Good day, fellow murderous ’58 Plymouth Furies! Today I follow up on my sad, bitter post about the state of 8th edition. A lot of the commenters offered useful advice and I am deeply grateful for it. There was also a lot of discussion on implementing some sort of alternating unit activation mechanic. I’m going to tackle some of this stuff here.
A lot of folks have directed me towards the new (draft?) ITC missions due to my dislike of tablings (or rather, the unfunness of continuing a game when it’s clear you are going to get tabled). For those unfamiliar with the missions in questions, they are available on Frontline Gaming’s website (in the ITC section) but I will briefly summarise how they work:
- First, and most importantly, getting tabled does not automatically give you a score of 0 for the game. You get to keep the points you accumulated over the course of the match. This is HUGE to keep you motivated even when it’s obvious you are going to get tabled, given that you may lose the game but your overall score may still keep you in the running. And it’s entirely possible to get tabled and still win the game if you dominated your opponent on achieving the mission objectives.
- Secondly, points are scored on a turn-by-turn basis. This is key because otherwise the above would be pretty moot. You also score points both for holding objectives AND killing units, which helps to balance the scales between MSU and “rock” armies.
- Thirdly, secondary objectives are selected rather than generated. This has nothing to do with my gripes about tabling, but it’s still a nice feature because it’s one less thing Lady Luck can screw you over with.
I think there’s still some tweaking to be done but overall, these missions seem like a VAST improvement over the BRB missions and the ETC format. I’ll caveat that by saying I’ve not actually played them, but when folks tell me these help a lot with the issues I brought up in my rant, I’m inclined to believe them.
Now, I can only hope that the folks that run tournaments in my neck of the woods will be willing to give these a try!
An Alternative to Alternating Unit Activation…
Another thing we talked a lot about in the comments is how GW seems to have missed the boat by retaining the ancient IGOUGO mechanic when they designed 8th edition. A lot of peeps felt as I did that moving to an alternating unit activation model would have avoided a lot of the problems many (though not all, in fairness) have said they have experienced with frequent tablings. GW have stated that they trialed alternating activation but found “it didn’t scale well”… I am *ahem* skeptical.
I’ve been mulling over this a lot in my head, and had begun writing a short set of houserules to implement a homebrew alternating activation mechanic (which I may complete at some point) before I was struck by an idea. I came to realise that perhaps fixing the issue with alpha/beta strikes doesn’t really necessitate reworking the entirety of the base mechanics of 40k.
Indeed, maybe there is a simpler solution… and so I give you Return Fire:
“Return Fire: When a model dies in the Shooting Phase, it may fire its weapons before being removed from play. This applies to both players’ models; however, if a model had already fired during the phase, it may not fire again and is simply removed from play. To avoid confusion, wait until a unit has completed all of its shooting before conducting Return Fire. If a player triggers Return Fire while he is himself conducting Return Fire, he must complete all already-triggered Return Fire before his opponent can resolve his own Return Fire.”
In case it isn’t clear (and it may not be – I will readily admit the wording I employed is a bit on the dense side; any suggestion on alternate, clearer syntax would be welcome), Return Fire ensures that your models will always get a chance to shoot at least once per game before dying, whether you get the first turn or not. Not only that, but it helps break up the long periods between a player’s turns where he does little but roll armour saves and remove models.
Below is an example of how this would play out. Please note that I purposefully made it complex to illustrate how a convoluted scenario would be resolved. I don’t believe this is truly representative of how most situations involving Return Fire would happen.
“Joe splits the fire of his squad of Firewarriors to shoot at Sandy’s Tactical Squad and Devastator Squad. The Firewarriors resolve their shooting at the Tactical Squad first and kill two Marines with Boltguns. Before the Tactical Squad can Return Fire, Joe finishes his shooting with the Firewarriors and kills two Devastators: the Sergeant and a Lascannon-equipped Marine. Sandy then starts her Return Fire by selecting the Tacticals and shooting one dead Marine at the Firewarrirors that killed him and the other dead Marine at a nearby unit of Kroot that have not fired yet in this Shooting Phase. The Tacticals kill one Firewarrior and one Kroot, and are then removed from the tabletop. Before Joe can Return Fire himself, Sandy must resolve her Return Fire with the Devastators first. She does so by having the dead Sergeant shoot at the same Kroot unit that already suffered a casualty but fails to kill any more. She then shoots the dead Lascannon Marine at an already-damaged Hammerhead and successfully blows it up, which then kills 2 nearby Gun Drones. The dead Sergeant and Lascannon Marine are then removed from the board. With Sandy having completed her Return Fire, Joe can then carry out his own Return Fire for the dead Kroot, Hammerhead and Gun Drones, remembering that the Firewarrior cannot Return Fire because it had already shot in this Shooting Phase. If this in turn causes more Return Fire on Sandy’s part, she will have to wait until all of Joe’s models have completed their Return Fire before carrying out further Return Fire herself. If none of Joe’s units cause any casualties to Sandy’s army, the Shooting Phase continues as normal: Joe selects his next unit and resolves all of its shooting, with Sandy resolving any Return Fire triggered.”
One concern I have is that people may end up losing track of how many models in which units need to perform Return Fire, but this can be easily remedied by simply placing some dice next to the unit, or turning the “dead” models around so they face away from the direction the rest of the unit is facing while they wait to perform their Return Fire.
While we’re playing amateur game designer, let’s tackle another thing that I find problematic with the IGOUGO mechanic:
“Opening Gambit: During the first Battle Round, the player going second may carry out his Movement Phase before the player going first does so.”
The point of Opening Gambit is to allow for the player going second a chance to get out of his deployment zone before starting to get pummeled – you World Eaters players using Rhino-borne ‘Zerkers will understand why this is important. It will also help avoid situations where things like Vectored Engines and Smoke Launchers (which would need to be FAQed to be usable in the Movement Phase, but that’s a minor quibble) never have a chance to get used because you got unlucky and went second.
I have yet to trial these rules at home but am eager to do so. If anyone else is interested in trying them out, please let me know how it went for you!
Well, that’s enough fun for the day! I hope you enjoyed my musings, and bid you farewell!