I first got stuck in to Warhammer 40k right after the publication of the 3rd Edition rules, way back in 1998. I was familiar with the 40k 2nd edition rules, but hadn’t been captured by them. Something about 40kv3 clicked for me, though. My eight-foot table (this was before the onset of my domestic marrieditis) hosted plenty of knock-down, drag-out fights.
The new 6th edition rules feature the most extensive set of changes to the game system since that long-ago leap from 2nd to 3rd edition. Fourth and 5th editions featured changes of their own, of course, but many of them were minor, or updates that could be classified as either streamlining or clarifications. The 4th edition update, I remember, lavished quite a bit of attention on changes in the Assault Phase. They generated a lot of discussion at the time, but those changes were nothing like the new Assault Phase we’ve gotten with 40kv6.
In addition to the three big changes to Assault that I listed in my last post, there are some comparatively minor changes as well. One of them concerns template weapons (like flamers) and overwatch fire. Ordinarily, template weapons cannot “snap fire” — but under the special rule “Wall of Death” (gotta love that name), they can participate in overwatch fire. You don’t place the template or measure. Overwatch firing template weapons simply inflict D3 hits on the charging unit. Period.
The concept of disordered charge robs assaulting units of their usual +1 attack for charging. Any unit that charges multiple enemy units is automatically disordered. Terrain does not cause a disordered charge. Rather, any unit that contains a model (any model in the unit) that charges through difficult terrain performs its assault attacks in the “1″ (last) initiative step. There’s a poser, right? You might want the cover of those woods to help survive overwatch fire, but then your stompy guys have to survive until the final initiative step in order to attack.
There are also some clarification-style updates regarding how wounds are assigned, but that’s more a progression from 40kv5. The other change of significance — which will probably be overlooked countless times by players in the coming weeks — is the inclusion of a 3-inch pile-in move at the start of EVERY initiative step.
It reads to me like players are likely to get a lot more calculating in planning out their Assault Phase activities from now on. That process is going to be aided by another potentially large change to the general game rules. In 40kv6, players are now allowed to pre-measure any distance, any time they feel like it. The old “Guess” weapons range is gone for good — the weapons are still there, but they now use the Barrage special rule instead. Committing to a shooting attack and then finding out half your guys are out of range is history.
While pre-measuring removes some of the uncertainty and (small “c”) chaos from the game, remember that this new scientific direction is at least partially offset by the introduction of random charge distances. You’ll now know for certain that the heavy bolter team you want to assault is 6 inches away — but if you roll 2 through 5 for your charge distance, you’re still going to have to just sit there and eat lead for another shooting phase.