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by David Stent
While changes to core rules such as shooting, assault, vehicles, treatment of terrain, and categorising models (and plenty else besides!) are no doubt earth-shattering and will usher in a new era of strategic upheaval, sooner or later you’re going to need to put into practice what you’ve read. That will probably involve one of the missions included in the rulebook and let me tell you now, these changes are no less significant than any other.
This article isn’t an exploration of the actual missions but a glance at changes to the special rules used in the missions (pages 84 and 85 of the main rulebook). Don’t be fooled by familiar names like Deep Strike and Infiltrate. The differences between the 3rd and 4th Editions are subtle and important, but I believe many gamers may have overlooked these details and are too busy rapid-firing or advancing in a sweeping manner to notice.
In this article, we’ll discuss these scenario special rules for standard missions:
Deep Striking in 4th Edition is a risky prospect but can certainly reap rewards if approached in the right way. Note that this rule has changed substantially from 3rd Edition. Instead of using the large blast template, you place one model from the unit and scatter as normal, but the most crucial change to this rule is:
All Deep Striking models...must be placed in base contact with the original model in a circle around it.As the limitations of the large blast template no longer apply, unit size is only restricted by the maximum allowed for the unit. To take advantage of this, try Deep Striking 20 Necrons via a Veil of Darkness or maybe 32 Hormagaunts in a Mycetic Spore army (but not in the same army…*ahem!*).
To offset this advantage, there is a massive vulnerability to template and blast weapons due to the clumpy nature of the formation. Watch out for anything remotely resembling these weapons. Take as two examples the horrifying prospect of plasma cannons vs. Terminators or the afore-mentioned Hormagaunts landing next to a unit of Burna Boyz. Don’t be caught out!
So, unless you plan your Deep Strike very carefully, consider your opponent’s firebase, gauge lines of fire, compensate for cover, maintain a rigorous fire plan, AND possess the ability to be terminally lucky, then Deep Striking in 4th Edition may not be for you. Quite frankly, I would rather…
Once again the change here is subtle but vital:
Infiltrators may be set up anywhere on the table that is more than 12" from an enemy unit, if no deployed enemy unit can draw a line of sight to them.Otherwise of course, you’re free to set up 18" away if line of sight can be drawn. But who wants to do that?!
Obviously, the advantages of this change are pronounced if your infiltrating unit has any special movement modes. I have it on good authority that a certain Alpha Legion Demon Prince has kicked Tiger tail using this nasty tactic–apparently it can make for a really short game!
Even if you can’t reach combat in Turn One, you have an intriguing and effective tactical tool at your disposal. As the unit is out of sight but still close, any terror assault unit can cover a large corridor of potential engagement to curb enemy movement. Genestealers are great for this, as their ability to move rapidly through cover can surprise and overwhelm an unwary opponent. Space Marine Scouts, Ork Kommandos, Striking Scorpions, Flayed Ones, Stormtroopers—these already excellent units (and many others) have been given a major boost and a critical power increase by virtue of their inherent skills.
And of course, there’s no chance of scattering off the table!
… all non-vehicle units that are deployed…… which we can assume means anything without an Armour Value. Shooting at these units requires a visibility test (using the Nightfight rule) until they move, shoot or use a psychic power. Concealment is in effect for the first turn only.
This is sweet news for those units that you want to deploy with good lines of fire but inevitably get trashed if you don’t get the first turn. Watch out though, because this is a mother of a two-edged sword. It reads like this:
Deployment: “A-ha! I’ll deploy my Reapers on this hill. They’ll be concealed, so he probably won’t be able to shoot them if he goes first.”In this light, you are probably better off either taking the opportunity to go second (if that’s an option) or using the Concealment to place dedicated assault troops in more advantageous positions. This would work very well with, for example, a squad of Assault Marines or Howling Banshees (on foot). Deploy in restricted lanes of fire and you can ensure the majority (if not all) of the unit will survive to move and possibly retaliate.
One point of possible contention: the rules for Nightfight do not stipulate that you are required to take the usual Leadership test to shoot a unit other than the closest.
After selecting a target, but before the unit fires…Also note that if your unit is unable to see their chosen target they “lose the right to fire”.
Concealment is always used in conjunction with the Escalation special rule, and bearing this in mind, it may be more sensible to wait for support from your reserves than open fire willy-nilly and gallivant off into an unsupported assault. Now that I’ve mentioned it, let’s talk about the rule most likely to force a reconsideration of many an army list...
In a nutshell, Escalation only allows you to deploy basic infantry units (though not specifically selections from the Troops category of the Force Organisation hart). No Monstrous Creatures, Bikes, Jump Infantry, etc. This rule is always used in conjunction with Concealment, and by looking at them together, you can see a real method to the madness. Your basic guys are the only ones who can deploy, and they have a damn good shot at surviving until the cavalry turn up.
Nothing can do a number on an army list like Escalation. At the start of the game, you may not deploy such things as:
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. What they seem to take with one hand, they give with the other: Escalation and Concealment are also always accompanied by a revised Random Game Length rule: a maximum of three extra turns (so, a maximum of nine) always decided by a 4+.
So, if you play foot-slogging Orks (like me) with very little mobile support, then you are probably going to do okay. Personally (with just a little bias), I like the direction this takes Omega missions in – most armies have the potential to swing more basic guys into the mix.
Scoring Units and Victory Points
The table demonstrates very clearly how the whole deal works, with the most noticeable change being non-vehicle units (anything with wounds that’s not an Independent Character). To be a scoring unit, they must be “at least 50% strength” whereas previously (3rd Edition) it had to be over 50% (i.e. more than half strength – 5 models from a 10 model unit is technically not more than half strength). Yes, I know it doesn’t seem like a big change, but I swear, the number of times I’ve been one model short…
After all, worthwhile and fun is
what the game is all about.
© copyright David Stent, February 2005. Used with permission.
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