After three articles of explaining and presenting the new rules, it's opinion time!
With 8th edition 40k has changed quite a bunch of stuff on the surface. Venerable tables are gone, a whole stat disappeared, an old stat resurfaced, points values are only mentioned in passing and there's a big old warpstorm tearing the Imperium apart.
How deep do those rules changes go? Not as deep as one may think at first glance. Most of them I believe were introduced just to make the rules more efficient, covering vehicles, flyers, monsters and infantry alike.
|I like how at first glance the red sigils make the eagle look like a rooster. :-)|
As a general trend in fantasy/sci-fi gaming core rules seem to get more simple and efficient while making the units/characters themselves alter the rules. This to more and lesser extents was always true for 40k, but with 8th edition it reached a new high. Without a doubt this has something to do with making the game more accessible and last but not least quicker and easier.
The actual impact of the changes on the game probably are much less than one would think. Age of Sigmar 40k this certainly is not, even though some pointers have been taken from AoS. A lot of "all or nothing" results have been replaced with more sloped results, but eventually leading to the same outcome. Your transports will not blow up after the first hit from a Lascannon, but with the option of splitting fire now the anti-tank fire will be more evenly distributed over your transports, so it may well still blow up in turn#1.
Speaking of transport rules - wow, do they reek of 3rd edition. For some reason, I don't mind them though.
I heard that there is some discussion about how re-rolls changed a little. And I have no earthly idea how the fact that you do re-rolls before the application of the (very, minimal) modifiers have much of an impact on anything. To find this out I listened to a 40k podcast I wouldn't listen to normally. I still don't know how this wording on the re-rolls rule impacts the game. It's fascinating though to listen what some people think about and how they think about 40k. Always interesting getting a very different perspective, even if I don't share their views.
I play a lot of different wargames, so I guess my perspective is a bit different to someone's who plays ONLY 40k and thus probably views these changes as being much more drastic than I do. But I really fail to see the huge changes. It's still 40k, a game about bashing heads in the far fantasy future, getting many toys on the table and have fun. If I want to play a wargame in the same setting featuring how people actually react to firefights and featuring friction, command & control and all of that I'll play Tomorrow's War, 5150:Star Army, Chain of Command, Quadrant 13 or maybe Future War Commander. It's horses for courses and this horse likes many grazing grounds. :-P
8th edition 40k still is I-Go-You-Go, it's still Move-Shoot-Bash-Morale, you still get to activate all your units when it's your turn, you can still put a LOT of toys on the table and remove them equally fast, it's still "roll to hit, roll to wound, roll to save, remove casualties" and so on. And all of these rolls didn't change much either and the results will still be largely the same. Fire a Lasgun at a Space Marine and it most probably won't fall over. Fire 40 Lasguns at a Space Marine and he most likely will fall over. Looking at the odds they still are largely the same. As I said - it's really mostly a condensated version of the rules, while still doing the same. I'm sure there are some changes I overlooked simply because I'm not as familiar with 7th edition. Going to the Ground and being Pinned are gone as far as I see. Random charge distances
This efficiency in the rules comes with the downside of the text itself being dry to read. It's very concise, but it just doesn't flow due to the generalist vocabulary they have to employ. What they achieved though is pretty remarkable. They cut the whole close combat section (including charge moves, defensive fire, etc.) down to just over a page. The whole of the game rules including stats is 10 pages! This is an effort that would make even Mantic blush. A possible downside to this is that some rules (like transports, re-rolls and so on) are to be found cramped in as side notes in weird places.
All the other army specific rules are in the new Index books which replace the codex books now. The Index books cover four to five armies now and are rather affordable. They basically are the Codex format I had hoped for for a long time - just the info, and very little faff.
I'm not (very) delusional. GW will haul a ton of supplements and additional books and indices at us very, very soon and kickstart their hamsterwheel anew, but that's just the GW machine. :-)
Either way, these rules are an impressive exercise in streamlining without actually changing much at all. In this way it's very reminiscent of what I think probably was the intention of the catastrophic 3rd edition 40k, but it fell flat by being a radical change not only in gameplay, but also in scale. 8th edition has a much more comfortable place to sit in in this regard.
Many kudos to GW for putting so much stuff in the rule book for making your games varied and each one different to the other. In the book there are 23 different basic missions. Add to this 8 or so different deployment methods and 56 different tactical objectives.... that is quite a lot of options right there. Points are more of an afterthought than ever before, but for the competition players there still is everything you need.
To make it short - it's still very much the 40k we all know. There are a few changes, but they are much more superficial than one would think. It still feels the same, it will mostly play out the same and there is no reason to be afraid of the little tweaks and changes. This is not a 'dumbed-down' version and you do not have to burn your miniatures (unless you are a bit of a sucker for attention and on youtube, but in this case just eat a big sandwich or open a box and make a video of that).
And if you still prefer any other edition of the game or indeed another set of rules - by all means, use those! For the past three years the few games with 40k minis I had was with all kinds of rules. It doesn't matter which set of rules you use as long as you know what setting you're playing in and as long as everybody has fun.
This may sound very silly, but this actually made me want to play 40k again. With current 40k rules. Which is very, very weird coming from me. :p GW currently really do things right.
And now excuse me please, I have to open a box of plastics...
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