Warhammer 40k 6th Edition – First Impressions

Yesterday saw me head over to Gribblin Towers for a chance to try out 40k 6th ed. Gribblin has had the book since launch, and being the studious person he is has read the rules and has a decent idea how things work. Myself on the other hand has the attention span of a newt and therefore generally has to rely on others for the first few years of any system until it gradually sinks in and I can bravely do things on my own.

So we lined up our forces in an objective based mission with approximately 1000 points a side. The mighty Space Marines versus the gribbly Tyranids. We rolled for special commander traits and then promptly forgot about them (commander traits seem to be a little bit of extra flavour and in no way game breaking).

Turn one begins and we’re off. A few minor tweaks here and there to movement but nothing significant. A bit of shooting; no huge changes to ingest. Wounds are now taken from the front of the unit seems fair enough and easy enough to take on board. Assaults and charges are now a bit more random, again with wounds coming off the front of the unit. A minor and probably overlooked tweak which could have game altering effects regards wound allocation. In our game four terminators took nine wounds. In fifth edition you would allocate 2 wounds per terminator with one extra for Mr Unlucky. In sixth edition you just roll nine saves, if you fail four the unit is removed. Without boring you with statistics the lifespan of your average terminator unit subjected to lots of shooting or attacks in sixth edition is actually pretty low compared with fifth due to this change; and this applies to any small unit that relies on a good save to keep itself alive.

A blazingly obvious change in 6th edition is the introduction of proper rules for flyers. No more tanks ramming aeroplanes out of the sky in this edition! The Tyranids had a flying harpy which caused no end of chaos and destruction. Being very difficult to shoot down I think flyers may well become the new mainstay of many a force.

Overall the game was fun and enjoyable. The minor rules tweaking seems to be a bit of an effort to stop people cheesemongering ridiculously win-at-all-costs spiked armies. This will hopefully benefit the tournament community which is who I think the rules were aimed at. From a personal perspective though the flyer rules are a fresh addition otherwise it does seem a bit like change for change’s sake. It seems that a lot of these tweaks add an unecessary extra layer of complexity to an already solid fifth edition without actually making the game more fun or playable.

Long term I’ll happily play 6th edition again. However 5th edition works well and is fun to play so I’m puzzled as to why I would want to switch to 6th edition at the moment.