After spending a little time reading the new rules for 40k I managed to get in a game with one of the regulars at Crossroad Games. It was the first time for both of us using the new rulebook so there was a lot of rules checking and I’m sure we made some mistakes but we’ve both been playing long enough to know the basics and have plenty of experience working through GW rules. I think we got more of it right than wrong. I am not going to post a full battle report but I wanted to share my thoughts on 7th edition so far.
We were playing 1500 point armies. I brought the same Imperial Guard/Astra Militarum list I’ve been working on for a while now. I updated it from the old IG codex to the new AM codex but I didn’t make any changes for 7th edition. I just erased the notes from the roster I printed for my last game of 6th and went with that. My opponent was using Dark Eldar with Eldar allies, there was a small seer council so he could try out the Maelific summoning powers. We played Maelstrom of War #2: Contact Lost, which had each player rolling for a new Tactical Objective card for each of the six objective markers they controlled at the start of their turn up to a total of 6 active Tactical Objectives.
The mission was interesting. Needing to hold objectives to gain new Tactical Objectives meant we couldn’t wait for a last turn grab to secure victory. This kept us fighting for objective the whole game. Most of the Tactical Objectives were “Score one Victory Point if you control Objective Marker “x” at the end of your turn.” This did encourage us to pursue specific objective markers but sometimes you got one that you just weren’t going to get to. With the ability to have up to six active Tactical Objectives and gaining a new one for each marker held there was a reasonably steady stream of opportunities to rack up Victory Points so getting an unattainable TO wasn’t a big deal. You are also able to discard one each turn to ensure you don’t fill your six slots with useless objectives. It never actually came to that in our game though.
The psychic phase is a bit change but it didn’t eat up any more time than typical casting. Pulling the powers into one phase makes a big impact on how you plan and execute them but it also tidies them up a bit. Prescience was the only power I managed to pull off. It is just as effective as before but now it’s Warp Charge 2 so I was using 3-4 dice to pull it off. I think that spamming psykers won’t be as powerful as in sixth because a level 2 psyker needs 4 or more dice to semi-reliably cast the same number of powers as before but only adds 2 to the pool. By the third or maybe fourth psyker you may be adding options but not really adding more powers per turn.
Summoning was effective but not overpowering. He managed to summon one squad of 3 bloodcrushers and one bloodthirster through the course of 5 turns. The bloodcrushers killed a Leman Russ before being kicked to death by Armored Sentinels. The Bloodthirster took vengeance upon the sentinels before chewing through a blob squad and vector striking a lascannon team down. Not bad, but summoning those is all the seer council managed to accomplish before being shot to death and summoning meant they weren’t buffing or killing anything else with their powers. I can see where a string of lucky rolls could yield spectacular results but you are just as likely (maybe more so) to tear up your own psykers with perils results.
I like the new challenge mechanic. It no longer allows you to tank a major beatstick with a chump sergeant, and it no longer allows a solo character to challenge the sergeant and avoid the rest of the squad for a turn. It can still be used to pick out that character with a threatening weapon with with excess wounds spilling out of and into a challenge it no longer slows the carnage.
Needing 7+ on vehicle damage to explode means most vehicles become wrecks instead of blowing up. They’re slightly harder to on-shot but just as easy to strip of hull points. When they do blow up they no longer leave craters but since they are more likely to just wreck you can still expect your vehicles to block line of sight for most of the game whether they survive or not. This can make them a handy defensive tool but you need to keep them out of your own line of fire even more now than before. They can score now, and even have Objective Secured if they are dedicated troop transports in a Battle Forged army, which makes them very handy for jumping from one objective to the next as you draw new Tactical Objective cards.
Overall it was a close game and a very fun one. I was ahead on Victory Points for most of it but in the last turn he was able to score a few more and pass me by one. The changes seemed to work towards the positive overall, adding fluidity and new tactics to the game without bogging it down. Things are still unfolding on 7th edition and it will be a while before the full pros and cons are understood but so far I remain optimistic that this will be a solid and enjoyable edition.