Gauss beams lancing from the shadows? Undead robots shambling forwards in a clattering mass, whilst the valiant defenders of humanity grit their teeth and reply with a swarm of explosive bullets? Don't panic, it's just another week in tabletop!
Greetings, fellow bunker-dwellers. By now we're sure you've heard the news that a new edition of Warhammer 40,000 is on the way. Games Workshop's sci-fi wargaming behemoth has barely paused for breath since the late 80s and although it only feels like yesterday when 8th edition turned things upside down by standardising infantry and vehicle stat lines and introducing stratagems, a new edition might just be what the painboy ordered.
If you haven't watched the trailer yet, visit the new 40k website and check it out. Sure, we've been spoiled rotten by the quality of the Astartes vids, but you'd have to be super-jaded to not enjoy seeing Space Marines and Sisters of Battle team up against a devastating Necron assault. Spare a thought for the poor guardsman too, who takes a gauss blast to the face for the Emperor. Poor blighter.
The current edition of Warhammer 40,000 has been an absolute riot, but the bloat was real. The rules developed organically, as player feedback poured in, and although this honed the game and made it a sharper and more engaging experience, it also made the edition feel unfixed, perhaps even unfinished. By the time we saw new rules for bolters and a range of doctrines for the Astartes, the game was already becoming a bit of a sprawl. Don't get me wrong here; I welcomed all of the rules changes and developments, but it added several layers of complexity (or rather, detail) that were, I feel, to the game's detriment.
9th edition promises to pull everything together into a manageable whole, which is something we should all welcome. With the announcement that the core rules will be free, to the promise that codexes will remain valid, the switch to 9th should be quite smooth. Command points will be rewarded for sticking to a single codex, so players won't feel forced to take cheese such as the Loyal 32. Other rules tweaks allow tanks to shoot in combat, and flyers will feel more like airborne units and less like... well, really fast tanks.
One thing that excites me about the new edition is a renewed focus on terrain. Instead of just being merely decorative, buildings will allow troops to benefit from fortifications and cover in a more effective and characterful way. This promises to make taking and holding buildings a matter of real strategic benefit.
Players will also be able to use their reserves more intelligently, holding them back until the right moment and attacking the enemy line where it is weakest. But the great ideas don't stop there; in 9th, explosive weapons such as frag missiles will be more effective against large squads of foes, providing even the most elite and tight-knit force with a response to overwhelming enemy numbers.
All in all, 9th edition sounds like the final evolutionary form of 8th, taking on-board feedback from the community and tournament players and cementing everything in place. With talk of a dedicated app for army building and a way to play various sizes of games - from lunchbreak battles to epic weekend clashes - there's a lot to get excited about! There's bound to be a lot of speculation about what the core rules will eventually look like, but it's certainly got us interested.
'But what about Psychic Awakening?' Well, that's continuing just as before, with news of the Adeptus Mechanicus returning to the fray. Serberys Raiders and Sulphur Hounds will be racing across the Martian vistas, blasting the enemy with all manner of ancient and terrifying technology, whilst the Pteraxii swoop overhead, raining down doom with their phosphor torches.
The sinister Martian cyborgs have become one of the most exquisitely-detailed and characterful armies of the 41st Millennium, and with these new units and rules they'll be showing xenos and heretics alike that it isn't just genetically-enhanced supersoldiers who own the rights to the mantle of Humanity's Protectors.
In other news, Fantasy Flight Games has offered a more in-depth look at the most recent KeyForge set, Mass Mutation. Dark Aember has unlocked new and powerful forms and abilities, reshaping the game we know and love into something truly strange! Fan favourites return in mutated forms, with each house replete with methods to either boost or brutalise mutations. The Enhance keyword enables the introduction of Bonus Icons to make your cards even more effective and adding a whole new level of depth. So what are you waiting for, Archons? Go and get mutated!
Finally this week, Atomic Mass Games continue to pour out quality miniatures for Marvel Crisis Protocol. If you're a fan of superheroes and miniature wargaming, and haven't taken a closer look at this awesome game yet, what have you been doing? If you're already hooked on superhero skirmish, the team at OnTabletop recently took a sneak peek at a couple of webslingers that are sure to catch your eye!
Well, that's it for this week. Are you stoked for 9th edition, and if so, what do you hope to see emerge in the coming weeks and months? New weapons, the return of the Squats, Zoat army boxes? Let us know in the comments!