8th Edition 40k – Reserves

Today’s rules drop is all about Reserves – a key component in often managing differing armies, holding units away from firepower and bringing in tactical support from unusual directions. While 6th edition moved away from the ability to completely deny an opponent potentially two shooting phases, it was still a very important option for savvy battlefield generals. Let’s see what changes are in store.

The first rule reveal is rather huge and applies directly to the points above – you can no longer reserve every unit. This has many wide ranging impacts with the most obvious being that it sounds like the majority of most armies will start the game on the board. This means no holding weak backfield scoring Troops in the tank to protect them. This means no units that are really fast and come on and zoom their way to any point in the battlefield to suddenly put high levels of pressure on the next turn. This means no denying opponent’s up to two shooting phases on the vast majority of your army, etc. What units that will be forced to start the game on the tabletop will be interesting but I imagine anything without something that was akin to Outflank, Deepstrike, Infiltrate, Scout, etc.

The next rule reveal reminds us that USRs are dead and gone but that effectively, units will have the same or similar rules under different names (Teleport, Tunnelling, Ambushing, Kunningingings…?). What I really like about the specific rule they reveal to us (Trygon Subterranean Assault) is you get to pick when this happens. So often reserves would be frustrating, particularly when there dice roll modifiers in play, in that they would not just not come in exactly when you need them, but for three turns just kicking their heels (while those Fire Warriors you want to forget about run onto the field Turn 2 with a cry of LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEROY JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENKINS). Anyway, choosing when at the end of any movement phase is I hope how this will be played for all of these options.

We also note that there is no scatter anymore and like Age of Sigmar, it is a requirement be more than 9″ away from an enemy and can then act in the subsequent phases as per normal. This is great to put pressure on with melee options and hopefully most of these will have someway to improve their charge reliability as 8+ on 2D6 (Edit: 9+ sorry as dermitder is correct, you have to be more than 9″ away so 9.01″ requires that extra inch of melee range anyway) is well down on the bell (triangular for Neil ;)) curve. 9″ is also importantly out of Template range and out of half range for standard Melta weapons (12″) but well within Rapid Fire range, melta range of longer weapons (18″+) and the usual shortest of ranged guns (like Pistols). This means “Deep Strike” can still be an effective drop and pop sort of option while also adding the above mentioned combat pressure. I will be curious to see what other ranges there are (i.e. Nurglings which we know can deploy “near enemy models and engage them quickly”) and what impact this will have in terms of available weapons (i.e. can a template or melta based unit get within 6-8″?).

Furthermore! In matched play (which is all we really care about, right?) at least half of the total number of units in the army must be setup on the table akin to the most recent editions. So no full Deathwing / Drop Pod armies which can again, skip two shooting phases for the enemy. You also have to have the units come in by the end of the third turn. I’m not a huge fan of making them come in by the third turn – I think fourth would have been okay as well but that’s also assuming 5-7 turn games. Perhaps they are shorter now.

I really like these changes – it puts more power into the players’ hands and takes away a big portion of randomness (fucking mishap tables) which lets both the offensive and defensive player know exactly what they are dealing with but also puts enough options in there that there are tactical and strategic decisions to be made.

Here’s the text in full as always.

In the new Warhammer 40,000, as today, keeping some units in reserve is still a very important and potentially powerful tactical tool.

There are some pretty fundamental changes to how they work though. For a start, not every unit can be placed in reserve, so most of your army will usually deploy on the battlefield at the start of the game. This means that they will be contributing to the battle from turn one, but will also be a target for the enemy – so you’ll have to work out how to best utilise those early turns.

Quite a few units still have the option to join the game mid-battle though, and they use a variety of mystical or technological means to do so. While there are no longer universal special rules like Deep Strike or Outflank, many of these abilities will have common themes – so you can still expect units like Terminators to teleport down, Genestealer Cults units to ambush and Ork Kommandos to use their kunnin’ to sneak up on the foe.

As an example, let’s take a look at the special rule for a Trygon, a unit famed for its unusual method of deployment, tunneling up under the enemy army:

So we can see that this will be quite a powerful ability. Not only delivering the Trygon into the heart of the enemy force, but also an accompanying unit of Tyranids. And there’s nothing stopping them from charging this turn either! Though that 9″ distance to the enemy (which is common to a lot of units with similar abilities) will mean that the averages on the dice will be against you for that 2D6 charge distance. (You can always use your Command Re-roll of course…)

In matched play, there are a few additional restrictions to deployment methods like this, which you might imagine, can get very powerful very fast when used by multiple units across a single army. Matched play games use a special mission rule called Tactical Reserves.

This rule helps limit some of the more extreme cases of withholding reserves in competitive games. So, while it’s totally possible to have an all Deathwing Terminator army, for example, you can’t use the teleport rules on all of them in matched play. (Though we do think a narrative game where the entire Deathwing teleports in on the first turn to take a Chaos bastion would be pretty awesome.)


Lots to think about there.

We’ll be back tomorrow with a bit more news on vehicles in the new Warhammer 40,000.

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60 Responses to “8th Edition 40k – Reserves”

  1. Ish says:

    This is what I was afraid of for my Deathwing… No Turn One massed teleporting onto the table. (Sigh)

    Land Raiders will solve the tactical problem, but not the logistical one. I started collecting an all-Infantry all-Deathwing army because of how easy they are to transport. Adding a bunch of Land Raiders will require a much bigger case.

    • abusepuppy says:

      I mean, it wouldn't be that hard to make it a Doublewing army and solve the problem fairly quickly, as it's based on number of units not total points. But I get the complaint.

      It's probably a good thing overall, though.

    • Iandanger says:

      Come to the narrative side, we have null deploy and ice cream*

      *consumption of ice cream constitutes a binding agreement to give your soul over to the dark gods

      • Matt-Shadowlord says:

        Speaking as someone who used it occasionally, 'null-deploy' was annoying. Tactically often it made sense to make an opponent waste a turn with nothing to see or shoot at, but I honestly think the game will be more fun for both players if they have stuff actually on the table.

        The change that units must be on the table by the end of the 3rd round or they are destroyed is also excellent from the point of view of a fairer, more enjoyable game. '

        I also like the fact that they can charge on arrival being balanced by a 9" distance from the closes enemy model. The attacker can use clever timing and placement, the defender can use clever screening and bubble wrap units.

        All in all, the reserve rules look like a real improvement.

        • Iandanger says:

          All reserves in by T3 also creates a reason to use summoning, if you want to bring a unit in last turn you can save your points and roll the dice

  2. Desc440 says:

    I don't know how I feel about that… Null-deploy was a valuable tactic and I'm sad to see it go. A lot of fluffy lists like all-DS DW and full drop pod Battle Company are no longer possible…

    Being able to assault after DS (for some units, anyways) is a good thing though, and will help mitigate the pile of buffs shooting armies are receiving from the new core rules.

    • Prometheus says:

      Null-deploy got stupid. I saw games that devolved to who could stay off the table longest. Hard pass, I'm glad they're doing away with it. Having some disruptive elements is a good tactical element that should be retained, just refusing to play the first 3 turns is not.

      • Ish says:

        That’s why I want a return to the old Deathwing Assault rule where they all came in on Turn One or Turn Two; Combine that with needing to have something on the table and the end of the turn (or automatically loose), and you still had null deployment tactics, but didn’t have the shenanigans.

        • artemi71 says:

          There's still chances for that in codex books, though. Probably not "Stay off for 3 turns", but I could see "Half your army must be on the board at the end of turn 1", or even just, "Half your army may deploy after your opponent, 9" away".

          So it's kind of the same thing. But also trying to avoid skipping the first turn.

          • Ish says:

            I just kinda assume the Dark Angels won’t ever get anything different from “vanilla” Marines and usually expect them to get less. Saves me from a lot of disappointment. ^_^,

      • Desc440 says:

        Null deploy was a useful tool to counter armies who can sweep you off the board on T1 with their insane firepower. Not having the option is going to suuuck…

        • Matt-Shadowlord says:

          If armies can sweep you off the board on T1 in the 8th Edition, I'll agree.

          But is it possible that firepower, the cost of long range weapons, morale and the resilience of units may also be changing? 😀

          • Desc440 says:

            Perhaps. We shall see!

          • Kikaze says:

            one of the reason i stopped playing games workshop games was that usualy, they wre pretty bad in balancing the offensive cost of a unit, so all people had to do is "bring a full offense army, roll for first player, win if you get it". It was dumb, and null deployment was a soft counter. however, null deployment strategies limited the meta too much and i am happy to see them gone. now lets hope new 40k balances offensive capabilities better 🙂

            • Kirby says:

              I refer you to this (admittedly 5th ed article) re the fallacy of going first always wins: http://www.3plusplus.net/2012/03/3-con-statistics

              I cannot comment on 7th but 6th was largely the same except in some corner cases. Null deployment definitely aided to this as it was an option in those earlier editions as well but with the cover changes, things might be more durable than before.

              • Kikaze says:

                wow, honored from the response 😛 tbh i played 3rd-through-early 6th. first time i think of coming back since then, so i cannot objectively comment on 6th-7th meta. but i do feel so lucky i didn't sell my army, it is hard to calculate size(two-digit number of vehicles plus 60-70 space marines plus 20-ish unglued space marines) but it is different to purchase merely some new models to fit in in newer ditions than an entire army.

                • artemi71 says:

                  If there's one thing I've learned from wargaming, and Magic the Gathering, it's to never sell your stuff. You will NEVER get the value from it back, and you're always likely to pick it back up again later…

                  • wellspokenman says:

                    I don't know about that. I sold a bunch of DA and CSM stuff and bought things for games I actually play. I just didn't cash out completely. I would advise against doing that. Diversity is a wonderful thing.

        • Prometheus says:

          I think the answer to that is to better balance shooting vs melee, or at least gunlines. Deep striking got used mainly to shoot things in the back armor (or anywhere with meltas), anyway.

        • artemi71 says:

          That was really more of a bandage for a broken system in the first place. Hopefully 8th won't require such heavy handed responses to allow you to play the game for more then one turn?

  3. Kirby says:

    Comment of note as Mathammer has pointed out in the chatbawks. Bubblewrapping can stop reserves pretty hard now by making 9" bubbles. This will protect a lot of weaker or more important units such as backfield tanks, characters, etc.

    I certainly agree with this but this is where I find the ability to choose when they come in a great counter balance. I have an effective two full turns of shooting and three turns of movement to force a hole where I can take advantage (and that might not be where the heaviest of bubble-wraps is). This can have huge implications across the entire table as an opponent moves to protect against reserved units while you are trying to pry open a vantage.

    • Matt-Shadowlord says:

      Now I don't want to make an accusation but that sounds a lot like tactics and strategy to me, which have no place in preview discussions.

      Please repost your comment in the format of 'The Sky Is Falling'.

  4. dermitder says:

    "…as 8+ on 2D6 is well down on the bell (triangular for Neil ;)) curve."

    You need a 9+

    Still, less randomness is a good thing…

    • ColKi says:

      Nah, you only need to be in 1" to have successfully charged.

      • Ish says:

        It’s actually 1/2″ if they follow the AoS model.

        • ColKi says:

          It's in the "Charge Phase" article. But I'm wrong anyway, as you must be "more than" 9" and "within" 1", so yes, you do need a 9.

          • Brian says:

            And even if you're doing this with multiple units down a line, you'll need at least four such for good odds of getting just one into melee. So unless you're willing to spam tele-punchers with the 50% of your army you can do that with, I don't see this as a viable tactic.

            • abusepuppy says:

              I think it's less of a "thing you base your army around" and more a support element that you can use which will occasionally disrupt the enemy's plans; on the chance that you do roll that 9+ (either naturally or with rerolls), you could cause some significant problems. AoS would also imply that there are specific units/formations that will be able to place themselves closer than that as well.

              • artemi71 says:

                Will Genestealers regain their ability to deploy in a piece of terrain closer then 9"? That'd be fantastically fluffy.

                • abusepuppy says:

                  I would expect it for Lictors more than Genestealers, but I would be surprised if Genestealers didn't get at least some kind of special deployment option.

                  • Matt-Shadowlord says:

                    I hope they've also cooked up something special for Marbo 😀

                    • artemi71 says:

                      His special rule is that he can deploy inside 9" as long as he A) appears on terrain above his target and B) immediately proceeds to drop his Demo Pack on them.

                    • Matt-Shadowlord says:

                      I was hoping for something more like 'Marbo must deploy inside an enemy model and cut his way out with his Crocodile Knife', but that will do.

  5. Prometheus says:

    As a GK player, I generally would be pretty happy to put half my army in Land Raiders, half deep striking. Just saying.

    • Ish says:

      See above, re: transporting the things.

      Does Battle Foam offer financial aid?

      • Matt-Shadowlord says:

        No but in case it helps, there are bulk lots of large GW model cases on Ebay at the moment, cheap.
        A lot of players seem to have upgraded to the new nylon-clasp luggage.

  6. Akorndr2 says:

    No more heavy drop pod armies aww

    • Matt-Shadowlord says:

      I know right? I have 9 drop pods, and it looks like 4 have to start on the table 😀

      The work around may be to find the cheapest units available per codex and spam them as starter forces. Even if this sort of a loop-hole/work-around works the rules would still be an improvement, as the opponent at least has something to do in turn 1.

  7. Kadeton says:

    I've always wondered why GW has been so reluctant to make deep-striking a viable way of getting into melee combat. In the Dawn of War games, jumping in a unit of Assault Marines or slamming a drop pod into an enemy unit is both a standard engagement tactic and a really entertaining and cinematic moment as the impact sends bodies flying everywhere; in the fiction, they use drop pods as offensive weapons all the time to soften up the enemy and disgorge troops directly into the fight… but then in tabletop, everyone is like "Oh no, we'd better just park over here where it's safe, we'll walk the rest of the way."

    That aside, these rules look to me like a massive improvement over anything that's come before, so that's nice. It would be good to see how more of the rules (and their associated modifiers, like Teleport Homers) actually worked, but this looks like a solid foundation. I don't mind losing null-deploy if it means I never lose another unit to a mishap.

    • abusepuppy says:

      The main issue is one of interactivity- if you can Deep Strike a unit onto the table, and then reliably assault with them immediately (and have no other significant risks/downsides), you lose a lot of the interactivity of the game. Shooting and melee both have their advantages and disadvantages; shooting is more flexible, but typically offers less damage-per-point and has to contend with cover saves. Melee hits much harder and can target multiple units simultaneously, but offers the enemy the chance to damage you back and needs one or more turns of setup to achieve.

      When you remove those limiting factors, things start getting problematic. You can already see examples of this in the game now- shooting that ignores cover, that happens on both players' turns, etc, has been very game-breaking, as are assault units that don't have to wait to get stuck in.

      • Kadeton says:

        I would say the main balancing factor of melee is that it's very one-and-done. You charge in, smash up a unit (maybe two if you're lucky), then get obliterated in response – either by the enemy counter-charging, or disengaging and focusing all their firepower, depending on their army's particular flavour.

        In other words, melee intrinsically puts the attacking unit in harm's way. Shooting, in contrast, is done at a distance where the opportunity for retaliation is minimised.

        When you add the need to weather a turn or more of fire *before* your unit can get into melee, what you're actually doing is limiting the efficiency – that "damage-per-point" – that your melee unit can achieve, because they also have to spend a significant portion of their cost on being resilient enough to survive. Fragile assault units simply don't get used in the game, because in practice they're really only cannon-fodder. Since shooting units generally get a better return on their points investment, the game skews towards shooting armies – I feel like this has played out in every edition so far.

        I'm not sure I buy "interactivity" as a reason. How much interaction is involved in watching a Tau gunline remove your army from the table?

        The sticking point for me is always the disjoint between what happens in the stories and what happens in the game. Against that same Tau gunline, why *wouldn't* the Space Marines smash drop pods into it and assault out of them? That's what drop pods are for!

        Anything you add to the game can, in theory, be balanced with appropriate costing… why not deep striking into melee?

  8. Dakkath says:

    Trygons now get to act as a second set of nid drop pods, cool.

  9. Neil Phillips says:

    Thankyou 🙂

  10. Jack says:

    Loving the comment section at ghe moment.

    Creating nullzones with Imperisl Guard is going to be an ibteresting challemge as well as baiting for countercharges. Commisars will se sone good use I think in msnaging and mitigating deep strikes.

  11. MagicJuggler says:

    Null zones are going to be a bit too much with this game system. If you can’t deepstrike within 9″ of your foe, then you can project an 18-20″ area of “no deepstrike” between every two models you own. Unlike 7th 40k where you at least need to worry about bubblewrap or some formation considerations, it’s theoretically possible for 4 Rhinos to effectively prevent an entire table quarter from being Deep Struck into.

    I dunno about you but that doesn’t exactly Strike me as balanced. Remember the old days of 5e Grey Knight Warp Quake? Everyone gets this now.

    • Alastores says:

      Sure, but then you use the half of your army alread on the board to kill the Rhino you want to drop nearby. I mean, yeah, you need to think in advance, but isn't that a good thing?

      Null zones are definately going to be a big thing, and if you spread out a lot, you can cover a lot of ground. But it also is quite fragile coverage.

      • Kirby says:

        Agree here – null zones will be quite large and you're probably not accessing backfield units too easily anymore but there will still be a cat and mouse interaction on how / when they are coming down.

  12. David Kaplan says:

    Perhaps certain types of units will have different restrictions. Maybe a drop pod will have a smaller null zone, since it arrives super rapidly out of the sky as opposed to burrowing, which is probably easier to notice than something that was in the atmosphere maybe thirty seconds beforehand. This is where the “individual model rules vs USRs” philosophy could come in handy.

    • Kirby says:

      They indicated there are models that will have different ranges – Nurglings have already been advised as some such options.

      • David Kaplan says:

        I guess my next question would be, if reserves are both more reliable and no longer a way to bring in massive chunks of your army, what do you think will be the new incarnation for models or rules that have traditionally allowed you to mess with reserves? For instance, fancy FW rhinos and land raiders, Descent of the Angels, etc? I could see Blood Angels being allowed to Deep Strike in within easy melta or charge range, perhaps.

        • abusepuppy says:

          Some of those models may give you Command Points, or may otherwise have abilities that thematically are about C3 but don't affect reserves, since that role has changed.