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Hello everyone and welcome to Tzar Katztic's Reality Amplifying Mekshop [in short TK-RAM(tm)]. As soon as I have taken into my claws the new and insanely useless 5th edition book of Warhammer 40'000 (I came back to the hobby after a few years of sad abstinence) I was struck by the fact that for YEARS our honorable Lords of Terra (the money-mongers at GW) have done actually nothing to improve the game system itself. Don't agree with me? Fine, let me explain first and throw pickled gherkins at me later. I promise I will struggle to contain my sarcasm, grin. Herewith is contained a proposal to alter the existing basic game rules. It is a very big change and at the same time it is very discreet as the essential statistics, points values, move distances, weapons and actions remain the same. Have a look.
DA HIZTORICAL BITZ
First, a little bit of history. I call myself a veteran player (yes, one of those disillusioned with the benevolence of our Lords-of-Terra/GW, you might have noticed that) who played Warhammer since 1993. I played all the editions of 40k and was with Warhammer Fantasy since the 3rd edition. As soon as the third edition of 40k came out together with that sell-more-models-and-make-more-money paradigm shift which occurred approximately in that era, I stopped playing Warhammer because it became flat and boring. Old squad compositions became very often obsolete or useless and you had to either convert, abandon or (discreetly advised by GW) buy new ones (yay). I sold my Eldar and my Alpha Legionaries went into stasis and were thawed only to take part in Star Crusade and Space Hulk campaigns (very good old games, for some cosmic reason not produced anymore by GW). After years the fourth edition came out and I decided to get back to the game but was amazed how the idea of the game changed. Now you were EXPECTED to collect huge armies and play huge games with as many models as possible (the culmination is the Apocalypse book, but we will talk about that later). You couldn't be a casual player with a small and fun army anymore, the social expectation empowered by redshirts was to buy as much as possible and play huge games in order to be 'trendy'. Not the positive change I expected. 'Oh well' I thought GW was at some point close to bankruptcy so some thinking about money might be a good thing. But together with the urge to get massive armies the rules were changed only slightly, in fact they were merely cut down without making them more fluent (or in other words the gains from cutting them down did not equal the costs). It seems that the game designers at GW thought that cutting down the rules would make the game more fluent. Wrong! Lets get over to the details:
DA RULZ APOCALYPZE
Ok, so I thawed my Alpha Legionaries (they were so happy) and went into the 4th edition fray. I summoned some extra Chaos Marines in order to have enough troops. I soon realized that something is wrong. After every bigger game I had this strange feeling of awkwardness which kept pestering my chaos-diseased mind for a long time. And then it struck me. I remember very well. It was Monday morning, three-thirty, somewhere deep down in the docks of the small shabby town I live now in, a pub full of flea-ridden working class drunkards; this guy was talking to me for hours about some nasty plan he had concerning his girlfriend. I considered him background noise but at some point there came order into his words. I made out a voice from the warp, an astropathic message. It said 'Static Turn Sequence'. I finally looked at the guy who at this point stopped talking he must have been startled that I actually paid attention to him. I looked at him longer, saw the truth in his eyes and then I screamed 'Static Turn Sequence!' and ran out of the pub.
At home I unchained the rulebooks and looked through them in detail, page by page, inspired by the voice from the warp. It occurred to me that the essential problem is the fact that the turn sequence itself is very static and slow. The system might have been simplified but its essential traits which make the game too static are still there the designers failed to grasp the core of the problem. But why is it hurting now and not back then in edition 1 and 2? Well, the lack of dynamics was maybe not so apparent when you had an army of 30 models (yes, back in the old times 30 models could be a very nice force to play with), but this does not work in a game of 80+ models. It is just too weird now. First, the whole army moves and shoots and on top of that assaults, while the rest cannot react and stand around like chickens waiting for the slaughter. Then, if they survive, they do the same while the opponent 'freezes' and so on until victory conditions are met.
This is not a proper war simulation and I really do not enjoy pausing the game and waiting to be killed without a possibility of reaction. That is what wargames should be all about action and reaction, improvisation and dynamic changes. Second problem is artillery when the game starts, whoever gets the first turn, is often prone to win. I really do not want to count the number of situations where the game was decided in the first turn over the roll of who goes first. The first player aims his artillery at your fire-support and destroys it. Without fire support the only thing you can do is try to engage the enemy in close combat ASAP, so you storm like a Zulu under MG/ Arty fire. The effect you get pounded with Arty all the time if you go second on first turn (don't believe me? start counting and you will see this rule applies all too often). Also, if I got the first turn, too often the situation was that my all-infiltrating and move-through cover army was able to engage into closeup firefights at the points I desired (three squads of Havocs with plasma guns, meltas and flamers - grin) which effectively locked the enemy up for the whole game, because second turn it's charging time. With the static turn sequence they had no chance to react and give my army a real challenge. On the other hand, if I moved second, my whole infiltrating army was pushed on the defensive on the whole front, which effectively gave me little chance to react.
SO WOT'S DA KYURE?
I had no clue at first how could you re-shape this system without having to completely re-write it? It came to me after I had my monthly laugh at the Apocalypse book. 'If you want to play epic games, play Epic Armaggeddon, Warhammer 40k should be smaller scale, come on - who can afford THAT?' etc. And then the voice was back there and said 'then play epic in 40k'. 'Oh spirit of inspiration and sarcasm' I exclaimed, ran back home and unchained the Epic Armageddon tome. It was there in front of my eyes turn sequence and order dice! The Epic system is amazingly dynamic, balanced and gives room for both battle plans and improvisation. Also, you do not have to remember what every unit just did this turn, which can be quite irritating in big battles the order dice do that for you and give a good overview of what is currently happening on the field.
But how on earth and in space can one put something like that into the already convoluted Warhammer 40'000 system? I went over it and identified two key elements building up the 40k game weapon systems and their firing allowance (based on whether you move or remain stationary), and movement distances based on the type of unit.
Let's summarize both:
So, we have four kinds of weapons, two of them have two firing modes each:
- Assault x - fire x times regardless whether you move or not
- Heavy x - fire x times if stationary
- Rapid Fire - Rapid Fire weapons have two firing modes:
- Pistol - Pistols have either 1 if moving or 2 shots if you remain stationary (mode 1 and 2)
- mode 1 is two shots at 12 regardless of movement
- mode 2 is one shot at 24 if stationary
During one turn you can:
- move infantry 6 in normal terrain
- move infantry effectively 12 if charging (6 in movement and 6 in assault)
- move infantry 6+D6 if running
+++ NEW TURN ZEQUENZE<TM> +++
So, we have both key elements at hand. What next? Let us modify the turn sequence into the following:
1 Strategy Phase
- Each player rolls a D6 + their army's Strategy rating, the winner gains the Initiative this turn
2 Tactical Phase - maneuver and firefight
- remove all order dice from your units, except marks of 'Broken' and 'Take Cover'
3 Assault Phase charge into close combat and kill
- the player with Initiative activates the first unit (friend or foe)
- the commander of the unit gives the unit its orders and makes all actions connected with it
- after the unit finishes its action an order dice is placed beside it to mark it has made its move this turn
- players take turns activating units until all got their orders and resolve maneuver and firefights
- assaults are declared here but resolved in the Assault Phase
- Starting with the player with Initative, both take turns in activating engaging units
- activated engaging units are moved by their commanders into close combat
- after all engaging units have charged (or failed), again beginning with the Initiative Player both take turns in deciding the order in which close combats are resolved
- resolve the close combats
I deliberately left the Assault Phase out of the Tactical for technical reasons I will explain later. Bear with me. You will notice this turn sequence is good both for small and large battles. Having Initiative is a big bonus but it is still smaller than the move-shoot-assault-with-whole-army thing.
+++ ORDERZ +++
Let us go over to the orders. Although I based them on Epic Armageddon, they are all designed to be incorporated into W40k in such away that all possibilities and basic 40k rules remain the same. And what is best, they would make the Warhammer 40'000 rulebook much simpler and more elegant. Stay focused, citizen.
The order dice marks 6 states a unit can be in.
- Sustained Fire - the unit stands and shoots. All weapons are permitted in all firing modes. And, yay, the word 'sustained fire' makes a comeback into Warhammer 40'000. It was lost in the warp since second edition.
- Storm - possibly the most often used order. The unit may move its normal move distance and fire (or first fire and then move to make it more interesting!):
- Rapid Fire mode 1
- Pistol mode 1
- Run for it/ March - in 5th edition rules this is represented by the 'Run' special rule, which effectively gives you an extra D6 movement instead of firing. For simplification I would suggest extra 6 instead of the D6, so an effective 12 run. No weapons allowed.
- Take Cover! - the current 'Cover' rules are a good idea but I think they need expansion. I would suggest the following: As soon as an infantry unit is being shot at the commander can exclaim 'TAAKE COVEERR' (like the beautiful 'brace for impaaact!' from Battlefleet Gothic) and re-roll cover saves. Place the Take Cover dice beside any existing orders. During their next activation the unit can only do the Point Blank Defense order (see below). Note that this order is the only one not marking an unit as activated. You can therefore activate the unit under cover but the only order available is Point Blank Defense. Also, if the unit gets assaulted while being on Take Cover, they loose all cover bonuses.
- Point Blank Defense the soldiers struggle to fire at any nearest opponent while trying to regain their dignity. Remove the Take Cover signum and replace it with the Crosshair. The unit may not move but can still fire:
- Rapid Fire mode 1
- Pistol mode 1
Example 1: An unit of Imperial Guardsmen is being shot at by traitor artillery. They decide to hit the dirt. The commander places the Take Cover sign beside the unit and the appropriate actions are resolved. During the same turn, because the unit has not been activated, it is being activated at some later point and the Take Cover 'Exclamation Mark' is changed into the 'Crosshair'. The unit does Point Blank Defense at this point.
Example 2: The same unit of Imperial Guardsmen first gets its orders and gets shot at by Arty after its activation. Again, they wisely decide to hit the dirt. During their next activation (which is next turn), they do Point Blank Defense and the 'Exclamation Mark' changes into the 'Crosshair'.
NOTE: A freshly rallied unit may only 'Storm' or 'Run'.
- Broken the unit is subject to standard fall back rules. The only change is that the rally attempt happens every time the unit is activated. If it fails, the unit remains broken and moves the standard distance away from the enemy. They may still fire:
- Rapid Fire mode 1
- Pistol mode 1
- Engage This order gave me the most trouble in dealing with and this is why I decided to leave the Assault Phase out of the Tactical Phase. The reasons are as follows:
- If I let the units charge and resolve close combat during Phase 2 (effective 12 charging distance), charging would be incredibly strong and too fast, as unactivated charged units would have no chance to respond even if I gave them the possibility to shoot at the chargers before contact with 'Stand and Shoot' this would still make close combat overwhelmingly powerful (Hail to Khornish Pastries).
- The other option is to reduce the charge distance to standard move distance and let the charge go by 6 and not 12. This would lead to the incredibly stupid situation when armies have to come really close in order to charge. This would make shooting too powerful and change the existing rules too profoundly.
The unit storms towards a target hurling grenades and verbal abuse at the enemy during the Tactical Phase. The commander of the unit must declare its charge target (which cannot be changed later in the Assault Phase) and must move the unit towards the target. All shots fired must go towards the targeted unit:
- Pistol mode 1
- During the Assault Phase the engaging units charge into close combat in the order given in the New Turn Zequence. Then the combats are resolved on standard rules. The only change would be the charging bonus any charging unit that gets charged looses its +1A bonus (grin, this was so fun during play-testing).
LOCKING & ESCAPISM
During playtesting with this system we encountered this weird situation when no charges actually hit the enemy. The reason was that inactive charged troops simply moved away shooting. This can be considered either a good or a bad syndrome. If you think it is good, then you possibly like shooting, are Tau or IG. If you think this is wrong, then you are possibly Tyranid, Ork or Chaos (hail ye gods of close combat, rrrooarrr). We solved this dilemma as follows if you leave the current state as it is, then charges are much harder to put through and it might be impossible to charge an inactive unit, as experienced players would leave their charge-threatened troops inactive as long as possible in order to lure the enemy into traps. On the other hand, this would force assault-orientated armies to use artillery extensively in order to pin the enemy down before a charge (realistic!). On top of that, assault would become very specialized and would be used only in specific circumstances. Still, because Warhammer 40k is such a close combat oriented game, we decided to put in an extra rule CHARGE LOCKING. As soon as you declare a charge on any unit the unit is prevented from moving during its activation IF the engaging unit has frag grenades (or equivalent). The soldiers simply force the enemy to seek cover and make escape impossible (unless the charged unit does a voluntary fall back, but this means panic). Problem solved, grin again. Of course, units like Grots could be given the veteran skill 'Coward' which would allow them to ignore Charge Locking. Try to play with and without charge locking and see what comes out.
+++ DA SUMMARY +++
So, here is the strange mixture of madness and warp-brew that was spawned by the Voice-in-our-heads. It was play-tested a few times and the results were quite interesting. No more waiting for the enemy to move his or her whole army (the IG syndrome go make the coffee, come back and still wait for company six and seven). The game becomes much more dynamic and you can actually react to what is happening on the field (!). There may be some glitches that need mending but overall the old rules fit into it nicely. I am too lazy to write a full vehicle chapter, but as far as I looked, the rules would not change at all and the dice would be used to mark order equivalents. Now I leave this idea to you, ladies, gentlemen, funghi, giant ants, warp entities and other. Please tell me what you think and if you really want to throw pickled gherkins at me, test these rules first. This system could need some testing. Gherkins away! Take Cover!
Sustained FireMark: CrosshairMark: Three Arrows
Mark: BlitzMove: StandardWeapons:
- Rapid Fire Mode 1
- Pistol Mode 1
Run for it
Move: Standard +6"
- Special Order - may activate at any time
- re-roll cover save
- next activation must be Point Blank Defense
- if charged, the unit looses all cover bonusesPoint Blank DefenseMove: 0
Weapons:- Rapid Fire Mode 1
- Pistol Mode 1
Mark: Arrow pointing at explosion
Move: Standard [+6 in Assault Phase, +12 if Cavalry]
- Pistol Mode 1
- Grenades CHARGE LOCK target
Mark:Four random arrows
Move:Fall Back Move 2D6 or 3D6
- Rapid Fire Mode 1
- Pistol Mode 1
PS: Alternatively you can forget the order dice and make markings out of cardboard, so that they look like those in battle reports. This should look quite dynamic on the field.
Love these concepts, I have always preferred Epic over 40K for these general purposes - the fact that 1st turn barrages do not cripple the entire opposing army in one fell swoop. I would argu that activations should be at a FOC level, but otherwise, I'm with you here! Similar rules for Fantasy are not strictly required because, generally, shooting will not destroy the entire opposing army like 40K shooting can, and certainly, 1st turn does not dicatte the balance of probabilities unless you are facing the Imperial Artillery train...
I think you got a little too complicated when you started talking about "Orderz", but "activating units" is a pretty awesome idea. Is that how epic works? I've never played it.
I would simplify everything you said like this:
1: at the beginning of every turn, each player rolls 1D6 + their army's strategy rating, winner gets to activate the first unit, players then go back and forth, activating units all turn.
2. when a unit is activated, it completes its actions for the movement and shooting phases.
3. when all units have finished the m/s phases, then players go through the sequence again, this time activated units complete their "charging phase".
4. for the third and final cycle of the turn, players go back and forth activating close combats, which just determines what order they take place in, but they are resolved using models' initiative, as normal.
I would leave the rest out, as just this concept of "activating units" is already a huge change to the rules.
Actually, I truly thought that 5th edition would see some sort of update to the turn-based sequence, due to growing game sizes making the system's shortcomings glaringly obvious. Especially in Apoc games. Actually, I guess you're right in suggesting they're basically encouraging us to play epic-sized battles, with rules that only really work with small skirmishes...
Tyranids: 2500 pts
Imperial Guard: 1000 pts
Witch Hunters: 1000 pts
This all looks very interesting, great concept as well. I am curious as to why assault weapons are unable to fire under "point blank defense" and "Broken" and why rapid fire mode 1 can not fire under "engage"
I was under the impression that both of these modes would be able to fire regardless of movement.
Impressive overhaul of the turn sequence though, cudos.
"Militaristic expansion into Hell is a bad idea." - ze_poodle
I also feel that the old Close Assault Factor is a better "feel" for representing the number of hitting attacks rather than the "attacks" characteristic. So CAF could be a replacement for some algorithm of WS, I and A statistics, e.g. 0.25* WS + 0.25*I + 0.5*A, rounded to the nearest whole number.
For those that don't know how CAF worked...
1st model attacking a target would get to roll 1 D6 and add their CAF. opponent would likewise roll a D6 and add their own CAF. Loser of te roll would be destroyed in Space Marine, rather than rolling a save. 2nd model attacking the same target would roll 2D6 and add their CAF etc etc. Of course, at a squad level combat it would be more difficult to manage.
I love these rules, I've noticed the same change in 40K and after several of my armies had their Codexes revamped, changed, put through spin cycle and then redone with a chic new finish I just abandoned the whole thing (Nail in the coffin was the latest CSM codex).
These rules, or what I can imagine evolving from this point, I think will give the game the dynamic and intense feel I think it should have as opposed to the "Armed with guns Chess" it seems to be evolving into.
Your fluffraping hurts my eyes. - TehDarkPredator
Hi guys. I've actually been testing out the same exact concepts. Ever since I saw the the free Epic rules on GW's site, my mind was reeling from the sheer awesomeness.
What I do for assaults is to keep the original Engage action (move into assault instead of shooting or extra movement), but I also include the zones of control as well. Every model has a 3" radius which cannot be moved into with other movements (unless they're infiltrators). During an Engage order, you just have to move within the enemy zone of control, and then they will react by moving into base contact. I also kept in the action tests & retaining the initiative. I think they are integral parts of the game.
One other big difference between our rules is how we handle breaking units. I kept the blast markers and other Epic rules for broken units. In my version though, any wound (saved or unsaved) assigns a blast marker, and if they end up with more markers than their leadership, they become broken. Like in Epic, the fallback is 2 moves in any direction, but you have to end up 12" away from the enemy or the broken unit is dead. The reason I like it this way is that you almost always get a chance to see that you are in danger of being broken before it happens, and can do something about it unless they retain the initiative.
All very intense Rules, but I wonder if they are to intense for me. Alot of the time I dont get to see the people I play with so a quick story or joke inbetween a phase can be more fun then the actual game.
I agree completly with apocalypse. To me, a BIG game is 1500 points with 1000 points being my favorite size followed by 400 point combat patrol. I always loved the idea of Space Marine Traits (even though I don't play them) and Imperial Guard Doctrines (My fav part about IG) And I'm devastated they are being removed in favor of a more streamlined competative approach.
Thats all just my groups perfered way of playing, But verry nice job with all the rules.
P.S. If you really are getting voices from the warp, it may be time to visit the local asylum (or bar, same thing)
"Thank him who puts me loath to this revenge on you who wrong me not for him who wrongd"
All these concepts are based on Epic. The orders were used in Epic to mark what units just did, which units were already activated and which unit is charging. Besides, the orders given represent exactly what the soldier can do with the current 5th ed rules. They are not necessary but they help making the game more clear. If you want to see the source of inspiration, have a look at the Epic Armageddon rules:
In current rules Rapid Fire Mode 1 is not permitted if you are charging so I let it out (or is it permitted?).