Monday, 30 July 2012

99 Problems: Subtle Tactical Rules Changes; Part One

This is a subset of my (un)popular 99 Problems Cos This 6th Ain't Fun series, where I shall be attempting to bring to light things I haven't seen mentioned as important rules changes to tactical play that haven't arisen elsewhere on the Blogosphere I am aware of...admittedly, my foruming has been very lax indeed of late, and it could have been done to death on every forum imaginable...thing is, they tend to get even more crowded and strident at big release times, so I simply couldn't be arsed.  I'll return to a more regular schedule when the furore dies down.

Anyway, Part One is here to discuss the new procedure for Dangerous Terrain Tests, for no reason other than it is the inspiration for the series as a conglomerate entity.

So, what's different?
Well, in order to understand the change, you need to first understand how Dangerous Terrain functioned in 5th Edition.  And 4th Edition.  And indeed in 3rd.  When a model moved through or into Terrain classed as Dangerous in these previous editions of the game, it rolled a d6 (or rather, you did on its behalf...) and on a roll of a 1, the model had an unfortunate incident involving a tree branch or other scenery feature, and some part of its anatomy that didn't want to get punctured in that fashion.  Simply put, the model suffered a Wound, with no recourse bar an Invulnerable Save.  This was done once per phase, maximum, allowing models to leapfrog between terrain features with impunity as long as they could get over the initial hurdle. So to speak.

This system was intentionally punishing, to act somewhat as a limiting factor on assault troops perhaps, or simply to even out the playing field already benefiting heavily-armoured troops by making them no less likely to trip up in a minefield, or to rouse a sleeping Lesser Catachan Barking Toad.

In the case of Vehicles, it Immobilised them, causing no end of difficulty to the mobility-obsessed, and particular problems for Skimmers prior to 5th, when their rules made them completely suck (pre-4e Falcons, anyway...)

In 6th, this system has received quite a radical overhaul.  Firstly, a model can now take multiple tests in the same phase, although still only once for the same terrain feature - a necessary move perhaps to help prevent arguments among players, which is one of the few good moves by GW in this regard in the 6e ruleset.

This, if it were still the same set of rules for resolution as in 5th, could have been incredibly punishing, and some would say more punishing to heavily-armoured elite units, such as Space Marines and especially Terminators.  This is essentially the same bullshit argument that gets spouted regarding Snap Fire being unequal, but that warrants an article of its own, and don't worry, it WILL get one. ;-)
Suffice it to say, all units are equal in this (hypothetical) situation, with equal chances of success and failure, so don't make a big deal out of nothing when you're failing to understand the rules correctly and think critically about them.

In 6th, this change above relates most importantly to vehicles, however.  Some ground vehicles cannot access or in 5th could not afford (more accurately, could not justify the expense) upgrades like Dozer Blades to reroll failed Dangerous Terrain tests, and make themselves much better protected in these situations.  Since a vehicle can potentially cross as many as 3 terrain pieces in a single Movement Phase (terrain rules stipulate that features must be 3" apart...) this piece of wargear (and its superior cousins, the Siege Shield and Deff Rolla) are much more valuable.

While some armies are still going to struggle to justify the cost of the upgrade (IG) and some simply don't have alternatives worth mentioning (or at all, although these armies typically tend to use alternative modes of transport to primitive wheels and tracks) it is important tactically [callback to the title, wink wink] to note how this impacts on vehicle movement by making them much more susceptible to Immobilisation (but NOT losing a Hull Point in the process, strangely) and making them easier to box in with things like, I dunno, other Wrecked vehicles? [winks again]

How it relates to non-Vehicles, however, is huuuugely different, and impacts them just as much (though in a radically different fashion.)

Now, the test permits models to take Armour saves against them.  It is no longer equal, due to this simple fact.  Contrary to the rest of the base rules in the game [/sarcasm] it doesn't favour Imperial Space Marines due to their improved statlines.  In all seriousness though, it allows the models that don't need cover due to their superior armour to simply walk through it when necessary, while those who have more of an issue with protection from incoming wounds, for example Imperial Guard, Orks, or Dark Eldar, suffer greatly as a result.  Yes, strictly speaking fewer Orks die now to Dangerous Terrain than in previous editions, but the change is negligible, and literally not worth mentioning.  The only models to whom the new rules make a significant impact are those to whom the universally decreased Cover Save simply means they won't bother, rather than those to whom a high baseline cover save is the only or main factor in mitigating their early demise.

Cliff notes?

Lightly armoured troops are now basically more scared of Dangerous Terrain than before (more chance to live, greater frequency of tests acts to cancel this) while heavily armoured models, especially Terminators and their ilk, can simply stomp through even the most imposing of terrain features (no-one will ever consider Lethal terrain a valid part of a balanced set-up) with impunity, little fearing the impact on anything but their charge distance.
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