Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Death of "All Reserve" Lists in 6th Edition

Morning folks.

I was thinking about this one after buying the new Dark Angels codex last week and a conversation about it on Monday night. Then on the drive into work whilst trying to think what to do with my Dark Angels, I thought about doing this blog write-up.

For a while, I didn't realise this rules change was even in 6th until I mentioned it in passing about Deathwing and then checked the rulebook.

Changes to reserves in 6th edition were as follows (bear with me if some are wrong, doing this from memory):
  • Always a 3+ to show up.
  • Only 50% of your units can go into reserve.
  • If you have no models on the table, you lose.
So. Those few little changes there make a big change to a few armies that relied on heavy Reserve and Deep-striking choices during 5th edition. I can think of a few examples that have got the shaft now...

  • Deathwing Dark Angels
  • Descent of Angels Blood Angels forces
  • Outflanking / Spore reserve Tyranids
  • Duke Sliscus' low orbit raid Dark Eldar
  • All Drop Pod Space Marine armies
  • And probably more I can't think of...
Personally, I used to really enjoy playing full reserve lists, especially my Deathwing. It meant I could mitigate the slow speed of foot slogging Terminators and could have a pure Deathwing list - no tactical marines, no Ravenwing, etc.

It also meant I could pin-point my strikes around the battlefield dependant on the other player's choices - Can you imagine Belial saying to his Deathwing terminators "Hey, Octavius and Romulus squads... Do you mind standing over here and watching this ruin whilst we Teleport in from somewhere else?". Key to the in-game story, I always felt my Deathwing were a precision strike force, now, only half the army feels like that.

To me, it's like I now have to pay a babysitting points tax and have units start on the board simply for the sake of having them there.

Now...Why was the change to reserves made? Simple...

Firstly, to get more models on the table earlier on, rather than having your 500pt HQ and bodyguard show up on turn 5 and not get to do much.

In addition to this, it's bad game design to have any player with Zero models on the table at any point, hence the "you lose if you have none" rules. I've played some games in older editions where players units came in 1 at a time, that unit got shot / assaulted / killed and next turn 1 more rolls on. Sewer Rats stratagem in Cities of Death springs to mind.

Secondly, my personal view, is to avoid less of the "Alpha Strike" gubbins where Player A would set up entire army, player B would drop a few inches away from them, massacre half an army in a turn, then we play the rest of the game.

On top of this, we have the change to how the reserves arrive. They've gone from being a decreasing dice roll depending on the turn they show up, to now being a 3+ every turn. Combine this with the fact EVERY army now has access to a +1 reserve roll modifier (Aegis with comms relay).

This would mean that there's a pretty decent chance you'd be facing the entire opponents army in Turn 2 teleporting down in front of your face, probably shoot a LOT and then the game doesn't feel fun and reactive. It feels like a sucker punch.

Don't get me wrong... I understand completely why these changes are there. I just think it shafts a lot of the playstyle and options of some armies.

I now feel like I'll have to spend points on Scouts, Tactical Marines or Ravenwing to start off on the board so that I can use my Deathwing properly. And I'll never get to use a full Deathwing list without having to sit 2 or 3 Terminator units in my deployment zone.

So... What does this all mean?

It now means you'll need "home guard" elements if you want to play these sort of lists.

  • Deathwing require Tac Marines, Scouts, Ravenwing to be on the field or more Terminators to start deployed on foot.
  • Tyranids can't go too heavy on the Spores or Outflankers.
  • Blood Angels can't go all deep-striking Jump packs. Again, they'll either need ground troops or to deploy the Jump packs on the ground.
  • Duke Sliscus' Dark Eldar will have to start half of them on the ground, which means half as many targets for the enemy to shoot at.
  • And so on...
Or failing that, you'll need some cheap way of getting around it. Like a tac squad and a Rhino being 2 units for the 50% count, therefore giving you 2 Deathwing that can go into reserve. Although I'm not sure whether Ded. Transports are included on unit count for this.

To me, Terminators aren't the sort of troops I want sitting at the back of the board with a set of 24" guns and the odd heavy weapon. I want these guys right in the face of the enemy providing immediate threat to units.

Deal with it!

As with most stuff in 6th edition, it's just things you need to accomodate for now with these rules changes. It's just unfortunate that these "pure" lists then need help from other units or to hinder themselves by sacrificing their mobility options to deploy on foot.

My old 5th edition Deathwing list looked like this:
  • Belial
  • Terminator unit with Hammers / Claws and Cyclone missile.
  • Terminator unit with Hammers / Claws and Cyclone missile.
  • Terminator unit with Hammers / Claws, Apothecary and Deathwing Banner
  • Terminator unit with Storm Bolters and Assault cannon.
  • Terminator unit with Storm Bolters and Assault cannon.
  • Deathwing Dreadnaught in Pod
  • Deathwing Dreadnaught in Pod
  • Land Speeder with Multi Melta
  • Land Speeder with Multi Melta
Out of that list, the only thing I'd be happy with deploying at the start of the game would be the Speeders. The Dread is pretty useless without the Pod so they could make way for some Ravenwing bikers and Tactical marines.

Again, it's just changes that we have to work around in 6th Edition and once I get the Deathwing on the table, I'm sure they'll be fine. Just less "Deathwing" and more "Terminator-heavy Dark Angels".

As I say when I wrote this, I was doing it from memory. Apparently units that have to start in reserve (Drop Pods, Spores, Daemons) all ignore this. So it's still an issue for Deathwing and Duke Sliscus lists since they have the option... but it still doesn't answer the question of Marines.

And according to the rulebook units and their dedicated transports are treated as a single unit for this.

On top of that, Independent Characters count as a single unit, regardless of whether or not they're attached to a unit. So for Belial and 2 units of Terminators, you need to have 3 units starting on the board.

P.S. If I've got anything wrong then please let me know. I've not looked at the 6th edition reserve stuff in extreme detail and don't have the rulebook with me whilst I write this up... It's just whatever spews from my brain on the drive into work.

1 comment:

  1. September 2013 FAQ clarifies that any unit embarked on a transport that must start in reserves does not count towards the 50% rule, not just those with dedicated transports.
    So, as long as you can find a suitable unit to not die first turn, you could have everything but that unit in reserves. Guard Air Cavalry, Marine Flyer spam, and a few other lists just became a whole lot more viable.