Friday, June 2, 2023

40k's new 10e rules now available, for free (with some comments on tactical stratagems)

 GW have just posted a .pdf of the rules for their new, upcoming 10th edition of Warhammer: 40,000. They can be downloaded for FREE at the bottom of this page

The tagline for the new edition is "simplified, not simple" - on the heels of a 9th edition that earned a reputation as a bloated, stultifying mass of excess complexity. In recent years I haven't bothered playing the official rules at all - not when there were much simpler but still satisfying rules-systems out there. Xenos Rampant, Rogue Hammer, and Grimdark Future caught my eye instead. 

Having a flip through the new free rules this morning, I'm pleasantly surprised and optimistic at first blush. The certainly offer a more robust experience than, say, Grimdark Future, but they look like they might be a fair bit of fun to play. 

I'm especially intrigued by the new approach to stratagems - key tactical practices you can activate by paying Command Points. Each faction will have its own short list (I believe they'll be capped at 6 faction/detachment-specific stratagems) that look like they'll make each type of army play very differently from the others. The core rules, however, include a list of 11 stratagems that any army can use. If my understanding of the 9th edition stratagems is accurate, this is much simpler but also feels like it covers a lot of no-nonsense practical stuff that ought to be normal in small-unit tactical firefights: snap-firing at moving enemies, popping smoke or dropping to ground for cover, stirring up the troops to stand resolute just a bit longer, etc. - but all handled in a rather straightforward mechanical way. I particularly like the really dirt-simple but effective way to model troops' use of frag and smoke grenades via the short list of core stratagems. 

To be honest, reading that section made me think of Space Weirdos' use of command points - something I've praised elsewhere in these terms: 

In other words, every one of your figures is ALWAYS potentially on overwatch, as long as you've got command points left to spend that turn. This keeps an important tactical element in play, without any need to sit around thinking, umm, should I put this guy on overwatch, or that guy? But it's a tradeoff, because those command points are good for lots of other things, too. Dodging into cover; pushing to move just a little bit faster; shooting a little straighter; etc. Or, if you've finished the turn and never found the right way to spend 'em, you can cash in any remaining command points to better your chances at seizing the initiative on the next turn. Your pool of command points is quite small, making each use a deliberate and precious statement about your tactical priorities. All this means a really simple, one-brain-cell command and control system that nonetheless keeps the player engaged in meaningful decision-making throughout every part of the turn.

Perhaps a deeper look into the new rules will disabuse me of the comparison -- but, for now, if the new 40k is going to remind me mechanically of Space Weirdos, then the circle is complete! [Of course, I'm not sure how long 40k has used stratagems, or how much they might have influenced Garske's Weirdos design. But I'm liking what I see here].