7th Edition – Looks like fun!

OK, I received my new edition of 40K in iBooks format this weekend!  Time for my first impressions!

The Format

Well, though not relevant to playing the game, I really like the iBooks presentation.  Good cross linking, great zoom into images, search functionality…. my word!  It really makes the rulebook very useable, and lets me lug around the fluff and model sections too.  I haven’t seen mobi or epub formats, but the interactive iBooks format is top notch.

In terms of the physical books?  Well, though I won’t be buying due to space issues, the fact that the rules are split from the model gallery and the fluff makes it a heck of a lot more practical, and despite the added costs of 3 hardback books, the costs haven’t jumped that much compared to the last edition.

The Rules

Well, I’d have to say that generally there aren’t too many major changes.  Vehicle damage charts make tanks a little tougher, with less chance of random explosions taking you out.  Wound allocation makes more sense (I actually realised I’d been doing it wrong in 6th …. the method in 7th is how we’d already been playing it).  Little optimisations make sense – immobilised walkers?  You attack the rear armour in close combat, not the front.

Better still, the illustrations and examples are clearer than previous editions.  Squad coherency in buildings for close combat finally makes sense!  Overall, the core mechanisms have been pretty well tuned to run that bit more smoothly.

However, there are some new mechanisms, and these feel a little rough.  The psychic phase seems great, and I’ll actually be able to take psykers and not constantly forget to use their powers now!  However, some of the more extreme builds can lead to outrageous situations for psykers (a daemons army can end up with 20+ warp charges a turn, and can summon more demons, who can then summon more …. and so on).  It doesn’t feel as slick as the rest of the 7th rules.  The same seems true of the new tactical objectives – there seem to be too many situations where the tactical objective is impossible, and you can’t dispose of more than one impossible objective a turn – potentially turning the whole game into a case of who gets dealt the good cards at the start.  Again, a few tweaks, a little polish, and this should be a fantastic addition to the game, but there are a few glitches right now.

Allies and Unbound armies are another odd area – no Traitor Guard???? Necrons, Eldar and Tyranids on the same side?   Wah!  It does allow freedom – but its possibly a little ripe for abuse.  Basically, with good players, not a problem, but it is a fault in a game when you need to rely on people not exploiting the rules to win – good rules can’t be exploited that easily, and games like Infinity and Malifaux certainly seem to come down to player skill more than army choices.

However, the general rules make sense, with an excellent layout, and playability is really solid.  I’d certainly recommend you try a game or two with someone enthusiastic enough to have bought the rules before you back out of the 40K side of the hobby.

The Problem

Basically,  7th edition seems to (overall), be the best edition of 40K out of the tin.   Why are so many people complaining?

Essentially, the major complaint is simply the time since the last edition was released.  2 years isn’t that long a time when you’re talking £50 for a book to allow you to play with hundreds of pounds of models …. especially when that change also means different models become more necessary (psykers and tanks, for example).  If you were starting in the hobby, its a great ruleset.  For longer term fans, especially those not in a club or tournament environment, it can be hard to justify.  I think I played about 3-4 games of 6th edition with the arrival of my baby girl 14 months ago – thats about £11 a game for just the rules.  If there felt like there was a solid commitment to the new ruleset for 4-6 years, I think a lot of the complaints would vanish, but people just don’t want to invest time and effort into this to have to learn another ruleset in 18 months.

My Summary

It looks terrific, despite a glitch or two in the big changes.  I’m going to enjoy playing it a heck of lot – I love the thought of fielding my Harlequin army, on an Ordos Xenos Inquisitorial war band luring a tyranid horde to attack the forces of chaos through the deployment of pheromones!  On the other hand, if you are stuck with power gamer types, 8 heldrakes in the face might not be fun.  More than any other edition it relies on the opposition being fun, and not power gaming.

As long as we don’t see the next edition in 18 months, I’ll be sticking with 40K for some time.