday, August 25, 2012

6th Edition and Changing Priorities

Sixth Edition is finally upon us and now a lot of 40K players are having to redesign their armies. Although it's nice to have a shake up now and then, it can also be intimidating to have to scrap all your plans.

A few months ago I found myself buying models willy-nilly, with no actual endgame strategy to tell me when I was (mostly) done buying models. Eventually I created a series of five 2,000 point lists to give me an idea of what to buy. The Space Marine Codex and my insistence on using special characters exclusively from the Ultramarines chapter were the only real limits for these lists, although I tried to minimize the number of units that I would need (nearly every unit type is used in two or more lists). As time went on, I revised some lists to include different models or units that I wanted (e.g., a Stormtalon, an Ironclad Dreadnought) or to incorporate certain strategies.

Although I still plan on buying a few more kits (I still don't have a Stormtalon), what I've purchased thus far based on my lists adds up to between 4,800 and 5,000 points. I had also determined a general priority for finishing various units, with a lot of my recent efforts being directed towards vehicles. However, with the advent of 6th Edition, it turns out that my lists could use a few changes. I also found that I need to re-prioritize what models I need to complete. The most dramatic alteration of my plans resulted from the change to rapid fire rules.

Until 6th Edition, Tactical Squads didn't have too much appeal for me. They're relatively expensive compared to other armies' troops, they're durable but not as durable as units like Terminators, they're decent in close combat but not as good as more dedicated squads, etc. But what actually made them unappealing was that their rapid fire weapons restricted their mobility. Although some of my lists included two Tactical Squads, I only did it to have bodies on the table.

Now Tactical Squads are as menacing as they were meant to be
[Models by Games Workshop]

Now that rapid fire weapons can be fired at their full range while on the move, Tactical Squads have become a lot more useful. Jon's Orks felt the brunt of this rule change in the Cabal's first 6th Edition game. Now I'm piecing out the models I need to field a second Tactical Squad, as well as to give me a greater variety of special and heavy weapons. (Thanks to snap fire, heavy bolters have become a more tempting heavy weapon given that they have a relatively decent chance of hitting something even if your squad has to relocate in a hurry). Since "power weapon" can refer to one of several items with different abilities/liabilities, I've also pieced out three more sergeants to provide a good selection of wargear. And because I'm big into the modelling aspect, I'm also making sure I have a greater variety of armor types since none of the starter kits that I got my Tactical Marines from had Mk V armor or the Mk VII armor without the aquila.

In fact, the humble Tactical Squad has become so effective that I've even begun to consider using up to three in 2000+ point games.

Special ammunition:
The Swiss  Army knife of 40K
[Model by Games Workshop]
The new rapid fire rules also make Sternguard even more effective. The unit originally appealed to me for fluff and modelling reasons. Now, thanks to the 30" range Kraken rounds, the already popular veteran unit has an effective range of up to 36" and can deny armor saves to a huge number of models. Monster slaying has also gotten a lot easier since a squad doesn't have to stand still and wait for that Hive Tyrant to rush into range and gamble that one or two turns of Hellfire rounds will drop it before it assaults. A Sternguard can now fire at 24" and slowly back off as the Tyrant approaches, gaining themselves one or two more turns of shooting.

Up until a couple months ago I had been focusing on a ten man Sternguard until I realized that I needed vehicles more than I needed more models with rapid fire weapons. Sixth has turned my thinking on its head; now it looks like the veterans will be getting some attention once the second Tactical Squad is finished.


  1. This edition is much like 4th Edition....mid range and long range firepower is winning the game.

  2. That was Bryce's impression from the beginning. He believes that 6th has made the Tau immensely powerful given that they can field a huge number of strength 10, AP1 anti-tank weapons and that their basic troops have strength 5, 30" range rapid fire weapons.

    Since a number of changes also seem to benefit Marines more than anyone else (e.g., the revised And They Shall Know No Fear, making most power weapons AP3 or weaker), it looks like a Marine army with Tau allies or vice versa may be one of the strongest combinations in the game.


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