Be wary internet traveler, this is a long one…
A word at the start to say that I will only talk about the rules section of the new rule book; I will not be going into details on the artwork or the fluff sections, nor will I go into the construction of the book itself as I am currently viewing a digital edition of it. I will only highlight changes from 6th edition, not every rule in the book, unless something is pertinent to another rule or allows for a particularly good combination. So without further delay, let’s delve into 7th edition!
The first change is one that had already been leaked. There is now 6” vertical unit coherency, though horizontal coherency remains 2”. This is a very minor change, but it allows us to spread our units out across different levels of buildings, which typically have 3” floor gaps.
The next change is a large one: the psychic phase! If you have seen my army lists, you will know that I like to field lots of psykers. Therefore, the psychic phase is a glorious addition for me; it is a phase designed with players like me in mind. How psychic powers now work is that you roll a D6 and add every mastery level in your army. For example, let’s say I roll a 4. I then add 3 for my Farseer’s mastery levels, 2 for my Spiritseer and 7 for the 7 Warlocks that I included for a grand total of 16. That is how many psychic dice I get for that psychic phase (the same is done for deny the witch dice, D6 plus mastery levels each phase). How psychic powers are then cast is you select which power you wish to manifest and check its warp charge requirement. You then select a number of dice from your warp charge pool that you wish to roll to attempt to manifest the power, needing a number of 4+ results equal to the warp charge requirement. Two or more results of a 6 will result in Perils of the Warp, now a table that you roll a D6 on and see what happens. This can vary massively, such is the fickle nature of the Warp, from the psyker being dragged into the Warp (Eternal Warrior can’t save you from this. It is not “instant death”!) to the psyker gaining armourbane, fleshbane and a 3++ save! Deny the Witch operates in the same way, you choose a certain number of dice to use to try and nullify your opponent’s powers, though you do not need to dispel all of the successful warp charges, you only need to reduce the number of 4+ results to less than the warp charge requirement of the power manifested. This does mean, however, that good rolling to manifest a power will make Deny the Witch rolls incredibly difficult as you need to nullify all of the successfully harnessed warp charges on a 6+. If you are targeting an enemy unit (with a malediction or witchfire, focussed or otherwise) then they get modifiers from the previous edition: +1 if the target is a psyker, +1 if they are a higher mastery level and +1 if they have Adamantium Will (good luck casting psychic powers on my beloved Adepta Sororitas!). However blessings and conjurations, psychic powers that do not target enemy models can now be denied, though you get none of the bonuses listed above, needing natural rolls of a 6 to dispel a warp charge. This is nice though, as it allows people to dispel those otherwise untouchable blessings and allows you to throw a spanner in the works if your opponent tries to summon daemons; I will have to watch out for this though as it means that people can dispel powers like Guide! Force weapon users now activate their force weapons in the psychic phase as opposed to when they cause a wound, which will give their force weapons the Instant Death special rule until the start of their following psychic phase. Psychic Focus is a new special rule where, if you roll all of a psyker’s powers in the same discipline, you get the Primaris for free. I love this rule, as I usually only roll on one table anyway, and it buffs the weaker mastery level 1 psykers as they automatically get two powers (one that they roll, the other being the Primaris). Chaos Psychic Focus is the same, but it means that an aligned Chaos model (daemon or marked) gains their deity’s Primaris power in addition to any others that they roll. It should be noted that attempting to manifest Malefic psychic powers is dangerous for all apart from daemons; any doubles will result in a Perils of the Warp result if the model attempting to manifest the power does not have the Daemon special rule. Similarly the same happens with Sanctic powers, only replace daemons with Grey Knights. I swear if I see an Eldar player summoning Daemonettes I will put on my Space Elf police hat and place a shuriken right through that player’s cranium. No summoning servants of the Great Enemy!
Charging through difficult terrain is no longer 3D6, it is merely 2D6 – 2, though you still strike at Initiative 1 (unless you have frag grenades). I like it because it removes a bit more randomness from charging (I preferred the old charging rules where it was a fixed value).
One thing that has changed that affects me a lot is the new Jink rule. Jink for skimmers now forces them to only use snap shots if they elect to Jink (which basically means that I will have to hide my skimmers behind cover more), but the base Jink save has been increased to a 4+, therefore a 3+ with holo-fields or disruption pods. I guess it is trade off, but it will force those of us who run mechanised skimmer lists to play slightly differently as we do not want to have to make snap shots all the time!
There are all of the rules for Escalation and Stronghold Assault in the rule book, such as building damage tables, catastrophic damage charts and rules for Strength D weapons. I will not go into Escalation style rules, as I did not and probably will not touch that for a long time at least, but I will talk about fortifications. Firstly, buildings now have hull points. Small buildings have 3, medium have 4 and large have 5. This does mean that you can now glance buildings to death, which could not be done in the previous edition as they did not have hull points (Swooping Hawks may have just become my best hope at attacking fortifications). Also, units inside a fortification can now fire their weapons systems, meaning that a unit of Space Marines inside a Firestorm Redoubt can fire the quad Icarus lascannons at BS4 and at whichever target they want. However, models firing out of the fire points must target the same as the models firing the weapon emplacements.
Next is another big part: army selection. The first thing that really strikes me is that there is a sentence in bold letters stating that “players must agree how they are going to select their armies, and if restrictions apply to the number and type of models they can use.” This, to me, screams danger but also salvation. Responsible gamers would be able to have a fair discussion, but with some less reputable gamers, usually the types that I would avoid, this could be twisted and cause arguments that would end in serious list tailoring. How I would use this would be to ask my opponent if they want to play flyers. I own a single Crimson Hunter and a single Razorwing Jetfighter for my Eldar and Dark Eldar respectively, so I will never ever be able to field more than two, but if my opponent has no anti-flyer, or does not wish to play with flyers, I would be more than happy to accommodate. Also, on the other side of this coin, if my opponent shows up with a flying circus or a Heldrake spam, it gives me the option of saying that I will not play against a spam. I am all about balanced army lists and balanced games, not spam. It also boosts my confidence in saying no to super heavies, as there are those people who will field a small army with a super heavy unit. In the end, this is merely the GW team reminding us players that we do have a thing called free will and we are free to choose who we play against. As a fluff lover and narrative player, I tend to avoid cheese lists and broken armies. Next are the army selection methods: Unbound or battle-forged. Unbound armies are where you take whatever models you want; and I mean that in the most literal way. You could field a Riptide alongside a Hive Tyrant alongside Sternguard Veterans alongside a Necron Monolith, though why you would want to field such a bonkers combination is beyond me (but I’m a fluff player, so it’s obvious that I would never understand this). What unbound armies do allow for, however, are great themed armies such as a Space Marine armoured column or an elite Chaos Space Marine warband of Chosen Terminators. Undoubtedly this will invite cheese gamers to bring out the 10 Heldrake lists or the double Revenant Titans of broken-ness. My response to those lists is simple: “Nah, I’ll find somebody else to play.” Battle-forged armies, on the other hand, follow the Force Organisation charts of old, but allow you to re-roll your Warlord Trait and Troops that hold objectives cannot be contested, unless it is by Troops from another Battle-forged army. This may sound a little bit weak, if you face a cheesy list then they will have no problems wiping your Troops off objectives, but when you consider that everything (apart from zooming flyers or swooping monstrous creatures) is scoring, this is incredibly useful against everyone else. Dedicated transports also count as being the same battlefield role as the unit they were purchased for; that means that Rhinos taken as a transport for a Tactical squad will count as Troops and cannot be contested when parked on an objective unless it is by an enemy Troops unit in another Battle-forged list. There is an additional Warlord Trait table in the rule book to accommodate for the new Tactical Objectives, known as Tactical Traits, though the rest remain largely the same with a few simplifications to previously situational traits (such as your Warlord having furious charge when in your opponent’s deployment zone now being just furious charge anywhere). The Tactical Traits are nice for the Maelstrom of War missions, that I will get to later, but are only useful if you are playing those. You have one that allows you to discard two, instead of one, Active Tactical Objectives at the end of your turn, one is a one use only that makes your opponent discard one Active Tactical Objective at random, one that allows you to generate an additional Tactical Objective in the first turn, one that allows you to re-generate Tactical Objectives (you must discard all current ones and draw all new ones), one that allows you to re-roll how many Victory Points a Tactical Objective is worth, and one that causes your Warlord to score an additional Victory Point if he/she performs any of the “Secure Objective X” Tactical objectives, where X is a number between 1 and 6.
A brief talk about the new allies matrix. I have already gone over the combinations in my previous article, however I have now read all of the rules surrounding it. No, you cannot ally with yourself as your allied detachment must come from a different faction to your primary detachment (more Imperium favouring there as all of the SM chapters are separated by chapter tactics, but you cannot ally with a supplement as supplements count as their race’s original faction…). Both Allies of Convenience and Desperate Allies remain unchanged, however Come the Apocalypse has changed. Come the Apocalypse is now merely treated as Desperate Allies who have to deploy at least 12” away from each other. I hate this, there is nothing good about this in my opinion. It means that technically people can ally Eldar with Chaos Space Marines, people can ally Grey Knights and Chaos Daemons, people can ally Imperium and Tyranids. No, no and once more, no! There is so much lore heresy going on there that I want to put on a Commissar hat and start summary executions.
The Eternal War missions are identical to how they are now, apart from the whole “everything is scoring” aspect of the game. You still gain a Victory Point for destroying a Heavy Support choice in Big Guns Never Tire, though the part about Heavy Support becoming scoring is a moot point and has been left out (as they are scoring anyway!). The interesting parts are the Maelstrom of War missions and their Tactical Objectives. Tactical Objectives are objectives that you generate at the start of turn one and award Victory Points upon immediate completion. You may also discard one per turn, two if you have the Warlord Trait, which allows you to get rid of Tactical Objectives that you do not like or your army is ill-suited to achieve. Each Maelstrom of War mission differs slightly, such as Cloak and Shadows being the only one where you hide your Tactical Objectives from your opponent, or Deadlock where the maximum number of Active Tactical Objectives starts high, but decreases every turn. These missions are incredibly well done, in my opinion, and look really interesting. I doubt I will be playing Eternal War missions at all any more, as the Maelstrom of War missions most certainly upstage the more boring, static missions in the Eternal War table. I could see Eternal War missions being used in competitive play more, as they are more fixed quantities, but Maelstrom of War missions look much more interesting to the casual hobbyist like me.
The final part of the rule book is the appendix. Most of the rules are the same as before, with minor changes if any as I did not really spot any. Then there are common weapon rules (mostly Imperial items) and terrain rules, such as various special rules for certain types of ruins and clarification that woods are indeed a 5+ cover save. Overall, I like the idea of the appendix. It puts all of the rules that you may need to reference in the middle of a game in an easily accessible area of the rule book. It then has all of the rule book psychic tables and what each power does, but that is for another article.
As a side note, there are two errors that I picked up on in the digital edition. Firstly, the diagrammatic representation of what you can take in an allied detachment is wrong. It makes it look like an allied detachment can contain 2 HQ units, 3 Troops, 3 Elites, 3 Fast Attack and 3 Heavy Support, when all it can have is 1 HQ, 2 Troops, 1 Elites, 1 Fast Attack and 1 Heavy Support. Also, “Iinfiltrate and Scout” is in the appendix. I never knew that Infiltrate was spelt with two ‘i’s.
So, what is my opinion on 7th edition? I love it. Without a doubt, it looks very, very interesting. It is far from perfect and there are things that I wish were different still, but no rule set is ever perfect. It will take me some time to get properly used to, but from a first glance, I think it should be good. However, how things appear and how things really are can be two very different things. I should know that better than most, after all!