With Warhammer 40,000 9th edition on the horizon, it's time to get under the hood and find out what makes it tick. So without further ado, let's kick off another instalment of Frontline News!
It's impossible to ignore the juggernaut that is Warhammer 40,000. For decades it has dominated sci-fi tabletop gaming and soon we're going to be seeing the launch of ninth edition. There's already been a shed-load of speculation on how this edition is going to differ from the previous iteration, but Games Workshop has provided us all with enough information for us to start weighing things up.
First up, this edition is going to give tanks their edge back. In 8th, tanks felt like big infantry. Only with a vastly greater number of guns and wounds, and armour so thick you could bounce tactical nukes off it. But they could be neutralised by mobbing them with cheap infantry, which always left players feeling a little salty. Well, in ninth edition tanks will be able to shoot in combat in order to punish anyone who gets too close! Now, be warned, the rule itself - Big Guns Never Tire - is a bit of a word salad, so make sure you've had a coffee before you read it. But it's good news for treadheads!
Ninth Edition has also attempted to solve the issue of smaller, more elite forces simply being swamped by horde armies. New Blast Weapon rules boost the effectiveness of certain weapons against large units of enemy models, making frag missiles and grenades an effective deterrent, even against massed ranks of orks and tyranids. The rules themselves are nice and simple, increasing the minimum number of attacks made by the weapon depending on the size of the target unit. It's a pretty elegant and fair approach.
Now, one of the key features of any wargaming table is terrain, but too often in games of Warhammer 40,000 it takes a back seat, or serves a merely decorative function. One of the things I was excited to see in this new edition was how terrain was made relevant again, and whether it would force players to make sacrifices in order to seize a position on the table. Other tabletop games such as Infinity, Battletech and Warzone utilise terrain in a very strategic way; you can read the table, and with a little skill and judgement swing things in your favour simply by choosing to move to a certain point, forcing your opponent to make difficult decisions in order to get a bead on your units.
The perfect opportunity to shamelessly plug our Habitas terrain!
So now that we've had a glimpse of the new terrain rules, how do they stack up against these admittedly high expectations? Well, they certainly move things in the right direction. The new rules are all about keywords, so before the battle players will determine what sort of cover a building is (usually, this will be obvious). Obscuring terrain prohibits units from shooting through it, but they can target enemies that are within it. So, if your table is full of buildings with gaping windows, it won't be a duck shoot from turn one, because players won't be able to draw line of sight through several different buildings.
We're keen to see the whole set of rules, but one thing is clear: terrain matters now, and that's great news in terms of strategy and tactics.
So what about the contents of the box? Well, Games Workshop has lifted the lid on this already, and the models are pretty awe-inspiring. Primaris marines are now getting powerswords, neo-volkite guns and storm shields. If that's not exciting enough, wait until you see the Eradicators who are armed with - are you sitting down for this? - "long-range melta rifles". Dear lord.
The new Space Marine toys are great, but boy are they going to need them. The Necrons have had a boost too, with new and terrifying units joining the fray. Tooled-up with enmitic annihilators, characters like the Skorpekh Lord will be more than a match for most enemies, whereas Plasmacytes float through the Necron lines, buffing their allies and making them even more dangerous.
This being Games Workshop, we're already seeing glimpses of what's coming after the Indomitus box. One of the upcoming units is the Invader ATV, which is... well, it's a Primaris kit car. I've loved every Primaris release so far, but this one leaves me a little cold. It's certainly a fun sculpt, and I'm sure it's going to appeal to younger players, but it feels a bit old-school for a breed of Space Marine that usually zooms around using grav technology.
The Firestrike Servo Turret is another tool in the Imperium's arsenal against the Necrons, but as with the Invader, I'm not starstruck. We've already seen Suppressors flying around wielding one of these cannons, so a single platform armed with two isn't particularly impressive. Plus, it reminds me a bit of those gun platforms from the Space Crusade expansion which at least had a twin lascannon. However, suppression fire is great in 40k and with Primaris now sporting close combat weapons maybe these platforms will see a fair bit of use. I just wanted a few more barrels.
There's more in store for the Necrons too, including the Canoptek Doomstalker. Armed with twin gauss flayers and the hulking Doomsday Blaster, this is going to solve any issues arising from enemy tanks in a single blast of lurid green light.
Now, with a new edition incoming and the promise of many games of 40k on the horizon, we've been adding to our armies. I've been working on an Imperial Knight which will fight alongside my Dark Angels. With a couple of spherical magnets, I've given the model a bit more flexibility in posture, opening up a few more dynamic poses!
There have also been a few Battletech games going on via Zoom, and I managed to get a few new models painted up. Aside from the metal Marauder, here's a Valkyrie and Destroid from Kidslogic. Battletech fans will know these by other names, of course, and they've already been melting steel on the battlefield.
That's all from us this week. How excited are you for ninth edition, and are you tempted by the new Primaris and Necron forces? Let us know what you've been doing, hobby-wise, too!