1st Take on 9th Edition

Ehh. 

I was underwhelmed when I first saw the 9e Core Rules, but I had some hope that when the rest of the material arrived, I would enjoy the 9th Edition book as much as I did 8th.

That’s a big “Nope.” Let me address the new edition by discussing a few aspects of it. Ordinarily, I don’t start a review on a negative note, but I’m going to break that tradition now.

What I Don’t Like, and Why

It’s not like the 9e rules suck. Games Workshop did correct some of the few things I didn’t like from 8th:

  • Vehicles no longer get a -1 to hit for firing Heavy weapons on the move.
  • Vehicles and Monsters can fire their weapons even when in melee.
  • Blast weapons have a better chance of hitting lots of the enemy: no more firing a demolisher cannon at a mob of 30 Ork Boyz and getting 1 shot (though that’s still not as good as dropping a Tea Saucer-o’-S10-Murder on them, like you could under previous editions).

But after re-reading it all again, now that the Core Book has arrived at my house, I feel like many of the 9e rules are unnecessarily complicated and fussy.

Did we actually need a Command phase? Will GW ever write close-combat rules that don’t require degrees in math and law to run as intended? Was Overwatch so broken that we had to take it away from everyone and only hand it back to certain units once they get their new codexes? (And what are Tau supposed to do until they get theirs?)

Ninth is definitely not as easy to play as Eighth, and if you’ve read any of my “KD&D” posts, you’ll know that I’m on a tear lately about improving games by making them more simple.

For an in-depth look at the new rules, visit the fine folks at Goonhammer and invest an hour or so going through their excellent analysis. Even after reading some of the Fight phase rules a few times, I had some questions, but they cleared those up for me.

(BTW, James “One Wing” Grover at Goonhammer really likes the new rules. He comes at them from the standpoint of a competitive gamer, whereas I am much more casual. If tournaments are your thing, or if you’d just like a different perspective, check out what James has to say)

What I Like, And Why

My favorite part about Ninth Edition is the Crusade rules. Long-time Jungle visitors know that my pal Patrick Eibel and I have done several narrative-driven campaigns, and we were heavily leaning into our latest one before Grandfather Nurgle virus-bombed Holy Terra with the COVID.

The idea of establishing an army, building it up over time, and adding all sorts of cool, personalized elements to it as part of a series of battle sounds tailor-made for how Pat and I like to play. Pandemic restrictions have eased in our portion of the world, so perhaps soon, we’ll be able to get something like that going.

I suspect the Crusade rules would also benefit new players, like the Becker Boys, my neighbors and latest opponents, in that they can start at a smaller scale and develop more familiarity with their armies.

In some of our battles, the Boys have sometimes seemed in over their heads, not fully cognizant of the capabilities of their Space Marines and Space Wolves.

TFW the Bad Guy has you right where he wants you

In their defense, learning the basic 40K rules, in addition to getting a handle on the intricacies of units, weapons, abilities, and stratagems found in a codex, is like drinking from a firehose. Seeing as how we’re all starting from Square One now, the Crusade approach is probably best for them.

Also, as I mentioned in my previous post about Ninth, I do like the presentation of the rules. The bullet points nicely summarize the rules: in fact, I think you’re better off just following them and skipping the paragraphs of sometimes-confusing text.

What I’m “Meh” About

As someone who’s played since the “Rogue Trader” days, the massive fluff section that is the first 180+ pages of the book doesn’t do much for me. I wouldn’t have minded more about events concerning the recent Psychic Awakening, but no biggie.

As usual, the art and the showcased models are amazing. The game certainly has come a long way since the scratch-built “deodorant hover-tank” (which, TBH, I still think is pretty cool).

I wasn’t of the opinion that the 8e rules for detachments needed to be changed, but nevertheless, they have been, and I’m okay with the latest version.

However, I’m not wild about the new Strategic Reserves (wait–I can’t drop anyone into the other guy’s deployment zone until Turn 3?). But at least we got rid of requiring that you had to have at least half your army on the board (making SM Drop Pod armies a rarely-seen species until the latest  codex exempted them from that silliness).

A lot has been written on other sites about point costs going up across the board. Until I roll up my sleeves and go about adjusting my current lists, I don’t have an opinion one way or the other, except that Adeptus Mechanicus Secutarii Hoplites, which I use heaps of, are still massively under-costed at 10 points each, having gone up from 9.

10 points for S6 weapons in the Shooting *and* Fighting phases. Why is my life so hard?

Conclusion

When I looked through the Chapter Approved Grand Tournament 2020 Mission Pack that I had ordered and found that it had all the rules, I was sorely tempted to return my unopened copy of the Core Book. That’s how unimpressed I’ve been with Ninth Edition.

(BTW, if you’re a veteran, you probably can get by for a while with just the GT 2020 booklet, the CA Munitorum Field Manual with the updated point values, and the new detachment rules that you can find online. At least until your army’s new codex is published)

I don’t hate 9e, but I’m not yet convinced it’s an improvement on 8th. Maybe I’ll spend some more time on Goonhammer and other sites, and see what other people have to say. In any event, there’s a new Space Marine codex coming in October, so until then, I’ll work on adjusting my other armies for the new edition.

 


 

When I’m not playing or blogging about 40K, I’m writing killer SF/F  for young adults, and adults who are still young. And now you can get my novel Lost Dogs–the story of the end of the world as seen, heard, and smelled, by a dog–for free!  

This Wasted Land, my latest novel, isn’t your typical teenage love story.  It’s more like: Boy meets Girl –> Evil Witch takes Boy –> Girl goes to get Boy back.

My first novel was Dragontamer’s Daughters, like Little House on the Prairie…with dragons.  With Jungle Guide Patrick Eibel, I created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.

Visit kentonkilgore.com, and follow me on Facebook for frequent posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction.  You can also catch me on Instagram.

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