Saturday, August 14, 2021

Friday, August 13, 2021

40K Friday - 40K, Change, and The New Ork Codex


No I don't have a copy of it yet but there have been much sharing of the contents of the limited edition book that some people do have already. So we know how it's going to work.

Stepping back a bit there are 3 main ways an army changes in 40K

  • The biggest overall change comes from a new edition. This resets everything from movement to terrain to combat rules to army structure. From 3rd to 7th edition the basic setup was an HQ unit + two troops. 8th edition changed that up by introducing a variety of options for building your force and it also introduced Command Points as a currency to spend on everything from more exotic force structures prior to the game to unit upgrades outside the normal point cost to dice re-rolls during the game. 9th kept both of these concepts but changed up both how CP's are acquired and the exact elements of each of the force organization options. 
  • The other area that can change up an army is a new codex. This is the book that covers what your army is, what it can do, and how it does it. Unit capabilities, point costs, psychic powers, special rules for the force, special rules for smaller groups within that force - there are a lot of elements to an army and the codes pretty much defines all of them.
  • The final channels of change in 40K are the annual Chapter Approved book and the bi-annual FAQ updates and the post-release codex FAQ. 
    • Chapter Approved comes out once a year and lately has been updates to the matched play missions and the secondary objectives - these are both new to 9th edition.
    • GW adopted a new FAQ policy a few years ago where they put out updates in the spring and in the fall to adjust any out-of-balance units or rules and to adjust points costs. This works quite a bit better than the old "random" approach or the old "never" approach - neither of which was something you could count on.
    • They have also stated a policy of releasing an update about a month after a new codex comes out to address any big balance issues or errors in the book. This is a really nice approach that helps keep things clear with the newer releases. 

For Orks, while 9th edition has been out for over a year and people have mostly adjusted to that change we are now in the "new codex" phase and like most of the 9th edition books it is an extensive re-working of how the army works. Not so much in the units themselves - though there are a lot of new ones here - but in how the weapons work, how the leaders work, and how morale works in particular. I thought I would hit the highs and lows in general today:
  • Downside: You can only take 9 mek gunz in an army now instead of 18. I don't care personally as I have never run them but some people are understandably upset. 
  • Upside: Many guns are "Dakka" weapons now and get more shots than they had before. These tend to be the mainstay ork weapons like shootas and big shootas and the warbiker guns so it has a big impact across the army. This divides the gun into two ratings. At half maximum range or more the gun has the same number of shots as before.  At less than half the gun has 50% more shots. In general this is great as the closer you get (or they get) the meaner your shooting gets.  This is generally better than the old Dakka rule of an extra shot on a to-hit roll of 6 - it's more reliable at least and let's you plan around having that higher rate of fire.
  • Downside: Many ork guns that went to Dakka used to be Assault. This let you move with an extra d6" and still shoot with a -1. Dakka guns can no longer fire if you advance and in a melee-focused army that definitely slows you down. 
  • Upside: Orks are Toughness 5. That's a major change. It seems like it's been discounted in some quarters because this particular change came out first but it is definitely a big change. It is nothing but a positive and it demonstrates GW's willingness to "mess with the numbers" in this edition - finally! For most armies, most of the the shots you fire and the punches you throw are at Strength 4 or less. Putting all of those weapons at a 5+ to wound is a significant boost. There are a fair number of S5 attacks out there too, from heavy bolters to heavy flamers, and putting those to a 4+ to wound is also helpful. This is all good.

  • Downside: Ork morale has drastically changed. For most of the last 20 years Orks could ignore leadership in large mobs because the effective leadership number = the number of boyz in the mob. In a game where leadership capped at 10 and ork boy mobs capped at 30 - and were often fielded as 30 - morale was only an issue for small bands and even then mainly after significant casualties. 

    That is no longer the case. 

    The old "mob rule" rule is gone and now orks take morale checks just like everyone else. That means with a leadership of 7, killing as few as 5 boys puts your mob in danger on a 3+. If that check is failed then you will lose 1/6 of your boyz on average. That would take a 30-boy mob down to 20 in one turn from light casualties. The only benefit orks now have is that they can ignore the "below half strength" modifier on those checks if they are near another ork unit that  is not below half strength. Sure, that helps, but it is a dramatic change from how orks have handled morale for a long time. Also, this change somewhat offsets the T5 boost - You will take fewer casualties from say a volley of boltgun fire, but you have a much higher chance of failing a morale test if you do take any casualties. 

    Now there is the generic once a game "autopass morale for 2 CP" stratagem that everyone has and there is an ork-specific strat that allows passing morale for some mortal wound damage on the unit as the leaders knock out the cowards and it can be used multiple times but it i still taking boyz off of the board so it may not always be a great choice.

    This morale change is 100% negative and is already forcing players to look at different approaches. I'm seeing a lot more MSU lists with ten-boy squads instead of massed 30 boy squads. I think there is still a place for big squads - strats hit a little harder, Da Jump is a bigger deal on bigger mobs as is Warpath ... but I think it will be interesting to look at popular ork lists in six months or a year and see how they compare to end-of-8th-edition-codex lists.

For me I'll have to learn to live with these changes over the rest of the year. My normal ork force is a bunch of goff boyz on foot or in battlewagons with deff dread and 'naut support so there are definite impacts here. I have no big take on the beast snagga boyz yet ... I'll probably try using my skarboyz as beast boyz at first. Part of the fun of a new codex and new edition, right?

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Thinking About Non-D&D RPG's Again - also, Cyberpunk Red


Well apparently it's that time of year as I did this last year too. With an opportunity to run something that isn't D&D or Pathfinder as a possible ongoing game I started digging into options and found a lot of the same options as last year on my mind. Trying to narrow it down a bit:

  • Star Wars is still an option. My players all have some interest at least and really any of the 3 major system options are fun. I have several campaigns outlined so it's really just a matter of picking this one and then deciding what to run.
  • Deadlands (Savage Worlds) would be a strong choice as I have a lot of good campaign material and we have liked the game whenever we have tried it. 
  • Rifts (Savage Worlds) is a strong contender just because it covers a lot of similar ground to those two others and everyone has things they want to try. We've had some short runs in it but no long sustained campaign recently. This might be the easy consensus choice.
  • Shadowrun is in the mix as I went looking back through my campaign binders and found tons of notes waiting to be unleashed on a party. This would probably use 2nd or 3rd edition for a variety of reasons. Might discuss that later - especially if we end up playing it. 
  • "Some kind of superhero thing" - yeah that's how I phrased it to my players. Lot of options here as I've discussed in the past.
One that I thought might be a fun idea is Cyberpunk Red, but after reading the quickstart box ... probably not. I have a weird relationship with the game. The system looks great. I know it's good and I really want to like it but the setting I think is too much like a Wild West game without any supernatural elements: Everyone has a bunch of cool abilities they want to try out but after one good firefight half the team is dead or in the hospital for a month. I think that lack of powers or magic or psi or that "extra something" leaves my group with a lot less interest than they might have. 

Plus ... anytime I start thinking about scenarios/missions/adventures I keep thinking it would be more fun ... a lot more fun do this in Shadowrun. I guess I'm just a Shadowrun guy and not a CP guy at heart. I think with a good GM it could be a lot of fun and I would definitely play it given the chance but that GM is probably not me. It just doesn't speak to me in the right way.

So that's where things stand at the moment - more to come.