This is Part Two of the Rules Analysis series.
Key Changes in 7th Edition
1) Dangerous Terrain Immobilized results inflict hull point loss - This rule change is more in keeping with common sense in regards to the general vehicle damage rules, though I have a funny feeling this was also in an earlier FAQ somewhere.
2) Vehicles can make Snap Shots with Ordnance - This is a bit of a confusing rule addition given that Ordnance weapons are explicitly denied from being used as Snap Shots everywhere else in the rulebook. This is compounded by the rule saying "cannot fire any Ordnance weapon that cannot be fired as Snap Shots" in the same sentence, despite the fact all Ordnance weapons cannot be used for Snap Shots in the actual Snap Shot rule. I'm assuming the intent is that vehicles can make Snap Shots with Ordnance weapons that don't use templates or blast markers, but this is nonetheless a currently broken rule purely rules as written.
3) Even more generous Vehicle Damage Chart - With 6th Edition and now 7th Edition, the vehicle damage chart has grown ever more lenient to compensate for the introduction of hull points. 6th Edition saw many vehicles fall out of favour despite the "safer" vehicle damage chart because hull points could destroy them without ever needing to actually force an Explodes! result. Now with 7th Edition we see some healing spray applied to dress but not actually close the wound, with each individual damage result moved to a higher dice roll by one - Crew Shaken now takes up half of the results on an unmodified D6 roll on the vehicle damage chart! This means that an AP2 weapon - or the Open Topped special rule - is required to get an Explodes result on a vehicle now, while AP1 weapons now only have a 33% chance (rounding down) to outright destroy a typical vehicle rather than a 50% chance. I still think many vehicles will be brought down by hull point removal, but tougher vehicles such as Soul Grinders and Land Raiders saw immense improvements from this change while transports and their occupants are delighted at the reduced chance of explosions.
4) Chariots cannot be immobilized - While these particular types of vehicle are pretty rare, they nonetheless got some much needed improvements and this is certainly one of the bigger ones. Both the Necron Catacomb Command Barge and Chaos Daemon Burning Chariot of Tzeentch simply cannot afford to be Immobilized due to their close ranged damage capabilities, so this is an impressive buff indeed. They now treat immobilized results as a crew stunned result instead which is definitely preferable to the alternative - remember that the Catacomb Command Barge can ignore this on a 4+ with its Living Metal special rule!
5) Flyers trade Locked Velocity for potential destruction - The Locked Velocity rules in 6th Edition for an "immobilized" flyer weren't all that limiting which kind of went hand-in-hand with many players' complaints about insufficient rules representation of flyers. Now, Locked Velocity has been scrapped in favour of a 33% chance (rounding down) to subsequently destroy the flyer outright. When you roll an immobilized result against a flyer, they ignore the usual effects and instead must roll a D6 - on the roll of a 1 or 2 they immediately Crash and Burn! I like this change a lot as engine failure in real world aircraft is a common source of crashes (not to satirize this, by the way!) and thus makes the flyer rules a bit more realistic.
6) Explodes! results now cause Strength 4 hits on all models in range - Where 6th Edition moved to penalize open-topped transports further by causing them to inflict Strength 4 hits on the passengers, 7th Edition further makes the potential damage "equal" for everyone by having hits on both passengers and other units hit at Strength 4. This won't affect units with krak grenades and haywire grenades that destroy vehicles in assaults, but units with melta weapons or other close-ranged anti-tank shooting will have to be a bit more careful now.
7) Weapons that inflict specific damage results don't also inflict hull point loss - This is a rule addition that sadly doesn't fix everyone's issue with Graviton weapons against vehicles. The amount of weapons that cause a specific damage result are rare indeed, and what few there are usually revolve around the weapon destroyed and immobilized results. The former leads into the other when it cannot be applied and the latter causes hull point loss after it has already been resolved. In other words, don't be frightened of the new rules Space Marine players, your Devastator Centurions with Grav Cannons aren't getting a nerf!
8) Cover save differentiation clarifications - I recall a particular rules query and issue I had to deal with frequently was the confusing wording of the cover rules in regards to obscuration and the source providing the cover. Basically, a ruin that obscured a vehicle would provide a 4+ cover save and most other things a 5+ for example, but the wording of the rules was relatively poor and often led to rules arguments in my experience. Now, we have crystal clear wording with little wiggling room for interpretation; vehicles take cover saves just as for wounds when working out what it is obscured by. Stream-lining and cleaning up your rules is often as important as additions and actual changes, so I appreciate this as someone that had to educate both new and veteran players on the issue frequently!
9) Most vehicles are now always Weapon Skill 1 - When you pair up the heavy changes to Smash with all non-walker and non-chariot vehicles now being Weapon Skill 1 even when remaining stationary, it is fair to say Games Workshop was listening when players complained of inefficient tanks. For vehicles such as Predators or Doomsday Arks that prefer to remain stationary to bring their full arsenal to bear at full effectiveness, this is a change that is sure to give those units less of a "push" to keep moving. The only exceptions to this new rule are walkers, chariots and immobilized vehicles; the first two use separate Weapon Skill values while the latter is still treated as Weapon Skill 0. A nice buff for vehicles that isn't necessarily major but still handy to keep in mind.
10) Beams can be fired from Fire Points - One of the odd rules from 6th Edition was that a template weapon could be fired from a transports' fire point and ignore the transport for the purposes of working out models hit, but beams would still hit the psykers' vehicle in similar circumstances. 7th Edition has thankfully fixed this little issue that combines with the removal of Strength reduction on beams to make them far more worthwhile as psychic powers. For laughs, see what happens when Ahriman manages to manifest three Molten Beams or Doombolts in one Psychic Phase (hint, it's hilarious)!
11) Embarked and Disembarked rule additions - Previously, embarking a unit upon a transport or disembarking prevented that vehicle from subsequently pivoting or moving flat out; now, running and charging have been added to the list of restrictions. I assume this is to cover certain Super Heavy Walkers and Gargantuan Creatures such as the Tyranid Hierophant that are capable of both transporting units and running or charging.
12) Dedicated Transports count as the embarked units' slot - Yes, Dedicated Transports still don't take up a spot on the Force Organization chart, but now they are treated as having the same "role" on the chart - whether it be HQ, Troops, Fast Attack and so on - as the unit they were bought for. This generally won't matter outside of one very specific - and common - instance, and that is when these are bought for Troops choices. Yep, Dedicated Transports gain the Objective Secured rule if they are purchased for a Troops choice such as a Tactical Squad or Necron Warrior unit. Need I mention how massive a buff this is for incredibly mobile and durable transports such as the Wave Serpent, or how important this is for Chimeras and Rhinos used in predominantly mechanized lists? It's quite a shock for opponents when your fast skimmer transport has a total move of 36" across a turn and can practically boot a scoring unit - provided it also doesn't have Objective Secured - off of any objective you want! Those super cheap Rhinos just got the buff they needed for the doubters (I wasn't one of them) to embrace just how good they still (or now) are.
13) Fairer vehicle damage effects on transport passengers - 6th Edition wasn't exactly kind on units inside transports as a crew shaken result would force them to fire snap shots on their next turn while crew stunned would prevent them from shooting at all. Now, both vehicle damage results impose a Leadership test on the embarked unit that if failed forces them to fire snap shots in their next shooting phase; considering most units nowadays are Leadership 8 at worst, this is a pretty significant improvement to have and one of many that makes transports so much more appealing now.
14) Explodes! and Crash and Burn! wounds are randomly allocated - One of the benefits of 6th Edition transport tweaks was any wounds caused on the passengers from the transport exploding were allocated by the owning player as per a shooting attack. Explodes! wounds are now randomly allocated and thus see a chance of the owning players' valuable models biting the bullet, but ultimately it just makes the process more time consuming and as such I don't really see the need for this change. This is also true of any wounds inflicted by Crash and Burn! which makes flying transports even scarier for your characters!
15) Crash and Burn damage on passengers is AP2 - This change is there mostly to compensate for the changed vehicle damage chart so that any embarked vehicles (such as Dreadnoughts in Storm Ravens) still have a chance of suffering a subsequent Explodes! result. Otherwise, this is virtually identical to just flat out ignoring armour saves on non-vehicle models as there are no 1+ armoured units in the game.
16) Reworked Ramming - The rules for Ramming have long favoured scenarios where the vehicle performing the ram maneuvre is both well armoured and gets a lot of room and space to line up. This is because the highest potential bonuses to a ram's Strength value either came from the ram's speed which was worked out by adding +1 Strength point for every 3" traveled or for every pip above 10 its armour facing performing the ram was. Now, the speed element has been replaced with the Excessive Mass trait which provides +2 to the Strength value if the vehicle has the Heavy or Super-Heavy type, while the armour facing bonuses have been reworked. Now, the armour value of the facing that carries out the ram is halved rounding up to work out the base Strength. This means that a Rhino would hit at Strength 6 while a Land Raider would hit at Strength 7. Not much difference in Strength despite the significant armour value disparity, eh? Basically, even basic Rhinos are a big threat when Ramming as even if they only perform a ram up to 6" away they will inflict a Strength 7 hit on the opposing vehicle. Leman Russ tanks are rather hilarious in this scenario though with Strength 7 from the armour value, +1 for being a tank and another +2 for being a Heavy vehicle for a total of Strength 10!
17) Dozer Blades improve the Strength of a ram by one - Dozer Blades generally speaking are one of the better value upgrades for a vehicle in any codex they are available in. Re-rolling failed dangerous tests and assuming those tests are only failed on the roll of a 1 means that failing a test with one of these is incredibly unlikely. For transports of all kinds but especially assault transports and short ranged gun platforms, Dozer Blades are invaluable enough as it is. Now, they add a +1 Strength modifier to Ramming attacks which means even a basic Rhino will usually hit at Strength 8 and they remain the same cost as before (so far). Shut up and take my points already!
1) Cleaned up Chariot rules - Let's take a quick look at the important notes; a rider can't disembark from a Chariot, characteristics tests are always resolved against the rider, characteristics modifiers affect both Chariot and rider, Chariots use their own Ballistic Skill for any ranged weapons they have, riders use their own Ballistic Skill for any ranged weapons they have, both Chariot and rider must shoot the same target, both Chariot and rider use the riders' Weapon Skill in an assault and grenades (like krak grenades or melta bombs) can only be used against the Chariot itself. Thank you rules designers, a million times, thank you!
2) Chariots and riders go down together - Yes, this is a pretty big change from the previous rules and one that looks like a big down-grade at first; no more Necron Overlord leaping out of a destroyed chariot to cause further havoc! Now as soon as the chariot or the rider dies, both are destroyed automatically; this means Chariot users now need to pick their fights a bit more carefully rather than just rely on the impact hits. Of course, you might think the Necron Catacomb Command Barge is hit hardest here until you see that if either constituent part of the model has a special rule such as Ever Living that "resurrects" them, both Chariot and Rider return to play - the former with just one hull point. I wouldn't be surprised to see some Necron players entertain putting Resurrection Orbs on their "Barge Lords" now, while the Command Barge coming back with just one hull point still favours Phylactery as Overlords can expend a wound to repair hull point damage. Yay for skeletal chariots!
3) Chariot riders are Relentless - I think it is fair to say that prior to 7th Edition being released all Chaos Daemon players and potential allies had lost any hope of the Burning Chariot of Tzeentch ever getting a much needed fix to make it usable. Well, praise the Chaos Gods as the Exalted Flamer atop that Screamer-pulled flaming oval can now manifest both its Blue Fire and Pink Fire to devastating effect even when moving up to 12" a turn in the movement phase. Hooray for the Burning Chariot of Tzeentch actually being a fully developed and functional unit now! Hooray for Necron Overlords that have shooting attacks - if they even exist?
4) Shooting attacks are allocated to both Chariot and rider - In the old rules, only the Chariot itself could be the target for any kind of shooting attack; the rider was effectively ignored outside of the assault phase for inflicting damage. Now, the player controlling the Chariot has to allocate all hit pools between the Chariot and the rider - if your opponent shoots eight boltguns, a missile launcher and a plasma gun at you, you can put the boltgun shots on the chariot (usually they will bounce off) and the others on the rider if you so please. Usually there is no reason to put hits on the rider but some circumstances may make it preferable, such as putting a Strength 9 AP2 lascannon shot on the rider instead if they are at least Toughness 5 so as to avoid a potential Explodes! result. (Editors' Note: I mistakenly referred to this as random allocation and treated it as such. The actual rule is much better for Chariot riders as it means you won't have to worry about them soaking up boltgun shots).
5) Chariots no longer boost the riders' armour save - This doesn't make a difference to some notable Chariot riders like the Daemonic Heralds but it is nonetheless something to keep in mind now that Grey Knights can once again reduce the invulnerable saves of Daemons. Essentially, with hits now potentially able to be allocated to a chariot rider, the Sempiternal Weave is a far better value purchase for a Necron Overlord in the new rules.
6) Chariots treat Immobilized results as Crew Stunned - One of the more irritating rules for using a Chariot was that - unlike Walkers in most cases - they were still prone to taking dangerous terrain tests and ran the risk of failing and being rendered effectively useless. This was more so than for most other vehicles because of the naturally short-ranged nature of Chariots and their riders, so I see this as a mandatory addition. The awesome aspect of this for Catacomb Command Barges in particular is that they ignore Crew Stunned results on a 4+ due to the Living Metal special rule, so this is assuredly a big buff for them!
7) Chariots can be locked in combat - Yes, you read that one right; Chariots are effectively a hybrid of walker and transport now. What this means for a melee oriented chariot such as a Blood Throne or Skull Cannon of Khorne or even the Catacomb Command Barge is tantalizing to say the least. Charging a unit but then having to sit there and get shot to death at close proximity by other enemy units and any survivors from the combat made melee chariots really sub-par, but this change effectively flips that concept on its head. With a Resurrection Orb and Ever Living, a Necron Overlord with a Barge and some defensive wargear could be a nasty tarpit unit of sorts now that Smash has been massively weakened.
8) Chariots can make Sweeping Advances, Pile In moves and Consolidations - Yes, you read that right. If it wasn't enough that Chariots can actually be locked in combat now, they can also potentially run enemy units down. This probably won't matter much for an Initiative 2 Necron Overlord but for an Initiative 7 Herald of Khorne, this is more than a bit ridiculous. Plus, being able to consolidate out of combat with these is just....well, awesome! It's nice to see Chariots drawing some inspiration from Walkers, especially with the general improvements all vehicles saw in 7th Edition.
9) Attackers must strike the Chariots' front armour or the rider - One of the huge missteps with Chariots in 6th Edition was that despite being geared around assaults primarily, they were still incredibly susceptible to damage in a melee because models could attack their rear armour like any other vehicle. Another much needed change sees that models must now strike a Chariot's front armour which for the Catacomb Command Barge in particular means that provided its Quantum Shielding hasn't been compromised sees it completely immune to krak grenades. This will of course draw focus on the usually less survivable rider, but some like the (I should just write an article about them solely) Necron Overlord are so tough that this is just a huge buff. One note to make here is that a Chariots' Hammer of Wrath hits can only be resolved against other Chariots and not their riders...interesting! Also of note is that an entire unit must allocate all of its attacks to either the Chariot or the rider; they can't split them up. If a Space Marine squad fights an AV13 Chariot and has one melta bomb among a sea of krak grenades, they will have to really weigh up which target they want to engage!
10) Chariot riders can issue and accept challenges - This rule really isn't as good as it sounds unfortunately and that is for one reason; the Chariot and rider are treated as a single model. If this were 6th Edition; no worries! Sadly, a solo model that gets stuck in a challenge can still be attacked by all other models in the combat now which means this extra rule for chariots generally won't matter in terms of their typical application. With the other changes, I think we will definitely see some very different strategies with Chariot and their riders and so we might start seeing Chariots used as supporting assault units rather than flankers where this challenge rule will actually come into play. Time will tell but nonetheless this is pretty darn cool.
11) Chariots can re-roll one charge distance die - And I thought the changes and general buffs to Chariots were good enough as they were, Games Workshop just had to go and give them yet another minor little boost that just helps them out that much more. Chariots might not have Fleet but this is the next best thing and while it isn't a great ability it is still a decent one for an assault oriented Chariot and really starts to add up with all the other tweaks. Making sure a Blood Throne makes the charge to resolve those hull point-restoring Hammer of Wrath hits is delightful indeed.
12) Chariot riders can fire Overwatch with their own weapons - If you needed any more excuses to pull out those dusty Burning Chariots of Tzeentch that have sat forlornly in the shadows awaiting a chance to prove themselves, this one just puts the nail through. Overwatch with a Strength 5 AP3 template weapon that automatically inflicts D3 hits on a charging unit through the Wall of Death rule? Oh to the Chaos Gods, yes!
13) Chariot and rider are treated as a single model - This one has been the subject of controversy and I wanted to mention it if only to determine how potentially ridiculous it could be. The rulebook states that a Chariot and its rider are treated as a single model for all other rules purposes. Using the Necron Overlord on a Catacomb Command Barge as an example, the Phase Shifter provides the "model" with a 3+ invulnerable save. As George Takei famously proclaimed; "Oh My"! Barring an FAQ, Overlords on Chariots with a 3+ invulnerable save just got notched up to all seven kinds of crazy.
1) Walkers no longer pivot when shooting - This change is a bit confusing at first due to the dissimilar wording of the shooting rules for walkers that mostly lead to the same result. Walkers can still shoot their guns outside of each ones' "weapon arc" but they now no longer need to pivot in the shooting phase to face their target and the same is true of their Overwatch. This is so darned useful for so many reasons on things like Dreadnoughts packing a pair of twin-linked autocannons that I am surprised few others have picked it up. Say for example that a small unit of Mutilators Deep Strikes behind the above Dreadnought variant. The Dreadnought wants to shoot the Mutilators to stop them from charging it in the subsequent assault phase, but it doesn't want to expose its' rear armour to the enemy front-line in case it actually does wipe out the Mutilators in concert with other shooting. In the old rules, the Dreadnought would have to turn to face the Mutilators and throw caution to the wind; now, it can safely shoot at the Mutilators without worrying about an enemy firing at its exposed rear armour. This is a great improvement to Walkers that while not the change they needed is still helpful in trying to bring most of them back into the competitive scene.
2) Walkers gained the Hammer of Wrath special rule - More changes in the name of common sense! Huzzah! When Hammer of Wrath was introduced, it seemed tailor made for several unit types such as monstrous creatures and bikes, but one unit type in particular strangely missed out; the sadly neutered (by 6th Edition) Walkers. The general vehicle changes are giving Walkers a bigger place in 7th Edition and while giving them Hammer of Wrath won't make all that much difference, it is another rule addition that makes perfect sense. Just remember that even with a Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon, a Walker will inflict Hammer of Wrath at its base Strength - this means Strength 5 for a Sentinel and Strength 6 for a Dreadnought, for example.
1) Wounds spill over outside of the challenge - One of the big issues with certain characters - notably Chaos Space Marines wielding Daemon Weapons - in 6th Edition was that they generated heaps of attacks or bonus rules based on launching an assault, and their attacking threat could be limited to just one casualty by challenging them out. In a change that is sure to make Chaos Space Marine players in particular jump for joy, if a challenger is slain before all unsaved wounds are allocated to them then any others spill over to the unit. This effectively rids Daemon Weapons of their only major draw-back while monstrous creature characters such as Bloodthirsters just became so much more terrifying. A character like Kharn can now legitimately cleave through an entire unit even if it possesses a Sergeant; good luck stopping that flurry of axe blows and crazed roars!
2) Wounds spill over into a challenge - Evidently a good change has to be met with a bad one when it comes to assault in recent editions. I don't see this mattering too much for something like an Avatar of Khaine that would either be forced to fight a Sergeant model and now gets to cause wounds on the unit, making it like the Avatar was facing off against the whole unit in the first place. However, for characters with bodyguard units this could be very scary if the challenger is tied up by an extremely survivable model. I have a funny feeling that this will scare the pants off of anyone that tries to go toe to toe with Grey Knights in a melee.
1) Removal of Area Terrain - I'm going to be completely honest and say I fully support this rule. It was always odd to me that a model could get a cover save just by standing in an unusual game board feature even if it was in no way obscured to the firing unit. This led to incredible abuse of the rules in regards to monstrous creatures in 6th Edition with even the toe of a Wraithknight legally giving it a cover save of some kind. While craters do still provide a minimal cover save of 6+ for standing inside of them and forests a 5+, area terrain is otherwise dead as a game mechanic and I couldn't be more thankful for it. This will place greater emphasis on positioning with infantry-type models in regards to using friendly transports and larger models for cover, while monstrous creatures will now have to make do without cover more than usual by obeying the same basic rules as similarly sized vehicles. As much as it hurts my Wraithknights, I always felt guilty claiming a cover save with one tiny part of its base when it was otherwise standing out in the open. Smaller monstrous creatures such as Carnifexes and Daemon Princes will still find gaining cover through obscuration easy, but the larger ones like Trygons can't just blindly rush forward as long as they touch some part of a terrain feature. As pointed out to me, the terrain data-sheets in the rulebook specify that models in forests, ruins and craters still receive a cover save of sorts, but other forms of terrain no longer provide cover saves for being within them.
2) Gun Emplacements are fired instead of a users' "weapons" - I remember a discussion in 6th Edition about Gun Emplacements and Vector Strikes specifying "instead of a users' weapon" and some arguing that the intended rules did not adequately cover monstrous creatures and the Heldrake, each with one weapon of their own. While most leaned towards both being able to fire their weapon and the Gun Emplacement, this incredibly minor detail - a single added letter - clears up any issues with that and means something like an Exocrine can't fire both its Bio-Plasmic Cannon and a Quad Gun (as a side note, Vector Strikes were not changed in this regard and thus a Heldrake can still perform a Vector Strike and use its ranged weapon in the subsequent shooting phase).
3) Craters provide a 6+ cover save now - I am assuming this gives something as tall as a Wraithknight cover saves because of smoke or assumed wreckage as your standard Games Workshop produced crater does not cover even the tiniest bit of one leg, but I digress. The other change craters directly received is that models that Go to Ground in them get +2 to their cover save similar to Defence Lines or Barricades.
4) Jump Infantry and Jet Pack Infantry embarking in buildings - This one kind of comes out of nowhere and is a nice change just for having more options for garrisoning a building. Generally speaking, embarking upon a building does waste the mobility - integral to the entire point of these units - of Jump Infantry and Jet Pack Infantry, but the tactical possibilities are there. I can see Crisis Teams with missile pods garrisoning a building being particularly irritating for opponents seeing as causing glancing hits on a building no longer causes automatic wounds on the occupants. On that note...
5) Building occupants no longer take damage from glancing hits - I recall speaking about the uses of a Zoanthrope in a Bastion and how one had to be wary of glancing hits suffered by the Bastion inflicting automatic wounds on the fragile two wound beast. It seems those fears are a thing of the past as now only penetrating hits or actually destroying the building are capable of inflicting wounds onto the occupants. This is a huge, huge improvement for buildings of all kinds - particularly the Armour 14 ones - seeing as units such as Devastators or Obliterators gain such a huge boost from being able to fire without much fear of rebuttal. Static gun-lines are going to love buildings even more with this change and I think you will start seeing Bastions more commonly than before despite already being very popular!
6) Models can charge after disembarking from a building - This is a change that probably won't come into play that often as the vast majority of units you would garrison in a building are suited to long range combat anyway. Why charge when you can just keep shooting, as they say? Still, for a unit that is good in both the shooting and assault phases such as Obliterators aiming for a nearby enemy vehicle, this is a useful rule to keep in mind.
1) The addition of "Unbound" armies - Well, wasn't this a massive surprise when we all first caught wind of it? Games Workshop giving us a sandbox rule-set for us to do whatever we wanted with it? Impossible! Shock value aside, I think "Unbound" armies are a really great addition to the game for the most part. For someone that wants to run an entire army of Sternguard Veterans with Pedro, a full fighting force of Honour Guard with Marneus Calgar, a cohort of Wraithknights as a vanguard detachment or something like Abaddon's personal Chaos Terminator force, this is possibly the best new rule we've seen. For themed army lists or background (fluff) based gaming, Unbound army selection gives players the tools they have craved for so long to build those armies and yet remain both fully legal and playable. You don't have to play an Apocalypse game anymore to properly represent your battalion of Carnifexes led by Old One Eye itself, or to see Angron's Retinue of Eight Bloodthirsters. Of course, with the ability to completely ignore the Force Organization Chart does come some obvious balance issues. What is to stop a silly abusive list such as sixteen Annihilation Barges or ten Soul Grinders of Nurgle popping up in a 1500 point game? This is where I think the competitive environment will likely put a flan ban on Unbound armies as the game-breaking combos that could be wrought from it are simply far too many to contend with. For players that want to just play a fully themed force without worrying about mandatory Troops or even the Allies matrix, this is definitely an awesome change and one I hope sees some more expansion in the next edition.
2) Benefits to remaining within the Force Organization Chart - For those that do want to obey the age-old Force Organization Chart through "Battle Forged" army lists, there are some seemingly minor but ultimately significant benefits to be had. The Warlord of a Battle Forged army can re-roll their Warlord Trait which is pretty much a godsend given how often players would roll up virtually useless traits in a match, but it generally won't be that big of an advantage to have. Where Battle Forged really becomes alluring is with the "Objective Secured" special rule that applies to all Troops units and their dedicated transports, also known as "super scoring". Any unit with this rule prevents any enemy unit that lacks Objective Secured from contesting or capturing an objective they are within scoring range of (usually 3"). I think the sheer usefulness of this rule cannot be under-stated and has rightfully caused much debate over the values of Unbound versus Battle Forged. Units of three Eldar Guardian Jetbikes were already so darn good as a cheap and extremely mobile scoring or denial unit, but combine this special rule with their potential 36" movement distance in a player turn and you have yourself some ridiculous shenanigans with scoring objectives. The buff this provides to transports like your basic and very cheap Rhino or more expensive Chimera are simply insane, while the value of tough scoring units to keep objectives secure (get it) has shot up as well - Space Marines in Drop Pods or Rhinos, assemble!
3) Unlimited Detachments for Battle Forged armies - If Objective Secured was reason enough to use Battle Forged armies, I think this particular rule might come close to eliminating the need for Unbound outside of "mono-unit" army lists if you want to be competitive. 6th Edition put a cap on detachments by preventing any codex from "allying with itself" outside of codex supplements, while both primary and allied detachments were limited to one each and double that number at games of 2000 points or more. As is the theme of 7th Edition, Games Workshop picked up those restrictions and threw them in the nearest garbage bin. As an example of how this could be used, take Astra Militarum for example. One Company Command Squad, two Veteran squads in Chimeras; mandatory units are done and dusted. Take three separate Leman Russ tanks of your choice without using squadron rules. This will probably eat up about 500-600 points of your army list. Now, take another detachment with the exact same units but a variation on which Leman Russes you use. While this particular use isn't really abusing the rule but more just taking the opportunity to split Leman Russes up into single model units, there are others that can really become ridiculous quite fast. Even with the changes to Heldrakes, what's to stop a Chaos Space Marine player from legally taking a Chaos Lord, two minimal squads of Cultists and three Heldrakes as one detachment and then repeating that up to the points limit for a match? Or how about a Necron Overlord, two units of five Necron Warriors and three Annihilation Barges as one detachment taken in multitudes? Thankfully, this is limited by the mandatory two Troops choices and one HQ choice (barring Allied detachments) for each Combined Arms detachment so you won't really see this too much outside of larger games.
4) The Warlord can be any character model - This is one of the really interesting changes that I am surprised not a lot of players have picked up on. Gone is the highest Leadership value determining the Warlord choice, and nor does the Warlord have to be a HQ choice. While it would generally make sense for a HQ choice to be a Warlord and HQ's are still mandatory in Battle Forged armies, now any Sergeant type character or even a monstrous creature with the unit type "Character" can be your Warlord. Again, you probably wouldn't want to make a Sergeant your Warlord but some of the possibilities here are hilarious. The best one I've seen so far is the Grey Knight Justicar Anvil Thawn - he can't die, has Objective Secured in a Battle Forged army and brings you two warp charge points! Some other interesting characters are the Red Terror or even a Wraithlord and these can be really awesome choices in a themed Ravener or Wraith based army list.
5) Addition of Tactical Warlord Traits table - To really push the Maelstrom of War missions comes a Warlord Traits table tailored specifically for those types of games, revolving around the Tactical Objective cards. Essentially they are there to maximise your victory point generation in a Maelstrom of War mission and they do seem pretty decent, certainly they are more useful overall than a lot of the traits you could otherwise roll up. Obviously though they are completely worthless in a regular Eternal War mission, but being able to choose which table you roll on before each battle means that it isn't an option you lock yourself into. They are a nice set of traits that provide another incentive to try the cool new missions and I can't really complain about any of them.
6) Slight changes to existing Warlord Traits tables - The existing Warlord Traits tables have been tweaked to fit into 7th Edition by removing outdated rules - Immovable Object no longer provides scoring when all units are scoring - or providing necessary improvements so that most traits are at least decent - like allowing three non-vehicle units to Infiltrate with Master of Ambush. Generally speaking the rules for these have been shortened so that they can be quickly applied in a game, much like overhauling the Princeps of Deceit trait to merely cause three Pinning tests on the enemy army. I like the changes generally as they seem aimed at making each trait worthwhile in most games by removing "within range of an objective" for kill point games and so on.
7) Allies Matrix re-worked - Battle Brothers; I'm not sorry you are (mostly) gone. Some of the most game-breaking army lists in 6th Edition revolved around the various Battle Brother alliances between powerhouse factions such as Eldar, Tau and Space Marines. It didn't help that the Allies Matrix really didn't make much sense with things like Space Marines being Battle Brothers with the Xenos Tau or (while they lasted) Black Templars being able to ally with any alien race. Now, all the various Imperial factions have been grouped up into a singular Imperium for the Allies Matrix which means all of them are Battle Brothers with each other. This also sadly means there is no good way to represent Traitor Guard anymore - something 6th Edition nailed - while Daemons suffer greatly when allying with non Chaos forces outside of Dark Eldar and Orks. Tau are no longer Battle Brothers with anyone while the only remaining Battle Brothers otherwise are the Chaos factions, the Imperial factions and the divided Eldar race. This will serve to limit but not completely neuter certain combinations, but thankfully this will help game balance out significantly by getting rid of ridiculous allied Tau Commander buffing shenanigans or Eldar psychic gunline-boosting.
8) Changes to certain Levels of Alliance - Some of the additional benefits for being Battle Brothers or another Level of Alliance are surprisingly good, but to counter this armies are far less likely to have a high Level of Alliance with the others. For Battle Brothers specifically, as an example, the only major change is that allies can now embark on each others' transports - and oh boy is this one just awesome! Howling Banshees in Venoms or Raiders, Sisters Repentia in Land Raiders, Deathwing Knights in Storm Ravens - all of these are possible and the combinations here are tantalizing. I wouldn't be adverse to carrying a unit of Bloodletters in a Chaos Land Raider or seeing Grey Knight Purgation Squads with Immolators in a Drop Pod! There are also some specific clarifications of the kind of "abilities" that the armies could share like Warlord Traits, Repair rolls or modifiers to Reserve rolls. These have also been added to the other Levels of Alliance to ensure players know which abilities can be doled out between allied forces; some extra reenforcing of a rule never hurts.
9) Come the Apocalypse armies can ally with each other - I feel that this deserves its own dot point as it really is a huge boon for forces such as Tyranids, even despite all the limitations that come with this Level of Alliance. These are now treated as Desperate Allies (and Allies of Convenience by extension) but the allied units cannot be deployed within 12" of the main army and vice-versa, severely limiting deployment options for such forces. This shouldn't be too bad if you are allying two elite armies together or a melee horde with a ranged army, but otherwise trying to ally the two even on a standard 6x4 gaming table could prove difficult with what amounts to a 12" no-fly zone. I like that even though the rules actively discourage you from trying out this kind of alliance, the fact that they are now possible is probably an acknowledgement of Tyranid players more than anything else. From personal experience, a gunline Tau list mixed with lots of cheap Fearless Tyranid units can be absolutely brutal - though admittedly that was back when Tervigons were still so darned cheap. This does mean an army like Traitor Guard or Ork mercenaries for an Imperial regiment are still possible, but they are far less alluring options than previously. Still, I'll take the good with the bad and I'm very happy that Tyranids can actually ally with something now.
Cheers for having a read of the latest article in the 7th Edition Rules Analysis series! I hope you found the content presented either entertaining or useful (or both) and I am eager to hear your feedback. Thank you and have a nice day!