I had a chance to play my first game of 8th Edition Warhammer 40K.
Overall, it’s been a blast!
However, I must note that the new way of doing re-rolls can be decidedly weird in the new edition. It matters, because re-rolls are very common in the game. Having characters with aura-effects for re-rolls near units seems to be a major design feature of the new 40K.
There might be a few other odd quirks in the rules, but this one really sticks out. Let’s look at the 8th Edition FAQ on re-rolls and what makes them counter-intuitive.
1. Re-rolls are always applied before modifiers.
Q: If a rule or ability grants a re-roll on, for example, ‘hit rolls of 1’ (such as a Space Marine Captain’s ‘Rites of Battle’ ability) does that effect trigger before or after applying modifiers to the hit rolls?
A: Re-rolls always happen before modifiers, so the re-roll ability is triggered before applying modifiers.
2. Effects triggered by dice results (for example overcharged plasma weapons“ „roll-of‘-1-kills-the-model“) are checked after modifiers.
Q: When making a hit roll with a supercharged plasma weapon, do you determine whether a ‘1’ was rolled before or after applying re-rolls and modifiers?
A: You apply all re-rolls and modifiers first.
3. Dice results can be modified above 6, but never below 1.
Q: Can a dice roll ever be modified to less than 1?
A: No. If, after all modifiers have been applied, a dice roll would be less than 1, count that result as a 1.
Each of the three points above can create some fairly odd situations on the table.
Let’s look at some examples.
Imagine Ultramarines with heavy weapons (i.e. Devastators) near their returned Primarch Roboute Guilliman.
Space Marines hit on 3+, though heavy weapons get a -1 penalty after moving and certain hard-to-hit-targets such as Tau Stealth Suits or Tyranid Liktors also confer a -1 penalty. Guilliman allows nearby Ultramarines to re-roll their failed to-hit-rolls.
An Ultramarine shooting a heavy bolter at a Liktor after moving would only hit on a dice roll of a 5 or more (as we know there will be a -2 modifier incoming). However, as all the 3s and 4s are still „hits“ before the -2 modifier is applied, they cannot be re-rolled as a result of Guilliman’s aura-buff, as they are, before modifiers, not failed yet!
A Primaris Hellblaster Squad (lots of plasma) deciding to overcharge against, again, something like a Liktor (Stealth Suit, etc..), is much more likely to lose some squad-mates to overheating.
Overcharged plasma kills models on a roll of 1 (after modifiers!), and everything downgraded below 1 still counts as a 1. Ergo, rolls of both 1 and 2 will, after modifiers, count as a 1 after the Liktor-modifier is applied.
Worse, as noted above, said Hellblaster Squad would not be allowed to re-roll dice results of 2, even if they have a Captain nearby (allowing them to re-roll 1s), because those are, before modifiers, not yet 1s.
Don’t overcharge plasma weapons in a night fight! It’s much safer during daylight!
Is that unmanageable?
No. Once you know that this is how you’re supposed to handle your dice, it is something most players will likely be able to work with.
Maybe it will, in time, become second nature to regular players of Warhammer 40K.
But I do find this counter-intuitive and badly explained in the 40K rulebook. I can already see the future disputes with people not fully immersed in rules-minutae:
Player 1: Cool, I got Roboute nearby. I am going to re-roll those failed hits.
Player 2: You cannot re-roll those 3s and 4s. They are not failed hits before modifiers are applied.
Player 1: But they miss?
Player 2: Yes. They will miss, once we apply modifiers, but they are still hits at the moment of the re-roll. You an however re-roll those 1s and 2s.
Player 1: ???
Maybe I am overtly critical and nit-picky, but I feel this could’ve been implemented more elegantly.
Given how common re-rolls are likely to be in 8th Edition (if Primaris Captains, Lieutenants, etc.. are anything to go by), it feels strange that rules designers would ask players to go against the intuition of how most people will interpret „a hit“ or „a miss“ or „a 1“ on any given roll of dice on the table.
I know I certainly played it all wrong in my first game (before the FAQ was released).
Let me know what you think.