Having picked up a copy of the rules yesterday I've had a chance to go through it and feel confident I can give a quick review of my first impressions of the changes made. Will it be an improvement or another gouge for rough rules?
First up is my opinion on the format for the new rules set. Three books was a great idea and the quality of the graphic design makes for a really clean, bold and easy to use set of rules/books. The background book can be perused without breaking your wrist or giving you arm ache and the rules can fit into the pockets of my battle foam finally (as a quick aside this may see the death of the mini-rulebook!). Unfortunately GW has completely dropped the ball on the first of the books as it is just a hard back version of Warhammer Visions. It was a great chance to include hints and tips of how to upgrade you models, sculpt extra parts and kit bash the amazing range of scenery they now offer. Instead it's just page after page of models I've seen before and can see on ether website for free (in 360 degree goodness no less!). I understand the concept that every edition will be someones intro to the game and as such they may benefit from these types of products as inspirational material but when you've already got loads of info and images of models throughout the other books do we really need to pay for this hard backed twaddle?
Book 1 - 0/5 Daves
So on to the second book, the background. Nothing much new here that I could tell, maybe some extra bits in the time lines and some nice use of specific war zones to help flesh out the relationships between certain factions but with BL doing all the handwork of pushing along the background nowadays these sections seem more and more redundant (especially as I find some of the content contradictory regarding the hopelessness of the human race but I'll let you cats find those parts for yourselves).
Book 2 - 3/5 Daves (it loses one for lack of new content)
Now on to the bit we will actually be buying it for, the RULES! The first thing I noticed was that it feels like the set of rules we all expected from the previous edition, clean well referenced rules that flow sensibly from one phase to another. For example all the special rules are now towards the back of the book as part of the appendix making it much easier to find them.
Things I liked:
- They have removed Precision Shot and Strike from characters meaning they realised no one wanted or really used them, good job!
- They have removed the random trees and rivers guff and replaced it with some very simple data slates for each piece of scenery, which you can choose to ignore the little bits of rules text if you find it annoying.
- Where a special rule is directly referenced in the text you either have a page number or a boxed out reprint of the rule to help you put it into context (I wonder if this is something they realised from producing the ibooks?)
- All terrain seems to have been simplified to either giving a save for being stood in it or giving a save if obscured by it. Ruins, for example, are now just 4+ cover if stood on the model or base, very simple.
- Psychic phase has removed the moronic 'warp charge counter' that no one ever bothered with and cleaned up the timing of when powers are manifested.
- Whilst it's a bit unnecessary the Psychic Focus (get the Primaris power in addition) for taking one discipline actually opens up quite a few options. Plus any Chaos model gets there Gods Primaris for free (a nice touch).
- It generally feels really clear how rules work and the restrictions applied to them. I keep finding little bits removed that seem to make the game flow a little better (focus fire is gone!)
Things that made me go hmm:
- Challenges are horse shit! Completely dumb. You still have to be engaged (btw or 2" to a model that is) to issue or accept but now you actually move the models into btw and the wounds from either model in said challenge have to be applied to be applied to the other first but will spill over to the rest of the unit as soon as it's dead. So what was the point? Just a way o snipe Powerfist Serg's? Even if they had just said only IC then it would still be a waste of four pages (that's right four whole pages!). My fix is ignore these rules and give your Chaos Marine characters a role on the Boon table every time the kill a model with the Character rule in combat.
- Speaking of combat it's still crap. Whilst -2" for difficult terrain is better than the previous 3D6 pick the worst two, the fact that you still get shot to guff by Overwatch and have to take models off the front leave it as dead as it was last edition.
- You now have to fully resolve shooting from each weapon type in a unit separately before rolling for the next which can result in some weapons being out of range (this is the apparent fix for the problems caused by casualty removal). I have a problem with the fact it will slow the game down for no benefit.
- Jump packs are still needlessly over complicated by having to choose between using them in either movement or combat. Let them do it in both and you might fix some of the issues with combat.
- Tactical objectives seem like a cool idea clumsily executed. Too much faffing about during the game with random ways to score points. I'll probably use them in a more focused way to make hidden object games.
Things that'll need play testing:
- There are a few subtle changes to some special rules like Smash that will need playing with but seem to make them work better.
- I don't buy the claim that vehicles will live longer just because you make it harder to blow them up with one roll as that wash't the issue with them last edition but we'll see.
- Force organisation is going to get really odd with everything scoring and almost any combination of models now acceptable.
Book 3 - 3.5/5 (Love the design, wish they had the balls to stop with all the 'cinematic' rules)