Greetings ladies and gentlemen, my name is Learn2Eel from Imperator Guides and today I want to bring you another look at the core rule changes for 7th Edition Warhammer 40,0000! Instead of focusing on psykers or any other specific section of the rules, I wanted to cover as many major and minor rule changes from 6th Edition and their potential effects in games. A note that I will not be directly quoting any rules and will thus assume that you as a viewer have your own rulebook or necessary information for my thoughts to form coherently. With that said, I hope you enjoy this article!
This is Part Three of the Rules Analysis series.
Key Changes in 7th Edition
1) The addition of a new set of missions - So one of the big talking points of 7th Edition are the new Maelstrom of War missions and they certainly offer a lot of variety to gameplay now. Being able to choose (randomly) between twelve different missions in the core rulebook alone should help give a lot more longevity to 7th Edition. From personal experience, the Maelstrom of War set is awesome and while a bit luck dependent it definitely encourages a really fast and hard style of play. As covering all of these would eat up the entirety of this article, I'll be compiling a tutorial for the Maelstrom of War missions in the near future.
2) Change to the order of deployment and who has the first turn - There is a bit of a contradiction with the rules for who gets to have the first turn in the new rules; one paragraph says 'the player who deploys first chooses either to go first or second' and a subsequent paragraph in the same section says 'you should roll off to see who goes first after deployment'. This is interesting as either scenario actively favours the player who deploys second; the chance to go first after deploying second even without a roll to Seize the Initiative means countering your opponents' deployment becomes that much more important. However you choose to interpret the rules, I think even with the Maelstrom of War missions and tactical objectives this really hammers home how much of an advantage the player who deploys second usually gets.
3) Fortification upgrades can be placed separately - This is a curious little footnote and raises some interesting questions; if you buy a Comms Relay for an Imperial Bastion, does the Comms Relay have defensive stats? When you place it outside of the building, can it be individually targeted? If not, then this is a very nice extra rule for those buildings with upgrades as it means you won't lose the benefits of a Comms Relay - for example - if the building itself is destroyed. Perhaps a clarification via FAQ is needed to see if the scenery upgrades can be attacked.
4) Changes to Linebreaker qualifications - Something to note with Linebreaker is the different wording; it now requires a single scoring model to be "wholly" within the required area. This means you can't have the front half of a Trygon model inside the area and qualify for Linebreaker which makes sense. As is a running theme with 7th Edition, this is mostly just to clarify and little niggling issues players had with 6th Edition.
5) Clarification with Conjured units and victory conditions - I am unaware if this was clarified in a 6th Edition rulebook FAQ, but Conjured units are now fully viable as "kill point" targets and qualify for any victory conditions on the controlling players' part. This means that they are eligible for capturing objectives, securing or giving up secondary objectives like First Blood or Linebreaker, or count as eligible units for tactical objectives where applicable. As Conjured units are going to be far more common in 7th Edition it again is logical that they have been mostly standardized with regular units.
6) Objectives can now be placed on buildings - Giving players the option to place objectives on the battlements of a building or fortification is awesome and makes the Imperial Bastion in particular even more insanely good value. Park some small models like Gretchin up there and enjoy enemies being unable to sight your scoring unit - just be wary of the newly buffed Barrage weapons. This really makes most buildings with some kind of roof or battlement much more valuable as actually getting a unit off of that objective is far more difficult than if it were merely in a forest.
7) Occupied buildings count as scoring units - This one sort of goes hand in hand with the above point, but if you really want to annoy opponents then putting a unit inside (again, for example) a Bastion but not on top of it, then placing an objective at the access point facing your board edge is all kinds of nasty. Now that units don't suffer hits inside of buildings when they are damaged, something like an AV 14/14/14 fortification placed 8" away from your board edge with an objective 7" away from the same board edge is going to be an incredibly cheap and reliable objective holder with a tiny throw-away Troops choice inside. I'm sure there are other ways to abuse this but it is but one of many changes that encourages players to try out the expanded fortification rules in Stronghold Assault.
8) Units occupying a building are now scoring units - This is really a minor point considering that occupied buildings themselves count as scoring units, but there might be a situation in a game where this actually matters. It's something to remember at the very least.
9) All units types are now scoring with two exceptions - I don't think I need to talk about how massive a change this is as I think everyone has spoken about it recently so I'll instead focus on what has changed principally. Previously, vehicles and Swarm type units could never be scoring unless they had a special rule over-riding that - such cases were incredibly rare, however. In addition, only Troops choices were scoring unless specified otherwise, such as was the case with Pedro Kantor and Sternguard Veterans. Now, not only are all unit types scoring units - and thus comes the removal of "denial units" as a separate rule - but they are scoring regardless of their Force Organization slot. The exceptions to this rule are Zooming Flyers and Swooping Flying Monstrous Creatures; this is because it wouldn't really make sense that something flying high in the air could capture or contest an objective. I really applaud this change - as well as the addition of Objective Secured for Troops choices - as it affects how people will approach list-building and still gives a lot of value to Troops units.
10) Tweaks to Mysterious Objectives - Only two of the results here have changed - Sabotaged and Grav Wave Generator - and both were subject more to tweaks than anything truly radical. The former trades a large blast marker for hitting D6 models in every unit within 3". This essentially means it can hit multiple levels of a building provided the space between each level vertically is 3" or less, while D6 hits could potentially hit more models than just those under a large blast marker. The Grav Wave Generator now reduces charge ranges by two rather than halving them which becomes more of a downgrade the further away a charging unit is. The new effect is only better if the opponent rolls a 2 on the 2D6 roll as their change range would be reduced to 0, though if you can combine it with the new difficult terrain penalties it is pretty harsh. Still, remembering the average roll of 2D6 is 7, the old effect (assuming no terrain) would see the opponent charge 4", while the new effect (assuming terrain) would see the opponent charge 3". It's still good but probably just toned down a bit overall.
11) Night Fighting is only rolled for before deployment - One of the oft forgotten rules in 6th Edition was the fact that Night Fighting could be rolled for a second time in a game if the first roll was unsuccessful. At the start of turn five and every game turn from then on, if Night Fighting did not come into effect on turn one then you would have to roll a D6 until Night Fighting occured on a roll of a 4+. Now, it is only rolled for once before either army starts deploying. Seeing as many people forgot about this little tidbit anyway, I think it just gives players less to worry about in the later stages of the game.
12) Night Fighting has been greatly simplified -The old Night Fighting rules were needlessly detailed and also oddly illogical in one case. If a Barrage weapon can fire without line of sight on its own, what's to stop it firing into the night? Thankfully, all the annoyances with working out a units' maximum range or whether they qualified for a particular cover bonus are gone as the only effect Night Fighting has is to give every unit Stealth for a whole game turn. This isn't so great for those long-ranged armies or players deploying second that relied on Shrouded and the 36" range limitation to survive the first round, while Drop Pod armies and their kind will benefit quite a bit from guaranteed Stealth regardless of distance. Simplified and a slight balancing act; I approve of this!
13) No more 50% Reserves limitations - This is one I think everyone will love, even though pure Drop Pod armies for example already ignored the restriction. Being able to perform a Deathwing Assault on turn one with an entire force of Terminators is awesome, but just generally not being constrained by an annoying 50% limit will push a lot of diversity in deployment tactics. Note that a player that has no models left on the game board at the end of a game turn will still lose the game automatically.
1) And They Shall Know No Fear slightly toned down - One of the hallmarks of And They Shall Know No Fear is the automatic Regroup a fleeing unit makes, but what really made it ridiculous was the unit first having the typical 3" Regroup move and then being able to move, shoot and assault normally afterwards. Basically, a fleeing Space Marine unit of the Infantry type would Regroup and get a 9" move, while Bike and Jump Pack equipped squads could make a 15" move! This was always rather silly and has been changed so that models with this special rule ignore the usual Regroup move and instead can just act normally, making their normal moves, shooting attacks and charge declarations. This is a minor but welcome change to And They Shall Know No Fear and I guess it might make Chaos Space Marines feel a little bit better about themselves.
2) A downgrade for Blind - While this change probably won't affect a lot of units possessing the special rule too much, it hits Tyranid Gargoyles really badly. Previously, there was no limit to how many Blind tests could be forced in one phase. Now, there is a hard cap of one Blind test per unit each phase; while most sources of Blind usually only caused one test anyway because of their limited numbers, it's not difficult to see how much Gargoyles suffer from this change with their massed Blinding Venom attacks. It also bears mentioning that Blind attacks in an assault that were used at a high Initiative step so that the opposing unit would strike back at Weapon Skill 1 are now worthless in the first round of assault as the test is taken at the end of the phase rather than immediately. Those poor, poor Gargoyles.
3) Beneficial tweaks to Brotherhood of Psykers/Sorcerers - A trait Grey Knight players are no doubt familiar with is that any Perils of the Warp result taken by a unit with this special rule or its 5th Edition forerunner would always affect the Justicar or character model first. This led to many keeping their Justicars on the bare side so as to not lose a high investment model in the blink of an eye. Now, Perils of the Warp is randomly allocated against a single model in the unit - as are attacks that specifically affect Psykers. This is a really handy change that will encourage more players to try out some of the nifty character-exclusive wargear Grey Knights get.
4) Barrage weapons no longer always cause Pinning tests - Given the increased negatives of Going to Ground, this particular change probably comes as no surprise to most - though I'm not sure this makes sense in terms of background. Losing Pinning means that a lot of armies now have very limited access to natural Pinning weapons or attacks as many armies - like Space Marines - only had artillery pieces for such purposes.
5) Clean up of Multiple Barrages and Wound Allocation - If any of you were around during 6th Edition and ever played a unit with multiple barrages - Manticores, Wyverns, squadrons of Basilisks, Thunderfire Cannons, Thudd Guns and so on - then you will no doubt recall how ridiculously silly and time-consuming the rules for resolving them were. Resolving wounds from the centre of each individual blast marker? No thanks! Games Workshop have struck another bad rule from the records and given us wound allocation solely from the centre of the first blast marker! Thank you so much! While it might potentially reduce the sniping potential of multiple barrages, by the Emperor this will save so much time!
6) Counter Attack no longer requires a Leadership test - I really like this change as it brings Counter Attack in line with other charge-based abilities that don't require tests of any kind. While Dire Avengers, Grey Hunters and most other units with Counter Attack have high Leadership, being able to guarantee all models in your unit getting +1 attack when charged is still a great ability. This is also a big buff for Tervigons and Termagants as the new codex removed the Leadership buff Tervigons provided for Counter Attack purposes. Remember that only models with the Counter Attack special rule get the +1 attack bonus.
7) Destroyer Weapons toned down - I have a bit of a mixed reaction to this one. On the one hand, no longer automatically causing an Explodes! result on vehicles with the roll of a 2+ makes far more sense. However, not ignoring both cover and invulnerable saves really limits their damage potential with the former while certain death-star builds now lack a hard counter with the latter. I think at the very least Destroyer Weapons should have still ignored cover saves, but I guess overall I can at least be content that Leman Russ squadrons won't instantly evaporate as soon as a few 2+ rolls are made. On the other hand, Destroyer Weapons are now treated as Strength 10 when working out Instant Death so I guess that is kind of neat - though D3 wounds to non-vehicle models on the roll of a 2+ are probably going to be enough a lot of the time anyway.
8) Clarification with Gets Hot! wounds - I am absolutely sure this was included in an FAQ as no one I know of ever played it otherwise, but the rulebook now clearly states you can't use Look Out Sir on a character model to avoid a wound caused by Gets Hot! Not having to comb multiple pages in both a rulebook and FAQ for all these little rules is much appreciated!
9) Graviton added as a special rule - While graviton weapons have only recently been added to Warhammer 40,000 through Codex: Space Marines (not counting the Horus Heresy series) Games Workshop decided to add their unique rule to the main rulebook. Seeing as the Graviton rule is fully covered and unchanged in the 6th Edition Space Marine codex, the only reason I can see this rule being added to the main rulebook is that other future codices will receive Graviton weapons as well. It is likely that other Space Marine codices such as Blood Angels and Space Wolves will be updated to use Graviton weapons, though what this means for Dark Angels is anyone's guess.
10) Sensible Hammer of Wrath tweaks - While most special rules specified they didn't affect Hammer of Wrath, putting those restrictions in the primary special rule itself will save players some reading time to clear up related rules queries. Additionally, Hammer of Wrath being resolved against the facing of a vehicle or building that is adjacent to the model makes perfect sense. This is more of a decrease in usefulness for monstrous creatures and walkers who tend to have high base Strength values which combines with the Smash change to make vehicles much safer in combat.
11) Clarification with Ignores Cover and Vehicles - A surprisingly common rule mix-up in regards to Ignores Cover was its application against vehicles. Many only found the "against wounds" clause and failed to spot a rule on an entirely separate page specifying vehicles take cover saves just as if they were wounds. Less argument, more play!
12) Independent Characters cannot join monstrous creatures - An interesting note with the 7th Edition rulebook is that Games Workshop clearly worked to tone down certain death-stars, but failed to really fix all of them (and reworked a now broken Invisibility in the process). The O'Vesa Star is the main casualty here with Riptides now incapable of being joined by Independent Characters, though it must be noted O'Vesa himself can still join other units so long as they don't include monstrous creatures. This also directly affects Carnifex broods used as bodyguards for a Tyranid Prime which is a big shame as it was one of the few units a Prime was worth purchasing for.
13) Clarification with Infiltrate and Scout - I can't think of any units that combine both special rules off the top of my ahead aside from Scout Squads, and I don't believe anyone played it that the rules invalidated each other, but this nonetheless a cool little clarification for us.
14) Interceptor no longer buffs Skyfire - This is one that is likely to annoy quite a few Tau players and reduces the value of Quad Guns and Icarus Lascannons significantly, but I for one agree with it. Units that packed only Skyfire such as Hydras and the Space Marine anti-aircraft tanks now won't seem so "lacking" compared to units that pack both Skyfire and Interceptor, even if flyers having the first strike is still a big downside to those units.
15) Significant Jink changes - When I saw that the Jink rules were being standardized to match the linked Evade rule of flyers, I personally was stoked. Skimmers had such a huge advantage over regular vehicles with what amounted to a free 5+ or 4+ cover save (the latter if they moved Flat Out) while the previous downsides to skimmers and immobilized results had been removed. This is a nice balancing act and one that also makes sense in the context of flyers, though there is a good buff for skimmers when facing up against a first turn fusillade. Being able to Jink without having to move is a godsend for Dark Eldar in particular I feel who for so long have had to rely on terrain to save their incredibly fragile skimmers, though their Flickerfields will of course still have a place in that regard. I also really like the tactical implications of having to choose whether to use Jink or not before an opponent even rolls to hit as it really forces players to stop and think about the likelihood of any given damage result.
16) Melta and Blast clarifications - This rule was always a bit iffy in 6th Edition; did you work out the Melta effect based on on the range to the initial target, or to the final position of the blast marker? Did you work it out from the centre of the hole or the edge of the blast marker? While Blast and Large Blast weapons with the Melta special rule are incredibly rare - the only ones that jump to mind are the Devil Dog and Knight Errant guns - it is still nice to finally see these fixed up. Measuring to the centre of the hole after it has scattered for working out if the Melta rule applies to all models under the blast marker is perfectly fair I feel and the correct way to fix this problem.
17) Missile Lock mandatory changes - This special rule got some much needed love in the new rulebook with an additional effect for missiles that don't use blast markers, while it also specifies it only affects "One Use Only" weapons. The latter doesn't make a difference as far as I know because all missiles are of that type anyway, but it is worth mentioning in case a vehicle with a non missile based weapons with "One Use Only" has this rule as that weapon would also get the benefit of Missile Lock. Sadly, I can only imagine how Dark Angels players must have felt when they checked both the new rulebook and their codex FAQ; I think it might have gone something like the following. "Hey look, Missile Lock gives re-rolls to hit for non-blast type missiles now! Hooray for the Nephilim! I'm assuming they dropped that now out-dated Erra.....WHAT!? WHY!?" - *descends into enraged gibbering* - As a side note and fun quiz for our viewers, how many units can you name with the Missile Lock special rule?
18) Move Through Cover affects charging - Ladies and gentlemen, Games Workshop have finally heard the players and addressed a wonky rule that senselessly affected movement but not charges. It's nice to know that monstrous creatures are now no longer slowed at all by difficult terrain when charging and the same is true of almost all Tyranid units. This is a nice little change that really increases the value of Move Through Cover, though it must be said that it still doesn't address many assault units' issues with charging into terrain and suffering an Initiative penalty.
A note with Pinning - the changed wording for when to take a Pinning test is to reflect that each individual weapon type in a unit now shoots separately. Functionally it is identical.
19) Poisoned melee attacks saw a slight nerf - 6th Edition saw a complete overhaul of melee Poisoned attacks that allowed models with it to wound on a better roll than the fixed number if it would normally be possible - a Trygon with Toxin Sacs went from always wounding everything on a 4+ to also wounding Toughness 5 and lower opponents on a 3+ and so on. This obviously affected Tyranids above all with the highest quantity of melee based Poisoned attacks, though the 6th Edition Tyranid Codex really didn't reflect that significant buff. Given how late it was released into the 6th Edition life-cycle, this minor downgrade probably somewhat justifies it - now you only get re-rolls to wound if the Strength exceed an opponents' Toughness instead of also merely matching it. For Carnifexes and Haruspexes this will make little difference as it will for your units when fighting most other units, but for Trygons fighting Dreadknights or Warriors facing off against Space Marines this will be a pretty big reduction in effectiveness.
20) Precision Shots and Strikes are now special rules - This mostly serves to clear up some confusing references to these rules from the Astra Militarum codex - and also fixes the big rules debate about whether all shots or just '6s' were Precision Shots with the Order - while the side effect is that Characters no longer have both of these by default. It is worth mentioning also that Precision Shots can now only be allocated to models both in line of sight and in range of the model that made the Precision Shot rather than just requiring them to be in range. No more sniping characters that are hiding!
21) Notes on Psychic Pilot, Rampage and Rending - First up, vehicles with Psychic Pilot now have Leadership 10 for all psychic-related purposes and that includes Perils of the Warp. Hooray! Secondly, Rampage is now rolled for once and applied to all models in the combat rather than having to take the time to roll for each individually. Hooray! Thirdly and finally, Rending has been fully clarified to not apply an AP2 bonus against vehicles - a surprisingly common rules misconception. Hooray! This really is the "vacuum cleaner" edition honestly and it is glorious.
22) Scouts cannot charge in the first game turn - This is one that doesn't really seem to fit with similar rulings elsewhere in Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy - heck, even Scouts in 7th Edition still only specify the "first (player) turn" - but for good or ill this is what we are left with. This is most assuredly to partially reduce the absolutely bonkers threat range of White Scars and Ravenwing Biker armies, though it also really hurts certain premier assault units such as Flesh Hounds of Khorne. I don't really agree with this as it just doesn't fit with any other similar rules Games Workshop has set but I guess those Scouting bike armies needed a good smack.
23) Smash saw a significant nerf - This one honestly didn't take me by surprise whatsoever as monstrous creatures just had such a significant advantage over vehicles - and walkers in particular - that led to a pretty lop-sided competitive environment. This change alone sees that walkers now have a huge advantage over most monstrous creatures as this is the weakest form of anti-vehicle melee the big gremlins have ever had. It doesn't help that to actually explode a vehicle with an AP2 melee attack the monster now has to roll a 6 on the damage chart! Being forced to make a single Smash attack not only reduces the value of melee monstrous creatures lacking a Strength value of 7 or higher by a significant margin, but it also sees specialist weapons like Eviscerators or abilities like those possessed by a Ministorum Priest become far less useful. Walkers really needed a big buff to compete with just how amazing monstrous creatures were overall, and this is an indirect one that sees even a basic Dreadnought more than capable of taking on something as frightening as a Tyranid Trygon. Of course, monstrous creatures like the Wraithknight, Carnifex or Nemesis Dreadknight won't be bothered by this whatsoever while the Ghost Glaive upgrade for a Wraithlord is now worth every point spent.
24) Sniper weapons are no longer Rending against vehicles - I'm not too particular on why this is now the case but I generally don't agree with reducing the value of Sniper weapons. Deathmarks aside, units with Sniper weapons generally aren't that dangerous and are there more for some situational special model sniping rather than any actual serious damage output. Having some very light anti-vehicle capabilities made Sniper weapons a good all-rounder choice as they could strip a few hull points off of light vehicles or put out a few wounds here or there. I'm guessing this was yet another attempt at strengthening the position of vehicles in 7th Edition but I feel it is an unnecessary change.
25) Soul Blaze wounds are randomly allocated - I've never really found Soul Blaze to do much of anything in all my games of 6th Edition, but with the Astra Militarum, Eldar and Tau still likely to be incredibly popular armies this little change could be quite useful. Take Fire Warriors protecting Ethereals or any number of the Regimental Advisors or Specialists; these models generally lack any real survivability and as such some luck with Soul Blaze could have some hilarious effects. It is a minor change as the chances of actually hitting a key model are as high as affecting any other model in the unit but this will at least see players be somewhat wary of Soul Blaze now.
26) Split Fire no longer requires a Leadership test - This one slots in nicely with the buff to Counter Attack and ensures you can always make use of a special rule your unit pays for in some way. This is no doubt a nice buff for Long Fangs and other such units but I am assuming it was changed with the Astra Militarum in mind due to their ability to dole out Split Fire to their many low-Leadership units. This won't make it a must have by any means but it is nonetheless a good little improvement that makes abilities or wargear that hand out Split Fire a bit more enticing.
Another note on Pinning and its reduced quantity - now both Sniper weapons and Strafing Run lack the Pinning special rule!
27) Major Strikedown tweaks - While this special rule is still decidedly rare it nonetheless saw some pretty significant changes, starting with the removal of its Initiative penalty. Halving the Initiative value of particular models in a unit was a good usage of Assail from the Telekinesis discipline as it allowed a psyker to single out nasty melee characters and stop them from killing a bunch of models before they could strike. Additionally, this now also affects monstrous creatures but this isn't as cool as it seems at first glance seeing as all monsters have the Move Through Cover special rule anyway. As a result, you are not going to see Strikedown any more than usual as losing its Initiative-based effect is a pretty hefty blow against combat centric armies.
Fun note - the Supersonic special rule no longer prevents a Flyer from hovering, but no Flyer in the game has both the Hover type and the Supersonic special rule.
28) Cleaned up Swarm wound allocation rules - These rules are long over-due and finally fix everyone's problem with low Toughness Swarm units - no more extensive FAQs and Erratas for these! For those who don't know, the old rules kind of broke themselves when it came to any form of template or blast marker that also inflicted Instant Death of some kind hitting a Swarm unit. Now, these have been fully cleared up - Swarms only suffer double wounds from templates and blast markers if they don't inflict Instant Death. Swarms also saw a nice and unexpected buff which is that a unit composed entirely of them ignores any movement penalties for difficult terrain. Both of these changes should see Swarms pop up quite a bit more often in games as especially with the Endurance psychic power from Biomancy they won't be shifted nearly as easily now.
29) Template weapons and No Escape - While template weapons are already really powerful as they automatically hit enemy models, have the most consistent Overwatch and tend to be quite cheap, they still got a pretty big buff to further counter open-topped vehicles and buildings with fire points. If a template hits either of those two it inflicts an additional D6 automatic hits on any occupants of the open topped vehicle or building in question using the weapons' Strength and AP. It is almost as if Dark Eldar and Orks weren't fearful enough of template weapons as it was! It bears mentioning that these wounds are randomly allocated as there is no "closest point" to determine which model would be the closest.
30) Tweaks to Vector Strikes - I'm not sure why this change was made but it definitely gives Vector Strike a niche role as an anti-air "weapon". The bump to AP2 effectively cancels out the reworked vehicle damage chart but it also ignores armour saves on tough models like Riptides or Terminators, so this is mostly a nice buff. Inflicting a single hit on all but Zooming Flyers and Swooping Flying Monstrous Creatures - the number for these is increased to D3 - significantly reduces the overall damage potential of Vector Strike even despite the AP2 improvement. This is undoubtedly a change aimed at Heldrakes that combines with the removal of their "turret" FAQ to make them a significantly weaker unit overall, though (sadly) they are probably still the strongest unit in the Chaos Space Marine codex. Regardless, I'm happy to see that Vector Strike is less of a generalist weapon and has more of a specialist role if only to increase the value of actual ranged weapons on flying monstrous creatures.
Finally, that is all folks! This has been one heck of a lengthy mini-series and I'm happy to say that my coverage of codices in 7th Edition will now commence shortly with this timely completion. I hope you have found these articles useful for getting to grips with all the nuances of 7th Edition and I look forward to hearing about your battles and thoughts in and with the new rules. Have a nice day! Eel out.