40K 8th: How Much Should Assault Matter?

8th Edition seems to be bringing back Assault – but how much should it matter in 40k?


GW spilled the beans on the basics of Assault and everyone has been digesting what it will mean for the game as a whole.

One of the big complaints of 7th Edition has been the nerfing of Assault versus Shooting.  Sure towards the end of our current edition, we saw super crazy deathstar combos – but then again, insane min-maxed multi-codex combos like that were the only way to really make assault viable.  Folks have been crying out for something to help out assaulters for years and it looks like GW has listened.

Here’s one set of thoughts from Dakka’s ClockworkZion to give you a taste of how the player community is absorbing the announcements so far:

“1. Wounds don’t pull from the front. This means less sudden increases in distance between an assault unit and it’s target due to being shot or via Overwatch.

2. Rend values on basic weapons look like they’re going to be mostly 0s. This means horde and lightly armoured assault units (Nids, Orks, Banshees, Dark Eldar) can weather shooting more, and also have an increased survival rate when being shot at.

3. Assaulting from transports seems to be in. While this doesn’t directly help Nids (save for the Spore Pod), it does give most assault units an increased durability to getting in close enough safely before they start stabbing people.

4. Pile in to pull in enemy units is a nice buff to horde armies as well since it can help tie up multiple units more easily, allow people to assault transports to get a free pile-in on the disembarked occupants, ect. A mechanic for negating overwatch that doesn’t cost Command Points or wargear upgrades is good and promotes tactics on both sides.”

But there’s a bigger question…

How Good Should Assault Be?

Over the editions of 40K assault have waxed and waned. Way back in 3rd, Assault was wretched, while in other editions, sweeping advances made assault armies buzz-saws that just chewed through enemy armies once they reached them.

From a big picture point of view GW has some tough choices to make.

  1. Warhammer 40,000 is a Sci-fi game. This isn’t a game of historical ancients with Greeks facing down Persians – we have tanks and guns.
  2. Warhammer 40,000 is incredibly melodramatic. It is a universe with daemons, giant robots, Orks, and mighty armored super-soldiers who routinely attack tanks with 8-foot hammers.
  3. Warhammer 40,000 has quite a large number of assault only units with long histories in the game – from Genestealers to Assault Terminators and everything else in between.

So at a 10,000 foot level the real question isn’t should assault be equal to shooting, but exactly how should the game and the players think of it.

Three Ways of Thinking About Assault:

Put down that chainsword and pull out a gun – like a real warrior!

It’s Rare

Assault should be relatively ineffective versus shooting. Standard troops that engage in assault should mostly mill around and slowly grind each other down. Only assault specialist units should be quickly lethal in assault – and should still have a challenge to get there. Ranged combat and deployment is a critical part of the game.

Guns, or blades – whatever it takes…

It’s Balanced

Both Assault and shooting are balanced. While shooting is solid, even standard troops are deadly in assault – and will kill just as many models on average as with their ranged weapons. Assault specialists are exceedingly deadly once they hit enemy units, but may still have a challenge to engage. Both Ranged and Assault abilities matter equally.

A gun – what’s that?

It’s Common

Standard troops are deadly in assault, and have a decent shot of getting there versus standard shooting.  Assault specialists are only easily stopped by other assault units once they hit the badguys. They additionally have multiple avenues to reliably get into assault. Maneuver and improvisation are key in the game as static gunlines will have a hard time of it.

The real puzzler is that all of these three options are viable design choices – it’s just a matter of what GW thinks 40K should be about.

~GW has themselves moved between these archtypes over the years, but where you come down on the scale and what do you expect from 8th?


  • Paul Applebaum

    Horus Heresy novel (I forget which), a Son of Horus remarks that they shouldn’t be sitting back and shooting at an enemy, especially one with personal troop shields, they need to get in there and personally tear them a new one. That’s what they were designed to do and they should do it well. Not every army has this design, but the ones who do should be able to play that way without being at an enormous disadvantage compared to shooting armies. Yea, it the far future, but any war will have its share of fighting at close quarters.

    • CrisisSuitsOwn

      In most conflicts since WWII, close combat hasn’t played any kind of significant role in the outcome of the conflict. Even CQB focused units train to shoot people at close ranges with weapons bigger than pistols. CC units in 40k make no sense and the rules reflect the weapons most units in 40k carry very poorly. Close combat is way too dominant in the game considering most models are carrying the equivalent of a rifle.

      • Grieux

        You’re absolutely right but it’s one of the key in-universe suspension of disbelief elements so it makes sense in-universe.

      • Carsten Mueller

        In all Conflicts in Human History, im pretty sure that psi-powers never played a role… Its a Fantasy/SciFy universe so comparing it with reality isnt a good idea…
        If you look in the fluff you will see that close combat is not a bad idea in that universe…
        I think that video:
        is right about why cc is in 40k.

        • marxlives

          Only is important if you looking at playing a sci-fi game. The same thing happened in WMH when the game became infantry dominate in a skirmish game. In a early industrial world where low speed ballistics, melee units are still viable, and magic happens robots with Artificial Intelligence and monsters should be TERRIFYING. Luckily 3rd edition fixed this and pivoted the game back to what it is about, robots and monsters.

          But beyond a Road Warrior, melee in 40k for me…who enjoys hard sci-fi is a huge turn off. And I am too old to get off on rolling dice and imagining what chainsaw sword does. When I play sci-fi, I want it to make sense. Should melee happen, well our infantry still has bayonets but it really is a last ditch weapon, not your go too. I imagine the same for SM’s, yes the armor gives them mobile cover, but for whatever armor you make, someone can make a ballistics to punch a hole in it. I mean we make depleted uranium rounds for this purpose today, not 40k years in the future.

          Since we actually have command ATVs nowadays that actually use an automated 50 cal. turret that automatically targets and kills enemies with better accuracy than a soldier and can separate friend from foe, I expect that tech to be miniaturized and every piece of SM armor to be a wearable command vehicle. SM’s should be insane in ranged combat.

          So what do I expect from a sci-fi game 40k in the future? Specialized and regular units, ranged combat is super important, melee is rare but is seen in trench storming situations, covering fire, cover, and hacking or information warfare are important tactical decisions that must be used in combination to win. Tricking combat systems to see friend as foe, or to see foes where none exists should happen.

          • Carsten Mueller

            “When i play sci-fi i want it to make sense” …
            sense in a sci-fi universe where you have deamons, space-elves who just made a new god, wolf riding space marines and other fantasy related stuff… sorry but i think you got the wrong system…. just look at the story around the emperor…

            Ok if you look at reality, automated systems are really good.
            But if thats annoying you, i would say why use space marines at all, drones would be much more efficient. All that Bio-engineering that is done to those humans to actually be an Space marine…. If you have all that tech why bother at all with ground combat? With all those extremely advanced systems and the possibility to travel through the warp SM should be able to kill all the enemies from space without the need to get to the ground… Why should you even think about building tanks like rhinos?

            The answer is simple:
            its a game with a non realistic setting which is fun, completely over the top and with a lot of fluff… but lets just ignore that part because of “beeing too old for imagine what chainswords do”
            If you want a realistic setting then maybe 40k isnt the right game for you? I mean just look on the website for 40k… just look at armies like orks their models just scream meele… i mean waaagh 🙂

          • someone01

            well then you are the only one, close combat is what makes 40k what it is, and it’s not even sci-fi per se, it’s gothic fantasy in SPAAACEEEE, if you want a sci-fi setting with guns there’s infinity

      • euansmith

        You’re not just saying that as a Tau player? 😉

      • orionburn

        In a human vs human conflict that holds up, but CC should still be a reasonable expectation in a far reaching galaxy where you’re going to run into enemies that aren’t as advanced (i.e. Orks & Nids) and rely more heavily on getting in your face.

      • Haighus

        That is to do with the balance of protection vs damage. Ranged weapons have existed for millennia- why have that not been dominant since their introduction? It boils down to ability to avoid taking damage (speed and armour) vs damage output.

        Armour in the Middle ages and Renaissance, throughout the period, was generally good enough to protect against the ranged weapons it was protecting against, right up until muskets became widespread (not just guns- the early hand cannons/arquebuses were not sufficiently powerful to punch through good armour). Armour still saw some use for a bit after this point, but gradually faded out of use until modern body armour. Before this, if you wanted to break an enemy unit and occupy the territory they were defending, you have to push into melee and and defeat them up close, where there are many more ways to effectively defeat armour.

        This didn’t end melee by itself- melee died out when the damage output reached great enough levels that units could no longer reach melee in effective numbers even with speed, sometime in the 19th century to the early 20th. True cavalry dissappeared then.

        Now we are in a situation where, unless there are exceptional circumstances, the damage output of ranged weapons far exceeds the protection and speed required to negate them. So everyone shoots instead.

        In 40k, GW has engineered a setting in which melee has become useful again. There are warriors walking around wearing armour that can stop anti-tank rounds. There are alieans and augmented humans with exceptional speed.They are able to reach assault without being shot to pieces, and assault is a viable method for dealing with heavily armoured opponents, or totally breaking the morale of enemy units.

        This means melee is entirely viable in 40k, because they have returned the balance between damge, and the ability to ignore damage to that of the late medieval period.

        • Nightwalker

          Not to mention that shooting (more so mass driven rounds, not so much energy) is a vectored projectile. If your armour is rounded, you can more easily alter the vector (IE deflect the rounds). An ax or claw is not vectored, and it’s direction and momentum can be changed on an instant with the flick of a wrist. Ergo, close combat would become more viable in such a setting (even in reality).

          My bet is in the rules, ranged weapons are mostly rending 0, where as assault weapons will have rending to them to reflect this (and make assault and actual trade off against shooting).

          • Haighus

            True, although armour has been designed in such a way as to cause melee attacks to deflect off and not impact all their force to the wearer, as well as techniques to increase the chance of that happening.

            But you are right in that melee has more options to defeat armour, including simply being better able to stab the weak points like eye lenses.

          • Nightwalker

            Yes, however there is more variety in countering armour in melee (comparing mass driven again), such as ax vs sword vs lance vs maul. Each capitalizes on different aspects of physics (blunt force, piercing, etc).

            Actually was would be devistating to a Space Marine would be high-impact rounds. Ones designed to collapse into a flat head on impact, transferring all the momentum to the target. The armour is designed to stop piercing, but its hard to design something to properly distribute that force. Basically the armour would be fine, but the user would be hurting. Take a few more of those rounds and you’d be incapacitated.

          • Haighus

            Well, there is a lot of shock absorbance in the armour too from what has been stated. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are capable of taking the kinetic energy and dissipating most of it.

            Also Marines can take more of a punch than humans 😉

            To be fair though, this is essentially how longbows worked against good quality plate- they didnt pierce and kill, but just kept raining blows onto the advancing knights until they were battered and bruised to the point they could not fight as effectively anymore.

            This may even have been true of earlier armour using riveted mail and gambesons, although getting good quality testing on that is difficult. Especially with the prevalence of rubbish butted mail today, even if supposedly historically accurate contexts.

          • Muninwing

            the techniques are in fact the other part of melee — the reason a compared weapon skill is used.

            wearing great armor but no real idea how to use it is going to get you killed faster than wearing mediocre armor while being good at fighting. just as it is by the ice.

          • Scott Staten

            Flick of a wrist? Having swung real swords and axes, i assure you there’s more to it than that.

          • Nightwalker

            But have you done it wearing tactical dreadnought armour? Or as a Tyranid warrior? 😛

      • Jared McWilliams

        While cc has not played a decisive outcome in a battle, even modern military units are aware that you are more likely to die in close quarters fighting than in an infantry firefight.

        Most modern firefights end with a large expenditure of ammo and some small casualties, but it close quarters fighting happens the death count on both sides is higher- which is why many armies avoid sending in ground troops to cities as the first line of attack.

        • NNextremNN

          Well crippling enemies is more effective then killing them because it binds more men.

          Also real world fights are never balanced. The allies required far more men and suffered far more casualties than the axis at the d-day.

          This is still a game and in games both sides should be able to win.

  • Dumbcow1

    as a Black Templar….im all for more close combat oriented game…just sayin

  • Atharius

    Still trying to figure out whether or not to tear the arms off my 60 shoota boys and make them slugga boyz. The use of pistols in CC really won’t make a huge difference to a 5+ slugga shot and I can definitely predict lots of people utilizing the fall back rule against slugga boyz… maybe those shoota shots will be handy… Decisions!

    • Nathaniel Wright

      But I thought there would be less tactical choices in 8th… hmmm.

    • Sorien

      Just have 180 of each…

  • Munn

    If it stops all the back and for about frelling charge distances, I’d happily remove CC altogether.

    • euansmith

      I’d like to see a reactive Combat Phase, so that shooting and melee would be identical, with units engaged by shooting getting to shoot back, just like units in combat get to fight in the enemy’s turn.

  • MarcoT

    Balanced ofcourse. If shooting is dominant, especially with reasonably long ranges, it’s just a shooting gallery where either side tries to take out the scariest stuff on the other side and working their way down. If assault is dominant everyone just moves to the middle and smashes head.

    A mixture is what makes this an interesting game; when to do what? How can ranged help optimising my assaults?

    I hope they’ve nailed it this time. No way to know currently.

    • pskontz

      I agree 100% balanced is how it should be.

      sadly if its 100%balanced many people don’t use enough terrain. giving edge to shooty. I was working online with a young many learning with his buddy he was starting nids his buddy tau. after a few real frustrating conversations (he was frusterated) it came out they used 3 crops of trees and 2 small buildings.

      GW cant fix terrain of players, but i gurantee they will get the blame haha. but I always say make the table look good than add 2 more pieces.

      • Heinz Fiction

        While a good terrain layout certanly helps Nids to suck less, their problems lie far deeper than this.

        • orionburn

          Hopefully with all the profile overhauls they find balance. From what they’ve hinted at you’re looking at a minimum of 8″ movement for gaunts, and the big guys should get a lot more wounds. With bolters not having any save modifier Nids are going to finally get to take a decent amount of saving throws.

        • pskontz

          to be fair this was a while back when they were not as bad but you put a assaut heavy vrs shooty heavy on a pen field it wont end well for assulty with no place to hide

      • vlad78

        They can fix it by specifically showing how much terrain there should be.

        • euansmith

          They have long said 25% of the table should have terrain on it. Of course, this can lead to edge cases, where a table is filled with 144 6″ x 1″ x 3″ billboards creating pretty much total cover. 😉

      • NNextremNN

        Terrain does not create balance it simply shifts the advantage to one side or the other. You can stuff the board so full of terrain that shooty units have no LoS to anything but that wouldn’t be fair either.
        There are not only city battles there are also battles in the desert.

        • Haighus

          Very rarely do battles in the desert happen on a flat plain with no obstacles to line of sight though. There are usually either dunes, rocky outcrops or both.

          I think 40k does work best with a decent amount of terrain. Obviously this can be taken to extremes at both ends, from a perfectly flat stretch of savannah with a few trees, to a dense and twisting Zones Mortalis inside a starship with LoS no longer than 6″.

          But somewhere in the middle, which provides a few longer angels of shooting fire, but also a few approaches that units can advance though mostly in cover unless the enemy moves, is good.

          • NNextremNN

            I think the balance should be created by the army nor the terrain. You adjust your army to the terrain not the other way around.

            Plains get long range shooty / artillery or transports / deep strikes for your CC units.

            If your fighting in a city hide in buildings shoot empty streets. Get a flamethrower to cleanse buildings. Hide behind each building wall and storm the building. If assault units get into buildings hold by shoot defenders they should have no problems to clear them out.

            I’m all for balance but this does not mean anything is effective everywhere and against anything. Tyrannids and Chaos have shooting units too probably better than tau melee. If they can’t melee everywhere they should be able to make use the shooting units they have.

            And if your camouflage is good you could even sneak upon an enemy in the desert. Actually the plain texture and heat distorting the vision makes this rather easy.

          • Haighus

            Very true, but when designing codices, you can only truly balance it if using a roughly standard level of terrain, and then let the extremes dictate what is balanced by themselves. As you say, no one is going to want to take assault Terminators on foot in a desert. They may want to in a spaceship interior. But both of these are extremes, so they shouldn’t really consider them when balancing the codices, and should base it on what they think should be the standard level of terrain.

            At this level, all options in a codex should have the same utility.

          • NNextremNN

            Well originally terminator armor was designed for close quarter ship / Space Hulk combat. But I understand why people want to field them elsewhere.

            And yes I agree that each codex should have a chance of winning everywhere if played right or a with a little bit of luck.

            Space Marines have drop pods to deepstrike and should be able to assault support lines in the back. That’s what they are made for. Tau have interceptors and overwatch to defend themself from those attacks that’s what they are made for. Balance should come from the numbers (profiles) winning should come from strategy and luck.

          • Haighus

            Yeah, I agree. I think there should be a sweet spot though- where everything is equally useful, and when deviating from that is when different units become more effective due to their particular attributes. Such as Terminators struggling in the open due to being slow, being useful in light urban areas, very useful in dense urban areas, and downright nasty when they come round that corner in the ship corridor and you can’t get away.

          • NNextremNN

            Now we just need lots of different terrain boards. Too bad I can’t even finish panting my armies.

          • Haighus

            I am planning to build a starship/space station type interior board. Whether it ever gets out of the planning stage I don’t know, but I really hope to be able to get some games in on it eventually. I think the game will be very different.

          • NNextremNN

            Like this http://static.wixstatic.com/media/ed72d4_17e93cfbd7784917a6ad4e12d24d4d01.jpg/v1/fill/w_975,h_731,al_c,q_90,usm_0.66_1.00_0.01/ed72d4_17e93cfbd7784917a6ad4e12d24d4d01.jpg?

            If money is your only problem you can buy it from fantasyarc. I do consider it but at the same time know I don’t have the time to paint it.

          • Haighus

            The concept is similar, but I will be building the basic framework myself. Mainly because I have a very specific design in mind.

          • NNextremNN

            From what I understood they wanted to build the Space Hulk game tiles. But I would love to see some more interior boards. So good luck and go ahead 🙂

          • Haighus

            Thanks 🙂

          • Muninwing

            that does balance somewhat with some other issues too.

            like GK terminators… a perfect example.

            the army as a whole is not terribly functional without allies. why? because there is just so much they cannot do.

            but if you compare and price the GK’s terminators versus anyone else’s (Deathwing and SM codex, most notably), you’ll notice that they have quite a few advantages that the others do not. and their weapon upgrades are cheaper, strong, or both from their equivalents. and they have extra gear. and they are fewer points. from a pure gear/rules=points standpoint, they’re the best deal in terminator armor. but without support, or special strategy, they’re finicky to downright terrible to play.

            the rest of their options balance this out, for the most part.

            perhaps one of the reasons why detachments were not so great an idea, and allies being that permissive was probably a mistake. it eroded internal mechanics that regulated certain lists.

            i’d love it if the new Command Points were useable to add detachments or formations… but useful to have not spent as well. that way there’d be a mechanic to be able to include an assassin in an IG detachment, or daemons in a CSM list, but there’d be diminishing returns that would make superfriends pointless.

          • Haighus

            I agree entirely.

          • Muninwing

            the more strategy you have, the more luck you seem to have too…

            and interestingly, one of the reasons why there are further factors to consider when balancing is in effect in one of your examples.

            Tau. bad a CC. lower points per model for their stats. but they got a boost in abilities to kill anything that dared to assault them, and pretty much for free. meaning that the mitigation of their disadvantage wasn’t balanced with the system gains from that disadvantage. then, any bonuses to that freebie advantage (such as from a formation or detachment) only magnified the imbalance.

            the rest of the army having lacks in certain places made somewhat up for it, in all but the complaints of tau players. but it created a power spike that required specially built armies or playstyles to overcome, which in turn affected the meta.

          • pskontz

            balance needs to be in armies. but GW will balance it with terrain (they been saying 25%) my point is terrain will skew that balance by to much or not enough. if you balance armies in a void than terrain will help melee armies (they learn fast how to to use cover) a good table will ave firing line and good cover but most of the time we see bare bones tables (even when GW had it illustrated in their rules) but again its not GWs fault we underdo our tables (very rarely have i seen it overdone

          • NNextremNN

            Well a full table is expensive while an empty table is free. I doubt many do it intentionally.

        • pskontz

          thats the point (I didnt say terrain creates balance but that it skews it) if you have a fully balanced assault and shoot rules and your table is empty the shooty has an advantage. if its so choked full of hidy places assault will get an advantage. so regardless of how balanced things are terrain will skew the results and GW gets blamed

    • No-one Special

      I think the problem was a lot of assault players still believe/ed they should be able to walk up to any unit and assault/smash it without any difficulty. That’s not how it should be.
      Frontally charging a shooty unit should result in heavy casualties, near suicidal even – for obvious reasons. You should be made to work a lot harder to successfully assault units than simply getting in range. It’s a tool, not a right – and a tool for the right situation, not every situation.
      The only exceptions to this are specific assault focussed armies like Orks and Nids who don’t always have a choice – and they should be given help within their codexs(?) to make them work.

  • AdeptusAstartes

    With at least 8 of the current factions geared towards CC it matters!

    Balance is better, but I’ll plump for carnage over balance every day of the week!

    • ZeeLobby

      At this point I got to agree. After 2 editions of nothing but gunlines occasionally pierced by invisible deathstars, I’m ready for some change.

      • NNextremNN

        Yeah replace one imbalance with another one … just like the old an eye for an eye? How long does shooting has to be bad before it can be good again?

        • ZeeLobby

          As long as every faction has close combat I don’t see how that should matter. Shooting is currently abusive because some factions do it way better than others. If CC was given more power it would be likewise. But if all factions had shooting and CC options that were comparable, the games would still be good. They don’t have to be copy and paste units in each, but if you build a faction that can only do one thing, they will forever be OP or UP.

          • NNextremNN

            Well Tau don’t really have melee options and orks not really precise shooting. And I think it should stay that way. Balance should be created by other means. And I really hope they managed to achieve balance between shooting and melee and didn’t just made melee far better than shooting.

          • ZeeLobby

            I mean kroot could not suck at melee if they wanted them not to. They could also do a much better job at roadblocking in 8th than they currently do. Ork shooting is actually stronger than their CC right now (played orks competitively for a while in 6th/7th), lol. It’s inaccurate, but its massed.

            I mean balance is balance. If CC is stronger than shooting it’s fine as long as armies either A) Have strong CC options or B) Have an answer to CC opponents (kroot roadblocks for example). Shooting and CC are just two mechanics of the game. It’s up for them to decide if future warfare is primarily a shooting or CC affair. In the end the game will never be balanced if factions don’t have options/answers to whatever is stronger though, and in a game with factions that only do one or the other well, you will never have CC and shooting be perfectly balanced when looked at in a vacuum. You could still have balanced factions though, which is what everyone really wants.

          • NNextremNN

            Well Tau have answers for that they could improve their overwatch shots and interceptors against deep strikes. I think the imbalance came from numbers (profiles).

            I’m just totally against another imbalance.

          • Nyyppä

            Is opposite imbalance worse than the current one? If so then why? If it’s not then what does it matter?

          • NNextremNN

            It does matter because I hope that 8th edition will be more balanced for both options.

            (… and I personally prefer shooting but that’s not the point).

          • Nyyppä

            So it matters because you prefer shooting. Well, I prefer melee.

            Obviously balance is the best option but I honestly do not care either way is one os broken and one is underpowered. In that situation I will skip the edition anyway. No point in wasting time on automatically winning/losing just because faction/army build/something not skill related.

          • NNextremNN

            So melee skip 7th and shooting skip 8th edition? That doesn’t sound like a good idea neither for the players nor for the company. And I prefer balanced games I just want to play a shooty army which does not mean my opponent should not have a chance.

          • Nyyppä

            I fully agree. We shal see if GW agrees with us.

          • ZeeLobby

            This was my point. It doesn’t matter if CC and shooting are imbalanced. It matters if factions are balanced or not.

          • NNextremNN

            So you’d rather change he fluff and essence of an army than the game rules?

          • ZeeLobby

            Lol. Yeah. I’d rather Tau continue to not use kroot for their actual skirmishing purpose. Or guard not sacrifice units to blunt a charge. Those sound much more fluffy /s.

            If anything it’d correct those things.

          • Drpx

            You could buff Kroot to power-armored Genestealer level and the average Tau player wouldn’t take them because aesthetic reasons.

          • ZeeLobby

            That’s just a lie, I love my kroot. They just haven’t been useful for 2 editions.

          • Drpx

            Most tau I meet don’t like their looks.

        • Admiral Raptor

          When did 6th come out? 2012? I think that’s right. Shooting has to be bad for five and a half years. After that you can have fun again.

        • Drpx

          About two years would work for me.

  • Moke

    It should be balanced but we have to bear in mind that this means assault troops need to be at least 20% better than their shooting counterparts.

    This is simply because, with the game as it stands presently, it’s (in almost all cases) impossible for any close combat to happen on turn 1, whilst shooting can happen every turn. If games are five turns, that means for one turn the assault armies aren’t getting any killing done, making them in real terms 20% less effective than their shooty cousins. As a result, assault units need to get the same amount of killing done when they *do* reach assault, just with fewer attacks than when they started as they’ll have lost some to turn 1 fire and overwatch fire.

    And, yes, the answer to this is: Buy a transport – but that means you’re paying a 150ish point tax to bring your assault troops, which means the assault people need to make up 150 points worth of killing before they even START to be effective…

    Balancing this stuff is tricky.

    • Karru

      Actually, Assaulting isn’t really 20% ineffective as you say. In a normal case, Ranged Units are equipped with weapons that get 1 or 2 shots each. They get to shoot those guns once or twice depending on the charge done. Let’s say a unit of Tactical Marines has 10 bolters and they get to shoot them twice, once at long range and once in rapid fire range. That’s 30 shots. Meanwhile a unit of 10 Assault Marines charging into combat would get 30 Attacks. 1 Base, +1 for CC/Pistol and +1 for charging. They can also add their Pistol shots before that if they want to, giving them 40 attacks, 10 more than their Tactical counterparts.

      Normally, shooting is meant to be a slow attrition. They slowly kill people from a distance. Meanwhile Assaulting hits hard once they get close. What they can’t kill, they can break and then run down. So in a technical level, they are about as equal when it comes to number of attacks.

      So in theory they are about equal, in practice its a completely different story.

    • No-one Special

      Assault units also get to attack at an increased effectiveness over shooty units in both player turns once in combat.
      Taking Karru’s reply further, after the two turns of shooting and first turn of assault has been joined the assault squad would then be striking with 40 attacks over a full game turn compared with only 20 from the tac squad (for a potential 4 games turns) – a difference of +100% in favour of the CC unit.
      Obviously this example isn’t based IRL, as it assumes an inifinite combat ignoring casualties, but it does highlight how drastically the pedulum swings once CC is joined.
      The issue with assault is how they get there, not what they do once in combat.
      Shooting units must be given the chance to do damage before the CC units close in, otherwise no-one would bother with them, but at the same time they must also have a reasonable chance of successfully reaching combat.
      I think transports are a big part of the problem – they are far too cheap points wise and so are made less useful to compensate – when it should be the other way around. Transport vehicles should be very good and appropriately costed for that benefit. As should fast moving assault units – make them good, but expensive.
      And yes, balance is very difficult in 40k.

  • Hackadactyl

    40k has dedicated assault and dedicated shooting, both phases should be worthwhile, as they are selling models to fill these rolls

  • Heinz Fiction

    As long as there are armies that place heavy emphasis of one of the two, shooting and assault should both be viable approaches to win the battle. Ideally there should be synergy betwween the two, encouring players to create versatile army lists.

    • CrisisSuitsOwn

      Except many armies are useless at one phase or the other. Tau and Guard should never be assaulting as a winning strategy and Nids and Orks should never be shooting their way to victory. Making every army effective at both would require more changes than it appears even 8th is bringing us. It would re-write almost all of the flavor of the game. Not something most players would want I don’t think.

      • Heinz Fiction

        I like the idea of a tyranid assault force which gets fire support from Biovores. Same for a guard army that has some ogryns to countercharge any attackers who make it into their lines.

        Things like this weren’t entirely impossible to do in previous editions, just oftentimes not very effective.

  • Karru

    This has always been my take on the situation:

    Both should be equally viable options without having to go to the extremes. One should be able to take a balanced army of both melee units and ranged units and do good. This was the case in 5th edition where I could take Assault Marines and a Command Squad/Captain combo alongside my regular units of Tactical Marines, Scouts, Predators and Devastators. This army did well.

    Currently though you have to dedicate your army towards either one, but never both. You either go with full assault supported by a few long range units or you do a full shooty army with some screening units. While this does make both elements an option, it creates very boring lists. A mixed list makes things a lot more interesting.

    A way to balance things out would be simple and wouldn’t require too much. First thing I’d bring back would be the old Night Fighting rules from 5th edition and make it so that 1st turn will have Night Fighting automatically, if either player wishes so. For those that are not familiar with the system or don’t remember it, when you picked a target, you rolled 2D6 and multiplied it by 3. This was your vision range, you couldn’t shoot over it so if you rolled poorly, you couldn’t see your target so you couldn’t shoot. This would make the game that much more balanced for Melee centric armies.

    6th edition used the “tiered” system where depending on the distance one would get a better cover save or couldn’t be targeted at all. The problem was that it was over 36″ that you couldn’t target. This meant that in a regular table, if the Assaulting player moved first, he was guaranteed to be in range. Add into that the plethora of ways to outright ignore Cover Saves and you had a perfect mix to deny Assaulting altogether.

    Also, before anyone would start to complain about the “2D6 being too random”, check the rules for charging and then come back and try again.

    Anyway, beyond that there are some simple things that could make the life of Assault units a bit easier. Giving them “powerful” weapons for example would be ideal. Even the basic weapons could have -1 rending. Since they can only be used in CC, they could be made “more” powerful than ranged weapons since you can use them far less than ranged once.

    The key problem with many Assault armies has always been the lack of survival. Instead of getting to wither down the enemy during the game, you damage them at once. This is the trade-off. Unfortunately in current 40k, Shooting was made so powerful that there was little point in taking Assault Units. They simply couldn’t make it to the enemy lines or they died as soon as they got there without ever touching the enemy.

    Since shooting very little downsides to things like moving around, kiting an Assault unit around is very easy to do. Then you have plenty of tools to use if they manage to attempt the charge.

    This is why giving Ranged units the taste of the Assault’s medicine would do nicely. Give them a random range as well for a round. During that round, the Assault player can move his units to cover and across the board, forcing the enemy to react accordingly.

  • ILikeToColourRed

    wounds not being taken from the from hasn’t been stated by GW, so why is it point 1?

    • Karru

      A logical conclusion. 40k 8th edition ruleset is AoS ruleset with minor additions. Wounds are allocated by the owner of the unit and are not removed closest-to-closest basis.

      • ILikeToColourRed

        aye, but in fantasy wounds were allocated to the rear (afaik?)

        • Karru

          Yes, that it did.

  • Marco Marantz

    i bitched severely about assault in my hate letters to GW about the state of the assault and i hope in some way i helped swing the pendulum back a bit. Some ideas have been adopted and some new ideas have been touted – which I like the sound of.
    But the article is rather silly when questioning how effective assaults should be and stating ‘not very’. Vella describes assaults as grindfests with standard troops – its like that now. Melee in warfare has always been decisive, more decisive than shooting, its just that its gotten rarer for troops to engage in melee HOWEVER unlike in our age, in M41 there are many types of effective personal armor and energy fields which enable troops to get into melee. PLUS for a number of factions which melee is their primary attack form (tyranids espec), if melee is not viable or decisive then those factions are redundant. Anything melee oriented even in traditional shooting armies (troops, melee equipment is likewise largely redundant as the meta remains trying to cram every last point in with which to blow your opponent off the table. Such games are dull. Fact is 40K is still an overly static game; its hard for most troops to try and avoid assaults, but granted most people just sit there and blaze away until they are overrun.

    • No-one Special

      After reading the rules, I think there will be a growing distinction between Assault Specialists and just general assault units. The generalists will do as you described, tie up units using the 3″ rule, grind etc, with their primary focus being to occupy and distract the enemy – which then allows the assault specialists to get in and do the real damage. Even if the units being assaulted fall back, they can’t shoot and this is the window you need to get the specialists in.
      Assault Specialists should be as you say – decisive – but they should also be expensive points wise. You use them against key objectives, dangerous enemies, as line breakers etc. The generalists should just be average basic guys, but with CC equipment. Think assault squad and a Terminator squad. The assault squad are just basic marines with CC weapons, but they are fast and get into combat quickly to tie up shooting units and do some damage against equal or lesser enemies. This allows the Terminators to approach relatively unmolested and smash whatever they assault.
      This approach would also allow assault focused armies to work as they all have a variety of assault foucused units to choose from – but the key as always will be how they’re pointed.

      • Marco Marantz

        Yep you might be onto something with that theory.

  • CrisisSuitsOwn

    I have never understood why assault has been more effective in some editions of 40k than close combat was in Fantasy Battle. I have also never understood why people play 40k for the assault phase. If you want to do close combat, play Age of Sigmar.

    The only sci-fi game that’s ever gotten close combat right is Infinity. It’s rare but when it happens it’s short, brutal, and dramatic. In most editions of 40k it’s been a morass which dominates the game and rips any feeling that everyone on the table is carrying a gun right out of the game.

    Shooting should own the table and be the decisive factor in 90% of 40k games. Otherwise why are you playing a game with tanks and rifles?

    • Orblivion

      A lot of people play 40k specifically because of the setting (which is not sci-fi BTW) and in the setting melee is a constant and powerful facet of combat.

      • Graham Bartram

        “A lot of people play 40K specifically because of the setting (which is sci-fi BTW) and in the setting, melee happens after lots of shooting mostly.”

        Fixed it for you buddy. 🙂

        • ZeeLobby

          Well, it’s fantasy sci-fi, not hard sci-fi.

        • Orblivion

          I’d say its far more fantasy than sci-fi, even moreso than Star Wars. As opposed to something like Terminator where the futuristic technology is the focus of the story, in 40k it is usually used more as a backdrop for the story of knights on a crusade.

          • NNextremNN

            Star Wars and 40K both have sword wielding space wizards. So yeah it has some fantasy elements. But Space Marines are famous for power armor, bolters and chainswords. Everything has a space in the fluff and should have a space in the game.

          • Orblivion

            To an extent. But how many of the Space Marine hero characters focus on ranged combat vs how many of them focus on melee combat?

            I should clarify that I don’t think melee should be MORE prevalent than shooting, I was just arguing against the OP’s assertion that melee has no place in 40k’s setting.

          • NNextremNN

            Sergeant Telion, sergeant chronus, Cypher are some that came to my mind as mostly shooters.

            While Vulkan He’stan, Kor’sarro Khan and Kayvaan Shrike look mostly melee to me.

            All the other named models feature both a melee and a shooting option (while not necessarily equally good with both).

          • Pascalnz

            All6 or 7 of the blood angels specials characters, all of the space wolf characters,

            actually, while a lot of special characters have pistols, how many characters are actually bette at shooting, in the entire game?

            cypher, telion, chronus, shadowsun, a fair few of the tau.

            pretty sure every other characters cc ability heavily outshines their shooting

          • NNextremNN

            I was referring to the more vanilla marines because they are usually used to advertise this game. And they are a little more balanced in their way of fighting than space wolves or blood angels. Just like tau are more shooty in general. Also Space marines in general have far more characters than other factions.

          • Haighus

            Pask. Most the other Guard characters don’t really focus on either, they are too busy screaming orders at their men.

            There is also the Raptors Chapter Master, and the Astral Claws Master of the Forge, if we are doing FW.

          • Pascalnz

            straken, ded dog,
            the other ones are terrible at shooting and melee 🙂 most are just army buffer things[bar the tank commander pasq]

    • No-one Special

      I agree with you somewhat, but I do feel assault plays a bit more of a role than you say in 40k because of the level of personal protection available and the nature of some of the races invloved.
      Judging by the rules, units in cover will be hard to shift using shooting (based on what we know and the weapons we’ve seen), so an assault would be a good way to flush them out. And aside from assault specific races like Orks and Nids this is exactly how I see and believe assault should be used, as a carefully applied attack to capture a key point/objective, exploit a weak point in an enemy line, or flank an unsuspecting enemy.
      It should not be an army that can simply run across the board, shrugging off enemy fire, and then hitting said enemy that was shooting them in the face, as if nothing was happening – which is how it has been before.
      Orks and Nids needed work, and I believe the 3″ rule will help them massively, as their numbers will allow them to make best use of it to tie up multiple enemy units and neutralise their shooting. And now that most small arms are not ignoring their armour anymore it gives them the ability to get there too.

    • Heinz Fiction

      Shooting should own the table?
      That is a somewhat curious assumption about a game which has a dude swinging a chainsword on it’s cover.

    • Admiral Raptor

      40k isn’t a simulation. We already have several armies themed around close combat prowess. Your suggestion would make them unusable. So it would basically just be 7th all over again.

  • I would prefer combat be a support mechanism. I really don’t like sci fi / future where assault is the king of the game, or armies that can roll up other armies with axes and knives. Particularly because they typically do this via mechanisms that let them engage in combat in turn 1 onward.

    This is the main reason why I hated 3rd edition.

    • orionburn

      I don’t think assault should be king of the game either, but there needs to be that happy medium of not so shooty armies being able to hold their own against shooty ones. Obvious example would be Tau vs Nids. The big problem with 7th was the over powered nature of weapons. So far it seems like Nids are going to be able to finally be able to roll some decent dice for saves rather than little to no rolls. That should help balance things out greatly. I hope so anyway.

  • euansmith

    Proper assaults need a Suppression Mechanism in the game, so that a target can be Suppressed by shooting and then charged when they have got their heads down.

    I’d also make Overwatch more deadly to reflect why it isn’t a good idea to charge a shootie unit without suppressing them before hand.


    • ZeeLobby

      I mean that’s like real tactics. LoL. According to GW, people just want to roll lots and lots of dice. But god do those mechanics sound amazing!

    • Graham Bartram

      The effectiveness of assault units has a lot to do with the table too. Range only helps when you can draw a line of sight or don’t require one. In reality Rorke’s Drift would have been very different in a jungle.

      • Haighus

        True, but so would the ability of the attacking army to coordinate all it’s forces and move as one. They would be forced to attack in a more piecemeal fashion.

        Also, canny commanders have long felled trees and cleared the bush from around defended positions to remove cover from attackers, and I suspect Rorke’s Drift jungle version would have a similar process.

        • Graham Bartram

          But that is not always viable and in an age of ‘nid flora, the trees can appear in minutes.

          • Haighus

            Oh yeah totally, I was more thinking specifically about Rorke’s drift, not 40k Rorke’s drift equivalent 😀

    • memitchell

      Great advice and tactics for well rounded armies. But, some armies are designed by GW to emphasize assault at the expense of shooting (Tyranids, Orks, Harlequins).

      • euansmith

        There is the Isandlwana Tactic of bringing 20,000pts of melee troops to 1,800pt gunfight. If Orkz and ‘nids are make cheap enough, some of them will make it in to melee 😉 For Harlequins, I guess they need to rely on Ninja Tactics.

        • memitchell

          It’s a one-trick pony, which is dangerously bordering on boring. So, Orks and Tyranids have some semblance of shooting. But, we can’t dis the non-industrial Zulus for not employing a non-existent Suppression Mechanism. And, boosting Overwatch to compensate for the Tau’s lack of assault troops is the dog chasing its tail.

          • euansmith

            Hey, I’d never dis the Zulus.

          • memitchell

            Our FLGS owner has two pro-painted 40K armies. “Zulu” Orks and “Redcoat” Praetorian Guard.

  • ZeeLobby

    Honestly, I’d lean towards combat. Here’s the thing. You can’t assault turn 1 (or shouldn’t be able to). Whereas now most armies can (and it looks like will be able) to shoot turn 1. That’s why the current edition is just boring. It’s whoever brings the best gun and rolls to grab first turn. There are ways to mitigate it, but most often it’s game outcome defining. The only combat units that make it anymore are invisible deathstars, which are also horrible for the game. But I personally wouldn’t mind if combat was just more powerful, but challenging to get to.

    I mean I get that in real future warfare H2H will rarely ever be used, but we’re not playing “Realistic Future Warfare Simulator 2017”. We’re playing “Knights in Space”. If you want a more realistic approach to futuristic shootouts, games like BtGoA are a better fit, where pinning is a real thing.

    • NNextremNN

      like others already pointed out shooting happens once per turn while combat happens twice in your and your opponents combat phase.

      • ZeeLobby

        Well not anymore right? Disengaging is now a thing.

        • NNextremNN

          Yeah but when you disengage you can’t shoot that turn so still more combat than shooting (at least for the disengaging unit).

          • ZeeLobby

            Which yes, in a complete vacuum looks bad. Your still not going through two combats anymore. And the rest of your unit can now shoot the charging unit. Anyone who tries to spin this as a boost for CC is just crazy (not saying you are but people have). Plus who knows, tactics like fighting in ranks and using blocking/sacrificial units may come back to the game (units most shooting armies have access to, but rarely take now as more guns = win currently).

          • NNextremNN

            Let’s say 3 assault units A1, A2, A3 assault 3 shooting units S1, S2, S3 of equal point worth.

            A1 assaults S1, S2 and S3 are close enough to offer support fire.1/3 make it into close combat and later kill 1/3 of S1.
            A1 1/3, S1 2/3 all other full strength.

            A2 assaults S2, S1 is bound so only S3 can offer support fire. 1/2 make it into close combat and later kill 1/2 of S2.
            A1 1/3, S1 2/3
            A2 1/2, S2 1/2 all other full strength.

            A3 assaults S3, S1 and S2 are bound so they fire alone. 2/3 make it into close combat and later kill 2/3 of S3
            A1 1/3, S1 2/3,
            A2 1/2, S2 1/2,
            A3 2/3, S3 1/3.

            Sounds rather balanced at least for that one player turn and from what we know should be possible. (Let’s ignore the fact that player 2 is screwed and pretty much can’t do anything in his own turn).

            This of course totally ignores that Assault units might have shooting weapons and could shoot before charging. They might have been shot in turn 1 and couldn’t charge until turn 2. And we don’t know any special rules any army might have. We don’t know what bonus jumppacks might offer. And if Tau again get some for overwatching each other.

            So there are still lots of things to tweak the remaining problems from my example.

            I think melee will be improved compared to 7th but it also should be. We
            all don’t know all rules yet and all speculate in a vacuum. All I say
            is I hope for a balance and for both options to be viable if used correctly. Which is nearly impossible with all variables
            but I still hope we get as close as possible.

  • Nightwalker

    My bet is ranged weapons will mostly end up with rending 0, where as assault weapons will have rending to them to reflect this to make assault and actual trade off against shooting.

  • Where is the info from that wounds pull from the back and that assault from vehicles is back in?

    • SprinkKnoT

      I don’t think there is any, seems like speculation.

  • Nyyppä

    Balanced, but so that you can do both ends of the spectrum or a mix without getting unfair advantage.

  • Admiral Raptor

    It seems like a lot of people are forgetting that 40k isn’t a war simulation. Of course guns are better than swords, that’s why we use them in all of our conflicts in the 21st century, let alone 41st millennium. 40k is set in a weird space fantasy, that’s the only reason any of this chainsaw sword stuff works. We’re not going for realism with this game, we’re going for sheer awesome. The rules need to strike a balance between the psychic, shooting, and assault phases, so that we can get those great cinematic personal combat moments. Realism has no place in 40k, we already have several armies themed around close combat, and It would not serve game balance or make the game more fun.

    • ZeeLobby

      THIS!!! We’re playing space fantasy, not a tactical sim. Honestly unless you start adding things like guns only shoot 3d6 inches, or make them weaker, there won’t be pure balance between shooting and assault.

  • pskontz

    except they tried it one edition and no one listened. GW cant make your tables and to be fair cant control how much terrain you own. but people will still blame them

  • Philip Estabrook

    ^^^ This is great advice right here.

  • Sephyr

    Pretty much all of the heroes and villains of the setting are defined as melee powerhouses, and having them just sniping at each other instead of trading blows and curses is simply not engaging.

    Besides, many of the factions are meant to be elite forces designed to fight superior numbers and settle battles without prolongued campaigns (you will likely always have less people than most PDFs if you arrived there in a ship).

    Guns will run dry, but toughness, fury, discipline and the best sci-fi armor will keep a melee warrior doing damage a long time after the last clip is spent.