Friday, August 7, 2020

9th Edition - Initial Thoughts

 Ninth's been out on the streets for a hot minute.  Hopefully everyone's had a chance to play with it - pretty sure there've been some tournaments out there already, for those that have been lucky enough to be in a position to attend them.  The world's bit crazy and Nurgle-y these days.


Objectives - and holding them

So, if you've read any of the missions, watched battle reports, or, y'know, played - this matters.  You should be aiming to hold as many objectives as possible.  You do this by slapping durable troops on them at the beginning of the turn, and living for a turn.  You want to grab 10-15 points a turn.

You take objectives from someone else by murdering troops on them, and/or slapping more bodies with Objective Secured on said objective.  Now, killing is well and good, and most armies have ways of killing things.

What's this mean?  If you have durable troops, or durable models that can throw down in close, you're in good shape.  If not?  You're not in a great position right now.  Considering that 2/3 to 3/4 of your points in a game are coming from these, it's kind of important.

Short version - I hope you have durable troops and lots of firepower, if not both.  I also hope you have a decent number of units.  I see this HOPEFULLY changing as more codices come out and/or point values get tweaked.

Command Re-Roll Tweak

Not gonna lie - this is one of the sleeper hits of a change in 9th.  There are a LOT of things that got changed by this.  On the face it, it looks like there are a lot of things you can re-roll - hits, wounds, damage rolls, saves, advances, charges, psychic tests, deny the witch tests, or the number of tests.

There are a lot of things you're not re-rolling, though.  Most codices have a strategem like "Deny the witch on a 4+" (Hey, black templar, Iron Hands, World Eaters...).  In 8th, you realistically had a 75% chance of that working - drop a CP, roll 1d6, and then maybe drop a command point re-roll.  Also, Necrons have a neat little "My character reanimates on a 4+" which can be a 100-150pt swing.

Well, now that's back to a flat dice roll.  Look, these are probably still worth the gamble.  However, they're not nearly as reliable as they used to be.

Short version - THIS is bigger than you think it is and WILL surprise you more than once or twice.

Command Point Regeneration

You'll get one back a turn in matched play, and a number of armies can bring a way to get another one back on a 5+ or so.  If you bring only one detachment, you can have somewhere between 17-22 command points in a game.  22 is gonna be some crazy luck on 5+ rolls though.

What does this mean?  Bringing another detachment for a couple CP isn't that big a deal.  Similarly, spending a CP or two on another relic and/or another warlord trait isn't a bad thing unless you really were going to burn all 12 CP in two turns on breaking the other army's back.

Short version - Don't worry about burning a couple in the build phase.  If you can bring a way to get more back without losing a crazy important relic, think about it.

Game Length - Fixed at Five Turns

In 8th, if you weren't playing for a fixed amount of time in, say, a tournament, you could go for 5-7 turns.  Now you have five turns and then you're done.  You have four turns to score the primary take-and-hold objectives.

Short Version - you know game length now, and how/when you're going to have to score.

Secondary Objectives

You can get a lot of points off primaries - but it won't be enough to win.  So, secondary objectives matter.  Next up - man, there are some options.  Don't panic.

Look at your army list and look at the secondary objectives.  This is going to tell you if you can discard some of them out of hand.  I'd recommend doing this first.  Battlefield Supremacy, Shadow Operations, and Warpcraft all depend on your build.

Battlefield Supremacy cares about deep striking, speed, and/or outflanking from reserves.  If you can do these, consider Linebreaker and/or Engage on All Fronts.  Domination is great too if you have plenty of troops.

Shadow Operations is for people with lots of infantry units.  You're gonna be performing Actions, which take a unit offline for a turn and involve not being assaulted or shot off the objective.  If this isn't you, consider skipping it.

Warpcraft - did you bring psykers?  If not, skip 2/3 of this.  If the enemy brought psykers, consider this for Abhor the Pskyer.

That brings us to Purge the Enemy and No Mercy, No Respite - these depend on the other side's composition.

Purge The Enemy is pretty much about killing specific stuff.  You're either killing characters (the more, the better), killing Titanic Models, or killing the Warlord.  Note that the Warlord one is low-value (only 6pts).

No Mercy, No Respite is more about killing regular guys.  Thin Their Ranks is all about nailing hordes - every ten infantry you kill is a point, and everyone 10+ wound model is 10 points.  Pretty simple.  Attrition is for durable armies - 4pts a turn if you kill more than them, so if you're elite and they're not, think about it.  First Strike is a thinking man's objective - if you can off a unit in turn one, 5 points.  It's 8 total if you kill more than they do in turn one.

Note also that all the scenarios have a bespoke secondary objective as well.  It's worth thinking about if none of the other objectives look good.

Short version - secondaries aren't that bad if you think about them.  Build to hold objectives, then think from there.

Terrain

Honestly, I like the new terrain rules.  They're pretty decent once you think about them and read them a couple times, and reasonably sensible.  As much as I like the idea of true LOS, this trims down some arguments, and I'm all about that life.  It's an adjustment worth making.

Max +1/-1 Modifier

There are definitely some armies that took a hit on this - Alpha Legion and Aeldari fliers come to mind.  There are also going to be some interesting interactions on this, like infantry moving and shooting heavy weapons into dense cover and only taking a -1 to hit, after taking a pair of -1 to hit penalties.

Overall

I am generally enjoying 9th.  However, I've got concerns about some armies out of the gate - some armies are going to struggle with objectives.  I'm worried about regular Chaos Marines, for example - cultists and baseline Chaos marines are so-so at best for durability and lethality.  

You don't HAVE to bring any troops in this edition, but you can also watch a dozen terminators stare blankly at a single tactical marine on an objective - who can then be the difference between a guy scoring 10 and 15 VP in a turn, because ObSec.

Fingers crossed that we see some point tweaks and get some neat stuff in the new codices.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

9th Edition Speculation - Org Charts, Command Benefits, Point Costs, and Army Building

I guess it's a Titan org chart?
Well, we finally got a few more pieces of the puzzle - 9th is basically here, since we have point value leaks and the new force org charts.

The Short Version on Org Charts
1) You pay CP to take an org chart
2) If your warlord is in that org chart* you are going to get that for free
3) If you take more than one org chart, that org chart is going to cost CP
4) You start with 12 CP at 2,000 points
5) Dedicated transports require INFANTRY units instead of just units

*Unless it's superheavy.  Then you need a Knight codex with its rules.


Thinking about Org Charts in General
Pretty much every org chart (outside of the Superheavy detachment) requires an HQ choice, so I'm not super worried about comparing HQs with each other.

Note also that we don't see the 3x flyer detachment back, but most org charts allow 0-2 flyers.

THE BATTALION
Ah, the battalion - the workhorse of 8th.  The old 'giver of CP.'  The battalion's biggest impact was to make us look at taking tons of troops - so either you brought good troops, or you brought cheap troops.

Now, in 9th, if you're bringing a battalion, I suspect you'll bring 1 or none.  If you're going mono-faction, you can get up to 3 HQs, and you probably won't mind 3 troops choices - assuming, of course, that you have decent troops.  'Cheap filler battalions for CP' is no longer a thing, since you now have to pay CP for them.

Before taking a battalion, ask - "Is this my main/only faction?" and "Do I really like building around my troops?"  If you answered yes to both questions, consider taking it.

THE PATROL
Ah, the patrol.  One HQ, one troop, and access to 0-2 of most everything else.  I don't know that patrols got a lot of love in 8th.

I suspect this will change in 9th.

If you don't like your troops, you don't have to take a lot.  Save your points for other org chart slots where some of your more durable and/or lethal stuff is.  After all, those troops aren't giving you more CP now, either.

Additionally, if you want to 'splash' another faction in here but aren't planning on taking 3 of a given force org slot, you probably want to just cave, grab a token troops choice, and go from there for the low CP cost.

Before taking a patrol, ask - "Is this my main faction?", "Do I like my troops?" and "What all did I want to bring from this faction?"

If this is your main faction AND you don't like your troops, think about a patrol.

If this isn't your main faction AND you aren't taking 3 of a given force org slot, think about a patrol.

THE SUPERHEAVY DETACHMENT
Ah, here's where we get into some pain.  If you want to bring 3 superheavies and include the 'titanic' keyword, you're out 6CP.  Note that Knight codices have ways around this, but it's written into their rules.

My 3 Lords of Skulls are sad now.  Like, real sad.  Same goes for Imperial Guard Baneblade trios, Eldar wraithknight spam, etc.  (I don't think the latter was a thing, but I could be wrong.)  Any way you cut it, this is going to hurt unless you're knights.  Also you're probably only bringing along a patrol at best.

If you're knights, rejoice.

If you're anyone else, ask how painful starting with a max of 6 CP is going to be, and if it's going to be worth bringing 3 superheavies.

FLYER WING
Aaaand it's gone.

If you're bringing anyone with the 'Flyer' battlefield role, look at other org charts.

VANGUARD / SPEARHEAD/  OUTRIDER DETACHMENT
You bring an HQ, 3 of elite/fast attack/heavy support, and then 0-3 troops, and 0-2 of everything else.

In 8th, these were great ways to bulk up on slots (because you never can have enough guns) or splash another faction for cheap.

REVISED OPINION - You might build around these if you KNOW you're gonna take 3 of a given type of unit.  IE - "I really want 3 units of bikes as Ravenwing, and I don't want to bring any troops choices!"  Whether that's a good idea or not is another thing altogether.

Before taking one of these specialists, ask "Do I really want three of a unit type?"  If yes, take it.  If not, look at another one.


BRIGADE
Why?  You could do one in 8th, depending on your codex, but your options were limited - but you got some good CP for it.  Your competition was 2x battalion and change.

You needed to have good, cheap stuff available in most force org slots in order to make the math work and to have a GOOD brigade.  I think a lotta folks enjoyed trying to make cheap brigades just for the challenge of it.

I can't recall if we've seen a brigade get spoiled or not, but with the cost increases we've seen/heard about, I don't see a point in worrying about a brigade.

AUXILIARY SUPER-HEAVY DETACHMENT
You're taking this if you want just one super-heavy.  There's not a lot of debate here - build around that unit and go.  Just remember the old saying "One is none, two is one, three is some."

Moving Ahead
So, the way I see it now, you've got a couple options for 9th edition and it's going to depend on how you built your armies.

First, you can try to re-point what you've got.  If you ran multiple battalions, though, I don't think that's going to get you where you want to go - the part where we all start with 12 CP and pay for detachments beyond the first are going to make us re-think the number of detachments we want to take.

I would instead encourage everyone to take a good, long look at your troops slots.  Did you take a bunch of cheapo troops to fill out battalions for sweet, sweet CP? (I'm looking at you, cultists.)  Or, did you take some solid, reliable troops (I'm looking at you, Primaris fellas) that both filled troops slots AND carried weight?

If you liked your existing troops and you don't really NEED more than 2-3 HQs, it's probably going to be a battalion.  If you don't really like your troops, it's probably going to be a patrol and something else.

Monday, July 6, 2020

9th Edition Brainstorming - Alpha Legion Edition

I AM SNEAKY
Games Workshop has been kind enough to release the short version of the rules at this point.  I've taken a look at that and done some vaguely-informed speculating already.

At this point we're still missing a few details -
-Revised points costs
-Full details on missions
-Full details on core stratagems
-Full details on force org charts

I do think we have enough data on the force org charts to make some educated guesses - Battalion, Patrol, and the Lord of War detachments are enough for us.

There's actually some good news - at a glance, Alpha Legion at least has a decent toolbox of stratagems and the like that'll help us.

What do Core Rules Mean For Us?
1) Max of +1/-1 Modifiers - OH NOES(?)
I imagine that a lot of Alpha Legion folks (and probably some Raven Guard folks, and Aeldari, and probably some others) picked up on this pretty quick.  Does it hurt survivability of infantry at a basic level?  Eh, sometimes.  How often were you going to give more than one unit a -2 to hit?

It's not that hard to get units to -2 to hit or more between Dark Apostles and Miasma of Pestilence (for those who can take the Mark of Nurgle - IE the Possessed).  Or you could add relics and warlord traits - IE, Clandestine, or the Shade Blade.

My follow-on question - how many things does Alpha Legion actually try to use this combo on? 

We really kind of want the Mark of Slaanesh on our shooty stuff - who cares about defense when the target's dead.  Also, we can put our important guns behind other units and use Conceal to make sure the enemy has to shoot other stuff first.

Ok, so that leaves us with melee troopers - which is pretty much "Possessed" and "Demon Princes" - demon princes should be leveraging their character status for protection.

Note that Possessed still kind of like it because it works in melee, but Possessed may still benefit from having other Demons around for daemonic loci.  Slaaneshi demons come to mind with the whole 'advance and charge' thing.

2) Coherency and Screening Units - We Got Smaller
Cultist utility as screening units may take a hit based on the new coherency rules.  Don't expect your screens to be as large - a minimum-sized cultists squad covers less than half the space it used to.

This impacts anyone larger than 5 guys.  It means that most of our stuff cars about it, outside of Havocs and Obliterators.

If you're bringing 3 cultist squads to fill out a battalion (and I'm guessing we probably still will be) just know that they won't block off as much space. 

Note also that we have access to Scrambled Coordinates - so we can push folks back 12".  This'll help us with pushing anyone arriving from reserves back out of assault and rapid-fire range, which is what we generally care about.

3) Morale - At Least We Won't Have To Feed The Cultists
Morale got a few changes - you only lose one guy for sure when you fail morale.  Next up, though, is attrition - you roll 1d6 per model, and on a 1 they run away.  If you are under half-strength, that attrition roll takes a -1.  Morale gets a little less predictable, but it's not going to be hard to knock out low-leadership, low-save, low-toughness units.

I mean, we kind of knew this already.  Ld6 means there's always room for failure if anyone dies.

4) Command Phase
Getting 1 CP a turn is going to help - Chaos has plenty of awesome stratagems.  The only vague concern I have about the 'command phase' is that I suspect a lot of "beginning of turn" effects will get moved here.  Hopefully Dark Apostle prayers will remain "at the beginning of the round."

5) Force Org Chart Changes - Chaos has Friends, Really
Here's our mixed bag.  If you were playing pure Alpha Legion, the biggest difference is going to be in how many HQs you want to bring.  Double battalion was pretty normal for 2k, which meant 4 HQs and six troops. 

If you're skipping out on multiple Lords of War, you might as well go with a battalion - 2 HQs and 3 troops is reasonable.  You've got room for another HQ - and we have good ones.

If you're bringing in allies or mixing Chaos, the question's going to be 'what do you need?' because that's gonna cost CP.  Look at what units you need from either other Legions or the Demon Codex.

The thing that really hurts is the eye-watering 6CP to bring a Superheavy Detachment.  I've been mucking around with 3x Lords of Skulls (or 2x Lord of Skulls and a Kytan Ravager) and that's a giant kick to the CP.  Then again, that list was a bit more CP-efficient than others, since it mostly cared about popping the Daemonforge stratagem 1-2 times a turn and maybe re-rolling a psychic test. And possibly a charge.

Mixing Chaos knights with the chaos codex is a little more like 'mixing Chaos marines with Chaos Knights' - based on spoilers, the Renegade Knight book will have rules for taking a Superheavy Detachment without paying CP, provided the warlord is in said detachment.

Relics, Warlord Traits, and Stratagems
GW is tweaking points for 9th, so your lists are going to get smaller.  That being said, one of the things I like about Alpha Legion is that AL has a pretty solid tool kit at its disposal with respect to warlord traits, relics and stratagems.  Note that the Chaos Marine codex already has some solid ones - I'd say the stars of the show tend to be "Veterans of the Long War" and "Endless Cacophony."  If you've seen CSM on the table, you've seen them.

Hydra's Wail
Can everyone regenerate CP every turn?  Yes.  That's the biggest hit the Wail took.  You don't have to take any gear to get it.  However, to get the most out of it, you want to play it against an enemy that's going to plan on dropping 3-4 stratagems in a given turn - bonus points if they have defensive stratagems.

It won't bankrupt them on hot dice.  I'm a little sad, since this was one of my go-to relics. 

Clandestine & the Shade Blade
The perk of these items - a warlord trait and relic, respectively - was that they added a -1 to hit to you.  Well, that doesn't stack any more. 

I suppose if you want to give a Warlord trait to a Lord Discordant, or something else that's going to get into melee, then Clandestine has some use. 

I can't really say I'm a fan of the Shade Blade - S5 is nice, but the 1d3 damage is 'eh.'  If you're going up against multi-wound models, reliability matters. 

Viper's Bite + Headhunter
Killing characters is always great.  Screening changed a little with the whole "Look out, Sir!" rules - characters need to be next to something now - but this still ignores it in hilarious fashion.  Infantry screens are so-so, but being next to a vehicle means you gotta pop a tank to get it out.

Master of Diversion
This warlord trait is almost always going to be useful.  Being able to redeploy units is awesome.  Never underestimate it.  This is pretty much my go-to for its utility.  I'll probably take Viper's Bite + Headhunter on someone with a stratagem, as that guy's gonna draw fire after he splatters a VIP's brains.

Conceal
Since we can't get more than a -1 to hit vs. shooting anyway, the next best thing is "hahaha, you can't shoot me anyway."  2CP is a bit more affordable now that we start with 12CP and we get 1CP per turn back.

Scrambled Coordinates
GW's teased the part where just about anyone can pay CP now to come in off board edges from reserves.  There are a handful of units that pay extra to say "No, you come in more than 12 inches away instead of 9 inches."

Trust me, that 'more than 12' is important - it means you categorically are NOT assaulting the target, and odds are that you're not rapid-firing (generally speaking).  Sure, some stuff has a 24" shot, but you were never going to screen that anyway.

Ambush
As above - reserves are gonna be more common, so someone might as well catch bullets.  And since we have more CP, using this stratagem isn't so bad.

Devastation Battery / Punishing Volley
This is build-specific - you have to take Havocs or Obliterators and pay a CP for the detachment upgrade.  The reason you take this is because if you go second, you can use a stratagem to have Obliterators (or havocs, I guess) shoot something during your opponent's turn, and then you can use Conceal to make sure they live another turn.

I say 'Oblits' because if I'm not going second, I can leave them in reserve and drop them in later.

This is plenty affordable, especially with regenerating CP.  If you're turned off by the randomness of Obliterators, think about what they can do after someone moves into range. 

Soulforged Pack
This one's going to be a little harder to gauge.  If you are taking it on our smaller demon engines, it's not bad - you're out one CP.  If you are going to use it with Lords of Skulls - the question becomes "Do I really want to advance and charge?" because you're out 6CP for the LoS detachment, and the main reason you'd take Soulforged Pack is the "advance and charge" stratagem.

The Shape of Armies to Come
My gut says that pure Alpha Legion is probably going to build towards a Battalion at 2000 points.

I suspect that I'll start out with a sorcerer, a dark apostle (and friends), and 30 cultists still.

Sorcerers are probably going to stay just because of the utility of our psychic powers.  The Dark Apostle is too useful as a buff bot - prayers TBD.

Cultists are kind of a "we'll see."  Early leaks indicate that the point cost is up on the cultists.  They're taking a hit from morale and coherency rules.

Our troops choices are still going to be something like the following -
-10 cultists (cheap, takes up space)
-20-30 cultists (not cheap, takes up more space)
-5 marines (relative cost TBD, but has heavy weapon)
-10 marines (definitely not cheap, but has a couple heavy weapons and durability)

It's all going to be about what our guys cost, now.  I have ideas about allies, but I want to see what I'm out in terms of points and CP.

The other concept I want to play with is still 3 Lords of Skulls, but I've still got to build one.  Pretty sure I'll be taking a Patrol detachment with that.

Friday, July 3, 2020

9th Edition - Unit Coherency and Screening

By now I imagine most folks have noticed that the 9th edition rules are out.  At least, the short ones are - we haven't seen all the detachments yet, or the core stratagems.

I've already done a bit of thinking about the impacts of them - and if you're like me, you like not getting charged right off the bat.

This means you bring screens.  And if you like screens, you're definitely going to pay attention to the new unit coherency rules.  I figure that a visual demonstration is going to be worth a lot more than a few words.

The Old Rules
-horizontal coherencies is 2" between models
-vertical coherency is 6" between models
-if you are out of coherency, move into coherency next time.

The New Rules
-horizontal coherency is 2"
-vertical coherency is 5"
-if you are out of coherency, there's a coherency check during the morale phase - and those units just bail out. (But aren't casualties for Morale purposes
-Units with 6+ models treat coherency different - models must be in unit coherency w/ 2 models instead of one.

This last one is the biggest change for large units.  I think the easiest way to show it is visually.

A Brief Demonstration - Admittedly in a Vacuum



Our Stars
 I'll start with a typical unit employed for screening - a minimum-sized unit of cultists.  Everyone knows and loves them.  They're cheap.  They fill a troops slot if you need that.  Their main strength is that they take up space - if they're here, you can't deep strike close to them, and unless you kill them first, they might block an assault for a turn.

If anyone's asking, these are some of my cultists I use with my Alpha Legion - filed off the GSC logos.

If there are several squads of them, ignoring them means they might claim objectives or eventually chip away at something.

Screens in 8th
Putting the 'chain' in Daisy Chain
 Ten guys on 20mm bases two inches apart can spread out about 25-26".  No one arrives from reserves within 9" of them - so one unit can deny a heap of space.

9th Edition Coherency

More daisy, not so much chain
 This is a unit with more than 6 models, so they have to be in coherency with 2 models instead of one.  This gets a vote on how much we can spread out.  As you can see, it's not as much.  I'm not sure I could spread out a ton more - I might eke out a fraction here and there and make it exactly two inches, but that's about it.

As you can see, we're less than half as broad - we're 11" and change wide, and 4 inches deep.  The depth part is negotiable if you want to slap them on the front line - but that's about as wide as a 10-man unit gets.


How Do I get Back to that Sweet, Large Footprint?

Phone a friend time!
 So I grabbed another cheap screening unit - if you look closely, you'll notice that's a ten-pack of brimstone horrors.  For the sake of this experiment, it's deployed in coherency with the cultists as though it was one unit.

Initial Thoughts After Seeing Pictures
1) Screen Footprint Reduction - Ouch
Ok, so this one's obvious - especially from the pictures.  Your large screening units are not going to cover as much ground.  They're going to a little less than half of it.

2) 12" Denial Bubbles Are More Valuable
Some troops have an innate "no one comes in from reserves" bubble of 12" due to abilities.  Others can get it from stratagems.  As screening units get smaller footprints, anything that increases it becomes more valuable.

3) Screening Is Still Important
Lots of armies already have units that hop out of reserves - terminators and Crisis Suits fall out of deep strike.  Demons hop out of the warp.  Necrons hop out of...wherever they do.  The list goes on.  Also, note that you can pay CP to walk on a table edge in 9th.

Screens matter because screens push that out.  Melee units and short-ranged shooty units care about screens, but anyone with 24" guns is most likely to just laugh and shoot anyway because they've got range.

4) You'll still probably want to bring some screens
Obviously it's a bit early to make predictions about the meta for 9th - but considering that there's even more options for deployment shenanigans than before, I'll be surprised if we don't see mid-field infiltrators or a couple cheap backfield squads.

Next Steps
Obviously, we'll still need data on what point costs turn into.  Cheap screens are useful.  Multi-purpose screens are great too - if you can take up space and kill things, that's useful.  However, the big question is going to be "what do cheap units like Brimstone Horrors and Chaos Cultists cost?"

Because honestly, those guys exist to take up space.  You bring them to fill out a force org chart and to take up space - either on objectives or in front of something important.

A final bit of a laugh
So I've played the game off and on for a minute - I recall blast templates being a thing.  Ironically, now there are large units clustered together - what used to be spray and blast weapons are more effective against them - AND no one's gonna waste time arguing about who's under what stupid template.  GREAT SUCCESS.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

9th Edition - First Impression of New Rules

We've been waiting for a hot minute, but finally, GW's kicked out the 'core' rules - so let's SPECULATE! BECAUSE THE SKY IS FALLING!

No, seriously.  It's time to actually read something and think about it.

DISCLAIMER - this is a first impression.  More is INVARIABLY going to emerge after experience, games, and more reads.  This is meant to be thought-provoking.

SCOPE
This is based on the rules leaked on 2 July - the core rules.  It doesn't include all the detachments and all the missions or scoring.  It includes the basic turn structure, though, which is a fair amount to digest.

Once we have those, we'll have an idea where 9th might go.  I mean, we'll then need to see point values, and we'll have the stage set.  Then people might play games if Nurgle isn't making the tallyman work overtime.

That being said, I'll take it from the top, and focus on changes from 8th.

Unit Coherency
This is going to be a change-up.  Note that unit coherency now changes based on unit size.  If you're 1-5 guys, it's the good ol' 2" between guys.  If you're 6+ dudes, you now have to be in coherency with two guys.  Also, if you're not in that coherency, you lose guys - but at least they don't count for morale purposes.

The short version - unit footprint is getting smaller.

The long version - screening units have a much smaller footprint.  Combined with what we know about strategic reserves, life's gonna get interesting.

Dice Modifiers
Well, we got clarification here, but it's more or less what's expected - at the end of the day, you can't have more than +1 or -1 to a dice roll.

So, you can layer multiple -1s to hit to counter a +1 to hit, though - so it might be worth bringing multiple buffs/de-buffs in case you want or need to stack them, or spread them out.  I'm not sure how practical it's going to be, though.

The question, of course, is going to be "What kind of buffs to do I want to bring?" which assumes, of course, that you've got a variety.

All in all, this is a hit to some armies, but probably a decent balance move.

Modifying Characteristics
Hey, at least we got an order of operations in the book - I'll take it.

Turn Phases
We now have a 'command phase' - you'll definitely get a CP during it for being battle-forged.

My follow-on question - there are a lot of "at the beginning of your turn" abilities, and some "beginning of the round" abilities.  Are one or both of these going here?  I suspect that "beginning of your turn" abilities will now be "command phase" abilities.  Hopefully 'beginning of the round' abilities stay there - chaplains, etc. will feel a bit of a hit.

Move Phase
There are three standouts here -

First off, your unit chooses from one of four things - 'move', 'stand still', 'advance' and 'fall back' - which means you can't have some dudes shuffle and the heavy weapon guy stand still.  I'm ok with this clarity, for the most part.

Falling back disables psychic powers this time around, though - that's gonna take some getting used to, assuming you had powers.  Alternatively, you can lock up psykers in melee and make them wonder if they want to be there.

'Fly' no longer lets you fall back and shoot, which is sad.  Or glad, depending on whether you liked Tau.  Insert sad Riptide noises [HERE]

Reserves
Note that you don't have to come on by turn three - you only die at the end of the game.  Kind of expected, given the changes to aircraft and the fact you can pay CP to keep dudes in reserve, per the leaks/previews we've had.

Transports
Now you can't hop into one if you're engaged.  I'll admit I'm rusty on transport rules because I didn't see a ton of them, and I sure didn't see a lot of folks get back into them.

Aircraft
Pretty sure most of this already got previewed - but at least now flying off the table isn't a bad thing, and it might even be useful.  Then again, removing a target means it makes the other guy's shooting phase that much easier.

Psychic Phase
At a glance, it looks like nothing really changed.  It looks like they just codified 'you get to try each power 1x per turn unless it's Smite' and "Smite gets harder each time you try it."

Shooting Phase in General
A lot of this looks like housekeeping/codifying stuff - like "pick all your targets first" which just means "might want to think about math and odds."

The blast weapon buff is pretty nice - minimum 3 hits, max hits on 11+ - is going to help, and blast weapons are going to be at a premium since screening got a LOT harder.


Shooting Phase - Look Out, Sir
Character screening got a little more complicated, but again this got previewed.  I'm largely ok with this.  Mostly, you just need to be within 3" of another unit or vehicle - you can't 'screen' a character with that tactical squad that's a foot away.  And you can't screen a character with a character, but I'm pretty sure that was already a thing.

Basically, bring a squad to hide behind.  Bring two.  Or hide behind a tank or two.  Or just have more than 9 wounds and be sad.

Shooting Phase - Big Guns Never Tire
I think a lot of folks are psyched about this - even if you're not a big melee monstrosity, you can still defend yourself a little. However, -1 to hit from heavy weapons (and no blast weapons) is going to hurt.

You can always gamble and hope you scraped off everyone attached to you - but you have to declare all your targets. (So you can try to dump your backup weapons into some randos climbing on your hull, hope they die, and dump a battle cannon onto something else.  Either you kill 'em and shoot someone else in the bargain, OR lose the battle cannon shot. Math is your friend!)

Ranged Weapon Types
Infantry take a -1 to hit after moving and shooting heavy weapons.  That's the big change here.  Note, though, that if you're already taking a -1 to hit at a target and you need to move, well, you're not losing anything else at least.

The big change here is blast weapons - they depend on the number of dudes in the unit.
1-5 guys - roll for number of attacks
6-10 guys - roll, but it's minimum of 3
11+ guys - max attacks

Can't shoot into Engagement Range if you're a vehicle, which is sad.  Blast weapons can put out the volume of shots, now.

Making Attacks
Wounding, mortal wounds, and damage look pretty unchanged from what we knew.

Charging
The biggest change I see off-hand is the change to multi-charges.  You either make all your charges, or none of them.

Overwatch has also been changed - you need rules or a stratagem to overwatch.  Honestly I'm not too miffed about it; overwatch is either heavily influenced by army stratagems (IE - Tau, Iron Hands, etc.), weapon types (...why are you charging flamers again?) or lucky dice (Like that time a Hellwright on Dark Abeyant blew up a near-mint Knight Armiger on overwatch.  Don't think about the odds.)

Elgibility to fight got a slight change (that will probably be easier to explain with pictures).  You can fight if you're in engagement range, which is an inch.  You can also fight if you're within half an inch of a friendly who's within half an inch of an enemy.

Morale Phase
Morale got a change as well, but the impact is a little more variable.

You still take a morale check based on casualties.  Dead guys + 1d6 vs. leadership.  If you roll a 1, you auto-pass.  If you roll higher, one guy runs away, and THEN, attrition! Drop 1d6 per guy, and on a 1 they run.

Casualties are going to be more variable, based on the number of survivors.  You're going to lose 1 guy per failed morale check, and could assume another 1 in 6 will flee.  (It's not perfect math, but it's a reasonable enough guess for you to go with.)

So let's take a unit of 20 guys at Ld10.  Kill 10.
8th Edition Ld Check
-straight dice - between 1 and 6 flee.

9th Edition Ld Check
- 1/6 chance to auto-pass.
-when you fail because your dice hate you, 1 dude flees, and out of the remaining 9, 1.5 flees, since you're above half-strength.
-Note that if you get lower than half-strength, it gets worse, since the combat attrition takes a -1 modifier. (so there's a 1/3 chance of fleeing, vs. a 1/6 chance. Ouch.)

Short version - math is going to be involved, and I think we'll probably still have the 2CP auto-pass stratagem.

Note that the coherency check occurs here as well, but doesn't count for morale.

On Objective Markers
The rules codify that an objective marker's a 40mm base, and spell out how close you have to be to claim it.  I'm ok with this, since it puts everyone on the same page.  There's nothing wrong with standardization.

On new table sizes
It looks like you still start 24" away from each other, so I'm not sure how much of a difference it'll be.  At most you just use your old tables and mark off a couple inches on either side.  Blammo, done.

In Summary
I remain cautiously optimistic.  The biggest changes I see are as follows -

-unit coherency gets a vote on screens
-tactical reserves & widespread availability thereof
-level playing field of CP
-dice modifiers limited to +1/-1
-multi-charges are all-or-nothing
-vehicles/monsters get a little mobility back with move-and-shoot

Now I just have to actually, y'know, play some games and get ahold of new point values, rules, etc.