It’s been an eventful week for Warhammer 40,000! Between the massive slate of new FAQs for each book and the release of the 2021 GT Missions Pack and Munitorum Field Manual we’re looking at massive shifts in the 40k meta and ecosystem. It’s such a big change that we’d refer to this period as “9.1th Edition.”
We’ve already talked a bit about what these changes mean but it was worth digging deeper on the competitive side, so we sat down with some top competitive players to talk about the new rules, how they feel about them, and what impact they’ll have on the competitive environment.
In case you missed our review of the changes and FAQs, you can find them here (LINK)
The Round Table:
- James “One Wing” Grover
- Liam “Corrode” Royle
- Chase “Gunum” Garber
- James “Boon” Kelling
- Shane Watts
- Innes Wilson
- Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones
Q. Let’s start with the big picture. Welcome to 9.1 Edition! How do you feel about these changes and the game we’ll be playing moving forward?
Wings: Generally positive – and from my position stuck on Covid hell island, glad that once I can finally get back onto tournament tables in earnest, I’ll be playing an even better version of the game. I think the FAQs pushed this week are excellent – they’re very comprehensive, and have hit almost all of the stupid edge cases that could create situations that weren’t fun on the table, top marks. I think the mission changes could have done with being a lot bolder but I do really like the focus on giving more Secondaries a way of picking up a middle-of-the-road score in matchups where you’re short of good choices, and I think that helps a lot with erasing some of the very worst feel bad moments for factions that don’t have a book yet. I also love the Super Heavy Auxiliary change to bits – it feels like a really bold, sensible choice in an otherwise cautious book. Finally, point changes – I mean I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have far, far more changes I wanted to see, and I think Marines ended up a little bit hard done by, but given the demonstrated willingness to take Drukhari down a peg and the scale of FAQ changes landing in parallel, I’m more willing to give things a chance.
Gunum: I personally love it. With everything finally settling down with COVID around here, this is a great time for me to dive back into the hobby. As I’m sure has been parroted across the internet, I also would have liked to see more changes to the primary missions. The removal of the Scouring and an adjustment of any sort on priority objectives would have been good. I really am excited to dive into the new secondaries and see if they are able to change things up enough to matter. They removed Cut Off the Head. Those monsters.
Liam: The FAQ changes are huge, and clear up a ton of the edge cases and weirdness that had cropped up in 9th edition. I don’t think they necessarily change the game, but they do refine it and add some much-needed clarity.
Chapter Approved is a little less good – we’ll talk about this more below but the secondary changes are a bit tippy-toes, and the missions haven’t changed at all. It’s weird to me that we got a very good free update which clearly had a lot of love and thought put into it, arriving at the same time as a very unambitious paid product which tweaks a few points and nibbles around the edges of some missions but otherwise doesn’t really do much at all.
Innes: Broadly positive after the FAQ. I was not feeling optimistic after the Chapter Approved details all came out but this is why it’s always important to wait when one of these big updates happen because they’re a trigger point for other releases. Nuanced changes to a few key army issues, clean up of ridiculous wording loopholes (Triangles, Craters being very Exorable) and the stream lining of a few rules issues have made the game feel much more playable. I really wish we’d seen some changes to the core missions as a year into 9th, some of them are starting (or well past, looking at you Scouring) to overstay their welcome.
Rob: I’m pretty happy with where we’re at. These changes solve almost all of the problems I’d had so far with this edition, really cleaning up a lot of the sloppy wording and text errors that had plagued us so far. While it’s a little bit maddening we had to wait this long to get something that actually laid out when “Deployment” is, I’m happy with where we’ve ended up from a rules perspective. So yes, feeling good about 9.1.
Q. Who are the big winners of these updates?
Wings: I don’t think anyone stands out as having made it out like bandits. Instead, there’s lots of nice positive things scattered around, with notable high points for Tau (Mont’ka definitely, definitely lets you fall back and shoot), Craftworlds (nice drops on key shooting units), Death Guard (Inexorable actually does something against terrain, woo!) and CSM (drop pods actually work). Some of these are offset by losses (e.g. Warptime changes) but all of them open space up for players to do some cool stuff.
Liam: Tau for sure; we’d already advanced Mont’ka allowing you to fall back and shoot based on RAW but it wasn’t a popular position. It’s not enough to rescue the codex, but it might help them out a bit. Death Guard getting their trait to actually work and resolving the ridiculous “does summoning break contagions” question is good. Mostly I think the winners are the players – there’s definitely been some ill-feeling about GW’s lack of responsiveness with FAQs and such in 9th edition, and a lot of the problems that had built-up have been cleared out with this update.
Rob: Death Guard. They gained a lot from the changes to DIfficult Terrain now letting them tromp over it with Inexorable Advance unaffected, plus they get to summon Epidemius without losing their Contagions. All that and none of their points changed. I really like where Death Guard are at so this was music to my ears.
Q. Who are the big losers of these updates?
Rob: The Warptime restriction sucks, but it really only affects the Smash Bros soup list and Magnus is more than capable of warptiming his own big red ass across the table. As much as I root for Chaos, the Smash Bros list isn’t particularly fluffy and I’m not gonna lose any sleep over seeing it go. Overall I think Marines and Drukhari got it worse, though I’m not convinced Drukhari will hit lower than 65% win rate after this.
Liam: Drukhari for sure, though it’s probably still the case that they’re a firm tier 1 army. Marines too, to an extent that probably was unnecessary at this point – the points increases on key units really hurt them, while the trade-off decreases don’t do enough to make the vehicles worth taking. It was definitely a good thing to fix plasma Inceptors relative to bolter ones, but otherwise the codex is surprisingly shallow for having like 150 possible units to choose from and the good stuff just got a little bit worse. A special note on Sanguinary Guard, taking a completely unnecessary 2ppm increase based presumably on someone seeing them do well once in March.
Innes: Drukhari are the obvious standout, but I don’t think the nerfs were particularly heavy handed and leave a lot of room for power beneath that 70+% winrate. Some of the options that were being crowded out might get room in the sun and turn out to be just as playable, so I think the jury is out on if they were big losers. The real big losers in my mind are Space Marines, as they took hits on a lot of points fronts with Attack Bikes, Inceptors and Chief Apothecary on top of an already fairly hostile meta game to their points of strength. We’ll see marines pick themselves up on account of having twelve sources to draw rules from, but the things that were good two months ago might need to be readdressed. Not you VolCons.
The New FAQs
Q. What’s your favorite FAQ change?
Wings: Ugh I can only pick one. Ughhhhhh. No fair. Hmm. I guess probably the Fight First/Fight Last changes just because I’m a sucker for GW demonstrating that they actually understand the problem, and fixing things with nice, clear examples.
Liam: I liked fight first/last for sure – I’ve been a big advocate of a wholesale rewrite of the (previously quite confusing) rare rule, and now that’s actually happened. I also like that we resolved the stupid Pythagorean angles thing, and fixing the razorflails/Competitive Edge interaction – it’s nice that that is now a powerful combo but not one that is completely ridiculous.
There’s also a negative change in here, where the FAQ answers for Quicken/Twilight Pathways that made people think you could still advance with them were deleted – this is an overall win for consistency.
Gunum: As I’m about to explore Tau a little bit. Shh. I am very psyched to see the Monka clarification. To echo Wings as well, the clarifications to how the fight first/last situation is being handled is fantastic. That had been a subject that hadn’t been covered nearly well enough, so they did a great job making it much simpler.
Rob: Deployment. I’ve been hollering about all the rules that refer to “during Deployment” for a while now and it’s good to see them finally clear all that up. It’s not quite the way I’d have fixed it but it’s certainly better than what we had, and now it’s much more clear when all this stuff happens.
Innes: I don’t think this is a sentiment that many Chaos players will share but I’m glad that the faction can finally shed the shackle of everything being limited by the power of Warptime. The difference between M10 and M5 Deathshroud, or M24 and M12 Mortarion are truly night and day. Giving the combination the boot allows those units to be balanced just around what their stats are, not the immense power that comes from doubling the movement of units balanced around being slow. Personally I think this could have come with compensation buffs, but with new codexes on the horizon it’s probably fine.
Rob: I mean we did get massive buffs to the Dreadclaw drop pod. That thing is finally useful now! I cannot tell you how happy I am about that. I have two fully painted that I’ve never used and another two I’m going to assemble just to hold Noise Marines, plus a Kharybdis that I’ll fill with Berserkers. It’s gonna be great.
Q. Were there any changes you didn’t like?
Wings: Not a fan of the (effective) change to the Tome of Malcador so that it no longer lets you mix and match powers from Chapter Disciplines and the Libarius/Obscuration disciplines. This was a disputed point before but most events let you mix and match – and generally that looked pretty healthy, creating more use cases for Librarians. WIth fixed powers on your army list in 9th I think getting flexibility at list building time is a good thing, and I’m sad to see this avenue shut down (and I sort of wonder if it’s a case where everyone else pays the price for the one combo that was a Bit Much, Null Zone and Wings of Sanguinius).
Gunum: The Warptime change seems heavy-handed. Chaos has always been about it’s soup and these warbands running around together, taking action against this kind of play style in a world of 1 wound CSM, seems like a bit much. Also, as Dark Angels Stan, the movement clarification that affected Death on the Wind also felt silly. I’m one of the few people here at the Goonhammer offices who found driving in giant donuts, or sidestepping like One Punch Man, was totally reasonable and supported by the books. I’m glad it was clarified so there was a solid answer, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.
Liam: Strongly disagree with both of Gunum’s points there – Ravenwing vibrating in place for free points was always stupid, and the only thing I dislike about the changes is that they only clarified it for “move x”” abilities and not any kind of “must move” so that e.g. Jink can still be given to stationary units. Warptime also needed fixing; it’s much easier for GW to assess Mortarion based on what’s in Death Guard alone than what’s in Death Guard + a random splash of 1 Word Bearers Sorcerer and 5 Chaos Marines. Chaos is past due for cross-codex stuff like this being neutered (as it was for e.g. Aeldari) and Chaos player grievances about how CSM need to get 2 wounds before any other changes to their book don’t wash with me.
In terms of changes I disliked, honestly – not really any of them? James is right that it’s a shame that the Tome got fixed differently to how we thought/wanted it to work, but at least it’s logically consistent and has actually been addressed.
Innes: I don’t love the specific fix they picked for Triangle-Based Violence, which has just made units in ruins very very difficult to charge. I don’t have an easy solution here, but situations like 5 Infiltrators 6” up in a ruin are more than a little difficult to deal with for any reserves based combat armies. Tome of Malcador getting the punt is a little sad, but ultimately good for consistency with other abilities like Loremaster from Grey Knights and consistency and easy cross codex comparisons are generally more valuable as far as I’m concerned for making a very broad game much easier to understand.
Rob: I either like or am OK with all of these changes. Maybe the only one I don’t love is the one that limits your additional attacks generated to not being able to make multiple hit rolls, because now we’ve got something a little less intuitive in its place and the problem wasn’t the rule itself but rather the insanity of a weapon that gave you extra attacks for every miss. Seems silly to change a big rule rather than address the bad corner case you created specifically.
Q. What didn’t change but needed to be addressed?
Wings: Honestly? Not much, most things I wanted to see addressed have been. Drukhari keyword bullshit surviving is mildly annoying but it matters vastly, vastly less with Technomancers mostly dead. The only general class of effect I’d still like to see an update to is how “Consolidate in any direction” effects interact with being in base-to-base contact, just because it’s very non-intuitive, but there are only a few of those out there anyway..
Liam: The Shadow Assignment for Assassins still doesn’t work – I think they think they’ve addressed it in the “when is deployment” answer, but it still just kind of breaks if you resolve it at the logical point the FAQ suggests (step 13). Please, GW, just make it happen in step 10.
Innes: I’m fully with Wings on wanting to see Drukhari’s keyword requirements for detachments tightened up a bit, it’s very open to abuse and I can’t see many ways where it’s used healthily in competitive play. The one thing I really wish had been picked up on was a Book of Rust FAQ. The fact that that book has been out since March and hasn’t had any clarifications is a disappointment. Specifically I wish there was some level of addressing taking Cult of Strife relics with a non CoS Warlord, whether it’s yes or no, having clarity would make things a lot easier.
Rob: There’s a bunch of Crusade stuff that could really use looking at, and I don’t love that the notion seems to be that it’s just not worth addressing because it’s not competitive play. With regard to competitive stuff, Summoning still comes to mind – it’d be great to have proper clarity on who can summon and when, whether Summoned units can arrive on the first turn, and whether Inexorable Advance affects that. As written it clearly doesn’t but I’ve seen some very, very bad rulings that say you can move and summon with Inexorable Advance and it’s worth addressing. These issues have gone unaddressed too long, really.
The 2021 GT Missions Pack
Q. What are your overall impressions of the 2021 GT Missions pack?
Liam: My overall impression is that it’s just the GT 2020 mission pack. There’s a few substantial secondary changes, and other little tweaks, but while those are mostly welcome this is still a deeply unambitious product. I actually like the core mission design for 9th, even with the flaws we’ve talked about at length on Goonhammer, but there was more room for improvement than has been found here and most of those opportunities have been missed.
Boon: A friend reached out and asked me if I wanted to put the book on order before seeing it. I said yes (support your LGS) but I wish I’d just purchased anything else now that I’ve seen the changes. The book is just not worth charging above cost in my mind, certainly not at the prices identified. In my opinion, these changes are very minor and will not meaningfully alter the typical tournament experience or how I plan an army or for the missions. Overall it feels like an opportunity missed on an annual update and chance to make meaningful changes but instead it makes some FAQ-level adjustments… and is then charging for it.
Wings: I like the pass that’s been done on secondaries and think they will improve the game, but really if you’re going to print a whole new book every year, you can and should be doing a lot more than this.
Gunum: Why leave the Scouring? Why not change -any- mission. Maybe adjust priority objectives secondary to not be an auto take? I like the new secondaries, I think some changes are definitely good, but man. I gotta buy this book and I’m a little mad about it. This could have just been an FAQ released by GW with how little changed.
Innes: 9 Lazy Missions, a couple of minor secondary changes and Super Heavies are a bit more playable. I understand the appeal of “we wrote these missions and thousands of people haven’t played them because Covid”, but thousands of people have played them and had feedback. Ignoring that feedback leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth and makes me wonder if we’ll see the same missions again next year.
Rob: I’m disappointed the missions didn’t change. At the very least I wanted to see The Scouring and Priority Targets go, and if I were them I’d work on creating six “core” missions and letting the final three be more experimental, with a plan to rotate them out or change them every year. As-is we’re stuck with a couple of real dud missions and it makes the whole thing feel a bit like a waste.
That said, they made the inexplicably bad decision to not make the book spiral-bound this year and so I won’t be buying it.
Q. What’s the best change to the GT Missions?
Liam: I like the removal of the all-or-nothing scoring (Deploy Scramblers, Psychic Ritual) and that there’s been an attempt to firm up the Shadow Operations category so that they’re all a bit more useful. Actions are a cool part of 9th edition, so making attempts to make them more meaningful beyond “10 free points for Scramblers” is good. Thin Their Ranks becoming No Prisoners and consequently much less punishing to mech armies is good, too – though I know Shane has Thoughts about what that means when it comes to playing against Drukhari. I also like To the Last dealing with the question of split units a little more effectively, and Assassination gaining a little extra pip for killing the enemy Warlord makes it more viable than before against lists with < 5 characters, and is also just kind of nice in general.
Boon: I like the change to To The Last (While We Stand We Fight) – gone are the days of absurd 18-mek gun lists that score auto-15 just because – now killing 3 guns will at a minimum drop your opponent to a 9VP max on the secondary – this is a good change on an obviously gamey mechanic.
Shane: Just like Liam, I am happy that they more or less got rid of the all-or-nothing secondaries. Gone are the days of casting psy ritual 2 times and dying/failing the rest and getting a zero. (Not that psy secondaries were that great to begin with.)
Wings: Joining the chorus – Secondaries good. As well as the obvious stuff I like some of the more subtle impacts they have – in particular, I think Stranglehold in place of Domination is potentially very helpful to more shooty lists on six objective missions, because the ask of “move on to three objectives and shoot the enemy off one” is way more practical than “push them off four objectives” if you end up going second. I’m also a bit more positive on the updated Warpcraft set overall than some of the rest of the team (even if I still think the mechanic as a whole is needlessly punitive).
Innes: I like the changes to the Super-Heavy Auxiliary detachment, opens up a lot of options for some mediocre at best units and makes players not feel punished for wanting to bring a unit that’s already bad by denying them their CP.
Rob: Yeah I’ll second the Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachment CP change. That reopens the door for so many units that people love and have painted only to see them become totally worthless in 9th. I remember being absolutely dumbfounded when we found out the Monolith was a Lord of War. The new rule enables armies that want to bring their faction’s Lord of War without rewarding armies that just want to add a Knight.
Q. What’s the worst thing about these new mission rules?
Liam: Mostly that they don’t really go far enough, or that there’s still some own goals in there. Investigate Signal in the Warhammer Community preview sounded like it was going to have more freedom than it does, but an opponent can still stop you initiating the action just by being wholly within 6” of the centre – which is a trivial ask when they get to completely shut down your scoring by doing so, never mind that Space Marines, your most common opponent, are often going to be driving into mid for their own scoring purposes. The Warpcraft category is still kind of a joke, and I don’t understand at all why Psychic Ritual is now capped at 12pts – giving it a progressive scoring component was good, but why does that need to mean it can’t be maxed? 3 casts in the centre of the board is still a reasonably difficult task and surely worth 15pts, and a 3/7/15 structure would have been perfect for giving you some reward for getting fewer casts off while saving the big pay-off for going all the way.
At least there are changes being made there, though, unlike the mission secondaries, which are identical to previously – which means another year where you can either roll up Priority Targets and get a free 15pts, or Retrieval Mission and sigh as you effectively lose the mission secondary as an option. That’s the actual worst thing, as I mentioned in overall impressions – the lack of ambition to do a bit more than this, with the primary missions completely unchanged, and secondary design that still seems to be driven by a mentality that they should be ‘hard to max’ which doesn’t actually play out on the table, with a random selection of them having bizarre structural barriers or hard caps below 15pts, while others are trivial.
Also, as a side note – it’s not the worst thing since it sucked anyway, but Cut Off the Head is just completely gone. This looks like it was done for reasons of page space, but it’s kind of weird to just remove a secondary entirely instead of trying to revamp it into something meaningful.
Boon: I think I have to go with my gut reaction on this one, which is that it’s in many ways a non-change and a bit of a let down. Not really exciting, few new tools, mostly more of the same.
To me the problem here is that there were glaring issues with the 2020 packet, including:
- The Scouring. Full Stop.
- Priority Targets being an automatic 15 points in most games
- Basically all of the mission secondaries being sub-standard
- Only a few of the standard secondaries being generally viable game-to-game
- Warpcraft secondaries being just awful
None of those are ‘fixed’ in this annual update. And let me be clear, I don’t mean improved when I say ‘fixed’ I mean “did the change meaningfully alter how it will be used in the standard tournament.” The Scouring still exists unchanged, Priority Targets also unchanged, no rebalancing of the mission secondaries, and while there were tit-for-tat changes to the standard secondaries, most of them are still highly situational or just incredibly easy for an opponent to cut down your ability to score on them. Then there’s Warpcraft.
For fuck’s sake they’re the only secondaries that come with the typical set of onerous requirements, with an action cost, but also being subject to bad dice (fail to cast) or just outright denied by the opponent at no cost (deny the witch). This felt like a slam dunk section to reimagine but instead GW just threw the ball into the stands by making some lateral moves.
Innes: Without retreading the ground that everyone else has covered, which I completely agree with, I would have liked to have seen the mission secondaries given a Secondary Category to prevent doubling up on some of the combinations (Stranglehold and Direct Assault, or To The Last and Minimise Losses). I also really think this could have been an opportunity to do what the CA2017 did (where it gave every faction still using its Index a Relic, Warlord Trait and Stratagem) and give every faction without a 9th edition Codex their own unique faction secondary as a stop gap for the next 3-12 months that they won’t have them.
I also wish we’d had a reversion to “win the roll off and choose first or second.” And that Seize the Initiative was back. No I will not be accepting comments or criticism at this or any other time.
Q. Who are the big winners as a result of these mission changes, and why?
Liam: Probably Drukhari; No Prisoners instead of Thin Their Ranks removes a pick against them, opponents gain no new angles of attack against them in terms of scoring, and they lose no scoring opportunities themselves and benefit from a better version of Scramblers, which they were already good at.
Guard and Tyranids might also benefit from No Prisoners making mech and monsters a little less vulnerable to double-dipping.
Boon: I don’t know that there are ‘big’ winners or losers, but I agree Drukhari got a tool against them taken away with the changes to Thin Their Ranks. At this point though I don’t see very much changing.
Shane: Definitely Drukhari, one of the only secondaries to take against them was Thin Their Ranks and with the removal of vehicles giving points, it no longer is viable. In the current state of the game this hurts extra for non DE players, but maybe that will change.
Innes: I think Knights have gained a decent bit of ground with Titanslayers being just worse against them now, needing to lose 2 knights to not even match the old penalty for losing one. Magaeras have been picking up in popularity and are very survivable and could definitely see even more of a rise as a result. Z-Train is also leaving the station, I think Zaraknyel could actually do work (and the other Daemon Lords too I guess) with only costing 1CP and not giving up 10VP to Titanslayer.
Rob: Knights definitely get a big boost, particularly in lists where you’re only bringing a single one – as well as pretty much any other TITANIC lord of war you’re likely to bring one of using the new Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachment wording. That basically takes down the other hurdle to bringing an Astreus or Lord of Skulls – not giving up 10 VP as soon as it’s destroyed is a pretty big upside.
Q. Who are the big losers with the new secondaries?
Liam: Primarily the factions without their own faction secondaries and without any indication of a new codex on their horizon, which are left waiting for another 6-12 months. Adding in one faction secondary each, in the style of CA2017 adding stratagems for each faction, seemed like a gimme – and it’s a shame it wasn’t done.
Boon: I’m gonna go a little 180 on Liam and say anyone that chose Deploy Scramblers as a default but otherwise agree with Liam on non-9th codex factions generally.
The problem I see with the updated Scramblers is three-fold:
- Armies which had built for it rarely failed and when they did it wasn’t the critical factor in their loss so progressive scoring hasn’t really helped here unless you’re concerned with total points in a loss which… sure
- In its current form it’s deceptively much more restrictive- the 6″ zone requirement on all quarters makes it much easier to screen out deepstrike scramblers.
- Requiring an entire additional turn to score it means you have less of a safety factor and need to take one of your units out of action for an additional turn- which can force hard decisions in the late game
When I think of armies that are most impacted, I think Craftworlds and Harlequins who took these fairly often but are otherwise limited in their available, premium infantry units. Fortunately for the Craftworlds, Warp Spiders are still the absolute best unit in the game for Engage and the new Scramblers. I’d also note that some builds of Space Marine took a hit with the No Prisoners change, but it’s easy enough to build around so no biggie.
Shane: Gonna echo both Boon and Liam here a bit. Marines definitely took a hit in being susceptible to No Prisoners now, but armies that don’t have codex secondaries are still in a bad way. Not having a codex secondary to rely on is still a big detriment.
Gunum: The loss of the all or nothing secondaries is devastating for me personally, because I counted on people choosing these things and I’d do whatever I could to prevent them from succeeding. I think I’ve taken Scramblies a total of 5 times, and now that we have a new ROD to play with, I really wonder how that is going to change up the game.
Wings: Necrons picking up a fairly catastrophic vulnerability to No Prisoners is also real bad. A lot of their viable lists are leaning heavily on Scarabs, and maxing out on these now gives up a whole entire 10VP before you even factor in reanimation or other units. It’s also very tricky to fully build around without going headfirst into skew builds like triple C’tan. Necrons have been holding up better than I expected recently, but I’m a bit worried that this gives them a serious nudge in the wrong direction.
Innes: Any unit that relied on its wound count to be resilient. Scarab Farm is now 10+ No Prisoners points on arrival, and a Tyranid army that runs some Rippers, Lictors, and Warriors etc with its 80-100 gaunts will now give up No Prisoners without breaking a sweat and the opponent not needing to touch the monsters as they would have under Thin Their Ranks. Beasts of Nurgle lost a tool in the new capped Psychic Ritual and giving up No Prisoners if you can get through them limits the potential of that style of list too. New Scramblers also really sucks for marines who also lost the Guerilla Warfare leave and come back on the same turn, and will now have to actually work for their points (besides Oath of Moment where you can still just mark a 13 at the start and check if it was more at the end of the game). On a personal note, I will miss the endless malleability of joking about how terrible Scramblers was, whether that was “Oops you got Scrambled” or just calling it Scamblers when you miss the enemy deployment zone, ROD is a better acronym but I think the jokes write themselves too much.
Q. How will these new secondary objectives change the meta moving forward?
Boon: I agree with Liam that not much changes – and here’s a couple of examples. Stranglehold (new Domination) got an upgrade in that it now works better in 6-objective games – but so what? It’s in a strong category already and you can only select one. The Shadow Operations category got the most of the overhaul, but it’s mostly lateral moves and similarly, you can still only take one. The problem with secondaries overall has always been that you could reliably pick 2 in most games, but absent the new 9th ed books, a third option was always a significant stretch for many armies due to the lack of strength in the mission secondaries, warpcraft, etc. That hasn’t changed here.
Shane: If anything with the changes to Thin Their Ranks, I think we will see a rise in a more combined approach of vehicles/monsters and infantry. Transports which were already popular will probably see a rise in usage.
Wings: I’m still trying to work out which way I land on the impact of new Scramblers (Scramblers 2: Rise of ROD). On the one hand, I think Boon is right that maxing this is considerably harder, creating an incentive to either go bigger with investment to address or not bother at all. However, it now being progressive, and the ease with which a non-specialist backfilled objective holder can tick off two quarters gives me pause. Ultimately, I think in most 9th games I’ve played that saw a shameful failure to Scramble, the player who tried and failed would have still been able to bank 8pts, and that leaves this still strong when supported in much the same way it is now, so I think the way armies address it will probably end up looking pretty similar. Outside that, I do genuinely worry there’s a chance of Necrons dropping a tier because of the impact of No Prisoners, but I have to hold my hands up and say I underestimated them before, so we’ll see!
Innes: It’s a worse time than ever to not have a good secondary plan. Armies without faction secondaries will probably find themselves becoming more and more have-nots. You needed Psychic Ritual to shore up your plan? Now it’s 3 points less and Sisters, Thousand Sons and Grey Knights are coming to stop you anyway. Great Scramblers army with Lictors or Warp Spiders? Unleash the Lions Allarus? A lot of the go-to secondaries that gave very consistent points have taken a minor but noticeable hit, and when they’re all you have it is going to hurt. Finally I think gunlines will really benefit from Stranglehold allowing them to kill you off an objective and still max without having to come and play in a lot of 6 objective missions. I could definitely see a mission like Overrun feeling really bad as they nuke you off an objective and keep you to 5 primary as they score 10s and 3 per turn off of Stranglehold.
OK Final Thoughts Time. Is 9.1 Edition good or bad? Are we living in the best edition of 40k yet?
Gunum: I’ve been a bit out of the loop when it comes to the meta during these winter seasons. Coming back into the game alongside a new edition and substantial FAQ, definitely helps level the learning curve of the game and provides me with a chance to catch up. The adjustments to some core things with some factions will allow some books without 9th ed codexes to catch up a bit, while at the same time the new secondaries help everyone.
There’s no Khorne Daemonkin so it’s not the best edition of 40k, and the first turn advantage still feels incredibly real in some matchups. But overall, I think this is the best place we’ve been in as a competitive community in about a decade, and I hope to see a continual improvement as we dive deepering into our roaring 20’s.
Liam: Still a yes from me. As much as it’s annoying to see easy wins like updating the missions or fixing the overall secondary mix passed up, I would still rather play a game of 9th edition than any other; in particular I feel a lot better about things with there being a significant FAQ and I hope that these turn into regular six-monthly updates – just enough time that there’s no whiplash from changes being introduced too quickly, but often enough that you can reliably look forward to one to shift things around if the game is getting a little stale.
Wings: The core rules are 100% the strongest they’ve ever been, and while I feel a level of frustration that there’s more that could be being done with the mission pack, I do still like the set of incentives they create. I have so many tournaments booked for once the UK opens up, readers. You have no idea.
Innes: I think I’m happier with the state of 9th than I was of any post-Imperial Knights stage of 8th edition. The core rules feel clean, the missions are workable and have enough variability and the core gameplay loop is genuinely fun. The edition is still missing the bulk of its codexes and I think until we see the design direction that some of the forgotten children (Tyranids, Genestealer Cult, Tau, Guard, Eldar and Chaos Daemons) take, I’m not ready to love it yet. I’m not opposed to the idea though if it continues on this path and we keep getting swift updates to problem factions. All told though, it’s no 7th, Give me Invis back and we’ll talk.
Rob: I think we’re in a pretty great place for the moment. I think the core rules are finally tightened up to where they need to be, the secondaries and GT missions are better – even if they could still use a bit of work – and the points feel about right for most things. Now it’s time to sit back and see how AdMech, Sisters, and Orks blow the whole thing up.
That wraps up our discussion this time around but as always, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.