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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Layers, Donkey

Yesterday, I played a small 40k game against a beginner, at 1000 points, and only one vehicle. It reminded me of the early days of 3rd edition when I started playing, when people used fewer transports.

It made me realize that old 40k is still there in modern 40k, layered deep in the rules.  As 40k has grown, it has developed some quirky rules redundancies.

Consider, for example, how 40k handles multi-wound characters.  Characters have multiple wounds to save them from small arms and to seem more heroic. But there's always been a need to make them vulnerable to really powerful weapons. 

Back in 2nd edition, big guns like lascannons did d3 or d6 wounds to multiwound characters.  Then, in the 3rd edition reboot, the designers simplified things by removing this extra dice roll and replacing it with Instant Death, a rule that stated when S doubled T, it removed the model no matter how many wounds it had.  Simple, easy.

It wasn't too long, though, before they introduced a Salamanter mantle -- wargear that prevented instant death.  Items granting immunity proliferated, and eventually became standardized with the special rule Eternal Warrior.  By 5th or 6th edition, most competitive character builds were immune Instant Death, one way or the other.

There was already a solution, of sorts, though.  Apocalypse had introduced D-weapons, which in their original rules just killed everything, with no save, no invulnerable save, and no nothing.  It was a great rule when playing 5000 or 10,000 points a side.

7th edition ported D-weapons into the main game, but made them less deadly. They now only kill things super-dead on a 6. On a 2-5, they do D3 wounds. 

So now, 40k has two mechanics for multiple wound models.  There's the old Instant Death, which is trumped by Eternal Warrior, and then on top of that there's the D mechanic, which trumps Instant Death.

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