Thursday 23 March 2017

8th Edition and the Horus Heresy - Implications

Afternoon everybody,

Not everyone lives on the blogosphere like I (and many others) do, so in case you haven't heard, the last 24 hours have given us some very strong suggestions about the direction that 8th Edition 40k will be taking. Here's a LINK to the Warhammer Community article where this is coming from, for you to peruse yourself.

We've already had some hints that there will be a rules delineation for 30k and 40k, though these are currently still rumours from solid sources rather than a design team interview providing the information. Regardless, I think it safe to assume that some change will be coming to the ruleset that 30k operates under. Even if a 'legacy' ruleset is instigated, I think it is HIGHLY likely that we will see modifications to some core mechanics that alter how the game plays. I think we are going to be looking at either major or minor modifications, and I wanted to give some thought to that today. 

If we presume that legacy rules are unlikely to occur than 30k will be pulled kicking and screaming in to a brave new world along with 40k. From the information provided on the Warhammer Community page, several of these will have big impacts on how 30k plays, and some much less so. On the other hand, perhaps only the most convertible concepts from these will be applied, in order to minimise the impact on existing publications that proscribe 30k rules. 

Lets have a look at what we know seems to be coming and how they would impact 30k, and how easy they would be to implement. 

Combat Initiative

This is the biggie for me regarding 30k and what we know so far. It seems that charging units will get to strike first in combat, rather than empirically in initiative order. This is obviously far reaching for 40k as well such as for Orks and Nids, but in the Astartes Stalemate that is 30k this becomes HUGE. 

One of the great pleasures of 30k is that anyone playing the Legiones Astartes is operating from a mostly generic toolbox, with flavour added through Legion specific rules and Rites of War. So even if you are the charging unit, on the whole it will be an initiative 4 stand off with everyone smacking everyone simultaneously. IF charging units do get the drop on opponents in 8th edition, this makes close combat heavy armies like Space Wolves, World Eaters and even Ravenguard MUCH more potent, as it will reduce the incoming return attacks and thus increase the survivability of units. 

This as a whole will make the game more tactical, and personally I think it would be a great boon to the fluff and flavour of 30k. Additionally this will not require a re-write of any of our fancy red books or great big black leather ones, so its an easy to implement. 

Combat Resolution

A change to combat resolution seems likely, with a mechanism similar to Age of Sigmar on the cards. This simply changes combat resolution from a 2D6 roll compared to Ld - wounds taken overall. To a D6 roll + models lost overall compared to leadership. 

In the current rules if you rolled too high you would have to perform an initiative roll off and see if you were swept by your opponent. In the Age of Sigmar mechanic you lose additional models based on how far you rolled over your leadership. For example, if you lost by 6 dead models and you rolled a 6, 6+6 = 12. if you are leadership 9, you would lose 3 additional wounds. 

This would remove 19 man squads being swept from the table because they lost a single model and rolled poorly and being swept. And having played Age of Sigmar, at least in that game, this mechanic works very well. 

HOWEVER, there are a lot of legion specific mechanics which operate specifically on initiative for combat resolution and sweeping advances (looking at you Emperor's Children). So this would have to be addressed, again, with a re-write. 

I like this mechanic, but I am dubious as to whether it will be incorporated into 30k.


The news seems to be that units will get a fixed movement stat, rather than a standard stat across types of model (e.g. infantry, cavalry, monstrous creature etc). This has limited impact on a marine dominated landscape, but does have implications for the human and mechanicum armies in 30k. 

I struggle to see this one being implemented, not only because it requires book re-writes, but also because it will have such minimal impact on the game as a whole that the effort seems barely worthwhile. The major modifications that would need to occur would be to humans and mechanicum AND perhaps legion specific units or wargear such as terminator armour. Not to say it won't happen, but it seems a leap in a relatively homogenous meta. 

Shooting and Armour Saves

This is an interesting concept that I cannot make my mind up on. It seems a return to armour modification based on ranged weapon strength is on the cards. Simply put some weapons will reduce armour saves by either a set amount (say +3) thus reducing a 2+ save to a 5+ save, or will modify armour depending on the difference between the strength of the weapon and the toughness of the unit being hit. 

I favour a set modifier over a SvsT concept as the whole point would seem to be a simplification of the game, and having a SvsT to wound table and a SvsT to figure out armour save modifier table would not add simplicity (at least to my mind). 

I think on the whole, I prefer the current AP system to these two proposed mechanisms. However GW could come up with a way which is superior, I'd rather not be pessimistic at this point. My preference for AP is its simplicity, its a simple check to see if AP 2-6 or AP- ignores your armour. Additionally, the AP value mechanism works very well when it comes to armour penetration and damage. 

Again, as this deals with the intrinsic characteristics of weapons, and 30k has a LOT of unique weapons, this would require a re-write of entire weapon sections. This would be relatively easy to remedy however, with release of reference charts with the alternative profiles on them, so not as complicated to integrate as movement characteristics. 


This is all the concrete evidence we have so far of what 8th Edition will bring for 40k, and how they might alter how 30k is played, or how likely it might be implemented when considering the practicality of such a move. 

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on what you think of these rule changes as a whole for 40k, but also specifically how they may change 30k. 

Just to be clear, I am in favour of all the above rule changes, barring save modifiers and I think they will work really well with a re-vamped 40k rule set. I am considerably more dubious about most for 30k though. 

Well done for making it this far if you did :)

Peace out,



  1. I'm with you on AP values. I'm in favour of this system as it is now.

    1. Yeah, its just very clean and simple

    2. Got to disagree there fellas. I'm don't like the fact you don't get a save against most weapons in the game even in termie armour. Having modifiers creates a more balanced way to take saves, as it gives a chance to more heavily armoured, premium troops to take an armour save against the more powerful guns

    3. Well that is more of a problem with list building meta rather than the actual amount of weapons that have AP2 or AP1. They will be disproportionately prevalent in meta that requires them, but most weapons demonstrably don't ignore terminator armour.

      If an AP5 weapon becomes +2 as a modifier then a 4+ save goes from 50% saves to 13.3% saves a reduction of 75%, whereas a 3+ save goes from 66.6% saves to 33.3% saves only a 50% reduction. So it disproportionately affects lower armour saves.

      I mean thats a completely theoretical situation but its an example of a potential problem I hope they work around. I do have faith though!

      And any changes that occur to 40k I am all for:) its how it impacts 30k I'm unsure of... sorry if thats comes off as combating... Tone is always hard to read online, I assure you I'm writing with jovial interest in this discussion :)

    4. How dare you disagree!!! Lets fight ...... ;) only kidding.

      That is a good point, and one I had not overly considered. Not sure how to overcome that really, unless we go back to the old 2d6 armour saves for terminators, like in second ed. we shall see though. Even if they keep it as is I wont mind really. I will be happy for change but the current ap system still does work fine

  2. I like the idea of the charging unit gaining initiative so to speak, but just the same as you am concerned what it'll do to the environment.

    I do not like variable movement rates (as I recall, it was got rid of for good reason).

    I do not like the armour save modification. It'll favour horde armies.

    Different ways to play would be very welcome.

    Morale changes - nope from me!

    Command points is a case of wait and see, I don't have enough information to make my mind up.

    1. I didn't comment on the command points as we don't have a lot of info and I am generally skeptical about rewarding themes. Not because it isn't admirable, but because certain themes will be stronger and then stacking additional benefits could snowball that. Wraith themed eldar armies for examples!

  3. I'm gonna buck the trend here - I love armour save modification, because it's so much more transferable to an understanding of how the weapon would work. Take a space marine as an example, getting shot by an autocannon. An autocannon is a seriously serious piece of kit, but apparently has no more likelihood of penetrating your armour than an auto pistol. Once you're into the swing of things, it really doesn't take much to remember and it doesn't slow play down at all (I've played enough 2nd edition and necromunda to know that for a fact).

    I like the combat idea up to a point, but something about power fists striking first simply because you ran at the enemy grates in my mind. I've done my own post about the rumours but I'd like to see charging impose a +3 initiative modifier, so power fists would strike at I4, but combat capable enemies would still hit first, or at least simultaneously. Honestly, why else would you take any other weapon?

    Movement rates I like but I'd also like to see them incorporated into charge distance, and as for morale, I like the idea of extra wounds (if I recall this has also been done before) but I'd like to retain the potential for being swept, say if you lose by a lot, to save big units just soaking up casualties and stop them fleeing from something that quite simply outclasses them, but might not have a huge number of attacks.

    1. It does do fluff nicely, but it will depend on how they adapt it for armour penetration as well. Though I prefer the simple clean aesthetic of AP values. I mean fluff wise a lasgun is considerably better than in game and a space marine would probably have FNP as standard, so in the absence of knowing what they will do I favour the AP. BUT like I said I;m not going to write off the modifiers as if they knock it out of the park it will add an extra layer to the game.

      My presumption with power fists is that they will over ride striking first and any unwieldy weapon will be the same, I don't think GW would be silly enough to allow freely accessible striking first power fists!

      Thematically though, small numbers being drowned in hordes works really well, and I think this mechanic will remove the point, click, die ability of certain units that can rely on sweeping, e.g. Ork Hordes versus space marines, Marines have higher initiative and armour save and will likely win combat, but Orks win through Hordes, its just how they work, same with tyranids and guard, meat for the meat grinder.

      Great discussion mate, thanks for the long post :) whatever happens I am excited for change! Particularly as someone who enjoys age of sigmar! I think a vocal amount of people on the internet need to get over being personally pleased by GW and accept others enjoy it!

    2. Back when 3rd first came out, and Save Modifiers vs. AP was a hot topic, I heard a counter-argument that actually put me firmly in the AP camp, fluff-wise. Let's take Power Armour as an example. It has stronger and weaker areas. A solid hit (i.e. successful to-Wound Roll) to a joint or eyepiece with basically any Weapon will go through. A hit on the plating will bounce most things just fine, no matter where on the plating. So if the AP value is worse than 3, it all comes down to whether or not the Attacker manages to hit one of those weak spots, which the Game abstracts to a 1/3 chance. If the AP is 3 or better, it will go right through any part of the Power Armour, plating or gap, so it just denies it altogether.
      The Save Modifier system, on the other hand, starts from the basis that all Armour is composed of a variety of variably durable materials, so that a cheap slug-thrower has still that same 1/3 chance of hitting something it'll punch through, while a Bolter will find something half the time, and a Heavy Bolter two times in three. And it assumes that the distributions of those various strengths are the same across all makes of 3+ Armour, whether that's Loyalist or Traitor Power Armour, Dark Reaper Aspect Armour, or a Carnifex's Carapace.

      Amusingly, Shadow War, and some MathHammer on the leaked Datasheets I've seen has me more in favour of Modifiers from a Rules perspective at this point. With pretty much everything being a step below where it was in 2nd Ed, it becomes substantially less brutal, and I think Armour is actually going to be a more broadly relevant factor in 40K than ever before.

  4. It would be strange to return to some of the second edition ruleset but I shall await the actual rules.
    Fair play on your disection of it.

    1. Indeed Rory, I think a lot of this gives a nice indication, but the precise wording and mechanics will make or break how they work in game, fingers crossed and optimism at the ready :)

  5. Personally I can't wait for the changes. The game is pretty clunky and awful (to me anyway) at the moment. A simplification and return to a more narrative rewarding way to play is certainly welcome in my book. I like the sound of all of the changes, although some will take a little getting used to, I am game for it though :)

    1. As I said above mate, I'm all game for 40k changes:)

      But a huge amount of fluff based rules in 30k are written around certain mechanisms in the current ruleset, ranging from how entire legions work to individual special characters and primarchs. So I am hoping that a certain degree of legacy rules are developed for 30k.

      Otherwise that's a near complete rewrite of all the distinguishing aspects of 30k which attracted players in the first place as people got turned off by 40k. Or at least I'd argue that!!

      But I'm probably just being far too precious!! I'm sure I'll adapt whatever :)

      Thanks for your thoughts mate :)

    2. I think people were more attracted to 30k because it was more narrative and fluff driven, and they were escaping the ridiculousness that 40k has descended into. I don't think rules changes will make much difference to how 30k is played, as the rights of war, army restrictions play a huge part in forming the character of armies, as well as the special rules you mention. There will have to be a few tweaks of course, but I don't think there will be a huge amount to worry about. I am pretty certain any rules changes will take into account how 30k is played, as it is pretty much their 3rd gaming system now, alongside the other two. I think it might have the added benefit of speeding up games of 30k too. As much as I do like them, they do take a long time (def quicker than 40k tho)

  6. Lovely write up mate, hadn't seen any posts on it yet. As I haven't played 7th yet, or very short matches, to make the rules stick, a poster like this makes it fathomable.

  7. Great article Rob. It seems that the prevailing feeling amongst the community is one of excitement and optimism. I can't wait for an overhaul and the simplification of what many of us find to be a rather bloated ruleset.

    The prospect of not having a twenty man Legion Tactical Squad swept in combat fills me with joy and tells are far better story upon the tabletop. Speaking of stories, many 30k gamers define themselves, the games and their armies around story. If the ruleset enables this drama to unfold upon the tabletop in a fluid, compelling fashion, then so much the better. Oh, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how vehicles are dealt with...

    Bring on 8th!